Time for NATO to Close Its Door
The Alliance Is Too Big—and Too Provocative—for Its Own Good
"Deficit" seems to be the word for Europe these days. The Community of the Nine, so we are told, has a democratic deficit, a social deficit, a deficit of visionary power and, most noticeably, a deficit of unified political will in world affairs. It is hard to deny that there is a great deal of truth to such jeremiads. The Community does indeed find itself in the awkward position of being neither here nor there. Its member-states no longer possess a number of important political instruments; collective tools have not yet been fashioned. Clearly, the evolution of joint political institutions has not reached the point where they match the problems in the world.
But if there are glaring deficits in today's Europe, there is also, perhaps, a surfeit of skepticism. For despite all its obvious deficiencies the Community is definitely on the move again. Europe lost the 1950s through British aloofness, then the 1960s through French obstinacy. Now the moment of slack water in the tide of European affairs is obviously past. The Community of the Six has finally grown into the wider grouping of the Nine. At the Paris summit last October, the leaders of the new Community made a number of important decisions about the internal structure of their association. They defined a long-term political goal-European union by 1980- and set themselves a provisional timetable. Whatever procedural snags this renewed effort at pulling together may run into, and whatever vagueness may still becloud the ultimate objective, the relance européenne is finally underway. If the Treaty of Rome is the Community's Old Testament, the Paris Communiqué is its New Testament. And it goes a long way beyond the earlier document. Nowhere will this become more clearly visible than in the Community's external relations.
The range of choices has narrowed considerably since Herman Kahn sketched 88 possible Europes in the mid-1960s, even since Alastair Buchan's ISS study of 1969 outlined six different models of thinkable European futures. We may not see a federated Western Europe emerge by 1980, but we will see something close to it, arrived at in a much more pragmatic fashion than the European idealists of the early postwar period were able to visualize.
There will not be an American Europe, the kind of U.S.-led Western Europe we had in 1949-divided, powerless, frightened states willingly following American leadership because it provided the only avenue toward physical survival-although close links with the United States are no doubt going to be maintained. Despite the growing prospect of a more conflictive relationship between the European Community and the United States, there will not be a Gaullist Europe, led by France in the basically anti-American spirit of Charles de Gaulle-although French influence will doubtlessly be significant. A fragmented Europe-once more back to its component parts, its community organs and institutions having come unstuck again-can likewise be rated very improbable. At the same time, a pan-European evolution leading to a Europe free from Brest to Brest does not, in view both of Soviet hegemonial rigidity and the still systemic inability of Communist régimes to coöperate with open societies, constitute a viable or attractive alternative to continued West European integration. Steadfast development of their Community to the point of full-fledged political union is the only option now open to the Nine.
Western Europe's approaches to community-building have undergone significant changes in the course of the past 20 years. In fact, there are three clearly distinguishable phases of development, each one characterized by a different approach:
Europe I, originally conceived in the 1950s, was connected with the name of Jean Monnet; its propellant and policy executor was to be the European Commission; its essence was supranational.
Europe II, which France attempted to impose on her partners in the 1960s, is linked with the name of Charles de Gaulle. The driving force behind it was the General's hegemonial ambition for his country; its essence was national, even nationalistic.
Europe III, as it has slowly been evolving, is a different kind of animal. It carries the name tag of Belgian Ambassador Etienne Davignon; its main instrument is the systematic coöperation of governments, leading to the negotiated, agreed-upon extension of collective policies to a rapidly widening range of questions. Its essence is, as it were, transnational.
This Europe III is likely to be with us for some time to come. It will neither be dominated by a technocratic structure nor overwhelmed by one man's autocratic will. It will be a Europe of the possible: pragmatic, without fanfare or panache, but dynamic nevertheless. Joint action will emerge from negotiated communality rather than from agreed Commission plans. But as the nine members formulate collective policies affecting an ever-growing number of sectors, the sheer quantity of joint decisions is bound to change the basic quality of the Community. No doubt, its component parts will not disappear, national governments not dwindle into insignificance: they are going to be the constituent parts of tomorrow's Europe as well. Yet in the eyes of the outside world the Community will more and more assume the character of one single entity, speaking, although in different tongues, with one voice, and implementing a collective will.
Contrary to earlier expectations, the Commission will not, or not for some time yet, become the main instrument of unity, the chief locus of political imagination and implementation. This may be a disheartening prospect for the Brussels apparatus, but it is not necessarily a disaster so long as the member-governments themselves provide the impetus toward more unity. Recent history seems to suggest that this is precisely what is happening. There are limits to the technocratic approach. Real progress toward fusion must rest on the political consent of Europe's component parts; it can be inspired but not assured by the Commission. The main point, as Andrew Shonfield has pointed out, is to "reduce each nation's capacity for making separate decisions without consulting the interests and wishes of its partners in the group." Yet if the frontiers of the nation-state are to be eroded, the nation-states themselves will have to take part in that process by voluntarily surrendering bits of national power. There is no way to circumvent them.
In part, the European Community is already a palpable reality; in part it is still a dream, a hope, an aspiration. The reality is made up of such dreary paper stuff as beef regulations and directives about barbed-wire fences, or shopkeepers' compromises about low-grade wines and cheap onions. But already it is more than that-for one thing because the outside world sees more in it and expects more from it. Close to 100 states maintain accredited representatives at the Commission headquarters in Brussels. The Community has established formalized relations with a number of international bodies like the Organization for Economic Coöperation and Development (OECD), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and concluded a score of trade and association agreements with as many different countries. National ministers of the Nine traveling abroad have found to their surprise that their interlocutors invariably regard them as European as much as Dutch, French or German ministers.
To be sure, only a small part of the reality encompasses Europe's external relations. These are still basically the prerogative of the member-states. As Ralf Dahrendorf, a German Commissioner, pointed out in the January 1973 Round Table: "There is an almost absurd disproportion between the expectations of Europe's partners in the world, and the instruments which the European Community has at its disposal in order to respond to these expectations." But to do the West Europeans justice, it must be emphasized that during the past few years they have created habits of consultation, coöperation and concentration in many more fields than would have been thought possible even three years ago. And if there was, for a long time, a pitiful shortage of ideas about what the Community's place and role in the world ought to be, Europe now stands at "the brink of a moment of creative tension," to borrow a phrase from Italian Commissioner Altiero Spinelli. Slowly the new European idea is taking root. The goals are being defined for tomorrow's Community. A sense of togetherness is growing despite all the workaday squabbles about nuts and bolts, chicken feed and oranges.
The summit conference at The Hague (December 1969) and the subsequent Paris summit meeting (October 1972) have set a pattern for progress through negotiated communality of action. At The Hague, the enlargement of the original European Economic Community (EEC) was finally agreed upon. In Paris, European sights were raised to the more distant goal of union by 1980, but at the same time the summiteers laid down a detailed calendar for action. They agreed further to improve political coöperation on foreign policy matters. Foreign ministers will in future meet four times a year instead of twice for this purpose. The aim, as the communiqué put it, is "to deal with problems of current interest and, where possible, to formulate common medium- and long-term positions."
It is easy to sneer that doubling the number of ministerial meetings will not effect any major change in Europe's world role. But as a matter of fact this kind of political coöperation has made considerable headway in recent years. As the Paris Communiqué states, Western Europe is indeed on the road to "establish[ing] its position in world affairs as a distinct entity"- slowly so, sometimes in a rather fumbling fashion, and all too frequently still by declarations rather than by actions. However, there is now an institutionalized process, largely through the Davignon Committee, of comparing notes and agreeing on joint language as well as joint lines of approach; this by no means stops short at regular conferences of department chiefs and meetings of their political directors but reaches well down into the middle echelons of the nine foreign offices. On many issues, EEC ambassadors receive joint instructions. EEC ministers conducting talks abroad often personally inform the Community ambassadors about their conversations. This is what Chancellor Brandt referred to when he told the London Times recently: "Nowadays, in outside countries, in many cases our ambassadors meet. Not too much is said about this in public. . . . Our ambassador saw Gromyko two days ago, and only a few hours after he had reported to his own government he reported to his colleagues from the Community."
Beyond this, policy papers define the member-states' attitude toward important questions such as the Middle East or the Conference on Security and Coöperation in Europe (CSCE). Recognition of East Germany, establishment of diplomatic relations with Hanoi, joint reconstruction plans for Vietnam provide further examples of policy coördination among the Nine. In this context, the intensive joint preparations for the CSCE preliminary talks in Helsinki have been particularly significant. Not only did the Community members harmonize their individual views on both substance and procedure, they also assured the physical presence of the Commission at the talks and agreed that in all matters legally falling within the competence of the Community organs, standard EEC procedures must be observed in the formulation of policy statements or decisions. For the rest, there is no denying the fact that a great deal of the Community's own work is coming to have important policy implications. The basic positions taken by the Nine on such matters as the next GATT round, associated countries and preferential tariff treatment involve central issues in Europe's relationship with the United States, Japan and the Third World.
Thus, Western Europe is on the way toward a joint foreign policy. But its evolution is bound to be slow. Deeply ingrained parochial attitudes will not vanish overnight. Furthermore, even imaginative European leaders find it difficult to visualize Europe's place in the world of the 1980s. The Community of the Nine is still in search of a role.
It is comparatively easy to define what Europe is not going to be like. First, it is hard to imagine that the Community will want to become a superpower in the sense in which this term is currently used: a power with global aspirations toward imposing a certain kind of order. Certainly it will have worldwide interests, and must resist any attempt to be relegated to a minor regional league. But I do not envisage European gunboats patrolling the Straits of Malacca, or EEC paratroopers supporting wobbly régimes in faraway countries against rebellious populations. The Community will have to have a military capacity to defend its territory but not to exercise its power far from its shores. It will not try to export any particular way of life. It will neither substitute for nor compete with American or Russian efforts to avert or mitigate conflicts in the developing world by direct intervention. Its role could be assertive only where its immediate interests were impinged upon, for example, if its oil supplies from the Middle East were jeopardized.
Second, although the echoes of past glories still reverberate faintly in some quarters, the peoples of the Community at large will feel no temptation to resume a colonial role. Europe, whatever its special interests and links with certain neighboring areas, will not be a vehicle for the continuation of colonialism by collective action. The idea that the Community might develop into a regional power with its own satellites in the Mediterranean and in Africa is quite preposterous. It may appeal to the systems ideologues of a pentagonal world order in which each of the five dominant powers possesses its private sphere of influence and dependence in the south: the United States in Latin America, Europe in Africa, the Soviet Union on the Indian subcontinent, China in Southeast Asia, Japan in Oceania. But it has little to do with the real world. Europe cannot become a closed bloc, extending from the North Cape to the Cape of Good Hope. It must remain open to partnership with everyone: with North America as well as Eastern Europe, with Asian groupings as well as Latin American countries.
Third, the Europe of 1980 will not simply be a Switzerland cast on a larger scale. To be sure, it is inevitably going to be a community of producers and traders, manufacturing, selling and buying. Yet for its own self- preservation it must actively participate in the web of international organizations from which Switzerland keeps largely aloof. It is not small enough to pass unnoticed-and not big enough to be immune from pressure if it fails to stand up and speak for itself.
But if Europe is not going to be imperialist, colonialist or helveticized, what then is it going to be like?
First, the European Community has to see to it that it cannot be pushed around by anyone. It must safeguard its existence, its prosperity and its growth potential. On the one hand, the EEC states must seek to prevent Finlandization-being swallowed up politically, if not militarily, by the Soviet Union, with only a semblance of autonomy left to them. On the other hand, they have to ward off what might be called Canadianization-being pressed into economic subservience to the United States, their autonomy and freedom of choice threatened by dollar diplomacy. Finally, the EEC must resist unfettered activities on the part of U.S.-dominated multinational companies.
Second, beyond these fundamental requisites of self-preservation and self- respect, the Community must establish itself as a totally new type of entity-neither parochial nor imperial, neither unassuming nor overbearing-a building-block for a broader and more complex international order; a "new intermediary between the national states and the world system," to quote Andrew Shonfield once more. Perhaps, as Jean Monnet has always seen it, it is the beginning of a "process of civilization" whose repercussions extend well beyond Community borders. Europe can serve as a model of how to achieve unity despite diversity. It is bound to be a force for openness and liberalism. And it can demonstrate especially to the Third World what Ralf Dahrendorf has termed "coöperation without dependence."
Third, Europe has a moral role to play, and should unabashedly do so. This may strike some as censorious, as in its time did American moralizing. But as Peregrine Worsthorne pointed out in the London Sunday Telegraph, it is important that someone act as the conscience of humanity: "The world would be a much poorer place if there were no area which could be relied upon to preach a plausible sermon with some semblance of conviction from a posture of sufficient authority." America, Russia, China, the Third World, Worsthorne suggested, could not fulfill this role. Europe could: "The memory of how we ourselves used to behave badly in the past is too faint to be embarrassing and the likelihood of having to behave as badly in the future too remote to be worrying."
Peering into the future of transatlantic relations, it is hard to detect a rationale for fundamental change. At the same time, it is difficult not to predict growing friction between Europe and the United States. Separation impossible, accommodation implausible-this appears to be the most likely outlook.
The causes of disaffection are easy to see. On the one hand, they stem from the nature of the problems confronting the Atlantic Community. On the other hand, they derive from the very basic uncertainties which have come to mark the attitudes of the main actors. In the 1950s and 1960s the West's problems were chiefly military. There was a clear and present danger from the Communist East, strongly and urgently perceived by Europeans and Americans alike. Their security was at stake. Of course, they squabbled over force levels, strategic postures, various national contributions. But underneath it all there was an unmistakable unity of purpose. Security problems have an enormously integrative effect: they draw the most different partners together. In the 1970s, the problems are chiefly economic. The fear of Communist Russia is lower than ever; commercial and monetary issues within the West loom much larger now. Such issues, however, are inherently divisive. They appeal to parochial rather than common interests, in the process engendering protectionist pride and prejudice. In the absence of a powerful political will to the contrary they tend to ruin the most steady friendships.
In recent years, U.S. leadership has been lacking. Under President Johnson, Washington's attitude vis-à-vis Europe was one of sneering contempt ("Europe is not where the action is") ; under President Nixon it has long been one of neglect. The United States was stuck with its feet in the Vietnam quagmire while its mind was busy with visions of superpower rapprochement. Europe, apart from two brief presidential visits, did not seem to figure on the world map of the Nixon administration.
It is only fair to add that the Europeans were not in a transatlantic frame of mind either. The agony of Gaullism, with its built-in anti-American bias, turned into a protracted affair; Vietnam constantly provided new arguments against the American connection, especially to the young; and Ostpolitik kept some Europeans spellbound to the exclusion of most everything else. On top of it all, Western Europe was divided against itself. No single figure was able to speak on its behalf, and the machinery which could crank out a European consensus was still pitifully inadequate.
Now we have moved into a new phase. The Vietnam War has come to an end. The European Community has taken a new lease on life. Both superpower rapprochement and European Ostpolitik, although they still agitate suspicious minds, have lost their spectacular quality; SALT II, the Security Conference in Helsinki or the mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR) talks in Geneva will be nothing but hard work in the quarries of sub- summit diplomacy.
The question now is: can we muster the strength for a new departure, or shall we indulge in the delights of economic quibbling to the detriment of the whole transatlantic relationship? Will leadership now be provided to deal with the roots of our problems and to put them into the perspective of a common future, or will the structure of the Atlantic Community be allowed to come unstuck by default? And will leadership be provided not by preëmption on the part of the United States but by a dedicated joint effort to put together a new consensus-on trade, monetary problems, defense issues?
There is a general sense of relief in Europe over the fact that the United States has finally disentangled itself from Vietnam. But it would be less than honest not to add that there is also a widespread feeling of uneasiness. Uncertainty prevails with regard to future American policies vis-à-vis the Old World. Anyone who cares to dig a little deeper can easily uncover at least three roots of the transatlantic malaise.
For one thing the Europeans are frightened by America's addiction to doctrines, however applicable or inapplicable these may be to a particular situation. The Vietnam War began when an American doctrine originally formulated for Europe, the Truman Doctrine, was unthinkingly applied to Asia. Now that the United States has largely ended its war-fighting role in Indochina, many Europeans cannot help wondering whether Washington might not make the same mistake once again-this time by applying to Europe a presidential doctrine first designed to deal with Asia, the Nixon Doctrine. The result could be equally disastrous. If the American effort at containing communism on the ground proved futile in Asia, withdrawing beyond the horizon in Europe would jeopardize the precarious balance on which the postwar order of things has come to rest.
Furthermore, the Europeans are worried by the present mood of the American people. After the vicissitudes of their Asian war, they seem desperate for tranquillity, for an end to or at least a respite from world involvement. This mood seems to bear out the "Klingberg Theory" of 1952, according to which, throughout American history, phases of introversion (average duration: 21 years) have alternated with phases of extroversion (average duration: 27 years). Since 1967 the prevailing trend has again been one of introversion. Politically, the switch has manifested itself in several important developments: a threat to the power of the executive by the legislative branch of government; a loss of budget power by the military- industrial complex; finally the growth of neo-isolationist tendencies in many quarters, portending more withdrawal and disengagement to come elsewhere. The Administration's benign (and sometimes not so benign) neglect of much of the outside world-Europe, the Middle East, Japan, Africa, Latin America-has seemed to reflect the nation's increasing disinterestedness in foreign affairs.
Finally, the Europeans are perplexed by the mood of the President. Not many have read Mr. Nixon's Kansas City speech of mid-1971, or his Time interview of January 1972, but they have noticed the outcome of his curious obsession with global geometry-his (or Dr. Kissinger's) idea of a pentagonal world in which five major units, all equidistant from each other, keep the world in balance. By inferring equidistance, the President has seemed to deny the possibility of closer relations among some of the five poles; by putting the emphasis on balance of power rather than on community of interest, he has appeared to turn his back on the earlier concept of interdependence; by ignoring Atlantic solidarity, he has run the risk of inciting a bitter transatlantic contest.
Nor can all this be played down as figments of academic fancy. The "Nixon shocks" administered to America's partners in the trade and currency crisis of August 1971, and the subsequent peregrinations of the President in China and Russia seemed to prove the point that he was bent on transforming the old adversary relationship with Peking and Moscow into something much more coöperative, while at the same time deliberately infusing a conflictive, quasi-adversary element into U.S. relations with Japan and Western Europe. Suspicion lingers in some minds that superpower bilateralism is really what the President has in mind, and that in SALT II, MBFR, even in trade, he might make, especially after Watergate, concessions to the Russians which would violate Community interests.
Apart from all this, Europeans have not failed to note Mr. Nixon's proclivity for the spectacular in foreign affairs. Except for Vietnam, they have been unable to detect a strong sense of process in recent White House diplomacy. And, of course, they worry about the possibility that the Nixon administration might use Europe's continuing security dependence on the United States to extort trade and monetary concessions from the Community. This would either force the West Europeans into frustrating submission or drive them into a senseless effort to provide for their security all on their own (as would, by the way, the excessive pursuit of superpower bilateralism).
But if Europeans are worrying about the United States for a variety of reasons, they are far from despondent. There is a great deal of confidence that the President's common sense, reinforced by Henry Kissinger's historical perspective-shown in his recent speech calling for a new "Atlantic Charter"-will in the end prove stronger than his penchant for hyperbole and pageantry. Most of Europe, after all, was pro-Nixon during last year's election campaign. And it is simply not true that Western Europe is being swept by a tide of anti-Americanism. Local troubles around some U.S. garrisons are one thing, protests against the last phase of the Vietnam War another, commercial rivalry something else again. Insulated incidents should not be mistaken for a ground swell. The protest movement is waning anyway, and the economic problems can and should be dealt with in a truly businesslike manner.
It will not be easy to hammer out the new ground rules for future transatlantic politics. An infusion of conflictual elements in the old relationship is inevitable. There will be tough bargaining, contention, probably an occasional attempt at blackmail, and sometimes even swollen necks. But we should take this in stride. The main thing is not to allow our differences to precipitate an ideological confrontation between us. Western Europe and the United States should not drift into an adversary relationship with each other. It would indeed be supremely ironic if the burial of the political and military cold war with the East were accompanied by an economic cold war between the Western allies. Neither would stand to gain if it severed the ties that have grown between them over the past quarter-century. Détente presumes a viable Atlantic Alliance. So does the prosperity of all in today's interdependent world.
Some of the problems will undoubtedly be solved, others will not. Perhaps we have to learn how to live with a certain untidiness without clamoring for divorce right away. We all have our Congress, Parliament, Bundestag. Each one has a domestic situation to take into account; no one, for this reason, can afford to be absolutely preëmptive. We must all make concessions, either to achieve solutions or to get by without them.
Fortunately, a number of recent American decisions seem to indicate that the phase of studied American rudeness toward Europe is over: first the dollar devaluation, then the declared readiness of the United States to help the Europeans man the breach in the last currency crisis, the announcement that President Nixon will visit Europe in the fall, and Henry Kissinger's speech of late April. These give cause for hope that other difficult issues-U.S. troop deployments in Europe, the next GATT round, the reform of the Bretton Woods system-can now be tackled jointly, with Europeans and Americans lined up on the same side of the table facing the problems together, rather than confronting each other with the issues standing between them.
Europe's relations with the rest of the world proceed on several tracks. In truth, one must admit that a coherent policy has not yet taken shape. Inevitably, the Community is according first priority to the task of internal construction. In foreign affairs, a recognizable pattern is evolving rather more slowly. But already its contours are vaguely discernible.
The Nine will continue their slow drift toward more and more integration. Their preparedness in principle to conduct a good neighbor policy toward everyone will be subject to only one qualification: in dubio pro communitate, as Ralf Dahrendorf forcefully put it-when in doubt act in the interests of the Community. As a corollary he suggested: in dubio pro libertate.
These tenets will guide the Community's dealings with the non-Communist industrial states, especially the United States and Japan, not as ideological prescriptions but as a matter of practical reason. In the interests of both growth and freedom, a close partnership must be maintained among these nations. More attention than hitherto will have to be given to Japan.
The strong element of economic rivalry in the Community's relationship with the United States should not be permitted to interfere with close and good relations with the United States. These remain of highest importance to Western Europe. In the security field, there is no substitute for America's contribution to European defense. A breakdown of the Atlantic Alliance-for economic reasons or because of superpower "complicity"-might force the West Europeans into an armaments effort which, if extended to the nuclear field, would be financially wasteful, strategically dubious and politically destabilizing. On the other hand, the gradual evolution of a European defense identity, possibly crystallizing around the Eurogroup and, perhaps, a resuscitated Western European Union, is a likely prospect. But even a more clearly drawn military profile of the Community would make sense only against the background of a continuing U.S. commitment to the security of Europe.
Efforts at détente with Eastern Europe will be continued, chiefly multilaterally, but not to the detriment of the Community. This is the lesson the West Europeans learned from the Czechoslovak crisis in 1968. There is no use in slowing down their own integration process in the vague hope that East Europe might soon be able to join in. West European integration ranks before all-European coöperation. The Community will be open to such coöperation whenever and wherever the Eastern countries are ready for it, but it will not subordinate its internal order and its external orientation to this goal. Détente cannot realistically include any measures which could hinder, decelerate or stop the transformation of EEC into a more tightly knit economic unit and ultimately into a political union. At the same time, West Europeans will be well advised to keep insuring against the possible miscarriage of the détente process.
Toward the Third World, Europe must adopt a posture of increasing openness. This does not preclude special attention to the Mediterranean littoral and to the francophone and anglophone states of Africa. Nor should it place any restrictions on an enlightened aid policy, perhaps concentrating on "threshold countries" about to reach the take-off stage rather than spreading the available funds far and thin. Six of the nine Community members are ex-colonial powers; this imposes on them a particular obligation to help the ex-colonials. Here Europe has a role to play as an association of compassionate, beneficent states. In the impending GATT round, it can best help the developing countries by adopting a liberal stance on tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
Despite all lamentable deficits then, the European Community is on the move again. It is not so monolithic as many might wish, but neither is it as amorphous as others seem to fear. At this particular juncture, Europe is perhaps less a precise entity than a mood. But it is the mood of a new departure, and it is visibly hardening into a program of action. Results are slow in coming, yet it would be wrong to wax impatient. The Community will grow through practice and with experience. We are witnessing the first phases of a protracted historical process. What counts above all is the fact that it has begun, and that all the recent crises have not been able to weaken the new resolve toward unity but have indeed helped to reinforce it.