U.S. policy toward Europe under the current administration has suffered from really only one flaw--but it's a doozy. The problem is that the Clinton administration has yet to have a single serious synoptic thought about the Continent's future and the U.S. role in it. It discussed its reasons for expanding NATO virtually without reference to the future of the European Union, as if the security of so vast and pivotal an area would not be affected by the potentially revolutionary social, economic and political changes afoot there. It dithered but subsequently took the diplomatic and military lead in Bosnia without considering the effect on the evolution of intra-European security arrangements, a far more important post-Cold War question in the longer run than the future of that hapless province. And it did both these things while insisting that neither action would jeopardize America's "partnership" with Russia, a bizarre assertion that some pundits have since defended on the assumption that history's first blush amounts to its mature verdict.
Nor, except as an afterthought, does consideration seem to have been given to the connection between NATO expansion and U.S. intervention in Bosnia--not to speak of the contemplated intervention in Kosovo--except by way of impromptu post hoc rationalization. The two policies were jostled along separately by noisome headlines or the occasion of a presidential trip abroad, and it has been left mostly to speechwriters, journalists and East European diplomats to offer explanations of how they are related.
Actually, these relations become vivid if we view them through that hoariest of concepts in our profession: the balance of power, a notion lately demoted in the academy--along with its parent discipline, geopolitics--to a status roughly similar to that of phrenology.