Time for NATO to Close Its Door
The Alliance Is Too Big—and Too Provocative—for Its Own Good
Twenty-FIVE years have passed since the collapse of Europe. Vienna- Versailles-Potsdam: these historic milestones mark the calamitous decline of the European world order during the last hundred and fifty years.
At Vienna, European statesmen sought to restore a European balance of power, having defeated-with the critical assistance of maritime Britain and Eurasian Russia-the Napoleonic effort to establish a unified continental system. In 1815, it was still European statesmanship that resolved Europe's imperial problems and thereby ordered the structure of world power.
At Versailles, with Russia excluded, European statesmen grappled with the new force of national self-determination and strove to limit the power of the single most dynamic European national entity, Germany; but they did so in a political and idealistic context created largely by a transatlantic statesman, who represented the entry of American power into the European arena. Europe alone no longer could fight its wars nor build its peace.
At Potsdam, 25 years ago last July, Europe was absent. In the prostrate capital of the most mighty European nation the future of the former center of the world was shaped in a confrontation between an Atlantic-Pacific continental power, the offspring of Europe's liberal tradition, and a Eurasian ideological empire, likewise a transplanted product of the European intellectual diffusion. Though some of the most lively debates at Potsdam were the personal contribution of the British war leader, the British presence-representing primarily an overseas empire-was already becoming an extension of American power.
A new post-European world order thereby emerged, with Europe itself powerless and divided. This was a shift of historic proportions, the disappearance of what for several centuries in fact had been the center of world power, the partition of hitherto the world's most dynamic continent, the emergence instead of two competitive, ideologically distinct, non- European centers of power.
To this day Europe is effectively absent from world politics. Its decline has been halted on the social-economic plane and in many respects actually reversed, but the basic political reality is still not fundamentally different from what it had been in the days, a quarter of a century ago, when Europe's cities were ruins and ashes. Social and economic restoration has not yet been matched by political rebirth. Europe is still to decide whether it seeks again a world role, whether it wishes to be a larger Sweden or a bigger Finland.
There are some suggestive parallels between the historical circumstances leading to the arrangements contrived in 1815 and the events surrounding the 1945 Potsdam agreement. After almost 25 years of practically continuous warfare, intensified by a new ideological challenge emanating from the French Revolution and its subsequent Napoleonic embodiment, peace among the several major powers was eventually arranged. How to partition Poland among the three key imperial claimants in such a way that the interests of each empire were satisfied was a key question. The formula negotiated endured for a century, largely because an intricate system of balance of power was reinforced by a shared consensus.
The division of Germany in 1945 was similarly preceded by a prolonged period of warfare and political instability. The years 1914-1945 can be seen as involving the progressive disintegration-social as well as political-of the earlier arrangements, and of repeated failures of intra- European remedies. The surgical division of Germany-and with it of Europe as well-put an end to that instability. The new system has already endured a quarter of a century. Might it become a historical rival to the one created by the Congress of Vienna?
The stability of the division of Europe-seemingly underlined by the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia and the continued dependence of West Europe on U.S. arms-is deceptive. Three basic considerations point otherwise: (1) The Europeans do not like it. Moreover, potential instability in several European societies could erupt, precipitating a contagious process of accelerating political change. (2) The division of Europe is basically dependent on the stability of the two dividing powers, and that stability cannot be taken for granted, either in relations between them or in political conditions within them. (3) Basic ideological consensus is absent, thereby prompting each side-as it competes with the other-to deny the legitimacy of existing European arrangements.
Though the Europeans themselves are divided as to the needed remedies, they share a common resentment of their dependent condition. This resentment is as true of a Frenchman as it is of a Pole; indeed, that is precisely why General de Gaulle, who most explicitly articulated that resentment, was so popular in Eastern Europe. Moreover, European societies, approaching in varying degrees the transition point from the industrial to the technetronic stage, face increasingly complex political and social questions, questions to which they alone cannot effectively respond. The necessity and desirability of European unity are widely recognized-again, both in the East and in the West.
In this connection, a striking paradox involving the current European social and political scene is worthy of note. In the West, affluence and development have created a situation in which the social-economic order, though materially satisfying, is not capable of commanding the positive loyalty of the individual, increasingly alienated and uncertain of his philosophical moorings. At the same time, the political order, pluralistic and free, is positively accepted by the masses, and revolutionary parties do not command widespread popular support. In the East, in spite of relative impoverishment, the socialist concept of welfare seems to be, on the whole, viewed as the more desirable, even if imperfect, mode of social organization; in contrast, the political system that gave birth to that social order is despised. That system is still dependent for survival on coercion and censorship, not to speak of the direct intrusion of foreign power.[i]
All of that makes for uncertainty, easily combustible by the unpredictable consequences of such events as, say, the death of Tito, the resulting political struggles in Jugoslavia and the temptation for Moscow to seek to restore to its influence the one area lost to it since the 1945 division of European spoils. The partition of Germany, not to speak of Berlin, similarly remains a potential trouble spot; the reception given to Chancellor Brandt by the East German population of Erfurt dramatically refuted all those who have assumed that in less than a generation a distinctive sense of national identity can be manufactured through compulsion. At the same time, Italy shows mounting symptoms of becoming the Czechoslovakia of NATO, a country of uncertain political and even foreign orientation. In brief, Europe is still not at ease with itself.[ii]
But neither are the two dividing powers. America is uncertain of its world mission; indeed, if it can be said that the Soviet Union, not yet a global power in a comprehensive sense, aspires to world might, America today displays many signs of uncertainty as to whether it is worth being the only global power. I have discussed at length elsewhere the nature of the present American dilemmas, arguing that America is in the midst of a difficult but potentially creative transition from one age to another.[iii] But whatever the merit of my analysis, for Europeans, contemporary America is doubtless a less certain protector, a less committed partner.
The Soviet Union similarly confronts domestic and external challenges, which in the longer run could adversely affect its position in Europe. The domestic equivalent of the American transition is the increasing dysfunctionality of the Soviet political system to Soviet social-economic growth. Originally an instrument of social-economic modernization, the Soviet political system, rigid bureaucratically and dogmatic intellectually, has increasingly become an impediment to the kind of scientific-technological creativity that innovation nowadays requires. This condition is breeding a political crisis, all the graver because of official efforts to suppress any of its outward manifestations. At the same time, the Sino-Soviet conflict poses for the Soviet Union the specter of protracted conflict potentially of dimensions many-fold graver than the painful American involvement in Vietnam. This fear, as well as Soviet rivalry with America, stimulates a massive defense effort, increasing both the internal influence of the more rigid, doctrinaire elements and the scope of Soviet international involvement. Neither Soviet stability nor restraint can thus be taken for granted.
Finally, unlike 1815, basic consensus is absent; instead, the powers enforcing the present arrangement are ideologically competitive. That competition is real and direct, and it is far from waning. The two powers thus continue to divide Europe not necessarily because both of them want to divide the Continent but because this competition leaves them no alternative.
More fundamentally, the philosophical differences between America and Russia have made for a rather different relationship on the part of each of the two powers toward Europe, Though the competition between them has resulted in the partition of Europe, the American relationship to Europe has been, on the whole, innovative, creative, and even revolutionary; the Soviet has been far more conservative and even reactionary. This is an important fact, one of which Americans have every right to be proud; moreover, it is a consideration of relevance to current policy issues.
The United States has consistently striven to restore Europe to its previous grandeur, first through the Marshall Plan and, throughout the postwar era, by consistently supporting and encouraging the movement toward European unity. It has been the widely held American view that a united Europe, even though potentially (and now increasingly so in fact) an economic rival, would have a major contribution to make to world peace. The common intellectual and philosophical heritage of the Atlantic world had doubtless much to do with the American desire for and confidence in European unity. At the same time, American social mores, educational patterns and corporate techniques have had a strikingly powerful impact on Western Europe, modernizing and even revolutionizing established European modes of behavior.
In contrast, the Soviet presence in Europe has been a combination of very traditional imperialism with an ideological compulsion for creating carbon copies of the Soviet model in countries subject to Soviet control. The Soviet Union insisted on expanding westward its state frontiers, seizing parts of Finland, the Baltic states in their entirety, more than half of prewar Poland, half of prewar German East Prussia, a slice of Czechoslovakia, and a good part of Rumania. Every western neighbor of the Soviet Union, whether friend or foe, suffered territorial losses to Soviet advantage.
The Soviet Union, moreover, has striven throughout the postwar era both to prevent West European unity and to keep its own client states in a clearly satellite position, forbidding any coöperative coalescence among them. Collaboration-military, political and economic-has been permitted only with direct, and hence overwhelming, Soviet participation, which clearly establishes Moscow as the dominant partner. The isolation of the East European states from the rest of Europe has expressed itself most dramatically through the Soviet occupation in August 1968 of Czechoslovakia, a state which was seeking to sever neither its political nor its security ties with Moscow but which did attempt to liberalize its political and cultural life, in keeping with its deeply imbedded Western democratic traditions.
Though it may not be fashionable to point out these contrasts at a time when the conformist thing to do is either to condemn American policy as shortsighted or, at the very best, to put it on the same moral plane as that of its adversary, the basic fact is that the general character of America's postwar European policy was fundamentally designed to help Europe regain its health and vitality. It was thus a policy of enlightened self- interest, pursued energetically and with a creative flair.
Yet today there is a tendency among some Americans to view the American role in Europe as largely completed. Some urge military disengagement; others postulate a "low profile" on the grounds, as Mr. Nixon put it in his annual message, that the time has come for America to shift from a preponderant role toward more genuine partnership. Preoccupied with domestic affairs and with the Vietnam conflict, American policy toward Europe has increasingly acquired a passive character. For the West Europeans, it is mostly a matter of providing "soul massage" : NATO sessions are treated to solemn assurances of continued American commitment but without much policy content. For the East Europeans there is even less; Mr, Nixon's trip to Bucharest was symbolically useful, but neither his administration nor Mr. Johnson's moved toward fulfilling the more challenging vision of closer all-European ties, outlined by the U.S. President in his October 1966 speech. On matters of substance, such as the question of an all-European conference, the United States has simply dragged its feet.
All this has stimulated European apprehensions concerning America's role in Europe. With the American mass media and intellectuals competing in presenting to the world apocalyptic versions of America's domestic difficulties, with social and racial problems commanding greater attention in American politics, with the American economy showing signs of strain, and with the war in Vietnam continuing to absorb American policymakers while fostering more generally an isolationist mood, the Europeans are becoming gradually more skeptical of American assurances and uncertain about American intentions. While European fears of a new U.S.-Soviet hegemonic deal through SALT have been assuaged by skillful U.S. briefing of its allies at every stage of the negotiations, the residual fear of a new Yalta still lingers as an alternative to the specter of precipitous U.S. disengagement.
The result is good neither for America nor Europe. Each needs the other. Without Europe, America will turn inward, disillusioned with its post-World War II activism, shifting from a sometimes naïve idealism to self-centered cynicism. Without close ties with America, Western Europe's political independence is less than certain, especially given the growth in Soviet military power. Both together-for all their imperfections-represent the most decent and the freest forms of self-government and social organization so far developed by man. The values and the way of life-in a word, the civilization-of the West depend on the ability of America and West Europe to work closely together in weaving a new fabric of international affairs.
It is, therefore, true-as Mr. Nixon has said-that America "can no more disengage from Europe than from Alaska." But that being so, America must have a constructive and not merely a verbal European policy. Intimacy without shared goals and purposes ceases to be intimacy and becomes a transient relationship. Indeed, Mr. Nixon's analogy, though not exactly flattering to the Europeans, highlights the inescapable interrelationship between America and Europe, an interrelationship which imposes on both the obligation to work in common on the central questions confronting Europe's future. This involves, above all, focusing on how to redress the partition of Europe and how to define Europe's international role.
The East-West issue is far from dead or even dormant, though that is precisely the impression the framers of the Brezhnev doctrine wish to convey.
Czechoslovakia has demonstrated the extreme vulnerability of the communist systems of the Leninist-Stalinist variety. The leadership's lack of a deep political base and its divisions at the top, combined with economic difficulties and popular resentment of Stalinist rule, quickly developed into a systemic challenge, as earlier happened also in Hungary, Poland and East Germany. This is not to say that a democratic evolution of Eastern Europe is inevitable; both Soviet power and the relative weakness of an organic democratic tradition in most of the East European countries tend to work against it. It is, however, still the case that the present communist systems have not been successfully grafted onto the East European social organisms; the phenomenon of "system rejection" is largely nationalist in origin but, because of the depth of that feeling, it is difficult for Moscow entirely to suppress it.
Some Western observers have concluded that the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, formalized through the Brezhnev doctrine, means that henceforth all change in Eastern Europe must be synchronized with change in Moscow. There is some truth in that, but the conclusion is exaggerated. A change in East-West relations must involve both Eastern Europe and Russia, lest Moscow conclude that the West is striving to detach Eastern Europe and to turn it against Russia. To acknowledge this is not the same as to conclude that henceforth the focus of Western initiatives must be Moscow alone. Nor is it to say the encouragement of East European democratic evolution, greater independence and closer coöperation with the West is to be avoided lest it precipitate a new Czechoslovakia. To adopt this position is to engage in a self-fulfilling prophecy; more than that, it means tacit recognition of the Brezhnev doctrine.
It should be remembered that this doctrine was formulated by Moscow at a very high cost to its prestige and international position. The Kremlin is not anxious to have to repeat-say, in Rumania or Poland-the spectacle of one communist state militarily invading another. Because of that, the Soviet leaders exert every effort to discredit and inhibit the Western policy of building bridges, to convince the West to deal with Moscow alone. The decline in the ideological attraction of the Soviets and in the appeal of the scientific vitality of the Soviet model (which at one time was undeniable among some East Europeans shattered by the experience of World War II, as C. Milosz eloquently shows in his "The Captive Mind") has made the Soviet leaders even more anxious to make certain that all East-West relations are routed through Moscow.
The Soviet leaders are, doubtless, especially concerned by the revival of the Western attraction for the East Europeans, a revival which is even felt in the upper ranks of the ruling East European élites. After the conclusion of World War II quite a few East Europeans, especially among the intellectuals and economic specialists, saw in communism an opportunity to close the traditional gap dividing Eastern and Western Europe: through rapid industrialization and social modernization they hoped to construct a new society which would be morally and socio-economically even superior to the West. The predominant mood was one of social innovation, ideological optimism and even contempt for the West.
That optimism is now a thing of the past. For all of their efforts, the East Europeans realize that they are still lagging behind Western Europe, that the West is leaping into the technetronic age while their own political systems, modeled on the Soviet one, are becoming obstacles to rapid technological-scientific growth. In the industrial age, steel was often cited as the index of growth; today computers can be taken as the equivalent index, and the following figures are especially suggestive :[iv]
COMPARATIVE DISTRIBUTION OF COMPUTERS AS OF END OF 1969
United States 70,000 Japan 5,800 West Germany 5,750 Britain 5,600 France 5,010 U.S.S.R. 3,500 Italy 2,500 Canada 2,400 Australia 900 Netherlands 850 Switzerland 800 Eastern Europe 750 Africa 750
Anxiety on this issue has been mounting, and the East Europeans, like the Russians, are turning to technology-importation as a short-term solution. At the same time, more and more East Europeans are recognizing that Leninism has become an obsolete dogma which has little to say with regard to the novel psychological and scientific dilemmas of the post-industrial, technetronic age. President Ceaucescu of Rumania was expressing a widely held view when he called, in July 1970, for an updating of Marxism, an updating which is not likely to come from the citadel of bureaucratic orthodoxy.
Though anxious and defensive about Eastern Europe, the Soviet leaders- perhaps in part to compensate for this and certainly in part to exploit American passivity-have been active in regard to the West. Their policy has been occasionally contradictory, but that is inherent in the partially conflicting goals of Soviet policy: to consolidate control over Eastern Europe, to obtain Western acceptance of it, to divide the West, to gain access to Western technology, to induce the West Germans to adopt a more solitary posture, to retain a whip hand over Berlin. Thus on the one hand, the Soviet leaders have been actively promoting a so-called "European security conference" in the hope of thereby gaining formal Western recognition of the status quo; yet, at the same time, their residual ideological orientation has made them strive to use this device to weaken Western unity. On the one hand, the Soviet leaders have been urging closer East-West economic ties, yet on the other they have inveighed against East- West peaceful engagement, constructing an elaborate theory of "peaceful counterrevolution" to justify their efforts to limit closer intellectual and cultural ties. On the one hand, they have sought to benefit from Western technological innovation, and on the other to increase West Europe's dependence on Soviet gas and oil supplies.
But whatever the surface contradictions, the inner logic of the Soviet policy is coherent. While denying the West access to Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union seeks to prevent the reappearance of Europe on the international map. A loose, splintered Europe, gradually but not dramatically drifting apart from America, would become, not badly from the Soviet point of view, a regional sort of Sweden-essentially Western in political orientation but inactive and "radically chic;" better still, a Finland, not directly subservient but necessarily sensitive to thinly veiled Soviet political influence. This goal, given the mounting threat of a Sino-Soviet crisis and the increasing need for acquiring Western scientific know-how, must be pursued cautiously. Indeed, only through restraint can the drifting apart of America from Europe be promoted; precipitous moves would be counterproductive. Limited coexistence thus best serves Soviet interests in both Eastern and Western Europe.
The above analysis underlines the continued need for countervailing U.S. political involvement in the East-West European relationship. Without such positive involvement there is the real risk that otherwise even highly desirable initiatives, such as Bonn's Ostpolitik, will either fail or, worse, be turned around to divide the West. The problems of Europe, even of Germany, are too complex-and involve, as we have argued, too profound a historical transformation of world power-to be redressed by the solitary efforts of middle-sized European powers.
Soviet leaders appear to be more aware of this than Washington, and they have stepped up their efforts to obtain from Bonn, through bilateral talks, all the demands that otherwise the East would have to negotiate with the West: de jure recognition of East Germany, of eastern frontiers, as well as security guarantees and trade benefits. Facing Moscow alone, Bonn has drastically altered its own posture; in the past it sought reunification through free elections, with a reunified Germany free to choose its own association; it is now seeking some improvements in all German contacts and access to West Berlin, something which Moscow can always later withdraw, in return for granting de facto and perhaps soon de jure recognition of the GDR. In a word, Bonn has shifted from maximal objectives at minimal cost, to minimal objectives at maximal cost.
More disturbing, some Germans connected with the Ostpolitik quietly acknowledge to their Western friends that the real motive for the West German initiative is rooted in declining West German confidence in the stability and commitment of America. Top West German leaders, on returning from visits to America, have confessed to their friends their dismay at the state of American society and their distrust of political trends in the United States. Their approaches to Moscow have been designed in part to enhance West German security through bilateral arrangements. Though this may not be the dominant motive, it does appear to be shared by some key German policy-makers.
To be sure, recognition of the Oder-Neisse Line and the repudiation of the Munich agreement can improve German relations with East Europe as well as redress historical wrongs. The German-Soviet nonaggression agreement of this August will be most helpful in dissipating the image of a revanchist Germany, although it would have been better if the Federal Republic had recognized the Polish frontier through a bilateral agreement with Poland; doing so in the context of a German-Soviet agreement confirms the Soviet claim that the Soviet Union is the key guarantor of East European integrity. But on the larger goal of European restoration, progress can be made only on a wider front, from the basis of greater power symmetry. West Germany has the power to legitimize Germany's division and to gratify the Soviet hunger for Western technology but by itself it cannot bring East Europe back to Europe nor even significantly promote the process of reassociation of the German people. Indeed, conducted from a limited base of domestic support, the Ostpolitik could breed within Germany a polarization on the subject of foreign policy, with negative consequences for Western unity, especially if the success of the Ostpolitik should turn out to be not very different from its failure.
The proper course for Washington, accordingly, is not to warn the West Germans against moving too fast, thereby making it easier for the Christian Democrats to oppose Brandt, or to issue belated public blessings for the West German efforts when the warnings have been ignored, but to take an active part in shaping the Western initiative on the East-West front. Such an initiative could take the shape of proposing a comprehensive agenda for East-West talks on the major European problems, perhaps even with the participation of neutral or nonaligned countries on some of the topics more directly of relevance to them. This is what most Europeans, both East and West, would like the United States to do; in fact, only Moscow, perhaps some Rapallo-minded Germans and a few residual Gaullists prefer American passivity. That passivity-even opposition in NATO councils to a Western initiative in response to the East's proposals for a European Security Conference-has enabled the Soviet Union throughout 1969 and the early parts of 1970 to pursue its European policy, orchestrating its Eastern and Western initiatives, without fear that an affirmative response from the West will compel the East-never quite as single-minded as it appears on the surface-to focus seriously on the major East-West issues.
With the hand of the United States forced by its allies in early 1970, the West finally moved in May to respond to the East with a counter-proposal "to hold exploratory talks on mutual and balanced force reductions in Europe, with special reference to the Central region." This was a step forward but a timid one. It still did not involve a larger political initiative, designed to put on the agenda the outstanding issues in the East-West European relationship.
Yet that larger initiative is needed to match Moscow's political moves, and America's active and positive participation in shaping it is needed to underline America's continued commitment to healing the partition of the Continent. One should not entertain illusory hopes; such an initiative will not resolve the problem. Perhaps the East wishes to negotiate; perhaps its proposals have been a bluff. If the latter, the bluff at least will have been called; if the former, a start on the long process will have been made, to the advantage of all concerned.
The Western agenda could include such items as: (1) the mutual force reductions already proposed in May 1970, to a discussion of which the East has responded affirmatively; (2) the creation of a joint NATO-Warsaw Pact commission or a European security commission, to monitor eventual security arrangements and perhaps even to initiate others,[v] especially in the nuclear field, matching thereby progress in the bilateral American-Soviet talks; (3) the creation of permanent consultative East-West political machinery, for example, at deputy foreign ministerial level; (4) the liberalization and regularization of travel, cultural and trade relations, specifically and explicitly including in that context more formal arrangements concerning access to Berlin, perhaps initially negotiated elsewhere by the Four Powers; (5) the reiteration of the principle of noninterference, especially through armed forces, in the internal affairs of individual states, a prerogative claimed by the Soviet Union through the Brezhnev doctrine; (6) widening the technological-scientific coöperation, provided progress is also made on the other issues, for otherwise the West would be gratifying the East's hunger for Western scientific know-how without any commensurate reduction in political tensions.
Doubtless, these points could be modified or others added. The agenda proposed here would partially cover the points raised by the East (especially in regard to trade and technology) but also go beyond that. Negotiating with the East about the agenda would itself be the beginning of the negotiating process; it would therefore involve the initiation of the desired East-West dialogue. The word "process" is a key one. In proposing to the East a wider-ranging negotiating process, the West should not expect an immediate agreement but a protracted dialogue, initially essentially exploratory and subsequently more negotiatory.
Such negotiation would, at the same time, complement SALT, a purely bilateral U.S.-Soviet undertaking, the Ostpolitik, addressed-again on a bilateral basis-more specifically to the German question, and the Four Power talks on Berlin. It would give the Europeans a greater sense of involvement, but on the basis of a symmetry of power, and without the risk either of European fears of a bilateral American-Soviet arrangement or of fears by the Germans of being left alone to resolve their fate with the more powerful Russians.
As an additional advantage, the East-West negotiating umbrella would permit the West Germans greater flexibility in setting the pace of their own negotiations with the East. At the moment, they have no clear point of reference, nor is it easy for them to cut apart their specifically German concerns from issues affecting the interest of their allies.[vi] The allies should follow the lead of Bonn on such matters as relations with the GDR, but Bonn should have the opportunity to calibrate its own moves in relationship to progress in broader East-West negotiations.
A broader Western political initiative might be facilitated by a somewhat more flexible Western attitude toward the question of troop reductions. That issue is enormously complicated. To make it the primary or the major Western initiative is probably a mistake. It elevates a military problem above political issues, though its resolution remains (in addition to technical-military considerations) primarily dependent on political progress. Moreover, political conditions in Eastern Europe are, from the Soviet standpoint, much less secure than the corresponding political conditions in Western Europe. They could be seriously affected by the withdrawal of Soviet occupation troops.
Raising the troops issue may be wise tactically as an initial negotiating gambit, especially since it is bound to be an attractive one in Europe as a whole. However, in the context of the larger proposal it might prove feasible for both sides to agree to some symbolic reductions, designed primarily to improve the climate for discussion of the more basic political issues. It would, therefore, be desirable for the West to propose-without the systematic studies necessary for more ambitious and balanced troop reductions-some symbolic initial reductions by both sides, say, the withdrawal from Germany of 20,000 American and Soviet soldiers respectively.
The East-West issue is sometimes posed as a matter of recognizing or not recognizing the status quo. Perhaps a more appropriate term than recognition would be "regularization." Formal recognition could be construed by one side as a belated victory, and by some allies, especially the Federal Republic, as a betrayal of commitments made long ago. It is not even certain that all East Europeans would be happy about it. A regularization of the East-West relationship, however, including that involving the two Germanys, could provide the basis for evolutionary change, pointing toward the eventual reconciliation and reassociation of the European peoples, including also the Germans.
That reassociation should remain the goal of American policy-not only verbally but through demonstrable commitment. Though distant, it is necessary to the eventual restoration of Europe. It is also something very much desired by most East Europeans. It is thus in America's interest-and in keeping with its own ideals-to demonstrate its active engagement in undoing peacefully the legacy of Potsdam.
In the long run, the restoration of Europe requires the reassociation of its western and eastern halves. In the shorter run, it can be best served by the continued integration of Western Europe and its close coöperation with the United States. There is no incompatibility between the two objectives. The reassociation of Europe will not be achieved by a disunited Western Europe, divorced from America; Moscow would see to that. The reassociation of Europe may eventually be attained through a gradual process of mutual involvement, conducted from a stable basis of symmetrical power, reinforced by the technological, social and political vitality of the West
It is often argued that Moscow will not permit a more united Western Europe- not to speak of a Western Europe closely associated with the United States- to develop closer ties with Eastern Europe. Yet "permission" is not the issue. As we have argued, what is involved is a process of change-which, because it is gradual, cannot be easily nor effectively resisted-and this can be promoted only by a West that is attractive and increasingly united.
The American presence in Europe, moreover, is a fact. Recent years have seen an explosive growth in American economic investments in Europe and in the proliferation of large multinational corporations. In spite of American- West European difficulties in regard to tariffs-even in spite of a threatening tariff war-a kind of an Atlantic supermarket is developing, precluding American disengagement from Europe. Reinforcing this growth is the ever-increasing scope of scientific collaboration, of educational- cultural ties, of an intensifying flow of communications and the cross- Atlantic movement of tourists.
The American military presence in Europe thus should be viewed not as primarily a perpetuation of Potsdam or of the cold war, but rather as a reflection of a common involvement. It would be better from the American point of view, of course, if the West Europeans assumed a larger burden of their defense, but it is not entirely right to keep comparing the American and the West European defense expenditures to the disadvantage of the latter. Leaving aside the global scope of American security concerns and the historical fact of Europe's recent collapse, there is also the consideration that, on the relative level, an informal East-West symmetry already exists: American and Soviet defense expenditures are roughly even in terms of percentage of GNP, and so are the West and the East European ratios (in 1968, 9.2 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively, for the United States and the Soviet Union; and ranging from 2.3 percent to 6.2 percent for the other NATO powers-excluding Luxembourg-and from 2.9 percent to 5.7 percent for the other Warsaw Pact states). A significant increase in the West European effort, which would probably involve primarily an increase in West German forces, could prompt the Soviet Union to require the East Europeans to make a similar response, a prospect not necessarily helpful to the process of East-West reconciliation and reassociation.
There is, of course, no special magic to the present U.S. force levels in Europe. The point is to avoid the uncertainty and ambiguity bred by such perennials as the Mansfield Resolution. It sometimes appears as if the American Senate was bent on maximizing uncertainty concerning commitments of the United States to its allies. The real problem is financial. Though estimates of the actual costs of U.S. forces in Europe vary, a realistic figure appears to be somewhere around $3 billion per year. A special study made for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs states that while "it is not possible to quantify with precision the net effect on the overall U.S. balance of payments of U.S. defense expenditures and receipts overseas," there is a considerable deficit in the U.S. defense expenditures entering the international balance of payments in Western Europe and in the U.S. defense expenditures in Western Europe.
Given the psychological and fiscal considerations, the preferable course of action would be for the West Europeans themselves to propose a flat ceiling on U.S. forces-perhaps somewhat lower than the present-in exchange for longer-term financial contributions. Though short of a formal treaty, a longer-term U.S. pledge of troop levels cannot have a formal status. A presidential commitment would be the second-best alternative, reducing somewhat the uncertainty now troubling the West European-United States relationship.
A common West European defense effort may become a reality, especially if the EEC is enlarged or even as it moves in that direction. Here the nuclear question might again become active. However, if SALT results in some agreements, it would appear unlikely and perhaps even undesirable for the United States to encourage the West Europeans to create their own strategic forces by pooling the British and the French nuclear components. On the other hand, if SALT fails to go beyond some initial arrangements, or if SALT encourages the Soviet Union to become even more active in such areas as the Mediterranean, American backing for a European defense effort in the strategic field may make a great deal of political sense.
In addition, some thought perhaps ought to be given to promoting even greater integration and rotation of existing U.S. and West European forces, perhaps of U.S. forces at a smaller unit level than is now the case. Such integration would stimulate the emergence of a collaborative spirit, a comradeship which, in the longer run, can have positive political consequences on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, to highlight U.S.-West European interdependence, groups of highly trained European security technicians could also be assigned to serve in the continental United States, as part of the common Western defense effort.
In contrast to continuing, even increasing, Soviet efforts to subordinate Eastern Europe and to integrate it with the Soviet economy, the United States has continued to support the growth of the EEC as a separate though allied entity. This support reflects a wider historical judgment, namely that the rebirth of Europe is desirable for the world, even if in the shorter term it may breed complications for U.S. economic interests. If a tariff war between the two entities proves unavoidable, even with goodwill and foresight on both sides, every effort should be made to compartmentalize it to the economic plane through persistent efforts to consolidate and expand other relationships.
Two areas offer possible opportunities for new initiatives. The first involves scientific and educational coöperation. Much could be gained by both sides if both Western Europe and America were to coördinate more closely their various educational reform schemes, stimulated in part by recent unrest. Though the educational problems are different on the two sides of the ocean, it does not follow that the remedies-as well as the general direction of change-will be fundamentally distinct. On the contrary, it would seem that both Western Europe and America will have to undertake a fundamental reëxamination of the purpose of modern education, a re-thinking which will require a great deal of philosophical reflection on the basic ends of social existence.
More specifically, both sides could benefit from greater pooling of their educational efforts, from enlarging the interchange of students and professors, and from increasing standardization of their academic requirements, degrees and ranks. Starting with the higher educational institutions, a deliberate effort should be made to create a common educational structure which would be philosophically and technically beneficial for both sides.
This is especially the case in regard to joint space exploration. Negotiations for European participation in American space ventures are under way, and some European involvement in the "space shuttle" project is a possibility. However, much more could and should be done if space exploration is not to become an exclusively American and Soviet domain. The extraordinary interest and enthusiasm evoked in Europe by the American moon flights show that there is a European emotional potential to be exploited, and there is no doubt that the Europeans have much to contribute financially and scientifically to space investigations. A stimulating first step might be to include some Europeans as astronauts in the American space program.
The second general area for initiative involves political consultation and coöperation in problems posed globally by modern science and technology, which in turn pose crucial political issues both for the developed and the underdeveloped worlds. The Nixon administration has moved to focus NATO's attention on some of the latter concerns but, in my judgment, that is a mistake. NATO should concentrate on the central political issues confronting the West: having served constructively as an alliance to prevent war, it can now seek to create a new structure of East-West security. That task is big enough, and loading new problems on NATO will not increase NATO's political popularity or effectiveness.
A new and broader approach is needed-creation of a community of the developed nations which can effectively address itself to the larger concerns confronting mankind. In addition to the United States and Western Europe, Japan ought to be included. Its inclusion would be good both for Japan and for Western Europe, giving both a sense of participation in concerns of global dimensions, yet rooted in their own attainments as well as problems. A council representing the United States, Western Europe and Japan, with regular meetings of the heads of governments as well as some small standing machinery, would be a good start.
Such a council should not be confused with a directorate, as occasionally proposed in the past; it would be primarily consultative. Only through consultation and discussion can common perspectives and eventually purposes be crystallized. The most creative period in the American-European relationship was when there was an active crossbreeding of ideas across the ocean, when outstanding Europeans and Americans dared to think boldly and to innovate. Today, a forum is again needed, but on a scale commensurate with our global concerns. For West Europeans to think in Atlantic terms when Europe was still shattered was a creative leap forward. For Europeans and Japanese to join Americans in defining a common global perspective is the logical next step.
Can the United States move in these directions, can it initiate the measures proposed here? Its domestic problems certainly stand in the way, but an even graver impediment is the apparent loss of confidence and of vision among some of its leaders. If the contemporary Soviet leadership can be said to be bureaucratically mediocre and ideologically moribund, much of the American establishment appears to be intellectually paralyzed and politically pusillanimous. Yet the country as a whole is groping for new objectives and for the definition of specific ideals-domestic and foreign- to be attained. To restore Europe is to preserve and to enlarge that part of the world community which has come closest to establishing a humane and just form of social organization. It is with Europe that the United States shares certain concepts of law and personal freedom. Unless America continues actively to promote a broad vision of European restoration America does not have a foreign policy.
[i] This state of affairs is explicitly acknowledged by more farsighted East European communists; W. Bienkowski of Poland says almost as much in his remarkable "Motory i Hamulce Socjalizmu." Paris: 1969.
[ii] A Soviet disarmament expert described Europe recently as in a "metastable state," an analogy derived from chemistry. "This means a state in which the slightest interference is enough to start an extremely turbulent reaction." It seems an appropriate analogy. (See L. Bezymensky, "A Pan-European Task," New Times, July 3, 1970, p. 3.)
[iii] "Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era." N.Y.: Viking, 1970.
[iv] Based on data obtained from Technology Review, February 1970; European Review, Spring 1970; V. Basiuk, "Technology and World Power," F.P.A. Headline Series, New York, 1970; and R. V. Burks, "Technical Innovation and Political Change in Communist Eastern Europe," The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Cal., 1969.
[v] Proposed in my "The Framework of East-West Reconciliation," Foreign Affairs, January 1968.
[vi] For example, the United States has for many years operated from Germany the single most effective instrument for preventing the indoctrination of the East Europeans and the Russians with the officially held view of the West, including specifically that of Germany. The operation of such instrumentalities as Radio Free Europe or Radio Liberty has been a crucial factor in inducing over time a significant evolution not only in public but also in official communist attitudes. These instrumentalities represent a common Western interest, not to be bargained away bilaterally.