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Part V

Final Remarks

FTER THE 1989 EVENTS in CEE, the changing strategic landscape attracted Europe’s attention. The Cold War concern about instability at the heart of a partitioned Germany and a divided continent was supplanted by anxiety over potential instability centered along two geographic arcs running along the periphery of the continent. One was the Eastern arc, running from the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe south between Germany and Russia through the Balkans to the Black Sea. The other one was the Southern arc, running through North Africa and the Mediterranean into Turkey and including the Greater Middle East region.132

In this context, the NACC was established at the end of 1991 to provide a link between the NATO countries and the former Warsaw Pact states. It was not originally envisaged as an all-European organization with membership that would include neutral and non-aligned nations of Europe.

NACC had a special role in helping to manage the allocation of conventional force reductions among the states of the former Soviet Union. It has also become a forum for exchanging information among the NATO and former WTO [Warsaw Treaty Organization] countries on many types of security issues, including peacekeeping.133

The PFP, “initially designed to postpone the pressing requests of Central and Eastern European countries for NATO membership,”134 proved its success as the provider of a tailored menu of options for engagement according to the preferences of each partner and as a unique experiment in peacekeeping (Bosnia). Both NACC (through multilateral channels) and PFP (by developing bilateral activities) laid the political groundwork for possible NATO enlargement.135

These initiatives proved that German and American interests overlap in Eastern Europe—the two countries wanting this region to remain as stable as possible. “As long as the U.S. aspires to be a European power and extends a security guarantee to key European countries, above all Germany, it will be inevitably concerned about major political and economic developments in Eastern Europe.”136 Thus, their policies toward the region were closely coordinated and “Germany is destined to become [from the U.S. perspective] the major political and economic actor in the region.”137

After the end of the Cold War, the “US has retained its normative principles — democracy and free-market economics — as well as its claim to global leadership; its methods of implementation have changed.”138 The Clinton administration is following a strategy of “engagement and enlargement”139 that aims at the further integration of states and regions into the democratic and free-market structure of the West. At the same time, it has given up its primary focus on Europe. This focus was the result of the political and military conflict with the Soviet Union and served America’s policy of containment. In the new environment, for the United States, “[a]lliances have become instruments for achieving certain political goals, and allies are seen as partners in burden-sharing.”140

“In this respect the Americans have great expectations for Germany which the present administration views as the most powerful partner in Europe due to its demographic potential, stable political structure and economic power.”141 Thus, “[i]n the balance between threats and capacities at the crux of security, Germany will increasingly contribute to the capacities of an alliance for common defense while driving the economic engine of Europe.”142 Moreover, in order to avoid a German-Russian security competition in CEE,143 the United States had to address Germany’s security concerns.144 These might be considered the essential and decisive points in understanding “who,” “when” and “why” in the process of NATO enlargement.

However, “the appeal by the Central Europeans to erase the line drawn for them in 1945, the need to demonstrate U.S. leadership at the time when others questioned it, the domestic political consensus, and his own Wilsonian orientation toward spreading liberalism combined”145 were also important factors which encouraged President Clinton to push for NATO’s enlargement toward CEE after mid-1994.

With the overcoming of the division of Europe and the regaining of its full sovereignty Germany has returned to the international stage. “Germany is Europe’s central power.”146 Thus, Germany increasingly asserted its preferences regarding the future of CEE after 1989 and it tried to define the parameters of its post-Cold War relationship with the Americans. Bonn wanted more economic and political investment in CEE than Washington was ready to allocate. When the United States was unable to articulate a strategy for Europe, it looked to Bonn to take the lead.

Germany also needs to cooperate closely with the Americans. In Europe the United States continues to represent a factor of stability. U.S. engagement relieves the concerns of some of Germany’s neighbors that Germany could strive to attain a hegemonic position in Europe.147 It also makes Germany’s leading economic role politically acceptable to other European states. However, this only operates under the condition that the U.S. “balancing function” is not directed against German policy.148 This might become an issue in German politics in the future.

In order to avoid such a perspective, with Bush’s invitation to establish a German-American “partnership in leadership”149 and Clinton’s view that “America has no better friend than Chancellor Kohl,”150 “Germany, rather than the UK, began to act as America’s senior partner. This role found its expression in joint initiatives such as the proposal for the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.”151

The complementarity shown by Germany and the United States during the process of NATO enlargement proved that they have overcome some difficult moments in their relations during 1990-1992. Taking into account the fact that the hallmark of a special relationship is the ability to overcome crises, the two countries proved that they can remain pivotal partners (both to each other and to the international community) as long they are able to refashion in strategic terms their new security “bargain.”

In order to accommodate these new requirements, a “layer-cake” that reflected German interests was developed.

Germany aimed to create interlinked layers of stability with a fully integrated core Europe at the center, surrounded by a layer of bilateral and multilateral affiliation agreements with eastern Europe, combined with a second layer of strong bilateral and multilateral support for Russia. This order would be secured by a transatlantic layer of relationships with a deepened German-American central axis.152

The Alliance’s decision to enlarge toward CEE, with NATO membership for Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, will not address all the economic, political and social problems that the CEE region is facing. A complementarity between the European Union (EU) and NATO is necessary to solve the delicate problems of European security. Despite the fact that there are countless references to this complementarity in official communiques, only in the last two to three years has there been an acceptance of this principle in U.S. thinking.

An increased role for the EU in security policy, especially in CEE, is necessary, and the Americans need to develop a better appreciation of this fact.153 This might be required because, “[t]he strategy of [NATO] enlargement was correct, but its execution was poor,” and thus, “ with a bit of luck, some of its negative consequences will not be permanent.”154

The ability and determination of the United States to lead in the post-Cold War period also remain open questions. President Clinton has sounded Wilsonian themes such as: “It is time for America to lead a global alliance for democracy as united and steadfast as the global alliance that defeated communism.”155 But it remains uncertain whether the transatlantic security relationship will survive the absence of the Soviet threat, the presence of a united Germany, and the erosion of U.S. Cold War authority. As Mary N. Hampton has asked,

Finally, is community-building in fact possible when unaccompanied by the objective of defense against an external threat? Assuming that community-building does remain valid for the recast NATO and trans-Atlantic relations, whose community-building scheme will be applied to incorporate the former East bloc? These are central questions that must be answered in the coming years.15  

END NOTES, Conclusion

132. On the twin arcs, see Ronald D. Asmus, Richard L. Kugler, and F. Stephen Larrabee, “Building a New NATO,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, no. 4 (September/October 1993), pp. 28-40.

133. James Goodby, “Can Collective Security Work? Reflections on the European Case,” in Chester A. Crocker & Fen Osler Hampson with Pamela Aall, Managing Global Chaos: Sources of and Responses to International Conflict (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1996), p. 248.

134. Kamp and Weilemann, p. 11.

135. Brown, p. 136.

136. Asmus, “Germany and America: Partners in Leadership?,” p. 552.

137. Ibid., p. 553.

138. Haftendorn, p. 108.

139. See A National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement, The White House, Washington, D.C., February 1996.

140. Haftendorn, p. 109.

141. Ibid.

142. Daniel Nelson, “Germany and the balance between threats and capacities in Europe,” International Politics, vol. 34, no. 1 (March 1997), p. 73.

143. And the renationalization of Western defense and security policies.

144. However, from the American perspective, one of the greatest threats posed to the U.S.-German relationship during 1990-1994 was the possibility that the mood in America might turn hostile toward CEE, at the time when the Germans were still inclined “to work” with Russia.

145. Goldgeier, p. 101.

146. Boer, p. 4.

147. Nelson, pp. 66-70.

148. After 1989, it might be argued, the United Statesalso tried to limit German power in the new Europe, by encouraging German involvement in NATO and European international organizations, while at the same time working with the U.K., France and other countries in order to limit the degree of German influence over those organizations.

149. See President’s Bush speech, “Proposals for a Free and Peaceful Europe” delivered in May 1989 and reprinted by the Bureau of Public Affairs, Department of State, Current Policy, no. 1, June 1989, p. 179.

150. As quoted in Karen Dornfried, German Foreign Policy: Regional Priorities and Global Debuts, CRS Report for Congress, 25 October 1995 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 1995), p. 23.

151. Mayer, p. 733.

152. Ibid.

153. However, this is not a zero-sum game, in which one organization’s gain is necessarily another’s loss.

154. Eyal, p. 719.

155. President Bill Clinton quoted in Tony Smith, America’s Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 320.

156. Mary N. Hampton, The Wilsonian Impulse: U.S. Foreign Policy, the Alliance and German Unification (Westport: Praeger, 1996), p. 150.


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