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Hther wanted this unthinkable eventuality. . rS°) there would be no major war in Europe °r at least 20 years. Further, because the two Sl’Per-powers would strain every muscle to M°id direct confrontation and the inherent anger of escalation to nuclear war, detente as a fact of life; it was something to be C|li°yed rather than exploited.
It was July of 1967. Under unusually clear British skies, a midsummer sun splashed 'ts rays through the high windows of Milne Hall, Rhodes House, at Oxford University and bathed in bright light the assembled Members of the annual Oxford Conference of International Officials.
The Conference theme was world-wide— diplomatic Realignments—but a rather large Majority of the delegates and speakers hailed Horn countries in Western Europe and it is not surprising, therefore, that a careful observer c°uld extract from the two weeks of delibera- t'ons a reasonably accurate impression of the Pfesent-day mood of non-Communist Europe.
Though the Conference subjects were diVerse, one theme quickly assumed a leading r°le in the discussions.
detente dominated European thought. Immediately evident was the wide military- mvilian split which, predictably and inevita- surrounded any talk of a relaxation in gained East-West relations. On the one aand, the civilians clearly wanted detente; "'anted it so badly that they were ready to Create it in the event that it did not actually exist-—a possibility they refused to admit.
the other, the military contingent stead- astly pointed to growing Warsaw Pact military capabilities as evidence that there was no Such thing as detente.
Articulate and persuasive, the civilians Maintained the offensive. Their most vocif- Cr°us advocate—a widely known British 'H'lcator—expounded their collective views in jMntorian phrases that brooked no argument. His brief was deceptively simple: war in- v°lving the two super-powers would lead in- Matably to a massive nuclear exchange.
Within this deduced aura of relaxed tension, of improved prospects for meaningful peace, attention turned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as it was bound to do in any discussion of diplomatic realignments. Here, especially, the overpowering desire for detente colored the picture of NATO which the speakers put forward: inasmuch as there has been no war in Europe for the past 22 years, there will be none in the foreseeable future; NATO military prowess is, therefore, no longer really of fundamental importance to Western survival [because the threat has receded]. Henceforth, NATO will become more of a political instrument charged with promoting detente.
The picture thus painted of NATO was sanguine. In military circles, to be sure, these pastel brush strokes were received with considerable skepticism. Nevertheless, the civilian view, albeit contentious, did pose a basic question: Was detente fact, or was it wishful thinking?
In searching for an answer, one must start at the beginning—the dark and ominous days immediately after the close of World War II. Western Europe lay prostrate, completely drained by the tremendous effort required to defeat Nazi Germany. European cities, conquered and conqueror’s alike were devastated; economies shattered. Armies of the Western Allies stood triumphant, facing an equally victorious Red Army along a line stretching through Central Europe from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. Within a few months, though, the U. S. and British armies melted away like the first snows of early winter.
The Communist legions, however, displayed no such unseemly haste to disband. As a result, an impotent West soon found itself watching in helpless frustration as, one by one, the nations of Eastern Europe dropped into the insatiable maw of Soviet imperialism, victims of an expansionist drive spearheaded by the unchallenged might of the Red Army.
piece oi Y a blockad effectively
By 1947, even the most irrepressibly optimistic countries of the West began to see that May 1945 had not marked, as they had believed, the beginning of a millenium. Months of bitter experience with Soviet intransigence had brought about the recognition that an insidious shift from right to left wing imperialism had occurred; that they were no less threatened by Stalinist designs than they had been by Hitler’s. They realized, at long last, that they had exhausted themselves fending off Nazi inroads only to find themselves beset by a more powerful and implacable foe.
Winston Churchill foresaw the danger a week after the Allies had trapped the final, shattered remnants of the Wehrmacht in the heart of Germany. Five days after German Colonel General Alfred Jodi signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, Churchill posed the key question in his famous “iron curtain” telegram to President Harry S. Truman. It is significant that, of this one message, Churchill said, “Of all the public documents I have written on this issue I would rather be judged by this.”
12 May 1945
I am profoundly concerned about the European situation. I learn that half the American Air Force in Europe has already begun to move to the Pacific theatre. The newspapers are full of the great movements of the American armies out of Europe. Our armies also are, under previous arrangements, likely to undergo a marked reduction. The Canadian Army will certainly leave. The French are weak and difficult to deal with. Anyone can see that in a short space of time our armed power on the Continent will have vanished, except for moderate forces to hold down Germany.
2. Meanwhile, what is to happen about Russia? . . . What will be the position in a year or two, when the British and American Armies have melted and the French has [he] not yet formed on any major scale, when we may have a handful of divisions, mostly French, and when Russia may choose to keep two or three hundred on active service?
3. An iron curtain is drawn down upon their front. We do not know what is going on behind. There seems little doubt that the whole of the regions east of the line Lubeck- Trieste-Corfu will soon be completely in their hands. To this must be added the further enormous area conquered by the American armies between Eisenach and the Elbe, which will, I suppose, in a few weeks be occupied, when the Americans retreat, by the Russian power. . . .
4. Meanwhile the attention of our peoples will be occupied in inflicting severities on Germany, which is ruined and prostrate, and it would be open to the Russians in a very short time to advance if they chose to the waters of the North Sea and the Atlantic. . . .
In mid-1947, the first nations of Western Europe began to acknowledge the facts post-World War II international life. They forthwith launched an intensive search f°r ways to stem the Red tide.
The United States joined forces with these European nations by taking two giant steps'^ the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plat' Further developments followed swiftly and by January of 1948, concrete proposals for sort1® kind of Western European mutual defense pact were being hotly debated. This international dialogue culminated on 17 March 111 the Brussels Treaty, a compact negotiated be tween Belgium, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
But these belated bulwarks were 110 enough and, by mid-1948, just three year after Germany’s capitulation, the Sov,e Union owned Eastern Europe. Still on a 'vaf time footing, the Red tide—in the absence 0 comparable Free World military p°'vCj which vanished as Churchill had predict —had engulfed over half-a-million sqlia miles of territory and 120 million people- ^ Then, in an appallingly bad litical timing, the Soviets threw around Berlin, and, thereby, shoved the embryonic Western Europe^ Union into alliance with North America the United States and Canada. On 4 Ap1^ 1949—with the Berlin Blockade in its 28 T day and with 38 days yet to go—the N°r Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washing10 D. C. In one quick jump, the defensive n° tiers of the United States had hurdled the Atlantic and, crossing Western Europe, had ^arched right up to the very edge of the Iron Curtain. Along with North America, the So- Vlet actions also pushed Norway, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, and Portugal into these unprecedented peacetime arrangements.
In its early years, the Alliance necessarily Placed first priority on fashioning and tempering the military shield it needed to stem ^°viet expansion. NATO itself expanded as, faring those years, Greece, Turkey, and then the Federal Republic of Germany joined the club. Thanks to Russian truculence, a recent J°®mon enemy—though badly truncated— aad in the short space of nine years become ari invaluable ally.
From about 1955 onward, the Alliance adapted itself to a broadened Soviet threat, 0lje which by this time was virtually worldwide. As they nudged the boundaries of '"ropcan overseas possessions, Russian probes effected nations that were party to the North dantic Treaty and, as a result, all members
the Alliance came to realize that their col- L'ctive interests extended far beyond the edges
Continental Europe. These countries were
. . by mid-1948, just years after Germany's capitulation, the Soviet Union owned
Eastern Europe. ”  1
policy matters had begun to emerge at last.
Over the next few years, this recognition of the need for political consultation slowly grew until it was in a position to compete with the Alliance’s initial preoccupation with the hard problems of mutual military defense. That military prowess, slowly and painfully structured, had made NATO a major factor on the world scene by 1966. Certainly, the Alliance needed no more convincing proof of its influence than the widespread campaign the Soviets had mounted to discredit or, better yet, to destroy NATO.
Then, Charles de Gaulle dealt the entire edifice a body blow.
In a press conference on 21 February 1966, he hinted that France was about to withdraw from the military side of the Alliance. And on 7 March, the hint became reality as he spelled out French intentions in a letter to President Fyndon Johnson. In that letter, De Gaulle announced withdrawal of all French forces from integrated NATO military command and, in an aide memoire on 11 March, he ordered all NATO military commands out of France.
Split militarily into two main segments, its parts separated by the yawning gap which the French departure had left, the Alliance appeared to have been wrecked. And there seems little doubt that a gleeful crew of NATO watchers in the Kremlin waited in eager anticipation for the whole, laboriously erected structure to come tumbling down.
But it did not fall. And, today, two years after De Gaulle’s fateful decision, the North Atlantic Alliance, together with its military organization, remains. Responding to the French ultimatum, NATO moved not only its military headquarters out of France, but its highest political body—the North Atlantic Council—as well. New headquarters for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe have risen from the flat Belgian countryside near Casteau, some 30 miles south of Brussels. In the Belgian capital itself, new temporary headquarters for the North Atlantic Council have been completed close by the Brussels International Airport and plans are well ad-
can only be found within the walls of the Elysee Palace. Nevertheless, it is possible t0 formulate a few fundamental assertions, ones which appear most probably to form the baslS for De Gaulle’s actions.
To begin with, it seems clear that he, better than anyone else, understands the practic limitations of French power and political n1
vanced for construction of permanent buildings on the site of the recent Brussels World’s Fair. Just across the border in The Netherlands, new headquarters for Allied Forces Central Europe are settled in the Brunssum- Maastricht area.
A collection of new steel and concrete buildings do not, however, make a viable alliance, and NATO is no exception. These new headquarters merely constitute the facade behind which commitment—the real substance of any alliance—exists. And it is here, deep within the political and military anatomy of NATO, that one must look to assess the health and well-being of the organization. The view is at once encouraging and unsettling.
On the positive side, the very existence of NATO is cause for hope. De Gaulle’s actions did not, as the prophets of doom predicted, kill the Alliance. To this basic plus, others can be added. On 9 May 1967, an important forward step was taken when the Defense Planning Committee—the military executive agent now that France no longer participates —approved the first change in Alliance military strategy in 15 years, thus moving NATO away from a doctrine of spasmodic, massive retaliation and toward that of the American- sponsored flexible response. And, evolving from the so-called “McNamara Special Committee,” the new Nuclear Defense Affairs Committee, along with its subsidiary—the Nuclear Planning Group—is off to a hopeful start in joint planning of the nuclear affairs of the North Atlantic Treaty nations.
Moreover, a great deal of effort has been and is being expended to streamline and update NATO’s military force planning. Finally, more attention is being devoted to the whole subject of political consultation than has been the case since the founding of the Alliance. In sum, new forces and initiatives are at work within NATO, all aimed at rendering the Alliance a more flexible and adaptable organization; one capable of meeting the changed challenges of the 1960s and 1970s.
On the other hand, certain weaknesses and destructive influences are abroad—some serious—which cloud the future of NATO. Foremost among these, of course, is the figure of General de Gaulle.
Speculation about his motives, long-term objectives, and short-term tactical moves floods the market place of international affairs. But, given the monolithic operation of French foreign policy—the General alone makes the decisions—the real explanations
“. . . certain destructive influences are abroad . ..
which cloud the future of NATO. Foremost among these ... is General de Gaulle -
fluence. After all, he has operated from position of weakness ever since the fall France in 1940. Thus, in light of the min1 scule strength of the Force de Frappe, the cm11 parative weakness of the French economy and the relative technological and products ® impotence of French industry, it is obv’i<>' that De Gaulle cannot hope to muscle way into the competitive arena now solely °c^ cupied by the super-powers, the Unfle^ States and the Soviet Union. If he is to e* significant influence in world councils, must look for other alternatives, and the tions open to him all rest upon one m pensable assumption: Given the current st of mutual nuclear deterrence between _ United States and the Soviet Union, a11 ^ divisible American nuclear umbrella co' ^ all Free World nations, especially those
Western Europe. Operating under that umbrella, less powerful nations can initiate, individually, a wide variety of political and economic actions with almost complete impunity. For, regardless of what they do, the Protection of that nuclear umbrella will regain; the United States simply cannot remove selected segments so as to uncover those Nations with whom it may be momentarily
and most especially, without regard for the Wans or desires of the United States, j, having the realist’s acute awareness of rance’s weaknesses, as compared to the inedible strength of the two super-powers, e Gaulle also recognizes that the main hope q toss powerful nations lies in combination, toy through co-operative efforts can they PlrC to compete in the economic-industrial of the United States and the Soviet
toon. That knowledge is conditioned, however . - ■
This seems to be precisely the path General tie Gaulle has chosen to follow with respect lo NATO. Despite the predictably intense displeasure which any anti-NATO action by France was certain to evoke from the United States, he cancelled all French commitments to the integrated military structure of the Alliance, secure in the knowledge that the United States could not retaliate by denying to France the protection of the American strategic nuclear force. And he exploited bl' S. inability to impose this ultimate sanction by advertising his actions not as directed gainst NATO itself but as a French declaration of independence from American “domination” over European affairs.
Once this basic assumption is accepted, it Thickly becomes apparent that a whole new ^ of options is open to countries such as rance. For example, the General has been nble to tweak the Eagle’s tail feathers over letnam, to side with the East on Arab- Sraeli war issues, to fish in the troubled Waters of internal Canadian politics, to op- Crate generally quite without regard to the VleWs of either NATO or its member nations;
by sentiments expressed on the very Page cf the General’s war memoirs:
France cannot be France unless she is great, and she cannot be great unless she is the leader of Western Europe. Herein lies the most convincing explanation for two of his most contentious stands. First, his decision to leave NATO’s military side and to oust its headquarters from France appears to have been aimed explicitly at eroding U. S. influence in European affairs. For only through the muting of the American voice in Europe can France expect her own to speak for Western Europeans. Secondly, one can safely speculate that his stubborn refusal to accept British membership in the Common Market stems directly from a resolute unwillingness to share pre-eminence on the Continent with the only European nation presently capable of posing a serious challenge to French leadership. In this regard, it is rather widely accepted in Europe that the United Kingdom will join the Common Market—over De Gaulle’s dead body.
While the actions of France, being more spectacular, hold center stage as one of the invidious forces gnawing away at the Alliance, they do not constitute the most serious
(i . . . the NATO Nations must take concerted,
positive action to kill off the Alliance, not positive
action to maintain it.”
threat. For, if the North Atlantic Treaty fails to survive its third decade, it will in all probability be because it will have fallen victim to its own success.
At this point, it seems wise to digress briefly to lay at rest a widely held canard. There is considerable discussion these days over the possibility that on its 20th anniversary in 1969 the Treaty will expire unless the member states vote to renew it. Such a view can
• pCO' the growing
the threat was patent and unambigll°llS
has eroded as belief in a seemingly dimin' ^ threat posed by the Soviets and a ferven ^ sire for detente has spread. Further, Europ
honestly be held only by those who have not taken time to read the Treaty. It is not limited in duration to 20 years, nor is it up for renewal in 1969. As a matter of fact, the North Atlantic Treaty is of unspecified duration. If, acting individually or collectively, the member states do nothing in 1969, the Treaty and its organization will continue in force as at present. The true significance of 24 August 1969 lies in Article 13:
After the Treaty has been in force for twenty years, any Party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation has been given to the Government of the United States of America, which will inform the Governments of the other Parties of the deposit of each notice of denunciation.
Thus, the NATO nations must take concerted, positive action to kill off the Alliance, not positive action to maintain it. In the current political climate, one might paraphrase Mark Twain—the reports of the death of NATO are greatly exaggerated.
Nevertheless, further French intentions are subject to considerable argument these days. No one but the General really knows what will happen on 24 August 1968; some contend that the Treaty can be denounced in 1968 and departure effected in 1969. If the Treaty language is taken literally, however, it would appear that notice could not be given before the Alliance’s 20th anniversary and actual withdrawal, therefore, could not take place prior to 24 August 1970. But because of the General’s patent disdain for written agreements, as demonstrated by his 1966 actions, the 24th day of August 1968 has assumed critical importance. At the moment, you can get even-money odds—take your choice—on what the French will do on that date.
But, regardless of the willful General’s moves, the Alliance is still beset with a major difficulty. Because it has been so eminently successful—Soviet aggression in Europe has been contained; there has been no war in Europe; 20 years of peace have permitted spectacular recovery from the ravages of World War II—the euphoria of peace and detente is fostering a widespread belief that
A graduate of the U. S. Nava Academy with the Class 0 1946, Captain Hanks served on the USS St. Paul (CA-73) from August 1945 to January 1949. He was assigned t0 AIRASRON 892 in 1951' 1952 and to the NROTC Unit at Oregon State Unh'er' sity from 1952 to 1954. He W°s the operations officer of th® USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD-869) from 1954 to 1956, °od for COMDESRON ELEVEN in 1956-1957. He was executive officer of the USS Floyd D. Parks (DD-$3 j in 1960-1961, and commanded the USS (DD-544) from 1961 to 1963. Following two yearS on the staff of COMCRUDESPAC, he attended Naval War College and, in 1966, became Assist®0 for NATO Affairs in the Office of the Assist®0 Secretary of Defense (International Security Anair '' the military shield which has protected Wesj ern Europe since 1949 is no longer neede • This belief is reinforced by other factors.
The prime lesson of Dc Gaulle’s acti°IlS (under the cover of mutual nuclear deterrent’ less powerful nations have fairly wide frecd01^ to maneuver—politically, economically) afl in some instances, militarily) has not hecl lost on the other mem bers of the Allia"c^ They are aware that the very fact of Amenca ^ stupendous nuclear prowess acts as a straint on U. S. freedom of action- ’■ knowledge, coupled with nomic affluence of Western Europe strong associated domestic pressures for s° ^ welfare benefits, colors the view of detente hc^ by the political leaders of Western Elir°P0 The general willingness of Europeans sacrifice domestic advances in order to P vide military protection—never an e matter in NATO, but clearly a less ar^U,°e,i task in the late 1940s and early 1950s J
:d military leaders have made little app1 headway in pointing out that, in view 0 j strength and continuing modernizati°n
the Warsaw Pact forces, any belief in detente ttiust necessarily be founded on a Western assessment of Russian intentions. They argue, Vvith little success, that capabilities take Months, even years, to change while inten- hons can be altered overnight.
Against this background, one can read a lowing feeling among Europeans that the hiture role of the Alliance will fall increasingly lnto the political sphere, with emphasis being Placed on promoting the wraith-like detente, upon improving East-West relations and trade. Whether the military sword which has defended Western Europe for the past two decades will be maintained is, of course, the vhal question. Inevitably, the answer is hidden in the mists of the always unforeseeable Idture and, as ever, only time is capable of haring those mists asunder and revealing hhat lurks within.
If there truly is detente—genuine detente, in- c°rporating a sincere Soviet desire for enduring peace, for peaceful co-existence as the hrm is often wishfully interpreted in Western Clrcles—then whatever happens to the mili- 'ary side of NATO will not make very much “Terence. On the other hand, if detente is eventually exposed as nothing more than another Communist tactical maneuver, designed to lull the capitalist enemy into a false sense of security, what happens to the Alliance’s military arm will matter very much indeed.
Should NATO permit that arm to wither and die, either by means of a conscious decision or through neglect, the North Atlantic Treaty will quickly become a moribund scrap of parchment. In such circumstances, the nations of Western Europe and their North American allies will in all likelihood find themselves tendered a bill that they can no longer pay.
Having ignored history, they will discover as George Santayana theorized that they are condemned to live it again. For, being militarily impotent precisely as they were from 1945 to 1948, those nations will have no recourse but to watch helplessly while the Soviets, if they choose, fulfill the Churchillian prophecy by advancing “to the waters of the North Sea and the Atlantic.” And the once powerful North Atlantic Alliance will wind up in the dustbin of history, bankrupted by the high cost of its own success.
The Superintendent Was an Understanding Man
Over the Christmas holidays in 1919, U. S. Naval Academy midshipmen were given four days leave. Snowstorms, however, delayed some of the trains carrying returning midshipmen.
On the morning leave was up, four midshipmen were shaving in the Pullman car washroom of one such late train. They were all afraid of what would happen to them for being over leave and were discussing various possible punishments. An elderly gentleman sat there listening, but saying nothing. Presently, he took a small notebook from his pocket, scribbled a few lines, tore out the page, and handed it to one of the midshipmen. As he went out the door, he said, “Try this, boys.” The note read:
To the Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy:
The letter of the law killeth, the spirit giveth life.
(Signed) Thomas R. Marshall,
Vice President of the United States
----------------------------------- Contributed by Vice Admiral Harry Sanders, U. S. Navy (Ret.)
(The Naval Institute will pay $10.00 for each anecdote published in the Proceedings.)
 Vet prepared, of course, to underwrite cooperative military action outside NATO ^Prope—they are even less receptive to such ^.eposals today in the light of their own ^"nished world responsibilities (shrunk by ^'Colonization) and, especially, in view of U actions in Vietnam—but they were f0fV ^hcless willing to entertain suggestions . Consulting one another on selected external diems. Closer co-operation in foreign