• U.S.

Nation: Fora United, Nuclear Europe

3 minute read

In a forceful speech last week, New York’s Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller criticized the Kennedy Administration not for its manner of dueling with U.S. enemies but for its manner of dealing with U.S. friends.

Speaking to the American Newspaper Publishers Association’s Bureau of Advertising, in Manhattan, Rocky addressed himself to the problems of the NATO Alliance, charged the Kennedy Administration with “failure to recognize the new Europe which has emerged over the past 14 years.” The Administration does not understand that Europe is now strong enough “to want to assume a greater degree of self-reliance and a larger measure of the responsibility for its own defense.” And although the Administration “has talked a great deal about partnership, it is treating our friends of the Atlantic Alliance as dependent allies rather than independent partners.”

Rockefeller said that Kennedy policy has been “ambivalent” because it insists on equality in economic relations, yet has “discouraged the emergence of any European identity” in the control of nuclear weapons. The Governor said that the Administration’s desire for a multilateral European nuclear force “has been marked by vacillation and inconsistencies.” There are, he continued, two such multilateral plans: one calls for a group of national nuclear forces, including U.S. Polaris submarines, answering to NATO control; the other sets up a fleet of missile-carrying merchant ships manned by crews from different nations. Rockefeller was impressed by neither: “One is a collection of national forces subject to ultimate national control; the other is effectively under U.S. control through the veto.”

What is most wrong with the multilateral idea, said Rockefeller, is “the fact that it avoids the basic problem of Europe’s own understandable desire to be able to respond with its own nuclear weapons in its own defense in the event of attack.” With heavy sarcasm, he added: “Of course, weak and dependent satellites are more tractable than proud independent Allies. They will also be more unreliable in times of stress.”

Rockefeller offered some solutions of his own: absolute nuclear equality—with the U.S. pitching in to help European nations build their own nuclear force “on a basis of genuine partnership.” He urged amendment of the McMahon Act, which prohibits the U.S. from giving basic data on nuclear weapon design or manufacture to other nations. “Our material assistance should be in the form of sales—not grants.”

He demanded the creation of a permanent international group of “the highest level, charged with exploring the means of strengthening the cohesion of the nations bordering the North Atlantic.” “It makes no sense,” said Rockefeller, “to speak of the indivisibility of strategy while each member of the Alliance conducts a separate diplomacy and while in the economic field short-term regional advantages are sometimes pressed at the expense of the common advantage.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com