Napoleon Failed—Will We Succeed? (Towards a United States of Europe)
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 16 Nov 1967, p. 170-181
Rieben, Professor Henri, Speaker
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Some impressions. The integration of Europe: a brief history. Two editorials which shed light on the path of this history, from 1965 France. Two choices: learning to co-exist in harmony with one another or entrusting to our children and our grandchildren a universe even more dangerous than the one we have already built. What Europe can contribute to the solution of world overpopulation. More history and the Schuman plan as the beginning of the United States of Europe. Why and how the European community was conceived. The future of the Community. Britain needed in this Europe as a full partner. The importance of the task of creating a United States of Europe.
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16 Nov 1967
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NOVEMBER 16,1967
Napoleon Failed--Will We Succeed? (Towards a United States of Europe)
CHAIRMAN, The President, Graham M. Gore


Canadians travelling in Europe for the first time invariably are surprised to discover that distances covered easily on Sunday drives at home, can, in Europe, take them across the boundaries of two or three countries. In what to them is a comparatively short time, they can encounter a variety of nationalities, languages, traditions, and styles of architecture.

To experience this rich mosaic of peoples and places is to appreciate anew Europe's great and enduring contributions to the life of man. At the same time, however,

it brings a sharpened realization that the existence within Europe of nationalistic aspirations, jealousies, and suspicions, can create tensions--and did, in fact, trigger two terrible wars.

There can be no denying, therefore, that the encouragement of effective and peaceful co-operation between European nations is both important and desirable. Since the end of the Second World War there have been positive indications of the emergence of such constructive force--not only in formal economic developments, such as the European Common Market, but in the day-today life of the people. In this connection, it is pertinent to quote from a book published two years ago and entitled The Society of Man. Its author is Louis J. Halle, who was educated at Harvard, served in the U.S. State Department, and in 1958 was appointed Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He writes as follows:

"The smallness of the European states in themselves is coming to be felt even more vividly by their ordinary inhabitants, whose mobility is increasing at a revolutionary rate.... They begin to think of themselves as inhabiting an area larger than just their own country. They begin to feel at home in a larger community."

What of their future? Can we expect to see economic and other kinds of co-operation deepened and extended in Europe?--It is our good fortune to have as our speaker today a man with an authoritative grasp of the many elements involved in bringing about a viable Union of European States. I refer to Professor Henri Rieben of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Professor Rieben worked closely with President Jean Monnet of the European Coal and Steel Community, and is Secretary of Mr. Monnet's Action Committee for a United States of Europe. He is also Director of the European Research Centre and President of the Foundation of the Centre for European Research of the University of Lausanne.

In 1959 he was called upon to act as arbitrator in the Luxembourg steel industry dispute. Last year he was a delegate to the Churches and Society Conference of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, held in Geneva. This year he was Co-chairman of the "Brain Drain" Conference, held in Lausanne.

Professor Rieben is in Canada at the invitation of York University where he is distinguished visiting professor in the Department of Economics. Particularly valuable there, is his work with fourteen outstanding Canadian students who have been awarded Centennial International Fellowships.

It remains to be said that our speaker was born in Switzerland, in 1921. He is married and has one daughter. He reports that he is "enchanté" with his stay in Canada.

Gentlemen--I now call upon Professor Henri Rieben, a distinguished scholar and a recognized specialist on European affairs. His topic today is, "Can We Succeed Where Napoleon Failed" -which is to say, can we construct a United States of Europe.--Professor Rieben.


I am very much moved by the great honour of your invitation. If I have accepted, it is to express from the most illustrious of podiums my gratitude to Canada and to York University for their wonderful hospitality.

If I had to summarize in half a page the major impressions I received during my stay in Canada and in the United States, I would say that the first impression is that of your continental dimension and its necessary complements: the speed of action and the rapid tempo of life. In Canada and in North America months are equivalent to years elsewhere.

The second impression concerns youth. Here, the accent is put on youth and on its education. Right from the beginning you give your youth the maximum, to satisfy their needs as well as to provide them with opportunities, and you associate them immediately with the intensive rhythm of life which characterizes you.

The third impression concerns the intellectual community which is responsible for the educational effort. This community is considered and considers itself a force participating in the country's and society's development. The intellectual community believes in the value of its action and is dedicated to its mission.

To this background of general impressions I would add the impressions made upon me by four particular observations.

The first is the decision of Cardinal Léger of Montreal to go on a mission to Africa to serve the most unfortunate of our brothers, the lepers.

The second has been my visit to EXPO in Montreal and the discovery of this wonderful monument to man and his world that you have constructed which has given the greatest of pleasure to over fifty million of visitors coming from all over the world, but, where more than in Paris or Brussels, the presence of two giants, the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union, was very much in evidence.

The Common Market pavilion provided the third impression. In one corner of the pavilion, I discovered a simple photograph, showing faces of another era, a place,

a date, some names. Solvay's Physics Council, Brussels 1911, Planck, de Broglie, Perrin, Herzen, Mrs. Curie, Rutherford, Poincarré, Langevin, Einstein, and others, the ideas of which are the foundations of the world in which we live.

On top of the impression I received from this photograph is the impression I received on Sunday, November fifth, from the faces of Canadian Veterans walking to Holy Trinity Church, in remembrance of their comrades who fell on the fields of honour, the battlefields of Europe. A European, such as myself, cannot help but be moved by this reminder of both the good we have done, in contributing to the modern world some of its most authentic creators, and the evil we have brought upon ourselves in lighting the fires of two conflicts which were European before becoming world-wide.

The key to all the secrets and the history of the integration of Europe, on which I would now like to say a few words, lies in the bringing together of these two images.

The year 1965 started in France with two editorials which today, still shed light on the path of this history. On January second, 1965, Raymond Tournoux, a confidant of General de Gaulle, concluded an article in Paris-Match entitled: "De Gaulle in front of 1965", as follows

The Past and the Future

Considering this potential Europe, de Gaulle the futurist is constantly in opposition to himself as de Gaulle the conservative. The first step for the Continent is the unity of the Six.

Beyond the difficulties, which, the Common Market succeeds in overcoming, day after day despite their gravity, it has been demonstrated that an irreversible process

is developing, one which, against all obstacles, leads to the political authority of Western Europe. The price will be high: the beginning of the history of Europe will mark the end of the history of France.

The coming of this fundamental re-orientation fascinates and frightens de Gaulle. It fascinates him because a new world is being born before his eyes, under his rule and at times with his assistance. It frightens him for he cannot resign himself to be the man who, heir to a past of glory and grief, epics and tragedies, must henceforth accept the demise of the nation state. The permanent drama of Charles de Gaulle hangs on a duality which obsesses him: the heart and reason, the past and the future, France and Europe.

The next day, January third, Jean-Jacques ServanSchreiber, in the Express, in commenting on his readers' choice of Mao Tse-tung as man of the year, concluded an editorial entitled: 20 centuries after Bethlehem, as follows

"We are here at the antipodes of lyricism. The Mao Tse-tung of industrial Europe, the visionary of the future on this side of the world, is called Jean Monnet. Though he is the same age as Mao, he is in all other respects his opposite. Without eloquence, without flamboyance, without military uniform, without heroism, without exaltation, Jean Monnet, an office man, a man of quiet conversations with technocrats, launched, fifteen years ago, the same year Mao walked into Peking, the powerful idea of the Community.

Monnet, like Mao, having the same obstinacy, the same patience, has never since stopped seeing the progress of this idea--while de Gaulle in the West and Chiang Kai-shek in the East remain for a while respected and nostalgic witnesses of a past that no man younger than thirty, will ever recognize.

Twenty years! One day when we will bring him into the Pantheon we will recall that Jean Monnet was a Frenchman. That is what will remain of a little provincial in a large community, where from Vladivostok to San Francisco luggage will no longer be opened by custom agents nor will rockets be pointed towards the interior of continents.

The only question, the answer to which remains mysterious and highly preoccupying is the kind of coexistence which will be established between the descendants of Mao, coming out of misery and those of Monnet having come from nationalism.

But to make this third hope live between the two others, we have at least twenty years ahead of us."

The map shows world population growth, one of the factors which make relations between the rich and poor nations the number one problem of our time. Take China, for example. Today, the population density is 200 people per square kilometer of habitable surface. This is comparable to the density in the Federal Republic of Germany, or in the Benelux countries.

But Germany and the Benelux countries have an outlet -more than a century of economic progress has enabled them to absorb most of their population growth into manufacturing and the service industries. In China, however, we can still observe the spasmodic movements of millions of people who set out seeking land and food. If internal tasks cannot absorb these energies, they will direct themselves outwards.

In what direction can China break the bonds of her frontiers? As we can see from the map, she is swimming in an Asiatic world as densely populated as she is--India and Japan are in the same position. Only one direction is feasible--North, to the vast, resource-rich emptiness of Siberian Russia. Perhaps it is from here that future political storms will issue.

But China is only the most populated of the countries, whose multitudes, soon uncountable, under the leadership of men like Mao Tse-tung, Ho Chi-Minh, Boumedi anne, Castro and Nasser constitute the infantry of history. We know that the present world population of about three billion people is living, whether in affluence or hardship, due to the efforts of an active population of approximately one billion. Of these, about six hundred million are peasants, two hundred and twenty million work in the service industries, and one hundred and eighty million in manufacturing.

In the year 2000, that is practically tomorrow, with a world population which will have doubled, the active population will also have doubled. But while the six hundred million peasants will have remained six hundred million, the two hundred and twenty million people in the service industries will have become seven hundred million and the one hundred and eighty million people in manufacturing will number seven hundred million. Whereas today, 60 million of the 180 million working in manufacturing are from less developed countries, in the year 2000, five hundred million of these seven hundred million people in manufacturing will be citizens of emerging nations and only two hundred million will be white. Here lies the real revolution of the last third of our century!

But time never stands still. What will happen, around the year 2050, when the world population will have propelled itself to fifty billion people and when around the year 2100, to one hundred billion people?

Facing such a prospect, whoever we are and wherever we live, we have only one alternative; either we will have learned to co-exist in harmony with one another, or we will have entrusted to our children and our grandchildren a universe even more dangerous than the one we have already built.

What can Europe contribute to the solution of these problems?

Sixty years ago, a Frenchman from Cognac, began right here in Toronto, in your beautiful province of Ontario, one of the most astonishing careers of contemporary history. Jean Monnet was nineteen years old. He was sent here by his father to sell brandy. Through his experiences with your vastness, and through contact with your forbears, Monnet learned lessons of organization which would enable him, after the outbreak of the First World War, to suggest to Clemenceau a better scheme for co-ordinating the Anglo-French war effort.

During the Second World War, he was the one, who, in the dark hours of 1941, suggested to Churchill and de Gaulle a project of union between France and Britain. He is also the one whom Churchill sent to Washington to negotiate the buying of the aircraft needed by the R.A.F. to challenge Marshal Goering's Luftwaffe in the skies over London. While in Washington Monnet was probably the originator of two ideas which were to go far: the Lend Lease Bill and the Victory Programme. Even in the midst of the conflict, however, this man, of whom Lord Keynes had said that he had probably shortened the war by a year, was thinking beyond the military victory to the peace which could not be allowed to fail.

It was for this purpose, that, in Algiers at the beginning of August, 1943, he proposed, in a prophetic memorandum, to sweep away European antagonisms, by asso ciating the victors and vanquished, on a basis of equality, in the construction of a true United States of Europe. Jean Monnet and General de Gaulle had probably at that time come into conflict over two issues: national sovereignty--Germany.

We know that for General de Gaulle, the need for grandeur assumes a very high psychological importance. President Eisenhower probably explained it best.

For a country which has fallen into the abyss, a striving to accomplish a mission will help it regain its selfesteem. But, de Gaulle added, this mission must not be such that the nation becomes diluted in a European entity. History will remember the well-known dialogue, where, after a monologue on grandeur, Monnet said: "Grandeur, grandeur, what France needs today is a plan to lift herself up".

De Gaulle had the good sense to take Monnet up on his remarks: "Well, make it your plan" and gave him the job of putting it into effect.

This dialogue was enough to create the Plan to rebuild France, but it was not yet enough to give birth to Europe. However, as master of the plan, Monnet had the vision to conceive it an a truly European perspective. All that was needed at the Quai d'Orsey, was the arrival of a man like Robert Schuman for the Plan of 1943 to become the reality of 1950; the Schuman plan was the beginning of the United States of Europe.


She fascinates and frightens de Gaulle. Raymond Tour- noux has shown that de Gaulle's opposition to integration stems in particular from the fact that the victors and the defeated would have found themselves equals and that France would have lost the benefit of victory.

De Gaulle knows that he cannot sacrifice German Reunification without, at the same time, sacrificing the unity of Europe.

But reunited, Germany would group together at the core of industrial Europe more than seventy million men, particularly efficient men.

What then?

We remember that at his press conference on the ninth of September 1967, General de Gaulle expressed himself on this problem. He said:

"We do not hesitate to envisage that the day will come when, in order to achieve a constructive entente to the Urals, all of Europe will wish to settle its own problems and above all, that of Germany, by the only means that will make it possible to do so-that of a general agreement. On that day, our continent could once again assume in the world, for the good of all men, the role that is worthy of its resources and capacity."

But Russia's border does not stop at the Urals. The huge effort that Russia has made to organize the exploitation of Siberia's resources, has cut with action the old dilemma between its European and Asiatic calling. Woe to those who would like to chase her away.

However grandiose this perspective, it is wise to consider more urgent problems.

I see two.

I will recall that the European community was conceived to teach the Victors and defeated how to live with one another and to tie in West Germany with Europe. If one day the young Germans would be led to consider that their important national interests are better served in a national rather than a European framework, then we would have lost the formidable gamble that Monnet dared envision at the end of the war.

On the other hand, a European Community, selfconfident, quiet, peaceful, can give to the East, to America, and to the world, those quantities without which no peace discussions can be serious nor fruitful.

For those reasons the most significant aspects of the European Community's future lie ahead of it; it has not been exhausted in those remarkable achievements; the European steel and coal community, Euratom, and the Common Market, for they are merely preliminary steps to the creation of the true United States of Europe.

The future of the community lies ahead and not behind us, for we have to take up the formidable challenges of Japan and America.

Japan has mobilized all her resources of intelligence organization and discipline and applied them to her industrial development. America, at a time when brains have become the most important raw material of the future, seems to have found the way to generate more intellectual energy than she consumes--and she has done this so well, that she may, inevitably, and without seeking to do so, become in fifteen years the sole originator of the Western World's inventions.

Britain, therefore, is needed in this Europe, and needed as a full partner. We owe it to her because she saved us in 1941. She owes it to us. We know that the undertaking may be long and difficult, but we also know that for the time being there is no more important task that requires all our efforts without regard to temporary setbacks.

We will achieve it because, although the idea of Europe was, only yesterday, mostly the vision of a few men, inspired by Jean Monnet, the idea has become, and every day more so, the essential goal of an entire generation of youth who are quite determined to take the necesnary steps so that Europe becomes, as Winston Churchill has said, the greatest political construction of history.

It might be for this reason, that the other day on the French radio network, Andre Malraux, on a programme that touched all those who heard it, could say: "To make Europe is the only truly important task of our time. If Europe starts to exist, nearly everything I have written would become volatilized".

The voice of Andre Malraux seemed the echo of another great voice, that of Victor Hugo, who in 1849, had stirred the Congress of Peace in Paris by declaring: "A day will come, on which you France, you Russia, you Italy, you England, you Germany, all you nations of the continent, without losing your distinct qualities nor your glorious individuality, you will constitute the European fraternity, as absolutely as Normandy, Brittany, Bourgogne, Lorraine, Alsace, all our provinces have welded themselves into France. A day will come where the only fields of battle will be markets opening up to commerce and minds opening up to ideas. A day will come when cannon balls and bombs will be replaced by votes, by the universal voting of nations, by the true arbitration of a great sovereign Senate which will be for Europe, what Parliament is for England, the Diet is for Germany, the Legislative Assembly is for France! ... a day will come when we will see two huge groups, the United States of America and the United States of Europe, facing one another, joining hands across the seas, exchanging their products, their commerce, their industry, their arts, their genius, civilizing the world, colonizing deserts, improving Creation under the eyes of the Creator."

Thanks of the meeting were expressed by Dr. H. V. Cranfield.

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Napoleon Failed—Will We Succeed? (Towards a United States of Europe)

Some impressions. The integration of Europe: a brief history. Two editorials which shed light on the path of this history, from 1965 France. Two choices: learning to co-exist in harmony with one another or entrusting to our children and our grandchildren a universe even more dangerous than the one we have already built. What Europe can contribute to the solution of world overpopulation. More history and the Schuman plan as the beginning of the United States of Europe. Why and how the European community was conceived. The future of the Community. Britain needed in this Europe as a full partner. The importance of the task of creating a United States of Europe.