In December 1979, NATO decided to deploy 108 Pershing II and 464 cruise missiles in five European nations. Those countries and their responses include:
BRITAIN: Agreed to accept 160 cruise missiles, which are scheduled to be deployed in about two years. The Conservative government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which manages Britain's own nuclear deterrent force, staunchly supports the decision. But the plan has come under increasing criticism, and the opposition Labor Party, under the leadership of Michael Foot, has rejected it. One of the major protest groups is the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which organized a protest by 250,000 on Oct. 24.
WEST GERMANY: Agreed to accept 96 cruise missiles and 108 Pershing II missiles to replace the older Pershing Ia. The Pershing missiles were scheduled to be deployed by December 1983 but the time frame has been delayed until April 1984. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has adopted a policy of "continental simultaneity" in which Bonn will accept the new weapons once they are accepted by another continental government.
About 500 separate peace groups, initiatives and appeals have started in West Germany and another 300 groups, ranging from Maoists to ecologists, have added the nuclear weapons issue to their original aims. But the number of substantial organizations involved boils down to a core of about a dozen, including the youth wings of both of Bonn's governing parties -- the Social Democrats and Free Democrats -- several Protestant-affiliated youth groups, the national environmental party, The Greens, and the West German Communist Party.
A September demonstration in Berlin timed for a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. drew roughly 50,000 protesters. Another one in Bonn in October drew more than 250,000, the largest protest rally in postwar Germany. Schmidt is firmly committed to the NATO decision, but opposition to it has been building inside the chancellor's Social Democratic Party.
BELGIUM: Undecided on whether to accept 48 cruise missiles. A decision by the Brussels government on whether to accept the missiles is long overdue, but no decision is in sight.
National elections this month left the country more divided than ever. A sharp left-right political split has emerged.
Nearly 50,000 protested the proposal in an Oct. 25 rally. Many diverse organizations, from anarchists and Trotskyites to church groups and socialists, make up the Belgian peace movement. More than 80 different organizations have declared their opposition to the NATO decision.
THE NETHERLANDS: Considering whether to accept 48 cruise missiles. The government is scheduled to make a decision next month on the issue and a rejection is considered likely.
The Dutch Labor Party, which belongs to the new coalition led by Premier Andries van Agt, is strongly opposed to taking the new missiles.
Surveys show that about 60 percent of the Dutch oppose the deployment of the new weapons.
The Dutch peace movement is perhaps the best organized, most popular one in Europe. It is led by the Interchurch Peace Council, which draws support from a number of churches. The council claims about 400 local groups averaging roughly 15 people each. Other active organizations include Stop the Neutron Bomb, Pax Christi, Women for Peace and an umbrella organization of radical peace groups.
ITALY: Agreed to accept 112 cruise missiles and announced in August that siting plans for those missiles had been made. Although smaller and less vocal than some of its counterparts in other NATO countries, the antinuclear movement in Italy has been growing and staged a major demonstration of 200,000 in Rome on Oct. 24. The movement is poorly defined and lacks cohesion but has been backed strongly by the Communist and the Radical parties.Haig Jr. and Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger in recent weeks.
"The discussion we are having does not deserve the name of discussion," complained H. J. Neuman, director of the Netherlands Institute for Peace and Security Studies in The Hague. "It is a brawl in a fog. The government kept quiet and secret about theater nuclear forces, and the net result was that the field was taken by the pacifists."
But much more is involved than inept government public relations or the widespread European perception of Ronald Reagan as a nuclear armed cowboy. Interviews with West European political and military leaders and with U.S. officials who worked out the Tomahawk-Pershing program provide evidence that the controversial missiles will be the latest addition to a nuclear stockpile in Europe that was conceived for political rather than military purposes, for which no realistic plan of use exists, and which may have reached the point of frightening America's allies more than it frightens the Soviets.
Despite the protests and growing doubts, West Germany's Helmut Schmidt and Britain's Margaret Thatcher are pushing ahead with their strongly held belief that adding these particular missiles to the stockpile is an absolutely necessary step to define Europe's political role within NATO and to balance Soviet missiles targeted on European cities. Italy is using its decision to take the missiles as its bid to rejoin the political leadership of NATO after a period of feeling shut out. Belgium and the Netherlands are the other NATO countries due to receive cruise missiles, but nuclear pacifism has been so strong there that they may waiver.
Realizing somewhat late the strength of the antimissile campaign, the United States is joining the governments caught between the protesters and Washington in launching a counteroffensive that underscores the political rather than the military origins of the decision for nuclear rearmament in Europe.
"What the pacifists would have you believe is that if you declare yourself for peace, you're going to have peace," said Gen. Bernard Rogers, the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe (SACEUR) when interviewed in Mons, Belgium, for this series. "A pacifist can have peace, but will end up losing his freedom and his rights and his values . . .
"Deterrence strategy, that's the key," he said. "To do that, you've got to have the whole spectrum of forces in there. We do try to control escalation if in fact we fail in deterrence. What we try to do is find the rung where we can hold it."
He also mentioned the importance of the new weapons as political tools. "If we back away from that very vital December 1979 decision to deploy the missiles that showed strength and resolve, and then try to go to the negotiating table to negotiate arms control measures, they'll laugh us out of the room," he said. "If you go to the poker table without any blue chips, you sure aren't going to win."
The Reagan's administration's slow and still cool embrace of arms control negotations with the Soviets, and its opposition to the SALT II treaty that Europeans saw as an essential part of detente, has been seized on in an adroit propaganda campaign by the Soviet Union to shift the focus in West Europe from the continuing Soviet deployment of a similar missile, the SS20, in striking range of Europe, to the American deployment due to begin in December 1983.
National communist parties have also been active in organizing and encouraging anti-American disarmament demonstrations. But American officials, including Haig, have publicly said that the most difficult challenge the alliance faces is responding to those European citizens who are genuinely concerned about the nuclear threat their region faces in the 1980s.
This survey centers on the interaction of the United States and its European allies, rather than on comparing NATO and Warsaw Pact actions and balance of forces. The extent to which the missile problem has become one of conflicting perceptions was perhaps best reflected by an exchange that occured in Washington this month between a senior defense official in the Reagan administration and a friend just returned from a trip across Western Europe.
Are the demonstrations in Europe, the Reagan official wanted to know, like the antiwar protests of American youth in the Vietnam era?
"No," his American friend responded, "this movement is more like the one of the people in Utah and Nevada that did not want the MX missile in their state. Most of these people see themselves as the true patriots in the case." This assessment, he added, was shared by senior policy-makers in Bonn, London and The Hague.
Some of the Europeans contacted in this survey seemed to offer a European variation on the Mansfield amendment, a bill proposed a decade ago by then Democratic Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield to pull all 300,000 American troops out of Europe and let the Europeans shoulder their own immediate defense burdens. To the extent that there is a mainstream for the pacifist movement, it tends toward a nonnuclear, continental NATO that would still be tied to the United States.
The antinuclear movement aims to "make a calm space between the superpowers and permit smaller nations, East and West, to resume their own initiatives," said British historian E. P. Thompson, who says his Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament group is working to remove nuclear weapons from "the entire territory of Europe, from Poland to Portugal."
Haig's chief deputy on European affairs, Lawrence Eagleburger, registered a warning in October of the most serious split in NATO's history aproaching if the opposition to American nuclear arms grows too intense. In an interview in Munich with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Eagleburger said the United States might have to "go its own way" and "take its own decisions, abandoning "the idea of consultation and consensus" if the pacifist movement becomes an important factor in European policy.
"While the debate is, as it should be, fundamentally between and among Europeans," Eagleburger told an audience of NATO legislators on that same visit to Munich, "we Americans cannot remain totally aloof from it . . . In a most profound sense, you are discussing the security of the United States as well."
West European officials remain convinced the movement can be contained and alliance plans realized, providing the United States appears seriously interested in upcoming arms limitation talks with the Soviet Union, and providing there are no more American surprises such as the August decision to produce and stockpile neutron weapons.
In interviews, they repeatedly made the point that U.S. politicians have a constituency outside the United States -- at this time, a very sensitive European constituency -- when they speak of nuclear matters, and should keep this in mind.