The Search for Stability

Soviet tanks gather near Checkpoint Charlie where they engage in a tense face-off with U.S. tanks positioned on the western side, October 27, 1961.

THESE lines are being written while the Foreign Ministers' Conference is still in progress. But even though its precise outcome cannot be foretold, the general nature of the diplomacy of the next few months is apparent. The West has presented a "package" proposal linking German unification to European security. This link has been rejected. The Soviet Union has insisted that German reunification should be left to the two German states and that the conference should concentrate on the issues which the Soviet leaders have defined as "soluble." It is clear, then, that the Western powers are to be tested in their negotiation skill, their creativity and, most important, their convictions. Their response will influence importantly, perhaps crucially, the future of freedom in our time.

It is hoped that the Western performance in the months ahead will be more self-assured than that in the period just past. In an alliance, disagreements are unavoidable and different approaches may contribute to the vitality of a consensus finally achieved. Since in democracies policies are dependent on popular support, they are usually developed by a public debate which stresses conflicting approaches. Even bearing this in mind, we have reason for concern. The West's reaction to a clear Soviet menace to the very vitals of the Western alliance has been tentative and irresolute. More of the debate has dealt with what could be conceded than with the goals for which we should strive. The hesitation shown in developing the Western "package" does not augur well that it will be maintained with resolution. If the proposals presented at Geneva are valid today, one wonders why we lacked the imagination to present them before Soviet pressure made them appear as an improvisation to escape a difficult situation.

Nothing is more important for the West than to become clear about the causes of the present instability and to develop real conviction about the measures which it proposes for overcoming it. These measures may or may not prove negotiable. But it

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