With Europe already struggling in choppy economic seas, the United States has suddenly added a flood of new problems. Foreign offices last week learned that the Senate Appropriations Committee will give no further loans to the European Coal and Steel Community. Aided since its inception by large U.S. grants, the supra-national agency set up to co-ordinate the heavy industries of several countries will now receive nothing. But curtailing the funds does not hurt Europealone; it also weakens United States plans for bolstering continental defense.
The Senate's questionable action came partially as the result of a shattered illusion. Visualizing Europe as an immense soldier to fight the Russian Bear, the Senators pictured EDC as a suit of iron-clad armor. When France refused to help make that protection, the Committee shut off dollar aid. It reasons that since the Coal and Steel Community was to have been the economic framework for EDC, French rejection makes the Community nearly valucless. What the argument ignores is that the ECSC is necessary for a strong economy, and that by injuring this economy the Senators are knocking the backbone out of their envisioned soldier. The Community is the first European agency that has actually been able to operate on a supranational basis and can serve as the foundation for further unification. It is difficult to believe that the Senate Committee was so blinded by its disappointment in EDC's failure that the possibility of another defense arrangement escaped imagination. The adoption of the pending Nine Power Treaty would make continued loans to ECSC even more urgent.
Further opposition exists, however. While some Senators were dully apathetic toward ECSC, others heatedly criticized aid on the basis that it would speed the expansion of Europe's heavy industry. Whereas the first reaction was rooted in disillusionment, the second grew with vigor as the U.S. coal lobby spread its propaganda. This group emphasized that as ECSC develops European capacity for mining coal, it also reduces the amount exported from the United States. The Senate Committee was seemingly faced with the dilemma of choosing between domestic coal interests and foreign commitments.
But in side-stepping the domestic point, the Senators have impaled themselves on the international one. U.S. coal exports are manipulated by many factors, including cartels and building programs, obviously not by the ECSC alone. Nor are the loans to the Coal and Steel Community spent solely to produce coal digging machines. The issue here is that is fearing slight damage to coal exporters, the Senate Committee has sacrificed ECSC on the altar of domestic pressure. Because the fortunes of the U.S. are so bound with those of a strong Europe, the Senate must view home issues in the perspective of its foreign commitments.