Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Europe's Post-War Era Is Just Beginning

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Europe's Post-War Era Is Just Beginning

Article excerpt

POLITICAL springtime in Western Europe has brought the intoxicating sense of release from danger and the chance at last to build a new order of peace.

The winter storms that swept communism out of power in four Eastern countries - and shaken it beyond the Urals - have spurred the Western democracies to new thinking. Political and military leaders of NATO on both sides of the Atlantic and in the European Community see the end, at last, of World War II. However, a reduced threat, fewer troops, less defense money, and fewer weapons also mean new uncertainty. They demand lively innovation.

Many of the unshakeable premises of the past 45 years have disappeared. A Soviet surprise attack is ridiculous. The Warsaw Pact, Moscow's counterpart to the NATO, is a hollow shell. Western security has new priorities. Euphoria is no help. Neither are the old patterns of power politics and cynical alliance that have governed Europe since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Now, the battered old continent and its friends must work out a new structure - based on genuine mutual interest, and on participation by the Soviet Union.

Peace will not come wafting in on rosy generalities. Gen. John R. Galvin, a thoughtful man, the latest in a chain of American SACEURs (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) that goes back 40 years to Dwight Eisenhower, points out that even with the arms reductions now contemplated, the Soviet Union remains the strongest military power in Europe. As Mikhail Gorbachev has floundered in a rising tide of economic and ethnic trouble, he has had to turn more to the military, most recently in Lithuania. The generals, rising again, may be responsible for Moscow's holding back in the conventional force reduction talks in Vienna this spring. The West has plenty to worry about: ethnic conflict, long suppressed in East Europe; trouble in the Balkans; economic breakdown and political dissolution in the Soviet Union.

But one specific problem, to be solved right now together with the Soviet Union - an omen for better or worse - is German unification.

Gorbachev is waving the bloody shirt in the two-plus-four talks in order to impose special restrictions on Germany. …

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