Europe may seem in 1998 remarkably free from exogenous and endogenous military threats, despite the breakup of former Yugoslavia. Most notably, NATO was created to counter such assaults. Yet Europe remains ill-equipped to address soft security threats, which do not have their roots in 'national' causes. Demographic phenomena pose a host of challenges as populations age, unemployment grows, environmental problems proliferate, ethnic and religious diversity increases, diseases re-emerge and the standard of public health declines in some regions. National policy statements reflect a rhetorical change in the concepts of security, but institutional adaptation needs to be a higher, more coordinated priority of a profound reassessment - in the USA as well as in Europe. These soft security threats represent fundamental challenges to policy-makers, societies and institutions. Military force and strategic alliances are not the remedies.