Courtesy Reuters

A New European Defense Community

At the moment when East Asia is emerging as the new center of great-power confrontation, the old one, Europe, is showing signs of settling down. Eighteen years of almost glacially imperceptible movement have elapsed between the post-Stalin "thaw" of 1953 and the wary "era of negotiations" of 1971. But now the whole constellation of talks between the Soviet Union and its major Western adversaries, around the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), the Ostpolitik, Berlin, force reductions and the convocation of a security conference, look like ratifying the stalemate between the two blocs painfully reached in Europe over the years. Since this recognizes in particular the frontiers between the contestants, it amounts not only to a virtual settlement of the cold war but to the nearest approximation one can expect of a peace treaty ending the Second World War. Moreover, this development coincides with another of great importance. The likely enlargement of the European Community from six to ten member countries, including Britain, is bound to open a new phase in the integration of Western Europe. With two such changes, European security in the middle and later 1970s will necessarily be very different from the patterns that have grown familiar during 20 years.

On the whole, the natural expectation is a shift away from the quasi- military confrontation of the cold war to civilian and political processes gradually increasing the interdependence of industrial societies with potentially complementary interests. If so, it will probably be the first time that an area vital to the world balance, without being itself a great power, is brought under control not as a victim of rival masters but as a field of coöperation sought keenly by the weaker states. It could be almost the equivalent in nuclear and international terms of the King's Peace which brought the European nation-state out of feudal chaos. This is an intoxicating hope and it is not surprising that one of the questions it inspires is whether the time has not come to lower

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