Europeans disagree with Americans-everyone fears the Germans

BLAIR FRASER February 5 1966


Europeans disagree with Americans-everyone fears the Germans

BLAIR FRASER February 5 1966


Europeans disagree with Americans-everyone fears the Germans


DISARRAY HAS become the conventional word for the state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but it is misleading. Disarray suggests an accidental confusion, a mere breakdown of efficiency or understanding, which could be cured by a heart-to-heart talk. Nothing could be lurther Irom the real it \ ot NAIO 1966.

I here is no “misunderstanding'’ in the Western alliance. It one thing was clear at the NAIO ministerial meeting in Paris in December, it was that all fifteen partners understand each other perfecti). True, the) disagree —but the disagreements are real, not to be resolved by discussion. They have been discussed airead)', amicably

enough but with no great effect, and they are now all the more rigid for being totally familiar.

I he European allies, for example, agree with each other in disagreeing with the American concept ot global war against Communism. To Americans. their war in Vietnam is part of a worldwide confrontation. They know, of course, that Russian and Chinese Communism are not the same, that the Russians have become the tepid Anglicans of the Marxist faith while the Chinese are the Bible-thumping fundamentalists. Nevertheless, the struggle remains for the Americans a kind of continuing religious war.

Europeans do not accept this notion. For them, the wars of religion ended in 1648, when the Peace of

Westphalia terminated the Thirty Years' War. They see Vietnam as a military situation, and a hopeless one for the United States.

“Will you please explain,” said a Frenchman to a Canadian in December, “how the American position in 1965 differs from the French position in 1954? We had far more real interest in Vietnam than the Americans have, far more to defend. We deployed more troops, who knew the country better. We spent billions of francs, lost thousands of lives. Nonetheless. we were beaten.

"In this war on the mainland of Asia, every advantage lies with the enemy — terrain, manpower, supplies, and the natural loyalty of the people. The United States cannot win there,

unless they simply destroy the country and exterminate the population. Why won’t the Americans accept the result of our experience?”

This is the sophisticated, coldly rational view. Simpler folk are more emotional about it. “I cannot understand w hy our clergy do not denounce this dreadful war,” a Paris taxi driver said. “All those people killed every day, and for nothing. It is terrible.” He was no Communist, he had voted for President de Gaulle, but that was how he felt about the war.

Vietnam is a long way from the North Atlantic region, but the war there is an important though unstated reason why President de Gaulle is wary of “integration” of NATO forces under a single command, or the subjection of French forces to any command that is not French. He is determined that nothing shall drag Frenchmen into a combat that is not their own on the other side of the world, and there is not the slightest reason to doubt that the French people agree with him in this.

Americans, of course, tire fully aware of this attitude in France and elsewhere in Europe. When Robert McNamara. U. S. Secretary of Defense, asked the NATO ministers for more support in Vietnam, he certainly did not expect to get combat troops ( though no doubt he would have been delighted if any had been offered). He was asking for any sort of help, however small, as a tangible evidence of moral support. “What he was really telling us.” a Canadian official said later, “was not to go on behaving and expecting the U. S. to behave as il nothing at all had changed, as if there were no war in Vietnam, or as if the U.S. could wage it single-handed and also remain as willing as ever to carry the lion's share of every project being undertaken in Europe.”

In fact. McNamara got very little even of verbal response, and none at all of tangible, but the little he got was enough to annoy some Frenchmen. who believe they are the only ones with the courage to say what everybody actually thinks.

"The British and the Germans will defend anything the U.S. does, anything,” an indignant Paris editor said. "They defend Vietnam, they even defend Santo Domingo. They do this to curry favor with the Americans, and strengthen their own position in Washington.

"As for the / continued on page 27

continued from pape 16

Americans, they do the same thing in reverse. They are the ones who have taked most about a united Europe, anJ vet they do all they can to keep Europe disunited. II they were to negotiate only with Europe as a whole, that would be a negotiation between equals. But no, they invite Erhard to Washington. Wilson to Washington, the Belgians and the Dutch and the Italians to Washington, and they make bilateral arrangements wdih each ol them on the so-called equal basis of one horse to one rabbit."

This is all very well, but who is to be the spokesman of a united Europe? The French editor, though not an enthusiastic Gaullist, obviously took it Hor granted that De Gaulle would speak for Europe as he speaks for France. In fact, an essential element in De Gaulle's policy is precisely the rejection of German demands for equality of status, and an equal share in nuclear strategy. He is determined that Germany shall not have any kind of access to nuclear arms.

Frenchmen are at pains to explain that this doesn't mean he or they are anti-German: "It is not because we dislike or distrust Germans as such, it is because we ourselves would feel exactly as they must do. Germany is a divided country, therefore a country with strong, unsatisfied territorial ambitions. No country — not France, not Germany, not any other country — can be trusted with nuclear weapons if it has territorial ambitions.”

The Germans, in their turn, are fully aware of these feelings of suspicion, though no less determined on that account. In Bonn, a spokesman for the Erhard government said, “We see the difficulties. We know that not only the Russians but all our friends in the alliance are doubtful, even hostile to any participation by Germany in nuclear strategy. Nevertheless, w'e feel that the consequence of Western policy cannot be anything less than full equality lor us, and no discrimination. '1 he Federal Republic cannot renounce any rights of nationhood. We have already renounced the right to nuclear arms ot our own, and nobody followed our example.

"Ol course a reunited Germany could renounce a lot. We would make a united Germany much more friendly to the Soviet Union than the Federal Republic has been or could be. But if we renounce our rights now and get nothing in return, we shall have nothing to bargain with.”

What is Germany demanding?

We want some kind of physical share in an atomic torce, and a physical share means a torce of which w'e would be among the owners. We don t ask a share in the final decision we accept an American veto — but we do ask a share in the strategic planning.”

To which my French friend made a bitter rejoinder in Paris the following week: That is what they say now. They are asking today for things they would not have dared to ask five years ago. What will they be asking five years from now?”

Apparently the exchanges between French and German delegates in the privacy of the NATO Council were equally bitter. As a Canadian observer put it: "The Franco-German treaty that Adenauer signed with De Gaulle merely concealed the realities of Europe behind the personal friendship of two old men. Now the screen has worn thin enough to he transparent.

and we can see that things are much as they always were."

Ostensibly, the reason for keeping German) out ot the nuclear club is that German participation would alarm the Soviet Union and make it impossible to conclude a treatv with the Russians for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and eventuallv perhaps tor nuclear disarmament. This

euphemism fools nobody, but it helps to preserve the courtesies of debate within the alliance, by making it unnecessary to admit that everybody else is afraid of a nuclear-armed Germain. too. But what the value would be of a non-proliferation treatv that omitted the Chinese, the French, and such potential nuclear powers as !ncontinued on pape 30

NATO continned

ilia, Pakistan, Israel, the United Arab Republic, perhaps even Indonesia betöre long, is a wide-open question.

In London, a C onservative frontbencher said, “I don't see how a real British Tory could be sincerely for a non-proliferation treaty. All it really means is that the United States and the USSR would combine to prevent anyone else from disturbing their command of the world. Nuclear arms are the reality of national power today, and the Tory instinct is to hang on to something real and powerful. How can we be serious about non-proliferation for others, if we continue to maintain an independent deterrent of our own?"

Has any member of his party said these tilings in public?

With a slightly sheepish grin, he replied, "No. These are thermonuclear weirds. They can only be tested underground.''

Officially, therefore, all parties in Britain support non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Officially, the Labor government is still backing the Atlantic nuclear torce which Prime Minister Wilson suggested a year ago, a kind of NATO nuclear command to which Britain would commit most of her own atomic forces. In Ottawa just before Christmas, Wilson repeated a bland assurance that the AN F proposal was still before NATO and no doubt would be discussed in due course. But the British have not been pressing it hard: there is no reason to think they are enthusiastic about German participation.

Nobody wants the Germans in. The trouble is. there is no sure way of keeping them out. Twenty years after the end of World War II, the Federal Republic of Germany is again the strongest state in Europe and one of the strongest in the world.

“Even on one wing, the eagle is flying high." said a Bonn official with pardonable complacency. "We in the Federal Republic rank third among the nations of the world in industrial production, second in volume of external trade. And the Soviet-occupied zone ¡as West Germans call the Communist state in East Germany] ranks eighth in industrial production. Add together the third and the eighth, and allow for the kind of expansion we could achieve if we were reunited, and you get something very close to first place.

"We can understand that other countries are envious and jealous of this record, but what can we do? Must we tell our people not to work so hard?"

A nation in that mood, with that amount of industrial strength and technical competence, is unlikely to be deterred by any “scrap of paper" from doing anything it wants and is able to do. This is the problem of the Western alliance.

Often obscured b\ the euphemisms of the Cold War. the problem has nevertheless been recognized from the start. The solution adopted, and still officially accepted, was to tie West German military strength so closely into the alliance that it couldn't be

disentangled. Germany alone among fifteen allies has no military forces that are not part of NATO. Germany has no commander-in-chief of her own. only SACF.UR—the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, who must be an American general. Militarily, the German Republic exists only as a part of the alliance. But as Germany grows stronger, the question arises : which is the tail and which is the dog?

The foreign-policy issue within Germany hinges on that very point. Foreign Minister Gerhard Schroeder is not seriously challenged by the socialist opposition; his real opponent is the right wing of his own party, led by the onetime Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Strauss. (Fritz Ehrler, foreign-policy critic for the Social Democrats, gave an outline of his own views to a visitor recently. At the end of it, the visitor asked, “What is the difference between your policy and that of Foreign Minister Schroeder?" Ehrler smiled. “The only difference." he said, “is that I have the support of my party.”)

Can Canada help?

Schroedcr’s is an “Atlantic” policy —that is. it accepts the leadership of the United States. Strauss advocates a “European” policy whereby the European nations would work out a destiny of their own, and wherein (though Strauss doesn't stress this point to overseas visitors) Germany would be the dominant power. He overlooks, or rather ignores, the fact that Gaullist France would be even less receptive than the U. S. to the idea of a dominant, nuclear-armed Germany. It is probably too strong to call Strauss a major threat in the politics of Germany today, but his policy is certainly the only alternative in sight to that of Schroeder’s and Erhard's. That’s why they could not refrain, even if they wanted to, from pressing hard for nuclear arms. They have already served public notice that membership in any kind of consultative committee on nuclear strategy will not be enough.

This is the deadlock, or stalemate, that has been hardening within the Western alliance for at least five years, if not longer. Is there anything Canada can do to help break it?

A year ago, many Canadians thought the answer might be, yes. The estrangement of France from the other allies was more recent and seemed less inevitable. It was easy to think that a North American country that had ancient ties with France, an ample force of French-speaking diplomats and soldiers, a special and emotional interest in keeping France within the family of friendly nations, might be able to perform a useful service. T his hope has not survived.

Even more than most people. President de Gaulle prefers deeds to w'ords. More than a year ago he offered to buy enormous quantities of Canadian uranium over a twenty-five-year period. fuel for the French nuclearpower program. It was not intended for military use, but De Gaulle would not let France accept the kind of

terms India had accepted from Canada; a formal promise not to make any military use of the material, and a willingness to permit a certain amount of inspection to verify that the promise was being kept. France wanted the same terms as the United States and Britain—that is, no terms at all, simply unconditional sale. In other words, he wanted France to be recognized as a nuclear power.

The Franco-Canadian uranium deal is still dragging, and Canada’s relations with the Elysée Palace are not so much cool as nonexistent. Canadian Ambassador Jules Léger has not had an audience with President de Gaulle since he presented his credentials in the autumn of 1964. A procession of Quebec ministers have gone to Paris since then and have been invited to lunch or tea or other such receptions by De Gaulle; Ambassador Léger has never been invited, and there is no longer any doubt that this is a deliberate and reiterated snub. The uranium deal is not the only reason—there are some other petty irritations as well—but the estrangement is undeniable. Neither Prime Minister Pearson nor Paul Martin, the Minister of External Affairs, has had any contact with De Gaulle for two years.

This is not quite as bad as it sounds. De Gaulle is not France, nor even the entire government of France, and Canadian relations w'ith the French foreign office and other departments of government are as close as they have ever been, perhaps closer. Neve»;-' theless, the notion of Canada assufning a special mediatory role between De Gaulle and the other allies is the wildest of wishful thinking.

Even if this were not so, there is nothing to mediate about. The differences are known; there is nothing to explain. As a simple military alliance, NATO is still in business—generals still give civilian visitors the same briefings about the Soviet threat, the deployment of Russian divisions in eastern Europe, the “force goals” that would be needed to meet them. But as an Atlantic community, even in embryo, the alliance is showing no signs of growth.

Only one thing is certain: when the North Atlantic Treaty runs out in 1969, it will be succeeded by something very different. What that something will be, nobody has yet discerned. ★