The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington
on the World Today
SIXTEEN years ago this September, Winston Churchill, in a speech at Zurich, Switzerland, called upon his fellow Europeans to “build a kind of United States of Europe.” A regional organization pulling together the war-torn nations would enable “this turbulent and mighty continent” to “take its proper, rightful place with other great groupings and help to shape the destinies of man.” It was a noble Churchillian effort, a grand design for the future. Embedded in it was a recognition that at long last there must be a “partnership between France and Germany” to end the antagonisms which had cost so many so much.
Churchill then was out of office. And when he returned to the prime ministership in 1951, the dream of the Zurich speech had been forgotten. It seemed that the theme he himself had written for the final volume of his great war series did indeed apply: “How the great democracies triumphed, and so were able to resume the follies which had so nearly cost them their life.”
Others took up what Churchill abandoned. An American, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, proposed in a Harvard speech the vast recovery plan which was to bear his name. But too often forgotten is the fact that Marshall proposed that Europe itself take the initiative in a program which should be a joint one, agreed to by a number of European nations, if not all. And because in mid-1947 Marshall had not yet despaired of continuing the wartime Soviet-American cooperation, he spoke of all of Europe “up to the Urals.”
Stalin sent Molotov to Paris to take a look at what Marshall was proposing. But Molotov, in one of the critical decisions of the post-war world, walked out. The Marshall Plan became a Western program, and the division of Europe was complete once the rival regimes were established in Germany and the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization followed the Communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia.
The Marshall Plan, which of course included Britain, created a great post-war spirit of cooperation among the western Europeans. Ernest Bevin, then Britain’s Labor Foreign Secretary, was a leader both in responding to Marshall’s economicaid offer and in creating NATO out of the initial Brussels Treaty Organization, in which Britain, France, and the Benelux nations were first joined militarily. But in 1950 another Laborite, Sir Stafford Cripps, declared that “participation in a political federation, limited to Western Europe, is not compatible either with our Commonwealth ties, our obligations as a member of the wider Atlantic community or as a world power.”
What Cripps was then declining to join — and Tories as well as Laborites almost overwhelmingly agreed with him — was the dream which came largely from the minds of two Frenchmen: Foreign Minister Robert Schuman and economic expert Jean Monnet. Schuman is dead, but Monnet today is recognized as the father of the movement for creation of a United States of Europe.
From Six to Nine?
Britain in 1950 made a fateful choice not to join in creating a united Europe, but in 1961 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan took the first step to reverse the process. He did so by applying for British membership in the Common Market, the economic union of France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg (“the Six”), which not only has contributed greatly to the western European economic boom but which has given the incentive for the Kennedy trade expansion act, now before the Congress, as the American technique for dealing with it.
Thus 1962 is a year of decision of tremendous importance. If Britain does join the Six in the Market, at least two other NATO nations, Denmark and Norway, will join, and the Six will become the Nine, a vast market with a population greater than that of the United States. There are a number of problems involved in this expansion, chiefly what to do about the neutrals whose economic lives are so bound up with the Nine Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, and Portugal. But their problem can be solved only after the British problem is solved.
This spring the world began to hear rumbles from both Paris and Bonn, reflections of doubt about British membership. Suddenly (though the fact had been known before to those who had paid attention) British membership in the Common Market seemed to be in doubt; the unification of Europe was in doubt; indeed, the unity of the Atlantic community, the core of the free world, was in doubt.
To understand this, one must realize that the term “European unity" has both an economic and a political connotation. And the rub lies in the latter. Initially, the pro-Europeans sought political unity. A critical but unsuccessful move was the European Army scheme to bind inextricably together the forces of France and Germany with the others. But in the end a suspicious French Assembly in the Fourth Republic rejected EDC despite the most persistent American prodding.
It was then that Monnet and his allies fell back to the economic field. The Coal and Steel Community and. later, Euratom helped produce the Treaty of Rome, the basic document of the Common Market. Gradually, by this device, an economic entity was to be created. Implied were the eventual and logical creation of such things as a common currency and, finally, some form of common Parliament.
De Gaulle’s pride
Paradoxically. General de Gaulle’s coming to power both helped and hindered the development. De Gaulle accepted the Common Market, finding it much to the aid of his own aim of revitalizing the anachronistic French economy. But he, too, realized its political implications, and these he has resisted. For, as he sees it, continental western Europe should be founded on an inseparable Franco-German tie, with French leadership of a grouping of nation-states.
De Gaulle has invested billions of francs to create his own nuclear weapons capability, certain in his own mind that this attribute of power would show beyond doubt that France was the obvious leader of the Six. He denies that he wants the Six to be a third force, separate from and balanced between America and Russia. He sought with both Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy to create a directoire to run the free world — America, Britain, and France, the three nations with their own nuclear weapons. But both Presidents rejected this approach, and both relused to help him in creating his own nuclear force.
The issue of sovereignty
Early this year De Gaulle sought to settle, in advance of possible British membership in the Market, the political future of western Europe as a Europe of sovereign nation-states with only the minimal contributions to supranationalism necessary to make economic union work. He was balked by all the other five of the Six for varying reasons. The British, though they want no more diminution of sovereignty than does De Gaulle, do want to be in on the negotiations. The Dutch want to move toward supranationalism, and they do not want De Gaulle to clamp upon the Six for all time his own concept of a united Europe.
Adenauer has been far more of a supranationalist than De Gaulle; he fought for the European Army scheme, and he has subdued those German leaders who wanted to limit European unity to economics alone. Yet he has had to give ground to De Gaulle, and he has done so. Then, this spring, as President Kennedy pressed for negotiations with the Soviet Union over Berlin, Adenauer has found himself torn between the two pillars of his policy the Franco-German rapprochement and the Bonn-Washington tie.
In the row over the Berlin negotiations, with Adenauer suspicious of what Kennedy might be up to, the Germans have moved closer to De Gaulle. Adenauer reached the point of declaring that “the question of the political union of Europe has to be solved this summer; there is no other way.” In other words, he seemed to be saying that De Gaulle’s prescription must be accepted before Britain joins the Market.
The United States found itself caught in a most difficult position. The President is convinced that the East-West dialogue with the Soviet Union must continue, that indeed there is no other way to keep the world from war. He is convinced that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a step toward disaster; hence he refused to aid the De Gaulle nuclear force.
But he also knows that the effect of the Common Market could be vastly increased if the Six were to become the Nine, with the neutrals later somehow associated economically, and that the general direction of the Nine should be toward political integration. That is why Kennedy spoke out in mid-May in response to De Gaulle’s increasingly intransigent stand. And the President has made his trade bill, the tool for American economic relationships with the Six and later the Nine, the key legislative proposal in Congress.
How far Adenauer will go in supporting De Gaulle in the complex maneuvers this summer, no one can say, De Gaulle, suspicious of Kennedy and resentful in his pride and search for France’s lost glory, believes that France can lead the Six, but with Britain in the Nine his power would be diminished. Britain, he knows, accepts Washington s view of negotiations with the Soviets, whereas he and Adenauer basically oppose any negotiations. Despite all the Paris denials, Washington thinks that De Gaulle would prefer to keep the British out of the Common Market, though he will not say so.
Macmillan in a bind
Britain, in turn, thus is caught in a bind. Macmillan, his political power already badly damaged by a string of defeats in by-elections to Parliament as well as in local elections, would have a hard time reversing himself on the Market without the fall of his government. The negotiations are going ahead, but the context now is such that the terms are likely to become even more severe for British membership.
So far as one can see, there is precious little the United States can do to help. Indeed, even with the new trade legislation, the President will have to do some tough bargaining to establish for the United States a healthy economic relationship with the Market.
Watching all this, of course, is Nikita Khrushchev, whose own bloc is torn with dissension. Watching, too, are the underdeveloped nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, for their economic, and thus their political, futures are involved in the fate of the great argument.
The pessimists in Washington feel that De Gaulle, with Adenauer’s help, will in the end keep the British out and limit severely the political integration of western Europe. But the optimists feel that the vast movement toward togetherness which has been gathering power ever since Churchill’s words at Zurich sixteen years ago is, of itself, far stronger and more powerful than any individual, even Charles de Gaulle. He may produce a temporary setback; the British may have to accept highly distasteful terms: but in the end, the optimists believe, this great movement toward European unity, toward closer cohesion within the Atlantic community, must and will go forward to success. Whatever the outcome, 1962 certainly ranks as a fateful year of decision.
Mood of the Capital
All of the House and a third of the Senate are anxious to get away to the campaign trail. Yet the legislative logjam is immense and likely to get worse as the summer heat sears Washington. The critical bottleneck at the beginning of the session was the House Ways and Means Committee, and it still has work to do. As summer goes on, the Senate’s Finance Committee will be the new center of attention. Chairman Harry F. Byrd, out of sympathy with practically all the legislation before his committee, seems to be in no hurry.
Stuck in Byrd’s committee are the trade bill, the medical-care measure, the regular extension of corporate and excise taxes, and the increase in the national debt. Delay is an old tactic to defeat unwanted measures, and there certainly will be delay in the Finance Committee this summer. As a result, it is a safe prediction that Congress will grow fidgety and crotchety, that many a Kennedy measure will be mangled or pigeonholed, and that the rush to get home — even if there is a post-election session — will produce some unhappy products from the legislative mill.