The Political Spectrum: Parliamentary Opinion in NATO Countries
NATO’s nuclear weapons have always played a political as well as a military role, and it now seems to be generally agreed that during the four decades of the Alliance’s existence the former has come increasingly to predominate over the latter. In Chapter 4 we looked at what were mainly military arguments for and against the modernization programme. Here we turn to consider the political dimension. Is the further modernization of these weapons likely to cement Alliance unity, or to put it under greater strain? Heroic efforts have been made to preserve the tradition of unanimity and consensus on which NATO’s effectiveness has always been seen to rest, notably at the Brussels summit of Heads of State in March 1988. Communiqués issued after the summit reaffirmed all the principles of 1949, 1967 and 1979 described in Chapter 2. And yet most commentators agree that beneath this show of ‘business as usual’, fundamental questions are now being asked.1 Nor is this surprising. Political structures are not immune to change, and, on top of the tremendous challenges of the 1970s and early 1980s, have come severe budgetary constraints, demographic problems, particularly in West Germany, and of course the transformation that seems to be under way in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. A new post-Yalta generation is moving into top leadership positions in the East as well as in the West.
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Foreign Minister Labour Party Political Spectrum Modernization Programme
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