The many self-styled Cassandras on both sides of the ocean would make people believe that the Western Alliance hardly has a chance of survival. This could have serious consequences if Western misrepresentations led to Soviet misjudgments. I hope it will not.
The voices of doomsday foresee not only the progressive decay of NATO's defenses, but also an unavoidable collapse of democracies in Western Europe, including what they carelessly call "Finlandization." This is not realistic. It also misuses the name of a brave little democracy in northern Europe.
The destructive pessimism of these conservative critics tends to paralyze discussion between the partners of our Western community. It already has confused the debate in various countries.
Leonid Brezhnev and his colleagues in the Soviet leadership, as I learned firsthand recently, are seeing things differently. They do believe in the strength of NATO. They show little doubt that the United States and the combined forces of Western Europe would be able to destroy their empire. They seem to fear the consequences of military cooperation between the United States and China.
And they claim the massive buildup of their SS20s is a product of modernization, rather than an element of strategic imbalance.
Whether the Soviets are trying to deceive the West or themselves, their ongoing installation of Ss20s with probably some 750 warheads is a very serious problem for Western Europe. It would be, even if there had not already existed a strong Soviet position in land-based Eurostrategic weapons.
Unfortunately, this was not made part of SALT II. But warnings were given at various times in the last three or four years. In December 1979, NATO, at Brussels, decided that by the end of 1983 new American nuclear weapons would be deployed on Western European soil and the U.S.-Soviet negotiations would begin.
NATO did not foresee how the timetable would be influenced by American elections. But there should be no confusion about this simple fact: the Europeans were told that negotiations might influence the armaments decision. Many Europeans would not be satisfied now if they were informed that there was no possible linkage or just not enough time, and that since the Russians would demand the negotiations also to include the forward-based systems, the deployment of Pershing IIs and cruise missiles had to take place in any case.
Whether or not they are going to be deployed willhve to depend upon serious negotiations. If at all possible, we will have to convince the Soviet Union that is readiness to change earlier decisions will determine whether or not new rounds of the arms race will be started. In other words, the Soviet Union will have to reduce drastically its Eurostrategic systems if it wants to avoid the deployment of new American arms on our West European side.
This is more or less what I told Brezhnev and his colleagues. Their answers and proposals should be studied carefully both by our experts and by those who carry political responsibility.
I am awre that the president of the United States and his administration, Congress and the American people are facing hard and costly decisions, not least in the area of defense. But when we follow discussions on a sea- or air-based solution for the MX system, for example, we feel that our American friends will understand some of the worries and anxieties in Germany, Holland, Belgium, England and elsewhere, old and young, conservative and social democrat. All are deeply afraid of the dangers that could emerge from the addition of the Pershing II and the cruise missiles to the already existing thousands of nuclear warheads that are stored on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. This is why people insist so passionately on exploring every single opportunity of negotiations with the Soviet leaders.
It is, of course, not impossible that thelong and complicated talks will lead to nothing. The Soviet Union seems to suffer from a deep-rooted complex of uncertainty. The degree of security it is longing for seems to surpass rational limits. This leads to a vicious circle: any measure taken to improve security reduces it at the same time that it calls forth counter-threats.
By no means can we be certain that an early encounter between President Reagan and Secretary General Brezhnev would break this spell. But it could be a beginning. In any case, in the interest of survival, SALT has to be carried further.
The leaders in Moscow are struggling with severe problems. the tensions within their system are grave. Our troubles sometimes look comparatively harmless. We in the West are stronger than many commentators are willing to admit. Do they, for example, realize that West Germany alone can call into service 1.2 million well-trained and equipped men within 72 hours?
The Soviet Union is no easy partner, but it obviously needs peace. Its leaders need dietente, and so do we in order to live up to the necessities of our societies, our economies and our obligations to the Third World.
We must tell our counterparts in Moscow that the reduction of tensions is not out of reach if they are willing to meet a series of clear expectations that have been or will have to be defined within our alliance. We in the West are certainly strong enough to enter early negotiations. Contrary to a careless remark in Washington, there is no lack of subjects and substance for earnest debates. If we fail the first time, we must try again. We must try and try and try.
We should start by talking frankly and courageously among ourselves. The founders of our alliance did not merely think in terms of a gigantic war- and defense-mechanism. They shared the basic values of a free society, and the believed in the construction of a political concept that we can share whether we are conservative, liberal or democratic socialist. Their moral determination was a protection of our liberties, and their passion of peace provided NATO with the trust of our peoples. Only the seed of doubt cast by the new militant cold warriors could shake our confidence in these basic and common values.