On Disarmament: The Role of Conventional Arms Control in National Security Strategy

By Ralph A. Hallenbeck; David E. Shaver et al. | Go to book overview

guidance. In this way NATO is better prepared to preserve its influential role in what has proved to be a very dynamic period in European history.

(Comments: The HLTF only meets for a few days at a time. Thus, representatives shuttle between their respective capitals and Brussels armed with national positions on salient issues. However, they frequently lack the flexibility to bargain or compromise, and tough issues tend to get pushed off to the next meeting.)

Because the negotiators in Vienna remain in Vienna, and because they have more or less continuous opportunities to meet, discuss, bargain, and seek potential compromises, they are frequently impatient with the HLTF process. More to the point, the CFE ambassadors have occasionally sought to bypass the HLTF by working proposals on their own. This has worked with mixed success, but the suggestion that the HLTF has outlived its usefulness as the forum in which to arrive at Alliance negotiating positions appears to be gaining steam. In part, this is due to the aforementioned modalities. In part, it is due to a desire on the part of the negotiators to retain greater bargaining flexibility; and, in part, it is due to the mounting workload of unfinished business before the HLTF.

In fairness to the HLTF, however, the Brussels meetings have produced many successes. Furthermore, the international military staff of NATO is in Brussels, not Vienna, and has been an important contributor of papers, proposals, and data for HLTF consideration. Finally, unlike the ambassadors, the HLTF representatives are acutely aware of the thinking in their capitals.

This is not to say that the HLTF should remain the forum of first resort either for CFE or the CSBM negotiations. A strong case can be made that the current division of labor is not optimal. More important, there is a pressing need for some Alliance body--ostensibly the HLTF--to get on with the task of deciding issues dealing with implementation. For example, the apportionment of reductions among NATO's members, the disposition (destruction or transfer) of the reduced TLE, the modalities of data submissions, information exchange, and verification inspections have yet to be addressed by the HLTF owing to the magnitude of its tasks in support of CFE and CSBM proposal production. Also, because NATO's force reductions may require rather significant modifications to the roles and missions of Alliance members in a post-CFE environment, this issue may also be grist for HLTF consideration.

Unless and until the HLTF is divested of its control over proposal formulation, however, these implementation issues are unlikely to get the attention they deserve. Thus, the editors are inclined to recommend as of this writing the responsibility for formulating Alliance positions in CFE and CSBM be transferred to the negotiators in Vienna.


NOTES

The counsel of Mr. Keith Eddins, United States Foreign Service, Political Adviser to the United States Mission to NATO, in the preparation of this chapter is appreciated.

-50-

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