Uneasy Allies: British-German Relations and European Integration since 1945

By Klaus Larres; Elizabeth Meehan | Go to book overview

8
NATO or WEU? Security Policy since 1990

EMIL J. KIRCHNER

Changes in threat perceptions since 1990, and growing concerns about military and non-military aspects of security provoke questions over the extent to which NATO can or should remain the dominant security provider of the western world. It also raises the question about the extent to which the Western European Union (WEU), either alone or in conjunction with the European Union, can or should be responsible for security. Debate about these questions not only takes place in the US, Britain, France, and Germany, where divided opinions prevail within and between countries; it is also discussed in the Russian Federation where the questions of enlargement of NATO and WEU remain particularly controversial.1 After all, the eastern enlargement of NATO in March 1999 to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic was viewed with great dismay in Moscow. Moreover, NATO’s bombing of Serbia and Serbian positions in Kosovo which began shortly afterwards on 24 March and lasted until 10 June led to the most severe crisis in Russian–NATO relations since the end of the cold war.

Although controversies about the war in Kosovo within the West superseded the discussion about the role of the EU and the WEU within the western security system, this issue has not gone away. Important in this context is that the intense debate in the early 1990s about ‘either’ NATO ‘or’ WEU has given way to NATO ‘as well as’ WEU. Helpful as this might be for those favouring continued American commitment to Europe or shying away from the enormous costs associated with a military upgrading of WEU,2 it still leaves unresolved the old problems between the two about leadership, division of labour, rules of joint or separate engagement, and burden sharing. Differences among the key

1 For further details of this debate see J. Sperling and E. Kirchner (eds.), Recasting the European Order: Security Architecture and Economic Cooperation (Manchester, 1997). For the WEU’s recent history, see G. Wyn Rees, The Western European Union at the Crossroads: Between Trans-Atlantic Solidarity and European Integration (Boulder, Colo., 1998). See also Ch. 6 by J. Pinder in this book.

2 See R. Seidelmann, ‘Costs, Risks, and Benefits of a Global Military Capability for the European Union’, Defence and Peace Economics 8 (1997), 123–43.

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