Schmidt, Helmut
October 1970
Foreign Affairs;Oct70, Vol. 49 Issue 1, p40
This article examines the rationale of West Germany's foreign policy in 1970. The postwar era has ended. Its hallmarks were high hopes for Western political structures on the one hand, and high tension between East and West on the other. In the West it is going to be characterized by less ambitious objectives and more pragmatic approaches. The achievements of the fifties and sixties will not be dismantled, but the aims for the immediate future will be lowered. There is no conflict between these policies. They are not mutually exclusive, indeed, they complement one another. It is an undeniable fact that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has fully served its purpose during its 20 years of existence. In the seventies as well, NATO will retain its lasting value as a safeguard against any revival of communist aggressiveness. One of the areas in which normalization is aimed is the relationship between the two German states. It is a primary goal to end a development that has ever more deepened the rift between the two Germanys. This will not be made possible as long as they adhere unequivocally to maximalist claims and arguments. The people in both parts of Germany want practical solutions that would permit the nation to live together more easily than it can at present. The communist leadership of the German Democratic Republic obviously finds it difficult to budge from its formalistic position. It demands the final and definitive recognition of East Germany in terms of international law as a prerequisite to any negotiations over normalization. And it leaves nobody in doubt that the relations between East Berlin and Bonn should be no different in character from those between, say, Belgium and Poland. In all of these fields West German policy is characterized by a combination of persistence and realism.


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