THE dilemma of the Western alliance is very like that of the ecumenists. Joint security arrangements, like joint prayers, are both a sign of existing unity and a means of building a unity which exists only partially.
It is obvious that unity does not exist at present in the Atlantic alliance except at a minimal level. The MLF proposal is causing controversy in NATO: Britain's alternative ANF plan is having a lukewarm reception; General de Gaulle'. "go-it-alone" ideas for Europe have been reinforced by the Common Market agreement on grain prices this week, Mr. Rapacki has seized the opportunity to put forward again his old ideas for a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe (including Germany) and this week's NATO meeting in Paris solved nothing.
The Wettern crisis is basically a crisis of trust. The questions being asked are: Should Germany be given part-control of the Western nuclear arsenal as befits a full partner in NATO? Will the Americans honour their pledge to defend Europe? Would the MLF or the ANF Prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons? What is the future of divided Germany? And. above all, can we trust the Russians?
The MLF proposal is a comparatively small package in itself but all these other problems are wrapped up in it. Its usefulness, therefore, cannot be reckoned in military terms alone. Indeed, the military experts themselves agree that it makes nonsense.
The way to judge it—and all other plans for Western defence — must. therefore, be on the basis of whether or not it helps in strengthening Western unity Which exists only partially and tentatively at present.
On this test the MLF and the ANF make sense. They are a symbol of a unity to come rather than one which now exists.
Both of course, depend on the nuclear deterrent and some will therefore condemn them. But it is difficult to understand why some of the nations which already shelter under the NATO nuclear umbrella can logically oppose them on this ground.
. The best alliances, however, grow slowly, and are not forced into existence through external pressures. For that reasr, any chance of a wider detente— such as may be achieved by the projected talks with Russia—is to he welcomed. It is no longer true, if .it ever was, that the only way to preserve peace is to prepare for war. Mutual paralysis through terror is not the peace we will be thinking of at Christmas.
ON THE AIR
DOPE PAUL, like Pope John .11before him, has emphasised the necessity for dialogue with all men. If the Church is to convince the modern world of the truth of her message she must meet all sorts of men and talk to them. Even with Communists
who are militantly atheistic, the hopes of a dialogue cannot he ruled out. • At the same time, the Church must seek to defend herself against unjust attacks and has the right to seek guarantees for her own liberty.
The news that the Church is to Setup radio stations to beam a Christian message into parts of Africa and South-East Asia is not, therefore, to be seen as stepping into the propaganda ring. She is not taking political sides: she is seeking to preserve her religious freedom.
Today, the days of the missionary seem to be numbered. The expulsion of the missionaries from the Sudan and the threats that they will he expelled from other countries makes it imperative that the Church revises her techniques.
At the same time, she must learn the most modern means of influencing men's minds. These means are themselves neutral; they can be used for good or evil purposes. The Church, as the Decree on Mass Media promulgated last year lays down. must be able to use them for good.
In this regard, it is a matter.of pride that our own country is playing such an important role in this development. The Radio Centre at Hatch End is the first of its kind in the world and the impressive thing about it is that it insists on the highest professional standards.
Too often in the past, the Church has relied on ill-paid amateurs. In this age when the struggle for men's minds is allimportant, she cannot afford to let penny-pinching and secondrate standards ruin the work.