Kissinger on Europe

In his column "Untangling Alliances" (Opinion, April 16) Henry Kissinger rightly focuses on the need to enunciate a vision for a new Europe. But he goes too far too fast in proposing that the European Community be transformed into a common European House absent the U.S. and the Soviet Union. And he is wrong in suggesting a security framework which would lower the nuclear threshold.

In fact, U.S. policy aims at ending the artificial division of Europe and not "unifying" it. This is more than a semantic distinction. It is neither possible nor desirable to achieve the economic integration of Eastern and Western Europe in the short run, given the vast difference in the economic institutions which have taken root on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The European Community is hardly able to accommodate the differences among its own members as it moves towards 1992, and admitting Turkey is a daunting task. Imagine the dislocations which would result from taking on the structural problems of Poland or Romania!

From the political point of view, the concept of a unified Europe must necessarily be based on the reunification of Germany, which is exactly what Kissinger wants to avoid. In fact, the continued division of Germany is in the interest of both East and West, and the FRG's economic support for the GDR is designed, in part, to help preserve that division, elevating the East German standard of living without the kind of structural reform which could bring reunification closer. A confidential dialogue with the Russians would probably establish the fact that German reunification should be the last problem on the East-West agenda.

"Reuniting" Europe is not essential to end its artificial division. Freedom of movement of people and ideas, increased autonomy for the region's governments, democratization and the restoration of Western cultural values will produce a freer, more stable and diverse Eastern Europe, whether or not Soviet troops remain there.

The goal of a more secure Europe, free of artificially-imposed division, should not be pursued through a confidential dialogue between the U.S. and the Soviets. Neither East nor West Europeans want these issues discussed over their heads.


Washington, D.C.

Barry is a U.S. Foreign Service officer and former deputy director of Voice of America and ambassador to Bulgaria.

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