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NATO after the Cold War, 1991–1995: Institutional Competition and the Collapse of the French Alternative

  • Kori Schake


With the end of the Cold War, opportunities long foreclosed to Europe came back into view on the horizon. The prospect of Western Europe providing for its own security became a realistic proposition for the first time in fifty years. The French government developed a strategy for replacing US power with a more cohesive European Union security and defence identity which garnered substantial support from other European NATO countries, especially Germany, resulting in an intensive four-year competition over which institution would form the basis of Europe's security and defence capabilities. By the end of 1995, NATO had decisively won this contest, due to rapid reconfiguration of NATO's military structures and the test for both organisations of responding to Yugoslavia's collapse. In the final analysis, it was the military capability of NATO that defeated the French alternative security structure. This article tells the story of that evolution.



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1 The Military Balance, 1991–1992 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies), and The Military Balance, 1993–1994 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies).

2 Howard, Michael, ‘Europe's Phony Warlords’, The Times, 29 July 1992.

3 An excellent account of national positions taken during NATO strategy discussions is contained in de Wijk, Rob, NATO On the Brink of a New Millennium (London: Brassey's, 1997), 24–8.

4 Luxembourg Prime Minister Jacques Poos, quoted in Grant, Charles, Strength in Numbers: Europe's Foreign and Defence Policy (London: Centre for European Reform, 1997), 7.

5 For example, French Chief of Defence Admiral Jacques Lanxade was recalled to Paris from the spring 1994 NATO Military Committee (MC/CS) meeting by President Mitterrand, who disapproved of such close coordination with NATO's integrated command.

6 Zelikow, Philip and Rice, Condoleezza, Germany Unified, Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).

7 While this account focuses on France, it is important to note that several other European governments, including Margaret Thatcher's Britain, were concerned about the effects of German unification and believed it should proceed slowly.

8 Moens, Alexander, ‘American Diplomacy and German Unification’, Survival, Vol. XXXIII, no. 8 (1991), 540.

9 Speech by Secretary of State James Baker, Berlin Press Club, 12 December 1989.

10 General George L. Butler, former Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, US Joint Staff, personal interview, 9 September 1997.

11 Bozo, Frédéric, ‘France’, in Brenner, Michael, ed., NATO and Collective Security (London: Macmillan, 1997), 41.

12 NATO's Core Security Functions in the New Europe, NAC Communiqué, 7 June 1991.

13 Final Communiqué, Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Oslo, 4 June 1992, para 2; the ‘Dobbins Démarche’ (also referred to as the Bartholomew démarche, depending on which messenger delivered the news) has not been publicly released, but an accurate summary of it is given in Moens, Alexander, ‘Behind Complimentarity and Transparency: The Politics of the European Security and Defence Identity’, Revue d'Integration européenne/Journal of European Integration, Vol. XVI (1992), 40–1.

14 North Atlantic Council (Heads of State and Government) London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance, 5–6 July 1990.

15 Brown, Colonel K. C., former SACEUR Liaison Officer to the Joint Staff, personal interview, 3 June 1997.

16 Defence Planning Committee, Final Communiqué, October 1991.

17 After the announcement, Robert Zoellick, the Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department and a central participant in the Two Plus Four talks, wrote to his German counterpart expressing disapproval in nearly the same terms as the Dobbins demarche, but with the added flavour of Germany disappointing the only ally that had wholeheartedly supported unification. Dr. Gerd Wagner, personal interview, 24 May 1997.

18 General Powell, Colin L., former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, personal interview, 4 June 1997.

19 The announcement was not a total surprise in Washington; the National Security Council had been consulted and did not object to the proposal. However, neither the State Department nor Defense Department were consulted.

20 French Ambassador Robin, Gabriel, ‘Letter to the Editor’, Survival, Vol. XXXVIII (1996).

21 Work Plan for Dialogue, Partnership and Cooperation, North Atlantic Cooperation Council meeting, 10 March 1992, para. 3.

22 The Alliance's New Strategic Concept, NATO Heads of State and Government, 7 November 1991, para. 40.

23 Wörner, Manfred, ‘NATO Transformed: The Significance of the Rome Summit’, NATO Review, No. 2, Vol. ILIII (1995), 10.

24 The Alliance's New Strategic Concept, NATO Heads of State and Government, 7 November 1991, para. 47.

25 The Soviet Union disbanded only a month after the Rome summit, on 8 December 1991.

26 See de Wijk, , NATO on the Brink of the New Millennium, 27.

27 General Galvin, John, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, ‘From Immediate Defense Towards Long-Term StabilityNATO Review, Vol. ILIX, no. 6 (1991), 15.

28 NATO Background Paper on MC 400, Military Implementation of the Alliance Strategic Concept’ (Brussels: NATO Information Service, 12 December 1991).

29 General Eide, Vigleik, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, ‘The Military Dimension in the Transformed Alliance’, NATO Review, Vol. IL, no. 4 (1992), 22.

30 Defense Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group Final Communiqué, 27 May 1992.

31 The agreement was signed by General Shalikashvili, General Naumann, and Admiral Lanxade on 18 December 1992.

32 Defence Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group Final Communiqué, 27 May 1992, para 6.

33 North Atlantic Council (Ministerial Meeting), Final Communiqué, Oslo, 4 June 1992; Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Helsinki Summit Declaration, 8 July 1992.

34 Western European Union Council of Ministers, Petersberg Declaration (Bonn: 19 June 1992).

35 Press Communiqué, Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Athens, Greece, 10 June 1993; Statement Issued at the Meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in Athens, Greece, 11 June 1993; Report to Ministers by NACC Ad Hoc Group on Cooperation in Peacekeeping, 11 June 1993.

36 MC 327, ‘Military Planning Document for NATO Support to Peacekeeping’, detailed in de Wijk, NATO on the Brink of the New Millennium, 59–63.

37 Goldgeier, Jim, ‘Anatomy of a Decision’, The Washington Quarterly (Winter 1998).

38 US Secretary of Defence Les Aspin, press conference, Travemünde(Germany),October 1993.

39 Major-General Lange, Gunnar, ‘The PCC – A New Player in the Development of Relations Between NATO and Partner NationsNATO Review, Vol. ILIII, no. 3 (1995).

40 North Atlantic Cooperation Council, Work Plan for Dialogue, Partnership and Cooperation 1993 (Brussels: NATO Information Service, 18 December 1992).

41 General John Shalikashvili, personal interview, 5 June 1997; while virtually every participant in the US interagency process claims to have developed the Partnership for Peace, General Shalikashvili is generally acknowledged as the initiator of the CJTF proposal.

42 Bozo, ‘France’, 50.

43 Report on the Partnership for Peace, Department of Defence, January 1998.

44 General SirMackenzie, Jeremy, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, personal interview.

45 The current US force consists of ten active duty Army divisions and three active Marine Corps divisions.

46 Brigadier-General Robert Glacel, Assistant SHAPE Chief of Staff for Force Planning, personal interview, 26 March 1997.

47 Berlin Ministerial Meeting, December 1995.

48 General John Shalikashvili, personal interview, 5 June 1997.

49 For a more thorough examination of the problems with the UN intervention in the former Yugoslavia, see Schake, Kori, ‘The Collapse of Yugoslavia’, in von Lipsey, Roderick, ed., Breaking the Cycle: A Framework for Conflict Intervention (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997).

50 An outline of the various Vance-Owen proposals is detailed in Owen, David, Balkan Odyssey (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1995).

51 French ambassador to NATO Jacques Blot, comment in a North Atlantic Council meeting on NATO plans for Bosnia.

52 Vice-Admiral Norm Ray, NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Defence Support, personal interview, 20 October 1997.

53 United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Letter to NATO Secretary-General Manfred Wörner, 14 December 1992.

54 See de Wijk, , NATO On the Brink of the New Millenium, 110–11.

55 The CSCE was renamed thus in 1994, after some restructuring and expansion of its areas of competence.

56 US Department of State, ‘Summary of Dayton Peace Agreement’, 21 November 1995.

57 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, ‘IFOR Fact Sheet’ (NATO Integrated Data System), 16 February 1996; ‘Second Report to the Security Council on the Operations of the Multinational Implementation Force (IFOR)’, 18 January 1996.

58 Vice-Admiral Norman Ray, Assistant Secretary-General for Defence Support, personal interview, 20 October 1997.

59 Field Marshal the Lord Vincent, personal interview, 4 August 1997.

60 General Klaus Naumann, personal interview, 20 October 1997.

61 North Atlantic Council (Ministerial Meeting), Final Communiqué, Berlin, 6 June 1996.

62 Drozdiak, William, ‘U.S., Europe Face NATO Burden-Sharing Debate’, Washington Post, 16 December 1997.

63 The Rally of the French Right’, The Economist, 7 02 1998, 51.

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Contemporary European History
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  • EISSN: 1469-2171
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