Thirteen years ago, in January 1963, Konrad Adenauer, 87, arrived in Paris to sign the Franco-German friendship treaty with Charles de Gaulle, 73. The "mystical communion" between these two old Catholics was strong enough that not even de Gaulle's veto of British entry into the Common Market the week before could stay the signing. Both men also shared the same political belief: Europe was no stronger than the bonds that linked France and Germany. It was a far-reaching treaty, unique for both countries in the kind of consultative machinery it set up. Yet de Gaulle's veto of Britain did, in fact, send it into a quick eclipse. A few months later Adenauer and his "German Gaullists" were gone, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard and Atlanticism had arrived, the Bundestag had added a preamble to the treaty that de Gaulle told Willy Brandt was a "personal offense," and the General, wearily, would remark that treaties, like young girls and roses, faded all too quickly.

Fade it did, but not away. Thirteen years later it remains the foundation of a relationship that has not ceased to evolve. The treaty has been severely tested, and in the worst days of Gaullist excess and German indifference was almost forgotten; but the mechanisms were still there, ticking away, so that the meetings went on, the consultations, the discussions, the negotiations. The treaty survived Erhard. It survived President Georges Pompidou, no more than an interlude in French history, a regent. It survived Brandt, who, with Ostpolitik to occupy himself with, did not have much left over. It survived Michel Jobert, a foreign minister who learned everything from the Gaullists except the one thing they never understood: you cannot make the Germans choose between France and the United States.

Throughout the years of estrangement, the process continued, the contacts deepened. "We leave Paris at 12, are in Bonn by 1:30, negotiate three hours and are back home for dinner," explained one official who knows the mechanisms well. By the time Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, nothing mystical about either of them, came along in 1974, the treaty had proven its staying power. Both men looked at Franco-German relations with a cold eye and without the old phobias. And they reached the same conclusion: France and Germany could gain more acting together than apart.

De Gaulle had remarked to Adenauer on his trip across the Rhine in 1962 that, "the two nations complement each other in territory, labor and genius." The old men had sensed that if these two countries could use the differences in their characters to complement each other's weaknesses, then the result, in a Bergsonian sense (and the General was a Bergsonian), would be greater than the sum of the parts. There was true potential for an élan vital. Schmidt and Giscard d'Estaing saw it in much more pragmatic terms. "The Adenauer-de Gaulle relationship was much more solemn because of their personalities," explains a French official. "Today we do it at the shirtsleeve level."

The image of a Frenchman in his shirtsleeves is striking. Yet how else to explain the kind of relationship between Helmut and Valéry, who first-name each other and "speak the same language," which happens to be English. Giscard's choice of foreign minister, Jean Sauvagnargues, was an explicit gesture to Bonn, for any number of competent career diplomats might have been chosen over this Germanist. Though Sauvagnargues' relations with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have been formal, still Sauvagnargues has been responsible for implementing Giscard's policy toward the United States, which in the words of a German official, "has markedly improved Franco-American relations, which no longer pose a problem for us." Giscard undertook a whole series of steps to improve relations with Washington which, in turn, removed the lingering tension with Bonn. There have been Franco-American agreements at Ottawa, Martinique and Rambouillet, compromises on gold, on NATO and on negotiations with the Third World. The Jobert charges of a Washington-Moscow "condominium" and Kissinger's counter-charges that France wanted to build Europe "against" the United States have given way to more reasonable analysis. Neither side will admit that good Franco-American relations are a precondition for Franco-German harmony, but both say it "facilitates" such harmony. In any case, for the moment Bonn is not being asked to choose.

The question asked today is: How long can this last? How far can this relationship go? Is it a passing phase attributable merely to the pragmatism of the new leaders, neither of whom has any interest in the symbolism and stereotypes of the past? Or is it that the two nations are discovering something deeper, a community of interests in a world of superpowers and regional and special interest blocs that would gladly relegate them to second-class status if they could? The debate goes on, for there are these two ways of looking at the Franco-German relationship today: one sees it as a phase only, made possible by détente and the Schmidt-Giscard rapport; the fundamental interests of the two nations diverge and will diverge more. The other sees it as the beginning of the realization of what de Gaulle and Adenauer sensed-that the two countries are discovering that it is in their own and Europe's interest to act together, and the passing of Schmidt and Giscard will not change that finding.


These two giants of continental Europe, whose gross national products today make up over half the nine-nation European Community's total GNP-$660 billion out of $1.2 trillion-came out of the war with the same hostility that had marked relations between them since Richelieu. "What, the French here, too!" cried Field Marshal Keitel at the Rheims surrender in 1945. André Francois-Poncet, former ambassador to Berlin and France's leading Germanist, who became high commissioner for Germany after the war, wrote during the postwar years that for Germans "obedience is a virtue and even a pleasure. Liberty is strong wine which goes to their head." The implied contrast with French predilections was unmistakable. De Gaulle's own plans in 1945 for dividing Germany up into city-states and keeping them rural sound today like Jefferson's program for the United States 200 years ago. Yet by 1947, faced with Soviet intransigence, things were changing. The Ruhr accord of 1948 assured some sharing of coal and steel. The Petersberg protocol the following year returned to the defeated nation a little international respectability, opening the door to the Council of Europe, the Ruhr Authority and the Marshall Plan.

Early in 1950, Adenauer told Kingsbury Smith in an interview almost forgotten today that the union of France and Germany was the "sole possibility for achieving European unity . . . the thought of rivalry between the two nations would disappear." That declaration received considerable criticism in France, though, noticeably, not from de Gaulle. In May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, an Alsatian, born a German, announced the Schuman Plan, the pooling of all French and German coal and steel production, in a schematic sense an exchange of French coal against German steel. The idea was so simple as to be brilliant. "Why is an idea so banal accepted as something vital and new?" wondered Raymond Aron. Yet it was. Prepared by the Monnet staff, it was the first functional approach to European unity. Instead of Carolingian proclamations, Europe was to be built piece by piece. "It is not a coal and steel association, it is the beginning of Europe," remarked Monnet. When ratified by both nations a year later, the foundation of Europe was laid. For France, the Schuman Plan was no less than a rupture with the axiom laid down by Richelieu 300 years before: that German weakness was French strength.

After the breakdown of negotiations that might have led to a European Defense Community in 1954, the construction of Europe grew out of the Schuman Plan. This phase culminated in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, inaugurating the Common Market but without British participation. When de Gaulle returned to power two years later, the Germans at first feared that all was lost, and Adenauer believed de Gaulle "nostalgic for the Franco-Russian alliance." But four years later came de Gaulle's triumphal "Sie sind ein grosses Volk" tour of Germany, and Carlo Schmid, the Social Democratic vice president of the Bundestag, could remark, "if de Gaulle shakes our hand it is that our hand is no longer dirty." There was a certain amount of delirium, and Schmid, champion of Franco-German rapprochement, also warned against excesses that might lead the "Anglo-Saxon world to lose interest in our destiny."


A little over a decade later, two relatively young leaders have taken power and through coordinated policies are attempting to drive the final nails into Richelieu's coffin. Though products of their separate cultures and totally different in temperament, Helmut Schmidt and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing by formation and conception are similar. Both professorial and reflective, these two politicians are discovering that they increase their influence geometrically when acting together, and when divided, their individual influence, and Europe's, become marginal. "For both men," explains a German official, "the other represents the only serious country in the Community. It is inevitable that they seek each other out."

In person they are totally different: Giscard, elegant, aloof, well-bred, intense. Schmidt, a figure out of Wilhelm Busch, Elbe bargeman's cap and pipe, sharp, quick, shrewd, outspoken. At first Giscard couldn't understand Schmidt, and said so. Much of Giscard's first year in office, Schmidt fumed around Europe, lecturing the British, lecturing the French, with occasional trips to America to lecture Americans. But in 1974-75, many of the Social Democrats' favorite schemes didn't work out, or cost too much, or were opposed by the Free Democrats, and Schmidt himself did not have a healthy year. Giscard sat shaking his head in his Elysée apartments, offering succinct portraits of Ford, Wilson, Brezhnev, but stumbling over the man from Hamburg.

The French Foreign Ministry also marveled over Schmidt's lectures. One official, who in 1945 had been part of the first French occupying force in Germany, remembered the ruins and said: "Never would I ever have imagined that only 30 years later I would be sitting through economic lessons given by a German to Americans and Frenchmen."

The earliest decision on coordination made by Schmidt and Giscard d'Estaing came in mid-1974, soon after Giscard's election and on Schmidt's first trip to Paris to see him as president. The two economists agreed that the recession would be a good time to begin the harmonization of both their economies.

The two countries had been opposed over European economic and monetary policy throughout the Pompidou years. The French preferred a monetary approach, involving the gradual creation of a single currency. The Germans argued, rightfully as it turned out, that first the economies had to be aligned, with coordination of spending, taxation, interest rates, employment and inflation. At the Schmidt-Giscard meeting in the summer of 1974 it was decided-the first of many similar decisions-that if the Nine couldn't do anything, the Two could. Practically, it meant that Germany, so tightly controlled, would loosen the economic reins and reflate, and that France would deflate.

Hardly revolutionary, still this was a reversal of traditional posture. Seldom in the history of five volatile French republics had a government allowed unemployment to climb as a deliberate policy. The French were criticized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for letting their deflationary policy go on too long. Gradually, however, inflation was reduced to manageable figures, and the franc gained solidly against the mark. By mid-1975 the franc was strong enough to reenter the European joint monetary float-or snake-a risky decision by Giscard but one he felt obliged to take. For how could the champion of European unity remain outside the main monetary achievement of that unity?

Bonn began reflating late in 1974, continued throughout 1975, and for those two years will have had budget deficits totaling about $50 billion, unprecedented for modern Germany. The Germans bore the recession well, better than most, and not just because of the deficits. The nation had more reserves to live off, the unions behaved well, the unemployed were better paid, the companies had more money to pay in indemnities and more foreign workers to send home (about 500,000 of 2.4 million Gastarbeiters will have returned home permanently as a result of the recession). If anything, the recession magnified the structural differences in the French and German economies, which will need to be eroded if a single economy is ever to emerge. The German system is more paternalistic, with an employer-employee relationship akin to the Japanese. The French company frequently is dominated by the family, or the patron, who, however, fails to share the German view that profits are made in the good years to pay for the bad. There is a saying that "in France the company works for the family and in Germany the family works for the company."

Other differences make the economies dissimilar: the Germans are more export-minded and prone to favor free world markets, while the French, with Giscard d'Estaing's "new world order" concept, lean toward international arrangements and intervention, at least where it concerns the developing world. True industrial cooperation has a long way to go, basically because of the structural differences. There are few joint ventures, and where there are they usually are armaments projects. Less often does one find the kind of industrial cooperation that would show that the two economies are gradually fusing.

Thus for every industrial achievement there are disappointments. The Rhône-Rhine canal will become a crucial economic link when it is completed, but the two have gone separate ways on computer technology and enriched uranium development. They collaborated to build Airbus, the 300-seat jetliner, only to find that the German airline Lufthansa is reluctant to buy it-as it never bought a single French-made Caravelle. "The French complain that we do not invest in their provinces," says a German official. "The truth is we don't because the phone service is so bad."

But French industry is maturing, and as it becomes more export-minded a certain policy imposes itself. Thus inflation must be fought, the franc defended, a Franco-American agreement on central bank intervention achieved, price indexation opposed-all this conforming with German views. Diplomacy also reflects the needs of industry: if there is one area where the French hope to expand economically it is in the Mediterranean and the Arab world. Thus France strives to maintain the most "liberal" Middle East policy, even when it creates difficulties Giscard would prefer to avoid, such as with the International Energy Agency or Jewish sentiment in his own country.

The Hudson Institute-Europe has called the Franco-German economic evolution a new "binary" relationship. "The Franco-German inner core [of the European Community] is a true economic superpower," it says, "larger than the U.S.S.R. and virtually half the size of the United States. The emergence of this new superpower is an event of major historical importance." Whether it becomes that or not depends in large measure on the political accommodation now being undertaken, but it is certainly the goal of the Europeans to become a superpower.

The industrialization of France has been achieved to the point that Hudson-Europe, backed up by a new World Bank-Johns Hopkins University study, now predicts that France will pass Germany in total GNP by 1980 (though this is certainly a debatable point). French industry, it is said, is losing its inferiority complex vis-à-vis the Germans. The interaction of the two economies, reversing historical patterns, has made both France and Germany the other's largest customer and supplier. Their bilateral trade relationship is now the third most important in the world, ranking only behind U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Japan. The old agricultural conflict, which had poisoned Franco-German relations and created heavily-subsidized surpluses, has diminished as world food prices in many cases climbed past the Community's support prices. Food has become an asset, and Europeans complain today that they do not have the capacity for agricultural sales to the Soviet Union that would increase their leverage with that giant to the East.


In the litany of the Common Market, first there was to be economic cooperation, then political, and finally defense. That order, established with the Schuman Plan and later defended by the Gaullists, could never be broken. To a large degree, however, it has been. The institution of the European Council, the nine chiefs of government, in December 1974, created in the midst of the recession, has given priority to the notion of political will. At the same time, the functioning of what the chancelleries call "Coreu," or European Correspondence, has been improving, which means it is very rare to see the Nine take differing positions on subjects as diverse as Timor, Angola, Zionism or Helsinki. This has been a change not just for the French but for Giscard d'Estaing, who during his first months in office appeared to believe that French diplomacy could remain distinct from Community diplomacy. Explains a German: "The French have learned that they are better off when they have the Community behind them than when going it alone." It still happens that there is not a Community consensus, particularly concerning the Middle East, but this is rare and getting rarer.

The European Council, Giscard's idea, met three times in 1974-in Dublin, Brussels and Rome. Though two of the three meetings were dominated by British problems, the Council worked and showed that the nine chiefs of government could act to solve prickly problems that in the past would have been referred back to governments and dragged on interminably. The decision taken at the Rome meeting-to hold popular elections to the European Parliament in 1978-should not be underestimated. It means that in only two years there will be a true European Parliament. The Gaullists certainly sniffed the danger, and Michel Debré, writing in Le Monde in December, denounced the step in tones that barely fell short of insulting the President. Inspired by separatists, wrote Debré, the European Parliament is a scheme of men of "anti-French dispositions, who cheered indecently at the departure and death of de Gaulle." It will lead to subordination to the United States, he said, with France losing her "independence, influence and unity."

Debré's analysis gave a curious twist to an old issue. The Gaullists, some of whom will oppose the European Parliament scheme and hope to have it declared unconstitutional, argue that a united Europe would be dominated by Washington, since Brussels will always be dominated by Washington. They reason that it is only through national sovereignty that the creeping menace can be resisted. The twist is that, throughout the Gaullist years, the argument was that there could only be an Atlantic Europe or a European one-the two could not coexist. But under Giscard d'Estaing Atlantic and Euro-relations have been improving at the same time.

Neither Bonn nor Paris today is concerned with such quarrels over priorities. Neither capital today believes that a choice must be made or that even in a crisis European and American interests necessarily would diverge. The two nations have decided to act together economically and politically, and it is not sterile debates over Atlanticism that are so likely to frustrate them as true points of national divergence or problems with other members of the Community: those are real problems. The problems with the United States, with the Soviet Union, with defense, for the moment are not of immediate concern. The French quarrel with NATO is largely buried, and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger said in Paris prior to his dismissal that there was "no need for France to be involved in the integrated command structure in order to participate fully in cooperation within the Alliance." Another lingering problem, the floating exchange rate of the dollar, was cleared up in November, when at the Giscard/Schmidt-backed economic summit meeting at Rambouillet a Franco-American compromise on managed floating was reached, one which was put into effect at the International Monetary Fund meeting in Jamaica in January of this year.


Both the economic and political aspects of the binary relationship have created problems with other members of the Community. The Benelux nations have always been resentful about being pushed around by the big powers, and it showed as recently as the Rambouillet summit, from which they were excluded. Italy is just as sensitive, and it was over these sensibilities that Giscard d'Estaing included the Italians at the Rambouillet meeting, though Bonn was not enthusiastic. But British sensibilities pose the greatest problem, and there are times, such as during the Rome European Council meeting, when Franco-German collusion becomes so obvious that it is almost counterproductive. Britain for the moment is down, but not out. Most Europeans expect the Community eventually to do for Great Britain what it did for the others 15 years ago, i.e., provide a great stimulus to economic expansion and prosperity, and North Sea oil will certainly not hurt.

It was just this problem of the strong versus the weak that prompted Willy Brandt, speaking as an elder statesman last year, to float an idea for a two-tiered Community, or one, as the French say, à deux vitesses. Brandt argued, and his speech was undoubtedly cleared with the government, that the Community must not allow the laggards to slow down progress. Let those that can go ahead, he said, the others will catch up when they are able. The idea never has been officially espoused by any of the Nine, though it was backed in January by the influential Tindemans report on European unity. In fact, it is already happening. Britain, Ireland and Italy remain out of the joint float; Britain and Denmark received dispensations at Rome so they need not hold direct elections to the European Parliament in 1978, though they probably will anyway.

The point is that all of these new steps on the European front-the French return to the European float, the direct elections to parliament, the common passport, the European Council, the common front in political talks-are possible because of the basic Franco-German accord. It is their accord and leadership that have put Europe back on the rails following the bad period of 1973-74; indeed the accord was in large measure a reaction to the partial disintegration of those years.

The shape of this Franco-German leadership still is not defined, and this was shown most recently when Giscard d'Estaing floated his ideas for a European "directorate." The reasoning behind Giscard's proposal, which is certain to get serious consideration in coming months, was that neither France nor Germany could afford to let new EEC members, perhaps Greece or Spain, or Community laggards, such as Italy, slow down development. Perhaps the time has come, reasons Giscard, when the de facto leadership of the Community should be institutionalized-something that is certain to raise considerable controversy.

While the real impact of the leadership is felt within the Community, the two have also been testing the ice outside. Certainly the Rambouillet meeting never would have come off if Schmidt had not decided to back Giscard. Together, they convinced Ford to agree to the meeting, in the gardens of the British Embassy at Helsinki. Here and there, the two have probed other spots to see what influence they might have. In the Middle East, there have been probings, with Couve de Murville's trip to Beirut the most recent example of an effort to mediate. Both the Germans and French hope that they may move into the Middle East as peacemakers if American efforts get stalled. The two no longer are so divided on the Palestine issue, as Germany has moved closer to Giscard's view that the Palestine Liberation Organization is the only interlocuteur valable for Palestinians.

The Franco-German understanding has also made broader initiatives by the Community possible. This was seen in Portugal and will probably be seen again in Spain. The steady pressure the Europeans applied on the Portuguese throughout the premiership of Vasco Gonçalves played some role in making his position untenable. A loan of $840 million over 5 years from the European Bank (the Community's development fund) was allocated for Lisbon, then held up rather spectacularly during the summer European Council meeting while waiting for a "pluralistic democracy" to emerge in Portugal. "We are not in the business of financing dictatorships," said Foreign Secretary Callaghan testily. This considerable sum contrasted with the paltry $30 million in U.S. aid that was tendered. At the May NATO Council meeting, the Dutch, the Danes, the British, the Belgians-those governments most Socialist in outlook-made it clear to Gonçalves that a radical leftist Portugal had no place in Europe. Yet here again, the Franco-German understanding was crucial: the Germans because they were backing much of the funding, and the French because their diplomacy is always the most visible.

In Spain, a similar process has begun. There might have been reason to believe that Schmidt, a Social Democrat, and Giscard, a conservative, would not share the same views on how to deal with Juan Carlos. Schmidt might have reason to favor democratic elections with all parties competing openly, and formation of a government representing all tendencies, while Giscard, who narrowly beat a leftist coalition two years ago, hardly wants to see such experiments on his southern flank. So far, however, the two have taken the same position on Spain, urging elections, democratization and "Europeanization" without defining it further. Says a French official: "France could not accept a non-democratic nation in the Community." And a German Social Democrat: "Why is it that Mitterrand is snubbed by Schmidt, Wilson, Kreisky and Palme? Because he has a pact with the Communists. We certainly don't want anything like that in Spain."


The Franco-German entente has also changed significantly the relationships between Paris and Bonn and the two superpowers. The Bonn-Washington axis, which some have mentioned, is understandable in military terms but makes little economic sense. For example, Germany has 8.5 percent of its trade with the United States and almost 50 percent with the Common Market. Gaullist détente and German Ostpolitik have shown the limits of Paris-Bonn-Moscow possibilities. Paris has no special relationship with Moscow anymore, as Giscard so rudely discovered on his trip there in October. De Gaulle was useful in his time to the Russians, Giscard is not. In fact, French military doctrine today is at least as bothersome for Moscow as for NATO, as is the French position on arms negotiations.

For Bonn, Ostpolitik has been a success vis-à-vis the West, less so vis-à-vis the East: no longer must Bonn mind its manners with the Allies to win support for reunification, which is comfortably put off until another day. But in terms of enlarging possibilities for the Federal Republic to turn away from the West toward the East, Ostpolitik has achieved little. Bonn has seven percent of its trade today with Eastern Europe, and a third of that is with East Germany. The trend is not noticeably up.

And the Russians themselves have demonstrated the limits of Ostpolitik, as they have the limits of Helsinki. For the Russians are caught in their own dilemma. If Finlandization is their goal, it would not be that hard: détente, Westpolitik and the opening of Soviet and East European markets toward Bonn would be steps. But then who would Finlandize whom? The truth is that the Soviet Union is not strong enough to Finlandize Western Europe. The Soviet goal is a little détente, but not too much. Too much and their closed society must open too far. Too little and they must spend too much on defense. Soviet strength today is military strength, and if there is to be détente, how much good does that do?

Yet it is precisely because of the possibility of Soviet military pressure in Europe that there will continue to be a European defense relationship with America. The American stake in Europe is as high as the European stake in America. U.S. direct investment in West European economies is $44 billion today. Western Europe today exceeds Canada for direct U.S. investment, and with U.S. foreign trade now near 10 percent of GNP, no longer is the United States considered a country for which trade is only marginally important. U.S. troops could be drawn down, or the integrated command give way to a classic-type alliance; but these are measures related to military strategy and still need not call into question the basic defense partnership. It is doubtful that a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops today would lead to Finlandization. More likely it would lead to closer Franco-German military collaboration, though since French and German views on the Soviet Union now correspond there already is a tendency in that direction.

The French say the Germans are coming to understand the French doctrine of not joining NATO's front-line defense. "Our nuclear deterrent fits perfectly well into the Schlesinger doctrine of flexible response," says a French official. "The problem is no longer the French relationship to NATO," says a German official. "They are doing a lot, but doing it quietly." One thing they have done quietly is to slip into a new armaments group being set up by NATO's Eurogroup members. The old NATO symbolism, which would have kept Gaullist France out, doesn't carry the same weight anymore, especially since France would risk losing more arms deals if she remained forever aloof from common efforts.

In military doctrine, the French no longer talk of "sanctuarization," i.e., holding back in a conflict until France herself is threatened. Giscard's policy is more flexible in its approach, though France will neither move her tactical nuclear warhead Pluton missile into Germany in peacetime nor pledge the nuclear force de frappe to the defense of Germany. The reasons for this are purely political. Most French military men agree that the way to defend France is to fight in Germany.

There is no doubt that the French regard their military card as the strongest one they have to play to gain leverage over the Germans; but they are reluctant to play it. Germany is becoming emancipated. The younger generation does not share the guilt of the older. Under the Social Democrats the Germans have ceased to be "political dwarfs." With Ostpolitik, Bonn itself renounced the idea that it was the Allies who would bring reunification, vastly reducing Allied leverage. Bonn and the West Berlin Senate now do their own negotiating with the East Germans on Berlin questions, something that irritated both Washington and Paris (though apparently not London) when a traffic agreement was announced without Allied consultation in December. Germany, a nation without atomic arms, now is able to sign multibillion dollar agreements with countries as large as Brazil for complete nuclear cycle plants (an event which contributed to formation of the Club of London last year by seven large nations seeking rules for nuclear exports to the developing world). The German economy is so big that in the words of one Frenchman, "they are number two on practically every market in the world. Number one is not always the same, but the Germans are always number two."

The German strength is such that Chancellor Schmidt could say recently that "apart from the United States there is no country in the world that need give us complexes." All this means that the French are dealing with a different sort of Federal Republic, and they know it. And it is because the French understand that no matter how far Bonn and Paris can work toward common policies and goals, France still must maintain a degree of leverage in her bilateral relations with Germany that the French hold back the total military commitment. Thus Pluton stays in France, though the French stress that in a crisis it would move into Germany.

What of nuclear cooperation in the future, which Giscard has alluded to, though not by name? It is never likely to be excluded, for a variety of reasons. It remains a strong card to play with the Soviet Union. It remains a possibility, even an eventuality, if the American posture becomes too marginal in Western Europe. And just as in the days of the Multilateral Force, which was conceived in the United States as a way to satisfy a presumed German desire for nuclear weapons, it is a way of opening the door to German participation in a European nuclear force. "A European nuclear force, yes," says a German official, "but never a national one. It would be Hell itself if somebody tried to introduce that." And a high Frenchman: "All Europeans are not in agreement at this time, so it would be a divisive subject. But it is not excluded forever."


Last summer, prior to Giscard d'Estaing's journey to Bonn under the treaty, a high senior French official, not known for his pro-German views, wrote a private appraisal of Franco-German relations, which was basically skeptical in its conclusions. He characterized Germany as in a highly evolutionary state. In his view, German nationalism was replacing both Atlanticism and Europeanism. Regionalism was acceptable, he wrote, but within limits. Though there was a new "European interest" in Bonn, the German view still was to seek wider horizons. Germany was emancipated today to the point that it would "oppose the United States when the United States is wrong." Bonn was now able to accept French defense concepts that once were rejected, but not to resist Washington, only Moscow. His conclusion was that the new Franco-German image was in reality a Giscard-Schmidt image. The message, destined for Giscard d'Estaing, was that the President, as the French say, not "prendre ses rêves pour des realités."

These somewhat conflicting observations illustrate perfectly the ambivalence in the relationship today, an ambivalence felt on both sides. It is true that Bonn is flexing its muscles; even were the Christian Democrats to win the October elections, there would not be a return to the old subservience. Not just the Germans but all the Europeans are trying to reconcile several diverging views-nationalism, regionalism, Atlanticism, security, détente-and there are bound to be conflicts and oppositions within each country. But most of the present European leadership tend to share a few basic beliefs: that there is a growing identity of interests in Europe; that the old opposition of an independent Europe to an Atlantic Europe was mainly theoretical; that none of the issues that separate their nations is fundamental; that the differences are decreasing, not increasing; that, as stressed in the recent Tindemans report, the recession has increased the imperative for common policy; and that, in the age of superpowers, Europe must act as a unit. These underlying factors motivate the Paris-Bonn attraction, though the skepticism of those with long memories must never be completely dismissed.

If the differences between Paris and Bonn are narrowing, as Hudson-Europe maintains, it is thus essential for the binary relationship that they continue to narrow, for otherwise Germany will grow too powerful for Europe. It was that reasoning that brought Britain into the Community, and the recovery of Britain will contribute to the cohesion of European leadership, not diminish it. For the present, the binary relationship is enjoying a certain success. Germany still is not mature enough politically to try everything alone. If France feels more comfortable having the Community behind her, the same is at least true for Germany. And each feels more comfortable being backed up by the other.

As for France, under Giscard she is trying to expand, reform, become more global. Giscard believes that France is capable of achieving the kind of economic stability that will make her the equal of the redoubtable Germans. The evidence so far suggests that a principal achievement of these two leaders will have been to put the old Adenauer-de Gaulle conception of relations back on the rails, though this time inside a European Community. There are always eventualities that could derail the train-social upheaval in France, a leftist government, a Gaullist renaissance, a revival of excessive nationalism in Germany-but the probabilities run against these scenarios. The French Left reached a high-water mark in 1974 and the credibility of the Communist-Socialist alliance has been diminishing ever since, notwithstanding a certain recent moderation in the Communists' former Stalinist attitudes. The Gaullists are gradually being absorbed into Giscard's "presidential majority." As for German nationalism, it had a spurt during the 1967-68 recession with the rightist NPD, but that party since has disappeared.

The two nations are thus in the stage of testing the common ground they have discovered. So far it has been firm. Since personalities do play a strong role in the perception of national interests, the relationship at present is being molded by the two men in power, Schmidt and Giscard d'Estaing. But there is evidence today to indicate that when they are gone, the mold will not be broken.

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