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Umbrella or hara-kiri ? – US nuclear presence in Europe

Contradictions n°128 (Paix et désarmement) - 09 octobre, 2009
Analyse and essay
Hajnalka Vincze

All too often, it is tempting to equate American nuclear presence in Europe to its sole tangible dimension. Namely the stationing of hundreds of U.S. bombs in five countries of the European continent, as part of NATO and of its so-called "nuclear sharing". And it is a mistake to do so.

Certainly, the presence of nuclear weapons on their territory involves, for Europeans, multiple risks. Many of them are similar to the risks and dangers faced by the citizens of any of the countries possessing an atomic arsenal. The usefulness and desirability of which may be subject to debate. Including whether the risks are worth to be taken in the service of a politico-military strategy of national defence (or, conversely, must be rejected in view of universal peace and total disarmament). It is up to each and everyone to take a stance according to their beliefs, their world views, their perception and ranking of hazards, et cetera. For us here, all this is irrelevant. Because in this case, the question does not even arise. Thanks to another dimension of NATO nuclear "sharing", which is highly reflective of transatlantic relations. Whereas in the nuclear power countries the debate can focus on the articulation of the nuclear force with an overall strategy (importance attributed, or not, to the concept of deterrence), here, to the contrary, the (U.S.) nuclear force, and the myth of the protective umbrella that accompanies it, is a pretext used to justify the lack of (European) strategy. As well as providing a comfortable smokescreen that allows the governments of the old continent to stay, ultimately, flawlessly aligned on the United States – even if this means to become accomplices of a nuclear strategy in the development and implementation of which they cannot even dream of having a little bit of say. Alas, they already feel happy when they are, more or less correctly and more or less timely, informed on the subject. 

Full text in French.


dissuasion nucléaire, otan

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