This chapter deals with Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, as well as the North Atlantic Alliance, to which the U.S. and Canada belong. The chapter's coverage extends to the Baltic States and Turkey. Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet Eurasian states are addressed in Chapter 4. Dividing the Eurasian area into separate chapters may tend to restrict discussion of broad issues such as those dealt with by the 53 states in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), but it breaks up what would otherwise be an inordinately long chapter.
Significant changes are underway in Europe and NATO; some changes predate the end of the Cold War but many flow from its termination. The perceived threat of a massive Soviet military attack has been replaced by new challenges from turmoil in the East and the South. Allies are discussing a new trans-Atlantic relationship reflecting a reduced U.S. military presence in Europe and an enhanced European pillar. Western Europe is increasingly integrating, and Central and East European states are pressing for integration with the West.
Differences in security perspectives have emerged. Northern and Central European states tend to focus primarily on the threat of instability in the East, while Mediterranean states worry more about developments to the south. States in Central and Eastern Europe seek security assurances from the West, primarily out of concern about actual and potential developments in Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union. Conflict in the Balkans raises the specter of European national conflicts so familiar in the past.
There is a range of perceptions of the situation in Europe. Some optimistically see Europe as the wealthiest, most progressive, cooperative, and secure region in the world. They see no real threat to Europe and believe that NATO no longer has a mission and will or should fade away.
Other analysts are relatively pessimistic. They point to the difficulties in achieving European unity. They emphasize continuing economic problems in Western Europe, such as low economic growth and high unemployment, which adversely affect relations among European Union (EU) states, limit assistance to the East, and increase pressure for reductions in defense budgets and forces. They perceive a lack of leadership within Europe itself and fear the U.S. is no longer as interested or willing to lead the Alliance. They point to a number of problems within individual countries and in their bilateral and multilateral relations, often focusing on the roles of Germany and France. They see the continuing conflict in the former Yugoslavia as calling into question the credibility of the EU and NATO and fear ethnic conflict may spread.
The analysis in this chapter acknowledges the difficulties faced in Europe but is relatively bullish on the ability of institutions such as NATO, the EU, the Western European Union (WEU), and the CSCE to address the problems successfully. This web of security-related institutions with overlapping memberships is increasingly reaching out to states in the East as well as to European states formerly viewed as "neutral."