In Europe today, there is a great deal of pondering on the balance of military force on the Continent. Most of these immensities relate to the balance of military force on the continent, and most of the ponderers are a rather sorry lot. Mainly, they are half- wit professors and that species of student who breaks into tears when "man's fate" is under discussion and slits your tires in the dark of night ere you laugh.
Such whistle-brains are now speaking grimly of war. Their jeremiads are really quite startling and irresponsible. It is not prudent to keep talking about the imminence of war, nuclear or otherwise, when our Soviet friends are listening. These unilateralists are going beyond "thinking the unthinkable." They are actually enunciating the unthinkable, heightening tensions and leaving the impression that the Americans are responsible for it.
The asinine situation in Europe today is that this gaggle of romantic simpletons is shaping the debate regarding NATO's strategic stance. For three decades, the alliance has been a success, achieving its goal of defending Europe against Soviet aggression at ever lower cost to itself. Its most anxious times have usually come when its forces were weak. Now that the Soviets' European non-nuclear forces and their theater nuclear weapons have the edge on NATO, anxiety again rises. Yet some urge that the Soviets' edge be allowed to grow larger still. It is precisely this school of thought that has gotten us into our present worrisome condition. History has discredited it. What keeps it afloat and fragrant is a mystery.
Moreover, the case now being made by those who oppose putting cruise and Pershing II missiles into Europe baldly misstates the reason for their presence. The unilateralists claim that the weaponry is being put there so that the insidious Yanks will be able to fight the Soviets over a European battlefield without endangering American soil. To make this argument, one either has to be a historical illiterate or a liar. As The Economist observed two weeks ago, these weapons were proposed by Europeans so that NATO armies would not be overwhelmed on the European battlefield before the United States was fully committed.
Yet if the case now being made by the unilateralists is illogical, ignorant and dangerously imprudent, that does not mean that it is losing influence-- much to the contrary. In Holland, West Germany and the United Kingdom, the peace movement is having great success. The movement is not strong in France today, but Patrick Wajsman, the shrewd columnist for Le Figaro, asks how long the more romantic members of the governing Socialist Party will remain immune to the pacifist bromides now enchanting so many German Socialists.
In truth, the discussion over NATO's strategic stance toward the Soviets is very strange. The most romantic and callow voices are gaining influence, for no good reason. Their case for keeping the Pershing II and the cruise missiles out of Europe is at best an unproved hypothesis. Viewed less optimistically, it is a prescription for turning Western Europe into a Mongolia. What is even stranger than the swelling influence of the romantics is the absence of strong voices against them.
Some Europeans place the blame for this on America. They still shake their heads over the amazing Jimmy Carter, and they fret that the Reagan administration has been vague--not toward the Soviets, for which they are grateful, but in terms of policy initiatives.
The fact that pacifist ideas, once heard only midst the marijuana vapors of European coffee houses, are now influencing policy among our allies is reason enough for the Reagan administration to rethink its policy toward Europe. Olivier Todd, one of France's wisest observers of the international scene, says that American foreign policy needs a more forceful articulation and more movement. This view is shared by many friends of NATO.
From what I have seen, it does appear that America's Great Communicator must try again to communicate with Europe. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger's speech on Thursday to Britain's Royal Institute of International Studies was a good beginning, but it was only a beginning.