There is no question that conventional arms control in Europe is in a dry and difficult time. That some progress, or better, some resurrection of conventional arms control, needs to happen is equally obvious. European security and cooperation have long rested on several components, with the military dimension in turn composed of two complimentary elements, strategic nuclear and conventional arms control and confidence-building measures. Today progress towards deep cuts in the strategic arms of Russia and the United States depends in part on resolving perceived conventional threat imbalances. Equally important, while nuclear weapons thankfully are not employed but linger in the “dark corners” of deterrence, conventional weapons have been killing and wounding and directly threatening peace and stability in Europe. This Issue Brief by Greg Govan asks a number of fundamental questions in relation to the core assumption that Europe still needs conventional arms control: What are the goals for European security? How can arms control objectives serve those goals? How can we work towards those goals within a “Helsinki 2” type process that addresses all aspects of security in Europe, not just the military dimension?

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About the Author

Greg Govan is a retired Brigadier General and served in the U.S. Army for 31 years. He led the Department of Defense agency responsible for on-site inspections and served as the senior arms control representative to the governing bodies of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty and Open Skies and was appointed and confirmed with the rank of Ambassador in 2000.