Two games are being played in Europe today. The first focuses on the extreme threat of large-scale Russian attack. The positioning for this game is mainly shaping up in the upcoming European arms control talks to be held in Vienna. Counts of tanks and artillery are being toted up for proposals by NATO and the Warsaw Pact about levels of possible force reduction. This is the game that largely dominates American thinking about long-term security in Europe.
The second game is economic in character, but is every bit as relevant to security as the first one. This economic game is rarely considered in the United States, but is likely the one of paramount interest in Moscow because it can secure Western capital and technology for Russia.
Recent events reveal some features of this second game:
The Soviet Union went to the public bond market recently, for the first time since 1917. A Moscow bank raised $80 million through a Swiss bank controlled by West German financial institutions. This first venture into European public bond markets through Switzerland was significant because of the traditionally conservative practices found there. If Moscow can raise $80 million in Switzerland, it can get a lot more elsewhere.
The European Common Market and the Moscow-led Committee on Mutual Economic Cooperation, COMECON, are exploring expanded economic and even political linkages, possibly leading to diplomatic recognition between the two groups.
The Airbus airplane program, a consortium of four European countries, is launching a sales drive in Eastern Europe. This would necessitate easing of the Western alliance's rules for exporting sensitive technology to the East. In addition, export subsidies also are involved because Airbus is a state-funded enterprise.
Franz Joseph Strauss, the conservative Bavarian leader, recently visited Moscow and discussed extensive opening of trade and investment from the West to the East, something the more centrist West German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher has been proposing for some time.
Despite these developments, U.S. strategy in Europe seems driven exclusively by the upcoming arms control talks there, with all of the intricate focus on the ratios of tanks and artillery cuts and specialists and jargon associated with this. A wall exists between military and economic policy formation, and the United States is ill prepared to deal effectively in the two games simultaneously. This is particularly unfortunate because they are intimately related.
Greater West European trade, investments and financial dealings with the East can be seen in terms of their opportunity cost to the Soviets. If Moscow doesn't have to support Eastern Europe and can obtain capital and technology from Western Europe, this frees up resources, either for military ends or for modernizing the Soviet economy. American attempts to restrain these flows in the new political environment are unlikely to be successful, but more important, an attempt to block them would take on the appearance of the United States setting preconditions for the stationing of our forces in Europe. Such preconditions are exactly the kind of thing that could drive a wedge between the United States and its allies, as the attempted sanctions against the Soviet gas line in 1982 showed.
On the other hand, this economic game can directly affect exactly the kind of thing that our arms control talks are trying to get a handle on: strategic stability in Europe. Greater trade and investment with Eastern Europe could loosen Soviet hegemony there, increasing ties to the West. It would certainly lessen the already low interest among these states for cooperating in any unlikely Soviet adventure westward. Greater economic and financial ties between Eastern Europe and the West could make East European and Russian goals even less congruent than they already are, something that would reduce confidence in the success of a military attack. That is, if Moscow could not count on the reliability of Pact states in a crisis, this could be a benefit to the West easily worth 30 or more divisions.
The United States has an intrinsic interest in stability in Eastern Europe and in making sure that Moscow does not have a completely free hand there. In addition, increased trade and finance appear likely consequences of current developments regardless of our opinion about their desirability. Nonetheless, important issues emerge in this game. Different people will offer different views, and that is to be expected. However, we have to be in both games to make a difference, and an exclusively military focus on security and arms control in Europe leads to a radically incomplete picture of developments there. Both Russia and our allies are involved in the two games and appear to have well-defined long-term plans, whereas the United States still conceives of security in military terms alone.
A broader conceptualization of our interests in Europe would integrate these economic dimensions into our security policy. Deterrence can be increased both by reducing the number of Soviet divisions and by increasing the divergence of strategic interests between Moscow and Eastern Europe. Unless a broader, more integrated approach to security and arms control policy develops, one that transcends bean counts of weapons, the United States is in danger of becoming an irrelevant player in the more likely developments in European security.
The writer is professor of public policy and political science at Yale University.