structure that keeps patron powers chained to their wards." 19 Extended deterrence, this suggests, is inevitable, like it or not. If this is so, the debate returns to the problem of credibility, not as perceived by Western Europeans but as calculated by the less benevolent Soviet Union.
Further reductions in nuclear weapons pose the greatest single threat to Western security, and the present East-West climate contains dangerous possibilities that the Soviet leadership will make new, and virtually irresistible, offers on the reduction of conventional forces linked to Western commitments not to modernize or replace NATO's remaining nuclear forces. These offers will be based on arguments, unfortunately frequently recited by our own leaders, to the effect that the need for nuclear weapons is based upon conventional imbalances and that, once the latter have been redressed, we can proceed toward further nuclear disarmament. Recent opinion surveys suggest that the view is becoming more widely accepted that nuclear forces are more a threat than a protection, and that the world will be a safer place without them. Such views ignore the most fundamental lesson of the cold war, a struggle for primacy which is far from over, notwithstanding the dramatic changes occurring in the Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons are indispensable, not because they compensate for conventional deficiencies, but because they deter. They are in that sense not linked to any other aspect of the military balance and must not be treated as if they are comparable to other weapons or capabilities.
It is an exaggeration to complain that denuclearization has, with the INF treaty, already begun; the challenge to Western statesmen is to ensure that it remains an exaggeration. 20 The Atlantic Alliance, one sober analyst remarked, must now compensate for its triumph. This endeavor so far lacks a transatlantic basis for consensus, and whether such can be built will be the most compelling imperative of the immediate future.