Heard above all the voices that debated the Administration's "New Look" defense policy last week was one from outside the country. For in his questions about the nature and scope of U.S. retaliation, Canadian Foreign Minister Lester Pearson made clear that the "New Look" was a product not of multilateral co-operation among the North Atlantic Treaty nations, but of U.S. planning alone.
This is not the first time in the last few years that the United States has made a major policy shift without sufficient inter-allied co-ordination. In 1950, High Commissioner McCloy announced that Germany would be rearmed. The French, who had different views on this matter, found themselves faced with a virtual fait accompli, and proposed a unified force (the beginnings of E.D.C.) as a compromise instead of a German army. The Korean War also illustrated the possible consequences of uni-lateral action. The situation that developed when General MacArthur wanted to bomb Manchuria resulted from U.S. failure to consult with the other U.N. powers. Britain felt that MacArthur was in complete control and was steering toward a major war.
It makes little difference that Mr. Dulles spent most of last week assuring Americans and our allies that international co-operation was "implicit in our defense system" and that there would be "prior consultation" among the allies before any retaliation. This consultation should have taken place when the "New Look" was initially planned, not after it was already heralded as the cornerstone of U.S. strategy. Now, when no single European state can make serious claim to the position of a major power, the United States must count on the combined effectiveness of a united Europe to wield a balance of power over Russia. Any factor that serves to undermine European unity can therefore seriously weaken the strength of the Western block as a whole.
On top of the German and Korean incidents, the controversy over the "New Look," shows that if any system of collective security is to be effective, there must be complete multi-lateral co-operation. The United States now finds itself the initiator of most Western policy; yet Europe would probably suffer first in the event of war. For this reason, uni-lateral decisions by the U.S. can lead only to dis-unity.