European Security at the Start of the New Millennium

Prof. Dr. Harald Mueller
(Executive Director, Peace Research Institute - Frankfurt)

Presentation at a round table discussion of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
on March 24th 2000

A look back into history

It is worth recalling that Europe has been the site of almost perpetual war among emerging - and later consolidated - nation states for the last millennium. Long- lasting, catastrophical violent conflict ridded the continent and took a terrible toll on civilian populations, economic prosperity, and the environment. Inter alia, the hundred-years war between England and France, the Italian wars between France, Austria and Spain, the religious wars of the sixteenth century, culminating in the carnage of the Thirty-Years-War of the seventeenth century, had not only cost many people their lives and left many crippled, but had laid the foundation for lasting enmities, even hatred. Starting with the war of the Spanish Succession at the end of the seventeenth century, Europe became the source of bloodshed around the world; this war may well be called the first world war in history, long before the events that would finally give birth to this new term. The seven-years war (setting in motion events that would lead to the independence of the United States), and the Napoleonic wars had global dimensions as well. The second half of the nineteenth century was the period of ever-rising nationalism, symbolized by the wars of national unity of Germany and Italy, followed by the enormous colonial expansion. Two world wars followed in the Twentieth century that did also impact heavily on this region, in particular the events on the Asian theater of warfare following the Japanese attack against the US fleet at Pearl Harbour in December 1941.

The Cold War left Europe frozen in two mighty, heavily armed blocks. Thousands of nuclear weapons were deployed on the soil of European countries. Millions of soldiers stood on each side of the Iron Curtain, poised to react to the slightest indication that a hostile attack was imminent or under way. The situation on the Korean peninsula, I know, was not much different, but the numbers involved in Europe dwarfed even the armament efforts taking place here during those years.

The present situation

The present situation is vastly different. In the Charter of Paris of 1990, the countries of Europe confirmed that they did not regard each other any more as enemies. The conference of the heads of state and government of the CSCE - meanwhile renamed OSCE and endowed with a strong and stable institutional structure - opened a new dynamic for the creation of norms and mechanisms, all designed to reduce the probability of, and provide alternative instruments for the solution of disputes to, violent conflict.

These were the days of great optimism. With the end of the Cold War, Europe appeared to embark on a road of unprecedented cooperation in the realm of security and other aspects of ¡°high politics¡±. There was a strong belief that this development was irreversible, and that interests and value systems of the Europeans - defined as the area from Vancouver to Wladivostik - would ever more converge. Indeed, it is true that a major war has been avoided. Sarajewo did not once more become the keyword for a carnage across the continent. For all the risks that I will analyse in this paper, a major war appears very improbable today. This presents enormous progress and must be fully appreciated. Yet, serious risks to security and peace in Europe have become apparent. The wars in former Yugoslavia, in particular, have been sobering in that regard.

One major risk factor lies in the future of Russia. This giant country, stretching across two continents, has predictable and understandable difficulties to master the challenge of transition from a centralized totalitarian political system and a state-run economy to a viable democratic market economy. Progress has been made, but too many problems remain to be solved. The economic transition has created a hybrid of communist inheritage with wild west capitalism. The political transition has brought a system that concentrates much - some say too much - power with the presidency, but a considerable possibility for the parliament - with the Communists still the strongest force - to trouble waters. Still existing overcentralization competes with the governor¡Çs instincts to run their provinces as their own little fiefdoms. Autonomous regions show a tendency to explore the road towards complete independence, sometimes using means of extreme violence, as in the actions of Chechen terrorists. The Russian public appears to move between apathy, nationalism and antipathy against both islamic forces and the West, and the desire to see a strong man at the top of the state. The roots of democracy have not yet taken a deep, irreversible hold.

The West's actions, I have to admit, have not always been helpful. While many good reasons supported the case for NATO enlargement - the manifest desire of the Central Eastern European countries to join, and the hope to extend the realm of stability further eastwards -, it cannot be denied that the consequences of coopting new members into the Western alliance were not uniformly positive for European security as a whole. The main negative consequence was a considerable alienation of Russia, including parts of the elites which were, in principle, not anti-Western in the first place. The conservative military brass felt its suspicion confirmed that the West was still the enemy. For them, enlargement was meant to further reduce the status of the Russian Federation as a world power, and to create conditions under which Moscow could be submitted to military blackmail if the West - and the US in particular - so wished. It must also be admitted that those countries in Eastern Europe - such as Ukraine - that had little prospect to enter the Western alliance in the short term - felt uneasy about a development that left them basically as the ham in a power sandwich between the West and Russia.

NATO's military intervention in the Balkans in the course of the Kosovo events enhanced Russian concerns. Initiated without proper international authorization, the war showed Western readiness to take the law into its own hands. Russia - a veto power in the UN Security Council and a leading power within the OSCE, the regional organization into whose purview action about Kosovo properly fell - felt circumvented. The devastating application of modern airpower - mainly by the US Airforce and Navy, as European and Canadian forces played a minor role in the conduct of the campaign - raised the specter of an attack that cannot be successfully resisted.

Developments in military doctrine and technology, therefore, add to Russian concerns. NATO has started an initiative that aims to incorporate the main features of what is called  ¡°Revolution in Military Affairs¡± in the US strategic community into procurement and daily practice of all NATO member states. With a yearly defence effort approaching US $ 300 billion for the US, and about two-thirds of this amount in European NATO and EU countries, as compared to at most $ 30 billion in Russia, it is obvious that the capability gap between NATO and Russia is growing by the minute. Fears of inferiority and vulnerability are acute in Russia's strategic circles. The renewed emphasis on nuclear weapons is a logical, if most unpleasant, corollary. It has reached a disturbing level in the unacceptable public utterances by former President Jelzin and Prime Minister - and now acting President - Putin who emphasized Russia's position as a nuclear weapon state in response to Western criticism against the breaches of humanitarian law in Russia's conduct of the Chechen war. Since no one in the West was talking about a military response to Moscow's warfare, the statements showed how short the way from politics to talking about war - even nuclear weapons - has become in the thinking of Russia's contemporary leadership.

The resurgence of Russia as a competitive military power is most probably not in the cards for any foreseeable future. Russia's economy is weak, its administration and tax collection system in disarray, and the return to state-centralized modes of running the economy offers no prospect of success. While some sectors still offer high-performance technology options, by and large Russia cannot match Western achievements, notably in the electronic, new materials and communication sectors; yet these are the areas that decide, in the middle and long-term, about the capabilities of the armed forces.

Nevertheless, an alienated and hostile Russia can present a serious disturbance for stable peace in Europe and its periphery. A Russia that defines its own interests as opposite to those of the West in principle can support totalitarian and violent regimes, help terrorists, and veto further progress in arms control, disarmament and institution-building for peace and conflict resolution. For this reason, the West is most interested in keeping a viable partnership with Russia. And, it should be recalled, Russia has hardly an alternative, from an economic point of view, to collaborating with the Western nations. It is hard to see where the necessary investment and technological inputs into the ailing Russian economy should come from if not from Western countries, even if we allow for the present more favourable level in crude oil prices.

Apart from an alienated Russia, the prospect for a decaying Euroasian giant is at least as disturbing. The labours of Russia to master its transitional challenges have already been mentioned. What would happen if this enormous experiment were going to fail? While we Europeans are not at all interested in a resurgent, hostile Russia, we are as little interested in the decay of this great nation. Already our concern about the security and safety of the Russian arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons is acute. If central control would further diminish, if these weapons would become tools of the power game of regional warlords, or would fall in the hand of irresponsible nongovernmental forces, unpredictable consequences could ensue. We are acutely aware that whether this happens is mostly in the hands of the Russians themselves. Outside assistance, however well-intended and well-devised, can only play a minor role in the further development of the Russian society, economy, and political system.

A potential conflict rests in the future of the Baltic states. These tiny entities, having become independent through the decay of the Soviet Union, host significant Russian minorities. For now, the issue has been settled through amendments to citizen laws that satisfy most of Moscow¡Çs demands. Yet whether this evolves into a long-lasting source of conflict, or is largely forgotten such as the position of the Alsaciens between France and Germany, depends very much on the developments in Russia. The plan to incorporate the Baltic states into the European Union, and possibly also into NATO, would, under these circumstances, open a new front between Russia and the West. But this is far from being a certainty and might indeed never happen, if the general relationship with Russia remains viable.

The Balkans pose a further risk to European stability, not only because events their influence the relationship between Russia and the West. This is an area, where a panoply of different ethnical and religious communities lives in patterns of interlocking settlements, frequently across national boundaries. This pattern need not, per se, lead to violent conflict. Unfortunately, however, mobilization along themes of identity and diversity has become a tool by the political elites and leaders to gain and maintain power, most visibly in Serbia. For these leaders, violence is a welcome tool to persuade their followers to rally around the flag and to divert attention from their domestic failures by pointing to an external - or even internal - enemy. The potential for violence in this region has been demonstrated for the last decade by the various wars in the former Yugoslavia. The risk that these conflicts escalate horizontally into the wider region cannot be dismissed out of hand. Due to political, ethnical and religious relations, and to geostrategic proximity, states take a serious interest in what happens in their neighbouring region. The Albanian minority in Macedonia, to give one example, is subject of much concern, as people fear that a conflict involving this minority could make Macedonia another Kosovo. Likewise, Greece and Turkey tend to find themselves on different sides in many of these conflicts, a fact that threatens to exacerbate their already complicated relationship; nevertheless, much fortunately, there has been a sort of thaw between the two NATO members more recently.

The Mediterranean periphery, notably Northern Africa and the Middle East, continues to pose stability risks to European security, though one has to put this risk into perspective. Sweeping predictions of shock waves - caused by immigration, Islamic fundamentalism, or economic strangulation by the employment of the ¡°oil weapon¡± remain popular in certain circles and the yellow press in particular, but have little foundation in reality. Migration is a problem for our social systems and demands a lot of adaptation from both the immigrants and their host societies, but it is not a large-scale security problem and, in all probability, will not be one in the future. Islamic fundamentalism is dangerous mostly to Muslims in the countries concerned, and is emphatically a matter of fanatic minorities, rather than of the people in the Islamic world at large. It poses a distinct risk of small group terrorism, or of broader unrest if we fail to take positive steps to integrate young Muslim immigrants into our societies. In other words, the outcome is very much in our own hands. As for the ¡°oil weapon¡±, there has been a glut in the world oil market since the late seventies, and we have survived with ease the Iraqi-Iranian war as well as the Gulf war of 1990/91. With prudent precaution - sufficient storage and a set of instruments to curb demand and switch fuel - the West can weather almost any conceivable energy shortage for a considerable time. If Iraq were permitted to reenter the market, and if oil and natural gas production in Central Asia and the Caucasian region were developed according to economic criteria, even the present slow rise in prices could be easily curbed.

Another subject raised frequently in connection with the countries in North Africa and the Middle Easts is the threat of ballistic missiles. There is no doubt that a considerable number of these countries disposes of such missiles - mainly SCUDs and their derivates. The range of these missiles would in some cases permit to hit Southern and Eastern member states of NATO and the European Union, and one cannot overlook that a couple of these missile-holders possess chemical weapons and some may work even on biological weapons. But even taking all this into account, the threat is more within the regions, and possibly against intervening forces. The balance of power, including military power, between these countries and the West is so asymmetrical, the Western capability to retaliate with a devastating blow - not even using nuclear weapons but relying completely on the conventional arsenal - is so frightening that it is hard to see how any of these countries would consider an attack against a Western country. No stake involved between the West and them - not even in the case of the Turkish-Syrian dispute over the waters of Euphrat and Tigris - would motivate such a desperate move. Iraq, the only country with strong enough grievances to make a desperate last assault does, in all likelihood, not dispose of the capabilities to threaten the West. Thus, while Europe's Southern periphery remains certainly a possible source of disturbance, there are efficient countermeasures available to keep the risks limited.

Lastly, there is the specter of terrorism, possibly even with weapons of mass destruction. It is a low likelihood-high consequences scenario, and it will be with us for the long run. In a rapidly changing world, there is enough alienation, desperation, psychological disturbance and deprivation to motivate individuals and small groups to commit awful, unspeakable crimes for the sake of some assumed or alleged higher value, however hollow that might be. We cannot help the emergence of motivations even if our policies would be perfect. We have to do our best to detect preparatory activities early on, to prepare preventive measures, and to cope with emergencies and consequences if prevention proves unsuccessful. It is a task at the same level as firefighting or preparing for earthquakes. It would be very wrong not to prepare. It would be equally wrong to change the character of our free societies out of panicky fear of this particular threat. And after all, terrorism is one more good reason to cooperate as closely as we can, and it is a field where, without doubt, Western and Russian interests come very close together.

Tools of European security policy

In the period since the second World War, Europe and the transatlantic area have made enormous efforts to develop tools for the peaceful and civilized management and resolution of conflict. These efforts came to fruition when the Cold War ended.

To begin with, there are the arms control and disarmament treaties, conventions and political agreements that shape the European security landscape. The CFE Treaty limits the holdings of five main weapon systems for land and air warfare. Initially devised to create a balance between NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization and to prevent the military preponderance of the Soviet Union, it has been adapted last year, with great difficulties but successfully, to reflect the new reality on the continent. Instead of upper limits for the arms of the Alliances, it sets now limitations for weapons in national possession and on national territory, thereby also curbing the holdings of troops deployed in foreign countries. The Joint Consultative Group watches over the implementation of the Treaty, stands ready to address issues of interpretation and compliance, and develop the substance of the CFET further as appropriate. At the end of the Bosnian war, a similar regulation was included in the Dayton agreement in order to create a balance between the antagonists in this conflict.

The CFE Treaty is supplemented by confidence-building measures that apply to all European countries, not only to the present or former members of the two Alliances. These measures create transparency about the structures of the armed forces and limit the size of manoeuvers that countries in the regions are permitted to conduct in a given year. Information about military budgets, planned procurement, and military doctrine enhance transparency and confidence further.

Another measure of transparency is the Open Sky Treaty that permits the overflight of national territory by other States Party. While not yet in force, many trial overflights are taking place, and Hungary and Rumania have put the Treaty into force for each other as a bilateral confidence-building measure.

I have spoken above about the ambivalence in NATO's present role, as a source of stability among its members on the one hand and of concern among some of the non-members, and Russia in particular, on the other. This ambivalence notwithstanding, NATO has taken efforts to bridge the gap to the outsiders. It has created the NATO Cooperation Council, an institution to address broad security issues, and separate bilateral councils with Russia and Ukraine, the two largest non-members in Europe, to be able to discuss their special interests, problems and grievances. The ¡°Partnership for Peace¡± approach is a series of bilateral programme of action between the Western Alliance and non-members, with a view to enhance military cooperation and thereby add to mutual confidence.

Next, there are two all-European institutions that aim at bringing the countries on the Continent closer together. The European Council aims at creating a common space of basic values and law, notably as far as human rights are concerned. Much more important and broader in scope is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, formerly CSCE. This Organization is also based on a set of political, economic and societal principles enshrined in the Charter of Paris of 1990, Since, it has developed a broad spectrum of instruments, processes, institutions and mechanisms to prevent, manage, and resolve conflict. The OSCE's Commissioner on Human Rights and Democracy has the right to investigate the situation of minorities in member states, to request unrestricted access to people who may have grievances, and to report to the Council of the Organization on his findings. The work of the Commissioner was quite important to settle the sources of conflict among the Baltic states, and between Latvia and Estonia and Russia.

The Forum for Security Cooperation in which all OSCE members participate works as watchdog and review body for the various confidence-building measures, and as a negotiation machinery to enhance and amend them and to create, as appropriate, new agreements. As its name tells, the approach is broader than arms control proper, it encompasses the full range of security issues.

The Center for Conflict Prevention serves as an early warning, information collecting and disseminating tool. It is connected to the mechanism to deal with unusual military activities, whereby a country can call for explanation from the state that conducts such activity, and to mobilize the Committee of High-ranking Officials (usually the political directors of foreign ministry that meet regularly between Council meetings) of all members if the explanation is not satisfactory. Similar mechanisms exist for political crises and for securing minority rights. While it is quite true that these tools were not good enough to prevent violations of such rights and the emergence of conflict, they have made events within states a legitimate matter of concern for all. The prevailing norm in Europe is thus that rulers cannot deal with their subjects as they like, but have to observe basic standards. If they don¡Çt, the OSCE members have a right to make the case a matter of international discussion. One tool which the OSCE uses are so-called long-term missions, that evolved out of observer missions which the organization had sent into trouble spots. Long-term missions are stationed in areas of potential conflict, watch the actions of the antagonists, talk to them, and report back to the organization their analyses of the situation and recommendations for actions. The presence of these observers as such has often a calming and mitigating effect on the actors.

While most institutions and activities aim at creating, stabilizing and enhancing peace and security within Europe, there are also efforts to deal with the risks at the periphery by means of cooperation and dialogue. Both NATO and the European Union have entered a dialogue with the countries bordering the Mediterranean. While NATO's approach is confined to security issues in the narrower sense, the European one, called the Barcelona process after the City where it started, corresponds to the broad scope of the Union itself, and thus addresses practically all areas suitable for cooperative endeavours, including the economic, cultural, and environmental fields. It is hoped that thus a broad approach will help to deal with the sources of instability and risks in the Mahgreb and Middle East regions and will induce countries that are otherwise involved in disputes and rivalries to embark on cooperation.

In my personal view, the most successful peace institution in Europe has been the European Community, now the European Union. For centuries, the rivalry between France and Germany was at the roots of violent conflict in Europe, The French-German partnership, embedded in the Union, has laid this scourge of the peoples of Europe to rest. It is often said that the relation is not harmonious. I see it quite differently: the relationship is so stable now that it sustains the daily irritations that flow from varying interests, traditions, and mentalities.

Outside of Europe, the degree of achievement in the Union is often underrated. Let us start with the astonishing fact, that our countries have given away for good one of the basic tools of statecraft, namely foreign trade policy. Europe's citizens, as individuals, can take their governments to the European Court. Most recently, a ruling of the Court has even necessitated a forthcoming change in the time-honoured interpretation of the German Constitution, when the European Court ruled that gender difference is no justification to suspend the right to equality in the armed services. From now on, women must be admitted to combat service in the German armed forces. This example shows to what a degree basic issues of policy have become Europeanized.

It is hard to imagine for foreigners that among most members of the Union, borders have ceased to exist. When I drive from Germany to Portugal, over a distance of about 2500 kilometers, passing through France and Spain on my way, no one will ask for my passport or force me through customs control. Since most of the former border installations have been dismantled, I hardly notice when I leave Germany for France, or France for Spain, or Spain for Portugal. Guarding borders has been a time-honoured ingredient of state sovereignty. It has ceased to play this role in most of the European Union.

Less than two years from now, most European countries will use the same currency, the Euro. National central banks have already lost their defining power over currency exchange policy. This is now in the hands of the European Central Bank: Another transfer of core state power to a supranational process.

Finally, the process of European Common Foreign Policy and Security. It has been subject to heavy criticism, because attention focuses only on its failures, when, for example, European members of the UN Security Council disagree openly. Yet the process of this policy is multifaceted, complex, and intense. More than thirty working groups meet between six and twelve times a year, coordinating and converging national policies, preparing Common Positions and Joint Actions that are then be adopted by the Council, the Union's highest decision-making body. The desk-officers members of these working groups produce a large traffic of fax, phone and e-mail communications every day. This process of convergence is slow and protracted, but it is seriously under way. Because much of this is going on confidentially, not only non-EU governments, but our own publics are somehow unaware of the processes intensity. The efforts to pool Europe's military resources, to create a truly European pillar within the Atlantic Alliance that is capable to operate independently if need be is only the latest step in a long chain of developments that have made serious conflict, not to speak about war, among the members of the European Union impossible. The prudent and well-considered enlargement of the Union will enhance the geographic zone of peace before the end of the decade.

Contradictory Visions for the future European Security Order

So far, we have visited risks to Europe¡Çs security that appear real but manageable. We have discussed the tools the Europeans have created to deal with the risks, and these tools are many and appear well-devised to address the issues at hand, even if they are frequently not used in an optimal way. A look down the road, however, confronts us with quite another problem that could unravel the fabric of European security policy, if it is not thoroughly handled. This is the different, even contradictory vision the major European players have about the future of the security order.

Let us start with the mightiest one among them, the United States. Over the last decade, the inclination of the US to work systematically through the means of multilateralism and to subject itself to constraints on its freedom of action, a readiness that multilateralism requests from all participants, has declined markedly. The attitude towards multilateralism has turned even hostile in parts of the Senate, notably its Republican membership, as witnessed in the vote against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and Senator Helms's formidable diatribe before the UN Security Council. But pushed and pulled by the Congressional attitude, the administration has itself developed a certain disregard for international law and a preference for unilateralism. The refusal to join the International Criminal Court, the obstinate insistence, during the discussions on NATO¡Çs new strategic concept that the Alliance should be ready to act outside of its Treaty area even without a UNSC mandate, and the reluctance to observe the obligations from the confidence-building agreements - the Vienna documents - during the Kosovo deployments are only a few examples. It appears that the US envisages the European future as a hegemonial order in which US military might is the decisive tool, controlling deviant behaviour including, if necessary, Russian moves. The US sees the European periphery, including the republics that have emerged from the former Soviet Union, as legitimate objects of the hegemonial order, Russian interests notwithstanding. NATO is a useful instrument to enhance US power, and all other European institutions are subordinated to the Western Alliance. The OSCE is a mere talking forum for Washington, not a security institution in its own right. Arms control has lost most of its appeal, as there are risks that it will be increasingly aimed at restricting US superiority. The emergence of a security identity in the European Union is acceptable for Washington, as long as the US keeps some operational control over what the Europeans are doing. The US is also opposed to the Europeans¡Ç coordinating their position on significant issues before consultation in the NATO Council takes place; the NATO Council should be the supreme policy-shaping body on major security issues in Europe. For this reason, the idea of a ¡°European security council¡± is also alien to the US.

The dominant Russian ideas are quite different from the American ones. Russia wants to be accepted as a big power on an equal level. The vision is similar to the Concert of Europe that was installed after the Napoleonic wars in order to prevent major conflict from emerging in Europe anew. The ideal institution would be an European security council in which the major powers would hold permanent seats and where the main issues of high politics in Europe would be considered and decided. This was the objective when the Russians asked for a special NATO-Russian council, and this is why Moscow was so shocked when the Contact Group, the small grouping which worked out the solution for the Bosnian conflict, was completely bypassed by NATO on Kosovo. Russia wants a free hand in its internal affairs, whatever instruments it uses to suppress upheaval, and a privileged ¡°droit de regard¡± in its immediate neighbourhood, the so-called ¡°near abroad¡±. In particular, Russia wants to have the decisive say about the exploitation of the energy resources in the Caspian and the Central Asian region. Arms control should mainly serve to put curbs on U.S. freedom of action, notably its naval and air forces, and to prevent the US from acquiring absolute superiority through the creation of an effective defence against long-range ballistic missiles.

Still another vision is held by France. Paris is concerned about the preponderance of the United States. It holds that Western European and US interests do not always coincide, and that Europe needs its own strength to counterbalance US weight. France would like to make the European Union the preponderant force on the continent, and to deal with Russia on those terms. France would perhaps accept a ¡°Concert¡± or a security council, but would hope this body would be dominated by the European Union. The alliance with the US should be preserved as an insurance against incalculable contingencies, but its importance and influence should be strongly reduced. The EU - according to the traditional French approach - should be led by France, though there are voices now that recognize that the Union can only be run by cooperation based on equality; but this view is not yet dominant. In practical terms, France faces difficulties to work for its objectives in a coherent way, as the role envisaged for the Union requires much more integration, and thus compromises regarding national sovereignty, while old Gaullist instincts induce Paris time and again to act unilaterally in areas of ¡°high politics¡±. France is more ready to accept further arms control measures than the US, but more keen to retain some military freedom of action than its neighbour and partner Germany.

Among the countries discussed here, Germany is the most inclined to further develop multilateralism as the main device to keep Europe secure. This is the outgrowth of a century-long experience, proving that Germany is too weak to control its environment, but too strong not to be a concern to its neighbours. Embedding Germany in institutions of cooperation in which all its neighbours and all major powers participate is the only viable alternative to the century-old pattern of European power politics: the emergence of balancing alliances against the big powerhouse at the centre of Europe. The country is slowly and reluctantly accepting its responsibility and to live up to the requests that its friends and allies are putting to it. It is coming to accept that, as the strongest economic power in Europe, it has to make an appropriate contribution to all aspects of security, including in military matters. Germany wants much more integration in European foreign and security policy, including defence, than any of its major partners is presently willing to admit; this includes majority decisions, strict parliamentarian control, joint procurement, and joint staff organizations for strategic transport and other military tasks that Germany would face only in joints operation with its allies. It wants a viable, level-playing field relationship with Russia, and strives to accommodate Russian interests as much as justifiable; it sometimes risks in the process to fail to be critical when it is necessary. Germany wants to avoid a clash between its European and its Atlantic commitment, though Europeanism has grown stronger over the last few years. It also pleads for the further strengthening of the OSCE, in order to enable this institution to be much more effective in conflict prevention. Germany wants to make sure that future peace enforcement operations are properly mandated by an international body. More than any other of the major European states, Berlin works for enhancing arms control, including, inter alia, some rules for the development and application of military technology.


Altogether, compared with other regions in the world and with our own history, we Europeans can be quite happy with where we stand. The risk of a major war remains remote. The means are in our hands to keep viable relationships on the continent and with the neighbours at our periphery. Risks exist, but for most of them we have tools for coping. And even if things go terribly wrong, the core of NATO and, in particular, EU countries and their institutions appear strong enough to weather the storm, including bad terrorist events.

The key is that the institutions that cover Europe like a network do not unravel. And here the risks are visible. Russia wants more than it can deliver. It wants to be a world power while its power base is seriously eroded. Its political system and the elites who run it is not up to the extremely complex task to bring this enormous territorial, societal, political and economic space back to feet. This discrepancy between ambition and reality breeds frustration. If this frustration is laid upon the European institutions, they will suffer.

Even more ominous to me is present US policy. The hegemonial direction in which the US is moving is acceptable to none except Washington itself. Our European institutions rely on a US willing to listen, compromise and play to the rules. Without this attitude, it will be much harder to maintain the smooth working of our institutional networks. For now, the European security order is an exemplary achievement that is worth studying for people in other regions. How long it will remain so if the most powerful participant stops playing by the rules is open to question.