European Security and the Nuclear Threat Since 1945

by James R. Schlesinger

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An interpretation of the revolutionary changes that have taken place in Europe's strategic configuration since World War II, changes reflecting the partial disintegration of the traditional nation-state system and the creation of powerful strategic nuclear capabilities. While the European states have achieved a level of prosperity that provides an illusion of power, their military weakness relative to the United States has increased, and so has their need for U.S. military protection. While originally NATO was envisioned as a "grand alliance," it is now overwhelmingly dominated by its most powerful partner. To provide a sufficient deterrent, a nation must be able to employ a number of options; European states would be risking too much and threatening too little to be taken seriously. Basically, they prefer safety to a risky and specious independence; the growing disinclination to question the validity of the American commitment reflects the growing recognition that there is no serious alternative.

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