Less than two months before Robert Schuman made his revolutionary Proposal on 9 May 1950 to create the European Community, a renowned American Think Tank published an in-depth report. It reviewed postwar conditions in Europe and forecast the future options for the Continent.
It spoke of the Renaissance, but not in a way that we would understand it today. Most people would find it shocking. Why? Because they have been so little educated about this period, its reality and dangers.
Dr Vera Dean was Director of the Foreign Policy Association. With US government support she made extensive visits around Europe. She had spoken with world leaders and others. Her recommendations were vital elements for the US Government policy-making.
She was widely traveled in Austria, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Italy and Russia. In the late winter and spring of 1949, she gave a series lectures on American Foreign Policy at the University of Paris. The US Commander in Germany, General Clay, invited her to visit West Germany. She then traveled to Prague, Warsaw and London.
In the FPA’s remarkable 350 page report, Europe and the United States, she investigated all necessary aspects of the social and economic conditions that would affect US policy in Europe for the near future.
Firstly, Europe faced bankruptcy. The US Marshall Plan, which had supplied recuperative dollars to the war-torn economies of Western Europe, was coming to an end in 1952. In January 1949 Robert Marjolin of France, secretary general of the OEEC, the Organization of European Economic Cooperation, laid it out clearly.
Europe would face economic catastrophe in 1952, when it would have a deficit of billions of dollars in its US trade, if it did not reorganize its economic relationships, he said.
Secondly there was the German problem. The Bonn government did not take power under the temporary constitution, the Grundgesetz, until 15 September. Konrad Adenauer was elected Chancellor by one vote – his own. Would it survive?
What did General Lucius Clay tell Dean when she visited Berlin and Frankfurt? Did Clay have confidence in a democratic renaissance of Germany?
We know General Clay’s opinion in the cables he sent to Washington in March 1949.
“We have lost Germany politically and therefore it does not matter except that history will prove why there was a Third World War.’
Was there any way the United States could rescue Europe from this coming catastrophe of horrendous proportions? Here is the conclusion of Dr Dean of the FPA.
‘We now realize that the United States, no matter how generously inclined, cannot under the most favorable political circumstances re-establish the economy of the continent on the foundations of 1914 or even of 1939,’ she wrote.’ Some of these foundations, as already noted, have vanished beyond salvaging. Others are perhaps not a total loss, such as the resources of the colonies of southeast Asia, but their intrinsic value has greatly diminished, and their future contribution to the continent’s economy remains in doubt.’
What she then said about a Renaissance in Europe is jaw-dropping.
‘NO POWER ON EARTH CAN REMEDY Europe’s impoverishment as a result of two world wars. The only remedy one can recommend for the future would be the avoidance of conflicts so costly in terms of human values and material wealth.’
The implication of that was the total capitulation to the strongest military power. That was the Soviet Red Army. Poised on the European theatre were 40,000 tanks. What did that number mean? It was the same number as the total of Sherman tanks that the USA had produced during the whole of World War Two!
What did Dr Dean say about the Renaissance? She wrote:
‘Europe will have to face the fact that the singularly favorable position it enjoyed during five centuries following the discovery of the Indies and the New World and the conquest of colonies in Asia and Africa is now drawing to a close. “
The Renaissance was over. Who was to blame? No one but the Europeans themselves.
At this same time, March 1950, the French Foreign Minister was arranging an unusual visit for the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson and his team. They were to hold talks with the French and the British on the 11 May. Most unusually, Schuman arranged for them to come first to Paris on the weekend of 7 May. The team were puzzled as to why they were needed in Paris beforehand. However, the records show that Schuman had gone to considerable risks to make sure that they would be there. This included the cancelling of the meeting of the French Union, its equivalent to the Commonwealth.
It was on this Sunday, that Schuman came to see Acheson. Schuman spoke of his plan. It would lead, he said, to no less than the rebirth of Europe as an entity on a scale not seen since the Renaissance. Europe would outclass the Renaissance!
The catastrophe that diplomats, politicians and military men thought impossible to stop, was now about to be reversed in a glorious way. The French call the continuous extraordinary annual growth of 5.5 percent in this three decade period, les trente glorieuses.
What was behind this renaissance? The key to Schuman’s confidence was a word that Erasmus found in the Greek New Testament. It completely transformed the idea of ‘Authority’ reflected in the distorted Latin Vulgate translation. In 1516, Erasmus published his Novum Instrumentum It gave side by side the Greek text and an accurate Latin translation.
Where would the High Authority get its information about what was happening among industries, workers and consumers? A Consultative Committee would be elected from representative professional associations. It, like the Council and the Parliament, would have legislative powers to refine the legislation. A Court of Justice would be selected by the Assembly from suitably qualified candidates (as was the Council of Europe).
The question we must face today is: why is the ‘European Union’ now so bankrupt? The Commission excludes ordinary citizens, to favour only politicians. They act totally at variance with the oath of office. The Parliament has never been properly elected according to the rules in the treaties. The Council closes the doors on the public so politicians can cut deals among themselves. The judges of the Court are put in place by governments.
Europeans must ask: Are its ‘leaders’ blinding themselves to another bankruptcy of democracy? Are they hastening on a new catastrophe?