Euro-Corps: Return of the Ambivalences
All throughout these years, France's defense policy was characterized by a remarkable continuity and the perpetuation of her difference, made easier and encouraged by a national consensus, which allowed her to modernise her [nuclear] deterrent force. With the revolutions of 1990-1991, the aggiornamento was ineluctable: the moment of choice had come. 1
On November 10, 1989, the wall dividing East and West Berlin ceased to be a barrier between the same people. The date, in both symbolic and real terms, can be taken as the end of the Cold War, or the beginning of the end of the Cold War in its previous stark form. Mikhail Gorbachev was on the way to permitting the unification of Germany: he had refused to allow Soviet troops to back up the failing regime in East Germany. As Robert M. Gates, director of U.S. Central Intelligence put it, "Whatever one may think of Gorbachev--and I have criticized him strongly in the past--without his sense of humanity, the end of the Cold War would not have come about in this way."2
On November 28 Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced--unilaterally--his own plan for a rapid reunification of Germany. The West, and in particular France, was not prepared for this swift dénouement. German unification had been expected to result from an orderly process in which France would have been one of the major participants.
It was a moment of hesitation in Paris. François Mitterrand overreacted by flying to Kiev to meet with Gorbachev on December 9, 1989. The meeting left the impression that Mitterrand was not in favor of German reunification, and