The Foreign Service Journal - April 2017
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tions. Something more in the way of justification than the usual

clichés about solidarity of “free world interests” is now required

in order to present a credible position. Europeans are currently

searching for pragmatic solutions to the problems that beset them,

and American fundamentalism is considerably less attractive

than it was at a time when continental affairs were hopelessly and

uncompromisingly entangled in a maze of mutual recriminations.

A natural result of the lessened receptivity toward the American

point of view onmany policy issues is a growing lack of meaningful

dialogue between the United States and its European allies. When

American spokesmen try tomake a case for concerted action on

Cuba or Vietnam, such appeals find no response in countries to

which they are at best matters of secondary concern.

Stay Ahead of History

Evenmore, there is in Europe a rising uneasiness over the lack

of U.S. flexibility in dealing with somany vital questions. In this

sense, General de Gaulle might be considered as the spokesman

of a growing body of as yet largely inarticulate opinion inmost

European states which is disturbed over the course of events and

favors the development of less binding associations with American


The future Europe may or may not conform to General de

Gaulle’s vision of a collection of nation-states living in harmony

from the Atlantic to the Urals. One thing can, however, now be

said with certainty: the power of both the United States and the

Soviet Union to influence the actions of individual countries on the

continent and tomake them conform to their respective models is

rapidly decreasing.

It is up to the United States to recognize this change and to

accept it gracefully. There is a lack of reality evident in waiting for

certain uncomfortable phenomena to disappear from the scene

so that one may return to the status quo ante. Once a country puts

itself in this position it becomes retrograde and falls behind the

course of events. In the long run, this constitutes a situation which

no amount of power can hope to rectify. If the United States is to

avoid such an entrapment, it must keep pace with history or, better

still, stay a little ahead of it.




APRIL 2017