Courtesy Reuters

The Defense of Western Europe

In our nuclear age, questions of defense planning-once a fairly simple matter of estimating the amounts expended by the various nations, totting up numbers of mobilizable men, evaluating weapons (as in Janes Fighting Ships), appreciating the contributions of allies and so on-have passed into a surrealistic sphere of bluff, counterbluff, nightmare and potential extinction of the human race. Reassuringly, neither of the superpowers, even when one held a monopoly or a vast preponderance of nuclear power, has so far been willing to use, or to threaten the use of, the superweapon in pursuit of its political aims-even (as in Vietnam) against a tiny nonnuclear adversary. (Khrushchev's empty threat at the time of Suez was the exception that proves the rule.) Indeed, its possession has so far simply resulted in a perpetuation of the political status quo. Any negotiated arrangement between the superpowers on the limitation or even reduction of their nuclear panoply will also, most likely, only be possible on such a basis.

It is therefore clear, in a general way, that as long as a substantial American force remains in Germany, giving rise to the assumption that if the Soviet Union attacked the allies in the West it would be the signal for a nuclear holocaust, the defense of Western Europe is in all probability assured. Nevertheless, in spite of statements to the contrary, we are always given to understand that there may, in the not too far distant future, be some partial withdrawal of American power and that, insofar as this may weaken the "credibility" of the major deterrent, it will be necessary for the European members of the Alliance somehow to fill the ensuing gap. Already an effort to meet this American-implied demand has been made by the constitution of the so-called "Eurogroup" (though France is not a member) and that is very much to the good. But might it be possible for Western Europe, one day, and if necessary, to be primarily responsible, within the Alliance, for

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