From Nuclear Military Strategy to a World without War: A History and a Proposal

By Roger Hilsman | Go to book overview

Chapter 24
Conventional Forces for the Medium-Term Compromise

In the interim before a worldwide, no-war community is able to take responsibility, the United States will need conventional forces that can intervene anywhere in the world to accomplish two different missions. The first mission is to halt conflicts that might spiral into nuclear war. The second is to prevent some rogue state from building a nuclear capability that threatens world peace. In addition, for the immediate future at least, a certain number of American forces should continue to be stationed in the NATO area and in South Korea as deterrents.


NATO

Consider NATO's role first. After its establishment in the wake of the attack by North Korea on South Korea in 1950, NATO built up and maintained conventional and tactical nuclear forces in Germany large enough to discourage anyone in the Soviet Union who might entertain the notion that a surprise attack on Europe could win a quick and easy victory. But the breakup of the Soviet Union removed any such threat. Russia is the only one of the successor states that has the military might to be a threat to the West, and it has clearly rid itself of any such ambitions. Even if one or the other individual Russian leader occasionally dreams of recreating the old Soviet empire, Russia has its hands full with its own internal troubles and with the instabilities in the other successor states.

Nevertheless, the NATO Allies were opposed to dismantling NATO, in spite of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the Clinton administration came to agree. Almost immediately, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary made bids to become NATO members. Obviously, they saw membership in NATO as a protection against potential fu-

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