THE attitude of the French Socialists toward world affairs has a dual base.

In the first place, we believe that world peace is more than ever the final goal--world peace brought about through simultaneous and supervised universal disarmament as the first step toward the peaceful coöperation of all nations. Consequently, anyone who calls himself a Socialist must support any international democratic organization which reduces national antagonisms and must favor negotiations to that end whenever possible and whatever may be their chances of success. In other words, the free world should grasp every opportunity to settle pending conflicts by negotiation, and exploit it to the utmost. This is why the French Socialist Party has always spoken in favor of conferences, whether on a particular aspect of the East-West conflict--German and Austrian peace treaties, German reunification, Korea or Indo-China--or on universal problems such as world disarmament. It has been our rule to encourage any and every negotiation, to leave nothing untried that might bring that negotiation to a successful conclusion, and thus to prepare the way not only for coexistence but for coöperation.

On the other hand, our rational and constructive pacifism is matched by our determination to guard peace against the menace of an aggressive force anywhere in the world. Experience has shown, particularly between the two wars, that collective security is dependent on the existence of a force assuring respect for international order, and that this means transferring to the plane of international relations the principles which guarantee the security of the individual in a society of free men. For if even one nation refuses to play the game, using propaganda tricks and pretenses of good will to cover up expansionist aims, then the old rivalries between nations and blocs of nations will again prevail. If peace is to be defended, then, it is necessary not only that the camp of peace-loving states shall be sufficiently armed to resist, if it must, an act of violence; in addition, its power must be great enough to deter a potential enemy from resorting to methods of force--either armed aggression or the annexation or satellization of neighboring countries through terror or internal subversion.

Defensive rearmament, as the Socialists see it, should be only a way to prevent war--the very opposite of preparing it. We also are among those who do not see any contradiction between wanting to negotiate and being determined not to let ourselves be intimidated. Quite the contrary, we believe that the success of negotiations often depends on the degree to which a certain balance of power is established. This conforms with what Engels, the disciple, collaborator and friend of Karl Marx, thought should be the attitude toward national Powers like Tsarist Russia--"that formidable animal which consents to enter into discussions only with animals its own size." The history of these last years tends to show that Peter the Great's modern successors, Stalin and his heirs, behave in foreign policy as though they were preserving and continuing an age-old tradition the aim of which was universal hegemony.

This was the reality which the free nations had to face once the illusions of the morning after the last world war had faded. The aggression in Korea marked the climax of the all-too-justified fears felt by people of good will as they saw Stalinist expansionism building a European-Asiatic community in the East. The armed reply by the United Nations to that aggression raised immediately the question of the defense of the whole free world and in particular of Europe. This emphasized the need to strengthen the defenses of Western Europe under the Atlantic Pact. This in turn made a practical issue of the idea of having a democratic Germany participate in the common effort.

Here it is necessary to open a parenthesis. Our American friends would commit a grave error not to recognize the extent of the ill-feeling and suspicion which has grown up during the last three-quarters of a century among the neighbors (and victims) of German militarism and imperialism. A large part of French opinion is still emotionally apprehensive--and not unjustifiably--at the prospect of a revived German national army. In the minds of our people, a German army signifies invasion, ruin and death. Naturally, French opponents of a European Defense Community--ex-Stalinists in particular--make the most of this rather understandable sensitiveness.

Not even when the Socialist Party was operating in the underground, and certainly not at the time of the Liberation, did it feel in the least motivated by resentment or even sentimentality. We were the first and the only French party to oppose Germany's dismemberment, and today we sincerely hope to see that nation recover its territorial integrity. But when we are asked whether it is in the interests of the young German democracy and of peace in general to restore Germany to complete sovereignty, and on top of that to give her autonomous government a national army, we answer unhesitatingly "no." If a new Reich became the absolute master of its own destiny we think it would be fated, under almost any hypothesis, to play a most dangerous rôle. To accept the proposition made in the Soviet note of March 11, 1952, would be to sacrifice German unification for merely temporary neutralization; the new state would be left a prey to bribery, pressure and intimidation from the East. Similarly, to make Western Germany a sovereign nation and admit her to the Atlantic organizations involves a number of risks, beginning with the revival of German militarism, a resurgence of nationalism in favor of reconquering the lost territories in the East, and the rapid decline of the still feeble democratic régime. All these hypotheses, however contradictory, imply the resurrection of the Germany of yesterday in the Europe and in the world of today. We would be incredibly negligent if we accepted that result; what is more, it would mean the end of the effort to construct the sort of Europe we believe in.


The French Socialists favor integrating Germany with the defensive system of the West--but on one condition: integration must be effected within the European rather than within the Atlantic framework. The latter solution would have the grave drawback of putting Germany in charge of her own destiny and allowing her an autonomous national army.

But what "Europe" is it possible to talk about today? For the time being, unfortunately, Europe in the sense of a European community formed by the fifteen countries composing the Council of Europe remains only a hope, though it still is the ideal solution. Since Britain and the Scandinavian states have refused to make the necessary surrender of national sovereignty, we are forced to the conclusion that German integration will be effected in the narrower framework of "specialized authorities." Last year we ratified the agreement to pool coal and steel (though not without putting up a successful fight for as close a liaison as possible among the six participants--France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg--and the other countries belonging to the Council of Europe).

Such a liaison is extremely desirable for an economic organization; in our opinion it is absolutely indispensable when it comes to matters of defense. The actual and effective presence of Great Britain is the principal way to reduce the risks which Germany's participation as an equal partner might create for the future European Defense Community. I refer to the risk of hegemony, the risk of an internal disequilibrium resulting from the rapid revival of German military strength, the risk of secession, the risk of a split in the alliances, and others.

Though the French Socialists hope to be able to ratify the treaty, their final decision will depend on the extent of the assurances that can be given on this capital point of British participation. It should be much more than a merely symbolical liaison; it should be a true "partnership," to use the expression of Mr. Nutting, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I shall not go into the technical details. But at the very least the partnership should make certain that English troops will be continuously stationed on the Continent in close contact at all levels with the E.D.C. command and administration. Recent assurances from the British Government that Great Britain is prepared to maintain closer relations with E.D.C. than she has ever had with any nation in the past seem very encouraging; but they obviously must be stated in concrete and precise terms.

A second condition which our Party makes is that American guarantees be obtained. Once the United States has concluded bilateral agreements with E.D.C., thus pledging its power and watchfulness, many aspects of the "German danger" will evidently disappear. In my opinion, the guarantees should rest on two essentials: one, the maintenance of American troops on the Continent; two, treaty arrangements insuring that the United States will oppose the withdrawal of any member nation from E.D.C. or the endeavor by any member to regain its military autonomy in violation of the treaty.

Finally, the organization of an armed force is inconceivable without settling the problem of the political authority which would decide to utilize it, if that became necessary, and which also would deal with all the great problems raised by the very fact of its existence. Here the position of the French Socialists accords with their general concept of building Europe on the principle of specialized authorities. We wish the future political authority first of all to possess genuine supranational power, under true democratic control, expressed through a parliament elected by universal vote. We also wish its competence to be limited to its object, i.e. to the European Defense Community (the European Coal and Steel Community might be added under certain conditions). We shall have to make sure that the final text takes account of our apprehensions before we commit ourselves to supporting ratification of the E.D.C. treaty.

Possibly our demands for a "European Political Authority" possessing real power but with its competence limited essentially to the domain of defense may seem inopportune. Some of our allies may consider that it creates new difficulties for the launching of the European Defense Community. To my mind this view rests on a complete misunderstanding: the French Socialists do not intend to wait until United Europe has received definitive federal institutions before ratifying the E.D.C. treaty. On the contrary, we categorically oppose certain Europeans who support the immediate creation of a small federation limited to six participants. We want a Defense Community subordinate to a real supranational power, by means of a political authority established for this purpose, and we want this political authority to have real democratic control. The creation of such an organ is possible in the immediate future. There is no need of waiting to solve the complex of difficult problems posed by the program for unifying all of Europe--that is, all of free Europe--within the framework of the Council of Strasbourg.

Sometimes American friends ask us how we think this free, democratic and pacific Europe would behave--a Europe, incidentally, which Russia would not simply fear but which she logically could consider a pledge for her own security.

It is natural enough, perhaps, that Americans should not make a clear distinction between what has come to be called "neutralism" and the French Socialist idea of a "Third Force." But there is a difference, and as it is important I shall try to explain it.

First, what is understood by "neutralism" in Western Europe? Actually, the very opposite of anything like an organized political force. Indeed, the first fact to be noted is that the French "neutralists" do not constitute a party, and when certain personalities have used neutralist arguments in electoral campaigns (notably in Paris in the legislative elections of June 1951) they have suffered disastrous defeat. Neutralism actually has negligible support in France.

The conceptions--and intentions--which are gathered together under the general term of "neutralism" are most diverse. The label covers at least three different trains of thought, each in principle independent. One consists of a more or less hypocritical adoption of the Soviet thesis. The crypto-Stalinists find it a handy position to take while playing Moscow's game and at the same time keeping up the appearance of independence. Under the pretext of broad-mindedness they show unlimited indulgence for everything coming from the East and extreme severity for everything done in the West. They discredit Atlantic policy by every possible means and oppose the attempt to construct "Europe"--these being, as we know, the Kremlin's pet hates; and they insidiously favor anti-Americanism, which, of course, always plays a prominent rôle in the official propaganda of the Communist Party. Those who thus play Moscow's game are, in other words, merely pseudo-neutralists.

Another category of "neutralists" consists of various elements of leftist intellectuals, or pseudo-intellectuals, who hold views rather similar to those of the crypto-Stalinists but who deny vigorously and with a ring of sincerity that they have any Communist sympathies whatsoever. Sometimes they even attack the Communists in the name of the democratic ideal. Some of these persons who oppose rearmament even for defensive purposes may act in good faith. But though their concept of passive pacifism is generous it is absolutely unrealistic, and as experience has tragically shown it simply leaves free nations powerless before a possible aggressor. Furthermore, they are wrong in supposing that one can hold the same positions as the Communists do without actually, whether one wants it or not, playing the Communist game. In good neutralist logic, to be against German integration with a European community, for instance, means to be for the "neutralization" of Germany. The real neutralists regard this as a sound solution of the German problem and thus as an end in itself. The Russians certainly have only one way of looking at it: a temporarily neutral Germany would in due course become either an easy prey for them or it would become their ally, fated soon to be a satellite. Nothing prevents the two theses from merging, to the satisfaction of the Kremlin.

Finally, without ever expressing itself very clearly, a certain section of big business has for some years engaged in a press campaign aimed surreptitiously at creating a favorable climate for a revival of commercial relations with the Eastern bloc. Evidently some business groups are at work under the orders of interested persons. Far from trying to counteract this tendency, the French Government not long ago decided to make all exports to the Soviet bloc tax exempt. However, this particular form of "neutralism" is not of real political significance. The industrialists in question simply put profit before all other considerations. On the other hand, when the Communist Party states that it is willing to conclude an alliance even with the "bourgeois" and "capitalist" elements hostile to the European Defense Community, this simply proves once again that it is prepared, over the heads of the workers, to make any arrangement which might strengthen the international position of Soviet Russia.

The Socialist concept of an "International Third Force" very clearly originates in ideas totally different from these. We oppose "neutralism" in all its forms. I would like to make one main point particularly clear: no Socialist has ever been or will ever become the accomplice either of those who hate America or of Bolsheviks, conscious or unconscious. We know how much democracy--in our eyes the supreme blessing--owes to the courageous American interventions in the two world wars. Nor do we forget that we owe a large part of the material recovery of Europe to the spirit of solidarity shown by the American Government and the American people.

As I said above, we were the first to support actively the plan to construct a free and independent Europe. But we have never confused the idea of independence with that of neutrality. The Europe we desire is one that will be a trustworthy ally, keeping its promises and observing a solidarity of interests strengthened by traditional friendship and proper gratitude.

It seems to us obvious that the utmost degree of coöperation between a united Europe and our non-European allies is desirable, and we consider that it is practicable, given respect by each side for the independence of the other. On the economic plane, emphasis should be put on the immense possibilities which a European market would offer once it became an organized and coherent whole. From the moment this occurred, it would be an intermediary between the great industrial Anglo-Saxon Powers and the under-developed overseas nations with which France in particular is associated. As such, it would help to bring the interests of both into economic balance.

In the field of defense, the plan to create an "international Third Force" in no way conflicts with the essential presence of American and English troops on the Continent, at the side of "European" troops, so long as peace has not been finally established through general disarmament. This necessity seems so clear, so indispensable to the military equilibrium of Europe, that we have made it one of our conditions to the ratification of E.D.C.

"Independence" as we use the term means simply--but genuinely--that within the framework of close coöperation which we wish to maintain and develop between the American and "European" democracies, each partner has his own international rôle to play, based on a common ideal. It also means that the free nations of Europe should not be led into playing the rôle of satellites of any Power; that they should be free to conduct their domestic affairs according to their own designs; and that in the foreign field they should use their influence in whatever way they consider most conducive to the preservation and organization of peace. We have never concealed our disagreement with certain tendencies in American opinion--which we feel sure are only a minority. Every tendency that aims not at preventing a war but at "rolling back" the Communist forces in Europe or Asia seems to us in the highest degree dangerous to world peace. Further, we have criticized certain steps by the United States Government like the agreement with the Franco régime in Spain as dangerous to the solidarity of the democratic nations.

So far as the terms of negotiation with the Soviet Union are concerned, it must be admitted that these are, in very large part, a matter for the diplomats. In the diplomatic game, as in a game of bridge, each trick is different, and skill is needed in order to know where concession is unavoidable and where it is impossible. Thus it seems fundamental that when the German problem is discussed, the "Westerners" should show particular firmness on the principle of "free elections" as an essential condition to the formation of an all-German government. As I said above, French Socialists are completely opposed to the so-called "roll-back" policy, which would risk leading sooner or later to a "war of liberation;" that might result in a universal disaster, and in any case would certainly lead to the devastation of the countries to be liberated. If the Socialists were in charge of French foreign policy, they would make it an essential principle to limit the sphere of Bolshevik influence to Soviet Russia's actual borders. It follows therefore that the minimum condition for all negotiation on the German problem would be a guarantee of the German frontiers, understood in the sense of a definitive halt to Russo-Polish expansion toward the West.

Finally, as to the question whether we would be prepared to negotiate on China's entry into the U.N.--or, at a minimum, on her participation in a Conference of Five--I would reply by asking our American friends to consider: 1, that there is no case on record where force of circumstances has not in the long run transformed a de facto state into one having de jure existence; 2, that if a conference were held on Asian problems, and if the Peking Government were excluded, there would be a risk from the start that the Soviet Union would be left to decide on the concessions to be made and would monopolize the benefits. Of course, the admission of the Peking Government to the United Nations would represent an important concession on the part of the Western nations, and in my mind it should not be granted without compensation, such as indubitable proof of good intentions in the settlement of the Korean conflict and--I would add--the Indo-Chinese conflict.

Divergencies over such matters of policy as these do not bring into dispute the principle of our alliance with the United States, much less that of our friendship. They do, however, argue for the existence of a force in Europe capable of negotiating on terms of equality with friendly Powers in the same way that it would be capable of protecting its own security against hostile Powers. The only Europe which corresponds to this definition is a united Europe, open to all free nations. We fight for that Europe in the conviction that we are serving the cause of peace; and peace is an indispensable part of the democratic and Socialist cause.

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  • GUY MOLLET, Secretary-General of the French Socialist Party; a member of the French wartime Resistance; Member of the National Assembly for Arras; Vice-Premier in 1951
  • More By Guy Mollet