Hans J. Morgenthau:
Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
For a century and a half, we accepted, and acted upon, this formulation of our relations with Europe which Washington’s Farewell Address gave us. Our interventions in the two World Wars we considered at the time as temporary exceptions to the rule of non-involvement, justified by “extraordinary” vicissitudes, combinations, and collisions. But in the spring of 1947, we radically changed the conception and course of our foreign policy by identifying our interests with those of Europe in what we thought was virtual permanence through the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan and the military containment of the Soviet Union.
Since then, Europeans have from time to time expressed their fear that we might again come to define our interests differently from theirs and go back into isolation. It was for us to reassure them. Now Europe is turning George Washington’s formulation against us and proclaiming the separateness of its interests from those of America. I have advisedly attributed this proclamation to “Europe” and not to Charles de Gaulle alone; for de Gaulle has but given trenchant and uncompromising expression to a mood and trend which is by no means limited to the French leader.
It is revealing that both de Gaulle and Macmillan justify their contradictory positions as furthering the emancipation of Europe from America. De Gaulle opposes British membership in the Common Market because it would lead to the formation of “a colossal Atlantic Community under American dependence and leadership” (press conference of January 14, 1963). Macmillan, on the other hand, insists on British membership because only so can Europe become “great and strong enough to build a more equal and worthy partnership” with the United States (speech at Liverpool on January 21, 1963) and anticipates that the alliance would end if the United States were allowed “for all time the sole authority” over the nuclear deterrent (broadcast of January 30, 1963). Macmillan, having just been expelled from Europe by de Gaulle and having to choose between a far-from-splendid isolation and utter dependence upon the United States, cannot refrain from paying tribute to the emancipation of Europe while being careful to stress the American connection. De Gaulle, on the other hand, thinks he can afford to declare the independence of Europe from America in so many words and to make it perfectly clear to us that what he wants is the exact opposite from what we want.
We have responded to that declaration with surprise and indignation. While no American spokesman has gone so far as to suggest, as did the London Economist on January 26, that de Gaulle’s scheme was “demented,” we have certainly confirmed the point which the distinguished Italian paper Giornale d’Italia made on January 22 when it said that “It is perhaps easier to criticize de Gaulle than to understand him.” De Gaulle’s policy may well be wrong in that it will either prove unsuccessful or, if it should succeed, detrimental to France. It may also run counter to the interests of the United States and must therefore be opposed by American policy. Yet whatever one’s conclusions are, they ought to derive not from emotional reactions but from a rational understanding of what de Gaulle is after. Whatever his chances for success may be and in whatever ways his success or failure may affect the interests of France and the United States, de Gaulle’s design is rational in itself and not devoid of audacity and even grandeur. That much is obvious from a dispassionate examination of de Gaulle’s press conference of January 14—put into the context of his general political philosophy—and from certain interviews he held with prominent Frenchmen, especially in the military field, during the week following that press conference.
De Gaulle’s European policy derives from five basic propositions, which are not peculiar to France but are of general validity.
First, an alliance among nations unequal in power inevitably gives the most powerful nation a decisive voice in determining the policies of the alliance. This fact of political life, which Machiavelli recognized when in Chapter 21 of The Prince he warned weak nations against making alliances with strong ones except by necessity, can be obscured, but cannot be eliminated, by talk about “interdependence” and “equal partnership.” “Interdependence” means for the weak to be dependent upon the strong, and there can be no equality among those who are unequal in the qualities that count in the political scales.
Second, this dependence is tolerable for the weak only if there exists so complete an identity of interests between the weak and the strong that the policies pursued by the strong in their own interests also serve the interests of the weak. Such identity of interests is rare in peace and cannot even be taken for granted in war. It exists among the members of the Atlantic Alliance only on the most general plane: the Atlantic Alliance is united in its opposition to Communist aggression and subversion. But this interest is not a policy in itself; it must be implemented by common policies. Such policies, to which all members of the Alliance are committed, do not at present exist.
It is striking that of the outstanding issues that face the Atlantic Alliance, there is not a single one on which all members of the Alliance see eye to eye. The United States stands alone in its policies vis-à-vis China, South Vietnam, and Cuba. In the Congo it had the support of neither Great Britain nor France. In the rest of Africa, the allies go their separate ways. With regard to Berlin: Great Britain, on the one hand, and West Germany and France, on the other, have taken contradictory positions, while the United States, after a period of vacillation, has ended up in the Franco-German camp. The same observation applies to the German question as a whole and the over-all relations between the West and the Soviet Union: in view of irreconcilable divergences of interest and policies, abstention from initiative and a passive commitment to the status quo have been the order of the day. The policies of the United States and France toward the United Nations are diametrically opposed, with Great Britain taking an intermediate position. A similar cleavage separates France from the United States and Great Britain in the field of disarmament. As concerns military strategy and the policies implementing it, the United States is at loggerheads with its major European allies on two basic questions: the role of conventional forces and the disposition of nuclear weapons.
The third of the five propositions on which de Gaulle’s European policy rests is that the availability of nuclear weapons to the United States and the Soviet Union has administered a death blow to the Atlantic Alliance, as it has to all alliances. It has made alliances obsolete. In the pre-nuclear age, a powerful nation could be expected to come to the aid of a weak ally provided its interests were sufficiently involved, risking at worst defeat in war, the loss of an army or of territory. But no nation can be relied upon to forfeit its own existence for the sake of another. Thus the same doubt about American intentions which deters Khrushchev disheartens de Gaulle. Khrushchev cannot be sure that the United States would not be willing to blow itself up over Berlin, and hence is deterred. De Gaulle cannot be sure that the United States would be willing to blow itself up over a vital interest of France, and hence is disheartened.
The independent national nuclear deterrent, then, becomes the substitute for obsolete alliances. Since no nation can be expected to risk destruction for the sake of another nation, all nations must protect themselves as best they can. While France could not hope to match the deterrent of a major nuclear power quantitatively, she is capable of developing an invulnerable deterrent sufficient for her purposes. She could say to a major nuclear power: If you do this I shall cut off your leg. And the major nuclear power could reply: If you do that I shall kill you. But is it likely that an issue might arise between France and a major nuclear power for the sake of which the latter would be willing to risk losing a leg?
Fourth, what has been said of alliances also applies to federations of states. Strong and weak nations can federate effectively only on a hierarchical and not an equalitarian basis. Here de Gaulle’s conception is not so much Napoleonic as it is Bismarckian. That is to say, he applies to the unification of Europe the same principles through which Bismarck united Germany a century ago. Bismarck had two choices: the “greater German” solution including Austria, or the “little German” solution excluding her. Bismarck rejected the former solution on two major grounds: Austria would have been a rival to the predominance of Prussian power, and her imperial interests stood in the way of a full commitment to the German cause.
The unification of Germany in 1871, dominated by Prussia and excluding Austria, was preceded by two international organizations: the German Confederation established in 1815 under the leadership of Austria and composed of thirty-eight sovereign German-speaking nations, and the German Customs Union established in 1819 by Prussia. Prussia was able to thwart Austria’s attempts to join the Customs Union or to break it up, and by 1853 the Union comprised all German states with the exception of Austria. On the other hand, Prussia’s attempt in 1849 to unite Germany politically under her leadership, with the Austro-Hungarian monarchy occupying an associate position, was frustrated by Austria in the socalled “Punctation of Olmütz.” The defeat of Austria by Prussia in the war of 1866 led to the dissolution of the German Confederation and its replacement in 1867 by the North German Confederation under Prussian domination. The South German states rejoined the Customs Union and sent representatives to an all-German customs parliament. This process of exclusion and integration culminated in 1871 in the so-called “little German” solution of the German problem, the establishment of a German Reich under the dominance of Prussia and without Austria, in the aftermath of the victorious war against France in which all German states except Austria participated.
In de Gaulle’s design, the nucleus of Franco-German power takes the place of Prussia, Great Britain takes the place of Austria, and now as then economic arrangements are used as means for serving political ends. Faced with a similar choice, de Gaulle follows Bismarck’s example and prefers a “little European” solution excluding Great Britain to a “greater European” one including her. De Gaulle sees himself choosing between a Europe dominated by the United States and a Europe dominated by the Franco-German combination. He sees Great Britain not only as the spearhead of American power but also as a non-European influence within Europe by virtue of its worldwide interests and commitments. Furthermore, the British presence in Europe would endanger the viability of the Franco-German combination; for the British political presence could offer Germany an alternative to the association with France and threaten France with isolation. In other words, it would be a threat to the predominance of France.
Lastly, de Gaulle realizes that Europe thus united under Franco-German auspices is but a fragment of the true Europe, the other half of which forms the Western part of the Soviet empire. To merge these two parts is the task of a united Western Europe and, more particularly, of France. The accomplishment of that task is of course predicated upon an accommodation with the Soviet Union. The main issue of such an accommodation is the stabilization of the territorial and military status quo in Central Europe. The Soviet Union has tried to compel the United States to accept such a stabilization by raising the issue of Berlin. That attempt came to nothing in good measure because of West Germany’s and France’s veto. But might not France succeed where the United States failed if she could offer the Soviet Union a Europe without the American presence and a Germany immobilized in the French embrace? Such a vista must appeal to de Gaulle; for it portends power and security for France. It might also appeal to Germany, for which it holds out the prospect of unification in peace. And it cannot fail to attract the Soviet Union, threatened as the Russians feel themselves to be by the United States today and in all probability by China tomorrow; for here is the promise of security at the Soviet Union’s most sensitive frontier and of the settlement of the single issue which at present most acutely endangers the peace of the world.
We said before that de Gaulle’s grand design is rational in itself. The issue it poses concerns the power to carry it through. It is at this point that the analogy between de Gaulle and Bismarck appears to break down. The power of Prussia was supreme in Germany after 1866, and the power of Germany was paramount in Europe after 1870. The power of France, such as it is and is likely to be until France possesses, if she ever does, a nuclear deterrent of her own, can come into play only under the umbrella of the American nuclear deterrent. As long as that umbrella protects him, de Gaulle can play the role of the Bismarck of Europe. Without that protection, he would be the Nasser of Europe, declaiming big lines in an implausible act.
It is de Gaulle’s paradoxical good fortune that he can count upon the protection of America regardless of what he says and does. However much he may annoy American sensibilities and antagonize American interests, we cannot help but protect him, not for his sake but for ours. What was true in 1953 when John Foster Dulles threatened France with an “agonizing reappraisal” is true today. Regardless of what France does or does not do, we have a vital interest in preventing the addition of French and, through it, European power to that of the Soviet Union. In the awareness of that vital interest of the United States which makes France secure, de Gaulle can afford to attempt the realization of his grand design, the purpose of which is to be done with the need for American protection altogether. Hegel would have enjoyed seeing “the ruse of the idea” thus at work.
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Regardless of whether de Gaulle succeeds or fails, the relations between the United States and Europe can never again be what they were before January 14, 1963. For de Gaulle has laid bare in simple and stark outline the ills which have ailed the Atlantic Alliance for a decade and which governments on both sides of the Atlantic have been pleased to gloss over with fine phrases and manipulate with petty schemes. We may be able to continue this convenient yet self-defeating tradition for the time being; but the sooner we face the facts, however startling and unpleasant they may be, and act upon them, the better will we be capable of molding them to our interests. So far we have talked and acted as though we were dealing here with the idiosyncrasies of one man and not with the revelation of objective conditions which concern all of us, not only de Gaulle and France.
Thus we have declared that we intend to go ahead with our proposals for a so-called “multilateral” nuclear deterrent to be put at the disposal of NATO as well as of selected allies, regardess of what deGaulle has said and done. According to this scheme, NATO should have possession of a nuclear deterrent of its own. Yet the all-important question as to who shall determine its use has not yet been authoritatively answered; General Norstad, for instance, has suggested a committee of three. Furthermore, Great Britain and some other members of the alliance shall also possess a nuclear deterrent of their own whose use they could determine independently “in moments of great national peril.” It is this scheme which de Gaulle has almost contemptuously rejected. His reasons for doing so, it seems to me, are good, and they are losing nothing of their force by being brushed aside.
The issue which de Gaulle has raised and which our government ought to join is an issue akin to that of sovereignty. It concerns the question of who shall die for what and under what circumstances. As long as the United States has that power of decision through the possession of a nuclear monopoly within the Atlantic Alliance, it has the power to make Frenchmen die for causes which may not be their own (e.g. Cuba), and to refuse to let Americans die for the causes of France (e.g. Suez). If Great Britain or France have that power of decision, albeit only “in moments of great national peril,” while they are allies of the United States, it is they who have the power to decide that Americans should die in causes that are not their own.
There are only two possible ways to resolve this issue. Either the United States retains its power of decision, in which case the present Atlantic Alliance must be transformed into a true federation capable of reducing the political interests peculiar to its members to a common denominator. Or the power of decision must be put into the hands of those individual allies who wish to exercise it, in which case the alliance will for all practical purposes be dissolved. The former alternative requires for its achievement a series of constructive and delicate political settlements and arrangements, eliminating the present points of friction among the allies. The other alternative requires the return of the United States to isolation in a world which will be dominated by four power centers instead of two: the United States, the Soviet Union, Europe, and China. In other words, the alliance will either go forward or backward, but it cannot stand still. Nor is there a middle ground for reconciling the two alternatives.
It is such a middle ground which the administration has been seeking with its different schemes for a “multilateral” deterrent. Yet with the control of nuclear weapons it is as it is with sovereignty: it is indivisible. It cannot be shared. It is either here or there, and it cannot be in two places at the same time. We have learned through the bitter experience of a civil war how futile and dangerous it is to gloss over and obfuscate the issue of ultimate decision for the sake of a fleeting political advantage. We ought to be able to apply that lesson to the issue at hand. There are advantages and risks in either of the alternatives from which we must choose. But there is nothing but tremendous risk in a “compromise” which leaves the ultimate power of decision in the hands of the President of the United States under certain conditions and transfers it to individual nations or a committee under others, or, worse still, leaves it in abeyance.
Whether or not we find these policies to our taste or in our interest, we are indebted to de Gaulle for having posed the great issues of the day with simple and accurate clarity. De Gaulle has made clear what some of us have pointed to for a decade without anybody listening—that the political, military, and economic foundations upon which the Atlantic Alliance was constructed are in the process of erosion or have altogether ceased to exist and that hence the institutional superstructure of the Alliance has lost its empirical supports. De Gaulle is hailed in France as the great realist who, after “demythologizing” Algeria and French parliamentarianism, is now performing the same beneficial operation on the Atlantic Alliance. His grand design may well come to naught. Yet great men are remembered even for their failures, and lesser men can learn from them. For even their failures shed an illuminating light upon a reality obscured by high-sounding yet inaccurate words and distorted by spurious actions. So will de Gaulle be remembered, even if he should fail.
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Clio, the Muse of History, has a nasty habit of upsetting Grand Designs. She has been very busy of late, on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The planned immensity of the Communist half of the world has disintegrated between Moscow (and its European satellites) and Peking (and its Asian satellites). Both Communist poles—the Moscow one and Peking—are tugging hard, striving to keep their followers in line. Meanwhile on our own side of the Curtain, the solidarity of the Western defense and economic infrastructure has been rudely shattered by General de Gaulle. In consequence, President Kennedy’s Grand Design appears to be decidedly shaky at its European end.
Prime Minister Macmillan simultaneously has had to face shock after shock: the U. S. administration’s whipping away of Skybolt, on which the R.A.F. nuclear bomb-carrying planes depended; de Gaulle’s abrupt declaration that France didn’t want Britain in the Common Market, after over two years of so-called negotiations on the British application to join; and a British economy and electorate both turned sour against the Conservatives only a year or so before a General Election. Finally in NATO the French are at loggerheads with everyone else, refusing President Kennedy’s offer of Polaris, refusing to integrate their forces with NATO, refusing to allow their bases to be used for American nuclear warheads, and refusing to integrate the economic system of the Common Market, and the currency and financial systems of the Six, into the wider Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in which the U.S., Canada, and most West European nations outside the Common Market Six are also full members. It is this last refusal that threatens the economic substructure of the North Atlantic defense system and, therefore, of the Grand Design.
But besides the many Muses, the Fates are also at work: birth, life, death; pushing this man or this country or this political party up, and the others down; spinning, weaving, and then slitting the thin-spun life of man. Nothing endures long. Even the French say that only the provisional lasts. President Kennedy and his advisers are young indeed, compared with General de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer and Mr. Macmillan. Planners and builders of Grand Designs have to look to a future world hardly imaginable by us today. We don’t stop to imagine France (and French internal politics) minus de Gaulle, and Germany (and its internal and external policies) minus Dr. Adenauer, and the British Tories without Macmillan, and socialists without the late Hugh Gaitskell, to say nothing of the utterly untried and unknown but up-and-coming Liberal party. On all of these uncertainties the Grand Design is erected, and by all of them it is threatened.
The bold, imaginative Grand Design of President Kennedy and his young advisers for the defense and development of the Western world is like a polygonal pylon. It is poised on five feet: the Americas (especially South); non-Communist Asia (especially India); the Africa-to-Middle-East belt of underdeveloped territories; Western Europe; and the oft-forgotten vast areas of the oceans (of which the Atlantic and Arctic are more important than any others). Into all of these strongholds West Europeans penetrate with trade and influence, or even conventional weapons. And across Arctic and Atlantic the West Europeans and Americans are linked, as never before, by the defense networks of NATO, by equally vital monetary and economic networks, and by signed alliances, as well as by deep-reaching sentiments. Willy-nilly, we are “members one of another,” though we may not yet behave as such.
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In 1948 President Truman took the brave decision about the Berlin airlift; and the West Europeans—realizing their peril—immediately fell into line and played their parts. The European Recovery Program set Western Europe on its legs at the American taxpayers’ expense; for, without this program, no American defense policy against Russia could have counted on effective bases in Western Europe. Effective bases everywhere demand a sound economic infrastructure : highways, oil pipelines, railroads in good order, factories, and contented workers turning out local supplies, etc. Those were the days before rockets, when only airborne nuclear warheads in planes manned by human pilots formed the first arc of defense for the West. Gradually since 1948—it is now fifteen years but seems only a day—the economic infrastructure of the whole Western world has been made sound and solid. European currencies look the dollar in the face, while American businessmen “stay liquid” waiting to know in which European country to extend their operations—in short, where to invest dollars in new assets firmly fixed in European soil. The American aid to France, Italy, and Germany has transformed them into competitive, up-to-date, industrial systems. (Most of the aid to Britain was in turn channelled on to the Commonwealth countries, like India and Africa, for their development—which is one explanation of the famous “British lag” since 1949.) Attempts to form a common West European Defense Union—variously known as WEU or EDU—came to nothing because the Fourth Republic refused to “wear it,” the last occasion before de Gaulle acquired power being under Mendès-France. But the British, who had undertaken to keep their forces on the continent and had already signed a fifty-year treaty of alliance with France, were in favor of a common Western defense union, both under Labor and Tory governments.
Out of all this in the mid-50’s came the Common Market movement, hard on the heels of the French-German-inspired Coal and Steel Union. Greatly in error, the British Conservative government declined to enter at the beginning, not feeling sure of the Common Market’s effects as an ultimate “Third Force” which might be inserted between Britain-in-Europe and the United States, Canada, the rest of the Commonwealth, Latin America, etc. The British stuck to the NATO concept of defense, and were even then suspicious of a “Paris-Bonn axis” in Europe. The British of the day—most of them, in both major parties—mistrusted the political and defense implications of the Rome Treaty, because any political, economic, and military confederation of the leading powers of Western Europe (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and Holland) would mean an effective “Third Force” of another kind inserted between America and Russia, which might make hay of the existing NATO defense system and the “special relationship” between America and Britain.
At this point we can begin to see the shape of things now surrounding us as it emerges from the past. Of course there was never any reliable “special relationship” between Washington and London after the war. The British, who had perfected radar and the jet motor, and had done much to perfect atomic fission, handed these discoveries over to the Americans freely to develop, as part of the war effort. Americans so developed them, at vast expense, that after the war the defense of the West came to repose almost wholly on American shoulders—at least for some years until Europe’s economic recovery, also at American expense, had been achieved by 1953. By that time, with the abortive coup at Suez looming up, it should have been obvious to the British that Washington took no account whatever of any “special relationship” with Britain. Proofs were abundant: the State Department’s support for Moussadegh and the Iraqui expropriation (confiscation, to speak truly) of the British refinery at Abadan; the same support for Egypt’s complaints against the British; the same support for the fast-waning British “colonies” in Africa or Malaya (India had gone in 1947, unhappily dissolving into parts, of which the Moslem and Hindu are the biggest); and the strong backing from the outset of all attempts at any West European Union. After Suez, there was hardly a capital in the world with American and British embassies in which American and British policies were not opposed—and not merely in the underdeveloped countries. If any “special relationship” has existed between the United States and the United Kingdom since Suez, it can only have been in some British minds.
Since President Kennedy took office, his policies and those of his advisers have been plainly, without concealment, almost crudely and flatly opposed to those of London. For example, in matters of trade and currency (even the President himself went out of his way to rebuff the little tentative suggestion made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Maudling, about extending the lending powers of the International Monetary Fund last September); over Africa (not just South Africa, which, after all, was elbowed out of the Commonwealth); over British doubts about the French-German axis inside the Common Market; over defense and NATO (the Skybolt-Nassau debacle for Mr. Macmillan was in no way cushioned); over the bold American action against Russian bases in Cuba (London was treated exactly like other European capitals); over relatively little things like subsidized shipping, airlines, trade with Communist countries, dealings in gold, and non-British and non-American affairs such as the Congo, etc.
General de Gaulle, alone among West Europeans of statesmanlike stature, has always believed, and still devoutly believes, in the illusion, so dear for over a decade to the top brass of both the Tory and Labor parties, of a “special relationship” between Washington and London. He, too, has been fooled into crediting the idea of some non-existent anti-French, anti-continental-European plans, plots, and policies of les Anglo-Saxons. For him, it is no longer Albion which is perfide; it is Uncle Sam as well. How otherwise is it possible to explain that extraordinary boat-burning press conference on January 14, in which he announced his rejection of Kennedy’s Polaris offer without having ever replied to the offer officially? After the death of the Fourth Republic, General de Gaulle’s second great revival of his beloved country in his lifetime seems to have resulted in a personal autocracy. Why should it not lead him to believe in his own destiny and that of France, as the saviors of continental Western Europe from the Anglo-Saxons? Led by non-Europeans (Americans), the Anglo-Saxons seem to him to have a Grand Design to merge France and all Western Europe in a NATO system of defenses and an OECD system of economics, in which all the weapons, decisions, and policies—for peacetime development and for war—would be furnished by the Americans. And Britain must seem the thin end of the perfidious Anglo-Saxons’ wedge, which they are trying to drive into the solid structure of the Common Market and into France’s own independent nuclear deterrent (not due for years yet).
In that Common Market, as in NATO, France has already proved able to confound the other five and to secure for herself and her associated African ex-colonies a preferential economic position. She has also been able—since the Germans are still prohibited, by their own agreement, from making nuclear weapons—to secure for herself a dominating position in the political-strategic setup inside the Six (which is therefore a “club within the club” inside NATO). No wonder de Gaulle felt strong enough by this past January—after two years of pseudo-negotiations between the Six and the British in Brussels—to proclaim that “his” France was set against allowing Britain into the Common Market, or into any West European political or confederated setup. All this behavior stems from the “special relationship” illusion about American-British policies which he shares with Mr. Macmillan and a lot of other British leaders in both the major political parties.
Not one of them—not de Gaulle or his followers, nor Macmillan and his, nor the British Labor leaders, nor the press in Paris and London—not one of them has looked away from the weak little British or French so-called “independent deterrent.” How deterrent can either of them be, five years from now? The British deterrent was always dependent on Washington’s good graces; and now (since the Kennedy administration’s rude awakening of the British over Skybolt, and its almost comic offer of precisely the same kind of deterrent to the British at Nassau, an offer to which poor Mr. Macmillan so gratefully clung) is even more dependent on Washington than ever. It can neither be independent nor a deterrent.
On goes de Gaulle, superbly confident that “his” France will be able to develop an independent deterrent of her own, some years from now. On go Mr. Macmillan, Mr. Thorneycroft, and others in the top brass of the Tory party, at least publicly oblivious of the fact that Britain’s “independent deterrent” in the future Polaris setup must be just as dependent on American back-tracking—or even an outright American refusal of supplies of key-components—as Skybolt has proved (after so many years of self-delusion). Of them all, it seems, the only realists are the Americans. They know that defense and economic development must have a world-wide design: that national sovereignty is already out-of-date.
* * *
Where does this leave us: Americans, Canadians, British, French, Germans, and the rest of Western Europe?
Begin with defense. The Americans stand at present possessed of enough nuclear weapons and means of delivering them to stave off, or cope with, any conceivable aggression anywhere. Britain and France cannot possess anything remotely comparable, ever; they simply lack the economic resources. The Germans have freely abandoned the right to make such weapons; and even they lack enough resources. The West European nations turn out one half of the material output of Americans per head; they have nothing like the amount of American productive equipment behind each pair of elbows; so if they want to keep up, and raise, their people’s standards of consumption, they must increase capital-formation for productive purposes for another generation at least. To put it briefly, Americans can afford 10 per cent or 12½ per cent of their total output for defenses, and still maintain standards of consumption double those anywhere else; yet 5 to 7½ per cent of British, German, or French national income for defense becomes a terrible burden. The only possibility of a real nuclear deterrent made by Europeans, therefore, is for all Western Europe to get together and pool its resources1—which de Gaulle flatly opposes, because France must have her own. These facts thrust us back on North America, NATO, the OECD, and the leadership coming out of Washington; at any rate, for defense of the West as a whole, and as long as “the crunch” might involve nuclear war anywhere.
In this setting it becomes apparent that there never has been any need of a “special relationship” between the Americans and the British since Suez, if not since the Berlin airlift. Nor is there any need now. Nor can there possibly be in the IBM-dominated future. There are only the four blocs of Powers big enough to envisage “the crunch” of a possible nuclear war: Russia and her European satellites (the latter all disaffected and mighty unwilling); China; Western Europe (which is not yet a unit and may never be one for such a purpose); and the U.S. Barring unforeseeable acts of fate, all the present indications are that the leaders of Russia will not aggress Westward—at any rate, not if American deterrent power remains what it is, and not while 700,000,000 Chinese (potential nuclear weapon-wielders) sit encamped on Russia’s Asian backporch in a dooryard incapable of land defenses by the Russians. So far as other Communist countries are concerned, if Mr. Khrushchev was instantly ready to perform such a back-shuffle over Cuba when Mr. Kennedy dared him to start a nuclear war, what back-shuffles wouldn’t he (or his successors) be ready to force any other Communist states to perform, barring only China (too weak and unprepared for nuclear war as yet) and Albania (insignificant)? As for Europe and America, they will never make war on each other.
That left the Grand Design of Mr. Kennedy’s advisers standing safely on the Atlantic Ocean and Western Europe until de Gaulle refused Britain entry to the Common Market, and also refused Polaris, etc. Americans used to look mainly to the other three feet of the five: the Far East, the Latin American area, and the wide, nondescript, underdeveloped belt from Africa across the Middle East to Russia—the “soft underbelly” of Russia in fact.
The Far East is for the moment paralyzed by China’s internal difficulties, the Chinese-Indian border dispute, and the Russo-Chinese doctrinal dispute over Communism. So we come to the African-Middle-Eastern zone: the zone of former State Department miscalculations about Moussadegh and Iraq; about Nasser and Egypt; about Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and Yemen; about the Congo; about French Algeria; and so on. In that wide belt of states, British and French and Belgian ex-administrators could help the Americans—and the International Bank, International Development Association, UNO, and the indigenous Africans themselves—quite a lot. It is a pity that a naive American “anti-colonialism” (conceived as if George III still ruled in Britain, and as if all Africans, Arabs, or others were automatically qualified to run modern states, industries, governments, courts, and the press) should have apparently dominated the State and other Departments in Washington for so long. There are great and grave problems for new and untried “native” governments throughout Africa. Ghana, Togoland, the Congo are not exactly models of democracy, free enterprise, and the personal freedoms. Western, “white,” industrial, democratic sponsoring nations should collaborate in common policies in all African emergent nations, to prevent what has already happened in so many—and may yet happen in many more.
A more realistic and more effective approach would be to strengthen the hitherto weak American initiatives to get the French, German, and Italian surpluses on their balances of payments mobilized within the OECD, and organized in common with funds from all other OECD members. This done, we could all go forward together to make lending to the less developed countries a more professionally supervised and technical, joint, international undertaking. Latin America’s needs could be brought under the same umbrella, thus alleviating the burden on Washington and the U.S. balance of payments created by the Alliance for Progress.
American policy has been ardently pro-German and pro-French these past few years merely in order to make the Common Market a going concern and to get the British and others into it. De Gaulle’s sweeping rejection of both American and British policies—his definitive “Non!” to European federation, a viable NATO, and a truly cooperative North Atlantic economic system in OECD—has now swept a good deal of the original Grand Design away, as far as the European and North Atlantic setup is concerned. (This is not to say the British were right all along, though they were sometimes. Nor is it to say that there can be, in future, any “special relationship”—other than emotional—between Americans and British.) From now on, nothing we have been used to for the last decade can be the same. The Six of the Market are not going to form a federation as long as de Gaulle lives. In defense as in currency, France will not abridge her national sovereignty. Which means that as long as Dr. Adenauer lives, Germany will strive to stick on the Paris-Bonn axis, but not thereafter. She will be torn between Paris and Berlin. Which means, in turn, that American defense plans in Europe will now have to be based on British, and all the others’ cooperation—but not on the French. Which finally implies revision of American economic, monetary, commercial, and other plans—all components of the Grand Design. Unless France gives way on many things so fervently proclaimed by de Gaulle—which is unthinkable—there simply will be no more perfect European Union; no perfect NATO conventional forces; no full monetary and commercial cooperation within OECD; no low customs tariff round the Six (low enough to let American—and now British, Japanese, Commonwealth, Latin American, and others’—farm products and manufactures into the Market); no generous and full mobilizing of the vast French, German, and Italian gold and dollar (and sterling) reserves for international stimulation of trade and the easing of the daily lot of the less-developed countries. At least, not with the French—the leaders and dominators of the Six—taking part in any of it.
The Grand Designers in Washington therefore have to do some re-designing about Europe. They will find plenty of European friends to help even if France won’t. The British will help at once, if for no other reason than that their own situation is now politically embarrassing, burdensome in terms of defense, and vulnerable economically. Let us look at Britain last.
Britain is now in the most critical domestic political crisis since the revolt in the Tory party and the Commons which overthrew Chamberlain after “the phoney war” at the beginning of 1940. All elements are in the mixture: foreign policy, defense policy, economic policy. To make it worse, both of the major parties are split over the Common Market and defense; and there is now a third party (insignificant in the Commons, with 7 seats out of over 600, because of the peculiar British voting system, but polling well over one-fifth, and sometimes as much as two-fifths, of votes in all the by-elections of the last two years). This third party, the old-line Liberal Party of Asquith and Lloyd George, strongly recruited from the younger generation and the newly college-educated, is officially in favor of Britain’s entry into the Common Market, and against any independent British nuclear deterrent. So the Liberals are not split; whereas the Tories under Macmillan have to look over their shoulders to see if they are likely to lose any agricultural or other votes at the forthcoming General Election—it must be held at latest by the fall of next year—while the socialists must look over theirs to see if they will lose any over their sitting-on-the-fence attitudes about defense and the Common Market. Both of these major old-line parties could easily lose votes to the Liberals. Thus everything depends for the future of Britain on how things develop in the defense, foreign affairs, and economic fields (and they are all intercommunicating) during the next eighteen to twenty-one months.
I have already indicated my view: that the very idea of a so-called “independent” British nuclear deterrent is a chimera. It is nonsense. The recent American administration’s offer of Polaris missiles for yet-to-be British-built submarines is also nonsense, because any administration could cut their supply off or otherwise go back on their production (as with Skybolt), leaving the costly British submarines virtually useless. Anyway, Polaris is going to be outdated very soon and outmaneuver-able by Russian counter-action. There is no contracting-out of a nation’s destiny, except by suicide; and the truth is that Britain, France, and Germany have too few resources to mount any credible and effective deterrent in five years’ time against powers as resourceful as Russia or the U.S.—and maybe China will have joined in the nuclear race by then.
Consequently, whether we like it or not, we British must adapt to inevitable circumstances. If a nuclear war breaks out, it will probably drag us in or annihilate us—as it will our continental neighbors, including France. Such a war is unthinkable on a small scale; and if it happens on a big scale, the U.S., Russia, and perhaps China will be involved first. Flatly in the face of these unpleasant facts, the Tory government of Mr. Macmillan, helped for the moment by the Washington administration, seems bent on a face-saving operation—looking not unlike the intractable de Gaulle’s out-of-date sovereignty—with a few American Polaris missiles, to be delivered whenever Britain can build their submarine carriers at vast expense. This is to be imposed on an economy already creaking and groaning beneath the highest taxes in the Western world on persons in the more productive and responsible brackets, on goods for consumption (gas, tobacco, drinks), and on all businesses (mainly for the British social services and Welfare State, which is of course all for consumption—except education, where the British lag woefully). It is to be imposed on a defense program already costing Britain vast sums in German marks and other currencies, while her own sterling (or gold reserve) is siphoned off by the French, Germans, and Italians, whose defense contributions to the NATO force are not even yet comparable to the British, and in whose national budgets defense does not loom proportionately as large.
That brings us to the economic field. Despite the somewhat discourteous treatment of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer in Washington last September, and of the British Treasury’s mild proposals for the easing of international liquidity through the International Monetary Fund, sterling remains a world reserve currency2 on which at least two-fifths of all trade crossing the frontiers of the free half of the world is conducted. It is therefore important not just to Britain, but also to Indians, Latin Americans, Europeans, and Africans, as well as Americans, Canadians, and the British themselves. One could kick sterling out from under as a reserve currency very easily if the U.S. authorities were immediately ready to finance that volume of international trade financed by sterling, in addition to the more than two-fifths already financed by U.S. dollars. But this hardly seems the moment—at least not to a non-American economist—to aggravate the British balance of payments, to chisel away British invisible earnings (shipping, airlines, insurance), to “tie” loans to the spending of their currency-terms (dollars, marks, francs) in the lending country, etc. etc. It is hardly the moment for the U.S. either, because internally the U.S. administration is bound to reflation as a policy this year (and next), with budget deficits; and the U.S. balance of payments is not yet quite secure enough to withstand sudden new stresses, which would certainly occur, if the British—with gold and dollar reserves less than those of either France, or Germany, or Italy, let alone all of them together—found themselves unable to keep on financing their long postwar defense effort, their overseas lending, and other foreign programs demanding foreign currencies. If the British and sterling draw in their horns, the U.S. and the dollar would have to take their place, hurriedly, to prevent a worse collapse of world trade, lending, and development.
From all points of view, the North Atlantic community could only gain, therefore, from a healing of the breach between Washington and London in the field of currency controls, international trade, international lending, and the future of the less-developed nations. We in the industrial Western nations need more, not less, international supervision of loans to the less favored, less technically competent countries. We need more cooperation between ourselves, and less nationalism for national economic gain. We certainly have unemployed men and industrial capacity in America and Britain—we are about the only Western industrial countries who have. But that is absolutely no reason for turning inward on ourselves; raising tariffs and other protective and make-work devices for our own citizens, instead of joining forces and seeing how quickly together we can deal with the low prices of the underdeveloped countries’ primary products, or our own protected farmers’ produce, or our older downhill-going industries, by way of joint stimuli to capital development overseas, or joint loans, etc. It sounds odd when Americans criticize de Gaulle—or the high level of the Common Market tariff against other countries’ agricultural produce—while American policies (and everyday practices in business or customs matters) discriminate against others’ goods, or financing, or services. And the British are also to blame in this.
The fact remains that actions along purely national lines ill accord with the international—and more vital—policies of any Grand Design. So Americans and British and Canadians (and the smaller powers in Europe not in the Six, for example in the European Free Trade Association) should not wait to work out cooperative solutions to the many economic problems vexing us all. That does not call for any “special relationship” with anyone. But for purely technical reasons (the fact that the dollar and sterling are the two “reserve currencies” for other powers, on which over four-fifths of the free world’s international trade is financed) it does mean that Washington and London technical authorities ought to get the green light from their governments to concert their thinking and policies, and not to pull against each other. But there must be no “Anglo-Saxon” special relationship. The obvious new line of advance for the Grand Designers of Washington is to cash-in on the deep alarm which de Gaulle’s autocracy has aroused among Germans, Scandinavians, Swiss, Dutch, Belgians, Italians, even the Spaniards—all of whom now wonder where Western Europe’s defense would lie if the Yanks suddenly went home. With Paris? With a non-nuclear Paris-Bonn axis? With an odd deal concluded between de Gaulle and Khrushchev, at the cost of Berlin, East Germany, and Dr. Adenauer?
There is a firm European foundation here for one foot of the Grand Design. But it has to be redesigned, re-set; and the best foundation for it would be economic, financial, commercial, agricultural. If Washington were to take the lead in the OECD, now, the response would be enormous. For not only the Common Market Six but also the whole of Western Europe, the Americas, Japan, Africa, India want to see recovery, expansion, freer trade, lower burdens. That is the angle from which Washington should now give the lead. There would be a host of followers.
1 All Western Europe in the OECD could muster 260,000,000 people (without neutral Switzerland and Sweden) and could even now turn out at least three-quarters of the annual output of the U.S.
2 U. S. dollars and sterling, and to a far smaller extent Swiss francs, are called “reserve currencies” because all other countries' central banks will hold part of their reserves in them (the other main part generally being gold).