Trends are now underway that, when fully ripe, will radically alter the political landscape of Europe.
IN WESTERN EUROPE, opposition is growing toward America's new tough stance vis-a-vis Moscow. Neutralism and anti-Americanism or at least anti-Reaganism are on the upswing. At the same time, in Eastern Europe, Poland's astounding revolution threatens to shake the Soviet Union's postwar satellite empire to its foundations. Where are these trends leading? Will the two halves of Europe ever meet? If so, what then?
Reaction to Reagan
For years West Europeans complained about a lack of leadership on the part of the United States. Washington's policies, especially during the Carter administration, often changed unpredictably. Ironically, the new, determined administration in Washington hasn't solved the leadership crisis. Rather, it is meeting with surprising resistance on the other side of the Atlantic. Influential political circles on the Continent complain about President Ronald Reagan's alleged uncompromising, hard-line approach toward Moscow. Mr. Reagan's suddenly announced decision in early August while most Europeans were on vacation to put the controversial neutron bomb into full production, only added more fuel to the fire of transatlantic suspicion. The neutron bomb, of course, is nothing new. It had been earlier proposed for production and eventual deployment in Europe. However, after securing West Germany's critical approval, former President Carter abruptly reversed his decision in April, 1978. He decided not to order it into production, he said, on "moral grounds." Soviet propaganda had labeled the bomb a "capitalist" weapon one designed "to kill people, not destroy property." Soviet concerns, then and now, are understandable. The neutron or "enhanced-radiation" bomb is a purely defensive, limited range weapon designed specifically to thwart a Warsaw Pact armored assault on Western Europe. The weapon, once available, would neutralize the four-to-one tank advantage the Soviet-led forces have over NATO defenders. Predictably, the Soviet Union heatedly denounced Mr. Reagan's decision. But the. President dismissed the Soviet objections in his characteristically direct manner. "I can understand their anguish," said the U.S. President. "They are squealing like they are sitting on a sharp nail, simply because we now are showing the world that we are not going to let them get to the point of dominance where they can someday issue to the Free World an ultimatum of 'Surrender or die.' And they don't like that."
The problem for Washington is that many in Europe increasingly do not agree with what they claim is Mr. Reagan's "dangerous anti-Soviet rhetoric." This is especially true among young people. The politicians in Western Europe are dealing with a generation that was born, for the most part, after the Berlin blockade of 1948. This generation was in its childhood when the Berlin Wall was constructed 20 years ago this past August. These people have matured during the period of detente or official relaxation of tensions between East and West. They simply do not choose to believe their elders when they caution that it is necessary to upgrade defenses to redress the growing military imbalance in Europe. To the politically active left, the United States now represents the greatest threat to peace in Europe, far greater than the Soviet Union. Conveniently overlooked are the 160 SS-20 missiles, each with three warheads, that the Soviets have targeted on every major city in free Europe.
The neutron bomb decision was inevitable, given the realities of the military equation in Europe. Yet the timing of it has fueled' renewed opposition to another project: the modernization of NATO's nuclear forces. Pending acceptance by West Germany and at least one other European NATO partner, 572 Pershing 2 medium-range missiles and land-based cruise missiles are due to be deployed by 1983. The 1979 agreement is now in jeopardy because, of the neutron bomb go-ahead. In West Germany, the left wing of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt's Social Democratic Party is pressuring the chancellor to renege on his agreement to accept the missiles. In the Netherlands, the neutron decision makes it virtually certain that any future government in The Hague will refuse to accept cruise missiles on Dutch soil. Italian cooperation may also be in doubt. Italy had originally been considered as the other continental country that would accept the new NATO missiles (West Germany insisted that one other NATO partner had to accept them or it too would bow out). On August 7, Prime Minister Giovanni Spadolini announced that indeed, 112 of the NATO missiles would be based in southeastern Sicily. Shortly afterward came Mr. Reagan's unexpected neutron bomb decision. This provided Italy's powerful Communist Party with propaganda leverage against Mr. Spadolini's weak parliamentary coalition.
Differing Views on Soviet Threat
There is a growing schism between Washington and key Allied capitals over the entire range of East-West relations. Many Europeans simply do not share the perception held by the majority of Americans regarding the nature of the Communist threat to Europe and elsewhere. This non-meeting of minds was very much in evidence at the recent seven-nation economic summit in Ottawa attended by this author. One of the biggest disagreements at the summit occurred between the American and West German delegations. President Reagan personally told Chancellor Schmidt of his serious reservations over a massive 3,000-mile-long $15 billion Soviet-West European pipeline designed to transport Siberian gas to the nations of free Europe by the mid-1980s. If approved by all parties, it will probably turn out to be the biggest deal in the history of East-West trade. The West Germans are to play the major Western role in the project. Mr. Reagan could not convince Mr. Schmidt to reduce the scope of the project, which, the U.S. President fears, could lead to dangerous West German dependence upon Soviet fuel sources, and pull Bonn closer to Moscow politically. Equally serious is the rift that is bound to widen between the United States and the new Socialist government in France. Despite the person-to-person pleasantries in Ottawa between Mr. Reagan and President Fran90is Mitterrand, the political differences between them are bound to lead to friction later. For no two Free World leaders could hold more differing views of modern society. Mr. Reagan espouses the principles of free enterprise, with a reduced role of government in the marketplace. Mr. Mitterrand, on the other hand, has vowed to further nationalize the French economy so that it will be, when his program is completed, essentially a state-directed one. Furthermore, the world view of the French Socialists is 180 degrees away from that of the Reagan team. The Reagan administration views the world essentially as an East-West ideological struggle, between the Free World and Communist expansionism. The French Socialists, while denouncing direct Soviet aggression such as in Afghanistan, view the world essentially from a North-South or rich-poor perspective. They do not see Third World revolutionaries as auxiliaries of Moscow.
All across Western Europe (with the notable exception of France) neutralism is a rising tide. In some cases, neutralism amounts to little more than unilateral disarmament. The, British Labour Party, for example, is on the verge of adopting a policy calling for unilateral abandonment of Britain's nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of all U.S. bases. The Labourites also, if ever in power, would pull Britain out of the Common Market within 12 months after winning the election. The Low Countries, notes strategic analyst Walter Laquer, are afflicted with what he calls "Hollanditis." This malady, he explains, which began in the Netherlands, has resulted in aversion to all matters dealing with national defense, not just opposition to nuclear weapons. To those afflicted with this "disease," America is viewed as the greatest threat to peace in Europe. According to a Belgian Socialist party leader, "We have become permanent vassals and nuclear hostages of the U.S." (No mention of being held hostage to the Soviets' city-flattening SS-20s.) The twin giants of neutralism and anti-Americanism are coming together as well in West Germany, the most Americanized nation in free Europe. The Protestant clergy is in the forefront of the growing movement. During a recent conference in Hamburg, attended by more than 100,000 young people, students conducted a "peace march." Parading such signs as "Rockets Out" and "Peace Without Weapons," the marchers portrayed Washington as the prime force behind world tensions and a new arms race. At the same time, the cover of Stern, West Germany's largest general interest magazine, showed an American nuclear missile piercing the heart of a dove of peace. Aided by a massive influx of Communist propaganda, the picture is emerging in Germany of the United States as a warlike nation, without integrity, having an unjust society, corrupted by Vietnam and Watergate. On the other hand, the Russians are portrayed as difficult, but basically reasonable chaps. Some intellectuals go so far as to say that Europe (and Germany) must not only protect itself culturally against American civilization, but must "Europeanize" the Soviet Union so that it can be spared Americanization and remain pure, uncorrupted by consumerism. Summarized Alice Siegert, an American correspondent in Bonn: "If a balance sheet were struck, it would show without question that the majority of people here still have friendly feelings for the United States. But it also is a fact that Germans no longer look to the U.S. as the model country. And the political rift that is opening could be dangerous." Nearly everywhere else Mr. Reagan's aides look in Europe, they see disturbing signals. Taking advantage of the situation, Moscow is conducting an all-out "peace offensive" on many fronts. For example, the Soviets are once again floating the idea of a "nuclear-free zone" for Northern Europe complete with a "guarantee" that Soviet nuclear weapons would not be used against the Nordic countries. Thus, the Soviets are making strides toward neutralizing ("Finlandizing") Western Europe.
In the East-Ferment
If neutralism in Western Europe is giving Washington bad dreams, Poland is giving Moscow nightmares. What has been happening in Poland the Soviet Union's most strategically located satellite is nothing short of a revolution. Political reforms have taken place at a dizzying speed in Poland ever since the Gdansk shipyard demonstrations in the summer of 1980. Yet every change, it seems, leads only to demands for more. No one could possibly have foreseen a year ago that Moscow would tolerate the formation of a free trade union movement in a supposedly "workers' state." Neither could anyone have foreseen that delegates to a Communist party convention (in Warsaw) would be selected by secret ballot nor that the party boss himself at the congress' would be selected by the same process. Moscow, bogged down in Afghanistan and fearful of the grave consequences of direct intervention in Poland, has simply gritted its teeth and permitted all this to take place. The Kremlin has even postponed Poland's debts to the U.S.S.R. for the next five years, hoping this will help relieve Poland's staggering economic plight. What Moscow is confronted with in Poland is the first authentic upheaval on a national scale in a Soviet bloc country. The Kremlin finds itself in a "no-win situation." To send troops against Poland would be extremely costly. The Poles, Soviet leaders are convinced, would fight. Moscow would end up responsible for the resulting economic calamity and, very importantly, the Soviet "peace offensive" in Western Europe would grind to a halt. Yet, the changes underway in Poland a free trade union coupled with greater democracy within the party could produce a domino ripple throughout Eastern Europe and even the Soviet Union itself. Indeed it is already spreading. There have been reports in recent months of labor unrest in Romania. Demands for economic and political reform also were heard this past summer in East Germany, up until now Moscow's most trusted satellite. And Soviet citizens in Lithuania and the Ukraine are watching events in Poland very closely.
What Can Moscow Do?
The present Soviet leaders seemingly do not know what to do with Poland. It will likely be up to a future generation of Soviet leadership, less personally identified with the traumas of the Second World War, to think their own revolutionary thoughts about Eastern Europe. Moscow's overriding concern is that of national security, coupled with maintaining the balance of power in Europe. Future leaders of the Kremlin might be forced to risk a partial release of these captive states, believing that, in a condition more like that of Finland, the East Europeans would prove to be better guarantors of Soviet security than they are as restless captives. Such a transformation would completely alter the political map of Europe. Notes political affairs analyst William Pfaff: "No fundamental change in the situation of Poland, or of the region, is imaginable without a realignment of security arrangements in all Europe. If Poland were to become internally autonomous, albeit communist, its ability to guarantee Russia's security would have to be underwritten by the other states of Central and Western Europe. Even a qualified Soviet military withdrawal from Poland would have to be matched by American withdrawals in Western Europe or changes in NATO deployment." The Soviets cannot have it both ways. They cannot "win" Western Europe, without giving in somewhat in Eastern Europe; But where would such a dramatic reshuffling of Europe with America dealt out lead?
A "New Europe" Prophesied
Bible prophecy foretells that there is yet to come the final end-time restoration of the Roman Empire. It will be composed of a prophetic "ten horns," meaning 10 nations or ruling entities (Revelation 17:12). The second chapter of the book of Daniel tells of the same time not far in the future when the Kingdom of God, pictured as a great stone "cut out without [human] hands," will crush this final system of human government to dominate the world. Here this 10-nation system is pictured as a giant human figure, having feet "part of iron, and part of clay" (Daniel 2:33). Its toes obviously 10 correspond to the 10 national units of Revelation 17. The original Roman Empire was broken into two "legs" the Eastern empire in Byzantium (later Constantinople, today Istanbul) and the empire in the West in Rome. Thus it is very possible that the restored end-time system will be composed of two distinct yet cooperative parts: the first "leg" comprising nations of Western Europe, the second incorporating nations freed from Soviet dominance in Central and Eastern Europe. What is transpiring on both sides of the Iron Curtain today is the first step in the refashioning of Western, Central and much of Eastern Europe into anew, yet ancient, alignment. Out of the ashes of history will arise a new, end-time world power to the consternation of both Washington and Moscow.