U.S. View on EU Defense Plan Assessed
Golino, Louis, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The Western European Union is releasing this week a report - "The United States and European Defense" - that examines U.S. reactions to the European Union's plan for a common security and defense policy.
It finds that Americans view this endeavor with a mixture of hopes and concerns. Stanley Sloan, author of the report, notes that the plan "has the potential to strengthen the Alliance if managed successfully, and the potential to destroy NATO if it is not."
The WEU is the only exclusively European security organization. It was created by the 1948 Brussels Treaty and is closely linked to both NATO and the European Union.
The latter's members seek to establish by 2003 autonomous defense decision-making structures and enhanced military capabilities, including military and civilian rapid-reaction forces. Some analysts doubt whether they will be able to achieve their goals within this time frame.
EU leaders say their planned forces are intended to complement, not replace, the NATO alliance. They are designed to give Europeans the ability to respond to crises in which the United States decides not to participate directly.
U.S. ATTITUDE: `YES, BUT'
Overall, the United States has had a "yes, but" perspective on the EU defense plan.
This approach welcomes European pledges to assume a greater share of the burden of trans-Atlantic defense, but cautions the Europeans not to do anything that would challenge the primacy of the NATO alliance, harm U.S. security interests or damage the trans-Atlantic relationship.
The top NATO military commander has always been a U.S. general, beginning with the first supreme allied commander - Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower. The United States historically has borne the largest individual share of the military and financial burdens of the alliance. U.S. leadership was instrumental to the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a continued U.S. commitment is viewed by American officials as key to the alliance's future viability.
Members of Congress, the report says, "have been even more forceful than the administration in warning the Europeans about the dangers of a divisive approach."
"The United States and European Defense" was commissioned by the WEU Institute for Security Studies, the WEU's think tank in Paris.
The author is a private international security policy consultant with more than 30 years' experience analyzing trans-Atlantic relations and U.S. foreign policy for the executive and legislative branches.
EUROPEANS AWAIT REACTION
The publication of this study suggests that European political and military leaders are keenly interested in how the United States views their defense efforts.
It is being released in advance of a WEU trans-Atlantic forum in Paris Wednesday and Thursday.
This meeting will bring together representatives of the 28 WEU members with U.S. experts and officials to discuss the European contribution to trans-Atlantic security and other security issues.
The WEU is in a state of transition. Some of its functions and constituent parts, including its think tank and Satellite Center, which interprets data from satellites for early warning of crises, are to be merged soon with the European Union.
The WEU's Article 5 mutual collective defense commitment, under which an attack against one member is an attack against all, is not expected to be integrated with the European Union.
NATO and the WEU have established mechanisms to enable WEU military leaders to command NATO missions and use military assets that Europeans lack.
At a Senate hearing in March, Clinton administration officials indicated that this arrangement will not be transferred automatically to the European Union when it partially absorbs the WEU. …