07 December 1990 - 09 December 1990

European Security Arrangements: The Alliances, The CSCE, The EC, Arms Control and Conflict Resolution

Chair: Dr Peter Corterier

The conference started by looking at the perceived “threats” confronting Europe, or, if threat is too strong, what one participant called ‘‘the security determinants”. While the point was made that we should rather be trying to define objectives, there was general agreement that the determinants could be listed as: the residual Soviet threat in terms of a still massive conventional and nuclear capability, coupled with the uncertainty about how the Soviet Union will emerge from the present economic and political turmoil (and indeed uncertainty more generally); Eastern Europe, wherewith the recovery of independence, old frictions were surfacing; the emerging threat from “the South”, including Islamic revival, the Persian Gulf crisis, the Palestine question, the economic breakdown in several countries, demographic trends and migration and the spread of advanced armaments, conventional and non-conventional; German unification and the development of the EC; and economic and trade problems, particularly in the light of the outcome of the Uruguay Round.

It will be seen from this list that the discussion ranged much wider than the narrow topic of future security arrangements in Europe. Architecture as a description was to be eschewed: participants preferred the analogy of navigation, the adaptation of existing institutions in a pragmatic and evolutionary manner, though for navigation too some landfall or objective had to be in mind. (A mobile was an alternative analogy, with the different institutions revolving round each other: the problem was to locate the fixed point of suspension. Patience was needed until the revolving parts settled down.)

There was general agreement that the continued involvement of the US in European security was essential, and that NATO provided the firm base for that, even if its nature might change. US forces, though reduced, would remain, it was hoped. There was discussion whether NATO's role would become more political, some arguing that it always had been. Others believed that, though the scale of forces deployed would decline in response to economic and political pressures, its role, seen in the context of the CSCE and other institutions, would tend to become more exclusively military, with perhaps greater emphasis on multi-national forces. The “renationalisation of defence” must be avoided. There was talk of NATO adopting an “out of area” role, the inhibitions there being political and practical rather than legal.

Apart from the direct American military contribution there were a number of “invisible” benefits of US involvement in NATO: the nuclear guarantee, the maritime capability, the technological base and intelligence-sharing and surveillance, which would acquire even greater importance as Europe came to rely on lengthened warning times. (The ability of democracies in a relaxed frame of mind to respond quickly enough even to lengthy warnings was a worry.) Enlargement of NATO was not a real option. The problem would be how to link it better to the other institutions, notably the CSCE, the WEU and the European Community. The CSCE had made an important contribution to the peaceful revolution in Central and Eastern Europe, but such a large body, acting by unanimity, could not shoulder the defence role that might be necessary. On the other hand, while the countries of Eastern Europe were not looking for formal security guarantees, they would welcome some security assurances. There might be a role for the UN here. However, the point was made that the best guarantee for the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe would be economic, in particular access for their products to the EC’s markets (a point made also in the conference on 2-4 November, on the switch from command to market economies).

There were differing views of how the EC could be linked to NATO, some arguing that the EC must inevitably develop a security role in the widest sense, others, the majority, that the only practicable link was through the WEU, enlarged as necessary, though warnings were issued here against extending the WEU commitment to nations whose perceptions of their security interests did not match. In that concept, WEU would operate by means of over-lapping membership, on the one hand with the EC and on the other with NATO, perhaps with “double hatting” of the permanent representatives in one or the other of these two bodies. French and British nuclear forces might have to be put “on the table”. In general, however the conference did not take this much further than the public debate has so far done.

The indefinite suspension of the Uruguay Round negotiations in a general air of breakdown led several to warn of the risks of severe strains on trans-Atlantic relations. In the past the clearly perceived shared threat had served to prevent disputes in other areas getting out of hand. The disappearance of that threat had removed the constraint. If the Persian Gulf crisis ended in bloodshed, or in some other way turned out badly, there was a serious risk of recriminations which would further undermine the relationship. Moreover, we were warned that except at the very top, the EC had few friends in the US Administration or in Congress. The EC was a fact however and the US should resist the temptation to deal bi-laterally with individual members. Europe, which in the field of security had been a net importer, now needed to take a global view in order to become a net exporter. Some called on Germany to shoulder the responsibilities which came with its economic strength and its emergence as the dominant power in Europe, and to give the political leadership that befitted such a position.

There was discussion of, but no agreed response to, the potential confrontation between Europe, the Middle East and the developing world. The response to migration, it was agreed however, must be on a European basis. Again, economics lay at the root of the problem. It was necessary to devote effort and resources to improving the economic situation in the countries concerned. There would be a pressing need to tackle the Palestine question if the West was to avoid the charge of applying double standards. We must beware of interpreting any rejection of Western values as a threat.

Conventional arms control, some thought, had had its day. In Europe, reductions were now likely to be unilateral, driven by treasuries. On the other hand, there was a case for codifying such reductions, if only to hinder their reversal; and there could be advantage, especially in Eastern Europe, in proceeding further down that road. There would be less emphasis on costly verification, as the size of armed forces came down, though the importance of the Open Skies negotiations was stressed. On the assumption that START led to a treaty, there was some disagreement over the need for further negotiation on nuclear arms reductions. Most felt that at least negotiation on short range nuclear forces (SNF) would be required, perhaps leading to a third zero, but with the exemption of dual-purpose aircraft, short-range air-launched missiles and maritime forces. For strategic nuclear forces some suggested that levels (post START) were not a worry and that efforts to negotiate further reductions (bringing in French and British forces) would merely create problems where none existed.

Of much greater concern was the spread of sophisticated conventional weapons, including missiles, and of chemical and biological weapons. Consideration should be given by the principal suppliers to the control of exports of such weapons and the technology to produce them (à la COCOM): while that could never be totally effective, as with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty controls could slow down the spread. It might be too late to institute an effective regime for CW, though further steps could be taken to de-legitimise their use. The BW Convention needed up-dating. In all this it was essential, but not easy, to avoid the appearance of “the arrogance of the possessor”. This was particularly true of the NPT which was due for renewal in 1995: here the perceived bargain between the possessors and the non-nuclear powers, that the former would work towards the abolition of nuclear forces, had been undermined by their declared intention to retain reduced nuclear forces as a contingency deterrent. This would be difficult to handle, especially if no progress was made towards a complete ban on tests. The whole field of the arms trade deserved study.

To sum up: uncertainty, especially about the future of the Soviet Union, which retained massive military forces, was still a major security determinant. It was essential to retain US interest and involvement in Europe, through NATO and the CSCE, but trans-Atlantic relations, without the glue of the immanent Soviet threat, would need cherishing in the light of recriminations over trade and the Gulf. The particular needs of the countries of East and Central Europe must be studied and their views heard. Confrontation with “the South” was a real risk: the remedies might be economic rather than military. The focus of arms control might shift from Europe to other areas (e.g. a conference on security and cooperation in Asia had been mooted) with particular emphasis on the delicate area of the trade in sophisticated armaments, bearing in mind that arm s control only worked where it was perceived as being mutually beneficial.

This Note reflects the Director's personal impressions of the conference. No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.

Chairman: Dr Peter Corterier
Secretary General, North Atlantic Assembly; a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation


Mr Geoffrey Wiseman

Social Science Research Council, MacArthur Foundation Fellow in International Peace and Security, St Antony’s College, Oxford

Dr Ren
é Pollitzer
Counsellor, Austrian Embassy, London

Professor Luc Reychler

Professor of International Relations, University of Leuven and Antwerp; adviser, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belgium
Mr Stephen Gomersall
Mr Edward Mortimer

currently on secondment as Research Associate, International Institute for Strategic Studies; Assistant Foreign Editor, Financial Times; a member, Programme Committee, the Ditchley Foundation
Sir Michael Quinlan KCB
Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (MoD); Governor, Henley Management College; a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation
Professor Adam Roberts FBA
Montague Burton Professor of International Relations and Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford; Member of Council, Royal Institute of International Affairs
Dr Paul Rogers
Senior Lecturer in Peace Studies, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford (1979-90)
Mr Dan Smith
Associate Director, Transnational Institute; author
General Sir Richard Vincent GBE KCB DSO
Chief of Defence Staff designate

Professor Paul Buteux

Professor of Political Studies, University of Manitoba; Adjunct Fellow, Centre for International and Strategic Studies, York University; author; Member: Canadian Institute of International Affairs, International Institute for Strategic Studies, Department of External Affairs Consultative Group on Arms Control and Disarmament, Board of Canadian Institute for Strategic Studies
Mr Gaetan Lavertu
Deputy High Commissioner, Canadian High Commission, London
Mr Alex Morrison
Executive Director, Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, Toronto; President, International Year of Peace Pledging Conference; Vice-President, Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations; author

M Yves Mollard la Bruy
Adviser, Directorate F, Cabinet of President Delors, Commission of the European Communities

M Jean Fléix-Paganon

Diplomatic Counsellor, Cabinet of the Minister, Ministry of Defence, Paris
M François Heisbourg
Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

Mr Tuomas Y Pekkarinen

Counsellor, Political Department, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Helsinki

Herr Gebhardt von Moltke

Head, US Section, Foreign Office, Bonn
Herr Anton Rossbach
Deputy Commissioner of the Federal Government for Arms Control and Disarmament, Foreign Office, Bonn
Captain Ulrich Weisser
Naval Staff member, Ministry of Defence, Bonn

HE Dr Istvan Gyarmati

Hungarian Ambassador to the Negotiations on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Vienna

Professor Stefano Silvestri

Vice President, Institute of International Affairs, Rome, specialising in NATO and defence matters

Professor Joris J C Voorhoeve

Member of Parliament, The Netherlands; recently parliamentary leader of the opposition WD (Liberal) Party; author

åre Willoch
Chairman, Defence Commission, considering Norwegian defence posture over next 20 years; author

Mr H Brandt Ayers

Editor and Publisher, The Anniston Star, Alabama; Co-owner, The Star, the (Talladega) Daily News, the Jacksonville News, Oxford Midweek and Piedmont Journal Independent; writer and journalist; Member of the Board, the Twentieth Century Fund, Talladega College and the Center for Excellence in Government; Trustee, Southern Center for International Studies, Atlanta; member of the Advisory Council, American Ditchley Foundation
Dr Hans Binnendijk
Director of Studies, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London
Professor Robert D Blackwill
Associate Dean and faculty member, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
The Hon Maynard W Glitman
US Ambassador to Belgium
Professor Alan Henrikson
Lecturer in American diplomatic history, contemporary US-European relations and international negotiation, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; Harvard University: Associate in research, Center for International Affairs and Counsellor on Canadian Affairs; author
Professor Arnold L Horelick
Senior Corporate Fellow in Soviet Affairs, The RAND Corporation and Professor of Political Science at UCLA; author
Dr Fred C Iklé
Distinguished Scholar, Center for International and Strategic Studies, Washington DC; Director: Zurich-American Insurance Companies, Schaumberg, Illinois, Federal Business Systems -Inc, Scottsdale, Arizona, Conservation Management-Corporation, Bethesda, Maryland; Member of the Board: Defense Secretary’s Defense Advisory Committee on Trade, RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center, Center for Security Policy, Washington DC; member, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, Council on Foreign Relations, New York; author
Ambassador John J Maresca
Chairman, US Delegation to Negotiations on Confidence and Security-Building Measures and US Representative to Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe Summit Preparatory Committee, Vienna
Professor Joseph S Nye Jr
Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Director, Center for Science and International Affairs, John F Kennedy School of Government and Ford Foundation Professor of International Security, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University; Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Senior Fellow, Aspen Institute; Director: Aspen Strategy Group, Institute for East-West Security Studies, International Institute for Strategic Studies; American Representative, UN Advisory Committee on Disarmament Matters; member, Trilateral Commission, International Institute for Strategic Studies and Council on Foreign Relations; author
Dr Andrew J Pierre
Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC; author
The Hon Ronald E Woods
Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, The American Embassy, London; a member, Programme Committee, The Ditchley Foundation

Dr Willem van Eekelen

Secretary-General, Western European Union
Mr John Roper
Director, Western European Union Institute for Security Studies, Paris