Europe and America: The Politics of Resentment (Cont'd)

Courtesy Reuters

Transatlantic disaffections, sturdy perennials since the turn of the decade, continued to sprout luxuriantly throughout 1982. They were nourished by two as yet inchoate forces which, if unchecked, will logically lead to the end of alliance: the trends toward neutralism in Europe and toward unilateralism in America.

Both sentiments spring, paradoxically, from the same source. If the message of neutralism is "Leave us alone," the motto of global unilateralism is "We will go it alone." It does not matter that the neutralist impulse seeks safety in the escape from power while unilateralism glories in its reassertion. Nor does it matter that the one may be driven by fear whereas the other is fueled by a heady sense of newfound determination. For in both cases, the leitmotiv is retraction and insulation-from the grating demands of dependence, from the troubles of a strained partnership, from commitment to uncertain allies who exact loyalty with a vengeance but yield little of their jealously guarded freedom of action.

The Alliance has of course suffered from bouts of European neutralism before. Indeed, the "Yankee go home" and ohne mich revulsions of the 1950s make today's anti-American sentiments appear as rather pale copies of the real thing. Similarly, the Kampf dem Atomtod ("fight nuclear death") campaign in Germany of circa 1958 was a real movement rather than a mood restricted to a strident minority. (A quarter-century ago, not only were there hundreds of thousands taking to the streets and squares of West Germany; there was a clear anti-nuclear majority in public opinion and, more important, there was also a leadership and a structure provided by the Social Democratic Party and the Trade Union Federation.)

On the American side, the fitful rush toward global unilateralism is almost as old as the Alliance itself: intervention in Korea in 1950 (with the help of some token allied contingents but where the United States fought essentially alone), the abandonment of Britain and France during the Suez War of 1956, the shift from the multilateral NATO deterrent

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