31 May 1994

Vital and National Security Interests After the End of the Cold War

This post is the introduction to a collective book I edited in 1994. You can buy the book on Amazon.


Since the end of the Cold War, a contradiction has developed in the way security problems are approached in Europe: on the one hand, there is a generalized tendency toward multilateral solutions to vital European security problems; on the other, a renewed nationalist trend has emerged in the foreign policy focus as many states on both sides of the former Iron Curtain. But this contradic­tion is only apparent and can be resolved if security in Europe is redefined such that vital security interests are no longer national interests, and national security interests are no longer vital. Furthermore, West European and American security interests are more inter­twined in the new geopolitical scenario that emerged from the dissolution of the Eastern bloc than they had been, and the former socialist countries increasingly share their interests as well.

Vital and National Security Interests After the End of the Cold War
by Marco Carnovale

Security Institutions in Europe after the Cold War

Since the Cold War began to fade into history, a wide interna­tional consensus has developed on the need for the establishment of an institutionalized international system of cooperative security. In Europe, this has been particular­ly true among Western states and the Soviet Union—and later also among the states emerging from its dissolu­tion. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev began talking about the desirability of building a `Common European House' rather early on in his tenure, and one of the most common phrases at the twilight of the Cold War was the need for a common security `architecture'.

More recently, Central and Eastern European (C&EE) states have been in the forefront of initiatives to overhaul the European institutional structure. To a significant extent, and despite excruciat­ing subsequent disappointments, this broad consensus on principles has shaped the foreign policies of major interna­tional actors. Conse­quently, it has also influenced the thinking on and the develop­ment of the diplomatic and military instruments which are intended to serve those policies.

The need for a profound restructuring of international security institutions has come forcefully to the fore since the 1989 democrat­ic upheaval in Eastern Europe and the subsequent collapse of the Eastern bloc, which marked the end of the Cold War. These epochal changes highlighted the increasing inadequacy of existing institutions, which had been created to cope with what have now become non-issues: the United Nations (UN) to manage the post-World War II global geopolitical reorganization; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to deal with the Soviet threat; the Western European Union (WEU) to forestall the danger of a resurgent Germany and to consolidate a special relationship between France and the UK; and the Conference on Security and Coopera­tion in Europe (CSCE) to mitigate various aspects of a conflictual East-West relationship. Also the role of the European Community (EC), initially concerned only with the integration of member states, has evolved to the point where the nascent foreign and security policy of the European Union (EU) that was inaugurated with the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty on 1 November 1993 now includes a greater opening toward security issues outside of the Union itself.

The urgency for stronger international security institutions has been further emphasized by the disappointing realization that the end of the Cold War did not make Europe `whole and free'. Rather, it produced a new array of conflicts. As of late 1993, several new post-Cold War wars have either broken out or seem about to explode. In many parts of Eastern Europe, the end of communism has been accompanied not by the flourishing of democracy but mainly by the virulent revival of old, long-repressed cleavages. As several old Cold War problems have been solved (mainly in the field of arms control and confidence-building) new problems have developed, in economic cooperation, sub-regional arms control, human rights, ethnic disputes, border disputes, etc.

International institutions have been widely seen as the most appropriate instruments for dealing with these new problems. In the West, the reasoning has been that the peaceful management of post-Cold War transition from confrontation to cooperation would not have been possible without multilateral arrangements and the momentous break-up of the Soviet bloc. Post-Soviet and East European states themselves, emerging from the isolation of Soviet times, have been eager to join whatever forum the West has been willing to accept them in. Existing institutions have been earmarked for additional responsi­bilities and expanded member­ship, and new institutions, such as the North Atlantic Coopera­tion Council (NACC) have been created ad hoc.

Since the end of the Cold War, international security institu­tions have already evolved; the UN has been increasing­ly active in various parts of the world, so far with mixed results; the CSCE has considerably increased in membership thus becoming truly pan-European; the EU and the WEU have been given increased responsi­bilities, at least on paper; in NATO, the debate among member states over the adaptation of the organization's missions to changing circum­stances is still on-going. The thorny issue of expanded member­ship is still on the table, if somewhat more muted, after the Summit of January 1994.i In some cases, old European institu­tions are even being considered as models for new ones in other parts of the world (e.g. the CSCE, which is sometimes envisaged as a model for the proposed creation of a Conference for Security and Cooperation in Asia).

An additional argument in favor of the multilateralization of security policies is that as contemporary problems become intrinsi­cally multidi­mension­al they require a multilat­eral approach. The more security is defined in economic, political and social terms, beyond purely military considerations, the more individual states are likely not to be prepared to address the complex solutions single­handed­ly.

A final reason to push toward multilateralization in Europe is the sad realization that nationalism (whether it is real or, as is often the case, it is built-up spuriously around `imagined communi­ties'iii instead of real nations) is likely to be associat­ed with war. Such nationalism may be a cause or a consequence of war. Most often, and most dangerously, it is used by political élites as a catalyst for the channeling of military and other resources toward the achieve­ment of war aims.

The Re-nationalization of Security Policies

Paradoxically, while security institutions have gained increasing appeal and face more challenging tasks ahead, the end of the Cold War has also ushered in a trend toward reinforced national outlooks in the foreign and security policies of most major countries, both from the West and from what used to be the Eastern bloc. This trend has been caused by several factors, which vary from country to country, though there are some common denomina­tors. The main question which applies to all countries involved in European security affairs (broadly speaking, members of the CSCE) is: What do states and nations expect of interna­tion­al security institu­tions? The following paragraphs will aim to create a sort of `map' of political forces which are for or against additional security roles for international institutions. It will seek both to analyze how they might be intertwined and to assess their relative strengths and weakness­es. The analysis will cover the major countries from Western Europe, the United States, the Common­wealth of Indepen­dent States, and Eastern Europe.

In the United States, a strong bipartisan support has developed for continued American involvement in world security affairs through international institutions. At the same time, certain tendencies toward unilateralism and isolationism may be observed as well. Some have argued for a unilateral US role as the world's only superpower, able to persuade or compel all others to follow a policy of political democracy, free-market economy, and respect for the rule of law and human rights.vi In European affairs, the US has placed a strong emphasis on the UN and NATO, has been largely skeptical of the CSCE, and has displayed a thinly veiled opposition to a greater EU role in security issues; however, it has generally supported a stronger role for the WEU.

In most of Western Europe, prevailing political forces are still at least nominally in favor of an increasingly multilateral approach to security policies, but there is a lesser degree of consensus than before. Germany is a special case, and is addressed separately below. In the UK, a continued adherence to the Atlantic Alliance clashes with the British reluctance to contribute to the creation of a supranational European pillar within it. In France, a continued propensity toward national solutions contradicts a renewed interest in coordination with the US and NATO. In Italy, there is a continued consensus on the necessity of a NATO and European Union framework of reference, as well as a yet undefined and uneasy mix of nationalist ambitions in the Balkans and the Mediter­ranean.

More or less everywhere in the Western world, there is a diffuse if somewhat rudimentarily articulated feeling that the disappearance of the Soviet enemy means there is no longer any need for common security arrangements, much less for commitment to a common defense. Because the common Soviet threat no lomger exists, the reasoning goes, national priorities among the Allies now prevail over collective ones, and they just happen to diverge, thus requiring unilateral ways and means to address them.

There is abundant evidence of this in recent history—e.g. in the different perceptions among the major Western sates toward the crises in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Eastern Europe and the former USSR. In addition, domestic security problems, such as the survival of a viable national defense industry, are becoming more pressing, and politicians must tackle them on a national basis. Therefore, the proponents of this line of reasoning argue there is now a need to reorient Western security postures toward a revaluation of national instruments to be used for national purposes.

This sentiment becomes manifest in two ways: some argue for a straightforward renationalization of foreign policy in general, and of defense posture and procurement plans in particular. Defense budget cuts also contribute to impairing collaborative procurement pro­grams—though the laws of the economies of scale should suggest otherwise—as each state tries to save a propor­tionally greater slice of a shrinking pie for its national industry.
Others in Western Europe and in the US argue that collective defense arrangements must enlarge their member­ship or risk becoming out-of-date. According to this view, Eastern Europe is no longer a potential enemy, but a security cooperation partner to be integrated as soon as possible in Western security institutions. In some cases, however, this second view might be used by the advocates of the first to provoke a dilution of the effectiveness of interna­tional institutions in security affairs: the British advocacy of a quick EU expansion to the C&EE countries comes to mind.

For Germany, the issue is complicated by the fact that the process of renationaliza­tion of its foreign and security policy is part of the process of its recent re-acquisition of full national sovereign rights. Both processes have catalyzed a marked degree of national reassertion.vii German predominance in the EU has become more manifest, not only in the economic and monetary field, but also in foreign policy. The finest example of this was the diplomatic recognition of the indepen­dence of Slovenia and Croatia, which the EU adopted under strong German pressure—something which would have been unimaginable before reunifica­tion.

In 1992, the decision was taken to send troops out of German territory (for the first time since World War II) when they were earmarked to contribute to the UN operation Restore Hope in Somalia (albeit in a non-combat role). Whether Germany's new activism will be an expression of renewed nationalism or a contribu­tion to collective, multinational and institution­alized Western security policies remains to be seen. An important test-case will be the way Germany handles its increasingly assertive request for permanent member­ship (and right of veto) in the UN Security Council.

Much of the same that was said above with respect to Germany applies, mutatis mutandis, to C&EE and non-Russian former Soviet states. Germany had to accept limited sovereignty and mandatory military integration with the United States for forty years because it had been defeated in World War II. Eastern Europeans see the renationalization of their foreign and security policies as an instrument of emancipation from the forced integration they were subjected to under the Soviet Union's hegemonic influence.

The post-Soviet Russian government has been at the forefront of the efforts by former communist states to gain an increasing role, if not outright cooptation, into Western multilater­al security institutions. In this effort, it has been supported by a majority of opinion makers and security specialists in the country.viii At the same time, again as a result of the rebirth of the Russian nation after the collapse of the USSR, there is an on-going renationaliza­tion of Russian foreign and security policy. Moreover, nationalism in foreign policy is perceived by many in Moscow as a means to maintain world-power status without being forced to compete with the US according to Western rules. More recently, nationalism in security policy has been a tool in the hands of conservatives and would-be restorers of autocracy, who have argued that both the Gorbachev and the Yeltsin leaderships have been selling the country out to the West.

Economic failures, the lack of decisive Western aid, and recent disagree­ments over the role of some international institutions in world crises (most notably in the ex-Yugoslavia) have dangerously reinforced this trend. Whether and how Russia will contribute to the institution­alized and multilateral management of European security in the future will depend to a large extent on the outcome of this domestic political struggle. In short, this struggles resembles the historical juxtaposition between Westernizers and Slavophiles, which has shaped so uch Russian history since Peter the Great. Successful reforms, coupled with effective Western aid, will likely produce a victory for the Westernizers, and this will result in a more internation­ally cooperative and multilaterally-oriented Russia. On the contrary, ineffective or half-hearted reforms, and/or insuffi­cient or ineffecient aid will make a victory of some combination of Slavophile forces easier, and would likely produce a more inward-looking and nationalist attitude.

Much as in Eastern Europe, nationalism in foreign and security affairs has been an instrument of nation-building in many non-Russian ex-Soviet republics. The Central Asian republics have shown a propensity to retain close ties to Moscow. The newly indepen­dent Caucasian and European states initially displayed greater national assertiveness, but were later forced to revise their position and they, too, are again rebulding security connections with Russia. The viability of these national choices remains to be seen, however, and it is hoped that national identities will develop in an institutionally coopera­tive context rather than through the assertion of mutually incompati­ble national claims. The challenge for the West (and for those Western states, like Turkey, which have the greatest influence in that region) is to assess what, if anything, can be done to channel national debates in some of the major non-Russian ex-Soviet states toward the exploitation of the best opportuni­ties for a cooperative rather than a conflictual approach to multilateralism.

Thus, the end of the blocs in Europe has not brought about, a romantic cultural renais­sance of pre-Yalta European nations as some naïvely hoped after the revolutions of 1989. Rather, it has resulted in the revamping of national perspectives that might lead to a network of incompati­ble and therefore conflictual claims. In some cases, this is the myopic resurgence of narrow-minded political chauvin­ism, often masqueraded behind the old spiritual and moral values which for centuries pitted Europeans against Europeans in a tragic sequence of negative-sum wargames.

National and Vital Security Interests in Europe

Like most political paradigms (both domestic and interna­tional) the concept of `national interest' has changed since the Cold War. This is especially true in security affairs. Despite the rather bleak picture presented in the preceding paragraphs, there do exist genuine national interests which are perfectly compati­ble with a cooperative multination­al approach to security. These may be economic interests (e.g. milk or steel production capacity; or agricultur­al import quotas in the EU). They may be related to the environ­ment (e.g. the regulation of international transit rights for cargo, or control of pollutants that are not usually very respectful of national borders).

National interests may also be political, as country A may jostle for political advantage vis-à-vis country B by establish­ing special bilateral ties with country C, (e.g. to push its export products, to obtain special access to C's economic resources or technologies or to foster the rights of its affiliated ethnic community in country C). Finally, there may even be military-related national security interests, as might be the case in future contingen­cies similar to the Falklands war, the US-Libyan clashes of 1981 and 1986, and the US intervention in Grenada or Panama. But the national interests involved in this type of operations can hardly be described as vital.

The interests described in the preceding paragraphs are definable and defensible at the national level, but they are not vital. In light of this contradic­tory trend to look at security problems from an international perspective while nationalist pressures build, it seems appropriate to refer no longer to `national' security interests, but, rather, to `vital' security inter­ests in the contempo­rary Europe­an land­scape.

The most fundamental vital interest for post Cold War Europe­an states remains the protection of the physical safety and territorial integrity of nation states against the danger of attack from resur­gent, residual or wholly new military threats—including internal threats from within existing states. While the Soviet threat is gone, a variety of actual or potential military threats still exists. Newly independent Russia seeks to become a security partner today, and in some circumstances it has proved that it is able to be one, but it is far from certain that this will be true in the future. While the danger of post-Soviet prolifera­tion is usually exaggerated in the press, other nuclear powers might emerge from the ashes of the USSR. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a distinct possibility around Europe's southern periphery. Any of these develop­ments could threaten the vital security interests of European states. As for threats from within existing states, the example of Yugoslavia speaks for itself: while not likely to be replicated in the same scale, it might not be the last European state to break-up violently, and the repercussions might yet be felt outside of Yugoslavia itself.

The second vital interest is to maintain a minimum standard of living and economic development. This implies, among other things, the preservation of a free market economy, unimpeded access both to sources of raw materials and to foreign markets, and freedom of navigation over the high seas. Recent events in the Gulf have demonstrated (if there had been any doubt) that the defense of this vital interest can not quite be taken for granted even after the end of the Soviet threat to NATO sea-lines of communication.

The final, and most important, vital interest lies in the protec­tion of the Western way of life. Despite all its shortcom­ings, is increasingly accepted as a pan-European model. This translates into the preservation of a pluralist democracy, which in turn means freedom of movement for people and informa­tion (and hence open borders) but also support for the social order of civil society (and hence regulation of migration flows).

Other formulations could be devised, but the above are by and large what the general consensus within the Western civiliza­tion has come to define as `vital interests'. But these are not synonymous with `national' interests; none is nationally definable or defensible, by any state, but especially not by European medium powers. The following paragraphs will discuss why this is true now even more than during the Cold War.

When two blocs divided Europe, Western nations had to join up forces to counter the Soviet Union. The possibility always existed, however, that one or more could try to strike a deal with Moscow, in extreme circumstanc­es, for example in order to avoid the escalation of nuclear war on its territory. This possibility applied to the Allies on both sides of the Atlantic: the US at times feared that the Europeans might rather be `red than dead'; the Europeans feared that the US would fight a limited war in Europe but not challenge the Soviets to the point of a reciprocal nuclear exchange. Such fears were based on rational calculations of national interests which took into account the probable behavior of con­cerned parties, bona fide allies as they might have been. Today, sources of resurgent, residual or new threats (nuclear, conventional, or anything in between, as they might come) are unlikely to be as amenable to the same rational thinking as was the centralized and monolithic Soviet state; hence, it is unlikely that the freedom of `opting out' would still be available to any party in a future continen­tal crisis.

A discussion of increasing international economic interde­pendence is beyond the scope of this chapter; suffice it to say that the end of the Cold War has opened far greater opportunities for international economic exchanges and therefore for growth. As recent vicissi­tudes in the Gulf have demonstrated, however, free access to raw materials must sometimes be guaranteed by collective efforts, including by means of armed force. On a different plane, the GATT negotiations demonstrate how, mutatis mutandis, an equal degree of collective political commitment is necessary to ensure free access to markets, the other essential ingredient of world economic growth and prosperity.

As for the third of the vital interests considered here, during the Cold War, it was possible, indeed obligatory, to protect democracy in the West while avoiding any determined effort to promote it in the East. Today, without the Iron Curtain, consolidating democracy in the East is increasingly becoming a pre-condition for maintaining it in the West. Indeed, as European borders are wide open to flows of people and information, it would be utopian to think that a privileged island of prosperity and freedom can be maintained only in selected parts of the continent. Again, multilateral effort are indispens­able, for it is unthinkable that any single state, however influential, could pursue such an ambitious goal single-handedly.
The foregoing does not suggest that national interests no longer exist in Europe today; nor does it lead to a prescription of exclu­sively multilateral solutions. There are interests that can and should be defined at the national level, just as there are other interests that can be defined at the regional, provincial or municipal level. In fact, it is not a coincidence that this time of increasing nationalism is also a time of increasing demand for regional and local autonomy throughout Europe, both East and West.

What is sometimes referred to as the rebirth of `national­ism' in reality is often tribalism, parochialism or fanaticism decorated with a patina of religious fervor. In post-Cold War Europe, the nation-state is in some cases as much in crisis than international alliances and organizations, if not more so. More Europeans are rediscover­ing the value of local autonomy than are revamping that of national independence. The recent support build-up garnered by Flemish separatists and Northern Italian secessionists are the latest additions to what seemed to be the isolated exceptions of Northern Ireland and the Basque Country. The nineties are more likely to go down in history as a decade of threats to nationhood than as a decade of nation-building.

Multilateralization vs. Renationalization of Security

The preceding section has argued that national approaches are not adequate for the defense of post-Cold War vital inter­ests, both in Western Europe and in what used to be its political antago­nist. Therefore, there is a need for a renewed multination­al effort directed toward the solution of the new challenges to those interests, especially when it comes to security and de­fense. The major challenge in contemporary European security, then, is not whether, but how to make interna­tional security most effective to address current risks (which are more likely and more controversial than those of the Cold War) before they degenerate or escalate to uncontrollable levels of vio­lence.

Assuming that the future harbors the need for a multination­al approach, the question arises as to how to pursue it. Two basic avenues are possible: the first is that of ad hoc coali­tions, in which, states reserve the right to act on a case-by-case basis.xii The advantage of this type of multilateral action is that it is easier to achieve, as it does not demand any renunciation of national sovereignty by those states which agree to take part in it.

An approach of this kind was adopted in the multilateral response to the Gulf crisis of 1990-1991. It might suffice in extreme circum­stances, such as those which are most threaten­ing, least controversial but also least likely (e.g. the Gulf). But the international community (or even just the Western community) will not enjoy the luxury of operating under such clear-cut circumstanc­es very often. It is more likely that most future security threats will be less extreme, and therefore more controversial. In these cases, improvisa­tion might be risky, and there is a greater need to develop a set of pre-arranged criteria, rules, and standard operating proce­dures; in other words, there is a need for an institution­al­ized approach.

One example in which an improvised decision-making process has failed tragically is the crisis in Yugoslavia. The perceived security threat has been considered (rightly or wrongly) as less than an extreme danger by the US and by Western Europeans (but also by most C&EE countries). Institutions have not been empowered with either the political and legal mandate or the necessary instruments to intervene effectively. Ad hoc collective arrangements have turned out to be half-hearted and failed.xiii States have pre­ferred a largely national approach, and the result has been a nearly complete failure.xiv Some states (as well as journalists and scholars) have unfairly blamed various institu­tions for this failure. There is certainly much that needs to be done at the UN, in NATO and most of all in the EU/WEU to make those organiza­tions better fit to deal with future challenges. But the main responsibili­ty for interna­tional institutional failure rests with the govern­ments of member states which, unlike in the Iraq/Kuwait case, did not put the instruments of those institutions in a position to act effective­ly.


International security institutions are indispensable for an adequate approach to the post-Cold War security problems of Europe. One does not need to be an `idealist of the post-Cold War mend-the-world school'xv to realize that no single state can address, let alone begin to resolve, the complex intricacies of resurgent nationalistic cleavages, civil struggles and potential conflagrations across borders. This emerges with sobering clarity from most of the chapters presented in this volume. Nevertheless, because of the new strength gained by old pre-Cold War (rather than new post-Cold War) thinking, multilateralism is still all too often seen as an unaffordable luxury.xvi But it is Realpoli­tik, not idealism, which calls for a wider and more structured pattern of interna­tional cooperation in order to best serve the vital interests of European democracies (both old and new).xvii It would be naïve idealism to presume that those interests can be served through the romantic restoration of the nation-state to its pre-Cold War preroga­tives, cultural, political or moral as they may be.

To pursue this multilateral approach, all countries of Europe (but the principal responsibility inevitably falls upon Western Europe) need to both deepen and widen international security cooperation. In this, Europe does not have to start from scratch; much was done during the Cold War which can still be utilized if it is properly built upon. NATO is the obvious place to start to maintain a collective security and collective defense apparatus, the first of the three vital interests considered in this study. The WEU has been revived after the end of Cold War, and there is no question that, in time, it might work as the future European pillar of the transatlantic alliance if the political will is there to make that happen. The member states of these two organizations (together, but not individually) clearly possess the necessary military, technolog­ical and economic resources to face the new risks of the post-Cold War world in which Central and Eastern Europe in no longer an enemy but an increasingly effective security partner.

As of mid-1994, however, partnership with the former Eastern adversaries is still fragile. Collective security bridges to Eastern Europe are being built, among others through the NACC and the WEU's Forum for Consultation, but success is not guaranteed. It is not enough to pile economic, military, and technologi­cal resources, to organize conferences and sign agreements. There is a much deeper need to build up political coherence among states and peoples which have long been suspi­cious of and estranged from one another. This will take time, but there is no reason to think that the successful construction of a collective security system in Western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s could not be replicat­ed, in the late 1990s and beyond, across the whole continent.

The second vital interest has been defined here as the mainte­nance of unimpeded access to raw materials and the fostering of market economy. Here, too, there are useful precedents that make good examples: the energy sharing schemes of both the Internation­al Energy Agency (IEA) and the EU have proven largely success­ful. The European system of pipelines guarantees that energy security is a preeminently international end, which will require international means to achieve and maintain. They could be further improved to guarantee access to primary sources and provide a safety net in case of emergency.
Here, too, there is a need to expand the multilateral approach to Eastern Europe. Again, there is some degree of similarity to what was done in Western Europe in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, when the democracies, threatened by rising prices and the two oil crises, effectively overcame their narrowly defined national interests in order to foster the common good.

The strengthening of democracy, the on-going gradual opening of frontiers to movement of goods, people, and ideas strengthen democracy, the third vital interest considered in this paper is concerned. The CSCE and the Council of Europe have contributed to achieve this, and their further strengthening will be useful to accomplish more. But their action, particularly in the case of the CSCE, will need the backing of adequate military force by other institutions if necessary.

Unlike during the Cold War, when the West had to close its eyes to human rights violations because of overrid­ing security concerns, ignoring violations of those human rights today can be a determinant to political instability. During Cold War, stability was a synonym for preservation of the status quo; today, on the contrary, stability can only be maintained through a careful management of change, and there is a change toward increased democracy; change must be actively assisted.

Implications for the Atlantic Alliance

The broad conclusion that emerges from this analysis for North American and European vital interests (as defined in this chapter) is that they are even more inseparable after than they were during the Cold War. It is becoming increasing­ly evident, as argued in several chapters in this volume, that Europe is less than fully prepared to act alone if the US does not lead. It is also evident that the US is not ready to act alone (whether because it can not afford do so—politically or militari­ly—or because domestic politics will not allow it) if Europe does not contribute significantly. If the US can not face post-Cold War security challenges unilaterally, it would be preposterous to think that others can.

Therefore, in the context of the debate over a new European security identity, a true post-Cold War `Europeanist' is an Atlanticist. Because Western Europe is still far from reaching the point where strategic independence from its Atlantic partners is a viable option, an alleged supporter of a European security policy or defense identity who advocates that it be distinct from a North American one is more likely to be a nationalist in disguise.

In recent cases where real post-Cold War security challenges had to be met (e.g. the Iraqi aggression in Kuwait, simmering threats of nuclear and missile prolifera­tion, the break-up of the USSR and Yugoslavia) one lesson has emerged clearly: when the US has become involved, the Europeans have acted; when the US has been recalcitrant, Europeans have hesitated. This will likely be a pattern for the rest of the 1990s and beyond.

Yet, to call for a continued Euro-Atlantic security partnership is not to advocate its immutability. It has changed in the past, and, after the revolutions of 1989-1991, it must change again. While the US inexorably reorients much of its political and economic attention toward the Pacific, Europeans must take up a greater share of both burden and responsibility for the handling of Atlantic security. This means Europeans must expand their security horizon, not contract it as they have gradually been doing since World War II. If Europeans continue to retreat and narrow their security focus to national interests, they will not be able to protect their vital inter­ests.

To assume greater responsibilities in a wider security horizon, Europeans have no choice but to act together, selecting and reinforcing the appropriate institutional military and political instruments as needed. For most Western Europeans, this increased role of international institutions has the additional function of keeping the US involved in European security affairs. In addition, some institutions continue to be the venue for Western Europeans to integrate their own foreign and security policies and postures, implement burden-sharing, build coalitions on an ad hoc basis, and exchange information.

The US, of course, can protect its vital security interests on a national basis to a somewhat greater extent than Europeans can, but not much more; it also requires multilateral political legitimation and allied military cooperation for the protection of its interests, in Europe and elsewhere. In the past, the US has sometimes been less than forthright about its position vis-à-vis the formation of a European identity in foreign and security policy.xix It might be helpful if this ambiguity were soon resolved in favor of an unequivocal recognition that increased European commitments (political, economic, and military) will earn additional European responsi­bilities in the transat­lantic decision-making process on security affairs.

In sum, there is an urgent need for what has been referred to as a `new partnership' between the US and Europe (initially Western Europe). This is necessary to keep the transatlantic alliance strong in these rapidly changing times, and it is therefore also a pre-condition for a fruitful expansion of this historically success­ful partnership eastward. Only a strong and renewed Western alliance will be able to satisfy the quest for collec­tive security (and perhaps, later, collective defense) that is coming from its erstwhile adversar­ies in C&EE and in the former Soviet Union.

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