Courtesy Reuters

Britain, Europe and the Alliance

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 One may think that this conception of a continuing and inevitable struggle is wholly out of date.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

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