Go Slow on Crimea
Why Ukraine Should Not Rush to Retake the Peninsula
Prediction is a chancy business. Nevertheless, one cannot consider policy without making some general judgments (or if you like assumptions) about likely developments. My first assumption is that the countries of the Alliance as a whole will continue to have the resources and dynamic to contribute to shaping the future. We are not and shall not be simply in the position of having to respond to events. The combined gross domestic product of the countries of the Alliance is 55 percent of total world gross domestic product. Our present share of world trade is also 55 percent. I assume that there will be no substantial recession in world trade, and I believe that we shall at least maintain our share of it. There should therefore be no lack of material resources for the countries of the Alliance. Nevertheless, our ability to attain the objects of our policies will be limited by various factors.
A feature of the sixties has been the steady assumption by the Soviet Union of the role of a superpower, primarily in its military aspects. Their growing worldwide interests should lead toward an increasingly realistic and wide-ranging dialogue with the West, and in particular with the United States. On the other hand, the much advertised Soviet concept of peaceful coexistence as an ideological, political and economic struggle sets certain limits to the possibilities of improvement in East-West relations. One may think that this conception of a continuing and inevitable struggle is wholly out of date. But we must deal with other countries within the limits which their outlook imposes. In seeking to discuss matters of common interest with the Soviet Union, it is as well to bear in mind both that there has been no apparent change in their traditional long-term aims, and that the Soviet political system allows a greater tactical flexibility in the pursuit of national advantage than the West can afford.
The still unanswered question to which the seventies may help to give an answer is whether economic considerations, and the very complexity and extent of the preoccupations which face the Soviets in the international field today, will lead them not only to set a limit to their ambitions, but also to work for genuine settlement with the West.
The Alliance certainly has no interest in the sharpening of tension between the Soviet Union and China and even less in the outbreak of hostilities between them. However, both the ideological and national differences between the two countries are so profound that it is difficult to imagine anything other than a limited reconciliation between them. The most likely outcome seems to be a state of continuing tension. The effect of this on the Soviet Union may well be to reinforce rather than reduce its preoccupation with maintaining its influence in Eastern Europe. The effect on China may well be to postpone still further any chance of Chinese readiness to play a more coöoperative role on the international scene.
The foreign policies of the individual countries of the Alliance will continue to be concerned with many particular national interests and problems. For Britain, these will include the successful accomplishment of our withdrawal of military forces from the Far East and the Persian Gulf; the maintenance of Commonwealth links; and the safeguarding throughout the world of specific British interests. We shall remain intimately concerned with the progress of our dependent territories and the questions these responsibilities will pose. We shall still face the Rhodesian question and the dispute about Gibraltar. All the countries of the Alliance will share a continuing interest in the development of the United Nations, in disarmament, and in improving trade and economic relations within the developed world and between the developed and developing worlds. Despite these preoccupations, however, it seems that there will be no major issues, apart from Indochina and the Middle East (both of which are to some extent a function of East-West relations), likely to hinder the Alliance in the pursuit of its chief objectives: its own security, relations with the Soviet bloc, and West European integration.
So successful has NATO been in keeping the peace that there is a tendency, especially on the part of the younger generation, to question whether we any longer need such an alliance. But the facts speak for themselves. Unpalatable though it may be, we have to recognize that the very considerable forces which the Soviet Union continues to deploy in Eastern Europe constitute a serious potential military threat to the security of the West. We cannot ignore the fact that there are some 30 Soviet divisions in Eastern Europe now and many more in the western Soviet Union within easy striking distance of NATO territory. Moreover, the Soviet Union has developed its strategic nuclear forces to the point where they are broadly comparable to those of the United States. The Soviet government is clearly determined to maintain that position, and it is plain that NATO's defensive role is as vital now as it has ever been.
I therefore welcome the reaffirmation which President Nixon has given on more than one occasion of the importance which he attaches to the Alliance. In the report, U.S. Foreign Policy for the 1970s, which he submitted to the Congress on February 18, 1970, he stated that the security of Europe and that of the United States are inseparable, using the graphic phrase: "We can no more disengage from Europe than from Alaska." The course of events in two World Wars offers ample evidence for the point.
I also welcome the emphasis which President Nixon has placed on the need for partnership in the Alliance. Partnership in this context has two aspects; sharing in discussions and decision-making within the Alliance and sharing the burden which the maintenance of an effective defensive capability imposes on the Alliance as a whole. During the coming months the Alliance will be facing difficult and delicate decisions in a number of areas. In tackling these it will be crucial that an appropriate balance is struck between the European and American contributions. A good example of the kind of consultation which makes sharing in decision-making meaningful is provided by the Nuclear Planning Group. There nuclear and non-nuclear members of the Alliance participate equally in planning affecting the nuclear deterrent. The United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany have, for instance, recently completed and had approved by their allies a paper laying down guidelines for the initial tactical and defensive use of nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom, like the other members of the Alliance, has also greatly valued the intensive and detailed consultations that have taken place with the United States in the North Atlantic Council on the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. Of particular significance in the immediate future will be the consultation, now getting under way, on some of the questions raised in President Nixon's report to the Congress on U.S. foreign policy. The members of the Alliance will together be looking at how best to deploy their joint resources for effective implementation of the current strategy of flexible response-the strategy best suited to the requirements of the situation we all face.
It would be unrealistic to expect that members of the Alliance will under present circumstances readily accept increases in their expenditure on defense. The most practicable way for the Europeans to improve their contribution to the Alliance's overall effort-as we recognize will be necessary in the years ahead-is through European defense coöperation. It is for this reason that the Euro-Group was established within NATO. While the Euro-Group has no formal terms of reference, no institutional characteristics, and indeed no official existence, it serves to clarify European thinking and interests in various basic Alliance issues. Within the Group, which functions at the working level, the Permanent Representative level and the Ministerial level, continuing attention is given to practical ways and means of improving European coöperation and coördination in the defense field.
Progress toward a greater degree of European defense coöperation is consistent with the overall trend in Western Europe toward closer political and economic integration. We have to bear in mind the need to ensure that developments in all three fields are compatible with each other. There is no reason to suppose that movement in this direction will weaken the Atlantic Alliance. On the contrary, the creation of a European identity within the Alliance is clearly the way to give reality to President Nixon's concept of partnership: as he has said, the European members of the Alliance "will deserve a voice in the Alliance and its decisions commensurate with their growing power and contributions." It should also not be overlooked that European defense coöperation may provide a way of helping France to move back into closer military coöperation with the other members of the Alliance. This will be a key issue if Europe is to play its rightful role in meeting the challenges the Alliance will face in the seventies.
As I have already pointed out, the North Atlantic Alliance is a natural and necessary response to the continuing divisions between East and West and to the military and political confrontation in which these divisions have resulted. The unity and strength of the Alliance are important, not only in order to defend its members, but also in order to provide a firm base from which to negotiate with the other side and so remove the fundamental divisions. Like President Nixon, I believe that we may now be entering an era of East-West negotiations; I very much hope so; the British government has always worked hard to reduce the areas of difference between ourselves and the communist world. No more than anyone else do we enjoy paying for a large military establishment; nor do we like to live with the continued risk that the unresolved conflict between East and West could erupt into a wholly destructive war. Moreover, as a democratic government we face a task, from which our Soviet counterparts are exempt, of repeatedly justifying our dispositions to our public opinion and demonstrating that the rigidities of East-West relations are in no way attributable to lack of effort or vision on our part.
Yet, when we embark on negotiations, we must not forget that in talking to the Russians weakness is not a virtue, and that an obvious willingness to surrender positions on our side or to make unilateral gestures is not necessarily the best way of getting the Russians to discuss real questions of substance, far less to make concessions. This is why any approach to negotiations on our part can only go hand in hand with a firm determination to maintain the cohesion and military credibility of the Alliance. Only by so doing will we be able to convince the Russians that they can get something of what they want if they let us have something of what we want in return.
This is the background against which I see negotiations developing on three main themes of the greatest importance-both to the Europeans and to the Americans-the global negotiations between the superpowers, especially the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks; negotiations about the political problems of divided Europe; and negotiations intended to scale down the massive confrontation of soldiers and weapons now facing one another across the center of the continent.
Probably the most important development in the dialogue between the superpowers is the talks on strategic arms limitation, begun in Helsinki last December and resumed in April in Vienna. It is obviously in the interests of the NATO Alliance that the burden laid on its major partner by the costs of preserving the effectiveness of its nuclear deterrent should be limited, and that the nuclear arms race should be abated. It is encouraging that both appear to be engaging in the talks with a genuine desire to reach agreement. I am confident that the U.S. government will not lose sight of the need to maintain the credibility of its nuclear commitment to Europe. As to the nature of an agreement, with our nuclear experience Britain is well placed to appreciate the problems involved in reaching any accord. All members of the Alliance must recognize the advantages of setting any agreed level of strategic nuclear armament as low as possible. However, the development of interacting systems, and in particular the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) and Multiple Independently Targeted Reëntry Vehicle (MIRV) systems, makes this more difficult as time goes on. I hope it is not too late to limit them. The progress of the talks will have its effect on the climate of discussion of political ways of assuring peace in Europe.
In dealing with the political problems of European security, one must realize that not all the problems of divided Europe are immediately tractable. There is, however, a prospect of fruitful negotiations on the questions of Germany and Berlin. For here the three Western powers-together with the Russians, their erstwhile wartime allies-retain their rights and are directly involved in any search for progress on the German problem. Our rights in this respect will remain paramount until such time as a final peace settlement is negotiated. It is on this basis that we and our French and American allies talk with the Russians about the situation in and around Berlin. I believe that the Soviet Union shares a common interest in maintaining the rights of the Four Powers in Berlin, and that there is indeed a general recognition that no lasting progress can be made on the German problem unless the situation in Berlin is put on a more satisfactory and firmer basis. At the same time the British government has of course warmly supported Herr Brandt in his efforts to improve the Federal Republic's relations with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Eastern Europe, and to negotiate an adequate modus vivendi between the two parts of Germany. The Federal Government has, in embarking on its new policy, shown the fullest realization of the desirability of keeping in close touch with its allies.
Negotiations on the political problems of divided Europe are only half the story. There is also the question of force levels. As I have already said, the existence of such large forces in Central Europe is not only expensive; it helps to perpetuate the existing state of tension. This is why the West proposed in June 1968 that the other side should join with us in studies of the possibility of mutual and balanced force reductions. We think that both sides should have a real interest in such reductions, provided that they can be so conducted as to maintain unimpaired the degree of security which each side now enjoys by virtue of its existing defense arrangements. Clearly, neither we nor the other side could contemplate reductions which weakened our relative capacity to defend ourselves. At the same time both we and the Warsaw Pact countries have a positive interest in diverting funds from military purposes to those of peace.
The other side, however, has so far shown no interest in discussing the problem. The Soviet Union argues that it is a problem more suitable for the disarmament talks at Geneva; that it is too complex for early discussion; even that it has been advanced by the West only to divert attentions from the Warsaw Pact's own suggestion that there should be an "all-European conference" to agree on a declaration for nonuse of force, and on arrangements for economic, technical and scientific coöperation, between East and West. This is, of course, not so. We ourselves are not opposed to a European security conference. But what is really important is that there should be substantial, and successful, talks on matters of real importance.
Such talks have already begun-on German questions and in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. The Soviet proposal for a conference is primarily a proposal about procedure. There is room for legitimate discussion about whether an all-European conference is the best procedural device for forwarding the interests of European security at the present moment. There may be other devices, such as some form of continuing East-West machinery. All these possibilities are now being examined in NATO.
In the last analysis, what matters is not the form but the content, not the procedures but the will to make them work. One cannot get away from the fact that there must still be doubts about whether the Russians have that will, and these doubts are still the major cause of insecurity in Europe. European security requires security for all states in Europe and that means full sovereignty, without arbitrary limitations, for all. We must probe the Russians for any signs of willingness that they are prepared to do business. They have in the past reversed their position entirely, and come to genuine agreements with the West where none had seemed possible. They did so in Austria in 1955. They may do so again. The West cannot afford to let any such opportunity pass. If progress cannot be achieved, it will not be due to any lack of will on our part.
The best if not the only way for Western Europe to pull its weight in the struggle to achieve a balanced and stable partnership with North America and to break down the barriers to East-West understanding is through the progressive construction of a united Europe. A united Europe will be able to maintain European influence in a world where the superpowers are likely to play a predominant role. A divided Western Europe would have little influence on world events.
I shall not attempt in this article to define the modalities of European unity, or the exact shape which a united Europe will have 5, 10 or 20 years from now. It has been increasingly assumed in Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, that the Community road is the right road to follow. Since the British application in May 1967 we have made it clear that we believe that Europe can emerge as a Community expressing its own point of view and exercising influence in world affairs, not only in the commercial and economic but also in the political and defense fields. Britain wants to play a full part in this process. That remains our position.
Much has happened in Europe in the three years since our application. There have been changes in France and in Germany. There has been the invasion of Czechoslovakia. The recovery of the British balance of payments has transformed our own situation. But none of this has changed the government's determination to embark on negotiations, nor the determination to see them succeed on terms fair to all. We have a great deal to give to Europe, and thereby to the West as a whole. If negotiations were to fail it would be a grave loss to Europe as a whole as well as to the United Kingdom.
My predecessor, George Brown, set out the reasons for the British application and the issues which we wish to see settled in negotiations in his historic statement to the Western European Union in July 1967. The government has confirmed that this remains our position. We want negotiations to be confined to the few major issues set out in that statement. We are prepared to see those questions upon which the main issue of success or failure does not depend settled afterwards under Community procedures. We want negotiations to be completed as speedily as possible in order to join with our future partners-as we hope-in the work to be done in moving toward European unity.
It is widely recognized in Europe that it is not advisable at this stage to lay down a blueprint for integration in the fields of foreign policy and defense in the same way as has been done with a great measure of success for economic questions. Nor is it possible at this stage to say what new institutions would have to be set up to cover the development of an integrated Western Europe. But while the measures to be taken in the medium term will have to be decided pragmatically, the longer-term aim is clear.
The efforts we in Europe have made since the war to achieve greater unity have taken a variety of forms; some have been pursued by one group of European countries, some by another group. These groupings have naturally overlapped with each other, but they have not consisted of exactly the same countries in each case. In looking to the future, and to the longer term, there must be provision for the fusion of these groupings into a single group. The field open to European integration is a very wide one. At the end of the day members of the Community will have to be prepared to accept its full political, military and economic obligations. It would be very much a second best, and would hamper progress across the board, if some European countries were to abstain from integration in certain fields.
It is impossible at this stage to predict what institutions will be needed as European integration goes forward. These will have to develop pragmatically as countries increasingly perceive their common interest, as they grow more confident that they can pursue that interest more effectively together, and as they perceive what institutions will help to make the expression of Europe's interests more forceful. The development of institutions toward political unity may well be needed to make the best of the tremendous opportunities for Europe which lie ahead in the seventies and the eighties-most of all the opportunity to restore Europe's influence and standing in the world.
At the same time as we believe in the emergence of an integrated European community expressing its own point of view and exercising its own influence in world affairs, we must bear in mind the need to avoid creating further divisions within Western Europe. Some countries in Europe might be prepared to accept all the obligations laid down in the treaties establishing the European Communities but would hesitate to assume less specific but nevertheless equally important obligations for the future, connected with progress toward political unification. This is a real problem, and a solution will have to be found in the next few years. But it will be found only by reference to the main principles I have tried to sketch out.
In the economic field it has sometimes been suggested that an enlarged Community will seek to become a closed trading bloc and will undermine the progress made since the Second World War in the liberalization of world trade. This is not so. The existing Community's increasing strength and unity in the economic field already oblige it to take increasing account of the interests of third countries. As the Community becomes bigger in numbers and in economic strength it will have to think even bigger, too. It would be quite contrary to the interests of an enlarged Community to put up its shutters against world trade. A liberal trade policy is quite compatible with the attempt to build up an economic system and advanced technological industries in Europe which could compete on equal terms with the United States-something the original donors of Marshall Aid had in mind. A strong Europe will also contribute to the development of international monetary coöperation.
In the political field a Europe of this kind will give the United States the strong partner it requires and will enable Europe to contribute more in sharing the worldwide burdens of which the United States has borne so large a part since the Second World War. I am particularly thinking of aid to the developing countries. A Europe of this kind will represent a new and distinct force on the international scene, but not a "Third Force" in the sense that it will deliberately seek to adopt policies or strike attitudes divergent from those of its major ally. On the contrary it will have every interest in retaining the closest links with the United States. Even if we may occasionally argue about methods, the West Europeans share with the North Americans the same fundamental attachment to human rights and the rule of law.
The policies and program I have described are ambitious. There can be no doubt that Europe has the necessary economic resources to undertake its tasks. The European Community's record of economic growth in the last 10 years speaks for itself. The economic position of Britain has been transformed. One measure of this is the turn-around in our balance of payments. The surplus we are now running, coupled with the confidence in sterling it has helped to engender, has enabled us to pay off most of our short-term external debt. To some extent this success can be attributed to the devaluation of 1967 and the supporting measures we have taken since then in the fiscal and monetary fields. More important, however, for our longer-term growth and viability is the way in which our balance-of- payments achievements are being underpinned by an extensive program of industrial and technological reform. The encouragement of investment, the setting up of the Industrial Reorganization Corporation, schemes for industrial training, emphasis on the need for better management and the encouragement of management training-these and many other measures are all contributing to a progressive modernization of the British economy and growth of productivity.
We have, then, the resources. Do we have the political will? Our future European partners must speak for themselves. I am content to note that all the governments of the Six have expressed themselves in favor of British entry into the European Communities and such tests as there have been of West European public opinion have indicated that there is strong support for a more closely integrated Western Europe, including the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons voted in 1967, by an overwhelming majority, to support the government's decision to apply for membership in the European Communities. Our three major parties have repeatedly reaffirmed their support for the government's policy of seeking negotiations. Over the past decade there has been a decisive shift of informed opinion in Britain in favor of full involvement in Europe. There is no question of that shift of opinion, which took some considerable time to come, being reversed in a hurry.
It is true that largely because of anxiety about a rise in food prices, there is a fluctuating majority who answer "No" to the question "Do you want Britain to join the European Communities?" However, a large majority both support the opening of negotiations and expect Britain to join the Community. A certain lack of general interest in the idea of a united Europe is natural after 10 years' waiting to join the Communities. But the leadership in every walk of life and the younger generation are decisively in favor of British entry. Public opinion can be expected to take a more positive attitude when negotiations have started and look like succeeding.
Throughout the Alliance none of our policies will be of any value unless they can command popular support. This support will depend to some extent on people's judgment of narrow economic and political advantage, but far more on their assessment of broader social and political objectives. Equally necessary is that our domestic policies should live up to and demonstrate the validity of our professed ideals. Our whole system will lose its dynamic and prove rotten at the core unless we can show that democracy is the best instrument for meeting the major challenges of our time-racialism, technological change, the revolution of rising expectations, the conflicting requirements for central economic management and devolution of authority. We must continue to show that ours is not only the efficient society, but also the humane society.
Fortunately our strongest critics in this respect are close at hand. Throughout the West younger people in particular have demonstrated their preoccupation with the need for improvement in the quality of life, their concern with social problems and problems of the environment, their desire for more participation, and their suspicion of conventional concepts of authority, freedom and government. It is important that there should be a clear response to these concerns. Without popular support there is no chance of our carrying through the complex programs of transatlantic partnership, closer West European integration and East-West talks. Such support will be forthcoming only if we can show that our domestic and external policies are two sides of the same concern and if we emphasize the opportunities which they offer us for achieving better conditions both in our own countries and throughout the rest of the world.