Full Citation

  • Title The President in Germany
  • Author Lippmann, Walter
  • Publication Title New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Friday,  June 28, 1963
  • Issue Number 25023
  • Page Number 4
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
The President in Germany By Walter Lippmann WASHINGTON.—'The President’s ” German speeches must have • been prepared as a series which was to reach a logical and dramatic climax in West Berlin. At the air¬ port near Colo¬ gne and in his press conference at Bonn, Mr. Kennedy talked to the old guard in Germany. He did his best to convi nee Dr. Adenauer and h i s followers that the United States in gener¬ al, and he as President, are reliable — which for the old guard means that not only are we- prepared to defend West Germany with nuclear arms but also that the United States will give West Ger¬ many the veto on any negotiations about. Germany. After this opening phase of reas¬ surance to the old gaurd, the sec¬ ond phase took place in the address on Tuesday at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt. Here the President was calling upon the liberal opposition, which Dr. Erhard represents, to look abroad across the English Channel and across the Atlantic. Ocean. i mm® i Mr. Lippmann 4Winds of Change9 In the third and climactic phase, at the Free University in West Berlin, the President himself looked across the Iron Curtain. In words that derive from Pope John, the President looked foward to “recon¬ ciliation” and, then, assuming to speak for the West, said that provided the Communist states do not interfere with the freedom of other states “we are not hostile to any people or system.” It was, of course, unavoidable that in none of the speeches was there a hint of how reassurance, liberalization, and the reconcilia¬ tion are to be brought about. In, his news conference the President seemed to imply that the solution of the practical problems was not near enough to talk about it. For the reunification of Germany he seemed to rely on “time.” For the reunification of Europe he relied on “the winds of change.” But the real difficulty in making a Western policy for the unifica¬ tion of Germany and of Europe is not that these problems are vague and distant and shrouded in the fog of Eastern Europe and Commu¬ nist Russia, The real difficulty is that there is an unresolved con¬ flict in the Western Alliance over whether the initiative shall lie in Paris, with the support of Bonn, or in Washington. Essential Partner Because the President was actu¬ ally aware of the fact that his leadership of the West is chal¬ lenged, he could not and did not go beyond ideals and his general assurance to any kind of defini¬ tion of the policy which might achieve what he is talking about. The fact is that there can be no definition of a European policy without an understanding with Gen. de Gaulle. For there is not the smallest evidence that the cheering German crowd means that there is in West Germany the will or the power or the political cour¬ age to challenge Gen. de Gaulle’s primacy on the western Continent. And even if there were such an inclination on the part of the Ger¬ mans, France’s strategic position and economic power are such that she is an essential partner in any Western alliance. The President, who was walking a slippery path, was sure-footed in Bonn and Frankfurt and he was bold in Berlin. But there is less doubt than ever that a serious discussion of transatlantic affairs will have to lie between Washing¬ ton and Paris. Tides of History Before such a discussion could be¬ come profitable, the President will have to dispel the idea that our conception of Europe and of the Atlantic Community is bound in the end to prevail over the false ideas of Gen. de Gaulle. It is intoxicating to believe that the tides of history are with you, that you are the wave of the fu¬ ture. But history is not often a sure thing, and men living amidst it rarely know which way it is going. Gen. de Gaulle, who has now acquired a very important follow¬ ing all over Western Europe, may not be, as the Administration likes to think, a mere voice of the past. For while his haughtiness and ele¬ gance are by modern standards archaic, his judgment about the cold war and his estimate of the role of alliances in the nuclear age may be prophetic. For myself I have come to think more and more that the revival of the Western Alliance depends upon a very good understanding of the new ideas that are coming out of France.