Courtesy Reuters

The events of 1989 not only brought to an end the division of Europe, they also brought to an end the postwar role of the Soviet Union in Europe, for that role depended above all on the once clearly recognized division of the continent and, of course, the political-military consequences acknowledged to follow from that division. These consequences no longer obtain, however, and this despite the continued presence of Soviet forces in Europe. The view that they still do obtain, if admittedly in attenuated form, must depend on the possibility that the Soviet government-whether that of Mikhail Gorbachev or of a successor-may yet employ military power to prevent unwanted developments. If that prospect cannot be entirely ruled out, it nevertheless now remains so small that it may be all but discounted, for the military power needed to stay the developments that have now been set firmly in train-including German reunification-would have

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  • Robert W. Tucker is Emeritus Professor of American Foreign Policy, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University. This article is adapted from the author's essay in Sea-Changes: American Foreign Policy in a World Transformed, published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
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