Drastically reducing the military establishment in Europe "could be a very risky decision . . . for both the United States and Europe," Frank C. Carlucci III, former defense secretary, warned Monday.
Carlucci was the keynote speaker at the opening session of Chautauqua Institution's 1990 lecture season. He shared the lectern with Ambassador Andrea van Agt, head of the European Parliament delegation, which wrapped up a three-day meeting with several members of Congress.
Van Agt focused his remarks on the European Community's goal of a single market by Dec. 31, 1992, saying that it will "open opportunities for the U.S. that never existed before."
But Carlucci zeroed in on the "problems which could result if the U.S. was to be lulled into complacency by the so-called peace dividends."
"It is important to understand," he said, "that the purpose of a military establishment is to deter war, not just to fight wars. But that is a paradox, because the more successful you are in deterring war, the more people question the need of the military."
Carlucci chose his words carefully in dealing with the Soviet Union but made it clear he believed the country must be watched closely.
"We have to look at capabilities," he pointed out, "not personalities. . . . They are making cuts in their military, but those cuts have been recent and many are in areas of redundancy. Also, they are cutting from a much larger base then ours. . . . We have to be suspicious of Soviet figures and never forget that while our military establishment has always been defensive, theirs has always been offensive."
Soviet leader Mikhail "Gorbachev's image in this country is that of a decisive strategist," he said. "In the Soviet Union, it (his image) is of an indecisive tactician negotiating with the U.S. about issues of little interest to the Soviet people.
"Will Gorbachev survive? That is not the question. The question is whether he will be relevant in what is happening in the Soviet Union today or will he simply be overwhelmed by ethnic forces?"
Carlucci and van Agt agreed that U.S. industry and business are lagging in their involvement with the planned changes for Europe.
"There will be stronger competition for the United States from the Europeans," van Agt said. "But that should inspire you (U.S.) like you are being inspired by the Japanese competition."