Cover: Not with a Bang but a Whimper

Not with a Bang but a Whimper

Western Europe Approaches the Third Millennium

Published 1996

by Robert A. Levine


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The current stability of Western Europe appears likely to continue but is by no means guaranteed. The probable stable future is neither grim nor inspiring, but it is preferable to the instability that could be brought about by gambling for a more inspiring outcome. The key to post-Cold-War security and stability lies in economics, and Western Europe needs faster economic growth and lower unemployment. Indeed, if the signs portend downturn rather than accelerated growth, internal instability may become a major problem for the European Union and some of its member states. Economics is also the key to eastward expansion of EU; the former Communist states are likely to become members only as their economies converge with those of the West. In the meantime, NATO may prove a more flexible organization for tying these states to the west and assuring their security. In general, however, Western Europe and the United States should be wary of damaging NATO by trying to improve it in the abstract. Continued U.S. participation in Europe is vital, as is taking care not to damage this relationship in the name of transitory moral or political objectives.

The costs of the analysis, the travel, and the publication have been shared by RAND's Project AIR FORCE, Arroyo Center, National Defense Research Institute, International Policy Department, and European-American Center.

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