THE West has been so hypnotised by the split in the
Communist camp that it has failed to see the far more dangerous split in its own. For Russia and China can very easily make up their quarrel—which is, basically, whether the free world can best be overcome by economic or by military warfare—while the West seems incapable of agreeing on any overall aim.
The current disarray in NATO is a luxury whieh is tolerable only as long as Russia remains unprepared to risk a nuclear war with the West. And though it is probably true to say that Mr. Khrushchev realises the consequences of nuclear war as much as anyone on our side of the lion Curtain, it would be unwise to rely too much on his willingness or ability to continue directing his policies accordingly.
NATO's boast has always been that it is a defensive organisation and that it exists simply to counter the Soviet threat to Europe. NATO is, consequently, strongest when this threat is most apparent. Remove the danger and the alliance begins to come apart at the seams,
That is what is happening now. Because the immediate pressure is off—Berlin, the grumbling appendix of Europe, has been quiet—President de Gaulle can indulge his refusal to have anything to do with an international organisation which has not France at the helm; Mr. Macmillan can boast about an independent deterrent, which depends on American co-operation, and the Americans have time to put forward new ideas for sharing—or appearing to share— political control of the Western nuclear striking power in Europe.
The real weakness of NATO at present is that it must appear to represent a European unity which is far from being realised on the political plane. it is an ad hoc alliance kept in existence by an outside threat and not by a dynamic from within.
For those who feel that the only hope for mankind is an international authority, however chimerical that ideal appears at present, all intermediate steps on the road to world unity are welcome. That is one good reason why the recent set-back to European Unity, as represented by 1he narrow nationalism of President de Gaulle, and the consequent present muddle in NATO are to he regretted.