Part 5 of "OUR FOREIGN POLICY 1952"
THE NORTH ATLANTIC AREA
IN the fall of 1947, there was mounting tension in Europe and the fear of further communist aggression, both direct and indirect. In February 1948, ,the com-munists took over Czechoslovakia. The blockade of Berlin showed that the Soviets were willing to use force-ful measures, short of war, to drive the Western Powers out of that city. It was clear that, until Western Europe could muster enough defenses to command Soviet respect, its position would grow weaker instead of stronger.
The Europeans themselves took the first step when they signed the Brussels treaty in March 1948. This treaty is a 50-year mutual-defense alliance among five nations : the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
On the very day the Brussels treaty was signed, President Truman went before the Congress, outlining an American rearmament program which took the broader
needs of European defense into account. During the summer of the same year the Senate approved a state-ment of policy known as the Vandenberg Resolution. It authorized the Government to develop collective-defense arrangements and to associate with the United States "by constitutional process" with these arrangements. This almost unanimous (64 to 4) declaration of policy fur-nished the necessary green light for the organization of collective defense in the North Atlantic area.
Talks with the Brussels treaty powers began immediately. They produced the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in April 1949 and ratified the following July.
The development of the North Atlantic defense sys-tem was bound to be slow because of the numerous prob-lems that had to be solved or compromised in uniting the efforts of so many free nations. The Korean attack added urgency without making the problems any easier to solve.
To operate the treaty a North Atlantic Council, con-sisting of the ministers of the 12 member nations, was set up. Later, the Council decided to create a common defense force, and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Commander at the beginning of 1951. The Council had already adopted the principle of "balanced collective forces." Instead of each country's trying to have a complete system of self-defense, each one takes the part that it can do best in the combined defense of the North Atlantic area.
For Western Europe the year 1951 was a period of progress and growth. In the short span of one year the nations of the North Atlantic area were able to create both an organization and a spirit capable of de-fending the area.
"We know," said Secretary Acheson on December 30, 1951, "and our friends in Europe know, that we can build up sufficient strength, both military and economic, to deter aggression or check it."
But General Eisenhower still suffers much the same handicaps that General Washington had in 1775, when Washington worked under a Continental Congress that had too little authority to be fully effective. General Eisenhower has felt the need of a strong political authority in Europe and has therefore urged the Euro-peans to push their efforts toward union. He said in January 1952 :
"In the light of cold, hard fact I simply can't see any acceptable alternative to a union, an economic union,
between the states of Western Europe. I can't see how economic union can be successful unless there is political union."
The progress that Europe had made by the end of 1951 was possible because the West European nations and the United States had met the crisis of 1950 suc-cessfully. The outbreak in Korea, in June 1950, called for hard decisions in Western Europe. The Western Europeans knew that, if they started to build up their military strength, they would face the risk of a Soviet attack. But if they should fail to build their defenses, they would invite aggressive Soviet pressures. Despite their recovery since the start of the Marshall Plan, they could see economic dangers in a drastic expansion of their armed forces. They realized that, if they should have an economic breakdown, the Soviets would be quick to capitalize on it.
The United States, still tooling up for its own arms program, could not carry the whole burden of Euro-pean rearming, though it could and did contribute heavily in equipment and materials. The program demanded that all the nations increase production substantially.
At the September 1951 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Ottawa, a committee, with W. Averell Har-riman as chairman, was appointed to review military needs for Western Europe against the economic cap-abilities of the NATO members.
The task of this committee is to say how large a mili-
tary force is needed and how soon it can be assembled. The committee will make a continuing survey of the economic effects of the program as it develops.
Meanwhile, as General Eisenhower said, European union comes more and more into the picture. The idea of a closer political union in Western Europe is not, of course, new. Under various conditions it has been pro-posed again and again over the centuries.
Today, the strongest forces pushing Western Europe together are the need for a unified European army and the need for a unified European market for industry and business. Both these requirements call for more political unity in much the same way that the need for security and prosperity in the Thirteen Original States before 1787 called for "a
more perfect union" and led to the writing of our Constitution.
European union faces many of the obstacles that stood in the way of American union in 1787 ; but in Europe they are even more serious. Fear of free trade, fear of domination by the larger states, local patriotism, and traditional hostility to outsiders all have to be overcome. No one knows whether it will be possible to get a work-able political union of Western Europe or how long it will take. But this is no more an idle dream than our own Federal Union was ; it is merely a hard problem, and serious minds in Europe are concentrating on it.
In December 1951, the Foreign Ministers of six NATO nations, meeting in Paris, proposed the first steps toward what may, in time, be a Western European union.
The proposal recommended in part a European de-fense community directed by our four common institutions. There would be a committee of six ministers, an executive agency of probably six commissioners, an assembly composed of parliamentary representatives, and a court of justice. The assembly, in its first 6 months, would work out the broad principles govern-ing the federation.
This is, of course, only a proposal. That it should have been made, however, shows how the wind is blow-ing. The position of Western Europe in the North Atlantic alliance is gradually changing from a group of smaller countries toward that of a federation strong enough to insure its own security.
The Marshall Plan had an important influence in preparing European opinion for a new effort at unification. The Marshall Plan started with the job of re-building factories, farms, and transportation, but soon went on to press for greater efficiency. This in turn led into pressures for greater unity. To many Ameri-cans, the small size of the European states, their high trade barriers, and their differences of economic policy seemed to be important obstacles to high production.
Under the Marshall Plan thousands of Europeans representing business, industry, labor, and agriculture were brought to the United States to observe American methods. One effect of their observations was that the climate of opinion began to favor more active competition.
A British team of steel-foundry employers and workers stated in its report on a 6-week trip to America :
"Economic surveys politely use the terminology of economics. Put much more bluntly, the economic surveys tell us that the alternative to high productivity is starvation. Once that is understood, not only intellec-tually but emotionally, something can be done. . . . Neither traditional practice nor trade custom has an export value. High productivity has."
Encouragement of competition, so as to stimulate the use of new technology, is a main feature of the steel and coal plan proposed by Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister.
The Schuman Plan, proposed in May 1950, calls for the establishment of a High Authority, representing all the cooperating nations, which will exercise sovereign power over the coal- and steel-producing industries of Western Europe.
Under the plan the coal and steel industries of the countries that join will be brought into a single free-trade market. In all practical respects, national bound-aries will be erased as far as these industries are con-cerned. The countries will abandon their efforts to be self-sufficient in coal and steel and will allow these in-dustries to develop in a common market.
Free competition will be the normal rule of trade. The broad scope of individual opportunity and initia-tive will be protected. Another aim of the Plan is to
free private enterprise from its own entanglements of restricting agreements and practices.
The Plan is more than just a business arrangement. One of its main purposes is to do away with some of the old causes of war between Germany and her neighbors. National monopolies and international cartels have been both the cause and the instrument of conflict. The Plan will substitute profitable cooperation.
On January 11, 1952, Secretary Acheson, commenting on the ratification of the Schuman Plan by various governments, said :
"A critical corner has been turned in the political evolution of Western Europe. In the brief span since the end of World War II Germany, Italy, France, and the Benelux nations have gone far in fashioning the political and economic ties which should mean the end of cen-turies of sporadic hostilities among them. The progress made so far is a tribute to the courage and imagination of the people and statesmen of these countries."