SDI and Deterrence: A Western European Perspective
To understand and analyze European anxieties over SDI and BMD, it is important to understand the nature of European strategic logic. Though all members of the Atlantic Alliance subscribe to the official doctrine of "flexible response," each member's interpretation of how it works will differ depending on its unique security predicament.
The United States tends to emphasize the direct defense component of NATO strategy, as this statement by Secretary of Defense James Schlessinger makes plain:
We would prefer where possible to deter through provision of direct defense and denial of Warsaw Pact military gains (e.g. seizure of territory), rather than deterrence only through the threat of escalation and all-out retaliatory attacks on Warsaw Pact resources--though these latter options will be maintained.1
Official European statements usually concur with the need to present a stalwart conventional defense in the hope of terminating hostilities short of nuclear escalation. Nevertheless, as this chapter will demonstrate, most European military and civilian strategists, and politicians, do not view a strong conventional defense as a substitute for the threat of nuclear use. For most Europeans, it is necessary to emphasize the dangers of escalation from a conventional conflict to tactical nuclear weapons on up to the use of strategic nuclear forces. It is the risk, for the Soviets, that NATO will begin an escalatory process that will lead inexorably to U.S. nuclear attacks on Soviet territory