NATO Summit Affirms Support for A Reformed Alliance

By Richard L. Wentworth, Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, November 12, 1991 | Go to article overview

NATO Summit Affirms Support for A Reformed Alliance


Richard L. Wentworth, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


FOLLOWING the dramatic collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in Rome last week to agree on changes to the alliance, including abandoning the decades-old military doctrine of defending Europe from a potential Soviet invasion from Central Europe.

"History does not allow us to stand still," said NATO Secretary-General Manfred Worner in announcing the changes. "New challenges demand new answers."

The alliance's new strategy includes the creation of multinational rapid-reaction forces, aimed at protecting member states from regional conflicts; the reduction of conventional and nuclear forces (about 80 percent of NATO's tactical weapons will be eliminated); and a greater emphasis on dialogue, cooperation, and a political approach to security. The likelihood is now "even more remote" that nuclear weapons would ever be used by member states, according to The Alliance's New Strategic Concept.

Before the summit opened, some diplomats expressed doubt as to how long the United States military presence in Europe would continue, given the reduced threat from the east, the approach of political and economic union in Western Europe, and the possible upswing in US isolationism.

But the Americans, the British, and the Germans, at least, worked to stress their firm support for "the Atlantic link."

"Nobody wants the American troops to leave," British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said in a British television interview. "Nobody wants NATO to disintegrate."

A general understanding also seemed to emerge from the Nov. 7 and 8 meeting in Rome that if pan-European armed forces are created, they should complement NATO rather than replace it.

In the run-up to the summit, France and Germany had announced a proposal that could lead to the development of a European army. Britain and Italy had earlier proposed an institutional bridge between NATO and the European Community (EC).

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