Britain in Western Europe: WEU and the Atlantic Alliance; a Report by a Chatham House Study Group

Britain in Western Europe: WEU and the Atlantic Alliance; a Report by a Chatham House Study Group

Britain in Western Europe: WEU and the Atlantic Alliance; a Report by a Chatham House Study Group

Britain in Western Europe: WEU and the Atlantic Alliance; a Report by a Chatham House Study Group

Excerpt

The Study Group which worked on this report have faced a task more difficult than that which was carried out in Defence in the Cold War and Atlantic Alliance. The former was published five years ago and the latter three years ago. To recall those dates is sufficient to explain why this report is less urgent in tone and less confident in its recommendations than were its predecessors.

The impetus of fear about Russia's power and the West's weakness is much less strong than it was. Stalin is dead and it is a matter of controversy whether Stalinism died with him. Nuclear weapons, which used to be discussed in hushed voices and in vague terms, are now the obsession of much thinking and discussion which is, at best, tentative and inconclusive. We have had a Geneva Conference 'at the summit' which is claimed by many to have excluded the possibility of major war for some time to come. Even the ability to negotiate from strength is in question, the very strength which the predecessors of this report said should be quickly and solidly built, cost what it might. Western Germany has emerged as a Power in Europe and the problem of German reunification has entered a new phase. All are now watching and waiting to see if the calculated risks taken by the West in its German policy will bring the rewards that were hoped for.

The great changes and uncertainties which surround us have made the western purpose look less clear and the problem of Europe less dominant than they were. To a great extent this is the effect of Russian tactics and of Sir Winston Churchill's attempt to secure a clarification of the motives of Russia's new rulers. Both combined achieved far more in relaxing western alertness and resolution than was achieved in simplifying international issues. To this, in the final stage of the July conference in Geneva, President Eisenhower also contributed by a display of magnanimity and cordiality with which Marshal Bulganin and Mr Khrushchev were hard put to it to compete. When the . . .

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