Toward a Stable Transition in Europe

A Conservative/Activist Strategy for the United States

by Robert A. Levine, David Ochmanek

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Abstract

At a time of extraordinary change and uncertainty in European affairs, this analysis urges a conservative/activist strategy for a stable transition to a new Europe. Believing that one must attend to dangers before taking advantage of opportunities, the authors call for conservatism in hedging against the dangers and activism in reducing apparent obstacles. Among the interests that require continued U.S. participation, the authors cite European stability in addition to continued military defense and encouragement of favorable Soviet trends, democratization and self-determination in Eastern Europe, and European prosperity. Paramount, however, is the U.S. interest in helping determine Europe's short- and long-run futures. Adjustments in Western security must be made on the basis of observed changes, not expected changes, the authors caution. To that end, this analysis presents a tripartite strategy comprising military, political, and economic considerations. Should setbacks occur, such as the collapse of perestroika, the major advantage of this modest and realistic strategy over a detailed structure for the future is that it permits a pause for reexamination and, if necessary, readjustment.

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