It must now be one of the most overworked of clichés to note that Europe has entered a period of genuine transformation during the last 2 years. Cliché or not, it is undeniably the case that the most remarkable events have occurred at a scintillating pace, a process perhaps symbolized best by the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The Warsaw Treaty Organization has virtually collapsed and, in a stunning reversal, most of its members have begun installing market economies and adopting democratic parliamentary political systems. The Soviet Union has become a dramatically less threatening presence in Europe - and one overwhelmed with a daunting array of domestic problems. German unification in 1991 appears certain, as well, altering fundamentally the political and economic landscape of Europe. The further integration of the European Economic Community appears inevitable as does the Community’s eventual extension north and east.
Most European countries seem inclined to reduce their militaries at a pace exceeding that to be mandated by the emerging Vienna CFE treaty. The wide range of truly significant changes in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the foreign policy initiatives undertaken by the Soviet Union under President Mikhail Gorbachev, have already helped to transform Europe and its security environment. Much more can be expected to develop in the very near future, as well, as a variety of arms control processes produce tangible results and economic and political processes yield closer ties and stronger integrative impulses.
Despite these seemingly irreversible trends, however, there will remain the distinct possibility of major unrest within Europe, most likely to be precipitated by growing economic, political and social problems in at least several East European countries as well as in the Soviet Union. 1