This spring's New Look in Soviet foreign policy--featuring neutral tones and alterations in the Western hem of the Iron Curtain has worried many designers of the Atlantic coalition. In their Paris, London and Washington shops, theses men are fearful that the new line putt out by the slick stylists of the Kremlin may draw off much of the demand for their new pattern. But of all the Russian offerings, most concern has focused on a striking neutral creation called "Reunified Germany" which has excited considerable interest among Europeans.
In this jumble of sales talk, two facts are becoming increasingly clear. First, there is now little doubt that in the long run the West must tailor its policy to fit the growing German demands for reunification. If it fails to do so in time, the Germans may well buy some Russian plan which will give them reunification at great cost to their independence and their freedom to ally with the West. On the other hand, it is also evident that at the moment the United States will have to maintain its traditional policy--an insistence that a reunified Germany have the right of free alliance with either bloc, a proposal which the Russians must turn down since a reunified Germany would certainly all with the West.
Such a policy is, for many reasons the only one possible at present. First, and most important, the defense of the free world is now geared to plans for a rearmed West Germany which will contribute 12 divisions to NATO and serve as the first line of resistance. This course, the aim of Western foreign policy for the past four years, was assured only two months ago with the ratification of the Paris pacts. In the near future, the West cannot afford to lose German forces and bases. Already the Austrian treaty has driven a neutral spike into the Western defense forcing removal of troops from Austria and cutting off Italy from direct communication with NATO forces in Germany. The neutralization of Germany would force a complete realignment of defenses and would probably mean a large-scale withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe.
In the second place, neutralization of Germany would shatter the dreams of European unification which, while set back with the defeat of EDC, still flourish as the ideal of many Europeans and particularly many of the most democratic elements in Germany. To destroy this ideal now is to destroy perhaps the best chance to bring a lasting peace to Europe. Furthermore, a neutral, reunified and rearmed Germany would hold tremendous power to play East and West off against each other, and might thereby emerge once more as a danger to peace. Finally, by freeing a rearmed Germany from the strict control of the NATO command, the West loses control over the German army which might again, as after Versailles, spark a return to militaristic nationalism.
In the last analysis, however, the insistence on the right of free alliance is wise because it is the policy of the Adenauer government. It is important to remember that Germany is now a sovereign nation which can make its own deals. While the Western nations continue to exert strong political, diplomatic and economic pressures on Germany, in the long run it can maintain an alliance with Germany only by paying strict attention to the policy if its government. At the moment, Adenauer is uncompromisingly opposed to neutralization.
But the Chancellor is now 79 years old. As long as he lives and manages to continue his dominance of the Christian Democratic Party, which holds an absolute majority of the seats in the Bundestag, there is little chance that the Germans will be willing to sacrifice their role in the Western alliance for reunification. While Adenauer must pay lip service to reunification, he is not overly enthusiastic about it since it might well mean the defeat of his party: the Social Democrats the chief opposition party, would be very strong in East Germany.
But Adenauer does not typify Germany's attitude on reunification. True, many Germans are somewhat leary about jeopardizing their great prosperity by uniting with the impoverished East, but for the most part they feel very strongly that Germany must be reunified in the near future. Though for the moment they will back Adenauer in refusing union on the basis of neutralization, the government formed after his death may feel differently or may not be able to rally the people behind the Western alliance as Adenauer has. At the moment, the Social Democrats, though strong advocates of reunification, have been unwilling to urge it on the basis of neutralization; they may do so in the future if it appears union will come in no other way.
The West, then, seems to be in a fairly good immediate position but in a very tenuous one in the long run. At the moment, with Adenauer's government violently against neutralization, we can reject with impunity any Russian proposal for reunification on that basis. But such a negative policy is not enough. It would be far better to go to the conference with a positive proposal for reunification on the basis of free alliance, which the Russians would refuse. This at least would put the Russians would refuse. This at least would put the Russians, not the West, in the position of turning down reunification.
And yet this is obviously only a stopgag. Those Germans who want reunification more than they want the Western alliance will quickly see that such a proposal is in effect as much a block to reunification as an unequivocal "no." This group, which is growing and will continue to grow in the months to come, is the one with which Western policy will have to reckon. A realistic German policy must therefore work out some means by which Germany can be reunified and remain allied with the West. This will be a difficult and possibly impossible task, but it is one which we must face if it will retain German power in the Cold War.