It can be counted a diplomatic victory that the Madrid conference on European cooperation and security has not fallen apart. On the contrary, the noncommunist nations beat back a determined Soviet effort to drive a wedge between the United States and Western Europe and thus undermine the conference.
Credit for achieving such a degree of Western unity must go in part to the efforts of the US delegation, especially co-chairman Max Kampelman. Because of his efforts, the so- called Helsinki process, including a review of human rights violations, now goes forward in the forthright manner it should.
While we welcome the candid exchanges under way in Madrid, however, it is important to guard against verbal excesses. Mr. Kampelman's strong statement that the Soviet Union and the Atlantic alliance are "moving precipitously toward confrontation" is questionable rhetoric. More than that, it is dangerous. It is one thing to warn against the Soviet military buildup, another to foster the notion that the two sides are moving toward war. They are not.
Focusing on means of surmounting obstacles to an improvement of East-West relations strikes us as far more constructive than seeming to feed a war scare.