In Praise of Lesser Evils
Can Realism Repair Foreign Policy?
"The unity of the Alliance is the basis of any successful relationship with the East." The converse of this remark by President Reagan also holds true: agreement in the Alliance on policy toward the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as agreement on political, economic and military strategy-this is the basis of the Alliance's cohesion and its ability to act.
In the Summer issue of this periodical the German view was presented on the subject of military strategy.1 I shall therefore confine my observations to questions of political and economic strategy.
Ever since the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, and especially since the imposition of martial law in Poland as a result of Soviet pressure, these questions have been at the forefront of the discussion between Europe and America. In this debate we have managed to transform crises of the Eastern bloc into crises-or rather moods of crisis-in the Western Alliance.
What the outside observer sees is truly paradoxical:
- In Poland the fragility of Soviet rule over Eastern Europe is once more being demonstrated-and more clearly than ever. A communist party, deprived of its ideological strength and no longer able to rule on its own, cedes power to the military.
- The crisis not only of the Polish but of the entire communist economic system manifests itself: Marx had proclaimed that capitalism would founder on its contradictions, but these events make it clear that it is socialist planned economies in which the conditions of production are at variance with the productive forces.
- The Communist Party of Italy describes Soviet-style communism as a system "that does not permit any genuine democratic participation, either in production or in political affairs, and thus not only stifles freedom and creative forces but at the same time checks economic dynamism as well as technological and cultural development."
But those who do not read Unita will hear little of this. Instead they will gain the impression that a crisis in the Alliance between Europe and America was sparked off on December 13, 1981, when martial law was imposed in Poland.
It is high time that the Western democracies put an end to this paradox, that they terminate the self-destructive despondency which causes them to blow up differences of opinion, such as are normal for an alliance of free states, into "crises" which render them incapable of seeing where the actual crisis exists in the world.
We must once more become conscious of the spiritual and material strengths of the West and realize that in the secular confrontation with the Soviet Union our democracies are better placed. What we need is self-assurance and confidence. From this confidence we must derive consensus on a consistent long-term overall strategy for our policy toward the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
The mood of crisis in the Alliance is focused on differences of opinion over détente. A great deal would be gained if we were to realize that the word "détente" has different meanings for Americans and Europeans.
When Europeans speak of détente, they refer to only one part of a dual strategy. The other part is to maintain adequate military strength in the Alliance to ensure its defensive capability and deter any attack on a member state or any political blackmail. In the European view, this policy of a balance of power must continue to be supplemented by détente: in other words, readiness for dialogue, negotiations and cooperation on equal terms with the East, with the aim of keeping a check on the East-West conflict and reducing tensions.
Understood in this way, détente is one of the two pillars of a dual strategy for peace. The first one, that of safeguarding equilibrium, is the foundation on which détente can be built and which is in fact indispensable for détente. For it is obvious that without equilibrium the Western democracies could not negotiate with the Soviet Union on equal terms but could merely pursue a policy of appeasement and compliance with Soviet demands.
The central element of the European policy of détente, and especially of the German policy toward the East, is the aim to establish and preserve a modus vivendi in a divided Europe-one which casts aside the basic conflict between East and West that cannot be resolved within the foreseeable future and which permits bridges of dialogue and cooperation to be spanned over the rifts formed by different philosophies and long-term goals. In this way it is intended, in the short term, to mitigate the effects of the division of Europe and, in the long term, to foster an evolutionary process in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself, leading to greater freedom for people in the East and to a genuine peace order in Europe. As the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), concluded at Helsinki in 1975, states quite clearly, the United States and Canada play a part in establishing a peace order for Europe and in the process leading to it.
Incorporated in this European policy for peace is the policy pursued by the Federal Republic of Germany toward the German Democratic Republic (GDR). We follow this policy out of our responsibility for peace in Europe. It is designed to secure fruitful relations between the two German states as well as the greatest possible exchange of information and personal contacts between Germans on both sides of the frontier. Our long-term goal is and always will be "to work for a state of peace in Europe in which the German nation will regain its unity through free self-determination." This is how the goal is formulated in the Letter on German Unity which the Soviet government officially took note of when the Moscow Treaty of 1971 was concluded.
It should be obvious to all our allies that no responsible politician in the Federal Republic cherishes the illusion that it could seek to attain the indelible long-term goal of regaining German unity by pursuing a national policy of going it alone. Rather, the Alliance and a joint Alliance policy for a peace order encompassing the whole of Europe are the prerequisites for attaining this goal.
This makes another point clear: the national interests of the Germans are in harmony with the interests of the West as a whole in seeking a favorable development of relations with the East. Nobody in the Alliance would like to see the current East-West tensions compounded by tensions between the two German states. And nobody yearns for the days when Berlin was the source of crises affecting East-West relations as a whole and thus threatening peace.
The German and European concept of détente outlined above as part of a dual strategy vis-à-vis the East is by no means alien to American thinking. The first person to develop such a dual strategy was President John F. Kennedy in his speech at American University in Washington on June 10, 1963.
In the Harmel Report of 1967, this dual strategy was established as the joint policy of the Alliance. Henry Kissinger, too, was of the opinion that a policy of equilibrium and efforts for détente belonged together. But it should not be overlooked that in the early 1970s the concept of détente was "oversold" in America, and came to be widely interpreted not as an element of a dual strategy but as a self-contained policy of its own.
The task remained the same: that of curbing worldwide the expansion of Soviet power. However, after the experience of the failure of a purely military policy of containment in Vietnam, this goal was now to be achieved primarily by a new method: the Soviet Union was to be integrated into a close-knit network of mutually beneficial cooperation and thus induced to subscribe to the principle of mutual political restraint and moderation on both sides in the field of armaments. In other words, the Soviet Union was to be given the opportunity to cooperate in the international system to its own benefit, which would thus establish a long-term Soviet stake in the stability of the system.
In the early 1970s the American and European policies of détente were mutually supportive. However, owing to the different approaches of these policies and the different expectations placed in them, it is inevitable, looking back on the 1970s, that many Americans today assess détente differently than the Europeans.
Many Americans feel today that détente has failed. They state that this policy was unable to induce the Soviet Union to exercise political restraint or moderation in the field of armaments. In fact, despite all negotiations on arms control the Soviet Union continued to build up its arms arsenal at full steam-in all categories and well beyond the extent that could be justified by defense considerations. Furthermore, since the mid-1970s the Soviet Union has openly adopted a policy of indirect and direct military intervention in the Third World.
Now, in the early 1980s, the Western democracies are therefore faced with a Soviet Union that has become a global superpower in military terms and is prepared-as demonstrated by the developments in countries ranging from Angola to Afghanistan-to make use of this newly acquired capacity for military intervention anywhere in the world.
The Europeans, and especially we Germans living at the frontier between East and West, judge this development in a way altogether similar to that of the Americans. And no less than the Americans are we alive to the threat emanating from this development. The danger now is obviously not primarily an attack on Europe in the form of a Great War. Instead the danger lies in a gradual shift in the balance of power in the world. At the end of such a process the Western democracies, and above all the European ones, would then be forced into compliance and subjugation by the Soviet Union demonstrating its overwhelming military superiority and by its control of sea lanes and Third World regions that are of vital importance for energy and raw material supplies to the West.
Americans and Europeans are largely in agreement in their analysis of this situation. The existing differences of opinion concern the conclusions to be drawn from the experience gained in the 1970s. While many Americans regard détente as having failed once and for all, most people in Europe continue to consider détente as a suitable and necessary concept. They feel that the setbacks sustained in East-West relations in the 1970s are attributable not to détente but to omissions in the pursuit of a policy of equilibrium.
The prerequisite for détente is equilibrium-the Alliance's dual strategy set out in the Harmel Report stresses this quite clearly. In the 1970s, however, American arms spending fell in real terms, while that of the Soviet Union continued to rise steadily. During the Angola crisis in 1975, the American Congress adopted a law making it clear to the whole world that the United States did not intend to become involved in the conflict. The Soviet Union regarded this as a carte blanche for an intervention by Cuban troops. On the other hand, the Jackson-Vanik and Stevenson Amendments of late 1974 deprived the Administration of the possibility of offering Moscow broad-based economic cooperation.
The question thus remains unanswered of how Soviet policy would have developed if the United States, suffering from the double trauma of Vietnam and Watergate, had not itself seriously weakened its capacity both for putting up resistance and offering incentives.
The part of the Harmel dual strategy supplementing the policy of equilibrium can be labeled variously as détente (the term I prefer), dialogue, a quest for constructive relations, or a policy of stabilization and peaceful change-what matters is that a one-legged policy, as it were, of pure opposition is no longer feasible in this nuclear age. We live in a situation unprecedented in world history, in which resorting to military means for resolving a conflict is no longer a rational option because it would entail the destruction of the " victor" as well. The ambivalence of the Harmel strategy, which regards the Soviet Union as adversary and negotiating partner at the same time, is based on the ambivalence of life itself. Détente is geared to the overriding interest of East and West: that of preventing nuclear war.
Since the days of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union itself has openly acknowledged that a war between East and West can be avoided. What appears only natural to us is in reality the outcome of a fundamental change in communist doctrine, a first breakthrough in a Manichaean concept that normally regards non-communists as nothing but class enemies. Leonid Brezhnev developed the principle of the avoidability of nuclear war into a strategy of "peaceful coexistence." This does not mean that the Soviet Union has foresworn its goal of a world revolution. Rather, a policy of peaceful coexistence serves to promote Soviet predominance (effectively domination) in such a way that a major war between East and West is avoided and economic cooperation with the West is made possible.
Hence a Soviet leadership that can expand its arms arsenal without encountering any corresponding efforts on the Western side, and that can intervene in the Third World without the risk of counteraction, will do so in keeping with the role it has ascribed to itself. It would be illusionary to expect anything else. But how would a Soviet leadership behave which, in pursuing such a policy, was faced with an adequate response by the West, involving a correspondingly high risk? In the long run it might find itself compelled to choose what it considers to be the "second best" course: that of genuine coexistence with the West. This is not Soviet-style coexistence which expects the Western democracies to yield passively to the alleged laws of history that provide for the victory of communism. Genuine coexistence can only mean living alongside one another in peace, cooperating with each other for mutual benefit, and permitting peaceful change in a pluralistic world.
The concept of a dual strategy provides the most effective response to the challenge posed by the Soviet policy of "peaceful coexistence": one part of this strategy, a policy of equilibrium, is designed to bring home to the Soviet leadership that it is futile to pursue a policy of predominance. The détente part of the strategy at the same time affords the Soviet Union an alternative, the option of cooperation with the West. If the road to predominance is permanently blocked, the Soviet Union might ultimately consider it to be also in its own interest to take up this offer of cooperation.
This dual strategy is of great importance especially now in view of the gradual change of leadership in Moscow. Any one-sided policy would fail to bring us nearer to the goal of making peace more secure:
- Unilateral concessions might only encourage the new generation of Soviet leaders to continue their quest for superiority.
- Confrontation, on the other hand, would ultimately have the same effect since the Soviet leaders would be given no other option.
It is imperative today that we avoid the mistake that led to the Second World War when the democracies, with their policy of appeasement, permitted the German Reich to gain military superiority in Europe. Equally, we must not repeat the mistake that led to the First World War when both sides lost control over developments and, despite a balanced situation, drifted into a war that nobody wanted.
In view of these considerations, we Germans contend that the policy of détente-a realistic policy of détente-should be continued. "Realistic" means that the Alliance is aware at all times of the persistent differences in philosophies and objectives existing between East and West and that it realizes that détente is only feasible on the foundation of a policy of equilibrium as one of the two pillars required for the preservation of peace.
The government of the Federal Republic of Germany has from the very outset pursued a realistic policy of détente. In its policy statement of October 1969 it already emphasized that it did not want to arouse any "illusive hopes." And I myself said before the German Bundestag on July 25, 1975, in a statement in connection with the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, at a time when détente was at its peak:
A realistic policy of détente is one which is fully conscious of its own limits. Détente policy must have security as its basis. For us there can be no security without the Alliance and its-and thus also our-readiness for defense. Anyone thinking he can safeguard his security through détente efforts alone would be a dangerous dreamer.
We Germans have acted in accordance with this perception. In the 1970s we increased our arms expenditure annually by three percent in real terms and made the Bundeswehr-an army of conscripts-one of the best equipped and trained in the world. Other European allies acted likewise.
The experience gained from détente in the 1970s is completely different in Europe from the experience gained in the United States, where defense spending decreased during that period. In America it is widely assumed that an atmosphere of détente impairs the readiness for defense, but precisely the converse is true for Europe. Europeans are willing to make sacrifices for defense if they are convinced that arms expenditure will help to stabilize peace. By contrast, an atmosphere of confrontation arouses fear of armaments.
Once we are aware of the difference between the European and American concepts of "détente," it should be possible, from this basic perception, to develop a long-term overall Alliance policy toward the East that draws common conclusions from the experience in the 1970s and provides a joint response to the challenges of the 1980s. Four fields are involved: arms control and disarmament, economic relations with the East, human rights and in this context especially the policy toward Eastern Europe, and policy toward the Third World.
The single most important question for the development of East-West relations in the years ahead, and indeed for worldwide political and economic developments as a whole, is whether another turn of the arms spiral can be prevented.
Despite the arms control and disarmament efforts undertaken thus far, the arsenals of weaponry in East and West and in the Third World have grown. It is therefore understandable that people become skeptical about arms control. But the achievements so far should not be underrated. Some important results have indeed been attained already: the Non-proliferation Treaty; the Limited Test Ban Treaty; the Outer Space, Antarctic and Seabed Treaties; SALT I and the associated ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty; and finally SALT II, which although not ratified, is observed by both sides.
Above and beyond this, arms control negotiations fulfill an important task in themselves even before a treaty is signed. They lead to an exchange of information on armaments on both sides and make it easier to understand the other side's viewpoints and assess the potentials that exist. The dialogue between the United States and the U.S.S.R. and between the two alliances on mutual security issues is an unprecedented development conducive to stability.
At the same time, arms control negotiations afford the West the most suitable forum for making it clear to the world that the Western Alliance's military policy is geared to equilibrium and not to a quest for military superiority. It is most important to make this clear so as to ensure public support for the Alliance's policy. The governments' calls for the necessary expenditures for defense will have the backing of their citizens only if the Alliance's policy is seen as a peace policy based on equilibrium. By contrast, a policy that could be misconstrued as simply one of confrontation would forfeit the support of the public.
Thus, despite the disappointments of the 1970s, the Alliance is rightly continuing the vigorous pursuit of its arms control policy. The members of the Alliance are agreed that arms control and disarmament are an integral part of its security policy. Acting in this conviction, and not least thanks to President Reagan's initiatives, the Alliance has submitted to the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact the most comprehensive disarmament proposals in the postwar period:
- In the START negotiations commenced in June 1982, the United States has proposed to the Soviet Union that both sides reduce considerably their intercontinental nuclear weapons.
- In the negotiations on intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) commenced in November 1981, the United States is seeking the complete elimination of all land-based American and Soviet intermediate-range weapons. This implies, incidentally, that the Soviet Union must be prevented from undermining these negotiations by developing further its short-range nuclear weapons. A new grey area not covered by any arms control agreement must not be allowed to emerge.
- In the Vienna talks on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Central Europe (MBFR), the allies involved have recently submitted a new comprehensive proposal designed to expedite the talks.
- Furthermore, we hope that when the CSCE follow-up meeting in Madrid is resumed it will prove possible to agree on the convening of a Conference on Confidence- and Security-building Measures and Disarmament in Europe. The purpose of such a conference is to agree on confidence-building measures applicable to the whole of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, which would make the military potentials and activities in Europe more transparent and help to dispel the fear of a surprise attack and the danger of unintentional escalation.
The aim of the Western proposals made to the Soviet Union is to establish military equilibrium at the lowest possible level. This goal will indeed be difficult to attain, but may nonetheless be viewed with cautious optimism: in the present economic situation high military expenditure is an increasingly heavy burden in East and West alike. This holds true in particular for the Soviet Union. In the 1970s, when the Soviet economy was still expanding at a rate of four percent, the Soviet leaders were able both to increase arms spending by four to five percent annually in real terms and to improve the living standard of the population on a modest scale. However, since the late 1970s the growth rate of the Soviet economy has sunk to two percent, while the share of the gross national product accounted for by arms spending has risen to 14-15 percent. The Soviet Union is therefore faced in the 1980s with the choice between bread and guns: maintaining or even increasing the existing rate of arms production would ineluctably entail drastic cuts in the standard of living.
Concurrently, in the United States the trend of declining arms expenditure in real terms has been reversed on account of the Soviet arms buildup. The Soviets can therefore no longer hope to shift the balance of power in their favor through a continued unilateral arms buildup.
Given this situation, it is quite possible that the Soviet Union can bring itself to follow the course offered by the West: that of verifiable arms limitation and disarmament aimed at parity and equilibrium at the lowest possible level of armaments.
The current discussion between Europeans and Americans is centered on the question of economic relations with the Soviet Union. We are agreed that economic relations have an important political function to perform within an overall strategy toward the Soviet Union. But what is this function?
In order to reach agreement on the function they should perform, it is first necessary to agree on the function they can perform. In other words, how important to the Soviet Union is its trade with the West? The differences of opinion start at this point, and I shall try to assess the situation from the German and European viewpoints. First of all some facts:
From 1947 until the 1960s the Soviet Union pursued a policy of self-reliance, partly under the impact of the Western embargo. Its trade with the West was minimal. However, the Western embargo and Soviet self-reliance did not prevent the country from being the first to enter outer space with its Sputnik and from catching up in the field of nuclear armaments.
In the mid-1960s the West liberalized its trade with the East to a large extent, and Moscow decided to open up its own country and the other countries of the Eastern bloc to international trade. Then, in the early 1970s, it also decided to take up credits with the West.
As a result, Soviet trade with the West grew rapidly: imports from the West tripled in the 1970s. However, by the mid-1970s this expansion had already reached its peak. East-West trade then began to stagnate for economic reasons. Trade between the Federal Republic and the Soviet Union was particularly affected by this stagnation. In 1980, German exports to the Soviet Union only reached the same level in real terms as in 1975, and in 1981 they fell even in nominal terms. This decline persisted into the first quarter of 1982, while American exports to the U.S.S.R. continued to rise steeply. The United States is now, owing to its grain exports, by far the biggest Western exporter to the U.S.S.R.
Between 1971 and 1976 the Soviet Union financed about 20 percent of its imports from the West with the aid of credits. From 1977 onward the net inflow of capital began to slow down, and in 1980-81 there was a small net outflow. Growing debt-service payments therefore gradually offset net borrowings. In 1982, however, there is likely to be a net inflow again.
How important are trade and credits for the Soviet Union?
Most experts estimate that Western imports account for about 1.5 percent of the Soviet gross national product (GNP). In the field of Soviet expenditure on machinery and equipment, imports from the West accounted for approximately seven to nine percent in 1975; this share had fallen to six to eight percent by 1979 and has probably fallen further since then to the extent that grain imports have taken priority over machinery imports.
Depending on the estimates used, the Soviet Union's net indebtedness had fallen to eight to ten billion dollars by the late 1970s. Its debts with German banks were reduced from DM 5.3 billion in 1976 to DM 3.6 billion in March 1982.
Given a GNP of $1.4 trillion dollars (CIA estimate in 1979), this net indebtedness of eight to ten billion dollars does not even constitute one percent of GNP. In order to meet the debt-servicing payments, the Soviet Union has consistently developed export capacities. In view of the unprecedentedly high real interest rates prevailing at present, this calls for substantial efforts. That, too, should be taken into account when assessing the benefits of Western credits for the Soviet economy.
The fact that imports from the West account for 1.5 percent of the Soviet GNP does not, of course, fully reflect the actual situation. Imports from the West may have a greater importance for the Soviet economy than is expressed by this percentage of their value in dollars. They are virtually indispensable for some priority programs of the Soviet economy, such as those for maintaining and increasing meat production (import of feed grain) and for the envisaged increases in energy production (import of pipes and pumping stations). Imports from the West are also important to help overcome bottlenecks. By importing technological products the Soviet Union can save time and money and obtain better quality products in the bargain.
A substantial decline in imports from the West would therefore undoubtedly exacerbate the great problems besetting the Soviet economy. But only a disruption of the grain supplies from the West would have immediate, widely felt effects.
However, all of these considerations will probably not alter the fact that the Soviet economy-unlike those of other Eastern European countries-is largely self-sufficient and not reliant on the West. While the Soviet Union's economic relations with the West have reached a magnitude making the country seriously interested in cooperation, they have not reached a volume that affords the West leverage for inducing the Soviet Union to make major political concessions. The "carrot" and "stick" are simply too small for this purpose.
The prospect of trade may perhaps prompt the Soviet Union to make concessions in the humanitarian sphere. But trade incentives cannot make the Soviet Union abandon its arms buildup if it sees in this an opportunity for acquiring superiority. Nor can they prompt the Soviet Union to exercise restraint in the Third World if it sees chances of expanding its predominance there without incurring any risks. The Soviet challenge is political and military in nature-it can be countered effectively only by political and military means.
There is even less hope of making the Soviet Union incapable of continuing its arms buildup by denying it trade. The Soviet economy is made up of two components: the military economy and the civilian one. The military economy is given virtually absolute priority, and there can be no doubt that the Soviet leadership will and can at all times allocate to it the resources it considers necessary.
While Soviet policy can thus not be influenced in the short term by either economic incentives or economic "punishment," it must be clearly recognized that economic ties are of major importance for the long-term development of East-West relations.
Maintaining the Western readiness for trade means maintaining the offer of cooperation and constantly reminding the Soviet Union of the possibility of comprehensive East-West economic cooperation-that is, if the Soviet Union abandons its policy of predominance and seeks "genuine coexistence."
Drastic restrictions on Western trade with the Soviet Union would inevitably cause the country to relapse into a policy of self-reliance and to form closer economic ties with the newly industrialized countries of the Third World. Above all, they would aggravate the political climate between East and West, making it one of confrontation. It is precisely that climate which might make it easier for the Soviet leadership to gain the support of its own population for the continuation of its arms buildup and expansionism.
It must be borne in mind that the Soviet Union is in any case facing major economic difficulties in the 1980s. Western trade restrictions could exacerbate these difficulties only to a small extent. They would, however, afford the Soviet leaders a pretext for ascribing all of the difficulties to the "trade war" waged by the West against the Soviet fatherland.
True pressure for reform in the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc as a whole comes from within. External pressure would paradoxically reduce this pressure from within. It would above all enhance rather than impair the Soviet Union's capacity for expanding its arms arsenal. If the Soviet leadership wants to maintain the existing growth rate of four to five percent per annum in arms spending in real terms, although the economic growth rate has fallen to two percent and per capita income is rising only at a rate of one percent, it would have to reduce public consumption. The Soviet leaders are therefore faced with the dilemma that restrictions on consumption would lower the motivation of the working population and hence reduce economic growth. In this dilemma, a "trade war" with the West could in fact prove useful.
Therefore, when seeking to determine the type of trade and financial policy to be pursued toward the Soviet Union by Western governments it is not a case of whether one should be "soft or hard on communism." Rather, the question is what is the most effective policy for achieving our own objectives.
A trade war would be counterproductive. We should keep this fact in mind in the current American-European discussion of the natural gas pipeline deal. If Europe were to go back on that deal, this would mean breaking contracts that have already been made. At the same time it would mean a drastic reduction in trade throughout the entire decade of the 1980s. The foreign currency earnings resulting from the additional Soviet gas exports to Western Europe made possible by the construction of the Yamal Pipeline are not likely to offset even the loss of income resulting from the expected decrease in Soviet oil exports to Western Europe. If the Soviet Union is denied these earnings, this would be bound to lead to a sharp decline in trade because of the Soviet lack of foreign currency. The U.S. Administration, too, stresses that it does not desire a trade war with the Soviet Union. But would such a breach of contract and such a drastic reduction in trade amount to anything different?
With all due respect for the priority of political considerations, we should not neglect the purely economic cost-benefit calculation. During the 1980 election campaign, President Reagan posed the question of whether the American grain embargo had not caused more economic damage to the United States itself than to the Soviet Union. This is a most relevant question. It would indeed be paradoxical if, by imposing embargoes, we were to weaken ourselves more than the Soviet Union. On July 25, 1982, The Washington Post published a report on an American projection based on the assumption that the major Western industrialized countries would reduce their exports of finished goods to the Soviet Union by one-half in 1982 and 1983. Its conclusion: the Soviet national product would suffer a loss of $4.5 billion during these two years, while the Western national product would decline by $30 billion.
All of these considerations seem to me to suggest the following course for our economic dealings with the Soviet Union:
It is in the interest of our dual strategy to maintain the current relatively limited trade conducted by the West with the Soviet Union, and at the same time to continue to put forth a long-term offer of truly significant and comprehensive cooperation, provided that the Soviet Union begins to pursue a course of genuine coexistence.
Until that time, the West should strictly orient its economic relations with the East to the three principles laid down at the June 1982 Versailles Economic Summit meeting and the NATO Summit in Bonn: the reciprocity of benefits, commercial prudence in granting credits, and the prevention of the transfer of militarily relevant Western technologies.
All of the partners in the Alliance are in accord on these principles. Our task is now to work toward agreement in specific instances.
Credits to the East should be granted only on market terms. It will not be possible to dispense with export credit guarantees, which are customarily granted by governments for capital goods exports. However, these guarantees, too, should be governed by economic considerations. The premiums should be cost-covering, and the guarantees should only be granted if the debt and liquidity situation appears to warrant accepting the repayment risk.
In their trade with the East, the Western democracies must be even more careful than in the past to prevent the transfer of technologies that might be used for military purposes. The controls of the long-standing Coordinating Committee (COCOM) must be tightened, and we must gain increased knowledge as to which technologies are of relevance to Soviet arms efforts.
Finally, the West should also be careful not to put itself into a position of dependence through its trade with the Soviet Union. The Federal Republic of Germany may serve as an example to illustrate the question of dependence. Taking into account both imports and exports, the Federal Republic is the largest Western trading partner of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, German exports to the Soviet Union amount to only one-third of our exports to Switzerland, for example. They accounted for 1.9 percent of our total exports in 1981. Ninety thousand people were employed directly or indirectly in connection with exports to the Soviet Union-or 0.4 percent of all employed persons in our country.
No one would conclude from these figures that the Federal Republic was subject to political blackmail by the Soviet Union. The "benefits" the Western media like to cite of German trade with the East are surely too small for that.
Nor will dependency result from the planned increase in natural gas imports beginning in the middle of the 1980s. These imports will only compensate, at best, for the expected decrease in Soviet oil deliveries. Thus the five or six percent of overall German primary energy consumption provided by energy imports from the Soviet Union will not rise, but may decrease. It is true that the share of Soviet gas in our overall gas consumption will increase to 30 percent; but we have taken precautionary measures to ensure that the major industrial customers can shift from natural gas to coal or oil on short notice. It should also be kept in mind that the Yamal Pipeline is an export pipeline. An interruption in gas deliveries-which would inevitably affect all of Western Europe-would thus be expensive for the Soviet Union too; it would interrupt the flow of hard currency and probably also curtail production.
In contrast to the Soviet viewpoint, which holds that détente only affects the relationships between governments, it has always been a concern of the West, and particularly the Federal Republic of Germany, that détente should have tangible effects for individuals in their daily lives. It was intended that it would contribute to increasing the personal liberty of the individual in the East, and help to make it possible for people on both sides of the border between East and West to come together again.
In the CSCE Final Act, the West succeeded in gaining recognition for this concern: in Principle VII the participating states undertook to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and recognized that this respect is an essential factor for the peace, friendly relations and cooperation among them. And in "Basket III" of the Act the participating states set forth concrete pledges concerning the encouragement of contacts and encounters between people and of the exchange of information across frontiers.
We should clearly recognize what was achieved here: these arrangements made it possible to go far beyond a mere modus vivendi in Europe on the basis of the status quo, and to add dynamic elements to the policy of détente-elements which encourage long-term development in the communist countries of Europe toward greater freedom and self-determination.
Thus the CSCE Final Act has given the West an important instrument for a dynamic policy of détente. The Final Act does not require anything of us that we are not already doing. Instead, it gives us the political legitimation to call for the realization of human rights, for peaceful change and for the gradual overcoming of the division of Europe. In the Final Act the East expressly recognized these topics as forming an essential part of the dialogue on East-West cooperation. The West is therefore vitally interested in maintaining and utilizing the CSCE process.
Détente and the CSCE process were not responsible for creating the desire for more freedom among the people in Soviet-dominated Central and Eastern Europe, but they have made opportunities much more favorable for that desire to take on concrete shape than would have been possible in the atmosphere of confrontation of the cold war. The oppression of the dissident movements by the Soviet Union, and now above all the repression of the Polish workers' desire for reform, constitute severe setbacks. We should also recognize, however, that a movement like Solidarity in Poland would not have been possible without détente and without intensive human and economic relations between Poland and the West. Furthermore, even in the cold war era it did not prove possible to prevent the 1953 uprising in the GDR, the Soviet interventions in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968, or the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. And we should be conscious of how much greater the personal freedom of each individual in the East is today, in spite of all setbacks, as compared with the 1950s and 1960s, and of how greatly opportunities have improved for people to come together across the existing borders.
The fundamental change in the situation of the Eastern European economies has far-reaching implications. Today they are dependent on cooperation with the West. The Soviet Union can no longer satisfy either their need for advanced technology or for food, and it is becoming apparent that the Soviets will be less and less able in the future to meet the needs of the other COMECON countries for energy and raw materials as well. This means that the Soviet Union has lost, along with its ability to secure for itself Eastern Europe's supply of important goods, its monopoly as a supplier as well.
Western policy toward Eastern Europe must take into account the changes that occurred in the 1970s. These changes provide the West with opportunities to exert influence on Eastern Europe that would have been almost unimaginable in the 1960s. However, we will only be able to take advantage of this leverage if we use it carefully-if we use it for a policy of small steps and gradual improvement.
The situation in Poland, where practically the entire nation is behind the demand for reforms and democratic rights of participation, provides a clear example of the dead end in which the Soviet Union finds itself with its definition of its security interests, which requires not only the loyalty of the Warsaw Pact member countries to that alliance, but also that they accept the rigid Soviet-style communist system. The Soviet Union has the military power to force that system on the people. By so doing, however, it can gain neither reliable alliance partners nor economic partners which provide an asset rather than a burden. That end can only be achieved if the Soviet Union responds in a constructive way to the desire of the nations for self-determination and the realization of their national European identity.
The CSCE Final Act points a way out of this dead end. It does not demand the dissolution of the alliances. It does not impair anyone's security interests. On the contrary, the fulfillment of the Final Act by all signatory states would give the whole of Europe more stability and more security. Maintaining the status quo in the Soviet Union's hegemonic sphere through force, on the other hand, poses a constant threat to peaceful living together in all of Europe.
Proceeding on the basis of their ideal of freedom, and with a view to securing peace in Europe, the Western democracies cannot and must not remain silent in the face of the suppression of freedom in Central and Eastern Europe; here, too, they must call for the realization of human rights and the right to self-determination. But they must work at the same time toward evolutionary change in the Soviet system of domination. In the long run, there is a good chance that these Western demands will be fulfilled, for they are in the interest of the Central and Eastern European nations, as well as in the interest of the West. Indeed, the Soviet Union itself might recognize the fulfillment of these demands as a way to achieve a more fruitful relationship with its European allies.
Assuming that the balance is secured in Europe, it is in Asia, Africa and Latin America that movements determining the global power relationship are to be expected. For this reason it is of paramount importance for the West to pursue a suitable policy as regards the countries of the Third World and their desire for nonalignment.
At the time of its founding, the nonaligned movement was directed primarily against colonialism and against drawing the newly independent states of the Third World into the alliance systems of the West. In the struggle of the nonaligned countries against colonialism, the Soviet Union presented itself as a "natural ally," and in some instances a shortsighted Western policy forced the nonaligned countries to accept Soviet support which they had not originally sought, and indeed had not wanted.
Along with the process of decolonialization, which has now almost come to an end, this situation has changed. The nonaligned movement has entered a new phase in which it is trying to strengthen and secure on all sides the independence it has achieved. The invasion of nonaligned Afghanistan by the Soviet Union and the Soviet-supported occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam have alerted many countries of the Third World to the fact that the true danger to their independence is posed by the Soviet desire for political and ideological domination. The turning point was the summit meeting held by the nonaligned countries in Havana in 1979, where the overwhelming majority rejected the idea of siding with the Soviet Union as propagated by Cuba.
This new situation offers the West the chance for fruitful cooperation with the countries of the Third World. However, it can only seize this opportunity if it does not respond to the Soviet policy of predominance in the Third World by offering a mirror image of that policy, attempting to set up spheres of influence of its own. Instead, it must stand up firmly on the side of independence and self-determination. It would then be in step with the strongest driving force behind the minds and deeds of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. And it would also be in step with historical progress.
In concrete terms, a policy of respecting and strengthening the independence of the Third World requires, first of all, affirmation and encouragement of the right of Third World countries to determine their own course. We should not attempt to export our own political, economic and social models to the Third World. And we must not allow ourselves to be misused as protectors of outdated, unjust structures. Our interests are by no means endangered by the mere fact that a developing country calls its system socialist and its economy a planned economy. The important thing is that its government is able to act on its own, and that it is not dependent on Moscow for its existence and survival. As a rule, the West will be able to maintain fruitful relations with an independent government, for it is the West, with its affirmation of the right to self-determination and its willingness to provide economic and effective trade ties and technology, that is the natural partner of the Third World, and not the East.
Second, strengthening the independence of the Third World requires an active policy by which the West contributes to peaceful solutions to the conflicts in that region.
Third, strengthening the independence of the Third World means encouraging the trend toward regional associations there. Such associations create larger units, providing protection against intervention by alien powers. At the same time they create larger economic areas which facilitate-or make possible in the first place-the development and establishment of efficient industries. Recognizing this, we Germans have become an advocate in the European Community of promoting regional unions in the Third World, and we have supported the development of different kinds of interregional cooperation between the Community and those associations.
Finally, and above all, strengthening the independence of the Third World requires economic development assistance and a North-South dialogue marked by trust, with the goal of establishing stable cooperation in a spirit of interdependence between industrialized and developing countries.
In this North-South dialogue, we should also encourage internal development strategies which include the poor masses in the process of development. For most countries this will mean development strategies that are not based on forced industrialization along Western or Eastern lines, but that give priority to the development of labor-intensive agriculture, and industries producing simple goods for mass consumption. Only in this way will it be possible to prevent a large portion of the population from being excluded from the benefits of development, and to achieve development in stability.
The peaceful settlement of conflicts in the Third World and a system for economic and social development in stability minimize the opportunities available for the Soviet policy of expansion. At the same time, however, the will of the West to respect genuine nonalignment and to keep East-West antagonisms out of the Third World constitute an offer to cooperate with the Soviet Union as well. We for our part by no means want to transform parts of the Third World into Western zones of influence, and we demand from the Soviet Union only what we expect of ourselves: respect for the independence and self-determination of the countries of the Third World.
The urgent task with which the Alliance is confronted at the beginning of the 1980s is this: in the spheres of political and economic strategy toward the Soviet Union, as well as in military strategy, which has not been dealt with here, we must maintain our ability for consensus and action, and where this ability is being threatened or lost it must be rebuilt. The NATO Summit Conference of June 9-10, 1982 in Bonn laid the groundwork for an overall Alliance strategy for the 1980s.
We must build on this foundation in order to overcome the differences of opinion that still exist in specific matters, in particular as regards the question of economic relations with the Soviet Union. As long as we have not succeeded in bringing the differing opinions sufficiently close together in individual questions, and in balancing different interests, we must at any rate conduct the discussion in such a way that no damage is done to the foundations of the Alliance.
There are two foundations on which the Alliance rests: the consciousness of our community of values and of our common security-or, in other words, the awareness of Americans, Canadians and Europeans that they belong together and share the same ideals of freedom and democracy, and of the value and dignity of man; and the awareness of Americans, Canadians and Europeans that they can only defend those ideals by working together, that their fates are inextricably bound. We are of the same kind and we sit in the same boat. In an Alliance of free nations, it is only natural that there are differences of opinion and interests as regards individual questions, and that they are expressed in open discussion. We should consider such differences to be just as normal as are differences of opinion and interests within our democracies.
There have always been such differences within the Alliance. As far as their substance is concerned, they do not seem to be any larger or more insurmountable today than in the past. What is alarming, however, is the perception of these differences in public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic, and a spreading feeling that something is wrong with the Alliance. What is also alarming is that some people on both sides of the Atlantic often seem to have lost their consciousness of the community of values and our common security which are the foundations of the Alliance.
In Europe there are those who thoughtlessly speak of "the two superpowers." And some even consciously advocate "equidistance."
In the United States, for its part, the news coverage by the media creates the false impression of widespread anti-Americanism in Europe. And that impression leads to a dangerous inclination to "go it alone." It is certainly more plausible for Americans than for Europeans to think that they could secure their future in freedom alone, without the Alliance. But it would also be an illusion for Americans to believe this. As General Bernard Rogers put it in the Summer issue of this periodical, "The simple fact is that the United States could not retain the freedoms or the prosperity it knows today through some alternative 'Fortress America' concept."
For the older generation in Europe and the United States, a generation that consciously experienced World War II and the postwar era, the basic feeling of belonging together and being dependent on each other is something very natural. The members of that generation experienced warding off together the threat to freedom posed by the Soviet Union. We Germans also came to know the Americans as generous victors who helped us to establish a free democracy and a thriving economy. The Europeans and Americans who are now 20 to 30 years old did not share those experiences. And the members of the older generation are now recognizing with dismay that they have too heedlessly assumed that feelings and insights they had taken for granted would be passed on automatically. We must do all in our power to correct this mistake. In Europe and in the United States the older generation must make a conscious effort to impart its basic historical experiences to young people. Moreover, young people on both sides of the Atlantic must come into contact with each other much more than in the past. No arguments, no matter how good, can replace the firsthand experience of belonging together.
In addition to the two basic feelings which I referred to as the foundations of the Alliance, there is another important aspect that should be mentioned: the sense that the burden of our common defense is distributed fairly among the partners in the Alliance. I consider it dangerous that today many Americans apparently have the impression that there is no fair burden-sharing.
This impression has to do with the fact that the United States, at considerable sacrifice, is currently increasing its defense expenditures to a much greater extent than are the Europeans. Nonetheless, it is not justified. Most of the European partners in the Alliance, and above all the Federal Republic of Germany, increased their defense expenditure annually by an average of three percent in real terms throughout the decade of the 1970s. During that period the United States reduced its expenditure by an annual average of two percent in real terms. Europe's share of overall Western defense expenditures (not only those within NATO) increased between 1969 and 1980 from 21 to 42 percent. The share accounted for by the United States decreased to 56 percent.
Ninety percent of the troops in Europe and 75 percent of the tanks and combat aircraft are provided by the Europeans. In comparing arms expenditures, it should also be taken into consideration that several of the European partners, including the Federal Republic and France, maintain armies based on compulsory military service; the costs for conscripts are lower than those for professional soldiers. Much more important, however, is the fact that armies based on compulsory military service provide the opportunity of mobilizing reservists. Thus the European forces can be increased from their peacetime strength of three million men to six million in case of mobilization, while the United States and Canada can only build up their forces of 2.2 million to a level of three million.
The unity of the Alliance, as President Kennedy clearly recognized many years ago, would be strengthened if we succeeded in transforming an Alliance of two North American and 14 European states into an Alliance resting on two more or less equal pillars: North America and Western Europe. Achieving this goal is a task that is primarily up to the Europeans. Those in Europe who complain about dependence on America are in reality complaining about insufficient progress toward European union. It is not the United States that is denying Europe equal status in the Alliance, but the Europeans themselves: through the inability to unite, i.e., to subordinate national interests, as necessary, to the European interest, and thus through the inability to join together in formulating and defending European objectives within the Alliance. Seen in this light, a policy toward European union is also a policy for strengthening Western unity as a whole.
From the very beginning the Western Alliance has been not only a military alliance, but above all a political community based on shared values. Hence, whatever strengthens consultations within the Alliance also strengthens the Alliance itself. With this in mind, I have suggested since 1980 that informal meetings of the NATO foreign ministers be set up, in which issues might be discussed by the foreign ministers alone, without a set agenda and without the usual array of civil servants. I consider it very significant that such meetings have now been agreed upon, and that the NATO foreign ministers will gather for the first informal meeting at the beginning of October in Montreal.
The cornerstone on which the Alliance rests is the German-American friendship. This cornerstone remains firm. There are doubtless some Germans who see "the two superpowers" as equidistant. And there are doubtless Germans who do not seem to recognize a threat, in spite of the Soviet divisions stationed along our borders.
But the important thing is that those Germans are in the minority. Precisely because they do not represent the normal position, however, their opinions and actions are regarded as newsworthy. As a result of the concentration of reporting on this minority in the American and European media, the impression is created that this group is representative. Just the opposite is true. All of the opinion polls taken during the past years have shown consistently that the overwhelming majority of Germans are on the side of the United States. I might quote two results of a poll taken by the Gallup organization in several European countries and the United States in February 1982 for Newsweek magazine.
This poll showed that the percentage of those who are positively inclined toward the United States is by far greater in Germany than in any other European country surveyed: 73 percent of Germans have a favorable opinion of the United States. Furthermore, 74 percent of the Germans made it clear that if they had to choose between fighting and accepting Soviet domination they would prefer to fight. To quote one more figure: in the most recent Bundestag elections only 0.2 percent of Germans voted for communist parties. These figures should be recognized, instead of talking ourselves into the danger of German neutralism and conjuring up the specter of a new Rapallo. The Federal Republic of Germany is a reliable partner in the Alliance. It has made its full contribution to our joint defense of freedom in the past, and it will continue to do so.
The Western democracies have a long period of constant effort ahead of them. The dual strategy of securing a balance of power and of openness for cooperation places demands on us for which we have not been prepared by our past historical experience. This dual strategy means that we must view the Soviet Union as both a potential opponent and a possible partner. It requires that our citizens make the necessary sacrifices for the cause of armament, without allowing themselves to be led into a mood of confrontation. And it means that we must negotiate and cooperate with the Soviet Union without losing our awareness of the basic dangers that exist.
The understanding and support shown by the citizens of the Western democracies for the complexity and ambivalence of the dual strategy, and our countries' success in mustering the necessary measure of rationality and self-discipline, courage and cool-headedness-these are the conditions on which the resolution of the long-term East-West conflict will depend.
Mankind is today living in a transitional period in which the forces of the old are in conflict with the forces of the new. The nuclear weapons situation forces the nuclear powers to renounce war against each other. The situation of global interdependence, calling for new orders which are not based on force, also points in the direction of renouncing the use of such force.
In the past, international order usually meant domination by one side and the subordination of the other. The order of the future, however, must and can be based only on equal rights of all countries and the nations' right to self-determination. Today every country is dependent on reliable access to the markets of others, to their technology and to their raw materials. All countries need the impulses for their own growth provided by the growth of others, and they need cooperation for the protection of the ecological balance which is threatened throughout the world. But all of this can no longer be achieved through power politics. Force can only bring about one thing today: chaos. Stable cooperation, in contrast, can only develop in an order in which all countries work together of their own free will, because they all recognize that order as just and fair, and contribute to maintaining it in their own interest.
All this is self-evident, but it is equally evident that today's community of nations remains far removed from this kind of order based on partnership. In world politics it is still the struggle for power and supremacy that is prevailing, however anachronistic this may have become. The Soviet challenge and the response provided by our dual strategy should be seen against this broad backdrop. The question of whether the Western democracies will muster the strength for a policy which, over a long transitional period, maintains a balance of power and at the same time holds out a hand offering cooperation-this question, more than any other, will be decisive in determining the future of mankind as a whole.
In the past centuries the Western countries were promoters of progress in the world. They must continue to fulfill this task. This is our historical responsibility. But there is also a vision which can give us the strength to endure the long period of struggle: the vision of a pluralistic world of cooperation in partnership, the vision of genuine peace in the world.