CHICAGO. — Chicago -- When the first polio vaccine took away every parent's summer panic over childhood illness, the March of Dimes became ''an institution in need of a cause.'' That, says John Newhouse, is what many Europeans are calling NATO after the Soviet Union's collapse. Writing in The New Yorker, Mr. Newhouse lays out the distressingly wide series of problems that will follow on the blessing of communism's collapse.
The European Community had just jockeyed itself, after years of backing and filling, bargaining and bickering, into the beginning of its federation next year -- and then along comes the break-up of the Eastern European bloc, with the likely result that former components of that system will be clamoring to join the Western European union in its shaky early days. For countries that had trouble enough deciding on the terms of membership for Britain or Germany, this will exacerbate already existing disagreements the wisdom of expanding (and diffusing) the Community or intensifying internal bonds, freezing other countries out.
If Eastern Europe is let in, then how can other applicants be refused? Former colonies of the EC countries are uneasy about the destruction of their old ties by Europe's new ones. Spain, for instance, is feeling pressure to keep Central American job applicants off the European market. And Thatcherites in Britain have always used the Commonwealth as an argument against full membership in the EC -- an argument that backfires when Britain is part of the union, forced by earlier logic to rebuff Commonwealth members' requests for privileged status.