How to Get a Breakthrough in Ukraine
The Case Against Incrementalism
"Wer von Europa spricht, hat unrecht," Bismarck said: "Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong." After reading a great deal of what has been written about Europe, one is tempted to agree with the old statesman. It has become increasingly difficult to get one's bearings. Are pro-Europeans for or against the Americans? For or against the Russians? For or against other Europeans? Can one find clear answers to these questions?
In the decade of neo-realism, it seemed wise to abandon dreams of the past, to rely on the balance of power and the prudence of sovereign governments. However, it must also be noted that even if the European idea has not mobilized as many partisans as, for example, the revolution in mores or women's liberation, it has not been extinguished. And with the entrance of the United Kingdom into the European Community, it will soon take a new form.
To understand this phenomenon of Europe, to imagine its future development, one must turn to its origins and look for what has changed in 20 years. One can thereby infer what possibilities are open to the Eureuropeans, situated between their Euramerican cousins, and the Eur-asiatics.
Those who spoke of "Europe" before the war was over or immediately after it, had no intention of creating a "superpower." The idea did not even exist. The guiding spirit of resistance movements, or The Hague Peace Conference of 1907, was a politico-moral one-that of reconciliation. For the German resistants of the White Rose, as well as for the resistance movements of Italy, France, Poland and the Low Countries, the two World Wars had originated in the absolute authority of the state. If one wished to prevent the same thing from happening yet another time, Germany should not be punished, as after 1919, but reintegrated into the human family, beginning with Europe. The means toward this end were implicit in the federal idea, which existed in various formulae, elaborated to a greater or less degree, and which was the basis of all the European resistance movements.[i] The war was thought of as not against Germany specifically, but rather as against the madness of hypernationalism; the remedy for the calamities of war lay in a collective effort to organize Europe in a fundamentally different way.
The Europe of the future can perceive, in this way, its furthest limits. The federal idea, in effect, collides with the hostility of the Soviets. It is known that from 1943 on the Russians were opposed to plans for a federation of Poland and Czechoslovakia. In 1944, they were cool to ideas for the union of Western Europe, which had been discussed several times in the press. Later, in 1948, they were to oppose plans for Balkan federation outlined by Dimitrov and Tito, even though this was a case of two Communist states. This hostility had profound roots: in 1915, from Switzerland, Lenin had criticized the slogan "A United States of Europe" as likely to distract revolutionaries from their most pressing task of overthrowing established institutions.[ii]
In the United States during the war, the idea of a federal Europe did not receive firm support. There were various movements in its favor, but the Democratic administration and Roosevelt himself always seemed more interested in world problems than in European ones. Cordell Hull thought in terms of free trade, Roosevelt in terms of global organization and decolonization. When, in 1943, Churchill proposed that a world system be divided into regional groupings, one of these being European, Roosevelt declared himself for a one-world organization. It was this idea which inspired the Dumbarton Oaks agreements and the San Francisco Charter. Thus, at the moment of victory, the idea of a union of European states without distinction between winners and losers was eclipsed by different preoccupations.
However, the European idea continued to evolve. The development of the situation in Germany presented a dilemma. The Four Powers had to reach an understanding if a German political whole was to be reëstablished. When this understanding proved impossible, the Powers were faced with a choice: the Western zones of Germany could be kept under militiary occupation, or a larger framework had to be conceived to contain German dynamism. This framework, obviously, was Europe.
But how should the idea be translated into action?
It is often said that European unity was created by the cold war. One could more justly say that the cold war was specifically organized to make European unity fail. "Germany," Zhdanov declared in 1947 at the founding of the Cominform, "will be the principal stumbling block between the United States, England and France." In other words, it would not be possible to construct a unified Europe because the three powers would not be able to resolve the German problem. But they did resolve it, at least in the West. And they resolved it because the European idea offered them the means.
Without having to make room for Germany, the European idea would no doubt have remained a noble dream. But from the moment this idea began to assume substance it obliged the Europeans to turn toward America. Without American support, nothing could be done. The danger was too great. Not that the Soviet Union was threatening war, but it possessed the means of intimidation. The United States, for its part, having abandoned hopes for the rapid creation of a world order, was trying to create an order within more modest limits. It was from this moment that the European movement began to interest America.
The first European organizations, the European Coal Organization and the European organization of internal transport, grew out of the dissolution of the inter-Allied headquarters, SHAEF. It was necessary to apportion raw materials and food supplies for the devastated areas, without reference to national frontiers. The European Economic Commission of the United Nations was created in 1947 at American instigation, when there was fear of a serious crisis at the cessation of rehabilitation credits and aid. It was not then a question of stemming a flood, but more simply of applying a remedy to a catastrophic situation.
The plan for aiding Europe in 1947 did not create the European movement, but converged with it, giving it content and direction. This was not so much anti-Soviet as anti-hegemony, and was concerned with stopping "popular democracy" by economic and political means until the events of Prague definitely destroyed the precarious postwar equilibrium. Whatever assessment one may make today of the meaning of the Harvard speech of General Marshall, of a certain paternalism which necessarily developed in consequence, of U.S. interest in assuring itself prosperous markets, it is a curious fact that 25 years later the undertaking begun by Secretary Marshall led to the beginnings of a quarrel between the United States and the European Community. It is an odd form of imperialism which is blind enough to create its own rivals.
In any case, in Europe the Marshall Plan was understood to mark the end of American hesitations and the beginning of a long-term undertaking, leading both Europeans and Americans toward important innovations. Everyone who took part in the workings or negotiations of this period retains particular memories of it. Whatever the shocks to self-esteem or special interests, one had the impression of getting out of a rut, or moving toward something other than a simple alternation between peace and war.
However, the German problem remained. How could one treat as an equal a country which had neither government nor territory? And how, unless one treated it as an equal, could one undertake relations which, correct to begin with, could then become friendly? French leaders were particularly sensitive to this aspect of the situation. They had with difficulty obtained in 1944 an international authority for the Ruhr, charged with supervising the production and export of German coal. What chance was there that an organization of this type would survive the reëstablishment of normal relations? How could a repetition of the events which had paralyzed Briand be prevented when a Federal Republic came into being?
"Germany was refused everything at a moment when she should have been given something," Robert Schuman remarked in 1949, "and given everything when everything should have been refusede."[iii] This was the background of the Schuman Plan, which took shape in 1949-1950, at a moment of détente, after the Berlin crisis and before the Korean crisis, which no one was anticipating. In a pioneering spirit, in order to avoid giving Germany full sovereignty, it was necessary to sacrifice a corresponding part of French sovereignty. Based on equality and reciprocity, these sacrifices became permanent, and were able to serve as a foundation for a new kind of institution, surpassing any given sovereignty without abolishing it. A certain order and rationality were thus introduced into international relations. Within its functional and technocratic framework, the Coal and Steel Community reflected strictly European aspirations, and resolved the German question, at least in part. The Community also aimed at renewing contacts with the East. The memorandum which Jean Monnet sent to the French government on May 3, 1950, which was the source of the Schuman Plan, had as its essential theme the necessity of evading the cold war and a Russo- American confrontation, which would lead to German pre-dominance in Western Europe. It was therefore necessary to create a "balance." In this initial period Europe did not consider itself an instrument of the cold war. It found its security in a privileged relationship with the United States, but it did not adopt hostility toward the Soviet Union.
Thus the European idea, which was latent in the public mind, became reality through force of circumstances, and because a choice was made by European leaders.
It is no surprise that under these conditions the results were positive. The newly formed European Community survived the upheavals of decolonization, the failure of the European Army, and, after the death of Stalin, the considerable changes which occurred in relations with Russia. Reborn in 1957, the Community survived various shocks before being enlarged in 1971 in a way that had long been desired, and long resisted.
Does this mean that we have only to congratulate ourselves and to continue on our present course? This would be to deceive ourselves about present realities and to underestimate the risks which the undertaking continues to run.
The greatest difficulty arises not from the inevitable wearing thin of political ideas, but from the general devaluation of language. At the end of the war certain words still had meanings which were obvious to everyone: to be liberated did not mean to be enslaved; to wish for understanding among countries did not mean preparation for conquest; to invoke justice did not mean planned injustice. The principle of contradiction still existed.
Today, many elements have become confused. On the one hand, there is no longer confidence in language as a medium for expressing another, immaterial order of reality; on the other, a language of double meaning is the rule almost everywhere. If I condemn you as a bloody imperialist, that actually means that I wish an understanding with you, but cannot say so for fear of offending one of my allies. Therefore, it is up to you to understand. If you refer to me as a "totalitarian," that means that you need to reassure your middle classes. But no one is fooled.
The disintegration of language leads to the disappearance of meaning. Any attempt at settlement must be a success or a failure; there is no possibility of finding a superior solution. The general political effects of this linguistic collapse are immense, and have been very much felt in Europe as a primary cause of weakness, although there are others.
The final shape of Europe, such as it existed in 1950, has become blurred. The world as presently constituted has been overwhelmed by the idea of sovereignty. Not only the sovereignties of Malta, Cyprus, Mauritius, Burundi, but also the sovereignties of the great powers, which, having drawn back from the temptation of crusades, are now coming out in favor of a healthy realism. A Guam doctrine exists not only for the United States, but perhaps also for China after the Cultural Revolution, if not for the Soviet Union since the Twenty-fourth Party Congress.
Given these conditions, many Europeans now lean toward the idea of a Europe which has once again become a center of power, of equal strength with the Russians, Americans, Chinese and the Japanese, joining them in the game of menace and ruse, die grosse Politik. Without denying the attractions of this possibility, or its merits, one can none the less remember that it does not correspond to the ideas of the founders of the European movement. And perhaps, too, it does not correspond to the European political temperament.
The fascination of power affects national opinion. Each country is more aware of the weight of its own interests, more inclined to question the sincerity of its partners, and consequently less likely to agree to even the smallest sacrifice. The "European language" no longer represents an awareness of a common cause, but is instead a cover for the defense of national interests. "Wer von Europa spricht, hat unrecht."
This evolution is occurring at a dangerous moment, as the United States is involved in a long-range policy shift and the Soviet Union expects to "cash in" on a 20-year effort to become the decisive voice in Europe. We shall not dwell here on the commercial and monetary tensions between the United States and the Europe of the Ten. These are considerable, and everyone knows what they are. But with all they contain that is harmful and even dangerous, these tensions will perhaps lead the two parties-if two there be- to recognize the necessity of an understanding on a different basis from that which has obtained for the last 25 years-or even ten years.
More serious still are the problems arising from the policies announced at Guam, of which Europe became aware after the Moscow agreements. It is not the agreements on strategic weapons which most drastically alter the situation, although, to be sure, they establish a certain continuity of Soviet-American interests and make a nuclear reaction from the United States a less likely response to crisis in Europe. However, they also make a Soviet threat of the same kind less likely. The situation is less desirable, from one point of view, and somewhat better from another. The fundamental balance remains.
Conversely, in the public domain, the Moscow declaration establishes between the United States and the Soviet Union a parallelism which gives rise to certain questions. If the United States considers "peaceful coexistence" the only alternative to war, is it not conceding that the struggle continues by every means short of recourse to arms? Can a true peace be founded on such a base? In undertaking never to seek a "unilateral advantage" to the detriment of the other side, what exactly are the two parties agreeing to? Will the Soviet Union have the right to occupy a European country if the country decides to detach itself from the Eastern system? How will these problems be viewed if they should arise in the heart of the Western alliance? A crisis like that between the United States and Japan does not exist between the United States and Europe; but the seeds of such a crisis do exist.
Finally, Europe must examine the intentions of the Soviet Union. Certainly, Brezhnev accepts the reality of the Common Market. But Khrushchev also accepted that reality in 1962, and that acceptance made no substantial difference. However, the Soviet Union can congratulate itself on the triumph of its European policies, which were defined nearly 20 years ago. These led to the crystallization of the situation which evolved from the war, a situation which, until now, most European states condemned as a consequence of the division of territories arranged at Yalta. Does this contain the basis of an agreement?
To this it must be added that Soviet military power has become large and diverse, spreading to East and South Asia and the Mediterranean-not to mention the seven seas and four oceans.
Under these conditions, will the creation of a general European system of nonaggression open the way to interpenetration from West to East, or the other way around? Will Europe play the part of Greece vis-à-vis Rome or the part of Greece vis-à-vis the Ottoman Empire? Be harbingers of liberty or be reduced to a freedom under surveillance?
In short, Europe is now caught between two fires. The United States supports political Europe-which doesn't exist-but distrusts economic Europe. The Soviet Union tolerates economic Europe as a "fact," but is hostile to political Europe.
Does Europe, then, still have a future?
The progress of first-generation Europe (ours) was generated by particular circumstances and a large idea. Will second-generation Europe benefit from the same opportunities?
The scope open to large powers is very well known: they can do everything or nothing. But which of these they will choose they will decide for themselves.
As for small powers, it is well known that they can do just about anything. They can fight or come to an agreement, play at blackmail or retreat into isolation. They still enjoy the ancient privileges of sovereignty.
But what can middle-sized powers do?
If they move, they disturb the great powers. If they do not move, they run the risk of perishing. If they wish to bring pressure on smaller powers, they become laughable. The same is the case if they try to act like great powers. In today's world, it is hard to be medium-sized. But Europe is the fatherland of middle-sized powers; Europe is where such powers were born. As Voltaire observed, it is "a kind of large republic, divided into several states . . . each corresponding to the others" (which is to say, maintaining constant relations, in war as in peace). After the excesses of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these states have returned to a sense of their proper dimensions. Will they be able to draw sound conclusions from this realization?
One of these conclusions should be that middle-sized states must associate: to survive if they are industrial, for industry straddles frontiers; to exist if they wish concerted action, for in isolation none of them has the capacity to act effectively.
What has happened in all this to the ancient idea of reconciliation? It continues, but the domain of its application has changed. It has become a search for the means to make large and different entities live together without harming each other, and thus without harming others. It is necessary to create not only a new world but a new kind of relationship, a means of living together which conciliates, at least in part, authority and liberty, equality and hierarchy, unity and diversity. The idea of a European organization is not a dream but one of those issues with very real present difficulties.
The problem faced by medium-sized states is the problem faced by everyone. But it presents itself to these states as a matter of urgency, and there are certain possibilities for resolving it. If these nations decide even in part, on a course of action, they will have opened a way to that resolution. As in the sixteenth century, when the more or less centralized state succeeded in regrouping the feudal principalities, so in the twentieth, the Community can rise above the state without destroying it, and offer human beings, caught between nuclear weapons, the population explosion, pollution and despair, some reasonable prospects.
States preserve their territories, their institutions and their prejudices. But middle-sized states, which can neither turn to force nor remain inert (i.e. neutral), need to evolve, either separately or together. A postulate of this are institutions to guarantee peaceful change. One could even say that these institutions are the condition of any policy of reconciliation.
Europe can thus set for itself an objective, which is not only for itself (it belongs to everyone) but for which it has a special affinity. If it finds solutions, these will be used elsewhere later, perhaps even by the great powers. Even from this point of view, the creation in 1972 of a permanent committee to administer the Soviet-American treaty is an important fact. Here, between two rival powers, a means of communication has been established, which until now was particularly developed in the West, and specifically in Western Europe.
To assure that the general objective of peaceful transformation has practical results, one must envisage its application in various domains.
Already in Western Europe many organisms exist to identify problems, prepare for their solution and put those solutions into practice. This is true in the economic field, although progress is still necessary before a genuine Community administration can be reached.
But in the political and military domains everything is still to be done. And without an organization for reflection, decision and application, no progress can be made. Without progress, one can only assume that the national societies of Western Europe will fall into dependence, and will not rise to the level demanded of them. It can justly be said that nothing must be done with undue haste, that first an economic and monetary union must be established. But during the establishment of such a union, preparations must be made for what will follow. Specific directions of research can be determined, and groups designated for organization.
On the political level, an attempt can be made to discover areas of interest sufficiently congruent to suggest common attitudes, areas in which differences are possible and tolerable, and areas which will remain exclusively national. Such an effort would eliminate from the first a certain number of false problems and would permit reflection on the nature of the institutions to be developed, or the methods to be undertaken, as well as of the stages which lie ahead. The first of these stages would be to draw up documents defining not only a common attitude, but common limits within which the participating governments would act, each government retaining for itself a certain margin within those limits. Several permanent commissions could begin to function on this basis, thus avoiding the necessity of immediately fixing the definitive location of the political organs.
One cannot go so far in the area of defense. However, the problem of relations with the United States must necessarily be faced. At times, a new defense agreement has been suggested, either within the Atlantic Alliance or as a substitute for it. Whether or not a route to this point can be perceived, a reëxamination of the conditions of security in Western Europe will shortly be necessary. It is hard to believe that the present conditions of European dispersion will allow this reëxamination to take place under auspicious conditions.
The conditions of dialogue between Europe and the United States exist. But organizations barely exist. This dialogue will necessarily take place on the economic and monetary plane, and one must hope it will not be a dialogue of the deaf. However, on the political and military level, everything depends on progress within Europe itself. The existence of a permanent American-Soviet dialogue organized on the basis of a treaty will perhaps make evident the necessity of closer contact between the United States and Western Europe. But the Europeans must still understand each other on this point, and such understanding is not easily reached. Perhaps the idea of independence should be considered. But does independence mean the power to do as one pleases? The power to do what seems right not only toward oneself but also toward a majority of others? The primacy of will or of reason?
At this point the most difficult questions must be faced. The idea of peaceful transformation, to the extent that it can lead to a softening of the political system of Eastern Europe, is diametrically opposed to the design of the Soviet Union. Many, therefore, incline to the view that it is better to keep silent rather than disturb the atmosphere. But this attitude can be questioned. It would be justified if a rapid and more-or-less complete transformation of existing régimes were in question; but that is not the case. One cannot see why, under these conditions, the West Europeans, while repudiating the spirit of the cold war, should not make their long-term aims clear. This would in no way inhibit provisional compromises but would balance them, removing the unilateral character which is a consequence of reflecting only one point of view.
In this area, where great resistance can be expected, one could perhaps begin by proposing institutions of a consultative character, made up of representatives from both East and West, charged with favoring a peaceful change in situations which generate crises, improving communications between East and West, and anticipating common measures to be undertaken against any new storms which might develop. Instead of a Europe conceived of as closed enclaves, one would have a Europe still divided, but which had become a terrain of encounter and experiment. One might perhaps activate certain long-term relations on the basis of a long-term political project.
Instead of the scheme recommended by the Soviet Union, namely (1) status quo; (2) European security; (3) withdrawal of American forces, one would have: (1) conciliation between the two systems (with a view to future reconciliation); (2) peaceful transformation (or amelioration) of dangerous, abnormal or unhealthy situations; (3) progressive modification of military arrangements.
It would undoubtedly be impossible to reach rapid agreement on such a basis. But even more important than agreement is the awareness of a reasonable finality beyond ideology, even if it is distant and apparently unobtainable. This does not prevent compromise but allows a reach beyond compromise, when the moment is ripe. That is what peace means. Peace is not peaceful coexistence and mutual resignation to an ineluctable struggle. Peace is the certainty that a way out, or ways out, exist, which reason can discern and will achieve if conditions are ripe. Certain solutions in Europe can contribute to peace, others cannot.
The European problem today can be seen as a tryptych:
(1) The first section should depict the system as it exists: half of Europe linked to the Soviet Union, and Germany cut by the demarcation line between the two systems.
(2) The second section should depict a system which might be entitled "Europe with the Soviet Union, without the United States." The Soviet Union becomes the dominant continental power, but all the states do not necessarily-or immediately-become Communist.
(3) In the third section, one sees a Europe intermediate between East and West, with the Eastern states leaning toward the Soviet Union, the Western states toward the United States. But the two groups of medium-sized states also maintain a certain degree of communication between themselves. In the center, Germany is either unified but contained by a larger system, or maintained as two states which have between them relations based on the idea of liberty and law. This section displays the essential character of this third Europe: leading toward détente and a softening of the Eastern régimes without changing their structures or their guarantees of security.
If one considers these three perspectives for what they are, that is to say, as long-term views which have some value in principle, one can discern the rules of a very simple game: for Russia, the best move is from one to two, omitting three; for the Western countries, to pass from one to three, skipping two.
The most likely outcome would be neither two nor three, but some unknown move which cannot be defined today.
If second-generation Europe wishes to play its part in the game, it must find its own solution. I have attempted, in this article, to suggest one. Europe must think about its options and means of action. I have listed several of these. Europe must also give itself a watchword. This one, formulated by the French philosopher, Etienne Borne, is proposed:
"Either struggle is the essence of the debate, or debate is the essence of the struggle."
In either case, there is struggle. In the first case, it is endless. In the second, there is a rational and humane ending. It is this ending which the Western Europe of tomorrow should propose, if it does not give up on itself today.
[i] See W. Lipgens, "Europa-Föderationspläne der Widerstandsbewegungen, 1940-45." Munich, 1968.
[ii] Cf. Lenin, "The slogan, 'A United States of Europe'," August 23, 1915, Works (in Russian), Vol. 26, 5th edition, p. 351-355.
[iii] Cf. Robert Rochefort, "Robert Schuman." Paris: 1965, p. 238.