History of an Idea
ESDI, an idea that predates the collapse of communism, is directly descended from the European Political Cooperation (EPQ initiative of the early 1970s. Intended to facilitate cooperation among the twelve by instituting monthly meetings of the political directors from member foreign ministries, its limited objectives were matched by the modest resources devoted to it. They consisted of a small staff attached to the Council of Ministers that provided a supporting secretariat.
The U.S. reaction is readily recognizable from more recent episodes. The Nixon administration publicly declared itself pleased by the inauguration of EPC. That welcome, though, was accompanied by White House warnings that Washington would not countenance the EC allies being so presumptuous as to fashion common policies without provision for first hearing the United States' own views. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger went so far as to call for "an organic consultative relationship" that would guarantee the United States an opportunity to make its thinking known before the EC committed itself to policy positions. EPC proved to be a tame affair. It did generate a few diplomatic initiatives, notably the 1980 Venice declaration on the Middle East. Yet, the Europeans never were emboldened to challenge the U.S. demand that serious diplomatic business be done within NATO.
A decade later, President François Mitterrand instigated a move to reanimate the WEU. It came at the height of anxieties that the Strategic Defense Initiative, then being touted by the Reagan administration, could fatally compromise the U.S. military commit-