China on the Offensive
How the Ukraine War Has Changed Beijing’s Strategy
PRESIDENT Kennedy in his impressive State-of-the-Union message to Congress frankly expressed his concern about the present situation of the Western alliance system and, in particular, of NATO. We, too, are moved by the same anxieties, and so are the other allies of the United States in Europe. We should therefore reflect and consider in common where the mistakes lie and how they can be remedied. We must not shrink from criticism, even if it is painful; we cannot ignore any demands, even if they concern some of us directly.
I shall refrain from outlining the familiar facts about the origin and development of NATO. I would only recall that the Soviet Union in the years preceding the foundation of NATO forcibly brought more than a hundred million people in Europe under the sway of Communism and absorbed about 600,000 square miles of territory into its sphere of power. Its latest attempt to continue this policy of expansion in Europe began with the Berlin blockade which came to an end almost simultaneously with the establishment of NATO. I believe that the attitude of the Soviet Union to Berlin now and in the near future will be an index of its assessment of the solidarity and capacity for resistance of the Western world.
There is no doubt that the economic and military power of the Soviet bloc has been steadily increasing in the past 12 years. In 1949 the Soviet Union's atomic armament was still in its infancy, whereas that of the United States was already well advanced. Today various signs indicate that the Soviets are equal to the United States in some spheres of nuclear armament and rocket development. The same applies in many other spheres of armament--we need, for example, think only of the Red submarine fleet. This increase in military strength is coupled with a considerable development of the Soviet Union's economy, a development which has been enhanced by the integration of the economies of the satellite states into the Soviet system. On this basis there has been a steadily growing self-assurance on the part of the Soviets and this, in turn, has led to a world-wide political activity and expansion. It is not yet possible to judge whether the rise of Chinese Communism will affect the build-up of the Soviet position of power advantageously or adversely. It may be that serious tensions exist between the Soviet Union and Red China, perhaps ultimately rooted in conflicting ideological trends. These differences may affect the future attitude of the Soviet Union towards the Western world. But I think it would be dangerous and premature to record these possible tensions and differences at present as credit items for Western policy.
On the Western side the picture is not so clear. In the economic sector the past 12 years have without doubt led to a significant rise and recovery. Appreciable defense efforts have produced a certain feeling of security. Thanks not least to American help, the free part of Europe has acquired a vitality which is of considerable weight in the over-all potential of the free world. But do not let us deceive ourselves: the equilibrium so laboriously maintained up to now between East and West may change at any time to the disadvantage of the West. The so-called non-committed world, the emerging peoples of Africa and Asia, are vacillating. In their quest for independence they are apt to overlook the real dangers threatening their freedom in the future. And even the free states of the world are in danger of subordinating their security to the maintenance and improvement of living standards and of forgetting that social welfare alone cannot resist political and military pressure supported by superior atomic missiles. This holds good not only for security but also for science and technology. The achievements of American and European scientists in the past hundred years were brilliant and unique; but this would soon become a futile recollection if technical developments in the West were now to lag behind those in the Soviet empire.
That is the position we are in at present. What is NATO's part in this set-up? Has NATO failed? Or can it contribute to the solution of the problems confronting us?
Let us take a look at the Treaty of Washington which is NATO's constituent instrument and constitution. Only the first five articles of this brief and impressive document are of essential importance. Only one of them, namely Article 5, deals with the obligation to furnish military assistance. Articles 1 to 4, on the other hand, contain far-reaching commitments mainly of a political or economic nature which are regarded by the public at large--if known to it at all--as at most political trimming. Even in informed quarters, including our governments, NATO is frequently looked upon as a merely military alliance which owes its special importance perhaps to the extent of the danger threatening us, but which, apart from that, is no different from any other military coalition. And therein lies an error to which many a mistake, many a failure in recent years, may be traced. Anyone who regards the strongest link uniting the West as nothing more than a military alliance is easily inclined to regard the problems of the world today merely, or largely, from the angle of military security. And, paradoxically enough, this way of looking at things harbors a grave danger precisely for military vigilance and defense preparedness. Whenever the opponent alters his tactics, temporarily suspends the military threat, and operates publicly with apparent pliancy and readiness to compromise, the military danger recedes from the popular consciousness, and there is a noticeable tendency to neglect defense efforts. Visible signs of this dangerous development are the efforts to restrict national defense budgets and curtail the duration of military service.
The one-sided picture of NATO as a military defense alliance also contains the danger that the military authorities and their purely military demands may gain a predominant influence on politics. And this touches the very core of the Western world. For us, politics can never be a function of military thought, but must be the responsible organization of all the vital forces in the nation, a task to which defense must be clearly subordinated.
An alliance such as NATO, to which such comprehensive and far-reaching tasks and aims have been entrusted in the preamble as well as in the individual articles of the Treaty, cannot and must not be confined solely to the military sector, to the more passive work of organizing defense: it must regard as its main function the active shaping of a better future. Every decision, every measure we prepare or take, should aim at contributing to a peaceful order both at present and as desired for the future. Seen in this light, the tasks imposed on us by the cold war fall into their logical position and assume their right proportions, as do also any military and other measures serving to deter or, if need be, to wage a hot war. The purpose of these measures is to secure the present peaceful order and keep the way open for achieving a still better order.
In spite of the strong emphasis on NATO's military function, it cannot be said, unfortunately, that NATO's military strength is adequate. Gone is the early momentum which was due not least to the shock of the glaring Communist aggression in Korea, and which culminated in the military decisions of the NATO Council at Lisbon in February 1952. People do not like to be kept in a state of constant over-all strain. Elections and internal political struggles take their toll. All that is part of the concomitants, known to us all, of the democratic way of life, which in our view is the only form of government capable of preserving man's freedom and, therefore, the only form of government offering any prospect of lasting stability. But as the motto of the integrated headquarters of the European NATO forces says, "Vigilia pretium liberatis"--the price of freedom is vigilance--and vigilance demands a considerable measure of discipline, restrictions and even sacrifices for freedom. Inhibitions are therefore all too understandable. Nevertheless, we must demand such sacrifices from our peoples, our parliaments, our states. Just as the individual must fit himself into his family, so must governments and states in the interest of preserving their independence consciously recognize a certain interdependence.
The danger of war can be reduced without any loss of freedom only if we are at least as strong as our potential opponent. Today this means more than an adequate proportion of divisions or cannon. The brains behind the conduct of war, i.e. political leadership, are today at least as important as physical armaments. We are faced by a politically fanatical opponent who manipulates his instruments of military power with an iron hand and with a uniform, concentrated power of command. We are 15 free states with 15 independent armed forces. Each state has, in turn, its internal and external tasks and problems requiring the services of those forces. Only a part of those forces are at the disposal of NATO. All of this may be politically understandable and inevitable. But it is far from rational that the armed forces at the disposal of NATO are not all under one supreme commander invested with clear-cut authority.
We have four different command areas (Europe, the Atlantic, the Channel, Canada/U.S.A.) the commanders of which are not subordinate to one single supreme commander but to a committee, the Military Committee, to which another committee, the Standing Group, is superior, subordinate or equal in questions of military planning, but not in questions of command. And all these bodies are theoretically subordinate to the political guidance of the NATO Council which would scarcely be capable of action in an emergency, since the permanent members, the NATO ambassadors, are dependent on instructions from their respective capitals. The said commanders, e.g. General Norstad for Europe, have no power of command whatsoever over the armed forces of the Alliance in time of peace, and but a limited power of command in time of war. A British battalion cannot even be transferred from North Germany to South Germany; this is due not only to lack of power of command but also to the fact that logistics lie within the sphere of national competency. That is, the equipment, weapons, vehicles, spare parts, ammunition, etc., stored in South Germany are suitable for the United States units but not for the German, British or French units under the same commander.
The longest distance between the Iron Curtain and the Atlantic Ocean is 500 miles. It can be covered by modern bombers in a few minutes. Yet, that narrow area is still subdivided into several air-defense zones under different commands, simply because national sensibilities have not permitted any other solution so far.
I have mentioned but two examples from a long list of deficiencies in the Organization. I do not intend to set forth the military problems in detail, but am only concerned with the political problem, namely, that our policy of deterrence cannot be very convincing or effective as long as we prepare and organize our defenses all too inadequately.
We have been all the more gratified, therefore, by the new conception of setting up a uniform NATO atomic force as proposed to the NATO Council in December last year by the United States Government as part of long-term planning. This would at last be a step towards creating a concentrated NATO power of command--or an integrated NATO force, if I may be permitted a frequently misused expression which I have so far purposely avoided. No final decisions have been made as yet. There are many grave problems to be solved first, perhaps not least in the field of United States legislation. The inescapable question of a reorganization of the command structure raises difficult political and military problems. It will be our task in the near future to solve them. One of these problems concerns the increase of European co-determination in the field of atomic defense. But we have to understand quite clearly that the answer to that question has to take account of one imperative necessity: it must under no circumstances lead to a weakening of NATO's military strength.
Let us now turn from the theoretical military battlefield to the very real battlefield of the cold war. Here a dramatic battle of truly historic significance is being fought between the two blocs representing antagonistic ideologies, one of them aggressive, expansionist and missionary--a struggle for men's souls and for the shaping of the national systems of all those territories which have not yet taken a definite stand or do not want to do so at all.
While we of the West can contemplate only defense in the military sphere, we should definitely take the initiative in the cold war. We shall not make any progress toward a better order in the world and the realization of our ideals if we seek illusive security behind a political Maginot Line and are content to await the enemy's attacks and only to react instead of acting.
We are indeed fighting in a good cause. Why do we always seem to be ashamed of it? Are not our ideas of freedom and justice and peace and prosperity noble and convincing? For more than two thousand years, many have suffered and died for those ideals. Are we no longer able to convey them to others? We should not be so proud as to consider political propaganda beneath our dignity. If the citizens of a newly created state are taken in by the most primitive Soviet propaganda and act accordingly, all our fine education is of no avail, and that state takes its stand with World Communism against the West. The members of NATO have to this day been unable to agree on any concerted action in a field which for want of a better term is called "psychological warfare," and this in spite of the fact that we would have the advantage of being able to make propaganda based on truth and reality without resorting--as the Communists must--to lies and slander. The makers of the North Atlantic Treaty were fully aware of that task when stipulating in Article 2 that the member States "will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions" and "by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded."
It is in this light that we also have to look at one particular aspect of our relations with the less developed or, as we call them, the developing countries. It is certainly not incumbent on NATO to carry out joint actions in such countries. But it is definitely one of the urgent and typical tasks of our Alliance to subject to joint consideration every measure which seems likely to forestall Soviet activity and help the peoples in those developing countries to achieve and preserve true freedom.
This brings us to the question of political consultation, an obligation accepted by all but fulfilled consistently by only a few. Article 4 of the NATO Treaty lays down unequivocally that "the Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened." This text is both so clear and so comprehensive that practically all political questions of worldwide importance ought to be the subject of consultation within the NATO Council. And yet it happens again and again either that questions of vital importance to the West are not discussed within NATO at all, or that in spite of consultation, differences between NATO partners remain unbridgeable. It is no use tinkering with methods and trying, for instance, to introduce a binding obligation to consult. We are faced here with a dilemma which may be due to the fact that the actions and policies of a nation, a state, can in the last resort be determined only by its own innate forces which sometimes are intelligible to that nation alone and which, though certainly influenced by individual and collective decisions, have their roots in the national life of the people concerned. The subjective limit of loyalty to an alliance seems to be reached as soon as a nation feels that vital interests of its own are at stake; and this is particularly dangerous in the case of NATO, as that alliance is meant to secure the existence of us all. It is a matter of political wisdom not to formulate or construe agreements in so inflexible a manner that this limit will be reached or even drawn. Such political wisdom has been applied by the men who drafted the North Atlantic Treaty. We should not, in too perfectionist a mood, expect our allies to do more than they--or we--are able and willing to grant.
Awareness of the limitations of our Alliance may make it easier for us to find the place that NATO might occupy in the future system of peace that we are striving for. I am thinking, first, of the shaping of the free world, i.e. of the internal system of the West, and secondly of the future of the world in general.
As regards the internal Western system, NATO is to us a wall protecting us from hostile interference so that we may shape and organize our internal situation according to our own ideas. We have not yet found a final pattern; indeed, we may never find one, but we should never tire of seeking better solutions. However, there have been a number of successes and results that may encourage us to continue on the road we have followed so far. In saying this I have in mind, among other things, certain developments in the Federal Republic of Germany. After the complete collapse of the ignominious Third Reich we have succeeded in establishing in Germany a solid democratic system. That was possible only because the free world was ready to admit Germany to the community of free nations, thus clearing the road for reconstruction by the German people. Today our Federal Republic is an integral part of the free world, and the German people are determined to strengthen that link and never again to let it give way. That there is an evil spirit of intolerance and injustice in the other part of Germany, that concentration camps still exist there, is, God knows, not the fault of the Germans. The régime there is instituted and maintained solely by the Soviet Union.
I am also thinking of the fundamentally new relations of friendship uniting the Germans and the French after centuries of feuds--a relationship that is based equally on feelings, rational considerations and conviction.
Let me mention also the bold idea of a supranational community which constitutes a first attempt at transforming and perhaps overcoming the ancient concept of the nation-state by introducing new and superior institutional forms of relationship between different peoples. The Schuman Plan, the Common Market and Euratom may not be perfect solutions, but they may constitute a solid foundation on which to erect the structure of a political community. In my view the contrast between the "Six" and the "Seven" that causes Americans and Europeans so much concern at present is not a proof of failure but a challenge to advance towards a closer union by means of new solutions. We are firmly convinced that the O.E.C.D. which has just been created will also serve this objective. In the final analysis all these endeavors are nothing but an attempt to give organizational form to an existing spiritual, political and economic reality.
As I have said, NATO in my view is not necessarily an element of the internal system of the West but rather a guardian to safeguard its undisturbed development. All the greater, on that account, is NATO's importance as a stabilizing factor in the endeavor of the free nations to shape the future of the world in general. In the Preamble to the North Atlantic Pact the following is laid down:
The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all Governments.
They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. . . .
They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security.
NATO's point of departure, therefore, is an avowal of faith in the United Nations. From the very first, the founders of NATO stated clearly that NATO was created in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and would be active only within that framework. This condition, by the way, was also given due consideration by the Federal Republic of Germany. Contrary to the wishes of its people and government, our Federal Republic is not a member of the United Nations; yet on its accession to the North Atlantic Treaty it solemnly declared its readiness to conduct its policy in conformity with the principles laid down in the United Nations Charter and to undertake the obligation contained in Article 2 of that Charter.
Some day when all the nations have made the Charter of the United Nations the basis of their policy, NATO may become superfluous; but at the present stage the United Nations urgently needs NATO and the balance of power it creates in opposition to the system that, as President Kennedy has stated, desires to make the United Nations an arena for the cold war.
However, the common attitude of NATO partners towards the United Nations is, as regards the political reality, not identical with a uniform attitude within the United Nations, where differences exist and have frequently been expressed. There are clashes of opinion not only between individual NATO states but also within these states. The divergent views about the future of colonial regions which have acquired freedom and independence are a typical example. Nobody will deny the fundamental claim which all peoples have to self-determination and freedom. But in political practice that claim is bound up with the necessity to safeguard the freedom of those peoples. We would fail to do justice to our responsibilities towards the emergent nations if we allowed them to pass from a state of misunderstood freedom into the total slavery of Communism. The fate meted out to the peoples in Eastern and Central Europe shows that Communism is, in fact, an atrocious form of neo-colonialism. Similar problems are presented by the question of what attitude we should take towards those European states still under Soviet domination.
Thus, in the end, it all leads up to the problem of the possibilities and limitations of political consultation. With all due recognition of the momentous factors governing the political views of individual member states, we simply cannot afford to be disunited. An argument that is not supported by other nations is of no use. We would do well in this case to support a view that, while perhaps not in complete conformity with our own view, points in the right direction and has prospects of being accepted. I have the impression that Western states sometimes oppose their allies more rigidly than they oppose their opponents. I think it would be a wiser policy to confront the opponent with a unanimous view even if unanimity has to be reached by means of a compromise with a friend.
No matter whether future summit conferences or other East-West negotiations are being considered or whether disarmament or United Nations problems are being discussed, the West will have to realize more clearly than before the danger inherent in its disunity. Every one of us should abstain from carrying his point to the last extremity if such a renunciation would make it possible to achieve the unity of the free world. We should be prepared at least to listen to the arguments of our friend; the arguments of the opponent we will have to face anyway. Therefore, we should not hesitate in NATO to bring forward for consultation particularly those questions on which we have to expect opposition and criticism.
Although we acknowledge the democratic principle of the equality of all members, which also is applicable in international organizations, it is nevertheless a fact that the Soviet Union recognizes only one power as being of equal rank to it, namely, the United States of America. That fact burdens the United States with a particular responsibility, but it also entitles it to an exceptional position among its allies. I do not suppose that this is denied by any of them. This circumstance entitles the United States to demand that its allies make the same sacrifices and efforts it is prepared to make itself. NATO certainly is not a club for the defense of Europe by the United States but rather an emergency community based on reciprocity. Throughout the years past we have seen impressive evidence of American assistance and loyalty to the alliance, which, of course, reflected at the same time a sound assessment of the American national interest--the Marshall Plan, the undertaking to station American forces in Europe, and, more recently, the declaration of the readiness of the United States to maintain American atomic weapons on the Continent as long as NATO is in force.
In April 1949, the former Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Acheson, gave a clear definition of the term "mutual assistance" which might well be accepted by the other partners of the alliance. He said: "Article 3 [of the North Atlantic Treaty] does not bind the United States to the proposed military assistance program nor indeed to any program. It does bind the United States to the principle of self-help and mutual aid. Within this principle, each Party to the Pact must exercise its own honest judgment as to what it can and should do to develop and maintain its own capacity to resist and to help others." It is in this spirit that during the past months the German Federal Government has investigated in what way it could best contribute to aiding the United States to overcome its balance of payments difficulties.
Speaking in New York in 1955, I pointed out that "the Soviet version of détente policy has the attractiveness of all comfortable or, I dare say, all faint-hearted ideas." And I continued: "I think that, should the free world be so faint-hearted as to fall in with the Soviet plans, we would very soon enter a period of disintegration of the free world, and the efforts we shall finally have to make in order to safeguard our own vital rights will be many times greater than the efforts required at present to attain our objectives."
I fear that the situation is actually worse today than it was at that time, and that we all share in the responsibility for it. Great efforts are required of every one of us. We expect the United States to go ahead of us, not as a protecting shield behind which we can enjoy an easy life, but as the leader of a community of free nations which are eager to secure to coming generations a decent life in peace and freedom.
I shall now try to sum up my ideas in a few propositions.
1. NATO was founded as an answer to a distinct political and military threat; particularly the events in Prague and the Berlin blockade made the menace visible in its full significance. Perhaps the free world was only then becoming fully aware of what had previously happened in Poland, in Rumania, in Bulgaria and in Hungary.
2. The political and military threat to the free world has not diminished. The interpretation given by the Soviet Union to the concept of coexistence, too, shows that Moscow has not abandoned its aim of achieving world revolution. On the contrary, one is forced to conclude that the danger has increased. The military strength of the Soviet Union has increased many times over since 1949. In addition to the European "theatre of war," we now have, in Asia, Korea, Laos and Tibet; in Africa, the Congo; in Latin America, Cuba (to mention only a few examples).
3. NATO has proved its worth. The increasing strength of NATO has stopped the advance of Communism at least in Europe. Communism has ceased to make any progress in the area covered by NATO.
4. NATO will be able to do justice to its future task only if it is possible at least to maintain the balance in weapons technology. This requires unremitting and additional armaments efforts by the NATO partners.
5. The solidarity of the Communist bloc calls for a similar solidarity within NATO. Although NATO is based on voluntary coöperation between sovereign states, the armed forces of the Alliance will, in view of technical developments, be able to fulfill their defense function only if all those concerned are prepared to effect a maximum of integration.
6. Comprehensive integration presupposes within NATO the consummation of joint political intentions. Military strength cannot be an end in itself. The preparation and utilization of such strength requires unified political leadership. The critical remark formulated by a shrewd French politician during the discussions on the European Defense Community also applies to NATO. "There have been states without an army, but surely never an army without a state."
7. If it is necessary to reorganize the command authority within NATO in order to ensure a maximum of integration, it is just as necessary to strengthen political coöperation within NATO.
8. This necessity also arises from the incontestable interdependence of political problems in all parts of the world. Whatever happens in Africa or Asia, first affects those states directly concerned there, i.e. for instance, the members of SEATO; but any such developments also indirectly affect every NATO member state, because every engagement involving one of them weakens NATO as a whole. Consultation should lead to a homogeneous political attitude among the member states.
9. This applies very particularly to the United States, which has undertaken world-wide commitments. We should all draw the logical conclusions from the clear, courageous statement by Secretary of State Dean Rusk to the effect that the power of the United States has restricted its sovereignty. He rightly emphasizes that any decision of the United States should take into consideration the needs and hopes of those who have cast in their lot with the United States. This demands, however, the same attitude on the part of all the partners in the Alliance towards the United States.
10. This consideration results logically in the right and duty of the United States, as the strongest power in the free world and the firmest link in the chain of defense alliances, to undertake more vigorously than ever the task of leadership.
11. The other member states consequently have the obligation not to do anything likely to weaken NATO. Thus, for example, European policy should lead only to a strengthening of the West. It is in this spirit and for this reason that the Community of the "Six" has come into being. Their task is not to develop a defense conception of their own; that task can and should be accomplished only within the framework of NATO. The growing economic potential and the increasing political importance of that Community is also at the service of NATO. The tension between the Community of the "Six" and the Free Trade Area of the "Seven" is a serious drawback. To eliminate this tension is one of the tasks of the O.E.C.D. Here, too, the United States has a specific function of leadership.
12. Development assistance is not one of NATO's specific tasks. But, on the other hand, it should be recognized that the free world is engaged in conflict with Communism in the less developed countries. Hence, development tasks should also be viewed from the aspect of foreign policy and coördinated accordingly. The O.E.C.D. should, then, in the common interest, undertake or arrange for the implementation of such measures bilaterally or multilaterally.
13. Another of NATO's tasks is to prepare disarmament negotiations or, to be more exact, all negotiations on effective armament controls. Even if such negotiations are carried out under other auspices, for example within the United Nations, as has been the case so far, NATO should participate in the preparations.
14. The necessity of such coöperation, however, applies not only to armament controls. Political coördination within NATO should as far as possible extend to coöperation with other alliance systems, e.g. with SEATO. I am thinking, for example, of the participation of the Secretaries-General of these two organizations in the respective sessions of the Councils of Ministers.
15. It seems just as necessary to extend political coördination to the questions that are discussed and decided within the United Nations. The NATO allies should not confront each other in the United Nations as opponents. The attempt by the Soviet bloc to abuse the United Nations in this sense must be frustrated. The United Nations should be, and should remain, an instrument for the use of the free nations of the world to secure and propagate freedom.
I am aware that the scope of a brief article enables me to give only sketchy answers to some of the questions confronting the Western world. But perhaps I shall succeed in initiating a useful discussion by this analysis of our present position and by raising provocative questions regarding future developments.