General Articles

Our Stake in a Federated Europe

Says this U. S. Senator: The New World must inherit Europe’s strife until Europe’s nations unite

J. W. FULBRIGHT March 1 1948
General Articles

Our Stake in a Federated Europe

Says this U. S. Senator: The New World must inherit Europe’s strife until Europe’s nations unite

J. W. FULBRIGHT March 1 1948

Our Stake in a Federated Europe

Says this U. S. Senator: The New World must inherit Europe’s strife until Europe’s nations unite

General Articles


IT IS a rather obvious fact that the United Nations cannot operate effectively under existing conditions. In view of this it seems to me the better part of wisdom for the people of the New World, particularly of the United States and Canada, to take a good look at the Old World and see if we cannot find a gleam of hope in that dismal scene.

I do not suggest that we abandon the machinery or the concept of the United Nations. But I do suggest that, while that organization is temporarily stalemated, we should look elsewhere for the means to stop the persistent aggression of Russia and for a way to re-establish a semblance of order and freedom in the world.

In my own country we have, I think, finally recognized that appeasement and half measures lead only to futility and failure. As a result of Secretary Marshall’s suggestion last June, we are developing a positive and affirmative program to give the free peoples of Western Europe an opportunity to rebuild their stricken countries and thereby to avoid the tyranny of Russian domination.

The so-called Marshall Plan, as it is presently conceived, is the correct approach, but it alone is not enough to create a strong and stable community in Europe. Something new is needed. That something, I believe, is the federation of the nations in Europe.

As a result of the upheaval from which she has not yet emerged, Europe is ripe for a change. Many responsible leaders of European thought, among them Ernest. Bevin and Winston Churchill, are firmly on record as favoring a change in the direction of economic and political unity. I believe it is the joh of responsible, foresighted North Americans to encourage that sort of change— to see that: the change is toward a system of freedom and self-government, rather than backward to slavery and tyranny; forward to unity and peace, rather than backward to nationalistic particularism and the impotent fragmentation which leads to war.

There are many reasons why it is to the interest of the Western Hemisphere that Europe should recreate the unity which, in ancient and medieval times, permitted her people to live in relative peace and happiness. Overshadowing all other considerations is the supreme interest that we have in creating a peaceful world. But there is also the hard, materialistic fact that we have made, and are committed to make, additional enormous loans and grants to the nations of Europe; and as a consequence we are faced with such a territio drain upon our national resources through these services that we are forced to take stock of our wealth lest, we impoverish ourselves in helping the world.

Who Has Anything to Fear

TWICE, in 25 years, we have shed our blood and spent our treasure in world wars which grew out of European feuds and power politics. We know that the policy of isolation, which allowed us to flourish and grow great, is no longer possible. We know that our present well-being will be shortlived unless Europe recovers and can carry on normal commercial, social and political relations with us. Rich as our two countries are, indeed, rich as are all the Americas, we in the New World cannot indefinitely subsidize an impoverished, nonself-supporting Europe. That continent must learn again how to take care of itself.

Who has anything to fear from a federated Europe? Has Western Europe itself anything to fear? Has Russia anything to fear?

A United States of Europe cannot conceivably threaten Russia’s security; but, on the contrary, it would mean a substantial contribution to Russian development and well-being. There is nothing aggressive in the uniting of Europe for economic, social and political purposes. The objectives are the rehabilitation of that unhappy region in the interests of peace and the prevention of war. There is ample reason to believe that the Russian objections to a United Europe are based upon the imperialistic intentions of Russia herself. One of her political techniques is to create disturbances in the world so that she may fish in troubled waters. In short, Russia does not object to a United States of Europe because it would menace her security; she objects to it because it would mark the end of what she thinks is a profitable fishing season.

If Russia were not so bent on establishing a Communistic world at any cost, she would readily see that a revived Western Europe would mean an increase in trade for Eastern Europe. It would mean political and economic stability and, therefore, greater buying power. It would give Russia a chance to develop her resources and would furnish her with new markets for her goods and raw materials.

Russia still opposes all plans for European recovery including customs union.

That opposition must be understood in terms of what appear to be Soviet interests and purposes. There is a surface validity to the Russian cry that a Federated Europe—which naturally would include Germany—would lead to a revival of German military strength. The Russians know that now the German people are slowly starving, the country is stripped of industrial resources, the agricultural land is depleted and the military system is dead.

But they fear the unified revival of the Continent because they believe that it will provide German industry and agriculture with an opportunity once again to create another powerful military force with which to challenge Soviet preponderance in the future.

But it is my conviction that, it is precisely in a United States of Europe that the security of Russia and the World must he sought. Federation is a most powerful guarantee against a resurgent German military power. Indeed, I can see no other way in which to solve the German problem.

“If,” as Churchill says, “without prejudice to any future question of German federation . . . individual (German) states . . . (are) . . . invited to take their place in the council of Europe,” that is, if they operate as individual states in a European federation, then France and England participating in such a confederation can guarantee peace and security to the Continent, for they will more than offset the German states acting singly or in combination. Moreover, the economic pattern will he such that no single element or state or combination of states in the federation can conceivably break away and carry on a successful war against the others.

The conclusion is that the best solution for the dilemma of lagging European production is the merging of European states into a larger union, a union so large that there will be no danger of German aggression. If this is done, the productive power of Germany will be the spark to light the furnaces of industry and to speed the movement of trade throughout Western Europe. Europe can once again become self-supporting and resume her proper role in the society of nations. No country with peaceful intentions can, with reason and logic, object to such a development. Opposition can only come from aggressive power-political interests whose purpose is the domination of European states individually and collectively.

Let us next see why it is of the greatest importance to Western Europe herself that she unite. It would be unrealistic for us to disregard the power of racial, historical, cultural and other prejudices which have divided Europe into seemingly permanent units called states. In spite of the forces making for separation, there are many compelling factors which are working for the eventual termination of European differences.

It is not necessary to canvass them all here, but a few might be mentioned. The political frontiers of Europe are largely historical and seldom follow geographical lines. Racial groups, as a rule, cannot be separated from each other by any clear-cut line, but, rather, one group merges into the other through a zone of intermarriage and mixed population. No boundary line can do justice to all. The railroads of Europe, in response to economic requirements, cut across the Continent with complete disregard for geographical and political boundaries. The inland waterways, both natural and artificial, make Europe a single economic whole; and it is not by chance that effort after effort has been made to internationalize the major rivers such as the Danube, the Rhine and the Elbe.

Europe’s industry and her skilled populations are

The Europe of the future, if it is to rise from its ashes, must find some way by which the steel and coal of Germany, the shipping of England, the surplus labor supply of Italy and the many other contributions of the individual countries can be pooled for the common continental good.

Fear and Prejudice

THE age-old obstacles in the way of federation are only too familiar. The basic difficulty is the intensity of national feeling, attended by prejudices, fears and animosities. All these human obstacles keep Europe divided. Every national group in Europe, ignoring history, regards itself as a permanent entity. As long as the present nation states remain unmodified their hatreds will continue to keep them apart.

The bogey of a resurgent Germany is another obstacle—and I would be the last person to say that Russia is alone in her fear of Germany. However, in spite of their being the most numerous people the Germans still constitute less than one third of the population of Western Europe. Working together there is no reason why the other people in the federation could not avoid domination by the Germans.

located where iron, coal and other mineral deposits have made it possible for the industrial life to develop. Europe’s food supply is derived from a number of countries, regardless of political frontiers. The breadbasket of Europe lies in the East. That basket comprises in whole, or in part, at least nine states distinguished for the liveliness of their politics. Together they are deeply affected by a constant common need—the need for food and the need for economic unification. It is the need for the agricultural areas to support the industrial. It is the need for the latter to supply the former with tools and necessaries. It is the need for bringing to the industrial areas the benefit of tremendous water-power resources in other countries.

A third obstacle—which I referred to earlier—is Soviet Russia’s efforts to unite the continent in her own interests by power methods. A fourth and important obstacle is the language problem. A fifth is incom-

patible political ideologies; both Communism and Fascism have holds upon large sections of the population. A sixth obstacle is cultural differences, which oftentimes are much stronger than blood differences. And a seventh obstacle is religious differences, especially pronounced in Eastern Europe.

Continued on page 50

Our Stake in a Federated Europe

Continued from page 8

But overshadowing all other obstacles in European history, from the nationalistic standpoint, is a ledger of unrequited injuries from the past, which each state keeps to be settled at some future date.

I firmly believe it can be argued, both in the light of history and of current events, that these obstacles are not insurmountable.

We often hear it said that the problems of European unification cannot be compared with the problems involved in the federation of our two countries; unquestionably it was considerably easier for us to unite than it will ever he for Europe to do so. But it should not be overlooked that all of the difficulties under which Europe now labors were in some measure to be found in Canada and the United States prior to federation. There were boundary problems, currency difficulties, tariff squabbles and a vast number of other issues which had to be adjusted before union could be achieved. There were differences of language, religion and social institutions.

The Pan-American Way

In the United States the issue of slavery could not he solved in the beginning and finally had to be purged by a bloody civil war. Then, too, in the self-sufficient provincial economy of 1776, with its slow means of communication and its limited power of mass destruction, I doubt that the compelling necessity for federation was anything like as obvious to the citizens of that time as it should be to anyone who knows there are supersonic planes and atomic bombs in the arsenals of today.

If the English of Canada and the French of Quebec, if the Dutchman of New York and the Englishman of Connecticut, if the Frenchman of Louisiana and the Spaniard of California, if the Swede of Delaware and the German of Pennsylvania could be molded into a single body politic, living amicably with each other, striving for common national purposes—then there is every reason to believe that the Frenchman of France and the Englishman across the Channel, the Dutchman, the German and even the Spaniard, with all their neighbors, if given the right conditions, can unite for a reconstructed and rehabilitated Europe.

In other ways, we in the New World may be able to furnish Europe with useful examples. Our southern neighbors of Latin America have, over the years, reached among themselves and with us an understanding which is operating in the interest of peace and the settlement of disputes on these two continents. The Pan-American Union is now a truly international federation on the broadest basis which (taken in conjunction with the arrangements between Canada and the United States) has developed into a system of continental security.

In trade, in transportation and in many other ways the countries of the New World have blazed the trail for Europe, showing her how to reach effective and creative federation. In addition there are two particular reasons why states are driven into federation. One is the danger from foreign powers; the other is the inconvenience and inefficiency of economic separation.

The pages of history are filled with discussions by philosophers and statesmen of how Europe should be organized in order to achieve unity and to eliminate recurrent warfare. Occasionally statesmen resorted to force to compel Europe to combine as did Charlemagne, Louis XlVand Napoleon.

However, it was not until after the First World War that the movement fora European federation became widespread. France took the lead in exploring the practical aspects of the idea and in 1925 Premier Herriot seriously considered having his country assume responsibility for the establishment of a European federation. In 1926 a federation conference was called in Vienna; in 1930 a second was convoked in Berlin; and in 1932 a third met in Basel. During 1929 and 1930, Foreign Minister Briand of France became the leader of the unified continental forces working for federation and unification. In calling together the 1926 Congress the following statement was issued:

“Anarchy is indeed the only appropriate description for a society of 34 states without law, without organization, without common organs or authorities, without a court of justice, without a police force and without a solidarity ...”

Although the efforts of the 20’s did not result in the creation of a unified and federated continent, the acceptability of the idea to many Europeans was made clear in the numerous efforts at economic unification. Even Hitler made it the heart of his economic propaganda program.

The Pattern Is Ready

Actually, as I have said before, Europe has had many experiences with federation in the past — the Holy Roman Empire, the Confederation of the Rhine, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland and Germany. Federation is therefore a tried and tested arrangement; not only this continent but Europe also has used it on a limited basis and with success.

Patterns of organization have been thought out and are ready for adoption. Obviously, Europe does not need a universal empire nor a constitution like that of the United States. Nor does she require a Canadian system. She must have her own brand of union which gives effect to national peculiarities and aspirations. One of the organizations advocated recommends the establishment of an Upper House, a House of Representatives and the assignment to the federated government of matters concerned with foreign policy, justice and security.

Even the United Nations Organization provides in its Charter the basis

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for a European federation under the heading of “regional organizations.”

We are now agreed, I earnestly hope, that a federated Europe is no threat to the security of Russia and that it offers vital safeguards to the security and well-being of North America and of Western Europe.

Even if they agree thusfar, many Canadian readers will be asking themselves: Where does Britain fit into the picture? If Britain were to join a federated Europe, what would happen to her relations with members of the British Commonwealth of Nations? What would Ireland’s role be in such a new arrangement? Specifically, what would be the effect upon CanadianBritish relations? Would there be any change in Canada’s relations with Europe and with the other dominions?

The answers to these questions would tax the powers of a seer and I make no claims in that direction. I have assumed throughout that a European union without Britain would lack realism and for that reason British membership would be a prime requisite. It seems to me that there are no insurmountable obstacles in the way of Britain fulfilling her obligations in both federations with injury neither to herself nor to any other state. Indeed, there is reason to believe that by her possession of membership in both, Britain would play a larger role in the quest for world peace.

Commonwealth No Bar

The bonds which tie the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations together are so flexible that there should be no difficulty in finding an adjustment which would allow Britain to be a member of both the Commonwealth and a Federated Europe. It will be recalled that the reciprocity arrangements of 1911 between Canada and the United States presented no serious constitutional obstacles for Canada. Empire preference could be made consistent with obligations in a new European union.

If this outsider’s view is correct, a Europe into which Britain was federated could offer only advantages to Canada, the other Dominions and to the world at large. Britain would be a tie between two of the most economically significant groups in the world. Her dual membership would give her the opportunity to bring the two closer together. Politically and militarily the dual membership could eventually become a great force for peace and stability.

The criticism has been made that advocating a federation of Europe is officious meddling by Americans. At the same time, however, we are told that we have a responsibility to use our power and our wealth to rehabilitate the stricken areas of the world. These views are inconsistent. If we grant that we have this obligation then we must also be obliged to see that the rehabilitation is sensible and effective. There can be no obligation to recreate the same old divided Europe, from which two world wars have emerged to afflict us. Surely we have a legitimate interest in the purposes for which the products of our land and the work of our people are to be expended.

We have sympathy for the Europeans in their distress; we have, I believe, consideration for their pride and self-respect; but as partners in an undertaking to preserve in the world an opportunity for men to be free, we are entitled, if not obliged, to use our best judgment and all our powers of persuasion.

It is not proposed that we force our ideas upon any country, but I do propose that, in so far as we are able, we persuade the Europeans to follow the path to political unity. Many of the wisest Europeans of the past and of the present have advocated it, so it is not an alien idea. There are many obstacles, but with the example and the generous assistance of the New World, I am sure that Europe can surmount all of them.

In this confused and troubled world, stricken by two utterly senseless and stupid fratricidal wars within a quarter century, there is one hard fact that stands out clear and reassuring. That is the friendship and good will that exist between your country and my country and, in truth, among all the peoples of the New World. This example of self-restraint and good sense has been, and will continue to be, not only our own salvation, but gives us the right, I believe, to look to the Old World and offer it our advice and our help to go and do likewise. ★