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Although the Cold War has ended, a high-ranking State Department official told a Kennedy School of Government audience yesterday that the U.S. must continue a strong military presence throughout Europe.
Stephen Flanagan, deputy director of the State Department's policy planning division, told 30 people gathered at the Kennedy School's Center for Science and International Affairs that the U.S. should proceed with caution in Europe because there is no guarantee that fledgling Eastern European democracies will otherwise succeed.
"Many are not convinced of the benignification of the Soviet Union," Flanagan said. "It is crucial to have a minimum military presence in Europe."
Flanagan stressed throughout that NATO must continue to provide a strong military presence in Europe at least until the European Community is formed in 1992. "Until that time, we have to see that NATO is kept vibrant," Flanagan said.
One of the main sources of instability in the new Eastern European democracies, Flanagan said, is that their populations may overthrow governments that take too long to alleviate their persistent social and economic crises.
During the two-hour forum, Flanagan--who formerly directed the Center for Science and International Affairs--also detailed the State Department's plans for instituting a new Center for the Prevention of Conflict. The agency, he said, is intended as a forum for addressing international political disputes and will soon be formed by delegates from Europe and the U.S.
But despite these and other government initiatives, Flanagan urged the scholars assembled that their input is also essential.
"Think boldly--as boldly as you can," Flanagan said. "We can't cope with the pace of change. We need context."
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