European Realignment

June 15, 1966

Report Outline
French Moves for European Realignment
Shifting of Alliances in Central Europe
Erosion of Rigid East-West Dividing Line

French Moves for European Realignment

The nations of europe—aligned into hostile East-West blocs since World War II—are moving to soften the edges of the divisions between them. A crisis of sorts hit the North Atlantic Treaty Organization earlier this year when President Charles de Gaulle of France launched his long-expected effort to end Nato's integrated military command structure. De Gaulle and many European—and American—leaders believe that the Western alliance must adapt itself to the reduced military threat from the Soviet Union as well as to the vast changes in Western Europe's economic and political status. In Eastern Europe, the nationalist leader of Communist Rumania—Nicolae Ceausescu—is indulging in a somewhat similar attack on the Warsaw Pact, the military alliance of the Soviet Union and its small Communist neighbors.

On both sides of the Iron Curtain, the movement toward change has met resistance from the most powerful members of the respective blocs, the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States, distracted by the war in Viet Nam, postponed for too long serious consideration of the challenge of France and others in NATO who would like to reorganize the alliance to meet changed political conditions in Europe. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Soviet Union—stung by Red Chinese ideological attacks when they were trying to concentrate on political consolidation and economic growth at home—have found it difficult to cope with a growing spirit of independence among their former satellites.

De Gaulle's Coming Visit to the Soviet Union

The moving spirit behind the NATO dilemma, President de Gaulle, faces a summer of intense diplomatic activity. The 75-year-old French leader travels to the Soviet Union for a 12-day visit beginning June 20. The purpose of that journey has prompted intense speculation in Washington and European capitals. De Gaulle will be the first foreign dignitary in many years to be housed in the Kremlin itself, an unusual courtesy that may signify the importance the Eussians attach to the visit of the French President.

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