It is almost a mockery to preach European unity in 1975. During recent months, the uncertainty about whether Great Britain will remain in the Common Market and about its future policy regarding Europe has added yet another spot to an already stained canvas. The reality is, in fact, still grimmer. For the last decade, the building of a united Europe has hung fire and the great hopes of the 1960s have evaporated. It is quite miraculous that the Community has not broken up under mounting difficulties and general disillusionment. Why this setback?

The reasons for the present stagnation are not necessarily those that appear in headlines these days. Indeed, public opinion generally construes European activities in terms of periodic "agricultural marathons" in Brussels or the often squalid discussions about the price of beef-or of kangaroo, for that matter. These polemics reflect apparently irreconcilable economic interests but, after all, similar problems arise between different regions of one country without jeopardizing its integrity. Indeed, if the Common Agricultural Policy is defended by some with exaggerated dogmatism and comes to monopolize everyone's attention, it is precisely and unfortunately because Europe is still, above all, just that. Once an industrial or an energy policy, for example, enters the picture, it is quite probable that the possibilities for bargaining will increase and that the agricultural differences will become somewhat less acute.

Another false reason for the faltering of a united Europe is the quarrel about institutions. One of de Gaulle's mistakes, in the mid-1960s, was to concentrate every bit of attention on this question by issuing verdicts from which there was no appeal. By proclaiming himself European while categorically excluding any form of supranationality, the French leader gave the impression of chasing two hares at the same time and also supplied his European partners with an excuse, actually an alibi, for doing nothing. An alibi because in 1974, when Giscard d'Estaing relaxed the French positions and even took the initiative in institutional reform (adoption of the principle of election of the European Parliament by direct suffrage, restriction of the use of the veto, an end to the Gaullist ostracism of the Brussels Commission, etc.), not one of France's partners threw itself into the breach he opened. Perhaps the time will come when the question of institutions is headline news once more; but for the moment it is obvious that the obstacle lies elsewhere.

The real problem is the absence of political will. Everyone agrees with this, but an attempt should be made to analyze the causes of this lack of will. Why do the European countries lack a shared point of view and the determination that would permit them to unite despite obstacles? Why are their conceptions of Europe so divergent that the Community is prevented from seizing each opportunity for progress that is offered? Let us proceed at once to the conclusions. In my view the principal point of discord among the European countries is the attitude that should be observed regarding the United States, and this is the direct result of the overwhelming role the latter has assumed in assuring Europe's security. In the last analysis, the main obstacle to European unity is Europe's military dependence on the United States and, among other things, the presence of American troops on the Continent.


It is inconceivable that a community of states can long survive, much less develop, if the essential ingredient in the makeup of any state or confederation of states-its defense-does not lie in its own hands, or, at least to begin with, in the hands of its members. Doubtless the defense of small and medium-sized nations, today as always, can only be accomplished through an alliance. But if the Atlantic Alliance takes care of all defense needs and if, moreover, this alliance is very much unbalanced-as is the case today between the various European countries and the United States-then the idea of a Community of the Nine is vitiated from the start. Either this community will pursue only modest goals and be at best a customs union; or it will have a political and thus a military component. But in the latter case it will have to be enlarged to encompass all the members of the Alliance, including, of course, the protecting power. Then why not build a community comprising Europe and the United States? In fact, this already exists in NATO and the Atlantic Alliance, but it does not function satisfactorily, precisely because the timid undertakings of the Nine obstruct its actions: there is one community too many. Furthermore, why should anyone be surprised that the Europeans, no longer responsible militarily, should show themselves irresponsible politically, as Kissinger recognizes in his moments of bitter frankness?

Thus, it is the irresponsibility of the Europeans rather than the presumed narrowness of their interests which makes them ineffectual. They should not protest when the American Secretary of State remarks (or deplores, according to one interpretation of his April 1973 speech) that their interests are "regional" compared to the "global" interests of the United States. Every embryonic power center begins by having regional interests and by focusing on them, as the United States itself did at its birth. The principal difference from earlier periods is that nowadays the regional economic interests of Europe to a great extent overlap those of the rest of the world, particularly those of the other industrialized nations. There is solidarity among these nations on a certain number of problems, and therefore dialogue is necessary. But solidarity does not mean identity of interests, nor dialogue alignment. The dialogue cannot be carried out under conditions of equality if one party depends on the other for its security and if the regional interests of the protected nations cannot be asserted politically in the face of the global interests of the protector. Moreover, one cannot reproach the United States for considering its military forces in Europe as part of the global apparatus of its power: this overseas detachment cannot be put into a separate category, for it is part of the whole U.S. strategic concept. The Europeans regularly become aware of this in times of conflict, for instance in the Middle East. It is therefore fruitless for them to hope to translate their regional interests into specific political action and to take up very different positions from those of their protector on controversial subjects.

And still more to the point, their dependence on American military protection is interpreted quite differently by each European country, further complicating the task of political coordination among them. The Federal Republic of Germany, prohibited by treaty from access to nuclear weapons and facing the strongest concentration of Soviet troops in the world, cannot permit any faltering by the United States in its military protection, expressed by the presence on its soil of 200,000 American troops and several thousand tactical nuclear weapons. This insurance policy is the defense policy of the country and must take priority over all other considerations. Doubtless Germany, anxious to remain associated with its neighbor, France, and to participate in the building of European unity, does not like to have to choose between "Europe" and the United States. But should it be forced to make a choice, it cannot but choose the United States. Chancellor Schmidt confirmed this without beating around the bush during the energy conference in Washington in February 1974. To a lesser degree, because they are less exposed, Italy, the Netherlands, and the smaller countries of the European Community are in the same situation as West Germany. Except perhaps for Belgium, they are all inclined to make the same choice.

Owing to its geography and its nuclear capability, Great Britain has a certain freedom of choice. But its traditions induce it to choose the Atlantic, and its wider horizons, over Europe. The advances initiated toward Europe by former Prime Minister Heath have not been endorsed by his successor and, even if Great Britain remains in the Community, its present and future leaders are hardly likely to be its enthusiastic partisans. In any case they will not work to reinforce the notion of a "European" Europe, that is to say, a Europe at a certain remove from the United States.

Should the Atlantic Alliance fail, London considers its nuclear force a last recourse and, in the meantime, as no more than a weak contribution. Not only does the maintenance of this force depend on American programs, but at least according to the present government it is also not destined to be expanded beyond its present capacity.

This leaves France, which has, on the whole, the same ability to choose as Great Britain, but in fact uses it quite differently. In substance, the basic orientation has remained the same for the last ten years despite the fact that the Gaullist doctrine was made more accommodating, first under Georges Pompidou and then under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. This orientation can be summed up in two points:

1. Priority of "Europe" over transatlantic relations. In some cases, "Europe" in fact veils specifically French interests; in others-notably under de Gaulle-secondary quarrels about "institutions" have obscured France's "European" commitment. The fact remains that France's attachment to the political construction of Europe should not be doubted, particularly insofar as this construction is considered by Paris as the only possible counterweight to American preponderance and the best framework within which the "French identity" can be safeguarded.

2. Priority of an independent defense effort-as demonstrated by withdrawal from the military organization of the Atlantic Alliance and the continued development of a nuclear force making use of entirely national technology and strategy. This priority entails another, less clearly explicit, one: in choosing between reliance on the United States and the French nuclear effort, the latter is considered more important for the country's security, at least in the long run. This does not mean that the Alliance is considered superfluous, rather that it is complementary to France's own nuclear force. In this sense, France's nuclear "strike force" is different from the British nuclear force, because London considers its force an integral part of the Atlantic Alliance, and belonging to the Alliance the most important factor in Britain's military posture.

This writer is not an advocate for the French government and realizes perfectly well that its stand is often considered "selfish," "nationalistic," as setting a "bad example," etc. It is also true that such a posture is only possible because of France's particular historical and geographical situation (Germany, especially, could not permit itself such a policy), and because of NATO's liberal attitude in allowing this "wayward child" to choose from the menu à la carte, taking what she wants from the military and technical programs of the Alliance and rejecting the rest (though this is also, of course, in NATO's interest, as compared to not having France at all). To be sure, the French government realizes the advantage of having American troops in Germany and being able to expand its own forces behind this shield. In this respect France is not utterly "European," since the presence of these troops and the resulting dependence on them form the most important obstacles to the construction of European unity. But France is not alone in closing her eyes to this.

There is at least one area, however, in which the French point of view is valid. To try to explain the situation, in the way so often done on both sides of the Atlantic, as if everything were compatible with everything else-as if the building of a united Europe presented not the smallest contradiction to the expansion of the Atlantic Community and entailed not the slightest change in the relations between Europe and the United States; as if the best "Europeans" were at the same time the most ardent "pro-Americans"-is a bit like wanting to have one's cake and eat it too, or pretending to start a family while continuing to live with one's parents.

Indeed, this might have been possible at the beginning of the construction of "Europe," when the principal political aim of the Community was the reconciliation of France and Germany and when the United States was so disproportionately strong in relation to its allies that it could allow itself to be extraordinarily generous toward them (as was evident in the Marshall Plan). But such an attitude could not be permanent, especially when the United States became more demanding toward its allies, reminding them of their military dependence and requiring that the United States be consulted before the Nine make any political decisions; or when it substituted programs that embraced the "community of industrial democracies" for more modest Common Market undertakings (in the matter of energy, for example). The choice between "Europe" and an "Atlantic" orientation which was thus imposed on the Europeans cannot be escaped. Taking into account the enormous obstacles in the way of building a united Europe, that enterprise can only hope to progress insofar as it is given the highest priority. In other words, although this displeases Henry Kissinger, the unification of Europe must be an end in itself, in the same way that the unification of Italy, the unification of Germany (past and future), and the creation of the United States have been or are ends in themselves.

Does this mean that if a united Europe comes into being it must be formed in opposition to the United States? Certainly not. It is in fact practically certain that, given common democratic ties and the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe, Western Europe will never take the initiative of renouncing the Atlantic Alliance. Barring an unforeseen upheaval, the Alliance will always be a useful complement to Europe's security system, regardless of the state of the European Community and its military organization. But one cannot obscure the fact that an eventual political unification of Europe would put a certain distance between the Continent and the United States: such a unification must happen without the United States and even slightly against its wishes, at least to the extent that Washington would want to control the process and maintain all its positions. Alternatively, if one wants to change nothing in the existing Atlantic Community, and even strengthen it, as Henry Kissinger has apparently desired for the last few years, this objective will prevail and European unification will once again be put off indefinitely.

Stated another way, the basic problem of the Europeans' attitude toward the United States can be summed up by two quite contradictory statements. Any anti-American attitude divides the Europeans because of their varying degrees of dependence on the United States, and consequently forms an obstacle to European unity. But at the same time the pro-American attitude maintained in principle by the majority of the European governments paralyzes the construction of European unity. The status quo is judged preferable to any initiative that might risk estranging Europe from the United States, or might weaken a protection which the protector is already tending to transform into an instrument for applying pressure.

One need not stress the fact that this situation may very well continue in existence for a very long time and that therefore the building of a united Europe will not take place in the foreseeable future. In theory, doubtless, nothing prevents one from believing that the 250 million West Europeans could defend themselves alone-at least primarily alone, with the Alliance complementary rather than essential as it is today-against a like number of Russians whose economic and even technological potential is largely inferior to that of the Europeans. In fact, for the moment, this is only theoretical. Defense is not popular, and nobody-not even the French government-is ready to give up the comfort provided by the massive American military presence in Germany, despite the unhealthy aspects of a "gift" which is both periodically questioned by the U.S. Congress and used to put pressure on America's allies.

More specifically, the Bonn government has every reason to prefer the stronger and at the same time more distant protection of the United States to the weaker but closer protection its neighbors can offer. Among those neighbors, the primary role would be France's, which would see her theories triumph and impose her conception of a "European" Europe. While Bonn's position is perfectly legitimate, France's is less logical. Successive governments in Paris continue to lament the "pro-Americanism" of their neighbors and their refusal to become involved in a "European" Europe, while themselves adapting very well to the conditions which produce both the pro-Americanism and the refusal. One must admit that it would be particularly presumptuous of France to suggest to her neighbors that she provide a hardly credible military protection, and even more so that they substitute this protection for that of the United States. Who would want it? Thus, whichever way you turn, there seems to be no evidence that any initiative is likely to come from the Europeans.


Will it come from the United States? That would be more normal since the Americans, after all, supply the military force which benefits the Europeans. It is also the Americans who complain the most about this burden and reproach the Europeans, more or less publicly and with good reason, for their laziness and "irresponsibility." Finally, it is in the United States that the one serious movement toward changing the status quo is being outlined in the form of the Mansfield Amendment, which aims to reduce the strength of the U.S. Army in Europe by half. Given Congress' general attitude toward U.S. commitments abroad, and given the restraints Congress has imposed on the Administration concerning Vietnam and Cambodia, the adoption of this amendment must be considered a serious possibility.

The Mansfield Amendment has the advantage of trying to introduce some health into a very unhealthy situation but it is not, by a long shot, the best way of achieving the goal. It has not been accompanied by constructive solutions for replacing the repatriated military forces and, in general, it does not even seek to reduce the degree of Europe's dependence on the United States as far as security is concerned. It would reduce the quantity of troops stationed in Europe but would modify scarcely at all the quality of the relations between the United States and Europe; the same frustrations and even greater fears would remain.

Moreover, this is precisely the way Washington and the Europeans would interpret the sense of the amendment. Assuming that Congress adopted the Mansfield Amendment-or an equivalent troop-reduction plan-Washington would swear to the bereaved Europeans that the United States was more than ever disposed to defend them, that the U.S. commitment had in no way changed, and that the troop reductions would be compensated for by a modernization of their armaments and an increase in their firepower. Airborne exercises would be undertaken to demonstrate to friends and enemies alike that the withdrawn troops would be able to return in minutes in an emergency. Solemn declarations would be signed on both sides of the Atlantic; the European governments would end up by allowing themselves to be convinced and would explain to their public that they had received "every assurance" that the American commitment would be maintained. Thus, the "crisis" would be deflated-until the next alert, that is to say until the arrival of another Mansfield, who would feel that the number of American troops in Europe could and should be reduced again.

It would obviously be preferable to find a fundamental solution to the problem, but which solution? Let us fantasize for a moment. Let us imagine a particularly farsighted American government which, instead of carrying out a rearguard action against the isolationist spirit of the public and the Congress, decided to direct and control this movement and to initiate an orderly withdrawal. Washington would announce that not only the Second World War but the postwar period was over and that a new era had begun. For this reason the United States could neither constitute the essential element in Europe's defense indefinitely nor keep its troops there for centuries. While the Atlantic Alliance would continue to exist, it would have to be restructured, the ideal for the United States being to deal as an equal with a Europe politically and militarily united, and equipped with her own deterrent force. Thus, Washington would be prepared to discuss various stages, to arrange for desirable transitions, and to provide guarantees until the process was completed, but at the end of a certain time, say 10 years at least, perhaps even 15, the American military presence in Europe would come to an end.

It would not be absolutely necessary to adopt this dramatic variation of the scenario right away or to specify the amount of time it would take to carry it out. During the first stage, the government could confine itself to setting forth the general considerations mentioned above, and accompanying them with two "messages."

One, directed to the British, would free London from the restrictions with regard to nuclear matters that were imposed by the McMahon Act. Great Britain would then be free to transmit the atomic information it had received and to freely cooperate with its European neighbors. Congress would have to authorize this, but that would be the least it could do in exchange for the Administration's support for an improved Mansfield formula.

The other message, directed to the West Germans, would advise them to rely more on their neighbors for their defense. Obviously it could not be a question of "dropping" Germany but of encouraging a progressive substitution for the military apparatus already in place, with American assistance during the necessary transition period. For example, Washington could announce that it would keep its tactical nuclear arsenal in Germany (having previously reduced it to more reasonable dimensions than those currently in place-a task Defense Secretary Schlesinger is already undertaking) as long as the European Community was not in a position to field the equivalent; in 15 years time, it is by no means unthinkable that Europe could achieve this.

All this is, of course, only a dream, but similar ideas sometimes emerge in the United States under the rubric of "devolution of power" at the center of the Alliance. Thus it is worthwhile following the dream to its end by examining the principal objections that are made to it. Two main arguments are put forward. In the first place, it is said that the Soviet Union would consider this a serious "destabilization" and would react aggressively, particularly to the green light that would be given to a European nuclear force with which the Germans would be associated.

The fact is that up to now Moscow has only accommodated itself to "European unity"-and not without reticence and criticism-to the extent that the Community was simply a "common market." Tendencies toward political unification have given rise to even less enthusiasm (but, after all, the little that has been done in this respect in recent years has not caused the U.S.S.R. to object categorically); any move toward military independence would be received with even more reservations.

At the same time, Soviet policy is contradictory. The U.S.S.R. does not want to see any new progress toward European unity and it is doubtless for this reason that it has resigned itself to the principal obstacle to this union, i.e., the American military presence in Europe. But this does not mean that the Kremlin has accepted this presence once and for all. The disagreements which the American presence creates between the United States and Europe and between the various European states are widely publicized in the Soviet press; anything which might tend to weaken the ties between Washington and the European capitals is welcomed as a good thing. It is hardly in order to displease the Kremlin that the French Communist Party keeps a vigilant guard against any attempt at a rapprochement between France and NATO and even pleads in favor of France's withdrawal from the Alliance.

In other words, the Soviet Union, which sometimes even seems to enjoy its own ambiguous policy, would also like to have its cake and eat it too. Its ideal would be a Western Europe increasingly cut off from America and less and less protected by her, but at the same time not unified on her own terms. Consequently Moscow's most telling reaction to a scenario leading to a devolution of power would not necessarily be 100-percent negative. One of the Russian objectives-putting up obstacles to Europe's unity-would not be achieved, but the second one-a reduction in the American presence-would be.

The balance will nevertheless be negative for the Kremlin, simply because what most appeals to the Soviet leaders in the present situation is that, at some time in the future, the Americans will leave Europe without any offsetting factor. But all the same, one must reckon with the more complex calculations and second thoughts that might influence the Soviet reaction, including tactical considerations at the time.

Might these tactical considerations dictate aggressive behavior only intended to frighten both the Americans and the Europeans? This seems doubtful since a renewed tension in Europe would first result in a reinforcement of NATO-the opposite of Moscow's goal-and would encourage both America and Europe to strengthen their defenses. Clearly, if the United States is to maintain the firmness of its commitment to Europe during the entire transition period (and this is an essential condition to the success of the undertaking), any devolution of power should not and could not be presented in the context of a cold war. It should be undertaken precisely because there would not be any immediate danger; rather, the situation in Europe could be considered stabilized-that is the reason that the United States, more than 30 years after the war, could separate itself from the Continent.

At the same time the military balance would not be affected to the detriment of Soviet interests. Quite the contrary, since it is hardly likely that the 200,000 American soldiers in West Germany would be replaced, even 10 or 15 years later, by a greater number of European troops.

Why not, then, take advantage of the talks on mutual and balanced force reductions to fix a ceiling on military forces in both parts of Europe, regardless of whether they are "nationals" or simply "stationed" there? Besides, would this not provide Western Europe with significant leverage by demanding that the Russians evacuate their troops from Eastern Europe in the same manner as the Americans from the West? Even if this were only a starting point, it would give the West valuable freedom of action in persuading the Russians to moderate their response.

The status quo would therefore be respected with regard to the quantity of conventional military forces; the only novelty would be a change in the quality of the relations between the United States and Europe. The situation would be different with regard to nuclear power. Here there would be a quantitative impact to the extent that the nuclear programs underway in France and Great Britain would have to be considerably developed.

On the other hand, the change should not be qualitative, at least not on the essential point of the possession and control of these weapons. Even if the Federal Republic of Germany contributes financially to their development, it ought to remain on the whole in a situation identical to its present one with regard to American nuclear weapons, that is to say, in the double-key system. Not only is this a question of respecting the treaties concluded among the allies in the 1950s but also of keeping in mind the dangers inherent in the possession of nuclear weapons by a divided country, and of responding to Russia's legitimate preoccupation on this point.

True, the situation is bound to evolve, since the political and military unification of Europe, strongly stimulated by the devolution of power, would doubtless quite quickly result in the establishment of a European government along the lines of a confederation. But even in this case, provisions would have to be made so that no German alone would be able to decide on the use of nuclear weapons. This would not easily satisfy German pride. But is Bonn's present situation any better, for at the moment the German government is dependent from day to day on a strategy developed in Washington from a necessarily different perspective from its own? On the contrary, the preoccupations of the Federal Republic might be better heard in the context of a European council, especially since that council would have to delegate to the West Germans increased responsibility with respect to conventional weapons.

Of course, people will object that there is too great a discrepancy between the American nuclear arsenal and the one the Europeans might dream of building: that the task is too great and therefore unrealistic. In fact, the present discrepancy does not at all mean that Europe could never deter an aggressor. One must consider the question in terms of a 10- or 15-year period.

Obviously Europe cannot aspire, for quite a long time, to the luxury of a Schlesinger Doctrine, which is based on the size of the American arsenal and, by a refined sophistication in the way the arsenal is used, is designed to compensate for the diminished stakes that the arsenal must defend (not only American territory but peripheral objectives as well). As a medium power, Europe can only think of using her deterrent for essential objectives. Europe can thus be satisfied with an anti-city strategy, the only condition being-and here lies the principal lesson that all nuclear powers, even the small ones, must learn from the Schlesinger Doctrine-that her nuclear force must be capable of being divisible, which is to say that each firing must be accompanied by the further threat of inflicting even greater damage. At the end of the present programs, that is to say before the end of the decade, France and Great Britain together will have at their disposal 11 missile-launching submarines. Even without multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles, it would only take 13 to destroy the 50 principal Russian cities; if one considers the "worst case hypothesis" as far as Russian defense is concerned, perhaps 20 such submarines would be needed.1 Is this objective beyond the reach of the economic resources of France, West Germany, Great Britain and their partners in the European Community?

Technical aid from the United States is not inconceivable, although it is certainly debatable given the Nonproliferation Treaty and the spirit of past agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union. Instead of this aid, which does not appear to be imperative, a political go-ahead from Washington and a U.S. determination to ensure the transition and those guarantees affecting it seem to be more important.

The second argument currently put forward against the idea of the devolution of power is that the withdrawal of the United States would throw the Europeans into a panic: they would run to Moscow to negotiate an accommodation. Europe would thus provide for her own "Finlandization"-in other words, a progressive loss of her ability to resist and of her determination to remain independent in the face of Soviet pressure.

First of all it must be noted that this argument contradicts the preceding one and that it is difficult to sustain both at the same time. If indeed the European reaction were to be one of "Finlandization," why would the Russians object to a devolution of power? To assume in advance a hostile Soviet reaction is to admit that the European "collapse" would not be as automatic as is claimed.

Actually, the "Finlandization" argument resembles more a stratagem to dissuade the Americans ("remain in Europe, otherwise you will lose it") than a reality. Every government and every society seeks security not in order to become part of one or another system and thus as an end in itself, but because security will permit the government or the society to maintain its identity and its values. Just as a shipwrecked person who has lost one plank will not let himself drown but will look for another plank, so there is no reason to suppose that the European governments, not abandoned by America but simply invited to take charge progressively of their own defense, will immediately give up the values in whose name they so long attached themselves to America. This is especially so if a solution for replacement is suggested, in the form of a European unity for which they have clamored for almost 20 years and which would have the blessing of the United States.

Must one believe that the European attachment to liberalism and democracy is valid only so long as the United States is willing to guarantee these values? Or is it rather the contrary, that the alliance with America springs from the Europeans' own attachment to these values? The argument that Europe would turn herself into another Finland lacks dignity as well as cogency. It aims above all at justifying to the Americans the indefinite maintenance of a status quo which itself could lead to "Finlandization"; for the state of irresponsibility in which this status quo confines Europe is more likely to lead to European abdication than anything else. Moreover, who can be sure that one day the entente between the two superpowers will not result in forcing a progressive neutralization of the "clients" of whichever superpower loses momentum?

Finally, the thought of a rush to Moscow to negotiate the conditions of a "new security system" seems hardly reasonable: with what trumps and with what object in mind would this curious "negotiation" be carried out? What value could one give to "agreements" negotiated under these conditions between disunited Europeans who felt themselves abandoned by their protector and a Soviet Union more powerful than ever?


Actually, even setting aside these objections, the devolution of power remains a dream, because it seems extremely unlikely that an American government would ever launch such an undertaking. Doubtless this devolution of power would be in America's long-range interest. The "European," that is to say independent, Europe that would result would certainly be a more solid ally than the present conglomeration of client-states with their frustrations, their lassitude, and their fears. What Mr. Kissinger calls a community of industrial democracies would then rest on two more-equal pillars, at least on both sides of the Atlantic. Its survival would be far better ensured over the long run than by an indefinite reliance solely on the United States, a power itself no longer immune from crises, and which periodically balks at the extent of its commitments. A united Europe would not even mean abandonment by the United States of its strategic interests in Europe, nor the end of its military protection, at least if Washington so desired. It is simply that the protection would only come into force at the third stage, because American strategic power would be kept in reserve until after the Europeans had used their tactical nuclear weapons and their own capacity for dissuasion. As has already been pointed out, all forms of security would be combined, and the Europeans would never refuse this supplementary guarantee, this added uncertainty to be taken into account by any possible aggressor.

At the same time, such a devolution of power in Europe would reduce the net power of the United States and its role in the world. A true community of states in Western Europe would trim the U.S. sphere of influence, and this new center of power would inevitably establish itself as a competitor. If, historically, many nations have had to consent to such a development, none has actually encouraged it. The scenario for the devolution of power given here implies not only that the United States take the initiative for a withdrawal, but also that it impose it on its European partners, all of whom, as has been said, prefer the status quo and their dependent situation. An inordinate amount of generosity, farsightedness, and courage would be required. Although America has given evidence of possessing all of these qualities many times in her history, it is asking a bit much to hope that she manifest them all at once and embark on this difficult task.

Since it is virtually out of the question that the Europeans will take the initiative, nothing will happen. Does that mean that the situation will thus remain the same until the end of the century or longer? Certainly not, because the evolution evident during recent years will continue its work of erosion: the desire of the American public and of Congress to reduce the American military presence abroad, the American feeling of being overcommitted, the European frustration with having to pay politically and economically for this wavering security, the fear of suffering the fate of Vietnam, the inability to bring about European unity. A destabilization is inevitable, but what kind?

There is one small element to be considered, however. France's nuclear force, no longer negligible, could, in 10 or 20 years at its present rate of development, achieve a level of credibility which could interest France's European neighbors as well. After all, the progressive construction of this force is the only new qualitative development in 15 years in the field of European defense.

Two curves, however, run through this landscape. One is the credibility of American protection: set high, it extends along the top of the horizon but with a tendency to slant downward. The other is the credibility of the French nuclear deterrent (not the arsenals themselves but their capacity to dissuade an aggressor within the context of the defense of Europe): set low, it is climbing, even though its level is ridiculously low in the opinion of Americans and a number (though less considerable) of Europeans. Only perhaps in the distant future will the two curves finally intersect.


1 Cf. "Nuclear Forces for Medium Powers," by Geoffrey Kemp, London: Adelphi Papers, Nos. 106 and 107, Autumn 1974.

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