The Case for `CSCE'

AT the Washington summit, George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev must face up to one simple truism: The construction of the new Europe will fail if it becomes a zero-sum game for the superpowers. President Bush has balked at giving the 35-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) any significant security content. He acknowledges that the CSCE must help shape Europe's future. But he wants to limit its role to helping build free societies and promoting political dialogue. Any strengthening of the CSCE, Bush has declared, must serve ``to reinforce NATO.''

Similarly, President Gorbachev seems intent on retrenching the Soviet military presence in East Europe until the fate of a reunified Germany becomes clearer. If his old ally, East Germany, folds into the military alliance of NATO, Gorbachev wants to cover his back side.

There is a way out of this dilemma if Bush and Gorbachev try hard to discover it. Bush should take the lead by first recognizing that NATO cannot be adapted to deal with the entire range of emerging security problems in Europe. Europe's new security issues - reemergent nationalism, ethnic unrest, border disputes, and environmental devastation - can neither be met through present arrangements nor wait for grand designs to be realized.

Rather than dragging its feet, the administration should propose that the fall CSCE summit begin negotiations on a limited treaty regime to address these problems. Preparations for launching this initiative should be made a primary item on the agenda of the NATO heads of state when they meet in July.

Investing CSCE with security functions would not devalue or undermine NATO and the US presence in Europe but would strengthen both. It would give the CSCE a modest institutional identity without forcing governments to quickly determine the CSCE's ultimate role and structure. The new regime would test the possibilities for cooperative security management without prematurely dismantling existing security structures. It would bind the US into the European security system in a way NATO can't.

A new ``Treaty on Security in Europe,'' subscribed to by all of the nations that signed the CSCE Final Act, is a start. Europe needs a military framework that arms control agreements and alliances alone can't provide. A new Council on Military Cooperation would serve as a forum to oversee implementation and verification, and diffuse and settle disputes. The council would establish a small European multinational peacekeeping force to intercede between ethnic groups, patrol national borders and frontiers, and contain armed conflicts.

European governments now recognize that large-scale pollution and degradation of the environment pose a grave risk to their security. The new treaty should create a Council on Environmental Cooperation where governments would cooperate to establish and comply with standards of environmental quality in Europe, including air quality indexes, water purity tests, and so on. This second council would act as a forum where parties coordinate the creation of national laws and environmental treaties. It also would serve in managing environmental emergencies and disasters.

Ethnic unrest already poses a threat to European security. Under the treaty a new Council on Ethnic Affairs would provide a forum in which representatives of ethnic groups and governments could discuss disputes and arbitrate agreements. Governments could negotiate bilateral or multilateral treaties on ethnic concerns. In the event of cross-border conflict arising from unrest, the Council on Military Cooperation would work jointly with the Council on Ethnic Affairs.

The principles on security and human rights embodied in the CSCE Final Act will form the core of any future European system. If the US continues to act as a brake on CSCE's evolution, the Bush administration will undermine existing levels of European support for NATO. Prospects for CSCE should facilitate the two-plus-four talks on German reunification. It would go a long way to meeting both the Soviet Union's desire for a guarantee that Germany can never again threaten its security interests and Germany's need to avoid any unique status in the new order.

Limits on the size of the German armed forces would follow criteria applied to all nations in Europe. A reunified Germany can be a member of both NATO and the CSCE security regime.

The West needs the transformations underway in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to succeed. The very existence of a new security regime may forestall conditions it is designed to control by giving governments in East Europe and the Soviet Union a stake in the regime's success.

Until the future of the USSR and its military threat are clear, NATO will remain the West's response to security concerns. But if the transformations underway in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe prove successful, a new security regime would provide a basis for moving toward a bold new architecture that displaces classical alliance structures with cooperative management of security concerns. If reforms in the East fail, the regime would provide the West an important tool for coping with Central European instability and the resulting threats to Western security.

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