In the Austrian case, the small state's neutralization was accomplished as part of the establishment of a new European state system--a new status quo, in other words. By 1955 the confrontation among the former wartime allies was obviously bipolar. With the rearmament of West Germany virtually assured, Austria was the last remaining question mark in the division of Europe between East and West. Both the Soviet Union and the Western powers had determined that neither side was willing voluntarily to relinquish its portion of Austria to the other, and that invasion of the remainder of Austria was not worth the risk of major war. Furthermore, neither side desired the partition of Austria; the Soviet Union found particularly loathsome the prospect of having to use scarce resources to shore up, politically and economically, a truncated eastern Austrian state. In the most general sense, neutralization and unification through the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Austria was the remaining logical alternative--although it required eight years of negotiations and a change of regime in Moscow before the Soviet Union perceived that to be the case. The four-power withdrawal from Austria, and the subsequent declaration of permanent neutrality by the Austrian government, was the final step in establishing the postwar European state system, a system which has persisted ever since.
Germany's current division, on the other hand, is the pivot upon which the postwar European state system rests. All things in the international system continually evolve, and other conditions may prevail in the future; however, historical experience indicates that successful neutralization agreements follow, not bring about, change. In other words, neutralization agreements are most effective and desirable when they codify existing international arrangements, and least effective and desirable when they undermine existing international arrangements. German neutralization and reunification, regardless of the terms of the agreement under which it might occur, would be a fundamental change to the European status quo of which a divided Germany continues to be so essential a part. For similar reasons it is unlikely that neutralization can work in Eastern Europe in the foreseeable future, despite the possible dissolution of the Soviet empire that seems to be portended by the reaction to General Secretary Gorbachev's reforms.