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Atlantic Dilemma: Partnership or Community?

This page holds some chapter excerpts from "Atlantic Dilemma: Partnership or Community?" by Frank Munk including a Foreword by Henry Cabot Lodge, the Introduction, and the Final Chapter in addition to the Epilogue. The "Atlantic Dilemma" was reviewed in 1964 by George Lichtheim in the New York Review of Books. I have received permission to reprint that review here.

Frank's other two books were:


The Economics Of Force (1941)


The Legacy of Nazism (1943)

By Henry Cabot Lodge
Director General, The Atlantic Institute

The Atlantic Community is now in a state of evolution away from the simpler structure of the postwar period. With Europe not only recovered but bursting with energy, with some fifty new nations either born or about to emerge to independence, with signs of stress inside the Communist bloc, the nations of the North Atlantic are groping toward a new destiny.

For the moment, we are witnessing a pause in the development of common policies and institutions, brought about by divergent notions of the paths to follow in the unification of Europe, in the relations between Europe and North America, in the building of an effective nuclear and conventional deterrent, and in the creation of a freer pattern of Atlantic and world trade. This pause presents us with an opportunity to think and then to plan. We must not only plan for a more efficient working relationship among Atlantic powers, but also tie them into a closer cooperation with other free nations – in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The Atlantic Community we seek is not a selfish and inward looking association of the rich and satisfied peoples in the economically developed parts of the world, but a partnership which would ultimately include all those nations breaking through to freedom and economic and social progress.

The Atlantic Institute, created by the initiative of the NATO Parliamentarians at the Atlantic Congress in London in 1959, and established in Paris in 1961, could not have begun operations at a more propitious time. As an international organization of private, but highly-experienced, citizens, it can freely try to concentrate the intellectual resources of the Atlantic countries in a search for novel and practical solutions to our common problems. By mobilizing some of the best minds, it can not only contribute to an Atlantic consensus in the broader sense, but continue bringing to the attention of the decision-makers concrete, imaginative plans and policies.

To achieve these objectives, the Institute sponsors studies embodying proposals by eminent authorities in various fields of competence, or imaginative research aimed at stimulating further discussion. Among the former category, it has so far embarked on three projects.

The first of these resulted in a report published recently under the title “Partnership for Progress: A Program for Transatlantic Action”. It is particularly important at a time when the trade relationships of the Common Market and of the United States are being re-examined, because it represents policy recommendations on rules of competition, tariff reductions, monetary and agricultural policies, agreed upon by some of the most distinguished statesmen and experts in Europe and in America. Two other projects now being prepared are concerned with aid to education in developing countries, and with economic relations between Western Europe, the United States and Latin America.

Professor Munk's study is the first independent project undertaken with the assistance of the Atlantic Institute, but not necessarily representing the views of the Board of Governors or of the staff of the Institute. It is published in order to promote informed public discussion. The Institute itself takes no stand with respect to the author's conclusions or recommendations, hoping that they will stimulate a vigorous debate of the various approaches and suggestions he makes regarding further development of Atlantic cooperation. Professor Munk, who served as a Research Fellow of the Institute in 1961-62, is well qualified by his academic background and by practical experience in international organization. His book is a unique compendium of the many ideas bearing on the question: how best to organize the free? Surely there is no problem of greater urgency for the survival of the Free World than an informed treatment of this subject.

Henry Cabot Lodge
Director General, The Atlantic Institute



The Atlantic Ocean is not the frontier between Europe and the Americas. It is the inland sea of a community of nations allied with one another by geography, history, and vital necessity.


To state that the Atlantic Community is facing its major challenge, if not an outright crisis, is both an understatement and an exaggeration: an understatement because misunderstandings, differences of opinion, failures to agree have been building up, slowly but surely, for a number of years; an exaggeration since our fabric of common ties and shared hopes has proven strong enough, aided by outside pressures, to keep us together in difficult times past.

But time is running short. This year and the next will be years of decision: the Atlantic Community will either find a new lease on life, a new spurt of creativity and go forward – or it will almost surely become a matter of form, a shell without genuine content, and increasingly a mere myth. Other realities will take its place. Life and power politics never stand still. Where one form fails, others replace it. Already the Cuban missile crisis in the fall of 1962 has demonstrated a new pattern of Atlantic action, one in which the United States acts first and consults allies afterwards. Nor is independent action within the general framework of a Western understanding alien to General de Gaulle. For some years past the Western alliance has been held together mostly by inaction; now that a more definite leadership has emerged on both sides of the Atlantic, it strains and threatens to break the weakened outer shell of the common framework. The zero hour of the Atlantic community cannot be too distant.

The storm signals were finally hoisted – and visible even to the staunchest optimists – when General de Gaulle drew his conclusions from the events of October 1962, and only three months later vetoed, for all practical purposes, British admission to the European continental community of nations. This event affected relationships within the Western world to an unprecedented extent: not only those between France and Britain, but also those of France and the other Five, the relations of the Six and the United States, and in fact the cohesion and structure of the alliance as a whole. It coincided with other crises, including the Skybolt incident involving the U.S. and the United Kingdom, arid the not unrelated problem of weapon sharing between Canada and the United States. The disarray of the Western system of mutual relationships can neither be denied nor minimized, nor can it be put down to a series of coincidences. Something very fundamental is at the root of it.

It is tempting to seek the springs of trouble solely in quirks of individuals or in the folly of nations. The real causes go deeper: the engines which the Atlantic Community had created were adequate to the immediate postwar challenges, to a prostrate Europe and a United States not only pre-eminent, but far ahead of the rest of the coalition in self-assurance, productivity and organization. These mechanisms do not correspond to the realities of today: a proud and prosperous Europe, on the way to being freed from the bonds and burdens of colonialism, united as never before, and with a power of attraction matching that of its transatlantic partners.

The real risk and the real cause of disarray is that Atlantic institutions are now approaching technological and political obsolescence. They are technologically obsolete because NATO was not built to deal with nuclear and missile weapon systems, and archaic because the postwar structure of leadership failed to keep pace with the buoyant European economies and a miraculous rebirth of the continent's self-confidence.

As a repository of Hebrew, Greek, Roman and Christian views on man and the universe, as heir to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, as the womb from which sprang every modern ideology, from nationalism to socialism, the Atlantic community has existed long before it developed any consciousness of community. As a political program and an aspiration, however, the community has only emerged since 1945.

The characteristic trait of this postwar period is its quest for political organization in a framework wider than the national state. With the “non-aligned world” vying for attainment of nationhood and statehood, the West clearly yearns for a higher unity, which it has sought to find first in the universalism of the United Nations, and later in regionalism. Under Western leadership, in most cases, many regional cooperative arrangements are being attempted all over the world, some military, others economic, all with political overtones or consequences.

At this moment perhaps the greatest question within the Western family of nations is the compatibility of European and Atlantic regional constructions. Neither excludes the other, nor does it consecrate it. A United Europe may be a building stone and a step towards Atlantic unity or it may be a nail in its coffin, if it leads to conflicts and trade wars between Europe and North America, rather than to a confident and close partnership.

One might also ask: is the Atlantic community, as we now understand it, already too small a unit of organization, too restrictive in its membership? Should we seek solutions that would broaden our perspective by inclusion of all those non-Communist nations willing to join in a “Free World” community?

Our immediate task is to investigate alternate courses of action, to weigh their merits and mark their pitfalls, but primarily, to locate that threshold, that minimum of Atlantic cohesion, below which a process of fission and alienation is likely to take place.

Specifically, we wish to identify indispensable functions which the Atlantic community countries must perform, today or tomorrow, in common, if the functions are to be performed successfully. This necessitates as well an examination of the institutions that are to perform these functions and, incidentally, to provide a power of attraction to others, if that is desired. It may be highly desirable, for the Atlantic community is perhaps best thought of not as a goal in and of itself, but as a focal point and encourager of communities to be organized in other parts of the world, some with the active participation of member states of the Atlantic, and all of them with their aid, in order to further the creation of a more effective and durable world order.

The threat and irritant of Communist imperialism continues to furnish much of the incentive for cohesion of the Free World, but it should not be our only goad. There are compelling reasons for Western solidarity which would be equally valid in the absence of a Soviet menace. The systemic revolution of a hundred developing nations is a potent argument impelling the West inexorably towards cooperative action. So is the advent of a world-wide economy, for the first time in history, of which the Atlantic community is the core and power center.

Rarely, if ever, were the risks and penalties of error and inaction as high, the prospects of doom as dark and final as they are today. But equally bright are the promises of creativity, of cooperation and of organic unity. Humanity stands suspended between demoniac forces unleashed by science, and unbounded horizons dimly perceived beyond the sound and fury of the political market. The wherewithal of practical politics for one generation consists of the residue of the previous generation's dreams and utopias. Abstract theories of one age have a way of reappearing in vulgarized version as slogans seducing the next. In the myth and fiction of today we find the raw material that will bring to the fore the leaders of tomorrow.

Must we not decide, and soon, whether to remain prisoners of yesterday's utopias – a narrow nationalism, economic self-sufficiency, isolationism or untrammeled pursuit of purely selfish aims – which have brought the world of the past to the door of disaster? Or should we now embrace new ideas upon which to start building our tomorrow? An Atlantic community of Free Nations is certainly one possible ideal. In the examination which follows, we shall endeavor to subject the ideal – and the ways of reaching it – to the searching scrutiny it deserves.



Americans and Europeans must recognize that neither one nor the other is defending a particular country, but that the ensemble is defending a common civilization.


Propellants and Impediments

Profound shifts within the Atlantic alliance and within the broader Atlantic community, the upwelling of protest and discontent in the outlying world, the continuance of a whole set of world revolutions, the ever more delicate balance of science and of terror are pressing for bold decisions. “A grander Atlantic design” would seem to call for a very high priority, as it will become ever clearer that the established pattern is out of gear with realities.

The moment of truth for the Atlantic community is probably not very far off. It will either multiply the tasks to be performed in unison, set up a machinery for joint decision-making, mingle and fuse its economies and provide for a truly common defense – or it will gradually decompose into, two or more conflicting, competing groups. The danger of the latter is so great that only radical measures are likely to reverse the trend: as Walter Lippman put it, the real problem is not going to be solved by repairing the facade without remodeling the house.

There was a time when the twin-pillar partnership concept seemed adequate and realistic. That concept has been invalidated by the upheaval of 1963. A unified Europe comprising not only the Carolingian core but also its democratic fringes has been relegated to a future political constellation. A real solution to the long range problems, and puzzlements of the West lies not in a European half-­solution – let alone in the one-third solution now represented by the Common Market; it can only be sought in the framework of the Atlantic as a whole, and even that frame must be built of flexible material so it can extend its associations to Latin America, to Africa, to like-minded and like-oriented nations of Asia, not to speak of the kindred countries of the Commonwealth. That is a big order, but nothing less will prove equal to the hurricane winds of change.

No crystal ball enables us to pierce the haze, but we know that certain factors will play a decisive role: the temperature of West-East relations, the ultimate fate of Britain's membership in the European Communities, the future of the French regime and of the European party systems in general, the internal politics of Germany and Italy, the final chapters of Europe's withdrawal from Africa. In a more general vein, the direction of development hinges upon the replacement of the present generation of leaders, and the e1ite behind them, by the next – a change of guard that has already taken place in the United States and is soon going to take place in Europe.

This is exactly the problem which has brought the movement towards Atlantic unity to a halt in 1963: no major country in Europe has yet produced any visible new e1ite, nor an ideology to spark it and give it coherence and assurance. In the absence of new impulses, old men, old ideas and old establishment seem somewhat out-of-scale. Even social reform is clothed in the drab garb of the welfare state and social protest becomes a dreary tug-of-war for higher wages and profits. The impasse in Atlantic progression is only part of a deeper impasse in leadership – both political and intellectual. But it may be said that the present pause, when the Atlantic world seems suspended between the community of the past and the Community, we hope, of the future is also a pause between generations.

It may be possible to single out those factors which are favorable to the consolidation of the Atlantic community, and those which are prejudicial to it; those which are centripetal and those which are centrifugal. Again, some are manipulable, others may be beyond man's deliberate control; some may be felt almost instantaneously and others only over the long pull.

Among factors that would tend to increase cohesion of the Atlantic orbit, relations with the Soviet bloc continue to be the strongest single element. Relaxation of tensions will tend to encourage a thinning out of mutual bonds; intensification of the Cold War, by and large, will be conducive to their strengthening. This may not be a desirable propellant towards unity, but it is a very real one nevertheless. Conclusion of decolonization would greatly contribute to allied unity. Any progress towards democracy in any Atlantic country would incline it towards more cooperation.

Any steps in the direction of a single market and freer movement of the elements of production would be favorable to political amalgamation, if it does not lead to too much predominance of capital ownership by some countries over others. The continued strength of groups and parties representing the political center would be more propitious to Atlantic unity than the growth of radical or authoritarian movements of either the right or the left. Continuation of the present trend towards more or less uniform mass societies, however regrettable from other points of view, also represents a positive element – a most powerful one – for an Atlantic concert, because they can be reached and influenced by mass communication.

On the other side of the ledger, it is easy to see those factors that would militate against Atlantic unity: any revival of nationalism or parochialism, any efforts to build competitive power blocs within the Atlantic community or to deal with non-Western powers on a bilateral basis, a return to isolationism either in the United States or in Europe, a new preference for communities other than Atlantic, any serious military involvement outside Europe (e.g., sizable wars in Asia), any serious doubts about the ability of the United States to retain its power of thermonuclear deterrence and its determination to employ the deterrent if necessary, or to maintain its scientific and technological prestige, the growth of nuclear defeatism and of unilateral disarmament into an element with political consequences in any allied country – these are some of the elements that would lead to a recoil from Atlantism.

Where does the balance lie today? It is difficult to say because the same element may exercise either a positive or a negative influence, depending on circumstances. The most important single example of this is European integration. If it is conducted with a view to harmonization and the pursuit of common policies with North America it will enhance the chance of Atlantic unity. If it becomes an instrument of military or economic pressures, or is thought of as a “third force,” it will toll the bell for broader cooperation. The two pillars might then become two poles.

There are not a few who have felt for some time that the balance of expectation is unfavorable. Some serious students of the problem are even more specific. Professor Klaus Knorr of Princeton University concludes that: “at present, the political trends favor a relative dis­integration rather than a reintegration of the (Atlantic) alliance.” He speaks of course primarily of the military aspect, based on the conviction that “European preoccupation with independent retaliatory forces... will make NATO's future bleak indeed.”'

Others still are fearful of certain tendencies that have risen to the surface for the first time in 1963 in the course of negotiations between the European Economic Community and the United States, raising the specter of a tariff war between the two giants. The dividing line between hard purposeful bargaining and disastrous competition is too tenuous for comfort, and much foresight as well as astute diplomacy will be needed to keep the community on the tracks.

All of this may be too pessimistic an estimate, or it may turn out to be highly realistic. Political progress never approximates a straight line, reverses and complications are inevitable, original plans are never carried out as anticipated. Politics, in brief, will always remain a meandering and muddy business. The outcome may be a far cry, too, from the original intent, but historical necessity sometimes has strange ways of forcing its way. The history of the European movement may offer some good examples, especially its resurgence after the collapse of the European Defense Community.

Nor should we assume that history is preset, preordained and unflinching. No Hegel, no Marx, no Toynbee, no Spengler has been able – in spite of insights bordering on genius – to predict configurations of history, even where their images of it became part of the driving social forces. Not one of them quite foresaw the impact of science, nationalism, or modern communication. Many new forms, creatures and monsters are hidden in the formidable womb of historical sweep. Which ones will see the light of the day, which ones will be stillborn which ones will grow to maturity may depend on the will of man. An Atlantic Community of free and equal nations may come under any of these headings. All we know is that the trend will become visible within a short span of time.

But it is probably fair to say that an Atlantic political, economic and military community, equipped with proper organs of consultation, coordination and decision-making, will not come into being if there is not a strong and determined movement to push it from behind. For, as Alain Clement has stated in Le Monde (June 10-11, 1962), “government chancelleries have neither the will nor the bent to create by and of themselves institutions, the purpose of which is to supplant them and ultimately to succeed them... At most they have to get used to discussions with these new partners.” Governments and their civil servants are rarely willing midwives of new social structures or institutions, if they do not feel the hot breath of urgent necessity blowing. Nor are the beneficiaries of special favors and interests present in any social system.

There exists now a nascent popular movement for an Atlantic Community on both sides of the ocean, more or less vocal and organized in practically all countries. The Atlantic Treaty Association and its national committees and councils, like the Atlantic Council of the United States with its instructive and suggestive Atlantic Community Quarterly, provide some of the stimulus. The NATO Parliamentarians Conference has already proved to be an initiator of new efforts. The recently established Atlantic Institute in Paris gives promise of developing into a generator and clearing house of ideas, and a center of Atlantic intellectual cooperation. These and other organized groups will have greatly to intensify their efforts, and to find many new transmission belts and levers to reach additional strata of influential citizens in every country of the Atlantic area.

In order to do so, they will have to clarify the goals and come to some agreement about the ways and means of fostering progress of the community's development. It may be useful briefly to review some proposed methods at this juncture.


The Threshold of the Community

Ambiguity is an indispensable ingredient of practical politics. A phrase that glimmers and glitters so that everyone puts his own meaning into it, a word which purrs with the promise of future satisfaction are the politician's indispensable tools. But it may be useful, from time to time, to disentangle the factual from the fanciful, the meaningful from the meaningless, and to use words with some approximation of precision, if only to get things into perspective.

As to goals, some proponents of the Atlantic community are perfectly satisfied with keeping it nothing more than a community of values, of philosophies, of outlook on life. These are the minimalists. Others call for the immediate establishment of an Atlantic Federal Union. They are the maximalists. In between the two, proponents of Atlantic unity range themselves along a continuum, with any number of intermediate positions such as confederation, delegation of limited powers and competencies, cooperation, consultation, more communications, etc. All of these are solutions along a vertical scale of division of power running from a central focus to component decentralized units.

Some will make a distinction between ultimate and intermediate goals. They believe that an international community may have to go, in an ascending order, through many stages, from the least formal and loosest to the most highly structured and integrated. This is a debate familiar to all those who follow the discussions on European political organization, and it is usually linked to the degree and nature of supranationality. The problems it must deal with are those of quasi-executive and quasi-legislative organs able to make decisions by majority vote, the delimitation of their fields of jurisdiction, the attributes of the supranational bureaucracies or technocracies. Essentially, all of these are problems of distribution of sovereignty and delegation of powers. The most widely held view of those who wish to progress step by step is to regard a European Community – rightly or wrongly – as a necessary precondition and step towards an Atlantic Community.

There are also those who have serious doubts about the piecemeal approach. They are not so sure that one step at a time will really lead to the desired goal. There might not be enough time, or there might not be enough steam to sustain a progression. Each organization generates a set of special interests, and inertia is common to all institutions. A geographical sequence, like organizing Europe first, is fraught with particular danger, because it may engender a competitive struggle.

The belief held most widely is that of functional internationalism, namely that any international community has to start with a few limited functions and gradually take on others. This is not a novel idea. It was first made popular after World War I by David Mitrany and has since found expression in many ways. It forms the basis of the present United Nations system of specialized agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, UNESCO, World Meteorological Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, etc. In the words of H. G. Nicholas: “the philosophy which animates them is the belief that there are international jobs to be done, international interests to be fostered, which can be detached from politics and find their natural expression in separate, if related, associations of member states.”

The European Community movement started with similar premises. The European Coal and Steel Community, the first of three, was distinctly limited to one specific sector. The European Economic Community, a few years later, already signaled a certain retreat from “sectoralism.” As Professor Hallstein has been careful to point out, the Rome Treaties marked a departure from the piecemeal approach in favor of an attack on a wider front. The Common Market would have been capable of setting up within its own framework the Coal and Steel Community or the Atomic Energy Community, and indeed any other economic agency so far proposed, such as a Green Pool for agriculture, or a White Pool for integrating production and distribution of electrical energy, or for that matter a European Central Bank or Transportation Network. The European Political Community would mark a third step away from sectoralism in the direction of a multipurpose organism.

Certain advantages of the sectoral approach are coming into evidence after the reverses at both the European and the Atlantic level during the course of 1963. At a time when Britain's admission to the European Economic Community seems improbable for a long time to come, and in spite of slow progress in negotiations between the Community and the United States, a detour in the direction of Euratom has permitted and agreement between the latter and the United States, and between Euratom and the United Kingdom which was hailed as “tantamount to an Atlantic partnership” in the nuclear field. This will include a considerable cooperative effort in the field of development and research. The very multiplicity of functional organizations may at times offer a way out of political blind alleys.

Two international organizations of the postwar era started out the other way: the United Nations and the Council of Europe. Different as they are they have one thing in common, namely a rather all-inclusive scope and purpose. Interestingly enough, their development went in the direction opposite to that of the Luxembourg-Brussels institutions. No sooner did they get under way than they began to spawn all sorts of specialized agencies of a functional character: the U.N. Children's Emergency Fund, the Technical Assistance Board and the Technical Assistance Committee, the U.N. Field Service, the relief agencies for Palestinian refugees and for Korea, or, in the realm of the Council of Europe, the European Commission (and the Court) on Human Rights, to name but a few.

Apparently the sectoral and the generalist approaches do not exclude one another. On the other hand, we have no assurance that a very limited amount of common action in a specific field will of necessity lead to ever broader and higher degrees of general fusion. What can be said with some degree of assurance is that there exists a threshold which must be reached if the cumulative processes of multinational fusion are to start operating – a “critical mass” below which fission outruns fusion. Once the threshold is reached something like a sustained reaction sets in and provides its own fuel and momentum, leading to broadening and deepening of its function. Again, the European Economic Community, specifically designed by an unusually able group of men following the inspiration of Jean Monnet to bring about such a reaction, provides the chief exhibit.

These are not the only problems of ways and means about which well-informed men differ widely. There are people who would plan years ahead, as the designers of the Rome treaties did, and those who prefer an approach that is entirely pragmatic: the bridge builders and the bridge crossers. The former accuse the latter of lacking a program while they themselves are scolded as doctrinaire or utopian. Or perhaps men can be both and that is possibly the secret of the success of EEC.

At any given moment there exists a maximum of the politically possible, of the measures governments and parliaments are apt to take, of the extent of innovation and change that would receive the support of, or at least be tolerated by, public opinion. Effective political leadership can push the limit, but cannot go beyond. The prospects of an international community are determined by the feasibility of raising the limit of the politically possible above the threshold of sustained reaction, outlined above. If the ceiling of the maximum integration possible does not meet the floor of the absolutely necessary, the community will not develop.

What would appear to be the irreducible minimum if a tangible Atlantic Community is to develop out of the present Atlantic alliance? The most general consensus would probably indicate a common approach to problems of nuclear deterrence and of defense in general, including limitation of armaments and localization of conflict, as one of the areas in which no solution is thinkable at a lesser-than-Atlantic level. The other area which is crucial is economics. Our future will be far from glorious unless the West finds workable solutions for such problems as stable, but dynamic economies with rapidly rising national incomes providing standards of living fairly distributed among all social groups, with free exchange of goods and services on an ever wider scale, and a minimum of impediments to the movement of men and ideas – in other words, a huge Atlantic market for the free play of forces which lead to sure, prosperous growth.

If the first prescription deals with the Atlantic orbit's relationship to the Communist part of the world, and the second with its own internal development, there is a third area of potentially maximum importance, and that is common action on our part for the purpose of sharing the West's accumulated wealth and experience with the more than one hundred new or developing nations in other continents. Whether through economic or technical aid, or through educational facilities, or through the stabilization of raw-material prices – nothing is possible without close cooperation of all advanced countries and few things are beyond reach if we make a determined and concerted effort. These then would seem to be the three target areas of a free and mutually beneficent association of Atlantic states: our internal economic health, and our relations with the two other major groups of humanity, one uncommitted, the other committed to surpass us.


The Take-Off

The first Atlantic community, constructed under the impetus and leadership of the United States at the end of the nineteen forties, is slowly reaching its limit. The second Atlantic community, built on new creative forces, still awaits its architects – the technicians and statesmen who will rise to the new challenge.

It will not allow indefinite delay. Already there are signs of the alliance becoming brittle and of the community spirit being whittled away by suspicion and wrangling over real or imaginary differences. Divergences will always exist. They are an indispensable element of dynamic plural societies and play a useful role both internally and externally. However, when not channeled by common organs, differences erupt into rivalries, rivalries grow through mutual antagonizing into conflicts, large or small, and the spirit of joint enterprise is first dulled and ultimately destroyed. This is the reason why we must find institutionalized ways of dealing with conflicting situations.

This time no single set of draftsmen and leaders, no single country can be expected to fix the course, or the pace. The nineteen sixties promise not only a proliferation of new states, but also of centers of power – on the world stage no less than within three major groups into which humanity is now divided. Washington, Paris, London, Moscow, Peking, Cairo, Brazzaville, Casablanca – all of these and others serve as symbols of present fields of political magnetism.

At the Berlin Congress for Cultural Freedom in 1960, George Kennan warned Europeans against underestimating their own resources, against playing up their impotence and against overrating the omnipotence of the United States. Within the last few years, however, the situation has changed with unexpected suddenness. There is a real danger of overconfidence and overambition among the statesmen of the old continent. They might well be reminded of Raymond Aron's answer to Kennan: the moment Russia puts pressure on Berlin, Europe “in spite of her prosperity, in spite of her tradition, in spite of her wealth and culture, has to turn towards Washington, and towards the Pentagon.”

The Second Atlantic Community will not have one single capital; there will of necessity be two, or three, or perhaps more. It will not have one single brain trust – again it will need many a ganglion – one at each of the nerve centers of communication and thought.

Nor will it necessarily be limited to the partners of its first attempt. The new plural society of mankind may Balkanize the World, but we may also uncover in the virgin soil of the newly emancipated two thirds of the human race a new fertility never dreamed of before. The Second Atlantic Community must keep open every avenue of cooperation and of sympathy. It will need both the gyroscope of its heritage and the sensitive radar of its civilized awareness to detect every stirring of fresh thought among the legatees of the West.

It will have to put considerable premium on unorthodox and untried solutions. Neither the experience of its own first decade, nor the procession towards European union can serve as reliable runway lights for its own second take-off. The formulas will have to be new and different, not replicas of those that worked in another setting. There will probably be many false starts and agonizing detours. Blindly to follow any of them would be the “primrose path to perdition.”

But there exists one primum necessarium, for which there is no substitute and around which there leads no detour: the will to build a new Atlantic community. Here lies the last great hope of the West as well as its brightest promise. Here too lies the great challenge to the ascending generation.



President Kennedy's tragic and untimely death leaves the Atlantic system bereft of much of its leadership and inspiration. His demise could scarcely have come at a more critical time; the majority of NATO nations finds itself in mid-passage between tested and seasoned governments; almost all of them will have to face the electorate within a year or two. In some of them opposition parties expect to take over. In others differences between coalition partners, or within the governing party itself, have been papered over, but not solved. In almost every case these divergences involve differing concepts of the Atlantic community.

Two poles of attraction have developed within the community itself: France and the United States. Presidential succession and the closeness of the elections impair the political attraction of the latter. President de Gaulle's failure to build a lasting constitutional and political structure, or even a political party to perpetuate his highly personal style and prestige, will increasingly bedevil France and her friends. The departure of John F. Kennedy has underscored the old wisdom that “time and chance happeneth to them all.”

It would not be out of place to say that Atlantic dilemmas are replacing, or at least complicating, the Atlantic dilemma with which we have dealt in the preceding pages. A loose and dented Atlantic alliance may well be the best we can hope to get for some time to come. Atlantic rivalry, based on several Atlantic sub-systems, cannot be ruled out. European dilemmas seem more intractable than they appeared to be in previous years. The inclusion of Great Britain, of Scandinavian Europe, and of Alpine Europe – without which there can only exist a European half-community – has apparently been relegated to a more distant future. The Common Market itself, although it has stood the test of January, and of December 1963, is far from settling differing perspectives of its own role.

Specifically, the more recent developments have put additional question marks around the original concept of an Atlantic partnership. Neither the behavior of the Common Market in the initial sparring for the round of tariff negotiations still tagged with the name of the late President, nor the response of the United States, make a bi-polar system either attractive or probable. A Gaullist-led Europe would be a most difficult partner. Unfortunately, somewhat similar tendencies are now apparent elsewhere: the tide in Britain is towards another period of inner-orientation; in the United States, there are unmistakable portents of a decline in internationalism. These may not presage a return to the isolationism of the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover era; in all probability, a partial disengagement in some areas might well be balanced by more direct intervention in others. Perhaps some such term as solism, describing a tendency of going-it-alone, as already demonstrated in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, would be more appropriate, but the consequences would be no less disruptive.

We have further to recognize that all transnational institutions without exception are at the moment navigating through an ebb tide. The United Nations is growing in numbers, but faces ever-greater limitations on its peace-keeping task. It is increasingly becoming an organ of the underdeveloped countries in the North-South confrontation which may well become the focus of world politics. At any rate, national interests frequently seem to drown out the common interest in its deliberations. Transnational configurations in the Communist part of the globe are in a similar reflux, as evidenced not only by the rift between the Soviet-led and the Chinese-led among them, but also by the crisis of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) in Europe. The European Economic Community has come close to shipwreck in the waning days of 1963. This is more than coincidence: each major conflict generates a tidal wave of concord and coalescence; it is followed by discord and disintegration.

Puzzling as a return to nationalism, to inwardness, to seclusion may appear in this age of satellites, of supersonic airliners, of intercontinental television, much can be learned from such trends. In the absence of bold and exciting ideas men invariably tend to return to the known and, seemingly, tried. If their imagination is not directed toward the future, it invariably reverts to the past.

This is one reason why institutions, establishments and bureaucracies are indispensable at every level of government. They act as stabilizers; they prevent backsliding; they are habit forming. The Common Market might well have fallen apart if the Commission and its Eurocracy had not provided a common ground before and during the marathon negotiations that led to agreement on agricultural prices and related problems prior to December 31, 1963. More than once before, the existence of a transnational body saved the day. Even the inadequate institutions of the Atlantic Community, such as NATO and OECD are proving indispensable, in spite of being in urgent need of remodeling. At the global level too, the Secretary General of the United Nations, and the Secretariat, are the keepers of the conscience and of the universal interest of mankind.

At this stage of caretaker governments and of interim measures, non-governmental agencies and organizations have a special role to play. They must keep a flow of trans-Atlantic ideas and communications, they must provide the backstop in time of reverses, and the fuel that will burn fiercely once the West gets going again. For, there is no substitute for an Atlantic Community – the commonwealth of the creative, the freedom-loving, and the mature who have contributed so much already to the march of mankind, but whose greatest contributions are yet to come.


References to other books from these pages. Many of these books are generally out of print but they can usually be found at used bookstores throughout the United States via .


NATO and American Security, Princeton 1959.

bulletThe United Nations as a Political Institution, London 1959.  The 5th edition of this book was published in 1975 and is still available.

New York Times, August 29, 1963.


La Democratie a l'Epreuve du XXe siecle, Paris 1960.

References to "Atlantic Dilemma: Partnership or Community?" on the web:


"What is the Atlantic Community?," Erin S. LaPorte, August 2001


"The New Europe," George Lichtheim, New York Review of Books, 1964

For those who are interested in reading more of this book, it can be located in used bookstores throughout the United States via Alibris . Other books on NATO and related policies in the 20th century available from include:


Frank's other two books were:


The Economics Of Force (1941)


The Legacy of Nazism (1943)

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