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U.S. Security Interests

Ensuring a Free, Secure, Peaceful, and Cooperative Europe
Maintaining Mutual Security Commitments and a Strong, Adaptive NATO
Encouraging European Integration, Consistent with Open Relations with the U.S. and a Strong NATO
Maintaining Access to Military Facilities in Europe and the North Atlantic
Promoting Successful Reform and Increased Security for Central and Eastern Europe
Helping to Prevent, Contain, and Resolve Ethnic Conflicts

Europe is of vital importance to the U.S. and has been a central focus of American defense efforts. Because of the strategic importance of Europe and its resources and the close ties between America and Europe, the U.S. three times in this century--in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War--has sent American military forces to Europe to help prevent aggressive powers from dominating Europe by force.

Europe includes many of the most politically, economically, and militarily advanced countries in the world, countries fully engaged and influential at the highest levels in international politics, trade and commerce, assistance programs, and defense and security collaboration. European states outnumber any other region of the world in the UN Security Council and the two institutions of the most advanced economic states--the G-7 economic summit structure and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The U.S. has strong political, economic, social, and cultural ties to Europe. In many areas of economic activity, Europe is of greater importance to the U.S. than any other region of the world; trade is a notable exception, as U.S. trade with Asia now exceeds U.S. trade with Europe.

The majority of Americans claim European ancestry or ethnic origin. In the 1990 U.S. Census when 249 million people were counted, 164 million indicated specific foreign ancestries or ethnic origins; 143 million of these--87 percent of those indicating specific foreign ancestries and 57 percent of the total population--indicated European ancestries. Moreover, historical and political-philosophical ties between the U.S. and Europe are obvious, deep, and too numerous to mention.

Many European states have modern, deployable militaries capable of contributing to collective security in NATO and outside the NATO area. In the Persian Gulf War, for example, European NATO allies and friends in Europe contributed significantly to coalition efforts. Many countries in Europe provided rights for coalition partners to overfly their territory en route to and from Southwest Asia.

At least six key U.S. security interests can be identified for the Europe and NATO area:

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Ensuring a Free, Secure,
Peaceful, and Cooperative

The U.S. has a vital interest in a free, secure, peaceful, and cooperative Europe and North Atlantic area. Ancillary to this is a Europe that is democratic and prosperous, open to U.S.-European trade and investment opportunities, and supportive of political, economic, and military cooperation with the U.S. in Europe and other important parts of the world. The U.S. wants a Europe that abides by international law and humanitarian principles endorsed by the UN and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The U.S. seeks an expanded zone of peace and security throughout Europe. The President has cited as goals "a free and undivided Europe" and "an integrated democratic Europe cooperating with the United States to keep the peace and promote prosperity."

Trends in trans-Atlantic cooperation, integration in Western Europe, and outreach to the East are favorable to these interests, while the continuation and possible expansion of conflict in the Balkans and growing instability to the east and south are not.

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Maintaining Mutual Security
Commitments and a Strong,
Adaptive NATO

Commitments to the security of Europe and the North Atlantic area are enshrined in the North Atlantic Treaty, in which the U.S. and its NATO allies have agreed that an attack against one would be considered an attack against all, and that each ally would take whatever action it deemed necessary, including the use of force, to restore and maintain security. The U.S. has a strong interest in maintaining support among signatory countries for the security commitments reflected in the NATO treaty, as well as in other security instruments.

The continued U.S. military presence in Europe reflects Washington's commitment. At the end of Fiscal Year 1993, of 308,000 U.S. military personnel deployed in foreign areas, nearly half--149,000--were stationed in Germany or elsewhere in Europe. President Clinton has made a commitment to maintain approximately 100,000 U.S. military personnel in Europe for as long as the European allies want them there. (There are additionally some 17,000 personnel afloat in the Europe area.)

Critical to these wider interests is maintaining the viability and vitality of NATO as an institution which is able, as necessary, to deter and defend against any attacks on its members. NATO has been a key element in maintaining general peace in Europe for the last 45 years, unprecedented in modern times. A strong NATO can also play a critical role in promoting peace and security beyond NATO's borders. Invaluable for this are NATO's integrated command structure, its forces which cooperate in areas of intelligence and warning, command and control, doctrine, equipment and joint training, and the base structure in Europe and the Atlantic.

The general trend in maintaining the Alliance's viability and vitality is favorable to U.S. interests, although differences among allies on issues such as policy regarding former Yugoslavia can sometimes challenge Alliance cohesion. Programs to reach out to the East, promote European integration and ESDI, develop new security concepts such as CJTF, engage carefully and effectively within policy limitations in the Balkans, and pursue arms control and counter-proliferation initiatives can help to maintain a strong NATO, if managed properly. An unfavorable trend is the increased tension between Greece and Turkey, which diminishes the cohesion and strength of the Alliance in its strategically important southeast corner. Alliance interests would be served by efforts to ameliorate relations between these two allies and promote their sense of security.

Economic Importance of Europe for the U.S.

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Encouraging European
Integration, Consistent with
Open Relations with the U.S.
and a Strong NATO

The U.S. has long supported European economic and political integration. With the January 1994 NATO Summit, the U.S. convinced the European allies that it fully and firmly supported both an ESDI that could be "separable but not separate" from NATO and the role of the WEU as embodying the European pillar of NATO. Concerned that if not managed correctly European integration could freeze out the U.S. and Canada and undercut NATO, the U.S. encourages European integration through a transparent process that permits continued close relations and collaboration between Europe and the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. supports establishment of an ESDI that is consistent with maintaining a strong NATO.

Close cooperation on security issues between NATO and the WEU, including transparency of planning and activity and reciprocal access to information on such issues as development of concepts for CJTF, will be critical.

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Maintaining Access to
Military Facilities in Europe
and the North Atlantic

About 70 percent of all the military sites used by U.S. forces in foreign territories are located in Europe and the North Atlantic. These facilities have played important roles supporting U.S. forces in Europe and operations outside Europe. For example, in the Persian Gulf War, 16 states in Europe provided en route staging support at 90 airfields as the buildup accelerated. More than 95 percent of flights to Southwest Asia were staged through Europe, consisting of about 2,200 tactical and 15,402 strategic airlift sorties. Additionally, tanker aircraft operated from ten airbases in seven European countries. Coalition forces operating from Turkey used NATO-developed bases there; bases in the U.K. and elsewhere supported B-52 bomber operations. More recently, bases and facilities in Europe have played indispensable roles in U.S. humanitarian and other peace operations in areas of the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Africa, and even the former Soviet Union.

As the U.S. reduces its forces in Europe, it has been reducing the number of facilities used there.

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Promoting Successful Reform
and Increased Security for
Central and Eastern Europe

It is in the U.S. interest to promote within Central and Eastern Europe democracy, market-based economies, and effective, defensively-oriented militaries responsible to duly-elected civilian governments. Democracies and defensively-oriented militaries tend not to fight each other, and market economies offer the best chance for prosperous and peaceful societies.

It is also in the U.S. interest to encourage countries of Central and Eastern Europe to pursue, as a way of improving security, increased bilateral and multilateral ties--a web of contacts extending to the U.S., other NATO members, and regional neighbors and institutions.

On balance, the trends are favorable, with the exception of developments in former Yugoslavia.

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Helping to Prevent, Contain,
and Resolve Ethnic Conflicts

The U.S. has an interest in helping to prevent, contain, and resolve conflicts in Europe, with particular emphasis now on ethnic quarrels which are most prevalent. Interests can best be served by early diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions before they erupt into violence; once lives are lost, it is far more difficult and costly to contain or stop a conflict.

Trends are generally favorable in both Western and Eastern Europe, with the notable exception of Bosnia.

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