NOT since World War II has there been such an era of ill feeling between Western Europe and the United States as there has been in the past year. No sooner had the then Presidential Assistant Henry A. Kissinger issued his call in April 1973 for a new Atlantic Charter to reinvigorate “shared ideals and common purposes with our friends” than it appeared that our friends had begun to change places with our enemies. Six months later, in October, Dr. Kissinger, now Secretary of State, was overheard saying, no doubt in pique, that he didn’t care what happened to NATO because he was so disgusted with it. Two months after that, in December, he privately described the behavior of the Europeans during the Arab-Israeli conflict as “craven,” “contemptible,” “pernicious,” and “jackal-like.” In March of this year, he unguardedly expressed his disgruntlement by publicly complaining that getting our friends to realize our “common interests” was a bigger problem than “regulating competition” with our enemies. Others have observed this extraordinary topsy-turvydom of friends and enemies. According to so experienced and respected a student of international affairs as George F. Kennan, the United States “now has relations with the Soviet Union fully as cordial as those with most of the European NATO members”-which is another way of saying that we are no more cordial with the latter than with the former.
This is a peculiarly disturbing state of affairs for a country whose leaders, including Dr. Kissinger, have never tired of protesting that NATO, the Atlantic alliance, or Western Europe, is the very “cornerstone” of U.S. foreign policy. A profound change has obviously taken place, going far beyond the problems and provocations that have presented themselves in the past year. If it continues much longer, the 1970′s are unlikely to produce the “structure for peace” pursued by President Nixon; they are more likely to resemble the 1930′s in the breakdown of a fragile international order.
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