How France sees the Atlantic alliance in a time of change
Today's realities are not yesterday's, and since we [Europe and the United States] have changed as partners, our relations must change, too. What is new about both partners is not, of course, their basic identities, but their capacities and their resolve. By the same token, what must be changed in their relations is not their foundation, that is, shared ideals and destinies , but their spirit, their structures and their aims.
One thing seems to me absolutely essential: We must all make an effort to bury the suspicions, the recriminations and the readiness to assume ulterior motives that undermine our relations.
Let us, Europeans and Americans, accept one another as equal and responsible partners. When one of us takes an action that surprises the other, we should be ready to interpret it favorably or at least give it the benefit of the doubt. We must make efforts in this respect.
Europeans have to stop thinking of the US as the shield behind which they can lay down their burden of responsibilities. They have to stop heaping continuous , contradictory criticisms on the US, complaining one day that it is too weak and the next day that it is overconfident, decrying its presence in other countries but condemning its isolationism, rejecting its involvement yet fearing its disengagement.
On the other hand, Americans complain that the Europeans are hesitant, weak and divided, that they are incapable of action. But when we do act, for example in the Middle East, Americans often say that our moves are ill-timed or out of place.The US sometimes acts as if unity were synonymous with uniformity. But alignment is neither the only form that solidarity can take, nor the highest level it can attain. We can express different viewpoints without being disloyal. . . .
We also need new procedures to translate that spirit into action. The basic requirement, in my view, is that they should create the conditions for confidence by limiting the number of participants, keeping talks confidential, maintaining continuity over time, and taking into account the responsibilities that devolve upon certain powers.
However well the consultation machinery works, it is essential that we agree on broad goals and work together in a wide-ranging but coherent way: in a word, that we agree on a joint enterprise, a shared geopolitical design. This joint enterprise must concern itself first of all with East-West relations, because they involve vital stakes and mortal dangers, because the underlying principles of these relations have been challenged, and because they have a decisive effect on the very destiny of Europe and, by way of consequence, on that of the United States. The time has come to redefine these relations.
The Western countries, both Europe, and the United States, cannot allow a destabilization in the balance of power in favor of one camp, the socialist camp.
But both the East and the West share a common interest in maintaining peace, limiting the arms build-up and solving the problems of managing world resources in a period of population explosion.
Detente, to which France has greatly contributed and which it still values as an objective, no longer corresponds to the present situation. But for all that, we cannot allow East-West relations to deteriorate further. The present tension calls for an effort to stabilize these relations.
First of all, the balance of military forces. This implies that we accept parity of nuclear systems and that none of the parties will try to assert its superiority. It also means that we must have some equilibrium in conventional forces since it is obvious that these forces are decisive in the field.
Next, mutual restraint. This means not using force to change the political balance of East-West relations. The Soviet Union and its allies have violated this cardinal rule in Southeast Asia, in Afghanistan, in Africa. If this rule were to be violated in Europe, the consequences would undoubtedly be incalculable. To convince the Soviet Union of the need for restraint, the Western powers must respond firmly to its every challenge, while maintaining an ongoing dialogue with it.
Finally, the shared belief that the developed countries, whether socialist or Western, all have responsibilities and must do their part in solving the global problems on which peace depends: disarmament, nuclear proliferation, and the struggle against third-world poverty.
It is essential for the United States to understand that what is at stake for Europe in its relations with the Eastern countries is a gradual reestablishment of the natural ties that have always existed among the peoples of Europe. Repairing the fabric of Europe is not only a political and economic objective. It is also a human aspiration deeply felt in Europe. It is natural for this to be felt more acutely in a country such as Germany, for reasons we all should understand.
This does not mean that Europe will acquiesce in a shift in the balance of power that would jeopardise either its security or its freedom. Europe values dialogue with the Eastern countries, but it is not prepared to pay for it by a policy of appeasement.
While East-West relations are the dominant issue for us, as they are for you, it is time for Europe and the United States to realize that the West cannot disregard the other problems facing us in the rest of the world, nor the changes that are emerging there, nor even the sometimes conflicting trends sweeping the world.
The West stands for freedom and therefore pluralism. Now, pluralism is in evidence everywhere in the world today. It is present in the diversity of political choices, in models for development and in the resurgence of nationalism and religious beliefs.
The West must do more than respect this pluralism. it must also be prepared to defend it whenever it is threatened. The West is not looking for clients but for partners.
One cannot, however, use pluralism as an excuse for the law of the jungle. The West would be failing in its duty if it remained indifferent or weak when terrorism breaks out, when diplomatic immunity is violated, when peoples are reduced to exile, and states invaded and occupied.
It would fail in its duty if it ignored the poverty of the poorest in the world, if it failed to devote the greatest part of its effort to helping organize a world in which security and justice are guaranteed for all.