Grey-area Systems and European Security

  • Hans Gunter Brauch


For several years the state of East-West détente and especially of the central American-Soviet relationship has never been more uncertain than in early 1980. Two events highlighted the gradual return to competitive and confrontative patterns of the cold war:
  1. (i)

    the decision by NATO countries of 12 December 1979, both to modernise its theatre nuclear forces (‘grey-area systems’) in Europe and to enter into parallel arms control negotiations;

  2. (ii)

    the Soviet intervention into Afghanistan a fortnight later.

Has the decade of détente, of strategic arms control (SALT) and the multilateral phase of East-West negotiations on European security (M(B)FR, CSCE) come to an abrupt standstill? Will Europe return to a new period of remilitarisation and of ideological demarcation? Will the concern for domestic reform and global economic readjustment (new international economic order) be replaced by a period of intense political and military confrontation for scarce commodities, raw materials and markets? Will Europe provide the scene for a new Euro-nuclear arms race that will enhance the decoupling from the American nuclear umbrella and that will increase the probability of a local Euro-nuclear war? Or will Europe gradually return — after an icy intermission — to a new era of military détente marked by real arms reductions and limitations of offensive military options?


Nuclear Weapon Ballistic Missile European Security Cruise Missile Nuclear Warhead 
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© William Gutteridge 1982

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  • Hans Gunter Brauch

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