Updated: 24-Jun-2002 NATO Speeches

California, USA
October 30,1957


by H.E. Paul-Henri Spaak

Mr. Phleger, Gentlemen,

This city is one with whose recent history I have become very closely linked. The United Nations whose charter was signed here, chose to elect me its first president. The universal rights which were proclaimed here in 1945 and reaffirmed at the time of the Tenth Anniversary, are very close to my heart. They have formed the basis of the European Declaration of Rights which was adopted when I was active in the Council of Europe. They form the underlying basis of the principles which the organization of which I am now Secretary General - NATO -is pledged to defend.

This universality of convictions seems to have a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of San Francisco. From hope, this globe takes on a special perspective, because when San Franciscans look to their East they see Europe, and to their West they see Asia. But, in this age of space which we have now entered, geographical directions arc no longer important. What is important is that in whatever direction you may look, there is a challenge of those basic principles of the U.N. Charter which were adopted here.

As you well know, I am a European. It is of European developments, and particularly of the Atlantic Alliance, of which I shall now speak.

I have always taken the greatest interest in the Atlantic Treaty and I was, moreover, one of its signers. I have been the Secretary General of NATO for almost five months now and my ideas on the development of the Alliance have crystallised. I think that we must first call to mind a number of facts which should be well-known, but are not always remembered, the most important of which is that the Atlantic Alliance is primarily a defensive organization. It is true that in the eyes of the Soviet Union the Atlantic Alliance is public enemy number one. However, the leaders of the Soviet Union have only themselves to blame for the existence of the Atlantic Alliance for it is they who are responsible for the bloc policy. Immediately after the end of the 2nd World War the aim of the great western nations which had emerged victorious was to conduct a foreign policy based both on the United rations and on alliance with the USSR. It was the Soviet Union's systematic sabotage of the proceedings of the Security Council by the abuse of the veto and their reckless imperialist expansion in Europe which made this foreign policy impossible. At the United Nations, the Soviet Union has availed itself more than eighty times in ten years of its right to use the veto. This means quite literally that on more than eighty occasions, when a solution to a major or minor problem had been reached and approved in the Security Council by a majority, indeed in some cases all but unanimously, that solution had to be rejected because of a negative decision by the Soviet Union and the recommendation ruled out of order. What institution could withstand such treatment and how could the world place its trust and its hopes in the proceedings of an institution sabotaged in this way? While she was destroying in New York the illusions which we had cherished at San Francisco in 1945, Soviet Russia was boldly pursuing the imperalist policy which she had followed since the end of the Second World War.

The Communists and certain fellow-travellers protest when they hear the phrase "communist imperalism." They even go so far as to claim that the two words are contradictory. In what other terms, however, can the policy of the Soviet Union be described? We must agree on the meaning of the words. As I see it, imperialism denotes the action of a country, generally a great country, when it seizes certain territories and imposes its political rule on whole nations against their will. Is this not exactly what the Soviet Union has done since 1939? It has annexed the three Baltic countries outright, has seized part of Poland, Finland, Roumania and Germany and, by following a policy which combined internal subversion and external pressure, has succeeded in setting up minority governments obedient to its orders and instructions in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Sophia, Tirana and East Berlin. This policy has enabled the Soviet Union to expand by about 500,000 square kilometres and to impose its laws on over 22 million persons.

Although Soviet aims became clear as early as 1939, the Western Powers, after the Second World War, in their desire to perpetuate the alliance which had led to victory, showed the greatest indulgence - which historians will probably describe as excessive weakness - in their dealings with the Soviet Union. It took the "coup d'etat'' of Prague in 1948 finally to open the eyes of Western statesmen and to make them understand that if they did not combine to take drastic protective measures, the -whole of Europe was in danger of falling under Soviet domination, notwithstanding the manifest unwillingness of the overwhelming majority of its inhabitants. The "coup d'etat'' of Prague was the real turning-point of international politics after the end of the Second "World War. It was the event which demonstrated that the policy of trust in the Soviet Union and the policy of confidence in the United Nations would not alone ensure the security of the Western countries. It was then that they decided to unite and a few months later, in April 1949, the signature took place in Washington of the treaty which created the Atlantic Alliance. I repeat that the main purpose of this Alliance was to stop Soviet imperialism in Europe and to achieve this without resorting to violence or to war.

It must be proclaimed, and loudly proclaimed, that the main purpose of the Alliance has been one hundred per cent fulfilled. Since 1949 the influence and power of the Soviet Union in Europe have ceased to gain ground. Since 1949 its imperialistic advance has been checked; since 1949 not a square inch of ground in Free Europe has fallen under Soviet domination.

It is therefore obvious that this military effort must be maintained, that there can be no Question of relaxing it, still less of discontinuing it; otherwise we would merely be recreating the conditions which, between 1939 and 1949, enabled Soviet imperialism to expand unopposed.

Having properly emphasised the success of this military effort by the West, it must nevertheless be recognised that the Atlantic Alliance cannot continue to expand in the military sphere alone. Even when the Atlantic Treaty was first planned, negotiated and signed, the originators expressed the idea that the Alliance should have a political, economic and cultural foundation. It was because of events and circumstances that the Atlantic Powers were compelled to concentrate first on the military effort. In more recent years, NATO's strongest supporters have been campaigning in favour of putting the Alliance on a stronger political and economic footing. I find it gratifying to have written myself, a long time ago : "It is not sufficient to bring men together only to teach them to fight the war which we are making effort to prevent. They must also be taught to live together."

At the beginning of 1956, the Forth Atlantic Council, fully aware of the needs I have just mentioned, called upon Mr. Pearson, M. Hartino and Mr. Lange, the Foreign Ministers of Canada, Italy and Norway, to submit a report on the possibility of expanding political and economic co-operation within the Alliance. These three Ministers; who were later called the "Three Wise Men of NATO" thereupon set to work. They were helped in their efforts by the events which took place in the Middle East and Hungary during the summer and autumn of 1956. There is no doubt that these events endangered the Atlantic Alliance in exposing it to the gravest crisis which it had experienced since its foundation. At the time of the Suez incidents, it was suddenly realised that France and Britain had adopted one position and the United States a completely different one. Everyone recognised that, if such emergencies were to happen again, the Alliance would not weather them. That is why, when the Three Ministers appointed by their colleagues submitted their conclusions in December 1956 and recommended ways and means of strengthening the Alliance; their conclusions were adopted unanimously.

The essential thing they concluded is that on all occasions and in all circumstances, member governments before acting or even before pronouncing, must keep the interests and the requirements of the Alliance in mind. If they have not the desire and the will to do this, no resolutions or recommendations or declarations by the Council or any Committee of the Council will be of any great value.

On the assumption, however, that this will and this desire do exist, the following principles and practices in the field of political consultation are recommended:

(a) members should inform the Council of any development which significantly affects the Alliance. They should do this, not merely as a formality but as a preliminary to effective political consultation;

(b) a member government should not, without adequate advance consultation, adopt firm policies or make major political pronouncements on matters which significantly affect the Alliance or any of its members, unless circumstances make such prior consultation obviously and demonstrably impossible;

(c) in developing their national policies, members should take into consideration the interests and views of other governments, particularly those most directly concerned, as expressed in NATO consultation, even where no community of view or consensus has been reached in the Council.

This is my charter and I am pledged to see it fulfilled. But of course this is more easily said than done. There is no denying that the policy recommended by the report of the Three Wise Men is something entirely new in foreign policy. It breaks away from time-honoured habits and traditions.

I think I can say that a national, independent and, in a certain sense, selfish foreign policy has long boon the distinguishing mark of sovereign nations and perhaps one of the most jealously guarded elements of that sovereignty. I repeat that NATO is not aiming at developing a single foreign policy for the fifteen member countries. We are endeavouring to co-ordinate foreign policies which are conceived and are to be put into effect in the individual capitals. To achieve this end, the partners in the Alliance must be wiling to keep each other frankly and fully informed of their intentions, and must consult each other on the action they propose to take. The experience of five-and-a-half months has taught me that a great deal can be done in this field and that there are already grounds for counting on success.

The disarmament conference held in London provided us with a most valuable experience. The Western Powers represented in the Sub-Committee were called upon to make proposals which necessarily concerned their partners in the Atlantic Alliance. It followed naturally that there should be consultations between the Western Powers represented at the London Conference and the other NATO member countries represented in Paris. Those consultations took place. The NATO machinery proved to be sufficiently flexible to conduct and follow up these consultations without causing any delay. It enabled the Western Powers at the London Conference to put forward their plan at the end of August, and to speak, not only in their own name, but in the name of all the partners in the Atlantic Alliance.

Events in the Middle East aIso have given us another opportunity to try out our new methods of consultations. In four or five Council meetings, the developments, in the Syrian situation have been carefully studied. There has been a full exchange of information. Facts have been examined and discussed and the general lines of a constructive policy have been suggested. I cannot say that the results obtained have been perfect, but they are already sufficient to prevent a repetition of what happened last year, and to assure that the Middle East situation will not cause a new crisis in the North Atlantic Alliance.

Already it has been proved that a joint policy can perfectly well be worked out and that the system of prior consultation in all frankness and loyalty is not an added complication, but, on the contrary, makes things easier. But, even if we succeed in this part of our task, it is still not enough. We must also implement Article 2 of the Treaty to the full. May I remind you of the relevant part of this article:

The members will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies, and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them"

This article was already important in 1949, but it is still more so in 1957. Why? Because I believe the struggle between communism and the West will, in the future, be carried on much more on the economic and social, than on the military level.

The Communists are well aware that they cannot conquer the free world by force of arms so long as the Atlantic Alliance remains solid. They, therefore, now dream of dominating the free world, (for their purpose has not and cannot change) by trying to demonstrate that their economic system is superior. Khrushchev has for the past weeks never ceased to premise that under the Communist system people will have more butter and more meat - not only more than they themselves can get at the present time, which is littleenough - but more than the Americans, considered as the symbols of the so-called capitalist world. This is the challenge we have to face. We shall meet it. A part of this whole problem is that of helping the underdeveloped countires. I must first underline that in that field the United States is making a spleindid and generous affort. But I must also confess that their policy has not always given the hoped ofr result. Why? First of all, I will say, frankly, because people are often ungrateful. But there are also other reasons.
The Russians have, in this field, done far less, yet is is apparent that in certain quarters they have met with considerable success, so the reason for this must be sought. I believe that the chief reason is that they have used the label of commerce rather than that of generosity. They have not given, they have bought and sold and so they avoid adverse psychological reactions. I want also to emphasize that this effort must not be made at random. It is impossible to help everyone effectively. This demands and justitifes selection. It does not mean that there should be political strings, but I believe that we in the West must first help those who, of their own free will have decided to resist Communist blackmail. Even reduced to these proportions, the problem is still immense and demands not only a clearly conceived long-term policy, but a spirit of collective generosity, served by first-class organization. Even reduced to these proportions, it demands more than an effort by the United States, it dmeands the coordination of the independent efforts of the West. Europe will be able to contribute greatly to this effort on the day that , having given up its outmoded internal barriers, it has become welded into a single unit and has set up a vast common market, an essential condition for its future prosperity and its effective participation in the solution of othe major problems of our times.

A united effort is also required to solve the more immediate problems caused by the teremendous defence requiremants imposed ont eh countires of Europe. The plain truth is that, without the help of the United States, the countries of Europe, in their present condition, are no longer able to take effective defence measures against aggression.

The military help they require must be expressed, not only in terms of American troops, stationed at great expense in Europe, but also in terms of modern supplies by the United States of the use of their European allies, and which, it must not be forgotten, are costing more and more every year.

Yet it is daily becoming more apparent that there are obvious and wasteful structural defects in the military defence system of the West. I don't believe that is is possible, at the present time to create an Atlantic Community like the association we have succeeded in creating in Europe with the Treaty on the Common Market. But I am sure, there are today many economic and defence problems existing inside the Atlantic Community, - some problems which can only solved within the framework of NATO. Enormous savings could for instance, be achieved by standardising military equipment, by placing its manufacture on a co-ordinated basis, by the international distribution of defence orders, and, even more important, by a common sense pooling of scientific research.

The launching by the Russians of an artificial satellite has just given us a sharp reminder that this important aspect of our problems must on no account be neglected. The West can no longer afford the luxury of dispersing its scientific efforts' only by wise economic and good organization can we reach our common goal.

IF the United States were left to shoulder alone the greater part of the crushing burden of defence, I fear it would grow weary. It would regard the task as far too big and the burden as too heavy to bear. But if it wants to share its burden, it must have full confidence in its loyal and willing partners. Please allow me here to express my personal opinion. Restrictive legislation, such as the provisions of the MacMahon Act, for instance, was no doubt justified when the United States enjoyed a virtual monopoly of knowledge in certain fields. But these provisions re outdated now the the enemy is in possession of the secrets which had to be , at one time jealously guarded. As things have turned out, would it not be better, with careful safeguards, to share these secrets with friends and so spare them time-consuming, difficult and costly research? Would it not be better to co-operate with their scientists and technicians with a view to avoiding duplication of effort, purposeless repetition of the same tests and, for the whole of the Western community, an enormous waste of time and money.

The gesture thrown out by Khrushchev was not a gesture of defiance by one country of the East to one of the West. It was a challenge by the Communist world to the Free World.

All this I had been prepared to say to you before my arrival in the United States. Then, the following day, President Eisenhower and Prime Minister MacMillan issued a declaration on relations between the United States, the United Kingdom, and the other members of the Atlantic Alliance. In it you will find the following passages.

"The arrangements which the nations of the free world have made for collective defense and mutual help are based on the recognition that the concepts of national self-sufficiency is now out of date. The countries of the free world are interdependent and only in genuine partnership, by combining their resources and sharing tasks in many fields, can progress and safety be found. For our part, we have agreed that our the countries will henceforth act in accordance with this principle.

"Our representatives to the North Atlantic Council will urge an enlarged Atlantic effort in scientific research and development in support of greater collective security and the expansion of current activities of the Task Force working in this field under the Council's decision of last December."

"The President of the United States will request the Congress to amend the Atomic Energy Act as may be necessary and desirable to permit of close and fruitful collaboration of scientists and engineers of Great Britain, the United States, and other friendly countries."

This is a great step forward and at the coming meeting of the North Atlantic Council in December, we shall carry it further still. And now I must conclude:

I certainly would not dare to promise you a future of joy and ease, on the contrary, I know the problems we have to solve are many and complex. But I am bold enough to assert that, provided we commit no major error, in the immense struggle between Communists and the Free World we shall triumph. We shall triumph, not only because our material resources are greater: we shall triumph, above all because our principles are right.

The Communists can achieve certain results, but to do so they must sacrifice liberty and oppress mankind, We can achieve better results without sacrificing liberty and remaining faithful to our conception of the sanctity of Man, the basic elements of our civilization.

We have known for a long time that Communism is political bankruptcy. Since recent events in Poland and Hungary, we know too, that Communism, despite certain spectacular successes, is economic and social bankruptcy as well. There is no field in which we cannot do as well as Communism, there are many in which we can do better.

But this encouraging and optimistic outlook will only be justified if we adapt ourselves to the needs of the time. It is with a sincere faith that i express my conviction that there are no longer any important problems which any country of the West, be is the most powerful, the richest or strongest, can really solve alone. Only within the framework of a United Europe wand the North Atlantic Alliance can a lasting solution be found.

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