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EUROPEAN ARMY: De Gaulle’s Alternative

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Seven profitless months have passed since six Western European nations signed treaties with each other for the creation of a European Defense Community. The treaties provide for a common 43 division army, wearing the same uniforms, using the same weapons, and obeying the same commander; but before a corps can be organized or a single German armed, the treaties have to be ratified by the parliaments of six countries. France and Germany, with old antagonisms rankling, are stalling. What happens if EDC is not ratified? European statesmen pale at the question, give answers like that of Germany’s Chancellor Konrad Adenauer: “By economy of thought I refuse to examine the alternatives.” Last week a man who has done more than most to delay the European Army gave his alternative.

In an interview with Reuters, General Charles de Gaulle itemized his old objections to EDC: it would 1) “split the French army in two,” 2) mean “the end of the French Union,” 3) be impotent militarily and psychologically, 4) lead to German predominance at the expense of France. But he was also prepared, for the first time, to spell out his alternative in detail:

¶ Separate military contingents from each country, including Germany, subject, to control of a simple “confederation of European states,” which would be more like a grand alliance.

¶ Each member state must bind itself not to embark on military adventures in Europe without prior consent of all the others.

¶ Germany would have to agree in peacetime to have no more divisions on foot than France, excluding those divisions France needs for overseas operations.

This plan, said the general, would avoid “the nightmare absurdity” of France’s surrender of sovereignty to a supranational army.

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