Sound and Fury: The Debate over German Rearmament
The Schuman Plan of May 1950 was the result of almost six years of French efforts to clarify and articulate a coherent national strategy for recovery. It promised great things: the stabilization of the Franco-German relationship through transnational economic coordination of coal and steel and, on a higher plane, the repudiation of the constant search for national advantage that had brought these two nations into conflict three times during the previous seventy years. Yet as we have seen, the Schuman Plan also reflected France's reading of the worsening international situation. Germany, French planners believed, had to be enrolled in a carefully crafted political and economic system so that stability in western Europe might be ensured at a time when the larger East-West conflict appeared at its most menacing.
By the middle of 1950, that conflict threatened to crush all of France's hopes for a regional economic and political entente. Following the outbreak of the Korean War in June, a divisive and unproductive debate over Germany's contribution to European defense nearly destroyed the still fragile Western Alliance. France stood at the heart of the struggle, deeply conflicted about an appropriate response to the problem of German rearmament. On the one hand, the French public and many leaders maintained a strong -- and understandable -- aversion to the creation of a German army so soon after the end of the war. Germany had yet to prove its trustworthiness and its commitment to the West, and German remilitarization was sure to provoke the Russians, making the détente with Moscow for which many Frenchmen still longed impossible. On the other hand, the French government was placed under immense pressure by its Anglo-American allies to lift its objections to some form of German rearmament, for the cause of western -- and French -- defense demanded a substantial German role. Further, the French government had learned during 1947 and 1948 that outright obstruction of American