Will Dulles’ Policy Wreck Nato?

BLAIR FRASER March 15 1954


Will Dulles’ Policy Wreck Nato?

BLAIR FRASER March 15 1954


Will Dulles’ Policy Wreck Nato?


ALARM is growing in Ottawa and in Europe, according to reports here at the new global military strategy of the United States.

John Foster Dulles, U. S. Secretary of State, described the new policy as “a basic decision to depend primarily on a great capacity to retaliate, by means and at places of our own choosing.” Instead of the hundred NATO divisions that were the ultimate target of U. S. policy a year ago, NATO is now to be stabilized at half that strength. “Local defenses” are to be “reinforced by the further deterrent of massive retaliatory power.”

As the implications of this are studied, and as reports accumulate from North Atlantic Treaty capitals, anxiety deepens. Some people think the whole North Atlantic Treaty Organization may collapse unless the U. S. can explain,quickly and convincingly, that the new strategy doesn’t mean what it seems to mean.

It seems to mean that NATO partners are being asked to delegate to the United States their sovereign power to declare war.

The threat of “massive retaliation” is a threat of major war. NATO allies want to know who will decide what occasion or what provocation justifies the launching of a conflict in which, by the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty, all will be involved.

Dulles speaks of hitting back at an aggressor “by means and at places of our own choosing.” Whose own choosing? NATO’s? Or is it to be just Washington’s own choosing, with the rest of us dragged along willynilly?

That’s one worry. Another, particularly strong in Europe, is that the new policy is really the beginning of “Operation Disengagement.” The French especially are afraid that American isolationism has revived and that, on the pretext of efficiency, the United States is again withdrawing behind its own borders. Europe would be left to face an invasion with only its own scanty “local defenses” —to fight a losing infantry battle and then to wait for victory to come, if at all, by atomic reprisal from the air. To a continent which has been liberated once in the recent past, the prospect is uninviting.

Washington has already explained, of course, that this is not what is meant. Allies are assured that there’s been no change in basic objectives or grand strategy. The United States is not backing out of any commitment in the collective security network. Only the means have been altered, not the ends.

American spokesmen admit that one reason for the new policy is financial—they want to balance the budget, now that the shooting war in Korea is over. They feel they can’t keep up present outlays on defense without (as Dulles put it) “practical bankruptcy.”

But they insist this economy is perfectly safe for everybody. A purely military appraisal of the new atomic weapons, the tactical weapons which President Eisenhower called “virtually conventional,” indicates that spending and manpower can be cut with no loss of real strength. American officials point out that neither the Joint Chiefs of Staff nor any other generals Continued on page 70 have uttered a peep of protest against the economy program.

This is indeed a strong argument. The Pentagon Building is not in the habit of swallowing unpalatable instructions in meek silence. These cuts are substantial—four billions in money and ten percent in manpower. Why aren’t the generals screaming?

Partly because even they admit there is some waste to be eliminated. The “crash program” of the Korean War had the inevitable extravagances and inefficiencies that must go with emergency measures. Defense Secretary Charles E. Wilson believes that now, in relative peace, a lot of fat can be cut out without cutting muscle.

But a more important factor seems to be that the economy program reached the Joint Chiefs at the same time as the appraisals of new atomic weapons. These offered such a tremendous increase in firepower, at such a moderate cost, that the active generals as well as General Eisenhower could accept the economy program with a clear conscience.

IN OTTAWA, at least, critics admit that this makes sense as far as it goes, but they say it doesn’t go far enough. Even if there’s no actual withdrawal of American strength, the new policy of retaliation may result in a partial paralysis.

Obviously, the weapon of retaliation can only be used when the issue is clear and decisive. It means nothing less than a major war, and an end to all half measures. There have been in the past, and may be in the future, many blurred and ambiguous situations in which the threat of retaliation is really no threat at all.

And if the threat thus becomes a hollow one, the new U. S. strategy may become not more “flexible,” as Dulles intends, but instead more rigid than ever. It lays down only two alternatives, all-out war or nothing. The odds are that in many cases, perhaps too many, “nothing” will be the alternative chosen.

However, this is a minor consideration compared to the danger that the United States is undertaking, consciously or unconsciously, the whole burden of decision for the whole free world.

United States strategy has become peripheral. It’s based on a line of sea and air bases running all the way from Norway through Britain, Spain, North Africa, Greece and Turkey, and now to be extended to Pakistan. It’s obvious that “victory by retaliation” could indeed be launched from this worldgirdling line. It’s much less obvious how the allies of the United States could be adequately consulted.

Europeans are not prepared to leave their fate in the hands of the United States; not on those terms, anyway. If they are to be asked to give up their sovereignty in the vital matter of declaring war, they will demand that other people—including the United States—give up some sovereignty too.

They might demand, for example, that NATO be converted into a much stronger supranational body with much broader and much more binding mutual obligations. If the United States wants the other partners to commit themselves to war through United States action, they want at least the right and the power to commit the United States in other ways. Specifically, they might try to broaden NATO’s authority into the economic and social field, and build up a far greater and deeper NATO solidarity than has ever been attempted or even envisaged.

That, however, is an improbable and visionary alternative. A much more likely one is that NATO would simply collapse—or, still worse, fade into a mere object of lip service like the old League of Nations or the KelloggBriand Peace Pact. This last would be an even greater calamity than open abandonment of the North Atlantic Treaty, because the citizens of the Western world would be allowed to bask in the illusion of a collective security which in fact would no longer exist.

No one is suggesting that this catastrophe is inevitable. It is merely a threat—but an increasing one. As one observer put it, paraphrasing John Foster Dulles’ own words at the NATO Council meeting in Paris:

“If this keeps up, the United States may not be the only country to undertake an ‘agonizing reappraisal’ of its foreign policy.”

IMMIGRATION Department and Northern Affairs officials have recently turned up an amusing but embarrassing situation in the Mackenzie Delta, near Aklavik.

A small settlement of Eskimos there, maybe fifty or sixty men, women and children, have been getting the same treatment as other Eskimos in the Northwest Territories. They receive Family-Allowance cheques, they vote in territorial elections, they’re under the usual care of the Northern Affairs Division and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Now it turns out they aren’t Canadians. They moved over to the Mackenzie Delta from Alaska some years ago, when the fishing and hunting gave out in their old location. The Eskimos didn’t know they were crossing an international border, and probably don’t know it yet, but they were.

This would be simple enough if it weren’t for the provisions of the Citizenship Act. These “immigrants” have been here for more than five years, all right, but few of them have the knowledge of English or French that the Citizenship Act requires of New Canadians. They speak Eskimo. Fewer still could meet the act’s stipulation that they have some knowledge of the rights and duties of Canadian citizens. (Neither have our own Canadian Eskimos, of course, but they are Canadians already and don’t have to meet any tests. )

Officials in both departments have been conferring about the problem (purely legalistic and technical) of turning these Eskimos into Canadians so that they will be legally entitled to the benefits they are getting. One way would be to pass a special act of parliament for this special case; another, still being explored, would be to find some wrinkle or loophole in the Citizenship Act which would be stretched to meet the purpose.

Meanwhile, of course, the Eskimos themselves continue about their business, blissfully unaware that they are in a foreign land, -fc