The year 1973 may still go down as the "Year of Europe," though not for the reasons Henry Kissinger had in mind when he christened it that, in his April 23 speech last year. It will be rather that the crises of the past year have made the choices for Europe clearer than ever; they have further shown that if European lack of will and vision led to nothing more serious than division and weakness before, they now are perfectly capable of leading the European Economic Community to disintegration.

In 1973, Europe was indeed, in the words of French Foreign Minister Michel Jobert, "treated like a non-person" and "humiliated," not only by the United States, Mr. Jobert's favorite target, but by practically everybody. The Soviet Union showed no great solicitude either for France or for the EEC during the year, less than did the United States-unusual considering that in these topsy-turvy days one generally expects better treatment from his adversaries than from his friends. Any relationship Europe may have dreamed of with China was upstaged by Henry Kissinger's ties to Chou En-lai. The Europeans' self-abasement in front of the Arab nations on November 6, and their approval of a document accepting the Arab interpretations of U.N. Resolution 242, did little either for the European reputation or Middle East peace. And it remains to be seen if it earns Europe any special energy privileges in the future. Despite that humiliating gesture, Europe still suffered oil shortages and was obliged to show the world how dependent the once mighty Continent was on the tiny sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf.

And there were other humiliations: Europe was, as usual, consulted little on important planetary questions. The June 22 U.S.-Soviet agreement on the prevention of nuclear war-which Jobert called along with the Middle East war the most important event of the year-was concluded in secret with no advice sought from Europe. The Middle East alert and subsequent Geneva consultations ("How can Europe be absent from this negotiation when she is so profoundly affected," lamented Jobert before the French Senate) were private affairs in which no one took any particular notice of Europe. Moreover, the Europeans contributed measurably to their own sense of humiliation when they showed that not only were they incapable of sharing supplies among themselves during the oil crisis, but were against even discussing the subject of sharing. Finally, by December, West German Chancellor Brandt had convinced French President Pompidou that energy must be put on the EEC Council of Ministers' agenda in 1974 because, in the German's words, "if the Community cannot agree on this it is nothing." Two months later the Europeans completely fell apart during the Washington energy meeting over a subject of no less importance than Europe's relations with the United States. The Washington split was less France-United States than France-Germany and more particularly Michel Jobert-Helmut Schmidt. Schmidt accused the French of trying to divorce Europe from America, and Jobert counter-accused the German Finance Minister of betraying the European Community's February 5 energy statement in Brussels. It was an ugly scene for Europe, largely unnecessary, for the results of the Washington meeting may eventually turn out to be rather meager stuff.

In all, 1973 was a profoundly humiliating year for the "world's greatest trading bloc," as it likes to call itself, and then in the New Year France was forced to float the franc. In early February the EEC Executive Commission judged the situation sufficiently serious to issue an unusual statement in which it pictured Europe in a state of crisis-a "crisis of confidence, a crisis of will and a crisis of lucidity." Despite their wealth, the nine nations were forecasting record deficits and recession resulting from the increased cost of importing reduced quantities of oil, and individual members of the Community, particularly Britain and France, were showing their worry by rushing to sign private agreements with whatever oil producer they could, usually in exchange for arms. Even here it appeared that the Europeans would be embarrassed, for in some cases the Arab oil exporters were asking more of them than the Europeans individually were able to supply.

Not only were they having a bad time of it, they were being bad sports about it. The European press was full of reports that the United States had engineered the entire Yom Kippur War for its own ends, notably to strengthen U.S. industry and the dollar vis-à-vis other Western nations. Jobert took to French radio in January to make some nasty accusations against the United States; he alleged that he had tried for years to interest Kissinger in the energy situation "before it was too late," but that Kissinger had had other preoccupations; he declared that France would not coöperate with U.S. oil policy because Washington lacked "control over its oil market" and systematically excluded the developing nations from the energy talks; he asserted that Arab oil under embargo to the United States actually was getting through (the implication being that it was diverted from less Arab-offending countries). Finally, said Jobert, it was indeed strange that a war that was a strategic defeat for Israel became a triumph-politically, strategically and economically-for the United States, Israel's principal ally.

The British, too, showed during the year that they were not particularly happy with the relative roles of Europe and the United States. Said Prime Minister Edward Heath in a petulant interview with The New York Times: "I am sorry if Dr. Kissinger is disappointed." The Economist of London, which follows community affairs as closely as any publication, didn't know what to write anymore. In December it was saying that the "growing cohesion of the nine has widened the already existing differences of opinion between Europe and America." By January, after the French float (which wasn't, in fact, all that bad), it saw the Community's "worst crisis since the EEC began." The stories out of Brussels reported a gloomy, turgid atmosphere among the Eurocrats, which only picked up slightly with the Commission's February challenge to the nine governments that "Europe is being put to the test." But by mid-February the gloom had set in again as Mr. Heath was obliged to call new elections, and the Community faced uncomfortably the prospects of having Harold Wilson to deal with again.

One thing was certain as 1974 got underway, even for those still sanguine about the future of the Community: the disruption and increased price of oil supplies from the Middle East had played hell within the European Community just as they did in the whole international community. No one was prepared, and this showed up in the divisive and contradictory actions taken not only by the EEC members, but by other countries that had regarded themselves as allies and judged their international interests to be alike. The cohesion and coöperation of the entire Western world were threatened, and it appeared in the first months of 1974 that efforts both within GATT to begin new tariff and trade negotiations during the year and those within the International Monetary Fund to conclude a new monetary agreement would be delayed until order was restored in the oil markets and countries once again could realistically appraise their balance-of-payments and currency situations.


I think, however, that 1973 will go down as the most significant year for Europe since 1963 (the year of de Gaulle's veto of British EEC membership), and not just because it was the year that Britain finally joined the Community. The crises of 1973 provided the strongest evidence yet to the Europeans that they had no hope of maintaining any influence in the world-not enough even to defend their own interests-unless they moved more resolutely toward the political union they have set as their goal for 1980. Far from abandoning that date as some were predicting, not to meet it would be to relegate Europe to the sidelines of history. Outside events resulted in a series of new perceptions on the old Continent, even among those members of the Atlantic Alliance with closest links to the United States. "In a world whose destiny cannot and should not be determined by two superpowers alone, the influence of a united Europe has become indispensable," West German Chancellor Willy Brandt told the European Parliament in November. This perception of a "condominium," whether in strictly bilateral forums such as the SALT talks, the June 22 agreement, Middle East consultations, trade exchanges, or in the multilateral consultations of mutual-and-balanced force reductions and the Conference on European Security and Cooperation (where the Europeans "serve as ushers at the U.S.-Soviet marriage," in the words of President Pompidou), contributed greatly to the sense of urgency, if not panic, felt in Europe during the latter part of the year. "Many nations are waiting for [Europe] to show that an alternative [to condominium] exists, and that there are other paths to assure equilibrium in the world," Jobert told a meeting of the Western European Union in November.

Dismiss for a moment the sad spectacle at the year's end, and reflect on what the Europeans achieved politically during 1973. The nine nations caucused and acted together at the Helsinki and Geneva phases of the security conference and coordinated their positions for U.N. meetings. They sent a single representative to negotiate with the United States on the Atlantic declaration. They spoke with a single voice as the new round of trade talks got underway in Tokyo. In November, they adopted the notorious Middle East declaration (yes, the Dutch signed that too), which if ineffective in contributing to peace in the area at least showed a common European position and a sense of shared destiny in dealing with the Arabs to assure adequate energy supplies in the future. In December, they held the first of the semi-annual summit meetings and produced the document in which they "affirmed their common will to see Europe speak with the same voice in the great affairs of the world." To be sure, some of this momentum was lost during the Washington energy conference where Jobert, in arguing what he thought was the European cause, created division where there had been agreement before, but it still was strong evidence that far from being ready to break up, as some have been predicting, the Nine had acquired an embryonic understanding of what is in their own interest. And there still is another argument that pleads strongly in Europe's favor: during 1973 the Nine became aware that in many areas they had nobody to turn to but themselves. It was this feeling more than anything else that created difficulties with America when it came to defining future relations.

France, obsessed with superpower domination in a way she had not been since Khrushchev's visit to Camp David almost 15 years before, was more committed to Europe by the end of 1973 than at any time since 1961 and the first Fouchet plan draft; West Germany, growing more concerned about U.S. withdrawal and worried over stagnation in her Ostpolitik; Britain, coming off a first, tough year of adjustment to life with the Continent but showing no signs-even among the Labourites-of throwing in the towel; the smaller EEC countries, relatively tranquil now that Britain was aboard-all of them had a better understanding that, to paraphrase a Kissinger formulation, they were doomed to "creativity together or irrelevance apart."

The difficulties at the year's end and the arguments with the United States over energy and future Atlantic relations only spotlighted the changing relations. "We are still for a little while longer in this transition phase where the relations between the senior partner, the United States, and the junior partner, Europe, are transforming themselves into relations between partners in principle equal," said EEC Commissioner Ralf Dahrendorf shortly before leaving the Commission to head the London School of Economics. Dahrendorf's statement showed that much of the difficulty was precisely the wrenching and tugging going on among the principal EEC members, and between them and the United States to define the new relationships. There appeared to be emerging two quite different conceptions of a united Europe. One of them, pressed by the French, held that the Atlantic relationship actually impeded the European one. The French conception, illustrated in part by the European Community's September draft declaration on Atlantic relations (primarily of British inspiration), stressed Europe's independence and equality within the alliance, and emphasized that in those areas where Europe still was weak, notably defense, new efforts would be demanded. The other version, Kissinger's, seemed a new version of the old two-pillar theory-only this one, like the first one, had a slanting roof. Moreover, some of the phrases in the U.S. document, words like "partnership" and "interdependence," were too strong for the neo-Gaullists (not all of them French), who preferred notions such as "dialogue" and "independence."

Reconciling these two diverging concepts became the major exercise of the year and played the dominant role in creating cross-Atlantic tension. The United States even began complaining about the process being used, for it meant that each time European and U.S. negotiators got together the EEC already had a predetermined position, the result of considerable negotiation among the Nine themselves, and presented the United States with what amounted to a fait accompli. America clearly felt that she had a right to have a voice in the Community's decision-making process. Kissinger understood the new mood and thought it serious enough to complain publicly during an end-of-the-year speech to the Pilgrims in London: "To present the decisions of a unifying Europe to us as faits accomplis not subject to effective discussions is alien to the tradition of U.S.-European relations," he said. Kissinger spelled out in that frank speech what was bothering Washington: the Europeans had "come to believe that their identity should be measured by [their] distance from the United States," he said. And, "Europe's unity must not be at the expense of the Atlantic Community." For the Secretary of State the two notions were completely compatible. In his harshest language he told the Europeans that "in our view, the affirmation of the pervasive nature of our interdependence is not a device for blackmail."

It was left for Jobert to put the difficulties in more colloquial terms: "I suppose that we'll have to complete, sooner or later, a text defining the relations between Europe and the United States because the United States wants one. But it can't be done by saying, 'I want this' and 'this is the way it is to be.' No, no, it will be necessary to be tolerant. When one is among friends, one must put up with one another, accept one another and learn to share. From time to time there will be one who wants to be captain, but the others must say: 'It's not your turn anymore.'"


France, through the voice of Michel Jobert, the slight, balding fonctionnaire Pompidou plucked from the obscurity of his personal cabinet to become foreign minister (just as Pompidou himself was plucked by de Gaulle to become premier 11 years earlier), became a leading spokesman for Europe during the year, a somewhat unusual role for the Fifth Republic. France began turning to her partners within the Community as a means of increasing French influence-just as de Gaulle had turned away from them and toward the Soviet Union in an analogous balance-of-power maneuver eight years before. There was some irony that it was a former collaborator of Pierre Mendès-France and a man whose own collaborators were known to refer on occasion to de Gaulle as "General comment s'appelle-t-il?" who was chosen for this role. From his first speech to the National Assembly barely two months after taking office, Jobert showed that he meant to put the accent of Atlantic relations exactly where it had been under de Gaulle: on defense. "Defense will be behind every discussion held in 1973," he told the deputies June 19. Calling Europe "disarmed," he said that "with each passing day European defense takes on more a character of its own."

Here, dusted off and polished up, was de Gaulle's old idea of creating a European defense force around the French nuclear force de frappe. Only now that Britain was an EEC member it would necessarily be built around both the French and British deterrents, which complicated matters greatly since Britain was in close nuclear coöperation with the United States. Not only was Jobert raising a subject that had been interred since the U.S.-U.K. Nassau accords 11 years ago, but he was implicitly focusing attention on the nature of the coming European political union. Had it not always been part of Gaullist reasoning that there could be no common defense without a single responsible (federal) authority, and that such an authority was out of the question? "It is a question of whose finger is on the trigger," is how Prime Minister Pierre Messmer put it on a French radio broadcast last summer.

By the time Jobert addressed the Western European Union (WEU) in November, he was calling Europe "more and more abandoned to herself" and faced with the "responsibility of assuring her own defense." As a first step, he proposed that the WEU be used as a forum to discuss the joint production of European arms. Here, finally, was something concrete, though it posed something of a problem for those of France's partners who preferred using the NATO Eurogroup for such conversations.1 In any case, the tricky problem of European defense union had been raised, and by November 26, L'Express, the French news-weekly, could write that "for the first time a program for a study of Franco-British nuclear coöperation" was being discussed not only between the French and the British, but with the West Germans as well. Pompidou was to deny on the eve of his scheduled visit to the Soviet Union that nuclear coöperation was around the corner, but he did not deny that the subject at least had been raised. "The day that there is a political Europe the problem of European security-and therefore of European defense-will be posed. But we must not put the cart before the horse," was how he explained it.

There can be little doubt that Jobert's move from the Elysée Palace to the Quai d'Orsay gave a new impetus to French foreign policy that had been lacking for years. His change of address from the Elysée (where Pompidou referred to him as mon Kissinger à moi) revitalized the Quai d'Orsay much in the same way Kissinger's arrival restored morale at the State Department. At the time of the change, just after the mediocre Gaullist showing in the March 1973 elections, Pompidou was in apparently poor health and needed a man able to give some cohesion to what was seen by more and more people as the contradictions of his foreign policy. The Pompidou record of four years of andante ma non troppo had not been brilliant, and with the single exception of providing the stimulus for British entry into the EEC, French foreign policy had added no notable achievement to its record since the days of de Gaulle. During those four years it had seemed to many that it would be impossible to continue indefinitely a policy of simultaneously and equally supporting the Atlantic Alliance, European union and French independence. The cabinet itself was divided among those tendencies in the persons of René Pleven, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and Michel Debré. Being partially faithful to three diverging notions had earned Pompidou the reputation of being completely unfaithful to all of them. Instead of winning friends on all sides, Pompidou's France had succeeded in alienating everybody-Atlanticists, Europeans and Gaullists alike.

The man on whose narrow shoulders fell this act of prestidigitation had labored for 20 years in the obscurity of ministerial cabinets, practically unknown nationally and totally unknown internationally. If politically he was a questionable choice for the job, technically he was well prepared, having at various times served ministers charged with finance, labor, housing, social affairs, defense, African affairs, foreign aid and foreign territories. He was proud of his eclectic background, and told his January 7 radio listeners that, "I think in my modest domestic sphere my horizon was considerably wider than that of Henry Kissinger." If he was eclectic technically, so was he politically, for during this time he served centrist, Radical and Gaullist ministers alike.

What he thought during this period was known only to Jobert and the few men around him, for he is not a man strongly given to confidences. The first time I met him, four years ago in the Elysée Palace prior to Pompidou's unhappy American trip, he didn't care to talk about foreign affairs at all, but spent almost an hour inquiring about America, finally showing me what was on his mind-letters from the United States threatening Pompidou's life during the trip. It could be seen from the lift of his civilized eyebrows that he wondered how such things could happen. (France, it will be remembered, was strongly identified with a pro-Arab, anti-Israel policy, and had just announced the sale of 108 Mirage jet fighters to Libya.) It was hard to discover where he stood on an issue, other than squarely behind Pompidou and in favor of British entry into the Common Market. What impression he left was of a certain modesty, not only a personal modesty, but one that seemed to comprehend the limits of French power. If de Gaulle had felt that "there is no France of worth, particularly in the eyes of Frenchmen, without worldwide responsibility," Jobert understood that France was what he called a medium-sized power, and the only way of increasing French influence was in concert with her partners (or in decreasing third nations' influence with those partners).

He had been in office hardly a month when Kissinger delivered his April 23 speech proclaiming the year of Europe and calling for a new Atlantic charter. The French, and most of Europe, greeted that speech with a thundering silence, but immediately began asking questions. What did it mean? Was it an afterthought after Moscow and Peking-a bone for Europe, last but not least? Was it a means of reaffirming the sort of relationship that existed under the original Atlantic charter? James Reston, in The New York Times, compared it in importance to the Marshall Plan; yet that plan, welcome as it was at the time, hardly established the kind of relationship Europe was seeking in 1973. Was Kissinger trying to embarrass the Europeans by insisting they speak with a common voice on questions he knew they could not? Or was he trying to stimulate them to do so? If so, why had there been no warning? The first reaction I know of came at a private luncheon at which a French official explained to a small group that France had submitted a list of questions to Washington on the speech, and had received an aide mémoire in response. Yet even with the aide mémoire the French did not understand. What was meant by this? What was wrong with the alliance? What was happening to make this necessary? Less than two months later, when Soviet party leader Leonid I. Brezhnev signed the agreement on the prevention of nuclear war with President Nixon, the French had their answer.


That agreement will have at least as much significance for Europe in the long run as for the United States and the Soviet Union. For the French, the June 22 accord, followed shortly as it was by the Middle East crisis, represented a kind of culmination, the drop of water that overflows the vase. The Pompidou government had been complaining publicly, at least as far back as 1971, that Washington was not keeping its partners informed. This irritation was felt during the SALT I talks (when the United States did make an effort to keep NATO informed) and during Secretary of State Rogers' Middle East peace efforts, which the French felt were attempts needlessly to circumvent the U.N. Security Council. Rumbles were heard when President Nixon sprang his surprise trip to Peking, but the note of outright complaint in official statements began with the August 1971 decision ending dollar convertibility. It was then left for the French to learn from the Russians of Nixon's plan to go to Moscow-announced in October 1971. When the April 23 speech was delivered without warning and later the June 22 agreement signed, renversement des alliances was actually mentioned in Paris, and if that was a bit strong it at least appeared to the French as a redressement des alliances. When Kissinger said of his failure to consult with the allies during the Middle East crisis that some of those consulted with most coöperated least, Jobert retorted: "Who does he mean, the Russians?"

The French were no happier with the Russians than with the Americans. The tone at the Pompidou-Brezhnev meeting in Rambouillet in late June 1973, on Brezhnev's return from the United States, was uncommonly frosty for those used to the somewhat forced camaraderie of early Franco-Russian summits; the Russians complained openly that the French had been incorrect to announce publicly that it was Brezhnev who had requested the meeting, not Pompidou. Just who was the superpower, anyway? A few weeks later Jobert left for Moscow and Yalta to try to patch things up. It wasn't a particularly successful meeting. A French official who accompanied the foreign minister gave the following account just after their return: Jobert, in one of his wryer moods, decided during a conversation with Brezhnev to focus on the June 22 agreement. Using the phrase, "you and your American partner," Jobert wanted to see how long he could use it before Brezhnev, out of politeness if nothing else, interrupted to deny that the United States was a "partner," or any special partner, or at least to say that France too was a partner. Brezhnev never once interrupted, and Jobert went on using the phrase until the end of the meeting, coming away convinced that here indeed was a partnership.

The U.S.-Soviet relationship was affecting Franco-Soviet relations. But if the French were annoyed, so were the Russians. Criticism of French policy, especially after Jobert began stressing Western Europe's state of "disarmament" and the need for common European defense measures, began creeping into the Soviet press. And during the final stages of the Helsinki preparations for the security conference and the opening Geneva phase, it became clear that the Russians were at least as annoyed with the French position that the security talks must in no way affect Western Europe's defense capabilities or the evolution of its political institutions as with the British-backed efforts to achieve a greater flow of men and ideas between East and West. On January 16, Izvestia criticized the French defense schemes, compared them to the follies of the European Defense Community, and said that all that had been "buried as far back as 1954."

Small wonder that Jobert ended the year lamenting Europe's humiliations! In doing so, he focused all the French guns on the June 22 agreement. "Experience has shown us that this superpower tête-à-tête can just as easily lead to confrontation as to détente," he said shortly after the Middle East crisis. "These observations may be brutal," he told the National Assembly, "but we must be realistic and lucid. They reinforce our conviction that if we want to stay free, have any influence in the world, participate in the determination of our destiny, then we must tirelessly pursue both European construction and our defense effort."

Two weeks later he clashed with Kissinger at the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels and informed the Americans that the June 22 accord had reduced the credibility of the U.S. nuclear guarantee in Europe. The Europeans would be forced to draw their own conclusions, particularly on defense. After that meeting, Jobert's press spokesman said the following: "Mr. Jobert questioned whether this necessarily ambiguous concertation between the two adversary-partners might not supersede consultation among the allies. He also wondered whether concertation between two powers . . . could replace bilateral and multilateral efforts in many frameworks." For his part, Kissinger hotly denied the French view that the growing relationship with Moscow changed anything. Never had he dreamed, he told the allies, that the June 22 agreement would be used as a pretext for weakening the alliance.

One might pause at this point to ask if what happened in 1973 really was worth all the fuss. Or if this fuss was any different from countless other Atlantic squabbles over consultation, U.S. domination of the alliance, condominium, superpower arrogance, Yalta, the neglect of Europe and various faits accomplis. After all, if the Gaullist ego was known to be something worn on the sleeve and the Gaullist wrath spared only the insignificant, Pompidou and Jobert were not de Gaulle-not only were they not the General but there were indications that they would not be in power all that long. Why was it that in 1973, just as the United States ended a decade of mire in Southeast Asia, threw off the Vietnam hairshirt and turned its attention back to Europe and its allies, the rift was reopened? Especially why so, since everybody seemed more or less agreed that Europe and America were condemned to remain in some sort of embrace with each other (and even desired to do so); that the two continents were going to come up with some kind of document defining their relationship; and that President Nixon, if he still is with us at the end of the year, will no doubt have made his trip to Europe to sign one document with the NATO allies pledging no U.S. troop withdrawals without Soviet reciprocity (and hoping Congress will accept it), and another with the Common Market pledging trade coöperation and mutual advantage. If the Atlantic Alliance could survive de Gaulle, was there not every reason to believe it could survive the peripeteia of Kissinger, the obstinacy of Jobert and the vicissitudes of life with the oil-rich countries of OPEC?

It would be a mistake, however, to dismiss the European fears, whether real or only perceived, too lightly. If it were only the French who read deep, long-run significance into the happenings of last year it might not be enough, for the Germans and British have their own ideas on the development of European union and its ultimate relationship with the United States. But it is not just the French, though they so far have been the most articulate. Others, the Germans and British in particular, have begun to reflect on the events of the year and their possible effect. The oil crisis certainly played a key role during the year, not just for the Europeans but for the Japanese as well, in reopening the debate on the identity of allied interests. Neither Europeans nor Japanese, dependent on Middle East oil for the future of their societies as they know them, could afford the luxury of a neutral position in the Middle East, and they showed it in their extreme wariness to be identified with the United States in any rich countries' anti-Arab posture. Kissinger may blame the others for their lack of solidarity and accuse them of betraying their own best interests, and he may be right. After all, it is the Israelis who occupy Arab territory, and somebody has to maintain influence with them if they are to be persuaded to give it up. In that sense the Europeans didn't help at all.

But the point is that the Europeans together decided on a path during the crisis that was different from the U.S. path, and that is what has worried both sides. Where does identity of interests start and where does it end and how can it be defined? If it is not defined precisely, the value of the alliance is weakened immeasurably, for there can be no allied deterrence where there is no allied credibility. The problem for the alliance today is to find the new definition and its limits, and where it is different from the old to make the necessary adjustments. But this is a painful process.


The question today is to what extent the perceptions of 1973 are going to help the Europeans overcome the immense problems-historical, psychological, political, institutional and strategic-posed by this goal of achieving "union" (and the type of union remains to be defined) by 1980. Some, of course, would say that any real political union is impossible, and that de Gaulle was right when he suggested to British Ambassador Christopher Soames in early 1969 that Europe could be no more than a vast economic union, best under the directorship of France, Germany and Britain. This view would hold that the perceptions of 1973 will serve to crystallize the disparity of interests among the Nine rather than any identity of interests and provide the final pressure leading to the disintegration of the EEC with each individual nation then free to go its individual way. Sentiment for such freedom is strongest in Britain where, judging from the opinion polls, at least a majority of Her Majesty's subjects believe what de Gaulle once said of them, that their destiny lies not with Europe but with the "open seas" (how open Britain would find those seas today is another matter). This sort of thinking would retire Britain back to what is left of the Commonwealth or the old European free-trade area and whatever relationship it would reëstablish with the United States; Germany, goes this line of reasoning, losing her Western anchor, would turn eastward for accommodation; France, finally paying the piper, would be left with what Pompidou likes to call her "sister Mediterraneans," including the Mahgreb, though the North Africans do not appear overly impressed with these whispers constantly drifting their way from Paris.

The historians would then write that the great European experiment failed because the nations never could reconcile themselves to each other; that the suspicions and hostilities were too deep even for time and necessity to dissipate; that events proved too much for the men of the day and that Europe lived its little while and then became extinct, with no more remembered of it than is, say, of the Hanseatic League. They could write that the political will never was strong enough to overcome the Europeans' principal sectarian interests-farm prices in France, inflation in Germany, the "English way of life," regional development in the Mezzogiorno, and so on and so forth. In its February statement the EEC Commission put the problem nicely when it asked: "Is there a single European country which can exercise real influence and carry weight comparable to that of a united Europe?" That question was a direct challenge to those European nationalists who still believe that there could be any real British, or French, or German influence divorced from the rest of the Continent or from the economic wealth of a united Community.

The reason not to accept the foregoing scenario, and why Europe can be expected to take much bolder strides toward union in the coming months and years is that such reasoning raises shivers in practically every chancellery in Europe. At the Quai d'Orsay it inspires nothing short of dread. The mere possibility of the Germans becoming obsessed with their divided country and exposed position and somehow going neutral, forcing France either to follow or creep back into NATO, was the whole reason for France's British operation. To keep that from happening, France might be ready for almost anything, from overhauling the Common Agriculture Policy to dropping the Gaullist apprehensions about giving Bonn some role to play in a common security system. These French feelings have given the Germans a leverage their officials never have been skillful enough to exploit.

The German role in the union will be the key. And that is why there has been so much disappointment with the European performance of the Brandt government. The French are deeply concerned that German faithfulness to Europe may turn out to be a very temporary thing, and that Brandt's strong words and weak actions on European unity are only lip service. There can be little doubt that if the Germans are sincere about wanting to achieve a European federation in the coming years, now is the time to act. A commonplace in the Community was that the Germans liked to hide behind de Gaulle's vetoes, and that when he was gone the true German nature would come out. With strong Atlantic ties and threads now stretched to the East, the Germans at times have seemed to ignore the Community, unwilling to pursue a policy that wins support neither in Moscow nor Washington. It is unfortunate, but the Germans seem paralyzed by one great, unspoken fear (which is doubtless well-founded): that the unification of Western Europe actually will hasten a U.S. withdrawal.

All the evidence is that the West Germans now are being pulled in several directions, much as the French were under de Gaulle and Pompidou, and that one of the strongest tendencies is nationalism, even among the Social Democrats. France is acutely aware of these tendencies; they help explain the changes in French policy that emerged in 1973. French changes can serve German interests. In all that was written about the French dropping out of the EEC "snake" in January and floating the franc, one thing tended to be forgotten. The EEC now is bound to follow the path the Germans wanted all along: the harmonization of European economic policy and the strengthening of EEC economic institutions as a prelude to monetary union.

Moreover, on the economic side, the future of the European union still depends heavily on Britain. Here it is crucial whether the economic situation there develops as the pro-EEC British always felt it would-favorably. Britain entered the Community a divided country, and the pro-Marketeers in Parliament who had the narrow majority-both Conservatives and Labourites among them-now need evidence that will permit the nation to make a permanent commitment to Europe. They need the political evidence now even though none of them ever thought the economic evidence-the benefits from gaining tariff-free access to a continental market of 180 million people-would appear in so little as a year's time.

The want of that evidence made Mr. Heath's job harder. It also strengthened Labour's position, which had been to reopen negotiations on British EEC membership, though without spelling out what that meant. The Labour comeback in the elections may not have been a favorable development for the Community, though it is far from a fatal setback. I think much of the extreme, anti-Market sentiment among left-wing Labourites has been more out of domestic political motivation than any sincere belief that Britain can have much of a future outside Europe.

France, oddly, is now in the role of helping to conciliate the diverging tendencies of her principal partners and spurring them on to greater "Europeanism"-even at the risk of weakening the alliance and encouraging a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe, which France emphatically does not want. Jobert himself would probably agree today that he went a little too far, too fast with his cries for a common European defense. It is important, to be sure, but Europe has more pressing institutional needs in the economic and political fields.

So once again we see the familiar Gallic juggling act. The name of the French game is to make Europe distinct from, but not alienated from, America. This pro-European role for France makes sense. France, the geographical center of Western Europe, always has appeared to have the most to gain from European union, which is why de Gaulle's notes often sounded so false and why many of his policies will appear to future generations as needless meanders if not outright blind alleys. And one of Pompidou's and Jobert's principal schemes today is to forge closer ties between Europe and the Arab and developing countries. Jobert defined this policy a few months back in le Nouvel Observateur as a diplomatic tous azimuts, or striking out in all directions. The French believe devoutly that the Arab and developing countries alike can be convinced that they have much to gain in a close relationship with Europe, more in many cases than with either the United States or the Soviet Union, but that Europe, to be convincing, must prove its cohesion, independence and influence.

If Pompidou does not run for president again in 1976 (the elections could be sooner if his health fails completely), and Jobert disappears along with him, the men waiting in the wings would not be any less European. Jacques Chaban-Delmas, the man in the best position to succeed Pompidou, is regarded as strongly pro-European. As for Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the finance minister and leader of the Independent Republican party, the Gaullists' principal ally, his party is on record as favoring, purely and simply, a European federation with majority voting. The old anti-European Gaullists like Debré are fading from the scene rapidly, and if there are a few still around under Pompidou, their influence under the next president will not be great. As for the Left, François Mitterrand, the Socialist party leader who will be the Left's candidate in the next presidential elections, is strongly pro-European; his Communist allies are considerably less European, which is one of the things that has reduced the credibility of their alliance.

The Europeans-in France and elsewhere-have their work cut out for them. Their goal is to achieve union, federated or confederated, without breaking the ties that link the two sides of the Atlantic through a series of shared perceptions and experiences. The United States has no reason to oppose this construction even if it means that Europe ceases to be aux ordres of Washington. A united and independent Europe is more in the U.S. interest than a weak and divided continent more or less under German-American hegemony, and certainly more than a Finlandized Europe. Most Europeans today would accept the notion of a united continent in coöperation with America, and if France finds herself resisting notions such as "partnership" it is only because one man's partner often is another man's client. At the same time, Europe should have no illusions. The European Community, no matter what its aspirations, will never be the strategic equal of the United States or the Soviet Union. For that reason it is compelled to maintain an Atlantic relationship no matter what it may think of the "condominium." Europe should also bear something else in mind: the creation of a European political and defense union is bound to diminish the American presence in Europe. It would be a logical consequence. But by the same token the security of America begins in Europe and will continue to do so even with a more independent Europe and a reduced U.S. presence on the Continent.

The Atlantic Alliance has always served both sides. All the interests of the two sides may not coincide, but the basis of the alliance-mutual security-still remains. And that is recognized. The task for Europe today is to define and achieve the identity it declared in 1973 without going so far that the American people stop believing in the Atlantic Alliance. In the wake of the Vietnam War, such a tendency is not to be ignored in this country.


1 A compromise could be to use neither the Eurogroup nor WEU, but to set up an independent defense committee similar to the Davignon committee for community political consultations.

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