America’s China Policy Is Not Working
The Dangers of a Broad Decoupling
The Atlantic nations are moving toward a new security relationship which may in time involve the role of European strategic nuclear forces. We are in a period of widespread questioning of the nature of future American participation in the defense of Western Europe. In the squalor of American cities, the increased racial and social tensions of our society and the demands for a shift in national priorities away from defense toward domestic problems lie the seeds of change. If we add to these the economic recovery of Europe, the U.S. view that the allies are not carrying a fair share of their own defense, the balance-of-payments deficit toward which the U.S. forces abroad make a substantial contribution, the squeeze on the Pentagon budget, the tendency resulting from the traumatic experience in Vietnam to shed responsibilities, we find the ingredients of a reduced U.S. military involvement in Europe.
Western Europe will, however, remain dependent upon the American commitment to its security. As long as the western end of the Eurasian land-mass is not politically united, and so long as the need for "security" from the East exists, the United States must continue to act as the balancer. The only alternative to the American nuclear umbrella is a full-scale European nuclear deterrent, and this is not feasible for as far ahead as we can see. The military requirements of such a deterrent are roughly equal to the panoply of nuclear forces of the superpowers; the political requisites are even more daunting. The control arrangement for such a force would require a political authority capable of deciding on its use on behalf of Europe. No nation in the present European system will be prepared to place its survival in the hands of another, since the use of the deterrent could invite the destruction of its homeland. The necessary psychological cohesion, political unity and institutional loyalty are lacking. Only a President of Europe with full authority in a nuclear crisis could endow a European deterrent with credibility.
Europe must nevertheless fulfill a role worthy of itself in its own defense. Attention should now turn to how the European pillar of NATO might be strengthened. American forces in Europe are going to be reduced, if not this year or next, then not long thereafter. There is hardly any chance that they will be totally withdrawn, for their "hostage" function is necessary. Either European force levels will then be increased-which appears unlikely in the present atmosphere of détente and domestic priorities-or the Alliance will have to reshape its defensive strategy. The bare bones of the flexible response strategy, adopted in 1967 upon American urging, are already showing. A revised NATO strategy should substitute qualitative improvements for quantitative reductions. Greater use should be made of small, mobile forces in place of present Central front deployments, and the conventional air and ground forces of the European armies should be further rationalized and integrated. In recent months the European NATO governments have begun the painful task of finding ways to increase their share of non-nuclear defenses.
We should also think anew about the existing European nuclear forces. Hardly any attention has been paid to them in the last few years; perhaps this was due to "MLF fatigue," and in many ways it has been a welcome respite. The divisive debate over the Multilateral Nuclear Force (MLF) illustrated the dangers of superimposing a totally new and complex nuclear- weapons scheme upon the existing pattern of strategic weapons and alliance relationships. The relative success of the Nuclear Planning Group of NATO in providing a forum for information and consultations on nuclear strategy has also been a factor in the respite, as has the adoption of the Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Moreover, the Wilson government, in its discomfort following its failure to fulfill its electoral pledge of "renegotiating" the Nassau Agreement of 1962, treated the subject of Britain's nuclear force with embarrassed silence.
Yet if Western Europe is in time going to take on a substantially larger share of the responsibility for its own security, the role of European nuclear forces will have to be reappraised. A major lesson of the past two decades is that Britain and France will not accept a non-nuclear role, leaving the deterrence function solely to the United States. Even if the abstract logic of some strategic analysts suggests that "rationally" these forces should be abandoned-that they cannot be employed against the U.S.S.R. without inviting holocaustal retribution-the political military, bureaucratic, psychological and security incentives and pressures which led to their creation and maintenance point elsewhere. Moreover, the British and French strategic forces do exist; fresh thought should now be given to their future-and the American relationship to it. Nuclear diplomacy provides the United States with a wide range of choice through which it can exert considerable influence on the evolution of Europe.
An examination of the future of the European nuclear forces must begin with a consideration of the impact of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) upon Europe, and upon European-American relations. Thus far the public impact has been slight, and the European governments appear to be generally satisfied with the level of consultations in NATO. The establishment of stability in the Soviet-American strategic balance would be in their interest. The superpower arms race, though not costly to the Europeans, is dangerous. The possibility of a successful first-strike capability against an adversary's retaliatory force is alarming. The European concern in halting the strategic competition is based on the fact that Europe is at the center of the East-West confrontation and might well be the first to suffer should nuclear war start.
On the other hand, from Europe's point of view, the simple fact that the SALT dialogue is now well under way places the central strategic balance, around which the structure of international relations in most of the industrialized world is built, in a somewhat new perspective. A rough parity in the strategic nuclear capabilities of the superpowers now exists and will probably be codified through SALT. As the perception of this parity sinks into the consciousness of the European public, the credibility of the American security guarantee to Europe, especially that part of it dependent on the first use of strategic nuclear weapons, may become open to further question. The European allies should consider, however, that the United States has been vulnerable to nuclear devastation for over a decade, and that the credibility of the American guarantee has been based less on "superiority" in nuclear weapons than on the intangibles of shared interests and political resolve.
What would be the consequence of a deployment of an Anti-Ballistic Missile system (ABM) by the United States upon the viability of the security guarantee to Europe? This is difficult to judge because it is so much a matter of perceptions, Two competing speculations are possible. On one hand, the Safeguard Anti-Ballistic Missile deployment could be perceived as increasing the credibility of the guarantee in that the retaliatory force might be insured against destruction, and an eventual area defense of the population would strengthen American resolution in times of crisis. Alternatively, the United States could be seen as withdrawing into a "fortress America" mentality and losing interest in her allies after having developed the protective cover of ABM. A third "scenario" may well come closer to what might occur: the United States continues on with its ABM program in fits and starts, but sufficient doubt persists concerning its effectiveness that on balance there is little impact upon belief in the reliability of the American guarantee.
Deployment of ABM and Multiple Independently Targeted Re-Entry Vehicles (MIRV) by the superpowers, particularly if it were on a large scale, could nevertheless leave Western Europe with a sense of nuclear nakedness. The Soviet Union with its Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM), medium- range strategic bombers, tactical nuclear weapons and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) that can be retargeted, maintains a massive capability against Western Europe. This may increase the fear that Western Europe will be held as a "hostage" by the Soviet Union against American actions and policies around the world. One need only recall the concern about possible Soviet pressure on Berlin at the time of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. In addition, with both superpowers partially secure behind their missile defenses but in all likelihood still vulnerable to each other, there may develop a concern that the superpowers will adopt strategies of "controlled" warfare with the European continent as the potential battlefield. In such circumstances Britain and France would have an interest in retaining the means to break up the rules of engagement. The Europeans are extremely sensitive to becoming the inadvertent victims of a growing Soviet-American global commonality of interests.
It is most unlikely, however, that the West European states would respond to Soviet and American deployment of ABM and MIRV by building an ABM system for their own defense, even if American assistance were to be made available. A European ABM would be for the purpose of defending its population since there will be few "hard" targets such as European land- based nuclear retaliatory forces. But the task of constructing an effective system of area defense would probably present insurmountable difficulties. The close geographical proximity of Western Europe to the Soviet Union necessitates an extremely rapid and technically efficient ABM system, but even if it were feasible to create it at great cost, the Soviet Union could respond by threatening "unacceptable damage" with alternate forms of offensive forces, such as manned bombers and cruise missiles. The cost of a European ABM system would be much greater than the expense which the Soviet Union would incur by improving its offensive capabilities enough to neutralize it. Moreover, the political as well as the command and control problems of organizing a European ABM would be formidable. Such a system would almost certainly require nuclear warheads and, because of the close proximity to Soviet nuclear forces, a decision to use ABMs would have to be made within seconds of the launching of an attack.
Will the new advanced technology, ABM and MIRV in particular, be the death blow to the European nuclear forces? It has often been predicted that the expense and difficulty of overcoming ballistic missile defenses will squeeze smaller strategic forces out of the calculus of deterrence. One must be careful, however, not to downgrade these forces too quickly. No doubt it is true that the new, costly and sophisticated systems serve as a stark reminder of the technological dominance of the superpowers. Contrary to the assumptions of some observers, however, it does not necessarily follow that ABM and MIRV will make smaller nuclear forces obsolete.
The British and French forces have a counter-city doctrine, that is, they are designed to deter by threatening the adversary's population and industrial centers. Unlike the United States, Britain and France do not attempt to maintain elements of a counter-force strategy designed to limit damage by destroying the adversary's offensive forces. As long as the Soviet Union does not possess a very effective ABM defense of all its principal cities, the British Polaris A-3 missile and the coming land- and sea-based French missiles are likely to pose a credible threat. These European forces need not reach all the enemy's population centers, or even any one particular city, in order to inflict "unacceptable damage." The threat to do marginal damage to the Soviet Union, to destroy one or two medium-sized cities, may well be sufficient for the required level of deterrence. Moreover, the ability to threaten a nation not possessing ballistic missile defenses-China, for example-would not be diminished.
Much will depend upon the outcome of SALT. An agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States to maintain a low level of ABM, or to ban ABM altogether, would probably maintain the credibility of the European nuclear forces and lengthen the utility of the present generation of their weapons systems. An outcome leading to a comprehensive ABM deployment in the Soviet Union would seriously undermine their credibility. It is very unlikely that the British Polaris submarines or the French strategic missile forces would be able to penetrate "thick" Soviet missile defenses. In such a case the European forces, individually or collectively, would need to climb up to a higher technological plateau.
The British strategic force consists of four nuclear submarines each of which has 16 Polaris A-3 missiles with a range of over 2,500 nautical miles.[i] The missiles are tipped with Multiple Reentry Vehicles (MRVs), of British design, which are not independently targeted. Under the terms of the Polaris Sales Agreement the British have bought the missiles from the United States, and American manufacturers provided components of the navigation system, the fire-control system and some of the communications equipment. The submarines themselves are of British manufacture, as are the nuclear warheads. Because of the refitting required after each 60-day patrol, and the more extensive overhaul after longer intervals, it is only possible to assure having one submarine on operational patrol at all times, although most of the time there should be two. The nuclear force is "assigned" to NATO, as agreed at Nassau, with the right of withdrawal when "supreme national interests" are at stake. Target plans have been made in coördination with the Alliance through the Joint Strategic Planning System, but Britain is assumed also to have a targeting plan of its own. The construction of the Polaris flotilla, which was scheduled to be finished in late 1970, was remarkably inexpensive since the research and development was undertaken earlier by the United States and because there was a high order of coöperation between the two countries. The running costs are also low, less than two percent of the defense budget.
The obsolescence of the Polaris submarines will depend upon progress in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and deployment of ABM defenses. In recent years a great deal of effort has been put into research in ASW techniques, but thus far the ability to detect long-range, nuclear-powered submarines remains extremely limited. Most experts who have looked at the task of tracking and detection in the deep seas believe that advances in ASW will not make Polaris submarines vulnerable for some time.
The potential challenge posed by ABM is more serious. The presently limited Soviet ABM deployment of uncertain quality is unlikely to be very effective against British Polaris submarines. But a moderate or heavy Soviet missile defense would present real penetration difficulties, and the Soviets could achieve this by the middle-to-late 1970s. This would be especially true if Britain does not acquire a MIRV capability and more sophisticated penetration aids. In such circumstances, a growing Soviet defensive capability would present obstacles earlier and far greater to Britain, and to France, than to American offensive forces.
Planning should now be under way for the 1980s. Because of the long lead time necessary, strategic delivery systems take an average of seven years for research and development. Thus, Britain should be prepared to make some important decisions around 1973 if it is to be assured a relatively viable nuclear force in the following decade. Whitehall planners and Westminster politicians, in reaching their decisions, will have to grapple with some fundamental questions. Does Britain wish to remain dependent upon the United States for its strategic delivery systems? If not, should Britain seek self-sufficiency by embarking on a strategic missile program of its own? Or should Britain attempt to develop a collaborative arrangement with France for the joint development and production of nuclear weapons? In weighing the alternatives, British leaders will have to consider the broad spectrum of foreign policy, including the developing nature of East-West relations, the steadfastness of the American commitment to the security of Western Europe, prospects for limitations on the superpowers' strategic forces and the nature of the coming strategic environment.
The question of Great Britain's future in Europe will be a central one. If the negotiations on entry into the Common Market are promising, or Britain is brought into the EEC, the European element of British policy will undoubtedly be strengthened. And we do not know if some sort of an arrangement with France on nuclear collaboration may not yet be the necessary ticket of entry into Europe. It is difficult to conceive of a real entente nucléaire between Paris and London while Britain continues to remain outside the Community. Once in the EEC, however, Britain would be likely to want to use its knowledge and experience in nuclear matters, and its position of comparative strength in defense technology, to help shape the future course of the Continent.
Another consideration involves the future of the Anglo-American special relationship in nuclear affairs. British policy-makers will want to ascertain whether they can expect to receive from the United States another generation of strategic systems after the Polaris submarines, or if they can plan on assistance in warhead design, for example, MIRVs. This will not be an easy task. A detailed examination of the tangled history of Anglo- American nuclear relations since 1939 illustrates its bittersweet nature. Conflict as well as coöperation during the wartime Manhattan Project, the Quebec Agreement of 1943, the abrupt end of collaboration with the passage of the McMahon Act in 1946, the abortive 1949 negotiations on renewal of collaboration, Skybolt and Nassau in 1962-all reveal the extent to which such decisions have been as much the result of timing, politics and personality as of orderly and rational decision-making.[ii]
In the middle 1970s, relevant sections of the U.S.-U.K. nuclear exchange agreement of 1958 will terminate. The separate articles dealing with the exchange of information on nuclear weapons and providing for the exchange of weapons-grade nuclear fissile materials will end in 1974. It should not be assumed that these accords will be renewed in a routine manner, although this could occur (as has already happened once). There are those in the United States who oppose the favorable treatment accorded Britain. The privileged access given London is seen as harmful to America's relations with France; as affirming the importance of nuclear weapons in the eyes of non-nuclear nations; and as psychologically deflecting Britain from its true European destiny. If such arguments gain influence, then Washington will want to consider the U.S.-U.K. nuclear accords in the context of the defense arrangements of the Alliance as a whole.
For its part, Britain must recognize that along with the very considerable technological benefits of the special nuclear relationship have come some not insubstantial political costs. The French have always viewed the bilateral nuclear ties with suspicion, and some French leaders see them as the acid test of Britain's political loyalty. De Gaulle's failure in his 1958 bid for equal treatment through a three-power directorate, and Britain's choice at Nassau of the United States as its future nuclear partner, undoubtedly contributed to keeping the United Kingdom barred from the Common Market. If Britain is to be fully accepted by the continental countries as a European state, it may have to strengthen its European identity by a corresponding loosening of its close ties across the Atlantic.
Let us consider some of the options available to Britain, turning initially to those that do not involve coöperation with France.
First, Britain could give up its nuclear force. The Polaris submarines when they wear out in the 1980s might simply not be replaced; or the missile systems could be taken out of the boats earlier and the submarines converted to an attack role. Another possibility would be to sell the Polaris flotilla to the U.S. Navy. Many on the British Far Left would be pleased. But it is unlikely that any of these possibilities will occur. The watershed of the ten-year national debate on Britain's independent possession of nuclear weapons was reached with the Labour government's quiet decision in 1964-65 not to "renegotiate" Nassau by cancelling the agreement for the purchase of Polaris missiles. Whatever may have been the merits in the past of the arguments for phasing out of the military nuclear business-and they were considerable-Britain will not, through an act of self-abnegation, now leave France as the sole nuclear power in Europe.
As to nonproliferation, the once widespread belief that Britain, by voluntarily renouncing its nuclear arms, could strongly influence other countries to desist from acquiring them, has lost much of its validity. Today, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is the heart of the anti-proliferation strategy; the countries to be influenced are less those of Western Europe than of Asia and the Middle East; and these states, being primarily concerned with regional security and prestige, are not going to be much influenced by exemplary action on the part of Britain. Nor is it clear how a nation can convince the world that it has "ceased" to be a military nuclear power, even if it wishes to, except through a system of comprehensive international inspection of plants, stockpiles, military facilities, etc.
Finally, it is quite possible that Britain's nuclear capability will play some role, perhaps a major one, in the evolution of its future relationship to Europe and the future organization of Western defense. British leaders are unlikely to forget that in their nuclear force they possess an important bargaining asset and instrument of diplomacy. Unless there is a surprising transformation in the present international system, it is unlikely that Britain will on its own give up nuclear weapons over roughly the next 20 years; beyond that, prediction is hardly ever wise.
Second, Britain could pursue a policy of deliberate technological independence-a policy not to be derided since it is the chosen course of all the other nuclear powers. France's example is being watched with great interest and some envy-"French missiles will carry the tricolore, Britain's the stars and stripes." A case can be made for a new missile program on the basis of technological advancement and the need for staying in advanced research and development; Britain has not been developing long-range missiles since the cancellation of Blue Streak in 1960. A new British- developed missile would probably make sense only if it were to be launched at sea.
A mobile land-based missile, an IRBM moved by road or rail around the Scottish Highlands, is conceivable. But in all likelihood it would be politically unacceptable since it would make the British Isles a lightning rod susceptible to a Soviet counter-force threat. Moreover, as far as we can look ahead in strategic technology, sea-based deterrent forces appear to have a considerable edge over land-based ones in retaining their invulnerability. If it were decided to develop a long-range missile it might therefore be quite similar to the American Poseidon; this would be very expensive and technologically consuming, but it need not be beyond the nation's capabilities. Alternatively, Britain could simply develop its own MIRVs for the existing Polaris fleet. A British MIRV would probably carry fewer and smaller warheads than those developed for Poseidon, but improvements in accuracy might well compensate for this.
Third, Britain could seek to renew its present dependency upon the United States. This might be the least expensive option, but in the long run it could have a restrictive influence upon British foreign policy since it is hardly compatible with the arguments for pursuing a greater role in Europe. Assuming this course were followed-in many ways it is the most "natural" given past history-what weapons might Britain receive? Poseidon in combination with the American MIRV would be an obvious choice; or the American MIRV alone might be adapted for use on the British Polaris. The present size of the Polaris flotilla might be increased so as to enhance its credibility as a deterrent. Even two more submarines would make a substantial difference, since they would double the number that can be guaranteed on patrol at all times. But attention might also be turned to the next generation of sea-based deterrence, the ULMS (Undersea Long-Range Missile System) submarine, with 20 MIRVed missiles of 5,000-mile range. This new system has yet to be approved for production, but since the sea increasingly appears as the best environment for a retaliatory strategic force, its future looks promising.
The French nuclear force is at quite an earlier stage of development than the British. Moreover, Paris does not have as wide a range of decisions to make in the coming years as does London. Construction of the force de frappe, which was decided upon a decade after the equivalent British decision, has fallen considerably behind in the past three years. The social upheavals of May 1968 and the monetary crisis of that autumn forced a reduction in the military budget, postponement of the 1969 nuclear tests, and a delay in the production of the missile systems. The French force consists at present of 36 Mirage IV bombers which will begin to be supplemented in late 1971, two years behind schedule, by nine land-based solid-fuel IRBMs in Haute-Provence. Due to rising costs, the number of silos was reduced from 27 to 18. The first of the missile-firing nuclear submarines, the Redoutable, having suffered an equivalent delay, is now being tested and should be operational in 1971. The third submarine will not be ready until 1975, and a fourth is contemplated; meanwhile the French are still far from having perfected a compact thermonuclear warhead for the sea-launched missiles, and further atmospheric tests are expected in the Pacific this summer.
The third loi-programme, covering military expenditures for the next five years, was approved by the National Assembly this past October. The priority given to the force de frappe by de Gaulle is to continue under President Pompidou and his ultra-Gaullist Minister of Defense, Michel Debré. Despite great concern in professional ranks about the condition of the army's and navy's conventional forces, one-third of new procurement over the next five years, or $5.5 billion, will be devoted to nuclear forces, including the Pluton tactical nuclear bomb which will come into service in 1973. The force de frappe is an ambitious undertaking, and thus far has been developed almost wholly independently. If France had benefited from the same American assistance as did Britain, it would be several years ahead. With current expenditures running at a level of $1 billion a year, competing welfare demands are increasingly being heard in France. French administrators and scientists, looking at the technology ahead, especially the need for improved penetration capabilities in case of further Soviet ABM deployment, and fearing further budgetary squeezes, have for some time been interested in nuclear collaboration with Britain.
An entente nucléaire between Britain and France has an inherent logic since many of the interests of the only two nuclear powers of Europe do coincide. For both countries the almost inevitable reduction of American forces in Europe and the continuing strategic dialogue between the superpowers will require a revaluation of the role of European nuclear forces in the defense of Western Europe. And both countries may also be faced with the task of maintaining credible nuclear forces within an increasingly technologically advanced strategic environment
An analysis of the possibilities for Anglo-French nuclear collaboration must be separated into two parts. One is the potential for an exchange of knowledge of nuclear weapons, including that about their production, and the transfer of existing nuclear materials and technology. The other is the possibility of coöperation on the operational use of nuclear weapons, that is, their targeting and deployment. The latter is particularly important since it is affected by concepts of national sovereignty and should be consistent with alliance relationships. Although technological needs may present the original basis for collaboration, it is the political requirements of policy which in the final analysis are paramount.
If one looks at the technology of the British and French strategic nuclear programs, one finds that they are remarkably complementary and therefore suitable for a series of exchanges. Britain is far ahead in the design of warheads, having exploded its first thermonuclear device more than ten years before France and having also acquired much design information from the United States. France, for her part, needs assistance in warhead miniaturization and is greatly interested in the British experience with MRV warheads. The sophistication of warheads is, of course, the crucial factor in the ability to penetrate ballistic missile defenses.
With regard to missile propulsion the situation is reversed. France is ahead in the production of solid-fuel ballistic missiles, having designed them for the 18 IRBM silos in Haute-Provence and for placement in her missile-launching submarines. Because of the expected availability of Skybolt and Polaris, Britain (as mentioned earlier) has no strategic missile program of its own. As to guidance technology, comparative strength is difficult to judge. Although Britain has acquired a great deal of knowledge through the Polaris program, France has done more independent work in some areas of guidance.
Since existing strengths and weaknesses are roughly complementary, the technical basis for an agreement on collaboration undoubtedly does exist. The benefits of a straight technological exchange would not, however, be equally distributed. At the present juncture France would gain the most. An early agreement on technological assistance could save considerable money and time for France, even in developing her present generation of systems; for Britain it is too late, and in any case the assistance came from the United States. This is part of the explanation for the French interest in collaboration in recent years and the relative British lack of enthusiasm.
Joint development of a post-Polaris system would be another matter, likely to be attractive to both countries if it were possible to bring together British warhead knowledge with French missile propulsion experience. Such a combination would permit substantial savings for what is likely to be a very costly strategic system, since it may have to be capable of penetrating missile defenses. Anglo-French nuclear collaboration on the next generation of both their nuclear forces might encompass joint research and development, common testing and the coöperative production of the system, or some variation of these. Collaboration might also be broadened to include work on nuclear hunter-killer submarines, the production of enriched nuclear fuel and weapons-grade nuclear materials, and the manufacture of tactical nuclear weapons.
The political understanding necessary for Anglo-French collaboration may be more difficult to achieve than the technological basis. Nuclear weapons not being like consumer products, the manufacturer will produce only if he retains influence over how his product is to be employed. Thus collaboration would entail agreement on nuclear targeting and force deployments as well as some common understanding concerning political aims.
In the mid-1970s Britain and France will have missile-firing submarine forces which are remarkably symmetrical. Both will have four boats, carrying in each case 16 missiles per boat. An Anglo-French force of eight submarines could assure a minimum of three on patrol at any time, and more often than not four. Since this would provide a greater threat to the Soviet Union than either force separately, it would enhance the credibility of the deterrence capability of either nation.
Such an Anglo-French force could be constituted by the coördination of targeting plans, patrol missions, some joint communications and intelligence, and possibly coöperation in maintenance facilities. Command and control arrangements would remain national, however, as would the ownership of the boats. Each national contingent would be left able to recapture total freedom of action whenever vital interests were at stake. The decision to fire would thus be solely a national one-as indeed it must be so long as nations are not prepared to give up a most vital element of their sovereignty-control over their military forces.
There are major political inhibitions in such an arrangement, and the first is created by the special nuclear relationship with the United States. The 1958 agreement on nuclear exchange forbids either country to transfer knowledge and secret information obtained from the other to a third party. Although Britain has without doubt originated a good deal of valuable data through its own research, it would be almost impossible fully to disentangle such indigenous information from that obtained from the United States. Nevertheless, some British-produced data could certainly be isolated and passed on to France without American permission. Doubts arise as to whether this would be a wise thing to do if it irritated the U.S. government and especially the Congress. With so much of Britain's nuclear program linked to that of its ally, and the full range of its future options dependent upon a continuation of these close ties, there would seem to be a high value placed upon maintaining the spirit as well as the legal terms of the agreement. Whitehall officials have long been sensitive to this and, unless there is a major reorientation of defense policy, they are unlikely to propose an accord with France which could upset the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy of the U.S. Congress.
The divergent views on the Atlantic Alliance currently held by France on one hand, and by Britain and the United States on the other, create a still more formidable political inhibition. Britain in recent years has been of the view that nuclear policy should be discussed in the Nuclear Planning Group of NATO and that European nuclear forces should be targeted in coördination with those of the United States. Accordingly, an Anglo-French force should fall within the Alliance framework. This has been contrary to the French view which sees NATO as too much under U.S. influence and which therefore equates the coördination of forces within NATO with loss of national autonomy.
An Anglo-French force outside NATO would have grave disadvantages. The United States would not support it, and consequently the restrictive provisions of the Anglo-American exchange agreement would come into play. Such a nuclear contingent outside NATO would also not be acceptable to the West Germans since it would not be committed to their defense and might thus stir a wave of interest in national atomic weapons in Germany. Moreover, it would be of concern to the other NATO members as a step away from the common defense of Western Europe and might thus induce the unravelling of the Alliance. Outside NATO and without the support of the United States, an Anglo-French force would have reduced credibility and would sharply open to question the continuation of the American nuclear guarantee to Western Europe.
For these reasons the present political obstacles to Anglo-French nuclear collaboration seem formidable. So long as France insists on unblemished nuclear independence, an arrangement satisfactory to the two countries as well as to the Federal Republic and the United States seems unlikely.
Still, the trend is not unfavorable toward an eventual accord. In the past two years, France has dropped the tons azimuts strategy of armed neutrality and her nuclear doctrine has moved closer to that of the Alliance. The selective, ad hoc coöperation of French forces in West Germany with NATO increased after the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Now, immediately following the death of de Gaulle, France is not likely to make abrupt changes in policy, such as an early return to NATO, but the political shadow cast from Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises will quickly diminish. With the passage of time and changes in the cabinet, France's role in the world will be reassessed, and some of the more Gaullist conceptions of the Alliance are likely to be modified. The new British government has at its head a man who has since 1967 spoken favorably of Anglo-French nuclear collaboration within NATO. It is no secret that a number of influential Conservatives are interested in exploring the possibilities. Among these is Britain's chief negotiator with the Common Market, Geoffrey Rippon, until recently the shadow Minister of Defense. The Nixon Administration, moreover, is not unsympathetic to reviewing its nuclear-sharing policy, especially if this encourages the European allies to take on greater responsibility for their own defense.
The time has come for making progress toward creating a European pillar within the Atlantic Alliance-one ready to bear a heavier burden of Europe's defense. This might parallel the progress which is now under way in the widening and deepening of the Community. Coöperation within Europe across the spectrum of defense activities-conventional and nuclear-would be increased as the American military role is reduced and the redistribution of responsibilities takes place.
In so far as strategic weapons are concerned, Britain, France and the United States might enter into a new set of nuclear relationships. Collaboration on nuclear-weapons technology between London and Paris would receive the support of Washington as would the coördination of the targeting of the two forces. In turn, their joint targeting plans would be coördinated with those of the United States in the same manner as the British plans have been coördinated in the past. In practice both the ultimate command and control decisions, as well as the ownership of the forces, would remain in the hands of the respective national authorities, although nuclear planning-both targeting and strategy-would be a common undertaking. Britain and France would accordingly have three sets of target plans: "Alliance," "European" and "National," the latter in the unlikely event that independent action should ever be desirable.
The British and French forces might become subject to the advisory guidelines of a European Nuclear Committee (ENC) on which the non-nuclear countries would be represented. This would be of special importance to the Federal Republic of Germany as the only major West European power without an independent nuclear capability. The ENC would permit the formulation of a European perspective on planning for contingencies and political guidelines on the use of nuclear weapons. A unified European view might thereby be presented to the United States. The ENC would also be an appropriate forum for discussion of the problems associated with the next generation of the European nuclear forces. In time, if the notion that the British and French forces were truly "Europe's force" took hold, the non- nuclear countries might contribute to their maintenance either through joint production of delivery systems or through common financing. This arrangement would not involve a breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty since it would not include a transfer of nuclear weapons, or of their control, to non-nuclear powers.
The United States could assist such a European grouping in a number of ways. Britain might be released from some of the restraints of the Anglo- American nuclear agreement so as to permit it to exchange knowledge and materials with France. The ten American Polaris submarines not to be converted for Poseidon missiles might be sold to the ENC with the understanding that they would be operated by Britain and France on behalf of Europe. A direct offer of technological help to Britain and France in the construction and maintenance of their nuclear forces would be the most important form of assistance. This would be of particular significance if they needed to acquire MIRVs in order to overcome a heavy Soviet ABM defense.
Such a new American policy, especially with respect to nuclear sharing with France, would be a recognition that the conditions and priorities of the future will differ from those of the 1960s. Then it was argued that de Gaulle's coöperation could not be "bought;" nor should he be "rewarded" for his attacks on NATO and the dollar. Perhaps that was right for the times, but France, we hope, will now gradually be returning to the Alliance system. If Paris agrees to joint targeting, the force de frappe should no longer be seen as a challenge to American policy.
Similarly, past concern over nonproliferation no longer seems as relevant. France is a nuclear power; her example has not encouraged Germany to emulate her; and the real dangers of the spread of nuclear weapons are now outside Europe. The NPT, the SALT dialogue between the superpowers, the progress toward European economic integration, the opening of new contacts between Western and Eastern Europe, and the forthcoming reduction in the American military presence in Western Europe are all creating new circumstances. Consideration should be given to a more constructive U.S. policy of aiding the European nuclear forces so as to integrate them into a polity of Western deterrence. This might, in the long run, be the best way for the United States to retain its influence in the affairs of Europe.
American nuclear assistance to the European forces is a difficult and complex policy problem, but it is one that will have to be reexamined in any case when the present agreement with Britain expires in 1974. U.S. policy on this matter should be informed by the following considerations: (1) assistance should be offered only if France and Britain, jointly or individually, request it; the U.S. should not be the promoter of a new design, a "solution," or even attempt to act as a catalyst; (2) West Germany should be in agreement with whatever is done and should not feel discriminated against; (3) any assistance should be consistent with the NPT and not provide the Soviet Union with a valid accusation against Bonn that it has acquired control over nuclear weapons; (4) care should be taken so that nothing is done which blocks an agreement in SALT.
A new nuclear-sharing policy with France would not require a change in the U.S. atomic energy legislation since France would now qualify under the 1958 amendments permitting assistance to those states which have already demonstrated "substantial progress" in a nuclear-weapons program of their own. But it would have to receive the support of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and of the Congress as a whole. This might be more readily obtained if it were done in conjunction with an understanding that there was to be a limited reduction of U.S. forces in Europe.
As far ahead as we can see, Western Europe will continue to rely upon the United States for its ultimate security guarantee. A reshaping of responsibilities is nevertheless feasible and should include a reappraisal of the value of European nuclear forces. These, we should now recognize, will under all probable circumstances be continued, and they therefore should be employed so as to make a greater contribution to the Alliance's total effort. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine that Western Europe will ever be able to stand fully on its own without nuclear weapons. The goal should be a European nuclear role within the Atlantic Alliance. This would fortify the European pillar and serve as a step toward greater European political integration while enhancing the partnership with America.
[i] In addition, the British military nuclear capability includes the Canberra bombers, the Buccaneer bombers, the aging Vulcan and Victor bombers, the F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers and two planned aircraft, the Jaguar Anglo-French strike/trainer and the MRCA, multi-role combat aircraft, being constructed by a consortium of nations. Each of these aircraft has a tactical nuclear capability.
[ii] The subject will be treated in detail in my forthcoming book on the politics, strategy and technology of the British nuclear force, 1939-1970.