2 JUNE 1961, Page 4

Under the Umbrella

TIIE American President's journey to meet Mr. Khrushchev, President de Gaulle and Mr. Macmillan comes after a series of setbacks for American foreign policy, not the least important result of which has been to reveal once again the divergence betwEen America's view of the world and that of ifs European allies. Both in Laos and in Cuba there has been the familiar spectacle of Britain and France hanging on to Uncle Sam's coat-tails to prevent any rash step towards intervention. The difference between the two points of view has been particularly well illustrated in Cuba. In the US the discussion following the failure of the Cuban exiles' inva- sion has been largely concerned with whether or not Dr. Castro's regime is Communist and with the technical bungling of the operation to unseat him. Most commentators in Britain, even while disliking Communist regimes, would regard any attempt to overthrow them from outside both as dangerous, in the present state of the world, and as contravening a principle of international law.

How these European attitudes can appear from across the Atlantic should be sharply brought home to us by Mr. James Reston's recent article in the New York Times. Mr. Reston must express what a good many Americans—including, appar- ently, Mr. David Bruce—are thinking when he accuses Britain and France of sheltering their impeccable moral superiority behind the cover of American inter-continental ballistic missiles, and of giving way to an isolationism resembling that of America before 1939. It will come as a surprise to many of us to find that such minor irritations as the anti-Polaris demonstrators are taken so seriously by our allies. Yet the shock may be salutary; for neither we nor the West as a whole can afford to display too much of the bad-tempered anti-Americanism which com- monly reflects an impotent chauvinism or a canting priggishness. When there is disagreement between allies it should be expressed, but without the gleeful censoriousness which has been all too common lately.

President Kennedy's visit here provides an opportunity for clearing up some misunderstand- ings, and also for discussing Western policy in the light of his impressions from Vienna. Some rumours say Mr. Khrushchev wishes to make the main theme of the Vienna meeting disarmament; others, Berlin. if the Russians wished to make a gesture of goodwill, they could certainly cause Mr. Tsarapkin to cease his obstruction at Geneva; but it is hard to see how the cause of disarmament can prosper so long as there is no genuine trust between the great powers. As for Berlin, there is no concession that the West can make at this exposed point, and the Vienna meet- ings will not have been wasted if Mr. Kennedy succeeds in impressing on Mr. Khrushchev the risk he would be taking by trying to force the issue.

The general usefulness of the meeting will depend on the extent to which they can agree to differ while recognising that it would be disas- trous to differ too violently. Such a state of mind must involve a readiness to sacrifice political advantage for the sake of world peace, as well as agreement on the neutralisation of disputed spheres of influence—this kind of understanding being the best that can be hoped for at the moment. For our part, we should recognise that a public display of Western disunity is not likely to encourage Mr. Khrushchev to forgo any of his demands; and if he persists in them this, in turn, will produce a hardening of the American attitude. This is not the least depressing feature of our professional anti-Americans—that they are producing precisely the opposite effect to that which they intend. Were their efforts to weaken the Atlantic alliance more successful, they would instantly create a far more serious threat of war than any we have yet known.