restricted access The Western Alliance: Drift or Harmony?
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The Western Alliance:I Hoffmunn IA number of factors have led, in the past couple of years, to an acute sense of crisis among the members of the Atlantic Alliance and to heightened tensions within it.' Of those, the recent report of the Directors of the American, French, German and British Councils or Institutes of International Relations constitutes an excellent survey.* Clearly, the three fundamental considerations are: a new awareness of the fact that the world has become a single strategic stage, and that the security of the members of the Alliance can be threatened by events occurring outside its geographic area, especially in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region; the unfavorable evolution of the military balance in Europe, because of the relentless modernization of Sovietconventional forces and of the development of new Sovietmiddle-range nuclear weapon systems that are both mobile and highly precise; and the collapse of the SovietAmerican detente. In this essay, I will concentrate on what I deem essential: the different reactions to these events within the Alliance, and the causes of these divergences . I will then suggest certain ways to restore harmony. Nuance and the New Consensus It is important, in analyzing the current drift, to diagnose correctly the nature and the limits of transatlantic discord. It is not, in the first place, a simple matter of disagreement between Americans and West Europeans. Western European opinion covers a whole range of attitudes, not only within each country (the same would be true of Stanley Hoffmann is Douglas Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France at Harvard University, and Chairman of Harvard's Center for European Studies. 1. See "Reflectionson the Present Danger" and "The Crisis in the West," New York Review, March 6, 1980, and July 17, 1980; also see the author's "Europe and the New Orthodoxy," Harvard International Review, December 1980lJanuary1981. 2. Western Security, a report by Karl Kaiser, Thierry de Montbrial, Winston Lord, and W. Watt, published by the Council on Foreign Relationsand the Royal Institute of International Affairs, December 1981. ~ ~~ ~ ~~ Znternational Security, Fall 1981(Vol. 6, No.2) 0162-2889/81/020105-21$02.50/0 @ 1981by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology. 105 lnternational Security I 106 the United States) but among governments. Today, the official position of Britain is closer to that of the Reagan Administration than is the position of the Bonn government; yet another gap exists between the major three West Europeanpowers and some of the smallerEuropean members of NATO (one of which has recently been accused of neutralism by a French President). Disagreement centers not on the existence of a renewed Soviet threat to Western securityinterests; in this respect, the divergencesover the response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan are actually less profound than the split in the Alliance in October 1973, when many Europeansrefused to view the October War between Israel, Egypt, and Syria as a confrontationbetween Washington and Moscow, as Kissinger saw and wanted them to see it. By contrast, in 1980, all the Allies deemed Soviet behavior in Kabul unacceptable . There are, in academia and among public officials on both sides of the Atlantic, two different conceptions of Soviet behavior; both can be found in varying degress in every country of the Western Alliance. To simplify, I would call one the essentialist view; it stresses the radically different nature of the Soviet system (either because of its imperial essence, or, more usually, because of its revolutionary one.) In a manner comparable to George Kennan 's in 1946-1947, the essentialist view describes the Soviet Union as an inextricable mix of power and ideology on the march, driven to paranoia because its whole rationale is the assumption of external hostility, and to expansion because its survival depends on the elimination of its enemies (within as well as abroad). Thus, it is a system with which no mutual gains or lastingcooperation are possible. The West is condemned either to endure inexpiableconflictwith that system (the "harder" version of this conception), or to practiceperpetual containmentof it (Kennan's early notion, or Raymond Aron's formulation, "to survive is to win."). The other view of Sovietbehavior describesit as relentlesslyopportunistic. Ideology is...