The Roots of Disillusionment
As American prestige falls rapidly in Western Europe, an increasing attitude of neutralism is developing between our Allies and ourselves. Go-it-alone sentiments are growing, fed by repeated disappointments and disillusion with U.S. tactics. Though Western Europe is no less anti-Soviet, she is slipping away from pro-Americanism.
These developments are the inevitable products of a series of recent events which have cast a shadow over America's reputation across the Atlantic. There remains, even after a year of second-thoughts, considerable disappointment in Washington's handling of the Hungarian revolution. Charges of hypocrisy and cowardice still arise when the revolt is discussed, and although it is generally admitted that we could not safely have done much more, many observers continue to feel that we should have, that we might have taken some risk.
There are, however, more pressing, and more recent topics of discussion than Hungary. Congress' substantial cuts in foreign aid have angered many Europeans, who expected greater, not less financial assistance from Washington. France, losing more of her economic balance every month, feels strong disappointment over Congress' action, along with Italy and the Benelux nations.
Reductions not only in aid, but also in America's armed forces, have further fanned European fears. Most continentals still place heavy reliance on U.S. manpower for their security, and nuclear weapons cannot substitute for that assurance. Europe, fearing a war of nuclear behemoths fought over its head, trembles with every cut in American conventional forces.
And even the Pentagon's boasts of nuclear strength now fall flat on European ears. Russia's disclosure of her possession of a 5000 mile intercontinental missile, unanswered by a similar announcement from the U.S., has led some to believe that the American giant may have clay feet. Subsequent U.S. announcements of various weapon advancements have only corroborated European fears that America is trying desperately, and perhaps vainly, to close the technological gap created by the Soviet missile breakthrough.
Russian diplomatic gains elsewhere in the world, particularly in the Middle East, have also decreased Europe's confidence in American strategy and strength. The failure of U.S. policy, or the lack of it, in the Middle East leads many on the Continent to fear that Washington's policy elsewhere is equally impotent.
Certain other issues further discourage European confidence in America. The segregation incidents, of course, weigh heavily on Continental consciences, fed by the leftist press and Communist agitators. Across the Channel, Great Britain still harbors considerable resentment over Washington's role in the Suez affair.
Germany, economically powerful and militarily vigorous, is practically convinced that re-unification will never occur under the aegis of the U.S. Despite the overwhelming re-approval of Adenauer, sentiment grows that Germany will eventually have to reach an agreement of her own with the Kremlin in order to effect reunification. The Adenauer election, perhaps primarily a result of emotional stimuli, is not total assurance of Germany's full diplomatic cooperation with the West.
These are the realities which must be faced by America's foreign policy. The reputation and prestige of the U.S., unshakable not long ago, rest on softer ground now than ever since pre-War days. In planning its strategy and defenses, Washington cannot afford to neglect European attitudes and opinions, even if those sentiments do not appear immediately to bear upon this country's safety or defense.