Courtesy Reuters

The European Pillar

No better image has ever been found for the Atlantic Alliance than the arch supported by two pillars, one planted in North America, the other in Western Europe. The arch is a noble, gravity-defying structure, whose discovery was one of the great landmarks of civilization. It works only because of its design and absolute solidity: every stone in its place, each one supporting the other, with the stress properly distributed overall. As a model for NATO, it symbolizes the West's political strength. Contrast it with the structure of the Warsaw Pact, which often seems more like one of those huge monolithic hero-statues so favored in the East, weighed down by its abnormal musculature, and built on a foundation of broken rubble.

Even so, an arch so large that it spans the ocean between two continents cannot escape occasional stresses and strains. There has hardly been a year since its inception when the Atlantic Alliance has not had to deal with some internal difference or make some painful sacrifice for a common goal. So far we have coped remarkably well. The successful start to the deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe last year was a prime example. But the question is bound to arise: are we not handicapping ourselves unnecessarily by organizing our defenses in this way? Is it not contrary to nature to link together a group of states separated by 3,000 miles of ocean, with different histories and fundamentally different geostrategic positions? Is not the arch bound to be dangerously lopsided when one pillar includes a superpower with global responsibilities and the other a plurality of states which, even collectively, do not aspire to "super" status; and when that superpower, geographically the farthest from the greatest military threat, contributes as much as 60 percent of the Alliance's total defense spending and 40 percent of its military personnel? Why, 40 years after the last war, are there still 350,000 American troops on the continent of Europe? Why, indeed, are there 66,000 British servicemen still

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