Allied Rights and Legal Constraints on German Military Power


Even after the breathtaking events of 1989 had seemingly made anything possible in Europe, few would have imagined that the two German states would become unified within a year. But that is precisely what will be concluded with the first all-German elections scheduled for December 2, 1990. As recently as July, however, this outcome was still in some doubt, principally because of Soviet opposition to the prospect of a united Germany becoming a member of the opposing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and having no limits on the size of its armed forces. Since the Soviet Union could in principle withhold it's consent to reunification as one of the vestigial rights it retained (along with it's former allies, Great Britain, France and the United States) after the Second World War and also refuse to remove its large contingent of forces from East Germany, these concerns could not be dismissed lightly. As a result, however, of the agreement reached between West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at Zhelznovodsk in the USSR on July 16, 1990, the diplomatic logjam was broken and the way made clear for unification. The Germans recognized, following their reunification, that there were constraints given their past history, but it was also desirable to assuage their neighbors' concerns about German rearmament. By and large they have had their intended effect; fears of German nationalistic aspirations have subsided while military stability in Europe has been enhanced. The argument could grow in Germany, however, that after years of exemplary international behavior, these constraints are anachronistic, discriminatory, and no longer necessary. But to those whoremain fearful about possible German military aggrandizement and aggression, the constraints are sure to be viewed as essential for the maintenance of stability. While Germany must remain sensitive to these concerns, the most fruitful way for allaying whatever latent fe

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