Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
Europe is increasingly restless with the division imposed on it more than twenty years ago. To end that division, and thereby to take a step toward a larger community of the developed nations, is a task requiring the often conflicting virtues of perseverance and imagination. It also requires asking explicitly: What can be done in the next twenty years to change this condition-and to change it in a way that is compatible with historical trends and more immediate requirements of political reality?
I. THREE CONCEPTS IN SEARCH OF REALITY
Several concepts currently purport to provide an answer to the above questions. Three among them particularly stand out and deserve closer attention: The Atlantic conception, the "European Europe" Gaullist vision and the Soviet idea of a European security arrangement. Let it be said immediately that each, though in different ways, is inadequate or only partially satisfactory. One, rooted in the transitional setting of the cold war, even if generally in tune with the wider sweep of history, fails to respond to the growing political concerns of Europe; the second reflects current political moods but ignores historical trends; the third fails on both scores.
Usually, the Atlantic concept is employed to express not only an existing reality-that America and Europe have a special affinity-but a desire for a particular kind of relationship between them. The spectrum ranges from the notion of an intimate and integrated Atlantic community, with the United States and individual European states merging into one, to the famous concept of partnership between America and a more united Western Europe. Such a partnership, it is asserted, would generate an irresistible magnetic attraction to the East, and eventually the European problem-particularly the division of Germany-would somehow be resolved. Such a Europe would also share with America certain global responsibilities-a hope voiced more frequently by American than European spokesmen.
The nature of the eventual European settlement, and the ways and means of reaching it, are rarely spelled out in any detail by the Atlanticists. This is not surprising. The concept of Atlantic partnership presupposes the creation of a united (or integrated) Europe; this is bound to take a long time, certainly longer than originally assumed. Till then, the problem of the other half of Europe must be held in abeyance, given the scale of priorities subscribed to by the Atlanticists. Premature ties with the East would dilute Western institutions and bring alien systems and ideologies into the family setting. This would delay the appearance of "the partner" in the Atlantic partnership.
Moreover, the question of Germany introduces a special complication. An implicit and necessary component of the Atlantic concept is the idea that the West European partner cannot prosper and endure unless all its member states have identical status in all respects. The futility and tragedy of the Versailles-type solution for Germany has often been cited as the reason for eschewing arrangements that would imply a discrimination against the Federal Republic. To the extent that the united European partner in the Atlantic community would also presumably be a party to Atlantic security arrangements, including the nuclear field, the right of Germany to participate on an equal basis in a European nuclear defense force follows logically.
Thus, in so far as the problem of Europe's unresolved partition is concerned, the pure Atlantic approach poses two basic dilemmas. Until a united Europe appears, East-West relations are relegated to a secondary position, primary emphasis being put on creating an undiluted Western Europe. Even Eastern entry into or association with existing Western bodies, such as O.E.C.D. (Organization for Economic Coöperation and Development), is opposed, either as premature or inherently subversive of the fundamental purpose of Western multilateral coöperation. At the same time, the fear (or suspicion) of some Western European states that the Atlantic concept is essentially a scheme for the preservation of American hegemony in Europe and for relieving American burdens in the Third World stiffens European resistance to the partnership, thus postponing indefinitely the moment when the West can address itself seriously to the unresolved legacies of World War II.
In addition, emphasis on complete uniformity within the European component of the Atlantic partnership, including the nuclear security field, introduces an element of unreality into discussions of the German problem. No spokesman for the Atlantic idea has yet been able to spell out how-and why-the East should accept the notion of German reunification if the end result is an automatic accretion of strength to a Western Alliance that includes a German finger on the nuclear trigger. Unwillingness to draw a distinction between inequality-which rightfully cannot serve as a solid foundation for a united community of several nations-and a special position dictated both by the reality of political circumstances and the desire to change them peacefully, has led to the formulation of an Atlantic position on German reunification that assures continued German-and thus also European-division.
Finally, implicit in the Atlantic concept, although never deliberately asserted, is the idea that Europe is really Western Europe (indeed, Atlanticists usually say "Europe" when speaking of its Western half). It is thus unresponsive to the strongly held European feeling that the cold-war division of the Continent into American and Soviet-dominated halves no longer corresponds either to security or political needs, and that the time has come to end Europe's partition. The inherent inapplicability of the Atlantic concept, in its pristine form, to this condition explains much of our own difficulty in making the United States relevant to new East-West relations, even though in fact it has creatively pioneered in developing these relations.[i]
Indeed, failure to adapt the Atlantic concept to what might be called the post-cold-war era in Europe has distorted the meaning of the actually farsighted, imaginative and usually constructive American initiatives on the East-West front. Since we have pursued our initiatives in the context of a concept that to some implies U.S. hegemony and to others an American preference for the status quo (including partition), they have tended to reinforce the European suspicion that we want to strike a bargain with Russia, even at the expense of Europe. Misgivings concerning that kind of détente have not been restricted to Western Europe; even Easteners have whispered that this is not what they hope for. The attraction of de Gaulle thus has grown in direct proportion to our efforts to promote East-West reconciliation.
To some extent, President Johnson in his path-breaking speech of October 7, 1966, strove to cope with this difficulty by emphasizing that progress in strengthening the Atlantic Alliance was interdependent with further growth of East-West ties. However, the basic conceptual difficulty remained unresolved; the lingering tension between Western unity and détente was not overcome. This condition was aggravated by the Vietnamese war, which intensified cross-Atlantic suspicions, and by de Gaulle's peremptory moves, which created openings for Soviet diplomatic diversions. The combined effect was to push the Germans (as hinted in Kiesinger's and Brandt's speeches in June-July 1967) toward a basic reappraisal of their interest in close Atlantic ties and a growing interest in exploring bilateral dealings with Russia. In the process, American relevance to both Western and Eastern Europe declined.
De Gaulle exploited both this decline and the conceptual inadequacy of the Atlantic approach. Far from desiring a reunited Germany, though occasionally going through the ritual of referring to it, he strove to create a new European equilibrium. De Gaulle has never spelled out his ideas to the extent that the Atlantic concept has been, but his central objective has been to reduce the presence in Europe of the two external "hegemonial" powers. This he hoped to accomplish by creating a West European hard core, led by France-detached from an integrated Atlantic relationship but continuing to enjoy U.S. nuclear protection-which would then proceed to forge a "European Europe to the Urals," i.e. translating the East-West détente in Europe into an eventual entente.
While murky in specifics, it is evident that to accomplish his ends de Gaulle played on European restlessness and shrewdly strove to exploit the Asian involvement of his two powerful adversaries. He counted on the Sino- Soviet dispute to drive Russia into Europe, and he exploited American involvement in Viet Nam to generate a sense of distinctively European interests. Though cautious not to detach himself too much from U.S. nuclear protection, de Gaulle indicated that the eventual solution to the partition of Europe would come through the dissolution of the two confronting alliances, NATO and the Warsaw Pact, both de facto agencies of the respective hegemonial centers. A Europe built on bilateral relations, respecting the primacy of national sovereignty, engaging whenever expedient (especially to France) in closer economic coöperation, would be a Europe restored-indeed, a Europe ascendant.
The General's concepts are superficially plausible. Moreover, his dedication to the nation-state responds to traditional European nationalist notions. At the same time, the anti-hegemonial components of his concept are a useful additive, especially attractive to some in the younger generation who are tired of what appears to them to be excessive American or Soviet preponderance on the European scene.
Yet it is more than doubtful that de Gaulle's concepts are any more relevant to Europe's present-not to speak of its future-than the ideas that he rejects. The dissolution of the two alliances perhaps might solve the problem of confrontation but it would certainly create new ones. The argument that the cold war can be abolished by abolishing the blocs, or vice versa, is not only deceptively attractive, it is dangerously wrong.
In fact, if a loosely organized Europe sought détente with the East, the result could only be the West's acceptance of the status quo, in particular the permanent acceptance of two German states. A politically fragmented Western Europe would be a Europe incapable of steering in a common direction on behalf of commonly shared goals; détente for the sake of détente could be the only common denominator. Inevitably, it would lead to Western rivalry in seeking to improve relations bilaterally and to develop advantageous trade with the East.
Accordingly, it is probably true that a loosely organized Europe, lacking an integrated political and defense structure, at most a free-trade area and without close ties to the United States, could more easily reach a détente with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. For the East, accommodation with such a Europe would not require any substantial ideological evolution, especially since no special concessions or adjustments in the Eastern position would be required. The communist élites, having nothing to fear from a Europe of this kind, would probably be quite responsive to Western overtures because they could thus have their cake and eat it too: they could savor the tangible benefits of closer economic contacts with the West without any substantial change in the overall political situation.
In this connection, it is important to bear in mind that the present communist élites, especially in Eastern Europe, are in the first stage of post-peasant political awakening. By and large, their political attitudes are a curious mixture of communist formulas and of rather primitive and intense nationalism. Their outlook is basically parochial and conservative. A détente that perpetuated their domestic dictatorship and left the European political map unchanged would be for them the ideal solution.
Whether a détente of this kind would be stable is another matter. There are strong reasons for skepticism. It would mean a recreation of a Europe based on the old principle of state supremacy, with a major European nation- Germany-condemned to division. In those circumstances, frustration and insecurity in West Germany would almost certainly follow. Having attained neither national unity nor fulfillment in a larger European community, the Germans could be expected to seek accommodation with the Soviet Union. Irrespective of original Soviet motives-even if it is assumed that the Soviets sincerely seek a stable détente in Europe-the temptation to exploit German anxieties could be too strong for Moscow to resist. The result could be a new phase in European tensions, with the Continent's stability in general and East European security in particular being its first victims.
Yet that is what de Gaulle seems to be precipitating, not only by exploiting the involvement of the United States in Asia and the end of the Atlantic orientation in Bonn (the latter clearly demarcated by the coming to power of Kiesinger-Brandt), but by his apparent determination to quit NATO altogether. Perhaps deliberately, the French President, in his speech of August 10, 1967, has given the world his reasons for rejecting the Alliance:
By withdrawing from NATO, France, for her part, extricated herself from [United States-Soviet] subjection. Thus she would not find herself drawn, eventually, into any quarrel that would not be hers and into any war action that she would not herself have wished. Thus she is capable of practicing- as she considers right, from one end of Europe to the other-entente and coöperation, the only means of achieving the security of our continent. Thus she can uphold, in a world that many old and new abuses hold in a state of ferment, according to her vocation, the right of each people to self-determination, a right that is today the necessary foundation of any confederation, the imperative condition of international agreement, the indispensable basis of a real organization of peace.
In so doing, he may well be hastening the day when a German leader will make a similar pronouncement.
The Soviet Union also has an entry in the competition for the best European solution. The Soviet formula has developed slowly, in response to external opportunities appearing in the West and internal political turmoil in the East. Under Khrushchev, the Soviet Union did not really have a European policy; it was too busy pursuing a global chimera. Anxious to become coequal with the United States, and then even determined to dethrone it as the world's number-one power, Khrushchev alternated between a grand courtship and a grand contest. Both ended tragically: the courtship was buried in May 1960 in a meadow near Sverdlovsk, marked by the remnants of a fallen U-2; the contest ended ignominiously with Soviet ships submitting to armed inspection by the United States while ferrying Soviet missiles from Cuba back to Soviet ports.
From that time on, the Soviet Union gradually shifted to a more regional foreign policy. Its outlines took clearer shape after Khrushchev's fall, especially given the opportunities created by the growing American involvement in Viet Nam. Exploiting them, and also taking advantage of de Gaulle in a manner somewhat reminiscent of earlier U.S. support for Tito, the Soviet leaders proceeded to forge, through words and actions, a new European policy. The Soviet leaders exchanged an unprecedented number of visits with their NATO European neighbors and became eloquent exponents of the separate identity and interests of Europe. Indeed, even the terms "technological gap" and the "brain drain" became part of the peripatetic Soviet leaders' lexicon. Although it was not made clear how a semi- developed Soviet Union could be of much help to Western Europe in these regards, it may be assumed that raising such issues was calculated less to produce a practical common response to the American challenge than to evoke a sense of shared emotion in the face of the alleged American threat.
More important was the Soviet sensitivity to the growing feeling in Europe that gradual improvements on the East-West front cannot be confined to the economic and political fields. Western public opinion increasingly has felt that the time is becoming ripe for doing something about the European security problem. Although careful not to spell out precisely what the nature of an eventual European security arrangement might be, communist leaders, especially from 1966 on, began to reiterate the need for a European security conference designed to address itself to this issue. In calling for such a conference, Soviet leaders were deliberately coy about American participation; while not explicitly excluding it, they obviously hoped that some Western states would be willing to discuss the question, thus drawing a distinction between European powers, including the Soviet Union, and non-European intruders.
Soviet motives were not difficult to discern. On the immediate tactical level, even a low-key dialogue with West European chancelleries on the subject of a security conference, with its consequent impact on West European public opinion, could contribute to the isolation of Bonn, in turn stimulating West German anxieties. A weakening in European-American ties was also not unwelcome, although Moscow presumably realized that a total Atlantic rupture could increase German influence in Western Europe. But short of such a sharp break, which the Kremlin probably calculated was in any case unlikely, the intensification of Atlantic "contradictions" was desirable. Finally, there was a tactical payoff inherent in making proposals which seemed reasonable and appealing to men of good will.
From the longer point of view, the Soviet Union no doubt hoped that any broadly gauged East-West security discussion would legitimatize the status quo in Central Europe, and particularly the existence of the two German states. In addition, by reducing Western attachment to the notion of Atlantic interdependence in security matters, a trend could be set in motion toward the eventual neutralization of Western Europe. Although it may be an exaggeration to say that the Soviet goal is to make Western Europe into a Finland, the Soviet leaders could not be unaware of the increased political leverage that they would gain over a Western Europe less intimately tied to the United States in matters of security.
Finally, even if treated at face value as a bona fide effort to find a solution for the problems of Europe, the Soviet approach still has grave shortcomings. It simply disregards the fact that the unsolved legacies of World War II cannot be resolved by a fiat that transforms them miraculously into a generally accepted and enduring settlement. Unwilling to separate those aspects of the status quo which perhaps may-and in some cases even should-endure as a consequence of the traumatic upheavals of World War II from those that are merely a temporary manifestation of the cold war, the Soviet leaders proffered a solution which was really not a solution but a means of obtaining a ratification of maximum Soviet objectives.
It is therefore more than doubtful that merely convening a European security conference-presumably with the participation of East Germany, which in itself would be a major Soviet success, and also of the United States, which naturally some of the more gullible Westerners would classify as a generous Soviet concession-would settle anything. A conference which ignored the problem of Germany's division would serve only to stimulate West German frustrations and disappointment. Indeed, while one can easily catalog the unsettling consequences of the Soviet initiative on the West, one is hard put to find similar costs for the East. This asymmetry simply deprives the Soviet proposal of political relevance.
II. THE SHAPE AND STAGES OF RECONCILIATION
The long-range goal of the United States in regard to East-West relations is to transform the present hostility, of which Europe's partition is both the cause and the symptom, into an increasingly stable East-West coöperation designed to end that partition. This means deliberately promoting new patterns of relations and, in so doing, gradually eliminating those factors that prevent stability. The status quo must not be an end in itself but the point of departure for gradual change; in escaping from the rigidity of two tightly knit blocs facing each other across the Elbe, we must avoid dissolution of the two existing alliances into the traditional multi-state system.
In my personal judgment, a more stable European solution, one more in keeping with present trends and historical tendencies than any of the three concepts discussed earlier, should eventually involve an interlocking structure based on four entities: America and Russia as the peripheral participants, and Western Europe and Eastern Europe as the two halves of the inner core (in time, perhaps, becoming still more closely linked). Each would enjoy differing degrees of internal homogeneity and each would engage others in varied patterns of relations, with differing degrees of intimacy and intensity.
The Atlantic concept would thus be retained but readapted to become one aspect, somewhat diluted, of the larger whole; the "European" elements and the security emphasis of the other two approaches would be similarly readapted, in order to formulate an approach that met more symmetrically the real interests of the parties involved and the needs of European stability.
In the course of the next decade or so, Western Europe is almost certain to move further toward an integrated economic community; there may also be the beginning of some European political consultations. Some common defense arrangements are also likely, especially after de Gaulle. It will hence be an increasingly important force, with an emerging identity of its own, though probably reluctant to share in U.S. global responsibilities.
Eastern Europe, given its relatively backward stage of political development and social modernization, will certainly be less homogeneously organized. None the less, it too is already moving toward some subregional coöperation, exclusive of Soviet participation. It may be expected that this trend will continue, although probably more on the basis of a network of bilateral economic and political arrangements. Eventually, some confederational arrangements may develop, creating by the mid-1980s a loose community of about 130 million people with a G.N.P. of about $215 billion. In any case, greater coöperation within Eastern Europe should be encouraged, for without it the region will continue to be a source of instability and a political vacuum filled by outsiders. For example, as the East European nations decentralize their economies, Western assistance in creating currency convertibility would make a great deal of sense.[ii] Another useful possibility would be a Balkan customs union consisting of Jugoslavia, Rumania, Bulgaria and Greece, and one that included Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and even, perhaps, East Germany.
The American-West European relationship will presumably continue to include a security arrangement, although greater unity in Western Europe will necessitate a restructuring of the presently integrated NATO command, composed of one giant and fourteen "non-giants," into something more like a bilateral United States-West European agency for security planning and coördination. West European integration, including a defense treaty among the European members of NATO, might eventually permit the redefinition of NATO into a more equal-and bilateral-Atlantic defense agreement. U.S. assistance in developing a European A.B.M. system that was patently defensive technologically could accelerate movement in that direction, thereby downgrading the significance of small national nuclear forces while not stimulating East European fears of Germany's offensive potential.
More important than NATO in stimulating close Atlantic coöperation will be the inescapably growing economic, technological and monetary ties between the United States and Western Europe. Tariff and fiscal arrangements, the possible appearance of a technological Atlantic community, increasingly joined efforts to help the Third World, all will probably stimulate the development of new coöperative institutions.
At the same time, one may expect the number of East-West agreements within Europe to increase. Growing West European integration will inevitably act as a magnet for an Eastern Europe increasingly self-assertive and anxious to participate in the European adventure. This growing East-West coöperation will not be confined to bilateral agreements; even more important will be the many new multilateral bonds, with East European states increasingly wishing to become associated with common all-European institutions and ventures. In effect, a looser all-European economic community will be taking shape, with Western Europe as its more homogeneous hard core.
In some respects, East-West relations will be purely European; in others, they will involve also the United States and the Soviet Union. This is especially likely in regard to security arrangements. Eastern Europe's fear of a united Western Europe allegedly prone to domination by the Federal Republic will decline if the scope of collaboration includes some East-West security relationships between the two existing but looser alliances. While the old dichotomic confrontation will have faded, it is unlikely that either the West or the East Europeans will wish to face the other side without some backup strength from the respective superpower. The East Europeans, as de Gaulle learned in Warsaw and as the Czechs have made clear, will not wish to face alone a Germany that is so much more powerful than they; this is likely to remain the case even if West Germany is more fully absorbed into an integrated European community. Lingering fears will make them desire some assurance of continued Soviet protection and even American involvement.[iii]
Since Soviet-East European security ties would automatically skew the delicate European balance in favor of the East, West Europeans may be expected to be similarly anxious to maintain a U.S. commitment. Thus security arrangements linking all concerned will probably be preferred, in spite of present French and Rumanian attitudes. If the objective is a broader community of the developed nations, such wider security arrangements are also preferable. An East-West security arch, resting on the four pillars needed to support the peace, would require more systematic political consultations, including not only the Europeans but Americans and Russians as well. In addition, bodies such as O.E.C.D. and E.C.E. (Economic Commission for Europe) would provide the framework for more intensive economic and scientific coöperation among themselves and in relation to the Third World. The economic, political and security links would thus provide an institutional framework for the four units.
In addition to security links, some East European states may also wish to retain ideological ties with the Soviet Union, although it seems almost certain that with time these will wane in importance. It is hard to predict what will happen to the Warsaw Pact as regards its real substance. At the least, it probably will remain a political-contractual link, legitimatizing Soviet involvement and political influence in Eastern Europe. If current trends continue, it seems unlikely that communist military integration will progress much further. Thus, as the status of NATO changes, the two military alliances will become somewhat more analogous.
East European economic ties with the Soviet Union will probably become more bilateral-or involve more specialized and limited forms of multilateral coöperation. CEMA (Council of Economic Mutual Assistance), an essentially political-ideological body, which includes an economic giant, the Soviet Union, and an economic irrelevancy, Mongolia (much as if the Common Market contained both the United States and Haiti), is not likely to duplicate the success of the E.E.C. (European Economic Community) in achieving economic integration. It is more likely to become a communist equivalent to O.E.C.D., which in itself would make it quite important and useful. (Accordingly, coöperation between O.E.C.D. and CEMA could be quite constructive.)
Finally, outside of ties that traverse Europe, special United States-Soviet relationships are bound to proliferate. The two nuclear superpowers will either compete globally, or coöperate, or, more likely, do both at the same time, be it in space or in the Third World or in respect to new weapons systems. The continuing rivalry and the growing coöperation will perhaps induce a greater realization of their mutual responsibility in world affairs, and create-even without formal expression-a special political relationship. Both will have to be careful, however, to avoid creating the semblance of a condominium; in this respect the identical interests of both Western and Eastern Europe are likely to exercise a major restraint on relations between the superpowers.
None the less, coöperation between them and among the European nations will remain the key to any long-range solution. This lesson was drawn as early as 1946 by Willy Brandt, when he wrote: "Hitler's Germany was defeated by a coalition of the major allied powers. Germany is occupied by these powers. It can emerge from this crisis as a unified state only if the recovery takes place in agreement and coöperation with both East and West."[iv]
III. THE MEANS TO RECONCILIATION
For all this to happen, quite extensive changes will have to take place in Europe, especially in the East, which holds the key to the future cf East Germany. Since politics is the art of making one's preferences come true, the discussion which follows takes current trends as its point of departure, and-to the extent that the European dynamics are susceptible to some outside influence-seeks to relate them to those policies that are compatible with the long-range goal outlined above. Despite currently intensified Soviet hostility, it is deliberately an optimistic projection. A sudden recrudescence in international tensions or Soviet aggressiveness could halt or even reverse the trends discussed here.
None the less, it is not unreasonable to expect that the next decade will probably see continuing erosion of the more militant aspects of Marxism- Leninism. The Sino-Soviet dispute and domestic pressures in the Soviet Union both conspire to bring on such a change in perspective. Ideological change will help to bring on political change. To be sure, for a long time to come the Soviet Union and most of the East European states will remain single-party dictatorships. The ruling bureaucracies are becoming increasingly nationalist and that, combined with their étatist and socialist tendencies, gives them some resemblance to prewar social-fascist movements in Eastern Europe.
Nevertheless, as these countries become aware of their growing social and economic complexity, they will probably show more tolerance for political and intellectual dissent. Progressive decentralization of the communist economies will facilitate international economic coöperation, hitherto handicapped by centralized national planning. It will also facilitate the emergence of ore independent, technologically oriented élites, likely to be strongly interested in economic coöperation with Western Europe and the United States.
Indeed, some communist countries already recognize that they have at least an economic stake in Western unity.[v] East European trade with Western Europe is the primary source of hard currency for communist economies, and the development of a prosperous European economic community has become a factor in the further economic development of the communist states. In time, a changed economic perspective might lead to a changed perspective in politics.
There is already considerable evidence that not all East Europeans welcome a communist policy designed to split the West and to detach Europe from the United States. A number of voices have been heard in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia to the effect that such a policy is shortsighted, and that it will result in a revival of German nationalism. Eventually, the communist élites may come to view an integrated Western Europe, absorbing German energies and ambitions, as something in their interest as well.
In this connection, the East Europeans would be especially attracted by Western invitations to participate in common efforts to avoid a "technological gap" between Europe and America. They have only recently become aware of this problem, but their concern has been magnified by their unspoken fear of becoming technologically obsolescent not only in relationship to the West but also to the Soviet Union. Hence the extraordinary interest of the East Europeans in such initiatives as the Fanfani proposal to create a transatlantic technological community, open also to communist states; hence the spate of comments in their journals about the desirability of broader international coöperation.
The participation of the communist states in a wider multilateral framework of East-West coöperation would be bound to have a Europeanizing impact on the communist élites themselves. It would help to develop in the East a European-minded technical and economic élite, and would eventually encourage the appearance of more broadminded, less parochial attitudes within the political élite. Moreover, since multilateral coöperation is incompatible with a high degree of internal state-controlled and centralized planning, pressures for domestic liberalization would be intensified. Thus greater involvement of the East European states in institutional and multilateral forms of coöperation with an integrated Western community would help the internal processes of evolution in the East, all of which cumulatively would promote the emergence of a new political attitude.
Eventually the communist élites would become less inclined to feel that their security depends entirely on maintaining the status quo. Once the political issue of Germany becomes less intense, and it becomes less important to maintain the doctrinal rigidity of East Germany, the problem of the division in Europe would become more susceptible to peaceful change.
However, one very important qualification has to be made. The Soviet Union will not let East Germany simply slide over into a Western community that, from its point of view, could become easily dominated by a powerful and rearmed Germany. Such a change would mean a fundamental shift in the balance of power, not to speak of the loss of Soviet control over the very important economic resources of East Germany. West German access to offensive nuclear weapons would inevitably intensify Soviet fears and phobias. This is even more true for the East Europeans. There is simply no realistic reason convincing enough to justify an argument that the Soviet Union would permit East Germany to be absorbed by a politically, economically and militarily integrated Western Europe.
Soviet concerns would likely be somewhat reduced-and Soviet willingness to countenance some form of German reunification increased-if there were a special security arrangement precluding West German participation in a European nuclear strike force and if broader East-West security arrangements were developed. Similarly, it must be recognized that East Germany, whatever its ties with West Germany, cannot be excluded from a special relationship both to the Soviet Union and to whatever remains by then of CEMA.
It follows that the reconciliation of East and West will not be achieved by a single act of settlement, nor will a solution to the German problem be an event isolated in time; it will have to be a process of growing together of East and West and, in a different way, of the two Germanys. This process will have economic, cultural, political and security aspects, and it will eventually require an institutionalized multilateral framework.
Extensive development of East-West bilateral ties began in the late fifties and early sixties. It is to be expected that in the late sixties and early seventies these bilateral relationships will expand and also that East-West multilateral economic coöperation will develop significantly. In the next several years it is likely that the E.C.E. will become more active in developing East-West economic and technical coöperation. O.E.C.D. may also become involved in assisting East-West scientific and technological collaboration, thus responding to the intense East European concern with the "technological gap."
It is not unreasonable to expect that in the 1970s there will be created a special East-West economic assembly, perhaps sponsored by O.E.C.D., E.C.E. and CEMA. It could foster joint East-West ventures, communications and technological coöperation; it could study ways of coping with the difficult problem of multilateral coöperation between market and state economies, and develop common all-European projects, such as a Lisbon-Moscow superhighway. It is also reasonable to expect that in the course of the next five years surplus labor will be permitted to flow from East to West. This could have a considerable social and cultural impact as workers returned home.
During the same period, most of the East European states and the Soviet Union will probably have become associated with GATT and I.M.F.; in addition, they may perhaps have negotiated special preferential agreements with the E.E.C.; and Jugoslavia may have become an associate member, having achieved full convertibility. Broader East-West convertibility should be possible by 1975, but probably not earlier.
Another possibility in the next several years is some movement toward the creation of an East-West Political Assembly in which direct and continuing discussions could be held. Initially, at least, there may be some advantage in keeping it a rather informal body for off-the-record discussions comparable to the Bilderberg meetings. (Indeed, as a test, some Jugoslavs could be invited to the Bilderberg.) Eventually such an assembly could also become a forum for the development of common positions toward the problems of the Third World. Even more rapid may be the gradual involvement of the communist states in the specialized functions of the Council of Europe, perhaps leading eventually to its transformation into the East-West Assembly.
If the present rigidity of the partition of the two Germanys can be lifted, it is likely to bring stronger assurances by Bonn that it accepts the Oder- Neisse line as Germany's permanent Eastern frontier. This would do much to reduce the Polish and Czech stake in the existence of two German states. Some day European frontiers will become unimportant; first, however, they must become accepted as permanent.
Although the security issue remains the hardest nut to crack, progress seems possible once economic and political relations are improved. This view is also gaining acceptance in Eastern Europe. For example, in a remarkably candid and balanced article, which indirectly criticizes the Soviet Union for "unwise attempts to test one's strength on the German question," the previously cited Czech author calls for a two-phased approach toward "the process of European unification," the first being in the field of increasing economic coöperation, the second in that of security.
Given sufficient Western initiative and prior allied consultations, it should prove possible before long to initiate open-ended discussions of security in Central Europe between the two alliances, thus obviating the problem of East Germany's direct participation. If held on a continuing basis, initially at a level lower than ministerial (on the model of the lengthy talks prior to the Austrian peace treaty), they could lead, perhaps by the early 1970s, to the creation of a European Security Commission, based on the two alliances. Its more specific purpose would be to monitor troop movements in Central Europe and make periodic inspections of troop postures. It might also advance other schemes designed to moderate the military confrontation, in keeping with the suggestion contained in President Johnson's speech of October 7, 1966. Reciprocal troop withdrawals from Germany may take place even earlier than that.
The basic point to remember here is that alliances in the past were designed to wage war; in recent times, they have helped to deter war; in years to come, they must concentrate on promoting peace. Accordingly, NATO could play a constructive role by actively promoting East-West security and disarmament arrangements. A Special Commission, designed to provide the kind of impetus to thinking on disarmament and East-West security which at present comes from only a few national governments, could give NATO new purpose and political meaning.
A continuing expansion in all-German links is to be expected, especially following Ulbricht's death. It will probably take the form of mixed commissions, economic ties, joint German development of mail, telephone and television service, a common electric power system, increased freedom of individual movement and so forth.
All of the foregoing will gradually create a favorable setting for more formal and systematic all-German economic relations, perhaps in the form of an economic community, thereby making possible also a formal relationship between East Germany and the E.E.C., even while the former retains its links with CEMA and some of its existing obligations to the East. (Jugoslavia's formal coöperation with CEMA has not prevented it from expanding relations with EFTA and E.E.C.) Assuming positive developments in economic, political and security fields, and assuming that these processes are kept apart from West German efforts to establish normal diplomatic relations with East European states, and assuming, finally, that other non- communist states do not allow themselves to be seduced into a formal recognition of the two Germanys, the development of all-German ties will gradually contribute to bridging the partition politically. By the mid or late seventies the process of German reassociation, in the context of growing East-West reconciliation, may be quite advanced.
IV. A SHIFT IN EMPHASES
A long-range goal serves as a beacon. It helps to determine not only the desired end; it also signals the best way to get there. Developing and then articulating a relevant concept is the first stage in the pursuit of an effective policy.
The approach suggested in the preceding pages would associate the United States with the preponderant desires of the Europeans-both West and East. These are becoming clearer, especially now that the limitations of de Gaulle's concept have emerged in sharper focus after his September trip to Warsaw; and the tactical character of the Soviet posture was underlined by Moscow's behavior in the Middle Eastern crisis.
This broader approach would keep the United States true to its long- standing commitment to the cause of closer West-European integration and Atlantic coöperation. The Atlantic idea would not be abandoned, but it would cease to be the central and, for some, exclusive, concern of American policy in Europe. Nor would it be replaced by an effort to construct a U.S.- Soviet arrangement-the traditional alternative of those Americans who have reacted against our established policy. Burying the cold war does not, and should not, mean reviving Yalta.
The gradual fading of the cold war, and its transformation into a more coöperative relationship, is predicated on the assumption that there will not be any significant change in the existing strategic balance. Both the Soviet Union and the United States, even while developing more coöperative relationships in Europe, are likely to remain rivals in the Third World. Precisely for this reason it is important that the United States retain its present security advantage. Otherwise, conflicts in the Third World could feed back into the European relationship, presenting the Soviet Union with a tempting opportunity to alter the European status quo through military blackmail.
Pursuit of the policy of peaceful engagement favored here would entail some shifts in emphases and methods. Along with important changes in German attitudes,[vi] the United States could likewise put greater stress on the process of German reassociation, which might include transitionally a special status for East Germany, in the setting of broader security arrangements for Germany and its neighbors. Moreover, to compensate for the somewhat less vital role of NATO as the principal Atlantic bond, the United States will probably find it necessary to emphasize more its economic and technological ties with Western Europe, thus giving the Europeans a greater sense of shared destiny than is provided by one-sided efforts to keep NATO as the primary focus of American-European relationships.
Indeed, it is ironic that the country that least needs NATO for its own security should today appear the most anxious to preserve it; more than this, it is counter-productive, for it feeds European suspicions that the Alliance is an instrument of American control over its allies. It would be better if the United States simply took the position that it will remain as committed to NATO as the Europeans themselves, but not more, and that eventually NATO could become the Western component of an all-European security system. Unless given a new goal, old alliances do not die; they just fade away.
One thing appears certain: if the United States remains inactive, which some recommend as being the better part of wisdom, or merely concentrates on the American-Soviet relationship, it will become increasingly estranged from Europe and most Europeans will seek to settle their destiny outside the Alliance. Discussion with the Europeans of our concepts and proposals for common initiatives will help to revitalize Atlantic ties and will revive the feeling of interdependence with America. Indeed, we should not fear provoking occasionally a lively controversy. A spirited dialogue is preferable to a quiet divorce.
[i] It has become fashionable to credit de Gaulle with having invented the idea of détente in Europe. The truth is that the United States pioneered- first by aiding Jugoslavia and then Poland, by developing cultural exchanges with the Soviet Union and the other states, and by exchanging top- level visits. At the time, de Gaulle scorned these moves and only later began to emulate them.
[ii] See the proposal by H. W. Shaffer, "An East European Payments Union?", East Europe, March 1966.
[iii] Thus a Czech commentator, J. Sedivy, in "European Coöperation- European Security," Literarni Noviny, Feb. 25, 1967, flatly states that a European security arrangement would have to be safeguarded not only by the U.S.S.R., but "certainly by the United States."
[iv] As cited by Industriekurier, February 14, 1967.
[v] After predicting for years the inevitability of the Common Market's disintegration, communist spokesmen have finally realized its durability. Thus S. Albinowski, in his appropriately entitled "Condemned to Success," Zycie Warszawy, March 20, 1967, admits past skepticism and concludes that "the Common Market is a permanent institution which will influence our trade relations with Western Europe more and more."
[vi] The German concept of reunification, it should be noted, is undergoing a most profound change. In Chancellor Kiesinger's words: "The desire for reunification means nothing else to the Federal Government than to create an opportunity for our compatriots in the other part of Germany to express their will clearly and distinctly." (Press Conference, March 7, 1967.) Herbert Wehner went even further, hinting at the possibility of recognition of East Germany if it "could be liberalized according to the model of present-day Jugoslavia." (Washington Post, Jan. 31, 1967.) And on June 17, the Chancellor said that it is "difficult to imagine that a united Germany, given a continuation of the present political structure in Europe, could easily associate itself with one side or the other."