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Austria and US Security

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Journal article

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The United States should quietly support, indeed continue to encourage as it has in the past, Austrian efforts to modernize the Bundesheer and to acquire those defensive missiles compatible with the intent of the treaty. Recourse to Article 34, requiring a formal reinterpretation, should be avoided a reinterpretation of Article 13 is unnecessary and it would prove to be a messy revisitation of the long, drawn-out State Treaty negotiations of the Cold War years. We must also be willing to accept those steps that Vienna considers to be politically necessary to overtly introduce modern guided missiles into the Bundesheer. That may well mean the purchase of missiles from a country other than the United States to deflect criticism from the East Bloc of overreliance on US-produced weapons. While US defense contractors might bridle at this step, Washington should support it. We must not lose sight of the fact that the bottom line remains a more effective Austrian defense, not the source of the Bundesheers weapons. At the end of the Second World War the United States quickly recognized Austrias crucial position in the postwar military balance in Central Europe. Those circumstances have changed little in the intervening 43 years. We, along with the other signatories to the Austrian State Treaty, also assumed a moral obligation to permit the Austrians to arm themselves adequately to defend their neutrality, which we and the other signatories formally recognized 10 years after the war. If the NATO nations are to place a greater reliance on their conventional capabilities, as indeed it appears they must, the Austrian Bundesheer will become an even more important factor in maintaining Austrias neutrality and regional stability in the years to come. We may not in good conscience deny the Austrians the legitimate means to fulfill their responsibilities, which, after all, coincide with our own interests in Central Europe.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Defense Systems
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
  • Guided Missiles

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