PERSPECTIVES ON THE SUMMIT : The Alliance Must Be Transformed : The West can do much to make our vision of Europe palatable to the Soviets.
At the first full-fledged post-Cold War summit meeting, two questions were paramount:
--What kind of security order will replace NATO and the Warsaw Pact?
--And what kind of Soviet Union will emerge from the revolutionary upheavals that are under way there?
The meetings between Presidents Bush and Gorbachev did not, and could not, supply definitive answers. But certainly the American preferences are clear: Washington wants a peaceful Europe with a united Germany belonging to NATO, and it wants a democratic Soviet Union with a market economy. The test of this summit from the American point of view is whether it paves the way for progress toward these goals at a series of other important international meetings later this year.
The American government rightly insists that Europe will be stable if, and only if, a united Germany remains part of an American-led alliance. Mikhail Gorbachev used his visit to Washington to register his reservations about the idea. The message he delivered was not so much that he would never permit the new Germany to belong to NATO, but rather that this would be acceptable to Moscow only if NATO were transformed. Privately, the Bush Administration has sought to assure him that NATO will change. Instead of containing the Soviet Union, the Atlantic Alliance will be designed to provide insurance against more abstract and distant threats--uncertainty and instability.
The task for the United States and its allies is to move as quickly as possible to make these changes. The appropriate occasion for announcing a new mission and a new military strategy for the alliance is the special NATO summit meeting that is scheduled for July.
Reducing Western forces in Europe, especially in Germany, is also important. To avoid singling out the Germans for special treatment, this will require establishing a central European zone encompassing several countries, including Germany, where all armed forces will be strictly limited. The appropriate vehicle for such limits is a treaty on conventional forces in Europe, now being negotiated and which Bush has committed himself to sign by the end of this year.
A CFE treaty would be signed not at another U.S.-Soviet meeting, but at an all-European summit conference, to be held under the auspices of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Such a meeting, tentatively scheduled for Paris near the end of the year, would also be the occasion for addressing another Soviet concern by upgrading the status of the CSCE.
While the United States and the West will have considerable influence on Europe’s new security arrangements, they can do far less to shape the political institutions and economic system of the Soviet Union. Still, modest leverage is available, and the United States made a good start on using it by signing a conditional trade treaty with the Soviet Union.
There is more that the West can do to encourage the Soviet Union to move to a market economy. The economic summit meeting of the major Western industrial countries, which will be held next month in Houston, can be the occasion for a thorough discussion of how the world’s economic great powers can assist formerly Communist countries in making this transition.
There is something to be said for inviting a Soviet representative to the economic summit, if only as an observer. This would have symbolic importance. For if the Soviet Union should ever come to participate regularly and fully in these annual meetings, this would mark the final success of American and Western policy.
It would mean that America’s Cold War adversary had transformed itself into what, in the long centuries of Russian history, it has never been. It would mean that sweeping reform had made the Soviet Union precisely what it is in the interest of the West to have it become--a large, prosperous, industrial and above all democratic country.