Year XXIX, 1987, Number 1, Page 67

 

 

REYKJAVIK. A JUDGMENT AGAINST THE NATIONAL STATES OF EUROPE
 
 
1. The reaction of European governments to Reykjavik is eye-opening. They have sabotaged the prospects of drastic disarmament. After two weeks of inter-allied haggling, they got the US to withdraw its proposals on elimination of medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles. They have revealed themselves as among the most serious obstacles to disarmament.
One’s first impulse might be to rub one’s eyes. What is this that we are hearing? After years of telling the US government it must prove to the European peoples its dedication to nuclear disarmament, now the European governments are saying the US shouldn’t be going so far in discussing disarmament.
Britain and Germany are demanding that big conventional force reductions be agreed upon simultaneous with any broad nuclear disarmament. They are fully aware that this would postpone agreement indefinitely.
2. In fact there is nothing new in this. Something like it happens almost every time the US and the Soviet Union warm up toward an agreement, although not always with such tragic effect as it has had this time for the hopes of humanity. It is only the thickness of the hypocrisy in the intervening periods that makes one rub one’s eyes when it happens again.
Indeed, without batting an eye, European leaders are already announcing that they are lecturing the US privately on the need to be more accomodating with the Soviets and reach an agreement. They have openly raised the specter of an uproar in the streets of Europe if America does not satisfy them on all of their (somewhat contradictory) points.
The one thing constant in all these turnabouts is that European governments have been expressing their “doubts” about the adequacy of US leadership, and none-too-subtly encouraging the anti-American elements who put these “doubts” into the form of extreme conclusions, hysterical accusations and heated protests.
3. The immediate reason for this hypocrisy is that European governments want to escape responsibility before their own peoples for the fact that they are pro-nuclear, and have no scruples about palming off the blame for nukes on America. That they are pro-nuclear in fact is known to anyone who has spent any time following NATO debates.
Americans want, and always have wanted, Europeans to integrate their forces and establish an effective conventional defence. European governments cling to the shadows of their once-proud sovereignty and refuse to integrate their forces. The result: they cannot defend their peoples except by threatening to blow up the world. They rationalize this by saying that any war in Europe would be intolerable, so better to threaten to call in the nukes and annihilate megapeople in order absolutely to deter aggression.
4. This sabotages efforts at nuclear disarmament. It is argued that, if NATO has not been able to develop a persuasive conventional defence after nearly forty years, it surely will not be able to do it in a mere ten years’ transition from nukes. This argument obscures the fact that the main obstacle to a conventional defense is the lack of will to unite. The argument is actually circular to the extent that the lack of will is rooted in the theory that it will always be possible and, indeed, preferable to rely on the threat of nuclear annihilation.
Agreement on nuclear disarmament should no longer be held hostage to the plodding, ahistorical pace of integration that is proposed by European national establishments. Rather, it should be consummated now since humanity requires it now. Then it would pin the national establishments to the wall and hold their fate hostage to the achievement of union during the transition period.
This would be the way to break directly out of the circle of Alliance hysterics and deal with the pressing problems of the world. Absent the will to do this, the world remains a hostage to the European nation-states. Which means that it is now obligatory to undertake the same thing anyway, but in the reverse order: since the European states have once again sabotaged major disarmament on the ground (however well disguised) that they are not yet integrated enough for it, they must move directly toward military and political integration or stand condemned as enemies of the survival of humanity.
In the meantime, Americans are expected to act as willing guinea pigs in the experiment of deterrence, cheerfully guaranteeing mutual annihilation if Soviet troops cross the line: so, the states of Europe can go on evading their responsibilities for political and military integration. Whenever Americans start looking for a better way, they must face — as the foreign offices shamelessly warn them — hysterical accusations (from the foreign offices themselves) of being an unreliable ally, and (from the protestors) of trying to start a nuclear war in Europe and then leave the Europeans to suffer annihilation alone.
The symbiosis between foreign offices and protest movements often verges on a conscious relation. It once forced NATO’s then-Secretary General, J.M. Luns, to take European governments publicly to task for letting myths spread about America imposing missiles that the European governments had in fact requested.
5. The underlying reason for the hypocrisy of European governments is that Europeans are in a prolonged and unaccustomed state of dependence on American power. Dependence breeds irresponsibility and hysteria.
What democratic people ever trusts a power that is beyond its control? The American people did not in 1776. The hysterical slogans they used then — about England as a den of corruption, dragging the peace-loving American people into the incessant petty quarrels of the warmongering monarchs of Europe — are neatly replicated in the slogans used today about a crude America dragging Europeans into the quarrels of the two superpowers.
Today, unlike the period when America’s Allies were genuine world powers, the only significant role Europeans can play in the Alliance is the role of critic. When America tries to move, they can only sit back and wonder if she isn’t getting out of hand or moving the wrong way, and try to “moderate” her policies. This inevitably backfires; it makes Americans feel like shaking off the Lilliputian ties of Europeans, and thus discourages the development of a moderate positive will.
The only solution for this is a union of peoples, so Americans and Europeans will be able to meet one another as equals — either as equal citizens of an Atlantic Union, or as equal representatives of the US of America and a US of Europe.
6. Luigi Einaudi, President of the Italian Republic from 1948 to 1955, described the reality without mincing words: “Existing states are dust without substance. None of them is able to bear the costs of independent defense”.[1] Prof. Mario Albertini recently drew out the implications of this: “To understand and judge European states all we need to appreciate is the kind of ‘raison d’état’ existing in states incapable of independent defense. We need only wonder what kind of training and selection the political class undergoes in states of this kind”.[2]
Reykjavik constitutes a judgment on the states of Europe. They are the worst nukophiles in the industrial world. Their independent nuclear forces are useful mainly as obstacles to disarmament. They have been the world’s most irresponsible proliferators of nuclear technologies and conventional armaments. Their moralizing is false, their worldly wisdom is not of this world. They constitute a standing threat to humanity and have lost all right to exist as separate sovereign entities.
7. The states of Europe are pseudo-states, burlesques on sovereign self-government. They, already well into overtime on their decadence after two world wars, use their Community and Alliance mainly as means to sustain the burlesque, not to transcend it or recapture authenticity.
These pseudo-states cannot help but be false friends to America, and false friends to their own peoples. Their structural situation as inadequate sovereign entities condemns them to work against the interests of their own and allied peoples in a thousand ways, even as their moral roots in democracy condemn them to pretend to be the best of friends. This is why they feel an instinctive need to play their peoples off against America in ever-more-bitter rounds; otherwise, they sense, their petty game would fall apart.
8. The real quarrel is not between America and the people of Europe; quite the opposite, on this level there is a deep natural harmony of interests and ideals. The real quarrel on both sides is with the pseudo-governments of Europe. The only government of Europe that would be a true friend to its own people and to America would be a true Government of Europe, i.e. a European federation. The only true ally of America in Europe, as Jean Monnet said, is Europe itself.
When this is understood by Americans, they will cease to rely on the pseudo-governments to mediate all their relations with the people of Europe, and will instead establish a full political mission also with the true embryonic Government of the people of Europe: the European Parliament. Then and only then will it be possible to have a fruitful dialogue between the free peoples of the two continents on their relations with each other and with the rest of the world.
 
Ira L. Straus


[1] Luigi Einaudi, Lo scrittoio del presidente (1948-1955), Einaudi, Turin, 1956, p. 89.
[2] Mario Albertini, “The Mediterranean Crisis and Europe’s Responsibility”, in The Federalist, XXVIII (1986), p. 39.

Share with