The October war in the Middle East was a Pearl Harbor, an explosion which revealed acute tensions between reality and the models for reality which have dominated many minds. Like a flash of lightning, it illuminated the contours of a landscape large sectors of European and American opinion, in particular, were firmly resolved to ignore.
First of all, the fact that the war took place represented a failure of intelligence in a special sense—not a failure of knowledge, but a failure to understand what was known, because the event seemed incredible, in terms of the presuppositions about world politics which prevailed in high places. Like Stalin's refusal to believe that Hitler would attack him, like Pearl Harbor itself, neither the United States nor Israel could bring itself to conclude that Egypt and Syria would make war rather than carry out Security Council Resolution 242, at a time when, according to reports, Egypt had just agreed with Kissinger in Washington on a procedure for negotiation to implement the mandate of that resolution.
Second, despite its experience with the ill-fated cease-fire for Indochina, the American government resisted the hypothesis that the Soviet Union would approve—and indeed prepare, incite, and encourage—a flagrant act of aggression in the Middle East, completely contrary to the charter of the United Nations, and to its spectacular détente agreement with Nixon, on which both the Soviet Union and the United States had lavished so much public attention.
Third, the Arab-Soviet military attack of October, and the oil embargoes undertaken to support it, were a seismic shock to the North Atlantic alliance. Much to their surprise and chagrin, the allies discovered that they were in the midst of the most serious and difficult dilemmas of the entire postwar period, divided, angry at one another, and utterly unprepared.
The crisis in Atlantic relations revealed by the October war was more serious than the other crises in the history of the alliance—more serious even than Suez, traumatic as that was—because the struggle in the Middle East manifests a major and continuing Soviet threat to the security of Europe, which the allies did not face together, and are still not facing together. Unlike the war in Indochina, and a number of other issues on which the allies have differed in recent years, the long conflict over Israel's right to exist has become not only a difficult regional problem, but, in the American government's opinion, an important tool in the Soviet Union's effort to outflank NATO, divide Europe from America, and neutralize Western Europe. In Europe, however, this view of Middle Eastern affairs was often put aside or questioned. For the most part, the European governments preferred to consider the Arab-Israeli conflict almost entirely as a regional quarrel, perceived in terms of old controversies about the Tightness or wrongness of a hundred disputed episodes since the days of Balfour, Truman, and Dulles.
The divisions among the allies over the October war were not simply the consequence of faulty intelligence, and insufficient consultation. They were occasioned by deeper causes, less available to the poultices of diplomacy. They were not brought about by the latest round of the Middle East war. On the contrary, the latest round of the Middle East war was brought about by divisions in the alliance which have existed for a long time, but have only now become generally visible. If the allies had followed the call of the Harmel Resolution adopted by the North Atlantic Council in 1967, and acted together for the last six years to protect their vital common interests in the Middle East, the risks of the October war, both for the Arabs and for their Soviet patrons, would have been far too great to consider. Indeed, had the allies been united in their policies toward the Middle East, as the Harmel Resolution recommended, they should long since have achieved a fair and balanced peace in the area.
But since the time of Suez the Atlantic allies have taken nominally different, and sometimes genuinely different, positions on an increasing number of issues of major importance, except for those directly concerned with the security of Central Europe against invasion from the East. The Middle East ranks high on the list of questions on which many of the allies have differed.
They have become so accustomed to the pattern that it no longer seems unnatural. But it is unnatural. In a relationship among nations so fundamental as that of the Atlantic alliance, a difference among the allies on a major political or economic question should be exceptional. It has become normal.
In at least three perspectives, then, the October war in the Middle East revealed error in the received wisdom of the foreign offices. 1) It proved that Arab resistance to all that has flowed from the Balfour Declaration was more intense and pervasive than many had chosen to believe. It may be that the terrible drama of Jew and Arab in the Middle East can only be resolved by a sustained dialogue between them in the spirit of Martin Buber. Until that dialogue occurs, however, the Middle East will remain what it has been throughout history, an arena where great powers exploit local passions for their own ends. It was a shock for many to realize that even moderate Arab leaders like Bourguiba and King Hussein, who genuinely believe in peace with Israel, could not fully reject a Soviet offer to sponsor a jihad. 2) The October war shattered the illusion that détente with the Soviet Union, earnestly sought since Truman's time, had actually been achieved. And 3), finally, it showed that the comfortable pattern of dissonance in European-American relations which had developed since Suez was no longer tenable as a basis for allied policy.
The impact of these events on the solidarity of the Atlantic alliance, and on the corresponding relationship between the United States and Japan, will determine the shape of the world for the next ten years at least. Will the allies rally to restore their unity—a unity nearly indispensable to the protection of their shared interests in relation to the political and military processes at work in the world—or will they continue to drift apart? Will they accept the October war as an unequivocal Pearl Harbor—a warning requiring their massive, energetic, and effective response—or dismiss it as a minor episode, as Britain dismissed the occupation of the Rhineland nearly forty years ago?
The relationship between North America and Western Europe is infinitely complex, and infinitely important: a palimpsest of relationships involving states, peoples, power, societies, and cultures in a dazzling web. Henry James devoted a considerable portion of his talent to its contemplation. Philosophers and sociologists study the similarities and differences among its artifacts. The North Atlantic universe, to recall Bernard Shaw's celebrated quip, is divided by a common pattern of social organization, common political and social ideals, and a common civilization. It shares a history of conflict and alliance whose echoes stir rivalry as often as they evoke trust. And, above all, the equilibrium of the Atlantic world is disturbed by the psychological shock of the reversal of European and American roles since 1945. De Gaulle spoke of America as “Europe's favorite daughter.” It is never easy, for parent or for child, when the child is vested with ultimate responsibility for the safety of the family.
The political and security relationship between Europe and North America took its present shape in President Truman's time, as both Europe and America began unwillingly to perceive the nature of Soviet policy.
In the United States, in Canada, and in Europe alike, it was obvious then—and is obvious still—that the territorial integrity and political independence of Western Europe are vital security interests of the United States and of Canada. The balance of world power would tip disastrously against North America if the area, the people, and the resources of Western Europe fell under Soviet control. The North American national interests in Europe have many other dimensions—human and political. But in the end the United States must always fight, as it did in 1917 and 1941, to prevent a potential adversary from dominating Europe.
The policy laid down by Truman and Acheson, and fully accepted by Western Europe and Canada, was simple and clear-cut. And it was entirely sound.
The United States would help in the reconstruction of the European nations, and encourage the formation of a united Europe—a new polity large enough and strong enough to defend itself against the Soviet Union, and immune to the disease of fratricidal war. Meanwhile, the United States and Canada joined in establishing NATO, to help stand guard until the European egg was hatched. There were differences of emphasis among the partisans of the European idea. They favored a federal or a confederal Europe, a united Europe, a United States of Europe, a Third Force Europe, or a Europe des patries. But the heart of the matter was the concept of an autonomous and independent Europe—well disposed to the United States and Canada, to be sure, but also distinct, with a personality altogether its own, capable of fulfilling its own precepts of political life and social justice. When the new Europe emerged, the United States and Canada would withdraw their military forces, and return to something like the old state of normalcy. If anyone on either side of the Atlantic had prophesied in 1949 that there would be 300,000 American troops in and near Europe in 1974, he would have been committed to the nearest asylum.
Truman and Acheson approached the problem of security in terms of the classic principle of the balance of power. That principle remains valid. Indeed, it is the only possible basis for peace in the turbulent society of nations which emerged from the crucible of the Second World War. But the world of Truman's time is as remote from that of 1974 as 1945 was from 1914. Nonetheless, the solutions of Truman's time continue to grip men's minds on both sides of the ocean.
At the beginning of his administration, President Nixon expounded those ideas in his celebrated interview at Guam—a statement of policy which has had, and continues to have, a damaging effect on men's thinking about world politics everywhere. Nixon spoke about the evolution of a multipolar world, a world of diffuse power, in which the United States would do less to keep the general peace, and Europe and Japan more. In such a world, peace would be assured by the interplay of five great centers of power—China, the Soviet Union, Western Europe, the United States, and Japan. A principle of celestial mechanics would keep these planets in orbit, and prevent their collision.
Nixon's model has an immense appeal, In America, it seems to offer relief from the burdens the United States has carried since 1945—burdens odious to the historical vision Americans have of the rightful role of the nation in world affairs. In Europe, it appears to offer an opportunity for a Carolingian, a Churchillian Europe to play an altogether autonomous and vitally important role in world politics.
The ideas of Nixon's Guam interview were erroneous when they were put forward—as still-born as “massive retaliation,” to which, indeed, they are closely related. They represent authentic American yearnings for a return to the past, but they do not correspond to the facts of life in a nuclear world, living under the growing pressure of Soviet imperial ambition.
Nixon's vision was that of a world of autonomous regional blocs. The large states would be the planets of the new system, each surrounded by satellites. Each regional system would be kept in its proper orbit by fear of the responses of the others if it should stray, or break the rules. Peace would be produced, in the 18th-century way, by the pure mechanics of the balance of power. But the Guam theory is not a permissible reading of recent history, nor indeed of 18th- and 19th-century history.
The search for a balance of power produced endless wars in the 18th century. It worked better in the 19th because the principle of the Concert of Europe was invented to guide and control it. The concert functioned diplomatically, and through occasional congresses, to harmonize policy in the light of certain accepted principles, limiting the extent to which force might be used in international politics. Its influence was sporadic, and not always effective. But until Germany began to defy the rules at the end of the century, it worked moderately well. Politics are not governed by the laws of astronomy. We can hardly expect peace to come without sustained and well-conceived effort, especially on the part of the larger states.
The vision of autonomous regional blocs is not a viable premise for American or European foreign policy. The location of indispensable resources in the world, and the patterns of trade and investment, do not allow a division of the world into blocs.
But there is a deeper reason why the notion of multipolarity is an illusion. In the context of world politics, the development of military technology, and particularly that of nuclear technology, makes the idea more and more obsolete. The geography of security no longer permits purely regional security arrangements. And the Non-Proliferation Treaty generates pressures for ultimate political orientation in a similar sense. That treaty rests on assurances against nuclear blackmail. The import of those assurances works implacably against multipolarity, and toward interdependence.
At the level of reality, it has been apparent for some years that the logic of the nuclear weapon has made Europe and the United States more completely interdependent in security than ever before. Despite the economic and political recovery of Europe since 1949, the overwhelming Soviet lead in nuclear armaments and the nature of Soviet policy have meant that the independence of the states of Western Europe cannot be assured save through a security alliance with the United States. Since it is the goal of Western nuclear policy that nuclear weapons not be used or brandished in world politics, the United States must maintain effective nuclear deterrence—that is to say, “second-strike capability”—to guarantee a nuclear stalemate.
Because nuclear weapons cannot be used, save in inconceivably ultimate circumstances of danger, nuclear stalemate must be matched by deterrent stalemate at the level of conventional force, and indeed at every other level of possible coercion. Without conventional deterrence, Soviet expansion could “nibble us to death,” in Adlai Stevenson's phrase. It follows that the American nuclear umbrella requires the permanent presence of substantial American conventional forces in and near Europe, and in and near other areas vital to our security. Without such a presence, the nuclear deterrent might well be incredible; in a bipolar or a multipolar nuclear world, there could be no return to the policy of “massive retaliation”—which was an impossible notion even in its heyday. Dulles himself never seriously considered nuclear retaliation against the Soviet Union as a response to the various Soviet pressures with which he had to deal. American and allied conventional forces in and near Europe are not hostages or a psychological trip-wire. An attack on them would not automatically produce a nuclear attack on Moscow. Their role is quite a different one, as the recurring crises in the Middle East demonstrate. Their presence means that in the event of crisis, the allied governments do not have to choose between using the nuclear weapon and abandoning important interests. Conventional forces provide a conventional alternative, substantial enough to be effective, both in itself and in giving time for diplomacy.
Thus far, the basic rule in the intricate process of mutual nuclear deterrence between the United States and the Soviet Union has been a taboo against the first shot between their own forces. It has proved a convenient safeguard against miscalculation which might become uncontrollable escalation. Save for the limited probe of the Cuban missile crisis, the United States had not used force against the Soviet Union, nor has the Soviet Union actually used its own military forces against us. We carried out our policies in Greece, in Berlin, and in Korea and Vietnam without direct Soviet interference. And the United States refrained from the use of force when the Soviets sent troops into East Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. It was the sensitivity of this rule which was invoked in the Soviet and American alerts of October 24, 1973—two days after the cease-fire resolution for the Middle East had been accepted.
The implications of nuclear logic for world politics are underscored by the rapprochement between China and the United States. In many ways, it is the most fundamental and most hopeful development in the world political system since 1949. The cause for the shift in Chinese policy was China's perception of a Soviet threat, both from Siberia and from Southeast Asia. China did not respond to the inducement of American offers, put forward regularly for many years, and pressed insistently during the last eight. It did respond, however, to the fear of a Soviet attack. The shift occurred because the Chinese reached the conclusion that the mobilization of some fifty Soviet divisions in Siberia, coupled with the growing Soviet presence in Southern and Southeast Asia, constituted a danger to the regime, and to Chinese national autonomy, despite China's own formidable nuclear capability. To such a danger there was only one possible response for the Chinese if they wished to maintain their independence—association with the United States.
The decision could not have been easy for China. Originally a Soviet ally, it became autonomous during the 1950's, and indeed a Soviet rival for the leadership of the world revolutionary impulse. But simple and primitive reasons of safety have forced it now into association with the United States, despite the ideological distaste, and guilt, this change must involve. As a result, the world is less multipolar, and far more decidedly bipolar, than it was before. This condition will continue, I should suppose, even when the Chinese acquire a firm second-strike capability, because it is nearly unimaginable that the nuclear weapon be used, even between China and the Soviet Union.
The United States has made it plain that while deterring a Soviet attack on China is the central theme of the new relation between China and the United States, that relation is not an alliance against the Soviet Union. The goal of American policy is to achieve equally correct relations with both China and the Soviet Union, based on reciprocal respect for the rules of public order codified in the United Nations Charter. As China, Japan, and the United States have now made abundantly clear, they share a profound national interest in preventing Soviet hegemony in East Asia. China desires a strong, credible, forward American presence in East Asia, and a strong NATO as well. The risks of a Chinese attack on Taiwan have vanished for the time being. China wants United States forces to remain in South Korea, and has publicly endorsed the Security Treaty between Japan and the United States. In Southeast Asia, it has supported the enforcement of the cease-fire for Indochina reached in January 1973, and guaranteed by the powers in March 1973.
The Soviet response to the new relationship between China and the United States, and its extension to Japan, has been to oppose it, and to keep it from becoming a full-fledged alliance. After all, the goal of China's rapprochement with the United States is to restrain the Soviet Union. But in the long run, the new network of relationships among China, Japan, and the NATO alliance should assure restraint in Soviet as well as in Chinese policy. That potentiality is being tested now both in Indochina and in the Middle East.
If China, with an impressive nuclear arsenal of its own, had to turn to the United States for protection against what it perceived to be a massive Soviet threat from Siberia and Southeast Asia, the lesson for Japan and Western Europe is plain. For all three great centers, and many lesser ones as well, security policy must rest on the rock of a permanent security partnership with the United States. There is no other way.
To state the problem in different words, the world is becoming more and more bipolar: smaller, more tightly integrated, and more dangerous every day—so dangerous and so tightly integrated that it may soon have no alternative but genuine peace. In the nature of Soviet power and policy, there is no substitute for American nuclear support, even for large states like Japan and China, and for Western Europe as well. And in the nature of nuclear logic, nuclear deterrence requires the permanent forward deployment of American conventional forces. America cannot withdraw its conventional forces, and provide only a sanitary nuclear response—“massive retaliation.” In most situations of crisis, from Korea and Vietnam to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba, nuclear weapons cannot be used, and crises are handled at the conventional level. It follows that the security of Western Europe and the United States will continue to require their organized interdependence. As the Middle East crisis in October made cruelly manifest, the only significant influence Europe can have in world politics is as an active member of the Atlantic alliance, that is, as a partner, and a more and more equal and responsible partner, of the United States. The European nations recognize this truth when they object, quite properly, to the withdrawal of American forces from Europe and the marches of Europe. But it is a truth with political corollaries. Interdependence cannot be confined indefinitely to the military sphere alone.
Yet at the level of belief and feeling, neither American nor European public opinion has fully accepted the force of these conclusions. In Europe, men still dream as they did in 1949 of an autonomous Europe, capable of defending itself, and playing an independent role in world affairs. And in America, strong political leaders ask why rich, modern Europe cannot defend itself without the presence of 300,000 American troops.
The extraordinary development of the world economy since the Second World War reinforces the logic of the nuclear weapon. Economic forces, like those of security, are integrating the world, not dividing it into regional blocs. The centripetal pressures for economic integration are far stronger than those of separatism and multipolarity.
The liberal economic policies launched by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman—the policies represented by Bretton Woods, GATT, the Marshall Plan, and the successive programs of national and international assistance to the developing nations—precipitated a nearly miraculous process of cumulative development in many parts of the world. The success of those policies has brought about a new situation requiring new measures and indeed new institutions if the world is to avoid a retreat into autarchy or worse.
Through twenty-five years of imaginative cooperation, the bankers, businessmen, trade unions, economists, and governments of Western Europe, North America, and Japan created an economic system of a kind which had been unknown since 1914: a closely unified economy of the industrialized nations. That economy functions as the nucleus of a far-reaching and progressive Western economic order, embracing many smaller industrialized nations, and large parts of the Third World as well. Like a magnet, it is rapidly drawing the economies of many Communist nations into its orbit.
The Western economic system is both planned and decentralized: directed, but also flexible. It is planned through the use of fiscal and monetary policies to maintain high levels of demand. And it is decentralized through its reliance on the responses of competitive markets to economic opportunities. For all its problems and shortcomings, the international Western economy has proved to be by far the most successful of all the economic systems now functioning in the world. It has raised living standards, and promoted a wide dispersal of power and opportunity. And, in countries which desired to pursue such goals, it has proved to be the solid foundation for a humane social order as well.
The fundamental economic problem which has emerged in the development of the Western international economy is structural. The economies of Western Europe, North America, and Japan are being integrated at an accelerating rate by irreversible flows of trade, capital, entrepreneurship, tourism, technology, and security expenditures. They have become a single economy in practice. But their economic activities are now more completely and effectively integrated than their institutions for economic control, and particularly their institutions for monetary management. Purely national monetary institutions and policies have lost their capacity to govern the economic relations among the key nations themselves, and their collective relations with many other nations, notably, but not exclusively, with the nations producing oil. The sheer volume of transfers required by the scale and complexity of international economic transactions today makes it impossible to manage monetary policy through a few phone calls and swaps among the central bankers, and an occasional secret weekend at agreeable country houses in France or Britain. Such methods worked well between 1945 and 1971. They collapsed in 1971 because of human mistakes, and, more fundamentally, because they were no longer adequate to the magnitude of the problem.
This structural weakness of the Western economic system—its failure thus far to establish workable machinery for collective monetary management—is the reason why inflation has become so endemic, and so dangerous, even in the relatively stable societies of the industrialized nations.
Unless the monetary problem is solved, and solved soon, the liberal economic policies of the period between 1945 and 1971 will be abandoned, and the world will retreat into self-defeating policies of autarchy and regionalism. Such a process would have more than economic costs. It would weaken the political foundations of security.
The current effort at worldwide monetary reform through the International Monetary Fund has some promise, and in any event the effort must be made. But the IMF cannot accomplish the task I regard as most urgently and immediately required—the development of a financial institution through which the main industrial nations could together manage their reserves, and harmonize their economic policies to a degree which implies unity rather than consultation. Whether the new institution is called an account, a fund, or a central bank is immaterial. The function must be undertaken.
Here, as in the realm of security, the task is beyond the reach of Europe, or Japan, or the United States acting alone. On economic problems, there is no way even to begin to plan a solution for the problem of economic control save on the basis of cooperative action involving all the key nations functioning as a collectivity.
These economic pressures for closer and closer association are not confined to the circle of rich capitalist nations in the Northern Hemisphere. China has sought to enter the circle, for fundamental reasons of national security. And even the Soviet Union seems divided, as has happened several times in the past, between the advantages of economic cooperation with the West and the appeal of its national and ideological ambitions. It has sought credits to finance the purchase of machinery and technology from the United States—and of course it has bought grain on an extremely large scale. Thus far, however, it has been unwilling to make even the minimal political concessions without which such economic relations will remain beyond its reach.
Another phase of the same process of economic integration is taking place—a process with far-reaching implications for the shape of future world systems.
For the last twenty-five years, most industrial nations have suffered from a shortage of labor; during the same period, most of the developing nations have suffered from unemployment. In many of the developing nations, economic policy has been unable to mobilize either the capital or the entrepreneurship required to use its labor force.
There are only two possible answers to this paradox: the industrialized nations which are short of labor can either import labor from the developing nations which have a labor surplus, or export capital, entrepreneurship, and management to them. On a large scale, the first course is socially untenable. The second, which has great promise, requires careful, cooperative control.
A large-scale new movement of private capital, entrepreneurship, and management to the developing nations is already proceeding, and proceeding rapidly. It is the key to the development process in Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan, Israel, Iran, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, and many other nations which are successfully raising their standards of living as full participants in the international Western economy. Various proposals have been put forward in recent years for international agreements through which the developing countries—and indeed all countries—could be assured a larger and more regular flow of private capital and entrepreneurship. The prompt negotiation and conclusion of a multilateral treaty that could achieve this goal, on fair and agreed terms, is one of the most important tasks for world statesmanship. The growth of most of the developing countries is inconceivable without it. So is the future of the industrial nations.
If the arguments of sections II and III of this article are correct, considerations both of security and of economic advantage in a nuclear world require deeper and more effective methods of international cooperation, particularly among the industrialized nations. Without such cooperation, it will be impossible to organize the coalitions which could insist on the enforcement of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations against the international use of force. And it will be equally impossible to sustain the growth of developed and developing nations alike.
Manifestly, Europe and North America are indispensable participants in any workable programs for achieving these goals in the world of 1974. The indivisible security interests of Europe and North America in the independence of Western Europe and the territories adjacent to it can best be protected by their active partnership in security and political affairs. And their indivisible economic and social interests in the continued success of the international Western economy can only be assured by an equally active economic partnership involving Europe, North America, Japan, and a few other key countries.
Equally manifestly, both Europe and America have not yet accepted these propositions as the first principles of their foreign policies. In differing degrees, they are trying to deal with the problems of 1974 in terms of the formulas of 1949. A large part of European opinion has been unwilling to draw the necessary political conclusions from the fact of European and American interdependence in security. At the same time, there is a smaller but still important body of opinion in America which prefers the illusion of American freedom to take unilateral action, as we did when we devalued in August 1971, to the often tedious task of negotiating a concerted allied policy. Moreover, both in Europe and in North America there is a considerable minority which insists that the pressure of Soviet policy is a myth, and that both halves of the Atlantic world should withdraw into their shells, dismantle their military establishments, and face the future armed only with faith, innocence, and purity of spirit.
The habit of political dissonance in the affairs of the Atlantic alliance, save on the problem of protecting Europe against an attack across the central front in Germany, has many roots, and has been visible in many contexts. In recent years, it has had two major causes.
First, all the allied governments, and most notably the American government under Nixon, have propagated the view that the cold war is over, and that the allies have reached a condition of détente and peaceful coexistence with the, Soviet Union—that the United States and the Soviet Union have substituted negotiation for confrontation.
But there is no détente. The Soviet Union continues to build up its armaments in every category on a scale that has no parallel in modern history. It deploys military forces around the world in an array which radiates an increasing threat to allied interests in many situations of conflict, to our supply lines, and to the possibility of maintaining the balance of power on which our security depends. The Soviet Union is pursuing a policy of 18th- or 19th-century imperialism, with some 20th-century ideological overtones.
American and allied policy has sought détente with the Soviet Union since the offer of the Baruch Plan and the Marshall Plan, and indeed well before that time. The only possible basis for détente, as the United States has stressed over and over again, is mutual and reciprocal respect for the rules of the charter of the United Nations governing the international use of force by states and from states. That principle will always be the essential theme of American foreign policy. The charter is not, after all, a suicide pact, and it is not self-enforcing. Under present circumstances it can only be vindicated by an active balance-of-power diplomacy. In the long run, it will be respected by one group of states only if it is respected by most of the others, and above all by the Soviet Union. At the moment, however, the United States and many of its allies talk soothingly of détente as if it had already been achieved, and live by the rules of the charter, which the Soviet Union ignores.
It is a bizarre state of affairs, recalling that of the decades before 1914 and 1939. It is no wonder that European and American public opinion is divided and confused, and that it is so difficult for all the allied governments to adopt and carry out security programs appropriate to the common danger.
The second major source of the division in the alliance has been the political Gestalt of Europe. For some time now, Europe has been needlessly paralyzed as an effective influence in world affairs because it has elected to pursue the chimera of a sharply separate European identity, at the expense of achieving a concerted alliance policy through which the combined influence of Europe and North America could be brought to bear on world problems of concern to the alliance. In many instances, it has chosen to demonstrate the existence of a European identity by taking positions different from those of the United States.
These sentences can easily be misunderstood. I have not said that the goal of a political Europe is a chimera, that it is already obsolete, or that it is necessarily opposed to the principle of an effective Atlantic alliance. The European and the Atlantic ideals are not rivals, and cannot be viewed as rivals. Indeed, the idea of Europe is inconceivable outside the framework of the Atlantic alliance. On the other hand, the concept of a Third Force Europe, fully protected by the United States, but free from the burden of serious responsibility except on the central front in Germany, is a contradiction in terms. For reasons fundamental to the nature of man, and of world politics, it cannot work much longer as the premise of policy, either for Europe or for the United States.
The essence of the problem is not the evolution of a political Europe, but the evolution of a political Europe in a narrow, inward-looking, and rather parochial mood. The members of the European Community as a group have elected to pursue a particular conception of European policy. On issues arising outside the territorial limits specified in the North Atlantic Treaty, they have tended to be so preoccupied with the quest for a separate European personality that on one problem after another they have either differed publicly with the policy of the United States, or remained entirely passive—neutral, leaving the responsibility for the protection of alliance interests to the United States acting-alone. Sometimes—as in the Middle East recently—they have done both.
The dynamic process of establishing a political Europe requires no such result. Everybody realizes that making a political Europe will take time, and that for the moment European positions are difficult to negotiate and tend to represent the least common denominator. If we really were living in a state of détente, there would be no harm in Europe's concentrating for a while on the task of European gestation. But we are not living in a state of détente. The United States is feeling the strain of having borne so many burdens alone for so long, and at such cost. And the world will not wait for a political Europe to be born. Decisions have to be made. They should be Atlantic decisions, not unilateral American decisions, for they affect all the allies alike.
There are other causes for this phenomenon, and they have all contributed to the crisis, but the root of the trouble is in these two related areas—the view that détente with the Soviet Union has been achieved, for which the United States is largely responsible, and the gradual adoption of the notion of Europe as a Third Force everywhere but in Europe itself. In short, the wounds of the alliance are self-inflicted.
Many have concluded that Europe is inhabited by a race of political pygmies, who prefer the comfortable posture of being an American protectorate, at minimal cost, to the risks and burdens of accepting political responsibility as the partner of the United States in concerted alliance policies. There are no European successors, they tell us, to the great generation of Adenauer, de Gasperi, Schumann, Monnet, Churchill, and Spaak. I do not share this view. Europe, like America, is struggling with the tension between old ideas and new realities. In the course of that struggle, European energies have been concentrated primarily on the complex problems of negotiating European unification. There has simply not been enough time or energy left over for Atlantic problems. Besides, the prevalence of mediocre politicians is not exclusively a European phenomenon. There are plenty of American leaders who qualify.
For many Europeans, it is disappointing—frustrating—to realize that Europe and North America are now just as interdependent, and perhaps more interdependent, than they were twenty-five years ago. They fear that the necessities of the Atlantic relation may prevent the fulfillment of the European idea. That sense of frustration expresses itself in formulas which discharge negative feelings in a number of ways: if Europe cannot protect its security without American help in any event, and if it is in America's interest to protect Europe, why should Europe do much by way of defense efforts itself? Why should Europe participate as an active partner of the United States in the difficult and often dangerous responsibilities of politics beyond its safe enclave? Wouldn't it hasten European integration, and the emergence of an independent European personality, to articulate anti-American attitudes, and engage in a little brisk confrontation with the United States, at least on safe subjects?
Attitudes of this kind stir vehement responses in American opinion. Why has the formation of a political Europe taken so long? Europe, these men charge, has become a parochial backwater, a protectorate without a coherent sense of world politics as a whole, or a real sense of responsibility. Why should the European nations be taken seriously, if they refuse to behave seriously?
These themes reinforce each other. The European isolationists and illusionists strengthen their American counterparts, and vice versa. Their outlook would justify a weakening of the habit of cooperation, and a positive preference for unilateral action.
This quarrel between the European and American Gaullists, as George Ball has called them, could produce irreversibly dangerous actions: conflicts over trade and monetary policies, for example, and, most important of all, a substantial withdrawal of American conventional forces from Europe and the Mediterranean.
For some years now, the interplay among these contending forces in European and American opinion has prevented allied agreement on a number of important problems.
Neutralizing the financial consequences of military decisions is one of the simplest of these issues, and politically the most sensitive. It is the nagging controversy which gives political force to Senator Mansfield's crusade to withdraw American conventional forces from Europe and from the Mediterranean.
It would seem obvious that allied security decisions should be made on military grounds, and only on military grounds. The deployment of troops, and the procurement of military equipment, should not be allowed to affect the balance of payments of any nation. The real resources involved should be paid for by the ally providing them.
The allies should have solved this problem twelve or fifteen years ago, when the dollar shortage of the early postwar period became the dollar overhang. While the alliance has made progress, it has proceeded slowly, rather grudgingly, and not on the footing of principle. Far too many of the arrangements and adjustments treated as offsets are incomprehensible accountants' devices, which do not meet the political problem in ways the public can understand. And far too many of them, still, involve credits, which is an indefensible solution for the problem.
No single step would be more helpful in clearing the political air between Europe and the United States than a European initiative to take the dollar sign out of security dispositions. What is needed is an ongoing alliance lend-lease program, which assured everyone that each ally was providing the resources needed from his country for the common defense, and that no country's balance of payments would be hurt, or improved, by the security decisions of the alliance. Such a program would be simple and comprehensible. And it would improve the climate for every other subject on the agenda, most especially for progress toward sanity in monetary affairs.
In that critical realm, too, the dream of an autonomous as distinguished from an Atlantic Europe has delayed the acceptance of reality on both sides of the ocean. I contended earlier that the development of an integrated Western international economy requires the establishment of a new institution for governing the monetary relations among the key industrial nations. But it has been impossible thus far to persuade that horse to run. The Europeans have been largely preoccupied with the problems of forming a European monetary union, and have been unwilling to consider an Atlantic-Japanese alternative. Progress in that effort will be governed by the cynical rule that things must get worse before they can get better. One might have supposed that they have been bad enough since August 1971 to stir even governments to rational action. In any event, things are all too likely to get much, much worse in the field of monetary affairs as the weapon of the oil embargo, and the new level of oil prices, explode all over the world.
The energy problem was a matter of intense concern for five or six years before the October war in the Middle East, with its catastrophic new techniques of economic warfare. The world energy crisis is not so much a matter of absolute petroleum shortage as it is a monetary crisis, and a political and security crisis. Under existing monetary arrangements, no nation's balance of payments can sustain the transfer problems looming up. And—as is now obvious—it is hardly prudent to put national economic life, and national safety, at the mercy either of Soviet fleets or of political policies altogether inadmissible to the code of international law: policies, that is to say, which threaten the political independence of sovereign nations. Many of the ablest Western oil experts have long urged our sluggish and unwilling governments to face the issue and do something about it. Their warnings were ignored.
Here again, the only policy in everyone's interest is a policy of close collaboration among Europe, North America, and Japan. The rational course, as Secretary Kissinger has recently urged, is surely deepened integration, not fragmentation; solidarity, not autarchy and unilateralism. But thus far both Europe and Japan have preferred to seek separate bargains with the Arab oil states, rather than join forces with the United States. Here, as in every other field where the pattern of separatism has been tried, the result has been disastrous.
There are no easy solutions for the energy problem of the world at large, and particularly for the energy problem of the OECD nations. But surely their bargaining position in relation to the oil-producing states would be stronger if they acted together; and together they should be able to press forward more effectively with the development and use of alternative sources of energy.
The October war in the Middle East was the culminating stage, thus far at least, in the process of political division among the Atlantic allies. On both sides of the Atlantic, it suddenly became clear that unilateralism had gone too far. The event was so important to the security of Europe, and so disturbing in other ways, that it was generally perceived by the allies—after the event—as a wound to be healed as quickly as possible. The December ministerial meetings of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels registered a turning of the tide. For the first time in five years the forces within the alliance making for allied solidarity have gained, and those of separatism and unilateralism have diminished in strength.
What used to be called “the Eastern Question” has bedeviled European politics for millennia. It bedeviled the relationship among the allies during the Second World War, and has continued to do so ever since. Dakar, Casablanca, and Syria were neuralgic moments during the war, as Palestine, Algeria, Suez, and the successive wars against Israel were later on.
But except for France, the Atlantic allies were politically united during and after the Six-Day War of 1967. They were at the center of an intense and sustained diplomatic effort based on a common policy, which was developed and adapted through extensive and nearly continuous consultations. Despite differences with France on Middle East questions at the time, Great Britain and the United States, who took the lead in the diplomacy of the 1967 crisis, kept France fully informed, and regularly exchanged views with French representatives.
The pattern of 1973 was entirely different. Nothing mattered except the course of the war itself, and Soviet-American diplomacy. The United States did not undertake from the beginning an orchestrated and worldwide campaign, as it did in 1967 and 1968, to explain its policy to the Atlantic allies and to other governments, friendly and not-so-friendly alike, and to develop common positions with them where possible. We had full public support only from the Netherlands and from Portugal. Europe as such was on the sidelines, neutral, and often at odds with the United States.
To some extent, the 1973 gap among the allies may have been the consequence of a difference in diplomatic styles. Nixon and Kissinger have never practiced alliance and multilateral diplomacy as Johnson and Rusk did. They seem to prefer the drama of tête-à-tête bargaining—which invariably worries and irritates interested nations who are not present or well-briefed.
But Nixon's diplomatic style does not really explain the serious division among the Atlantic allies during the Middle East crisis of 1973. If the European allies had wished to consult with the United States, and reach a concerted alliance policy on Middle East problems, they could have insisted on doing so, either in Brussels or in Washington.
The basic cause of the split was different. As early as 1970, the Europe of the Six began to develop a European Community position on Middle East questions, and particularly on the settlement of the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. A European policy on these issues was hammered out—a position which differed sharply from that of the United States on certain critical points. A great deal of hammering was necessary before a unanimous European position was reached, and many compromises were made in order to obtain French acquiescence. The major goal of the exercise was to take a first step toward transforming the Community into a political as well as an economic body. Thus a unanimous position among the Six was considered to be a good in itself, almost without regard to the merits of the policies adopted, or their influence on the course of events.
As Britain approached the Community, it modified its policies of 1967 and 1968, and embraced the Community views on the issues in controversy. During the lengthy period when the Harmel Committee and the Davignon Committee of the European Community were debating these problems, a rule of secrecy was invoked, and normal diplomatic exchanges with the United States on the subject were suspended. After the Community position was achieved, it was discussed with the United States, with Israel, and with the Arab states, but it could not be changed without a further round of difficult negotiation among the Six, and now the Nine.
As a matter of form, the differences between the European Community and the United States on the problems of the Arab war against Israel concern the interpretation of Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967, which called on Israel and its Arab neighbors to reach agreements establishing a condition of peace, in accordance with principles and provisions stated in the resolution. The significance of the disagreements among the allies can be understood only in the context of the history of the Palestine problem, and of the legal norms which have been applied, stage by stage, in resolving it.
The paragraphs which follow attempt to evoke a few of the high points of that story, in synoptic form.
At the end of the First World War, the ancient Ottoman Empire was dismembered by treaty. Large parts of its Asiatic territories were transferred to the authority of the League of Nations, which established Mandates for many of them, with Britain and France as trustees. The region called Palestine was one of Britain's Mandates, under a special charter, different from that of the. other mandates. It embodied the Balfour Declaration of 1917, “in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” The Mandate recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country. And Article 6 required the mandatory power to facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions “while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced.”
The boundaries of the Palestine Mandate did not correspond to ancient maps, nor even to Turkish administrative arrangements. Britain and France bargained hard over the northern boundaries, since France was the mandatory power in what is now Lebanon and Syria, and the British authorities in Egypt, which was at that time a British protectorate, were much involved in establishing the western boundary of the mandated territory.
When the charter of the United Nations was drafted, Article 80 provided, with the Palestine Mandate in mind, that except as may be agreed in new trusteeship agreements, and until such agreements have been concluded, “nothing in this Chapter shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any States or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.”
The ultimate Arab position has always been that the Palestine Mandate was beyond the powers of the League of Nations, which was authorized by the covenant of the League, in Arab opinion, only to administer mandated territories as “a sacred trust” for the benefit of the existing inhabitants of the territories. The inhabitants, in turn, were to be prepared for self-government as rapidly as possible, and the territories then transferred to them.
The Arab argument against the legality of the Mandate has been repeatedly and authoritatively denied. But it continues to be asserted, and is, in fact, the first legal predicate for the Arab claim of a “right” to destroy Israel. It symbolizes a deep and widespread Arab conviction that the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate were an injustice to the Arab peoples—a taking of their lands without their consent.
In the late 30's, Britain concluded that the twin principles of the Mandate were unenforceable. Arab resistance to large-scale Jewish immigration, and to the rapid evolution of the Jewish Agency as the embryo of a state, was becoming more and more determined, and more violent. The territories of the Mandate west of the Jordan had been separated by Great Britain from the Mandate administration in 1922, and taken over by the new Kingdom of Transjordan, without objection from the League. In the 30's, and again after the Second World War, Britain proposed a further partition of the remaining territories of the Mandate into Arab and Jewish areas of settlement, with a special regime for Jerusalem. Other schemes were also considered at the time—a unified binational state in the mandated region, like Lebanon in political character, or a new trusteeship under a modified mandate from the United Nations.
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, Britain began to discuss the Palestine question with the United States, for the same reasons which led her to raise Greece and other problems with us. Britain was hard pressed at home. The imperial impulse had died, victim of the war. The nation was retreating from empire, and seeking to arrange for stable and responsible transitions of power, in many instances by persuading the United States to take the falling baton. Furthermore, Palestine was becoming impossibly difficult to govern, as the conflict among the communities became steadily more intense. When it became clear that the United States would advise Britain with the utmost freedom, but take no responsibility whatever for Palestine, Britain decided to give up the Mandate, and return the territory to the authority of the United Nations. Although there is a hiatus in the charter on the problem, Britain assumed—as everyone else has done since—that the United Nations has inherent jurisdiction over the surviving League mandates, both as the legal successor of the League, and because there is no other conceivable solution for the problem. This is the legal basis for the United Nations position on Southwest Africa.
After tumultuous negotiation and debate, the Assembly of the United Nations received a report from its Special Committee recommending a plan for the future government of Palestine—the famous plan for partitioning the territory into an Arab and a Jewish state, joined in economic union, with a special regime for Jerusalem. In turn, the Assembly recommended the adoption of that plan on November 29, 1947, and requested the Security Council to take the necessary measures for its implementation, including a “determination” by the Council that any use of force to alter the settlement envisaged in the resolution be considered a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression. While the General Assembly has special authority under Article 85 of the charter to exercise all the functions of the United Nations with respect to trusteeship agreements, it did not attempt to make its recommendation of the 1947 partition plan binding under Article 85.
As the end of the Mandate approached, in May 1948, it became apparent that the Arabs of Palestine and of neighboring countries would fight the partition plan, which the Jews had accepted. With chilling irresponsibility, the Security Council did nothing, and remitted the outcome to trial by battle, qualified only by a series of calls for an end to the fighting within Palestine. As the British gave up the Mandate, the State of Israel was proclaimed for the territories of Palestine allotted to the Jews under the partition resolution, and recognized by the United States and the Soviet Union, and then by other countries. The Arab armies marched against it across the frontiers of the mandated territory.
The war of 1948-49 occurred in stages, interrupted by short truces. As the Israeli forces slowly gained the initiative, and finally defeated the Egyptian army in the Eastern Sinai, the Security Council passed a series of resolutions which gave legal form to the outcome of the fighting. After Egypt had been decisively defeated in a campaign from which the other Arab states abstained, the Security Council pressed successfully for the armistice agreements of 1949, negotiated at Rhodes—the only formal agreements thus far reached between Israel and its Arab neighbors. And it set up machinery through which the parties might make peace. Within the armistice demarcation lines, Israel became a member of the United Nations, generally recognized by the international community. In 1951 the Security Council found that the armistice regime is of a permanent character, precluding acts of hostility among the parties, and that neither party can reasonably assert that it is actively a belligerent, or claim belligerent rights against the other, including the right to visit, search, or seize vessels transiting the Suez Canal.
This pattern of decisions reflected a collective judgment that the Arab states had been in the wrong in attacking Israel in 1948; that Israel had come into existence legitimately, through proclamation, recognition, and the exercise of its inherent right of self-defense as a state; and that the Arab states were obliged to make peace with Israel in full conformity with the charter. The armistice agreements provide, at Arab insistence, that the armistice demarcation lines of 1949 are not political boundaries, but can be changed by agreement when the parties move from armistice to peace.
The settlement of 1949 faithfully applied the norms of the charter with respect to the international use of force. States cannot use or threaten the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state. They are responsible for all international uses of force from their territory—whether by their own armed forces, or by guerrilla groups, armed bands, or territorists. Emerging from the chrysalis of the Mandate, Israel was a state, in fact and in law, and was entitled to use force in its own defense. Having used force legally to resist the Arab attacks of 1948, it was entitled to all the protections of the charter behind the armistice lines, until those lines were altered by agreement when peace was made.
Between 1949 and 1956, the circumstances of world politics changed. The Soviet Union, restrained in Europe and then in Korea, pressed forward in the Middle East. Having supported Israel in 1947 and 1948, it turned to the Arabs, and by the middle 50's had laid the foundation for its present-day relation with Egypt. Britain and France had grievances against Egypt—France because of Egyptian support for the rebels in Algeria, both nations because of the nationalization of the Suez Canal. And Egypt, sustained by Soviet arms, renewed its interest in the Palestine question. It closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, as it had previously closed the Suez Canal. The Straits are an international waterway connecting two parts of the high seas. Closing them to Israeli shipping was an act of force, a blockade, justifying an Israeli use of force in self-defense. In addition, Egypt began to allow—or to encourage—guerrillas to use its territory as a base from which to attack Israel.
In settling the Suez war, the international community sharply distinguished the legal positions of Britain and France, on the one hand, and of Israel on the other. No justification was found for the French and British attack on Egypt. But the decision as to Israel's part in the Suez operation was different. United Nations forces were emplaced in the Gaza Strip, along the Sinai frontier, and at Sharm el-Sheikh to protect Israel against Egyptian attack, and above all to protect Israel in its right to use the Straits of Tiran as an international waterway. These dispositions necessarily derive from a judgment that Israel's participation in the Suez affair was based in large part on her legitimate right of self-defense.
The settlement of 1957 between Israel and Egypt was negotiated by the United States, as go-between. Israel was induced to withdraw from the whole of the Sinai, without peace, in exchange for a series of promises, embodied in carefully prepared statements before the General Assembly, and other forums: Egypt would make peace in due course; the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran would be open to Israel; and Egypt would take responsibility for stopping guerrilla attacks against Israel from Egypt and from the Gaza Strip. And it was expressly stipulated that if Egypt ever used force to close the Straits of Tiran, Israel would be justified in using force to open them, as an act of self-defense. It was also understood that if Egypt ever attempted to withdraw the United Nations Emergency Force, the Secretary General would undertake extended consultations before the withdrawal occurred.
The peculiar form of the 1957 settlement was a concession to Arab sensibilities, in order to permit Nasser to pretend that he was still loyal to the Arab policy of “no peace with Israel, no negotiations, and no recognition.”
All these promises were broken, one by one, until Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran in May 1967, put large forces into the Sinai, formed a united Arab command, mobilized Arab armies around Israel, and thus made the Six-Day War nearly inevitable. As a high American official said at the time: “When Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran, he cut our throat from ear to ear.” These acts constituted an armed attack on Israel. Under the charter, and the international understandings of 1957, Israel was authorized to use force in self-defense. This is why the United Nations rejected every proposal to characterize Israel as the aggressor in 1967.
For twenty years, the United States, Great Britain, and a number of other allies have been concerned about the process of Soviet penetration in the Near East and the Mediterranean area. I do not mean to suggest that the Arab-Israeli conflict has no existence of its own. Of course it does. But the Arab-Israeli quarrel became a threat to world peace only because the Soviet Union has been exploiting it as a most effective weapon of its own policy. The Arab grievance at the existence of Israel is used in all the Arab countries to arouse political tides which no Arab statesman, however moderate, can ignore. These nationalist pressures are used to radicalize the moderate Arab regimes, break their ties to the West, and thus, hopefully, permit the Soviet Union to gain control of the oil and space of the region as a means for outflanking NATO from the south, neutralizing Europe, and driving the United States out of the Mediterranean and Europe itself.
So ambitious a program required the forcing-ground of war. The Arab attacks on Israel since the middle 1950's could not have occurred without deliberate Soviet supplies of more and more sophisticated arms, which nullified the policy of the Tripartite Declaration of 1950.
In 1967, the North Atlantic Council resolved to pursue studies and consultations about security interests of the alliance that might be threatened by developments outside the area defined in the North Atlantic Treaty, which, the Council said, “cannot be treated in isolation from the rest of the world.” It resolved that the allies should examine with particular attention the defense problems of the Mediterranean basin. The resolution provided for a standing body of the North Atlantic Council, open to interested members of the alliance, to deal with Middle East and Mediterranean questions. Through the work of that body, a concerted alliance policy toward these questions could have been developed. The allies are now paying a heavy price for their failure to follow that course.
What has happened since is now all too clear. The Soviet plan was the same in 1967 and in 1973: using Arab hostility to the existence of Israel as a catalyst, to initiate a war which would have certain clearly defined goals—first, by arousing Arab nationalist passions to a fever pitch, to radicalize the moderate Arab regimes, à la Iraq, and to bring them under Soviet influence and ultimately under Soviet control; second, to divide Western Europe from the United States; and third, to create a situation in which Israel would be in danger, and the United States and other nations would be drawn into conflict and perhaps into war with the whole Muslim world. The Soviets have repeatedly used two metaphors to describe their purpose—a war which would be worse for the United States than Vietnam; and a return for the Cuban missile crisis. In Cuba, after all, the outcome was entirely in American hands, if the issue were pushed too far. In the Middle East, as has been apparent since October, the problem is entirely different. It is the risk of Soviet control of the great arc between Morocco and Iran—the risk President Pompidou once described as a threat to the soft underbelly of Europe, and a continuing Cuban missile crisis. And it was also a risk of confronting the horrifying moral and political dilemma of standing by while Israel was destroyed. For the Arab armies, had they been successful, would not have stopped at the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip.
In 1967, as the Soviets said at the time, they overestimated the Arabs, and underestimated the Israelis. They have spent six years, and many billions of dollars since then, in training, equipping, and preparing the Egyptian and Syrian armed forces for the October 6, 1973 attack.
The nominal political issues of the October war and the peace negotiations at Geneva concern Security Council Resolution 242, adopted in November 1967, after five months of hard diplomatic effort by Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, and many other nations.
There were three positions taken in the 1967 debates before the United Nations and elsewhere about the legality of the Six-Day War. The Soviet Union and the Arabs urged the condemnation of Israel as the aggressor, and action by the Security Council to force her back at once to the 1949 borders, with a few nugatory concessions about the status of the Straits of Tiran as an international waterway. Israel took the view that the Arab states had repudiated the armistice agreements of 1949 by waging aggressive war against her, and that peace should he negotiated by the parties, without outside assistance, from the ceasefire lines established at the end of the Six-Day War. The United States, her European allies (except for France), and a stable majority of the United Nations took a third view, drawn from the long history of the controversy. The major premise of that view, which ultimately prevailed, was that the time had come to make peace, and that the refusal of the Arab states since 1949 to make peace with Israel had become a burden to world peace. The judgments behind Resolution 242 all derived from this basic proposition. As for the immediate circumstances leading to the outbreak of large-scale hostilities, the Security Council declared that Israel had full rights of navigation both in the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran, and indeed through all the international waterways of the area.
The form and structure of Resolution 242 were determined by the experience of 1957, which was vivid in every mind when Resolution 242 was drafted and debated. This time, the Security Council said, there should be no Israeli withdrawals until Egypt and the other Arab states actually made peace, and took public responsibility for the terms of peace. The resolution constituted a “package deal,” withdrawal for peace. The peace agreements, it was provided, should settle the refugee question; establish guarantees for maritime rights through the Suez Canal, the Straits of Tiran, and other international waterways of the region, and guarantees also for border security, including demilitarized zones; and establish secure and recognized boundaries, to which Israel should withdraw.
Until the parties reached the agreement called for by paragraph 3 of Resolution 242, Israel had the right to remain in the territories it occupied in 1967, as the occupying power under international law. The use of force to disturb that occupation would be a breach of the charter, and of the resolutions of the Security Council interpreting and applying it. This is the reason why the Arab attack on Israel of October 6, 1973, ostensibly to recover the occupied territories, is so flagrant an act of aggression. It is notable that no attempt has been made to justify that attack under international law.
On this central feature of the resolution, Europe and the United States have been in full agreement. They have seemed to disagree in recent years on an important but secondary point: whether the secure and recognized boundaries to which Israel would withdraw, after peace is made, should be the armistice demarcation lines of 1949.
It was made clear in 1967, when the resolution was adopted, that the new boundaries need not be the armistice demarcation lines of 1949, as they stood on June 4, 1967. In a passage much discussed, and hotly debated, the resolution calls for Israeli withdrawal “from territories”—and not from “the territories”—occupied during the Six-Day War. The resolution is based on a number of principles, including the principle of “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” The concept of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war applies differently when territory is acquired by aggressive war than when it is occupied in the course of legitimate self-defense, as the 1949 settlement attests. The Council reconciled the competing ideas of the resolution by basing its resolution, so far as boundaries are concerned, on the armistice agreements of 1949, which provide, as I noted earlier, that the demarcation lines are not political boundaries, and could be changed by agreement when the parties move from armistice to peace. The text of the resolution and the debates over its passage, as well as statements by President Johnson, Lord George-Brown, Michael Stewart, Secretary of State Rogers, Lord Caradon, Sir Harold Beeley, and others confirm this position. No scholar has yet challenged this construction of the resolution, in terms of the evidence on which it rests.
The European Community and some other nations now profess to disagree with the United States on this point. To justify their position, they rely on the French text of the resolution, which speaks of Israeli withdrawal “des territoires” occupied during the Six-Day War, as a translation of the English text, which calls for withdrawal only “from territories” occupied during the conflict. When this version appeared, the United States and Great Britain protested to the United Nations, only to be told that the French language permitted no other translation of the English text. Since several amendments expressly requiring Israeli withdrawal from “all the territories” it had occupied in the course of the war had been defeated, without recourse to the veto, and since the debates on the subject were altogether explicit on the point, the matter was dropped.1
The 1967 resolution called upon the parties to fulfill its terms by reaching agreement with the assistance of Ambassador Jarring. What has blocked that process until now has not been Israeli “intransigence” or “arrogance,” words freely used both in the press and in diplomatic conversations, but a steady and consistent Egyptian refusal to accept any feasible procedure, direct or indirect, for negotiating the agreement required by Resolution 242. The only exception I know to that position on the part of Egypt is the extraordinary fact that in the week before October 6, the Egyptian Foreign Minister is reliably reported to have agreed in Washington to so-called “proximity talks” with Israel for the purpose of carrying out Resolution 242—private procedures for negotiating in separate rooms, with an American go-between. These negotiations played a part in Israel's failure to mobilize during the week before the war broke out again.
They played a part as well in the cease-fire resolution of October 22. The United States refused to consider any cease-fire which did not contain the mandatory language of the October 22 resolution, a binding “decision” of the Security Council which requires the parties at long last to negotiate peace in accordance with the principles and provisions of the 1967 resolution. This provision has transformed the politics of the Arab-Israeli problem. After twenty-five years of entreaty, the Security Council has now ordered the Arab states to make peace with Israel.
If at any time between 1967 and 1973 Egypt had been willing to go to Geneva for a public conference to negotiate an agreement with Israel for the implementation of Resolution 242, it could have obtained far more favorable terms than any it is likely to obtain now. During the entire period, the words “conference,” “Geneva,” and “negotiation” were forbidden words, connoting peace. Diplomacy had to find ambiguous substitutes.
On paper, at least, there is a new and more hopeful diplomatic situation. The Arab summit conference at Algiers, unlike the Khartoum conference of 1967, abandoned the formula of “no peace, no recognition, no negotiations.” It did not forbid the Geneva conference. Nor did it require a commitment in advance of that conference to the “French” interpretation of Resolution 242 which the Arabs have now required Europe, Japan, and many other nations to espouse in order to obtain oil.
In fact, of course, the political posture of Israel and the United States in the Geneva conference is widely regarded as less favorable than the simple command of the Security Council resolution of October 22, 1973 would suggest. That command reflects the silent judgment of international law and politics as to the true cause of the five wars against Israel since 1948—the Arab refusal to accept the irreversible decisions of history, and make peace with Israel. On the other hand, an outcry now suggests that Israel's bargaining position and that of the United States have been weakened by the oil embargoes; by the diplomatic “isolation” the Arab states have sought to impose on Israel; and by the apparent mobilization of voices throughout the world demanding quick Israeli withdrawals on almost any terms. But Israel's diplomatic isolation is more apparent than real. The coercive tactics involved in organizing the political boycott of Israel are widely resented. The bargaining position of the Soviet Union has been weakened by Israel's brilliant military victory. And the inherent strength of the American position, especially if the Atlantic allies come together quickly on a concerted political line, is unassailable, so long as we do not lose our nerve, or our patience.
If Egypt has now finally decided to make a genuine peace with Israel, the problems between the two nations are simple—far simpler than those between Israel and Jordan. A fair and balanced peace agreement between Egypt and Israel should not be difficult to negotiate. After all that has happened, and especially after the Arab attack of October 6, 1973, Israel has a right to have the whole of the Sinai demilitarized. Most students of the problem have long contended that the complete demilitarization of the Sinai is the key to peace between Israel and Egypt. This view would be supported, tacitly at least, by Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the smaller states of the Persian Gulf, who wish to be protected against the threat of Egyptian hegemony. They have not forgotten the war in the Yemen, and many other events.
Once the principle of demilitarization is accepted, the other bilateral problems between Egypt and Israel fall into place. Egypt has always advocated Israeli withdrawals in accordance with a timetable. And withdrawal over time is surely a sensible approach to the problem of protecting Israeli security against the risks which materialized on October 6. The stages of the timetable should be measured not simply in years, but by the realization of political conditions as well—the end of the Arab economic and political boycott, and the establishment of normal economic, political, diplomatic, and human relations. Only such steps could begin to diminish the fevers of twenty-six tragic years of Arab resistance to the existence of Israel. In the context of the total demilitarization of the Sinai, the question whether the Sharm el-Sheikh area should be annexed becomes a secondary, though still an important, issue. Aggression should not be costless, in any system of law. In any event, Israel should occupy the region—perhaps under a lease—for a long time.
On the problem of boundaries, the parties should be free to agree on a wide range of procedures for establishing and securing definitive boundaries, ranging from annexations, leases, and condominiums to extraterritorial arrangements, custodianships, and special corridors.
In this connection, it should be noted that the status of the occupied territories under international law is quite different. While Egyptian sovereignty in the Sinai is controversial, Israel has not recently contested the Egyptian territorial claim in that area. Egypt makes no claim of sovereignty over the Gaza Strip. And the claim of Jordan to sovereignty in the West Bank has never been recognized internationally by the United States and many other countries. They regard Jordan as the occupying power in that region, under the armistice agreements of 1949, holding part of the mandated territories as a result of the fighting which followed the Arab armed attack on the partition plan recommended by the General Assembly in 1947.
Resolution 242 also calls upon the parties to reach a just settlement of the refugee problem as an integral part of their agreements of peace.
Manifestly, all the nations should approach this serious human and political issue magnanimously. Like many other problems of refugees and displaced persons, it is an issue which concerns the international community as a whole.
In order to facilitate a solution of the problem, the international community should arrange a series of alternatives for the Arab refugees—the possibility of immigration to Brazil, Canada, and many other countries, as well as to Arab nations. They should be allowed to elect among these alternatives through secret procedures of individual choice. A reasonable number could well be allowed to return to Israel, pursuant to proposals of the kind Israel has made from time to time in the past, especially to facilitate family reunions.
A fair compensation plan should be a basic element of any refugee settlement.
On the much mooted problem of Palestinian self-determination, Resolution 242 remits the issue to the Kingdom of Jordan, which has been recognized by the international community since 1922 as the state which should include the Arab parts of the lands taken from Turkey at the end of the First World War, and included in the Palestinian Mandate by the League of Nations.
There is deep and widespread anger in the United States at several aspects of European policy toward the Middle East in October: the British arms embargo; the political position taken by many European governments; and the protests about American arms shipments to Israel from American bases in Europe.
The American reproach to Europe is twofold: 1) The United States has objected that many European states, and the Community as a group, abandoned Resolution 242 by urging an advance commitment to Israeli withdrawal from all the territories it occupied in 1967, without conditions. In some contexts, the European position even seemed to be a retreat to 1957—a withdrawal without peace. Even the official European position would make it impossible to negotiate demilitarized zones and other security guarantees. It would amount to a political defeat in the indispensable task of demonstrating to Egypt, Syria, and Iraq that their flirtation with the Soviet Union has brought them nothing but tragedy, and that they can achieve a fair and evenhanded peace only by working with the United States. Beyond that, it would be an act of injustice to Israel, and a danger to the fragile and precarious system of peace, in that it would reward aggression. 2) The United States was offended because various European governments objected to the American airlift from Europe of supplies desperately needed by the Israelis. It seemed obvious to American opinion that the Israelis were fighting not only for themselves but for NATO as a whole, in defeating what was in fact a mortal Soviet threat to Europe and to the alliance.
On both counts—the political and the military—Europe was perceived in the United States to be taking an irresponsible stand.
The European answer—lack of advance consultation—was brushed aside in the United States. As to the political issues, centered on Resolution 242, there have been years of consultation. And as to the sudden Soviet threat of an airlift to help the Egyptians with substantial Soviet forces, there was simply no time for consultation if the Soviet move was to be deterred at all.
In the aftermath of the October war, the Atlantic allies confront a new situation. They have been forced to recognize Soviet penetration of the Maghreb and the Middle East as an attack on NATO. They have suddenly felt the monopoly power of Saudi Arabia over the supply of petroleum, and all its implications, political, economic, and military. And they have begun to realize that they may soon be called upon to meet their immense moral and political responsibility for the very existence of Israel, which came into being under international protection, and in reliance on the promises of the international community.
If nations share a common destiny, it would seem apparent that they should not be at loggerheads on the political and economic problems which may bring them to the brink of war. They should at least consult regularly and seek to minimize their differences. At best, their policies should be harmonized and concerted. But this admonition, frequently repeated by the prophets of the Atlantic alliance, has been honored more in the breach than in the observance. On topic after topic, the allies have not only failed to concert their policies, they have pursued divergent policies.
The risks in this habit of allied dissonance became obvious during and since the October war in the Middle East. In physics, perhaps, every action generates an equal and opposite counter-reaction. In human affairs, there is no such symmetry between thesis and antithesis. Counter-reactions are often exaggerated and intensified by resentment, pride, anger, or fear. As a result, men can become absorbed in a spiral of self-reinforcing irrationality. For example, how much has France's policy since 1958 been influenced by American acts or omissions with regard to nuclear partnership, Indochina, Algeria, and Suez twenty years ago?
A major purpose of American diplomacy, restated with eloquence in Secretary Kissinger's speech of April 24, 1973, is to rally Europe to accept responsibilities it has avoided for some years. Kissinger's speech was not a program, but an appeal—an appeal that Western Europe and North America move together on every possible front to stabilize and consolidate their relations, and concert their policies, in order to protect their indivisible common interests in the system of peace.
The inherent position of the Atlantic allies and of Japan is strong—stronger, indeed, than has been the case for many years, because of the change in China's policy. But the pressures against them are also strong—stronger than ever before.
To have any chance of success in a program of unity will require an act of will both in Europe and in the United States. On both sides of the ocean, political leaders should explain the situation as it is, and call for military, political, and economic policies appropriate to its gravity.
Chancellor Brandt and other European leaders have said recently that the events of October and November should speed up the process of forming a political Europe. Most Americans would welcome such a development. A responsible political Europe, committed to acting with the United States as an equal in the manifold tasks of peace and prosperity, could be a constructive and stabilizing force in world affairs.
Meanwhile, how will the allies behave in the period before that effort succeeds? The situation is far too dangerous for the nations of Europe to abstain from responsible political action until a true political Europe is born—in 1980, or before. During the period of transition, the full weight of concerted Atlantic policies, and concerted Atlantic-Japanese policies, are nearly a necessity on a dozen issues—money, oil, offsets, Middle Eastern affairs, and many others—to counter the growing pressures, both of anarchy and of threat, which the allies necessarily face together.
The ministerial meetings of the North Atlantic Council in December signaled a movement toward solidarity among the Atlantic allies. It is too soon to judge whether that movement will gain in strength, or peter out. The factors of stress and separatism in the alliance are real, and they have genuine causes. They can be overcome only if the allies face them together, understand them, and undertake a far-ranging effort to reverse their course. To prevail in that effort will require a certain largeness and generosity of spirit, and the support of a public opinion which has fully accepted the lesson of events. It will require as well the active and confident leadership of the United States, in the tradition of Truman, Marshall, and Acheson, to mention only the founding fathers.
Can we generate that measure of creative energy, after the trials of Vietnam and Watergate? We have no choice but to try, in the spirit of Foch at the Marne, because we are at a moment of climax which could well determine whether the hold of law on the mind of modern man will be vindicated, or destroyed: that is, whether civilization will endure, or vanish into the night.
The influence of international law on the use of force by states has been weakened in recent years. A failure to carry out the twin Security Council resolutions of 1973 and 1967 with regard to peace in the Middle East, and the agreements of January and March 1973, calling for peace in Indochina, would further, and perhaps irreparably diminish the effectiveness of international law as a restraint against war. The ideas of law play a powerful, and often a nearly inarticulate role in the behavior of men. It is not written in the stars that it will always be thus.
The most dangerous of social conflicts are those between new facts and old ideas. How societies resolve such conflicts determines whether they rise, survive, endure, or fall. Will they adapt their habits, their institutions, and their laws to their new condition, in ways which fulfill their shared code of common morality? Or will they and their value systems be destroyed by forces they refuse to acknowledge, because the new facts do not fit the model world in their minds?
For us, now, the answer to these questions depends in large part on how the Atlantic allies and Japan deal with the present crisis of world politics.