Securing Europe's Future

By Stephen J. Flanagan; Fen Osler Hampson | Go to book overview

7

REASSURANCE, CONSENSUS, AND CONTROVERSY: THE DOMESTIC DILEMMAS OF EUROPEAN DEFENSE

Philip A.G. Sabin

Bolstering internal confidence has long been as important a function of Western security policy as deterring external aggression. Even in Stalin's day, the NATO alliance and the commitment of U.S. forces to Europe were seen as serving less to restrain the Soviet Union from marching to the Channel than to assure the Western Europeans themselves that they could carry out their economic recovery without succumbing to internal subversion backed by external force. 1 This role of the Alliance in bolstering internal confidence has remained prominent ever since, with doves complaining that it is harder to satisfy the Europeans of their security than it is to deter the Russians from attacking them, and hard-liners arguing that internal discouragement is itself a potent source of peril and that if the Europeans ever felt they had no credible protection against Soviet power they could drift into appeasement and 'Finlandization' without the Soviet Union having to fire a shot. 2 It is therefore necessary to examine this domestic aspect of European security, and to see whether today's NATO alliance can (in Michael Howard's terms) 'reassure' its own people as well as deter its adversaries. 3

Reassurance in Europe has become increasingly difficult due to the declining credibility of the U.S. nuclear guarantee in an age of nuclear parity, as well as to the growth of alarm about dangers other than Soviet aggression. The interaction of these two problems in recent years has produced a particularly intractable dilemma-NATO's deployment of new intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) on the European continent has calmed some fears about U.S. 'decoupling' from the defense of the region, but has at the same time caused widespread alarm about 'warfighting' strategies and the perils of the nuclear arms race. This alarm prompted massive street demonstrations in the early 1980s, and has led many Europeans, including opposition political parties in most NATO countries, to challenge the fundamental elements of the Alliance's current defense posture. 4

Many security experts have argued that their own preferred

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