The Global Zeitenwende
How to Avoid a New Cold War in a Multipolar Era
At the beginning of the 1980s, we rub our eyes and note, not without relief and astonishment, that more of the familiar foreign policy structures have survived the rough and rugged past decade than have crumbled, collapsed or vanished. Among the survivors are the European Community, the transatlantic partnership and, in a smaller and more precarious yet important enough sense of the term, East-West détente. While it is easy to discern clouds gathering over each of these areas, and just as easy to imagine how developments in one may have a negative impact on the others, it would be only realistic to assume that greater West European integration, enduring transatlantic closeness and some measure of détente , fitful as all three of them may be, will remain hallmarks of the next decade as well.
With regard to Europe, there was more justification for being bullish in 1979 than there had been in the preceding years, appearances notwithstanding. The moment of slack water in the tide of European affairs is obviously past. Yet at first glance, the European Community (EC) would seem to be entering the 1980s in a rather frayed state. The modalities of British membership once again constitute a bone of contention. The inanities and insanities of the Common Agricultural Policy are no nearer a solution today than they were five years ago. It is a safe bet that the negotiations over the entry of Greece, Spain, Portugal and, eventually, Turkey into the Community will be beset by monstrous difficulties.
Nonetheless, it is possible to take a more hopeful view of the Community's slow evolution. The Community is involved in a double-pronged process of once again enlarging its membership while simultaneously strengthening its internal structures and procedures. We have been witnessing a gradual erosion of European parochialism. The leaders of the nine member nations have reconfirmed the "political finality" of their association. European union remains their goal. Whatever procedural snags the renewed effort at pulling together may run into, and whatever vagueness may still becloud the ultimate objective, a relance européenne is actually under way.
The past year saw important progress in three different fields.
First, a European Parliament was elected in the first direct election of the Community's history. The election results-more than 50 percent voting participation in seven of the nine member countries, more than 60 percent in six-were impressive enough. They gave the lie to all prognostications that the European dream was dead; or that the Community-"a bureaucracy gone wild"-was good only for a laugh or a yawn. In the nature of things, the directly elected Parliament is bound to become a new locus and focus of Community building. It had a bumbling start, to be sure, but before the year was out, it found its bearings: in December it rejected the draft budget submitted by the Commission. Thus, like other parliaments in history, the European Assembly seems prepared to use its budgetary power in order to acquire political clout.
Second, a European Monetary System (EMS) was finally established. It sprang partly from deep-especially French and German-misgivings about the malign neglect shown by the Carter Administration vis-à-vis an ever-plunging dollar, but its main purpose was to strengthen the Community institutionally. The EMS does not yet encompass all the member states, notably Great Britain-but the Thatcher government has evinced considerable interest in joining later. Also, the EMS falls far short of a full-fledged monetary union; on the other hand, it constitutes a stepping stone in that direction, requiring for its functioning a gradual harmonization and eventual convergence of economic policies. While there may be lingering doubts whether the German economic prescription will work for long in the larger grouping or even whether it could survive the fall of French Prime Minister Raymond Barre, the verdict after the first trial run is clear: the EMS has done better than expected.
Third, European political cooperation imparted a formerly unknown cohesion and profile to the foreign policy of the Nine. This became particularly visible in the EC's approach to the problems of the Middle East, first and foremost in its support for Palestinian self-determination and withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories; in the recently concluded Lomé II treaty on economic aid and trade with African, Pacific and Caribbean nations; in the harmonization of its policies vis-à-vis southern Africa; and in intensified dealings with the ASEAN states of southeast Asia. Western Europe is thus on the road to establishing its position in world affairs as a distinct entity. Foreign Ministers meet four times a year "to deal with problems of current interest and, wherever possible, to formulate common medium- and long-term positions." There is now an institutionalized process for comparing notes and agreeing on joint language as well as joint lines of approach that by no means stops 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, EC ambassadors receive joint instructions; EC ministers conducting talks abroad often personally brief the Community ambassadors about their conversations. Frequently, there is an agreed division of labor when it comes to taking action, as, for instance, in Africa.
Thus, Europe is still in part made up of such dreary paperwork as beef regulations and directives about barbed-wire fences, of shopkeepers' compromises over low-grade wines and cheap onions or the standard number of peas in the Community pod. But it is already far more than that-perhaps not a central factor on the world scene, yet at any rate a force to be reckoned with and, in fact, a force that is being reckoned with. More than 100 states maintain accredited representatives at the Commission Headquarters in Brussels. The Community has established formalized relations with a number of international bodies and concluded a score of trade and association agreements with as many different countries. National ministers traveling abroad have found to their surprise that their interlocutors invariably regard them as European rather than as Dutch, French or German ministers. It is not unusual to run into an almost absurd disproportion between the expectations of Europe's partners in the world, and the instruments which the Community has at its disposal to fulfill those expectations.
But to do the West Europeans justice one must point out that during the last few years they have created habits of consultation, cooperation and concentration in many more fields than would have been thought possible a decade ago. The new European idea has taken root despite all the workaday squabbles about nuts and bolts, chicken feed and oranges.
Certainly, a host of troubles and tribulations lies ahead. Political considerations make it imperative to extend Community membership to the new Mediterranean applicants-notwithstanding the undeniable risk of stretching the Community too far economically or watering down its basic political purpose, transforming it, in the process, into a kind of glorified free-trade zone. But the risk will have to be run. The Nine must strengthen the future of democracy in southern Europe by granting Greece, Spain and Portugal-all of whom have only recently managed to shake off their repressive dictatorial regimes-the aid and comfort of membership in a wider association of tried and proven industrial democracies. The problem is how the risk can be reduced. Not much thought has been given to this problem so far. Yet the statesmen of Europe will have to come to grips with it during the 1980s. One question they will have to grapple with soon is whether, just as transitional economic adjustment measures are considered quite normal, transitional measures should not also be envisaged in the political field. In the early 1970s, former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt suggested a two-tier system. Some time later Belgian Prime Minister Leo Tindemans proposed an unequal pace of political integration for different members, so that some states would attain the common goal at a later date. Another idea that has been bandied about in this context is the reintroduction of majority voting in the Ministerial Council. Each of these proposals has its own difficulties. But the issue will have to be addressed.
Western Europe's approaches to community-building have undergone very definite changes in the course of the past 20 years. In fact, there are three clearly distinguishable phases of development, each characterized by a different approach:
Europe Stage I, originally conceived in the 1950s, was connected with the name of Jean Monnet; its propellant and policy executor was to be the Commission; its essence was supranational.
Europe Stage II, which France attempted to impose on its partners in the 1960s, is linked to the name of Charles de Gaulle. The driving force behind it was the General's hegemonic ambition for his country; its essence was national, even nationalistic.
Europe Stage 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 cooperation of governments assembled in the Ministerial Council leading to the negotiated extension of collective policies to a rapidly widening range of questions; its essence is, as it were, transnational.
This Europe Stage 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. Joint action will emerge from negotiated common positions rather than from Commission planning. 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 get around them. But as the nine members formulate collective policies affecting an ever-growing number of actors, the sheer quantity of joint decisions is bound to change the basic quality of the Community. Doubtless, its component parts will not disappear, nor will national governments dwindle into insignificance; they are going to be the building blocks of tomorrow's Europe as well. Yet in the eyes of the outside world the Community will more and more assume the character of a single entity, speaking in different tongues but with one voice, and implementing a collective will.
As far as Germany is concerned, the long-term goal remains unchanged. The first step is European federation, including an Economic and Currency Union-a community of nations endowed with a central federal power, common policies for economics, foreign affairs and defense. This is a very tall order indeed, and it would be quite unrealistic to expect attainment of this goal during the 1980s. The only feasible scenario is one based on an evolution over a far longer period of time, with European union of some rather loose sort a crucial milestone on the way to a "more perfect union." This more modest European union ought to open up clear perspectives on how to move toward European federation by harmonizing ever more policies outside of the province defined by the treaties-including, no doubt, security matters as well.
To promote this kind of development, the Federal Republic of Germany will be prepared-in the future as it was in the past-to pay substantial costs within the Community. If an infusion of D-marks can help solve a problem-fine. This could even help resolve the most recent dispute caused by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's complaint about the unfairly large British contribution. But what Bonn really wants is to see the German taxpayer's money used for structural improvement, for further harmonization, for holding the convoy together and allowing the slower members to catch up. In particular, there is a great deal of sympathy for Britain's desire to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. However, Bonn does not intend to throw its weight around for limited national gains. Nor does Bonn aspire to a German leadership position. The Germans regard themselves as Europe's partner, neither its paymaster nor its taskmaster. Their basic commitment cannot be doubted. For them, there is no alternative to Europe.
The government's European policy responds to a deep-seated longing of the people. Time and again, polls have revealed that almost three-quarters of all West Germans above age 16 favor the creation of a United Europe out of a European Community; only nine percent oppose the idea. In many regards, Europe has become the substitute for the larger fatherland the Germans lost. To them, it signifies much more than just a problem-ridden customs union, a matter of butter mountains and wine lakes and rampant bureaucracy. They regard the Community as a framework within which they can pursue and, at the same time, sublimate their national interests-in short, as an entity in which their aspirations may be contained in every sense of the term.
The transatlantic relationship fared far better in 1979 than might have been expected given the acrimony exhibited during the year. This was only partly as a result of the course of events. To some extent, it was also due to improved personal relationships between Europe's leaders and President Carter.
In the European capitals, there was, perhaps, no reason to gloat over Jimmy Carter's performance in office. In many respects the President remained the enigma that he had always been. His seemingly sullen weekend retreats to Camp David; that famous television address in July in which he projected his own despondency-the result of a transparent failure to lead-upon a nation quite prepared to be led; the unexplained, inexplicable Cabinet massacre during the summer; the inept handling of the Cuban pseudo-crisis of the Soviet brigade last fall; the naïveté which Carter betrayed in his remark that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had drastically changed his perception of Moscow's ultimate goals within the space of a single week-all these episodes added to European doubts as to whether the man from Plains would ever grasp that he was leading a great power instead of a religious revival. At the same time, however, the Europeans had good cause to appreciate a number of hard decisions Carter took in 1979. And throughout the harassing weeks of the Tehran hostage drama, they came to respect Jimmy Carter's composure, his refusal to be bullied into taking irrational actions, and his calm dignity. They hailed the outcome of his shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East and welcomed the signing of SALT II in Vienna. Most especially, though, they applauded the President's decision finally to take the dollar in hand after years of mismanagement, to accord priority in his economic policy to fighting inflation, and to appoint Paul Volcker, a trusted pillar of monetary soundness, to head the Federal Reserve. For the rest, they were relieved that some of the more doggedly troublesome issues had been given, at least for the time being, decent bureaucratic burials, such as the quarrel over the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the INFCE study group; and that others had been brought-at least for the time being-to a successful bureaucratic resolution, such as the problem of modernizing NATO's theater nuclear forces (TNF) in Europe.
If these hard decisions helped improve Carter's image in Europe, force of habit and the approach of the U.S. elections also had a mellowing effect. Looking back over their shoulders, observers rediscovered the obvious; i.e., that European-American relations had never been trouble-free-neither under John Foster Dulles, who humiliated the British and the French during the Suez Crisis; nor under Dean Rusk, who tried to recruit European forces (including Bundeswehr units) for the Vietnam war; nor, for that matter, during the Nixon era (both Connally's monetary "shocks" of 1971 and Henry Kissinger's patronizing "Year of Europe" in 1973 are neither forgotten nor, by some, forgiven). Looking forward to the 1980 campaign, these same observers are unimpressed by the array of candidates so far. A Reagan or a Connally might well make them shudder. The same goes for Edward Kennedy, whom the foreign policy establishment abroad remembers, quite apart from Chappaquiddick, as a man of fuzzy speech and woolly thought. The comparison with his rivals makes Carter suddenly look attractive. Even the most caustic of his erstwhile critics are now willing to concede him the advantage of familiarity.
But, after all, it is not so much personal chemistry among leaders as national interests that determine relations among states. And these, I fear, spell growing difficulties for the transatlantic partnership in the decade ahead irrespective of personalities, even regardless of whether Europe proceeds on the road toward integration or stagnates. And the difficulties will arise in the security field as well as in the field of economics.
In the military field, the immediate issue at hand-modernization of theater nuclear forces-will certainly pose more problems than are discernible today. NATO's decision last December to start producing and-in the absence of Soviet concessions over deployment of their SS-20 missiles-deploying 108 Pershing II and 464 cruise missiles on the European continent was a triumph of alliance diplomacy. In terms of domestic politics, however, the ground was ill prepared in all the member states. The Dutch, Danish and Belgian reservations testify to that, and there are doubts, and perhaps second thoughts, elsewhere too. This alone should alert us to the possibility of more political commotion once deployment actually begins. Even before that, the coupling of TNF modernization with an as yet incompletely defined offer to the Soviets to negotiate makes protracted intra-alliance bargaining and dickering a certainty-a process beset with pitfalls and perplexities given the divergent aims pursued by various NATO partners. These underlying differences will undoubtedly come into the open as soon as the full impact of Russia's refusal to negotiate over the Western offer sinks in. It might signify that arms control, which Europeans set great store by, is out, and that NATO Europe will be saddled with an armaments program which most governments had secretly hoped to be spared. Realization of this will probably have a more disturbing impact than the demonstration of Soviet brutality in Afghanistan.
But the more intractable issue is the one at the heart of the whole TNF decision: the flaring-up once again of the old NATO debate about the proper strategy for deterrence and defense in Europe. If "extended deterrence"-nuclear protection by nuclear powers of non-nuclear allies-is dead, as Henry Kissinger argued in September in his startling, jolting Brussels speech, NATO's present plans will soon be recognized as nothing more than threadbare gimmickry. "It is absurd," he argued, accusing himself of having misled the allies on this score, "to base the strategy of the West on the credibility of the threat of mutual suicide."1 As a non sequitur, he then offered as his advice that tactical nuclear forces on the European continent should be strengthened. It was, in fact, a twofold non sequitur: this would not make the threat of European suicide more convincing; nor would it be anything but naïve to assume that an American president reluctant to push the big button would lightly launch American nuclear weapons stationed in Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium against the Soviet Union. For how could an American president ever be sure that Russian retaliation for the destruction of Minsk would be limited to Munich and not extend to Minneapolis?
There are other question marks overhanging the TNF decision taken by NATO. If the Russians will, as they have already announced, respond in kind, the West's military gain will be very fleeting indeed-and it is my guess that once they, too, embark on a cruise missile program, the balance of advantage and disadvantage will favor the Warsaw Pact rather than NATO. Besides, neither the extended-range Pershing nor cruise missiles are a counterweapon to the SS-20; there simply is no counterweapon against a mobile missile. Moreover, there is not and cannot be any such thing as Euro-strategic parity. As the German physicist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker has shrewdly noted, geography precludes even a strengthened medium-range arsenal of NATO ever threatening the Soviet Union with extinction; equal arms are not tantamount to equal effect. Finally, introduction of the new nuclear weaponry predestines five European countries to become special objects of Soviet blackmail. It invites the possibility of a devastating preemptive strike, and therefore all the risks of calculated cowardice on the part of the prospective victims.
But the real question is whether NATO's strategic doctrine is really made obsolete by recent developments, notably the acquisition by Russia of nuclear parity, as Kissinger argues; or whether the central balance of terror will both continue to deter war on the central front and afford strategic protection to Western Europe, no matter what the actual number of intercontinental missiles and warheads might be. This was the point made most forcefully by McGeorge Bundy, who told the annual conference of the International Institute of Strategic Studies last September that he finds himself both optimistic about the future of strategic deterrence in Europe and skeptical at best about the deployment of longer range American systems in Europe:
Remembering that this strategic world is ineluctably bipolar, we must recognize that in any moment of serious stress neither Washington nor Moscow is at all likely to regard such American weapons as a separately usable or clearly limited kind of force. Any American-controlled weapons that can reach the Soviet Union will almost surely be all alike to them both. It follows that the strategic protection of Europe is as strong or as weak as the American strategic guarantee, no matter what American weapons are deployed under NATO. . . . And I believe the effectiveness of this American guarantee is likely to be just as great in the future as in the past. It has worked, after all, through thirty years, and, as we have seen, twenty of those years have been a time of underlying parity in mutual destructive power. The enduring effectiveness of the American guarantee . . . has depended . . . on two great facts: the visible deployment of major American military forces in Europe, and the very evident risk that any large-scale engagement between Soviet and American forces would rapidly and uncontrollably become general, nuclear, and disastrous. . . . Now of course no one knows that a major engagement in Europe would escalate to the strategic nuclear level. But the essential point is the opposite; no one can possibly know it would not.2
If Henry Kissinger is right, perhaps Western Europe ought to start thinking about the organization of a truly European deterrent with far more determination and zeal than hitherto, disregarding all its patent shortcomings. If, however, McGeorge Bundy is right, better solutions than the one presently envisaged recommend themselves, solutions based on the continuation of a sufficiently credible American guarantee. Certainly, probing these difficult doctrinal issues will keep the Atlantic Alliance restless for some time to come.
Security problems will not be the only ones to keep the transatlantic partners preoccupied, and possibly not even the most difficult to resolve. In the economic sphere enormous issues will have to be faced, issues less susceptible to cooperative international treatment as they touch more immediately on perceived national interests: energy; capital flows; monetary policies; commercial relations with the Third World; the rise of protectionism. International economic politics have a forbidding domestic angle; in this sphere, precarious trade-offs will have to be worked out between long-term economic prosperity and short-term political survival. The possibilities for friction, rivalry or conflict are numerous: energy; capital flows; monetary policies; commercial relations with the Third World; the rise of protectionism. Since these problems will be analyzed more thoroughly elsewhere, I shall limit myself here to their unadorned enumeration, with a brief word only about energy.
Europe and Japan are dependent on foreign producers for their energy supplies to a far greater extent than the United States. This goes for oil, in particular. Any American policy neglecting this basic factor-as, for instance, that pursued by Henry Kissinger in the fall of 1973-can only be seen as reckless by the allies of the United States. Europe and Japan are vulnerable on the oil front, and America-still the biggest energy wastrel by any standard-must take heed not to impose burdens and deprivations on its allies that it is not itself willing to share.
On the other hand, it would be grossly unfair to ascribe specific European policies with regard to the Middle East to boot-licking the oil princes. The EC's stance on the Palestinian question rests on the merits of the case; it is not the result of Arab pressure. The same held true for Western Europe's attitude during the Iranian crisis. There was far more solidarity than the American media were ready to give the Europeans credit for. The State Department and the White House, however, were quite familiar with the facts: European export of military spare parts was stopped early on; the delivery of spares for railway equipment was refused; guarantees for export credits to Iran were withheld; EC diplomats undertook untold demarches on behalf of the unfortunate hostages. If the European business world was somewhat less than enthusiastic about the attempts to extend the U.S. freeze of Iranian assets to Europe, this was in part due to legal considerations, in part to the threadbare arguments employed (e.g., why should Morgan Guaranty seek an order of attachment for Krupp if Morgan's own Iranian assets amounted to about twice its claims?). For the rest, the Europeans were prepared to go along with the Americans on quite far-reaching measures, provided they served the purpose of freeing the hostages, did not needlessly unite the Arabs with revolutionary Iran, and had the blessing of the United Nations.
For Western Europe, détente with the East is an essential condition of its prosperity and its peace of mind. As West German Chancellor Schmidt put it last October in an interview with the London Economist:
One of the necessities of the alliance as well as for us Germans is to get along with the eastern power. We don't want to get back into the cold war. There is nothing to be gained for the Germans in a cold war, divided as our nation is, divided as our capital of Berlin is, nothing to be gained from a new cold war period. A return to the cold war is still thinkable: I hope it doesn't occur, but we have not passed the point of no return as yet.3
This kind of sentiment is easily intelligible if one looks at the palpable results détente has yielded since its beginnings in 1969. It did not, certainly, put an end to the East-West conflict, but it did contain and mitigate this conflict in Europe, did subject it to a set of rules defined within a network of intertwined treaties, and make it more tolerable for the Germans in the two Germanies. But it takes a great deal of waspishness to read into this sentiment a desire for self-Finlandization. Western Europe in general, and the Federal Republic in particular, knows exactly where it belongs. Everyone also realizes full well that there can be no détente without alliance, and that there can be no effective alliance without an effective balance. To quote Helmut Schmidt again: "If you want to have continuity of détente you have to have continuity of the balance of power, the equilibrium. Continuity of détente cannot persist if you let the military equilibrium deteriorate. You must not let that happen."4
Détente has never got anywhere near the point where the iron necessity of securing Europe's existence has let up. Should the Soviets elect to increase their pressure on Europe again, that would not force the Europeans on their knees in order to save détente ; rather it would stiffen their backs and increase their solidarity with America.
The meaning of all this for European-American relations is clear. Europe will not bow to Russian pressure, it will stick with the United States. On the other hand, it would hate to see the real, if limited achievements of détente , jeopardized by either the willful inclinations of the American President or the vagaries of the American political process. Europe wishes to see SALT II ratified by the U.S. Senate. It fears the consequences of non ratification: deferral of SALT III, scheduled to deal with the problem of the gray area, theater nuclear weapons; a freezing-over of East-West relations at a time when a changing of the guard is impending in the Kremlin; an interruption of political and economic intercourse just as the Eastern bloc is beginning to get more deeply enmeshed in the world's economy and to get accustomed to its own brand of interdependence. Chancellor Schmidt's announcement that he is going to meet both Soviet President Brezhnev and East Germany's party chief Honecker in 1980 was, therefore, more than a campaign ploy. It reflected the desire to keep the lines between the two halves of Europe open at a moment when the channels between Washington and Moscow may be temporarily clogged.
During the first weeks after the occupation of Afghanistan by the Red Army, it was, perhaps, too early to tell whether this basic interest in the continuation of détente on the continent would survive the shock waves emanating from Kabul. My own guess is that it will. Chancellor Schmidt, for one, but Giscard d'Estaing as well, are in no mood to cut the wires to Moscow; Schmidt still counts on meeting both Honecker and Brezhnev in 1980. Most Europeans-with the possible exception of the British-have long insisted that détente along the central front must be insulated against the effects of peripheral turbulence; that linkage was not only impractical but unwise; that the idea of making détente indivisible spelled great peril inasmuch as it implied, logically, the indivisibility of tension, too. Should the peace of Europe really be jeopardized each time a fuse blows in some arc of crisis? No one thought so over Angola, Ethiopia or South Yemen, and there will be precious little inclination to think so now. Europe must not become an area of tension simply because there is tension elsewhere. Battles lost in Luanda, Addis Ababa or Kabul cannot be won in Berlin. And the Germans are not the only ones sharply aware of this.
Of course, Soviet subjugation of Afghanistan poses a much more immediate danger to Western, including European, security than those earlier challenges, i.e., a threat to the lifeline of the industrial democracies, the vital oil route through the Strait of Hormuz. Afghanistan must not become the staging area for further Soviet expansion into Pakistan, Iran or other Gulf States-on this, all Europeans are in agreement with Washington. A new effort to contain Soviet ambitions is called for, this time in the Middle East. The Americans will inevitably have to bear the brunt of the operation, but Great Britain and France-both still present in leftover bits of their former empires-will no doubt contribute to it; even the Germans are starting to realize that they might have a role to play, in concert with their NATO allies, beyond the legal confines of the North Atlantic Treaty area.
The point is that building barriers against Soviet expansionism in the Middle East must not be tied to a revival of the cold war in Europe, as long as we can help it. Europe will support, with different degrees of enthusiasm, President Carter's embargo measures against the Soviet Union. But it will balk, predictably, at breaking off political or cultural contacts, at declaring an across-the-board trade war, at freezing ongoing arms control efforts like SALT II, mutual and balanced force reductions, or the Conference on European Security and Cooperation scheduled to gather in Madrid next November. It fears not only a breakdown of these negotiating processes and the ensuing arms race, it is also concerned about the possibilities of revived Russian pressure on West Berlin, and afraid that an unrestrained new cold war might once again put Eastern Europe under the pall of ruthless Soviet regimentation. If the Europeans should want to put pressure on the Kremlin, then it will not be so much a reprisal for the Afghan adventure as to gain some leverage against a Soviet leadership that refuses to talk arms control with the West.
In this context, Europe notes with considerable interest the resurgence of the American will to leadership and the renewed readiness to assert U.S. power around the globe. American support for North Yemen, the shopping around for bases in or near the Indian Ocean, the establishment of a Rapid Deployment Force and the planned increase of defense spending betoken this reassertion. Inasmuch as it marks the end of the American Vietnam trauma, there is no one in Europe who would not heartily welcome this rebirth of the American spirit.
There is, however, also some concern that Washington might fall prey to facile geopolitical theorems. To the Tehran hostages it would have made no difference if Berbera had been a U.S. air and naval base. Not every African brushfire has been lit with Soviet matches. The "China card" is no more a trump card after Kabul than it was before. And while no one doubts that the Soviet advance across the Hindu Kush must not go unchecked, there is considerable skepticism about the theory now fashionable in Washington-that détente is dead everywhere, or rather that the Soviets are intent on killing it. So far, that is nothing but an apprehension. Let's wait for proof instead of acting on mere supposition. Anyway, Jimmy Carter is not the most reliable or consistent Kremlin watcher, and the area specialist in his immediate entourage not the most unbiased. Disquietude about professorial flamboyance instead of calm and detached judgment coming to dominate U.S. foreign policy is particularly keen among those Europeans who have all along sided with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance rather than with National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. If Carter should win the presidency for a second term, what is going to happen to America's foreign policy once Vance and his adviser on Soviet Affairs, Marshall Shulman, leave Washington?
It is a safe bet that, contrary to the expectation of most Americans, the rape of Afghanistan will not put to rest the old argument between U.S. policymakers and Europeans about the uses of détente , about linkage, or about the necessity of keeping on speaking terms with the East even in stormy weather. In fact, the argument is likely to be exacerbated in the alliance. A French-German axis of interest is emerging whose leaders are intent not on cancelling détente in Europe but extending it to the outlying areas, on continuing the dialogue with Moscow across the endangered European front while containing Russian transgression and aggression in Asia and Africa. China may turn out to be an additional bone of transatlantic contention: many Europeans are apprehensive that Washington, rather than playing the China card, might find itself being dragged into quite dangerous situations by Beijing.
Thus, once again "solidarity" will have to be defined, divergent national interests will need to be reconciled, and a joint perception of world realities will have to be hammered out. It will not be an easy task, as it must be undertaken at a time when election fever runs high in the United States, West Germany and even France, and when there and elsewhere in the West domestic pressures tend to undercut the forces for cooperation.
What is the conclusion? In the 1980s Europe needs the American connection no less than in the past four decades. The relationship may not be trouble-free; in fact, it is likely to become more conflict-ridden as priorities and preoccupations change. The shift of topics in world politics since 1973 has no doubt infused a new element of competition and rivalry into transatlantic relations. This should not, however, overshadow the basic truth that close and good relations with the United States remain absolutely essential to Western Europe.
Conversely, the United States could hardly survive in isolation in a world of hostile powers. Whatever the grounds for mutual discontent and occasional spitballing may be, there is no hope of maintaining a military equilibrium unless Europeans and Americans work closely together, no hope of preserving détente as a meaningful process, no hope of setting the world economy right, no hope, finally, of coming to terms with an increasingly assertive, even rebellious Third World. The historic rationale of the American-European alliance is as valid today as ever.
1 Speech of September 1, 1979, Survival, November/December 1979, p. 266.
2 Speech of September 6, 1979, Survival, November/December 1979, p. 271.
3 The Economist, October 6-12, 1979, p. 54.
4 Ibid., p. 47.