He (Mr. Watkinson) questioned whether the Opposition’s Censure motion was on the Government or on the whole NATO Alliance. He and the Government believed the NATO Alliance was and must remain the core to our defence strategy.
If he were to accept the provisions of the motion and some of the arguments put forward by Opposition members, he would have to go to the Defence Minister’s meeting and propose a complete reversal of present NATO policy—(Opposition cries of “Why not?”)—“The consequence would be that I should have done the maximum to weaken the Alliance.”
(Guardian report of the Debate on Nuclear Weapons for West Germany. 12/2/60).
it is only when we think of the terrible sub-industrial wastes along the stretch of road between Reading and Slough that we have any misgivings whatever about the Third Aldermaston March. In our more sober moments, everything that has happened in the field of nuclear diplomacy during the last three months confirms the need for a greater demonstration of opposition to the nuclear ‘scatter’ than last year’s 15,000. If anything, the politics of the Bomb have taken a distinct turn for the worse. Driven by the logic of their own position, the NATO powers are now lolling in the itchy palm of Dr. Adenauer. The only question now is whether German nuclear weapons are to be developed independently by Germany, or be supplied and ‘controlled’ by NATO through the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. If these are indeed the real alternatives, there is something to be said (at last) for NATO! Dr. Adenauer is now the supreme controller of the European heartland: and until the United States have completed their crash programme for nuclear armed and powered submarines, the heartland holds sway. Adenauer has successfully dictated the pace of the West’s unwilling creep to the Summit, vetted and pruned the Agenda, kept Berlin hanging over the Head of Whitehall and Washington whenever it seemed that peace might be in the air. Never has the recovery of a defeated power been so rapid or so disastrous.
In the meanwhile, Napolean IV has touched off his ludicrous nuclear device, scattering the radio-active particles of the Sahara to the four corners of the African continent. “France”, he reports, “is both powerful and proud”. The French Test, dictated by the logic of the arms race but symptomatic more of the Rottenness of France than of her Grandeur, must be one of the greatest—and perhaps one of the last—obscenities practised by a European power against the continent of Africa. When the history books are written in Accra and Nairobi, General De Gaulle will be remembered as one of the Great Europeans who brought the terrors of science to Africa when what that continent needed most were its benefits.
There is now neither non-Nuclear Club nor balance of terror. There is no one left to belong to Mr. Gaitskell’s Club: as a consequence, Labour is without anything which looks remotely like a Defence Policy. Thus, both Mr. George Brown, who believes that NATO is not working fast enough and Jennie Lee, armed with an official West German map showing Dr. Adenauer’s land-lust for territory which is now Polish, spoke in the name of the Labour Movement. It is all very well for the Opposition to make a moral show of force against nuclear weapons for Germany: it is just a bit late. As Mr. Watkinson pointed out, the arming of West Germany is an essential piece in the NATO jig-saw: to argue against that is to argue against NATO, the policy of nuclear deterrence and the whole strategy of the Alliance. There is no sign that Labour’s Front Bench, constantly employed in devising confidential defence papers for the North Atlantic Community, are moving towards this threshold of realism: it is part of the job of the Campaign, thrashing about in deep political waters but refusing to swim, to point again and again to the sense in the back-bench cries: “Why Not?”
The French Bomb, in its clumsy turn, destroyed the famous “balance of terror” which has reigned ever since Britain entered the nuclear lists. The stalemate is at an end: we have entered another spiral in the nuclear build-up. It is now the turn of the Eastern bloc. Has anyone stopped to think what the world will be like when China and the Ulbricht régime in East Germany receive tactical and strategic nuclear devices?