Not long ago, when pessimists brooded about the specter of Soviet hegemony over Western Europe, they imagined a catastrophe that would occur even while the Atlantic Alliance remained formally intact. The West Europeans would continue to pay lip service to their Atlantic commitments while in reality competing for Moscow's favor. West Germany would lead the bidding. In the face of overwhelming Soviet military power and political ruthlessness, the alliance would be progressively "drained of meaning," as Henry Kissinger put it. 1