European Security and Defense Policy: Development and Prospects
United States Attitudes toward European Defense
The Background to the Dilemma:
In December of 1991, the Soviet Union - Ronald Reagan's "Evil Empire" - ceased to exist. Communism was dead. The Cold War over. Long live freedom and democracy! The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was replaced by a weak and impoverished federation of fifteen republics. America stood alone. She had become - in some of the favorite words of the current Bush Administration- the world's sole superpower. Not even Imperial Rome had enjoyed such eminence. America was Atlas, embracing the Globe. Her corporations dominated the international economy. Her artists, writers, filmmakers, scientists, and entrepreneurs set the standards that others must follow. On every continent, in every country, American products, fashions, and ideas proliferated, captivating the imaginations of the young and the upwardly-mobile. Millions dreamed of coming to the "home of freedom and democracy." The United States seemed a favored land, a blessed land, a land that was secure like no other, safe inside a nuclear fortress of its own making. Yet the Cold War had represented a unique paradigm. America had allied herself with the nations of Europe against the perceived threat of the Soviet Union. NATO - the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - was a military alliance of the West against the Soviet Bloc. Dominated by the United States, it compelled the nations of Western Europe to adopt a status that was secondary to that of America. American military bases under American commanders dotted the European continent. NATO's Supreme Commander was always an American. During the days of the Cold War, NATO's role - and America's - was clear. But with the demise of the "Great Satan," the chief reason for overt American involvement in European military affairs was no longer applicable. Or was it? Would the United States continue to play a major role in European affairs?
Many times, a nation so identifies itself with a single policy that that policy becomes absorbed into the larger issues of national character, economy, and so forth. Ever since the last days of the Second World War, the United States of America had positioned itself as the one country that could maintain order in the civilized, non-democratic world. President Harry S. Truman's Marshall Plan recognized that America required the support of other like-minded states, nations that similarly believed in the importance of capitalist free markets, and which were governed by American-like representative systems.
The economic revival of Western Europe was the most important, but not the only, purpose of the Marshall Plan. The Truman administration also viewed the plan as a crucial weapon in its battle to contain the expansionist impulses of the Soviet Union. It was on this basis that the plan was sold to a reluctant Congress and to the American people, neither of whom had displayed much enthusiasm until now for massive foreign aid programs. But American policymakers had long since concluded that Communism prospered in the midst of poverty, social dislocation, and political instability. Thus, they argued that the Marshall Plan could reduce the influence of local Communist Parties (particularly where they were strong, as in France and Italy) by raising Western Europe's standard of living, thereby enhancing the popularity of centrist [European] politicians.
The result of this thinking was the development of an American economy, and political ethos that were essentially outward-looking, and which as well, were preeminently concerned with infrastructural and military needs.
A major result of these concerns was the enormous growth in power and influence of America's energy companies and arms manufacturing corporations. Considered the cornerstone of the nation's prosperity and strength, this "Military-Industrial Complex" rapidly came to wield vast amounts of political power and influence. In the name of national defense, and the war against communism, politicians increasingly molded government policies and programs to suit the needs of these industries. Huge amounts of public money were spent on arming and equipping America's burgeoning military. Government programs encouraged the production of new and ever more deadly weapons, aircraft, tanks, and sundry other tools of both defensive and offensive warfare. International alliances and interventions were tailored to meet the needs of the country's oil and gas, and arms executives. As early as January 17, 1961, in his farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Increasingly, diplomatic crises were seen as justifying the trend toward a greater militarization and corporatization of American society and culture. Clever industrialists, and their allies, used the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1961 to claim that the United States was woefully unprepared to deal with a real nuclear conflict. "A coalition of defense contractors, Democratic politicians, and the Pentagon -- the so-called military-industrial complex... accused the [Kennedy] administration of wholesale neglect of national defense and called for a massive increase in spending on missile development. Such cries of alarm came despite the massive amounts that had only recently been spent on shoring up and expanding America's defenses. Americans had already been frightened by a perceived Soviet edge in the fields of science and technology, "Sputnik" serving to alter national priorities. H-Bombs, supersonic aircraft, nuclear submarines, and the like, were touted as the keys to the Free World's survival. It was not so much a matter of rapidly constructing and deploying these new weapons, but rather it was a technological race. The true success of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the real achievement of the first manned space launch, was what they represented in terms of possibilities. Sputnik may have been only a blip on the screen of human genius, but what it foretold - or appeared to foretell - was Soviet domination of an increasingly mechanized and "electronicized" future. The fact that Sputnik had happened at all was proof positive that the United States lagged far behind in the wherewithal to develop new technologies. The entire public mood would have to be reshaped. Working together, "for the good of the nation,"
An alliance of educators, defense contractors, and congressional Democrats passed the National Defense Education Act in 1958. It called for spending $5 billion on higher education in the sciences, foreign languages, and humanities to counter the perceived Soviet threat.
For the United States, the 1960s would prove to be a decade of considerable technological advancement. As put forward in the Preamble to the 1960 Republican Convention Platform,
The United States is living in an age of profoundest revolution. The lives of men and of nations are undergoing such transformations as history has rarely recorded. The birth of new nations, the impact of new machines, the threat of new weapons, the stirring of new ideas, the ascent into a new dimension of the universe -- everywhere the accent falls on the new.
The "new" threat of a communist victory fueled by communist technology became the mantra of an age. There was little that could not be justified by returning to the perceived dangers of American inaction on these fronts. Whether the real difference between West and East, between the capabilities of the Soviet Bloc, and the United States and Western Europe, was more hype than hazard, mattered little. It served the interests of the military-industrial elite. The United States government dramatically increased investment in research programs at various institutions of higher learning. Reaching some two billion dollars (in 1982 dollars) by 1960, this represented a five-fold increase over similar spending prior to the Second World War. American corporations, most especially those involved directly or indirectly in the production of armaments and the technology needed to operate them, could now depend on massive infusions of government money to sustain their own operations and research. And through the "spill over effect" in which technology developed for one purpose - for example, the military - could be put to others uses, corporations found themselves in possession of a highly profitable "invention mill" for, "It was well understood from at least the early 1960s that successful new industrial product development efforts generated benefits accruing to entities other than the firms carrying out the development." The government would finance companies' continuing research and development in the case of both military and non-military projects.
Advanced technology, however, soon became an end unto itself - even for the United States Government. More than just a means for the state to provide weapons for defense (and offense), it became inextricably linked to matters of national pride;…