Josef Joffe. Foreign Affairs. Volume 72, Issue 1. 1992.
The Return of History
Last year was not a good year for Europe, and the disease was renationalization—on cats’ feet in the West and on tank tracks in the East. History, it turned out, had not ended with the champagne party atop the breached Berlin Wall in November 1989, the reunification of Germany in October 1990 or the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. History in fact came back with a vengeance, and nowhere more fiercely than where it had been most suppressed: in the Soviet empire and in the artificial nation-state of Yugoslavia.
Nor was the return of history a mere accident. For 600 years European history has been written by states forming and reforming around the idea of the nation-state. In 1945 that saga suddenly ended. Two empires shouldered aside the notion of the nation-state—one formed voluntarily under American tutelage in the West, another held together in the Soviet grip in the East. But on December 25, 1991, the Red Flag was hauled down from the Kremlin, and the Soviet empire was no more. In the East, where nationality had been suppressed by an authoritarian regime and an alien universalist ideology, the end of the empire spelled the immediate rebirth of nation-states: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Farther south, in the Balkans, a multinational construction called Yugoslavia disintegrated loudly into a war that might yet spread to the entire region.
In the West the process was more subtle. To begin with, there had never really been an empire under an American flag; it was an American-sponsored community under U.S. protection whose members retained their sovereignty and much of their autonomy. But the community’s original and most powerful raison d’etre—the Soviet threat—faded in 1990 when Soviet power began to recede from central Europe; it vanished almost completely, at least for the time being, on the day the Soviet Union collapsed. As a result American power also began to recede—a decline manifested by its waning relevance in a post-Cold War era.
The passing of bipolarity brought momentous change in western Europe. Its most important repercussion was German reunification, and that was bound to have profound consequences for west European integration.
The End of Empire
So long as bipolarity remained intact, the war in Yugoslavia would not—could not—have erupted. The Cold War had frozen in time an artificial construction called the “Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia.” Its six republics and two autonomous provinces (Vojvodina and Kosovo) were squeezed together after World War II by a strong clamp that was bound to erode when the old order passed away. In the beginning this explosive concoction of warring tribes and nations (during World War II many more “Yugoslavs” were killed by each other than by Germans) was neutralized by Stalinist pressure. Building on the partisan myth and a nationalist version of communism (called “administrative socialism”), Yugoslavia became an armed camp, drawing legitimacy and cohesion from its neighboring nemesis, the Soviet Union.
Thereafter, until Marshall Tito’s death in 1980, Yugoslavia could find another national mission in that by-product of bipolarity known as the nonaligned movement. Virtually invented by Tito, nonalignment delivered an ideology (and ersatz nationalism) that contained the mortal tensions of the Yugoslav state. As a foreign policy it legitimized independence from the Soviet Union, bestowed a national identity on a nation that had none, and produced diplomatic and economic gains. With this anti-polar policy, Yugoslavia could derive profit and prestige from bipolarity; soon both East and West courted this maverick Stalinist regime, delivering aid and even arms.
Although Tito was of Slovenian-Croatian stock, Serbs had governed Yugoslavia since the end of World War II. The nation’s power center, Belgrade, was Serbia. Serbs dominated the officers’ corps, the bureaucracy and the secret police. In 1990, as the other republics began to strike out for national independence, the Serbs realized that they had nothing to gain from independence; rather they had everything to lose. Their brethren made up 30 percent of the population in Bosnia, 17 percent in Croatia, 55 percent in Vojvodina and 10 percent in Kosovo—an irredenta destined for oppression by the lesser races.
With the death of Tito and the demise of communism and the Cold War, there was nothing to hold the Federation of the South Slavs together. How could the Serbs maintain their dominance in a unified Yugoslavia? The Soviet threat was irrelevant in a world without the Soviet Union; non-alignment was pointless in a world no longer bipolar; and neocommunism was completely discredited after the economic collapse of eastern Europe and Russia. There was only one weapon left, one that the Serbs had in abundance: brute force. When Slovenia and Croatia absconded in the summer of 1991, the die was cast. If Serbia could not dominate all of Yugoslavia, then Greater Serbia was the second-best solution. In 1991 the Serbs carved out a large chunk of Croatia. When Bosnia-Herzegovina voted overwhelmingly for independence on February 29, 1992, Serbian irregulars and the Serbian-dominated federal army proceeded to extend the war into that republic. By the end of 1992 the war still raged, but about 70 percent of Bosnian territory was under Serbian control.
Western responses to the Balkan war—to “ethnic cleansing” and the relentless bombardment of Sarajevo—essentially mirrored the confused reaction to the Serbian invasion of Croatia in the preceding year. Lord Carrington, the European Community’s chief negotiator, resumed his peacemaking efforts and then resigned in favor of David Owen, who continued the task in hapless fashion. It was goodwill without the will to power. Although the United States and the EC recognized Bosnian independence on April 7, 1992, it was a formal act bereft of the practical consequences that would ensure independence and territorial integrity. On April 27 Serbia and its satellite, Montenegro, proclaimed a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. But in early May the EC countries and the United States executed no more than a feeble gesture of disapproval by recalling their ambassadors from Belgrade. And the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) proceeded to bar the new Yugoslavia from all discussions relating to the Balkan war. On May 27 the EC imposed a trade embargo on Serbia-Montenegro but essentially dumped the problem into the lap of the United Nations—right alongside the Croatian problem, all but disowned in the preceding year.
In the prelude to recognition of Croatia and Slovenia in early 1992, the EC had at first cast itself as the new guardian of European security by virtually waving the “Sinatra doctrine” in America’s face: “We’ll do it our way.” In fact it was the “old Europe” that bestrode the post-bipolar stage, with history returning in an absurd replay of yesteryear’s battles. As in World War I, Germany and Austria were arrayed on the side of Croatia and Slovenia, the old Habsburg possessions. On the other side stood the United States, Britain and France, implicitly supporting their old ally Serbia by upholding its claim for an intact Yugoslavia. The French were especially quick to spot a “Teutonic bloc” redivivus as they watched their German neighbors, the Austrians in tow, make a headlong, follow-us-or-else dash to recognize Croatia and Slovenia as independent states. As late as the summer of 1992, during the summit meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Munich, French President Francois Mitterrand was heard to reminisce: “I have not forgotten the historical ties between France and Serbia and the solidarity that bound them together in two world wars.”
These memories may have faded as the fury of the Serbian assault against Sarajevo and other Muslim holdouts increased. But the fact remains that the three key European powers—Britain, France and Germany—could agree only to value discretion over valor and to leave the action in the hands of the United Nations. (In the U.N. Security Council, both Britain and France supported U.N. resolution 770 that sanctions “all necessary means” to assure relief supplies for beleaguered Sarajevo.) Even as the United States at the end of the year offered to enforce the U.N.-mandated flight ban over Bosnia, its major allies hesitated. Though Britain and France had dispatched “Blue Helmets”—U.N. troops—to Bosnia in 1992, neither was keen on military action, least of all on deploying ground troops. The Germans could always point to their constitution, which allegedly prohibited any military action beyond self-defense and alliance defense. While Germany did dispatch a destroyer into the Adriatic to monitor the trade blockade against Serbia, the ship’s guns remained spiked.
Yet all of the great powers, whatever their sympathies and historical memories, were reluctant to commit military force to the Bosnian theater. Bosnia, thus the tacit premise, was not Kuwait; here there was a glaring absence of compelling strategic interests. In the annals of the modern state system it is hard to find instances of purely humanitarian intervention. In addition to the moral motive, three further conditions must be satisfied before committing forces. Is military action in the national interest? Is there a reasonable chance of success? Can the state muster the requisite domestic support?
In the Gulf War all four conditions were met. First, the invasion of Kuwait (like the bombardment of Sarajevo) struck a powerful moral chord in the West. Kuwait, a tiny defenseless neighbor, had been a threat to no one. And Saddam Hussein, the “Butcher of Baghdad,” was evil personified—an unusually ruthless tyrant who would even poison-gas his own citizens. Second, there were several compelling interests. With the oil reserves of Kuwait, Saddam might have acquired a commanding position in the market for oil—a major strategic resource. If he got away with his conquest, he might have ended up dominating the Middle East, a region of first-order strategic importance. Working furiously to produce long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, Saddam would have eventually posed a threat to countries outside the region. Third, there was a reasonable chance of success at an acceptable cost because Saddam’s rigid deployments and the open desert battlefield uniquely favored Western weapons and tactics. Fourth, given all of these conditions, it was possible—though still not easy—to persuade Western societies to support the war and to pay the costs.
In the Balkan case, only the first condition was unambiguously present: moral outrage. But statesmen cannot rely on outrage alone. When they command the youth of their countries to face death in battle, there must be compelling national interests to justify the sacrifice. In Bosnia the strategic argument was hard to make, unless it was clad in terms of remote consequences such as the possible spillover of the war into the larger region. There was no oil to be safeguarded, no nuclear-armed dictator to be stopped, no strategic balance to be restored. Nor did the Balkan war offer a reasonable chance of success at a reasonable price.
In the Persian Gulf, technology was on the side of the West, and so was the topography and the weather. Instead of an open desert, Bosnia offered clouds, mountains and forests. Nor were there tightly demarcated enemy deployments; the targets were artillery pieces that could be moved quickly and mortars that could be carried away in knapsacks. There was also the peculiar legacy of Tito’s defense planning for guerrilla war—a network of hidden and hardened depots, command posts and arms factories. Satellites would have trouble finding them; pinpoint strikes would not destroy them. On the ground, the problem was not neatly drawn battle lines but house-to-house fighting, guerrilla tactics and a large civilian population. In short, the situation was analogous not to the Persian Gulf but to Lebanon.
There was no quick and easy solution. Even an armed convoy to ferry relief supplies to Sarajevo overland was not a cheap proposition. Such a wagon train might have fed the hungry, but it could not have stopped the fighting. And to get through, Western forces would have to establish control over 180 miles of winding, mountainous road between the Adriatic and Sarajevo. In that setting, the saviors would have been sitting ducks. An effective relief force for Sarajevo would have required divisions, not regiments. They would have had to secure a corridor from the sea, ferret out the snipers, take the hills, occupy the approaches, and have plenty of mobile reserves for wide-ranging operations against hit-and-run attacks on an ever-expanding periphery.
But relief for Sarajevo was only one part of the military problem. There was still the rest of Bosnia, from Bihac, one of the last Muslim holdouts in the west, to Goradze in the east. Even after a limited intervention for humanitarian purposes, there would still be plenty of Serbs, Croats and Muslims willing to fight and trying to improve on or reverse the status quo. For Bosnia, a single safe harbor (as for the Kurds in northern Iraq) would not suffice. The entire country, or numerous little chunks, would have to be pacified, and at that point, divisions might turn into army corps. Even a “surgical strike” strategy like that used on Baghdad would not accomplish much. A few squadrons of Western aircraft could surely pin down the Yugoslav federal air force and wreak havoc on Serbia’s infrastructure. But that would not necessarily stop the bloodshed micromanaged by local warlords amply supplied with AK-47s and mortars.
The purpose of intervention would not be to break the will of a single power center or to drive out a foreign invader but “to pacify a non-country that has collapsed into tribal warfare.”(3) And for that purpose, massive firepower delivered cheaply by air would be like using a jackhammer for the task of a dental drill. Firepower would make the rubble bounce but not rearrange the ethnic pieces in the nation’s multiethnic puzzle, which is why both the Americans and the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon. Perhaps the slaughter might have been stopped for awhile. But Serbs, Croats and Muslims would still be there afterwards, full of hatred and lusting for revenge.
In 1992 the question was: If we go in, how and when do we get out? From Paris to London, from Bonn to Rome, the unspoken answer was: in the absence of compelling interest and without the chance of a quick and easy success, we will not intervene, even though this war ought to be our war—it is not in a “faraway country of which we know little,” but lies on western Europe’s doorstep. By year’s end the new Europe, so confident about mastering its own future in early 1992, had proven unable to coalesce around a single purpose. Only the reintrusion of the United States in late December narrowed the leadership gap. With a reluctant Britain in tow, the Bush administration decided to ask the Security Council for a mandate that would sanction the use of force to uphold the flight ban over Bosnia.
The real test may come soon in Kosovo. A region of historical importance to Serbians, Kosovo is now home to 1.6 million Muslim Albanians (nearly 90 percent of its total population). President Slobodan Milosevic won late December’s elections by whipping Serbs into a nationalist frenzy over Kosovo and Bosnia. Emboldened by his victory Milosevic then ousted Prime Minister Milan Panic, the moderate who had run against him for the presidency of Serbia. Alarmed by these trends, President Bush wrote to Milosevic that “in the event of conflict in Kosovo caused by Serbian action, the United States will be prepared to employ military force against the Serbians in Kosovo and Serbia proper.”
In Bosnia leaders of the five warring factions met in early January 1993 to discuss a proposal to redraw the republic into ten provinces. Sponsored by U.N. envoy Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen of the EC, the proposal envisages three cantons in which Muslims would predominate, one in which ethnic Serbs would be the majority, and five in which power would be shared by Muslims, Croats and Serbs; Sarajevo would remain an open city. Under the proposal, Serbian and Croatian forces would withdraw to their specific provinces. The U.N. ban on military flights would remain in force.
The Nation-State: Alive and Well
Nationalism’s brutal and bloody return in the East was contrasted by its soft-footed, almost inaudible return in the West. In 1991 the EC had committed itself to a breathtaking integrationist venture—the Maastricht treaty. The key goal of the 250-page “constitution” was monetary union by the end of the decade, plus a common foreign and security policy. This was to be the last step before political union. Yet western Europe stumbled badly in 1992 as its major countries hearkened not to the call of Brussels but to the clamor of their own individual national interests.
Monetary union was a qualitative jump, the likes of which the annals of European integration had not seen in 40 years. (The exception was the European Defense Community, conceived in 1952 and stillborn in 1954.) Hence, it should not have come as a surprise that the Maastricht treaty was in trouble even before it was completely ratified. In the referendum countries, Denmark voted no and Ireland yes in June; in France, there was but a tiny majority for ratification in September. By year’s end, Britain’s Parliament had said neither yes nor no, and in December, the German Bundestag said both, as it were. Though the treaty was ratified by an overwhelming majority of the deputies, they added a crucial proviso. They would vote again, if and when the day came, on the “finality” of European monetary union. That was a yes without consequence where it mattered most: monetary integration.
Yet the most serious problems of 1992 lay dormant elsewhere, and they erupted with volcanic force on Wednesday night, September 16. Within 24 hours the value of the Italian lira as measured against the Deutsche mark plummeted by ten percent; the British pound dropped nine percent and the Spanish peseta lost eight percent. Italy and Britain left the European Monetary System without committing themselves to a return date; all three currencies as well as the Portuguese escudo were officially devalued. In a desperate attempt to defend their currency, the British threw more than ten million pounds’ worth of foreign exchange into the fray, one third of their total reserves. Nor did the currency war ever fully abate. Before the year was over, Norway and Sweden had also devalued their currencies, and the French managed only barely to hold their monetary Maginot Line.
One moral of the story was that Maastricht as a monetary union was dead—or at least comatose—before the treaty had even entered into force. Founded in 1979 to cushion western Europe’s currencies against the gyrations of the dollar, the European Monetary System was to be a European Monetary Union. Indeed, if all member currencies had remained bound by the straitjacket of EMS, then EMU would have been no more than a formality. Fixed parities maintained over many years would have signaled to each and all that the conditions for EMU were safely in place. Stable intra-European exchange rates would have been proof that each member country had been obeying the same monetary and fiscal rules. None would run a larger deficit than the rest, each would be in a similar current-account position, all would have comparable interest and inflation rates. Fixed exchange rates would have come about naturally, and none would have to chafe under the EMS straitjacket. Western Europe would have enjoyed monetary union in all but name.
So much for the theory. In fact EMS “worked” only as long as it did not really work. From 1979-87, realignments were routine; the system held because the straitjacket was actually a loose-fitting shift. In other words, nations continued to follow their own monetary and fiscal policies, devaluing rather than submitting to the harsh discipline required by the EMS. But in 1987 the straitjacket suddenly tightened and realignment stopped. It was like putting a bomb at the heart of the mechanism with only the fuse missing. The fuse was inserted on July 16, 1992, when the mighty Bundesbank—the German central bank—raised its two key interest rates once more. German short-term rates were now almost three times higher than in 1988, just below the British and French rates of ten percent. The handwriting was on the wall and it spelled, “Buy Deutsche marks now!” because German revaluation was all but inevitable. When Bundesbank President Helmut Schlesinger dropped a few incautious words in mid-September, the fuse was lit and the bomb exploded. By the end of 1992 the shock waves of September were still traveling through western Europe’s money markets.
Why did it all happen? Like the first Weltkrieg, the first Geldkrieg was a war nobody wanted. But in each case, one underlying cause was German power that unhinged the European equilibrium. Ironically, in each case, German unification lay at the beginning of the causal chain. After 1871 a unified and dynamic Germany elbowed its way to the table of the great powers, threatening to overturn the equilibrium willy-nilly simply because of what it had (economic clout) and where it was situated (at the fulcrum of Europe’s power balance). After reunification in 1990 the problem was not German dreadnoughts or Wilhelmine hubris, but German monetary dominance. What unhinged Europe this time was the gargantuan costs of the benign takeover of the bankrupt G.D.R. by Bonn, Inc.
The Bundesbank did not want to rout the Italian lira or the British sterling. It was just following orders, so to speak, as it watched the Kohl government pay for an annual reunification bill of about 180 billion Deutsche marks ($120 billion) with borrowed capital rather than by raising taxes or cutting spending. (In 1992 the German federal debt grew by 170 billion Deutsche marks—$110 billion.) As inflation grew along with the money supply, the Bundesbank, charged by law with defending the “stability of the currency,” jacked up interest rates point by point until that final fateful increase in July that put the bomb’s fuse into place. As a result of September’s explosion, the EMS was blown wide open—and with it, the Maastricht dream of monetary union. To exaggerate, in 1992 European integration fell victim to German reunification, which, in itself, was the most momentous consequence of bipolarity’s demise.
In a system ready for EMU, Germany would have behaved differently. According to the EMS’s implicit premise, Germany would have continued to play the monetary martinet. In this scenario Germany would impose on itself the fiscal and monetary discipline it once meted out to others by yanking the chain of its almighty currency. Yet with reunification, the system’s avenger became its greatest sinner: borrowing madly and running up Reaganesque deficits. A weaker player would have been forced into devaluation or fiscal probity. But given Germany’s enormous economic clout, Bonn could evade these penalties and spread the costs of unity across western Europe. Just as the United States, the kingpin of the Bretton Woods system, could finance the Vietnam War by passing out overvalued dollars, Germany could collect much-needed reunification capital with sky-high interest rates.
In doing so, Germany laid bare the distance Europe would still have to travel on the road to monetary and political union. In the crunch the nation was more important than the continent. Like any democratic leader, Chancellor Helmut Kohl was loath to finance by taxes and spending cuts what could be accomplished more comfortably (at least for now) by borrowing. And the reason was an all too familiar one in the annals of interstate politics. Governments do not win elections in Brussels, but at home. Their fate is determined by national rates of interest, inflation and unemployment—not by the flowering of international institutions. Integrationist virtue or the welfare of other nations (recession-bound Britain and France were aching under the Bundesbank diktat) takes a back seat when national leaders have to ensure their survival in power and social peace at home.
The Guns of September destroyed more than the EMS. They also demolished the flawed premise of Maastricht, which portrayed monetary union as the last step before political union. That was a typical instance of putting the cart before the horse. Political union (that is, a common political will) must precede monetary union. Unless all member governments follow the same fiscal and monetary rules at home, unless they behave as one, monetary union will remain a will o’ the wisp. In fact the governments of sovereign states never behave as one; in the crunch, they will follow their own, and not the communal, interest.
This fact was nicely dramatized by yet another intra-Community war. After six years of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations, the EC had finally reached an oilseed compromise with the United States (which would reduce the subsidies paid to European soybean and grape growers). The French government, however, was facing national elections in March 1993, so it did not matter that France had been outvoted in the EC council. What did matter were French peasants who stood ready for yet another storm on the Bastille. As a result, France blithely ignored the EC’s qualified-majority decision-making rule, the mainstay of the Community’s supranationalism. Instead, the French government vowed to impose its veto “in all stages of the process.” The French message in December was: our peasants are more important than Europe. This was en francais what the key members of the EC had been saying throughout 1992—that the nation-state, far from ready to abdicate, was alive and well in Europe.
Safeguarding EC Accomplishments
Last year was not a good year for Europe in many ways, but for only one reason: the end of the Cold War and bipolarity. In the East, history returned in the guise of long-suppressed nationalities. Liberated from the fetters of the old order, Czechoslovakia divorced peacefully in 1992, as had (for the time being) the European parts of the Soviet Union in 1990 and 1991. But in Yugoslavia divorce was “nasty, brutish and prolonged,” to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes. In western Europe the demise of the ancien regime had more roundabout consequences. For Germany it spelled the freedom to reunify, the return to full sovereignty, and the escape from the dependencies that had turned West Germany into a paragon of Europeanist virtue. If the economics of reunification translated into an astronomical bill, Germany’s new freedom reduced the necessity for paying close attention to its Europe-wide impact. As a result reunification was indirectly responsible for the coma inflicted on monetary union as a prologue to political union, Europe’s grandest dream yet.
Will the upheavals of 1992 prove to be no more than a passing storm, followed by yet another relance that, in the past, regularly propelled integration from a calamity to greater community? Perhaps. But at the end of 1992 western Europe had to worry not about spillover, but spill-back—about protecting yesterday’s EC accomplishments. In that realm, too, the end of the Cold War appeared as an unwanted accomplice of trouble.
The fall of the Iron Curtain plus post-bipolar war has set armies of people in motion that are breaching national borders more easily than did the tank divisions of yesteryear. Next to fear of economic decline, xenophobia proved to be the strongest obsession in Europe in 1992, nowhere more so than in Germany. In 1992 Germany absorbed close to one million foreigners—450,000 asylum seekers, 250,000 refugees from the former Yugoslavia, and 250,000 “ethnic Germans” from the east.
Whether this “migratory assault” was the cause of rising neo-Nazism, antisemitism and violence is a debatable proposition. But the statistics tell a sorry tale: 18,000 incidents ranging from the public display of Nazi symbols to the desecration of Jewish graves, to firebombing and murder, increased 70 percent over 1991. Subtracting the more symbolic expressions of volkish sentiments still leaves a tally of 2,000 assaults and 17 dead. By the end of the year, though, the good news began to displace the bad. As the citizens of Germany’s large cities turned out by the hundreds of thousands to demonstrate against hatred and violence, the Bonn government finally set the repressive machinery in motion that had been honed in a 20-year struggle against left-wing terrorism. As public opinion turned against right-wing extremism, firebombers were quickly caught, and several neo-Nazi organizations were banned.
Still, ethnicity became a critical factor in west European politics in 1992—although not, to be sure, in the ways of the Balkans with “ethnic cleansing” and carnage running rampant. The response to mass migration was rather “socio-isolationism,” and its message was clear: keep foreigners out, send them back, leave us alone in our homogeneous societies with their high wage and welfare levels. Though directed against Romanians, gypsies and sundry Third World immigrants, the fallout of socio-isolationism does not bode well for European unity.
Already “Schengenland,” the agreement by which ten of the 12 EC states have pledged to abolish intra-EC border controls, is virtually a dead letter. The compact remains unratified because the fear of uncontrolled immigration has got the better of integrationist intentions. In December the vision of unfettered intra-EC movement received another blow when Germany decided to change its asylum law. This move, in turn, will not improve the chances of the Single Market, inaugurated on January 1, 1993. One pillar of the Single Market is the freedom of movement for people inside the Community. But Germany’s new asylum concept proclaims that none shall be deemed worthy of asylum who tries to enter Germany by land. The logic is as follows: whoever travels by land was previously in a country—whether it be Denmark, Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia or Poland—where there is no political persecution. Ergo he or she was safe to begin with, ergo he or she will be turned back or deported. Evidently this idea will require more, rather than fewer, border controls, and there goes “Schengenland” and one pillar of the Single Market. Moreover, as the burden of migration is transferred from Germany to its neighbors, European harmony is not likely to flourish.
Caught Between Two Worlds
In 1992 Europe was caught in the clash between two opposing forces: the logic of economics and interdependence that spells community, and the logic of ethnicity and nationality that demands separation. On balance the forces of separation carried the day in 1992, as witnessed by the peaceful divorce of Czechs and Slovaks, the bloody struggle for turf and “ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans, the shake-up of the EMS, the nonratification of the Maastricht treaty, and the tightening rather than the leveling of intra-EC borders.
In the security field, the nine-member European organization of the West European Union remained a sleeping beauty that continues to resist the rousing kisses of innumerable princes. The Franco-German “Eurocorps,” put on paper on May 22, remains the object of suspicion among those Europeans who prefer an Atlantic rather than a purely European defense. And the CSCE proved unable to bring either security or cooperation to the Balkans; it looks destined for the oblivion that befell the League of Nations in 1936 when it could not reverse Italian aggression against Abyssinia. Ironically, the only security institution that emerged halfway intact from the Cold War is NATO, the Euro-American compact designed to resist the Soviet threat. It acquitted itself well (though informally) in the Gulf War, and it alone seems ready to act under American leadership in Bosnia if the United Nations so mandates.
For the rest of the 1990s, the end of bipolarity and the Cold War will surely continue to bedevil Europe. And so there is more to the failures and fracases of 1992 than sheer accident. Bipolarity was a system of order and unity—either voluntary or coercive. With its demise Europe’s nations and nationalities were liberated from past constraints and dependencies. They are now freer to follow their own needs than at any time since 1945. Hence it is not a safe bet that the logic of unity and interdependence will prevail.