REDRAWING THE MAP
April 28, 1998
The U.S. Senate will vote this week whether or not to invite Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Opponents worry that an expanded NATO will lack a coherent mission and may antagonize Russia. Supporters counter that the new alliance will ensure a more stable Europe. Following a background report on the issue, four experts debate the wisdom of expanding NATO to the East.
JIM LEHRER: Our own debate now among Senators John Warner, Republican of Virginia, and Joseph Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, both members of the Armed Services Committee, and Michael Mandelbaum, a professor at the Paul Nitze School for Advanced International Studies, whoís written widely on European security issues, and Robert Hunter, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO now a senior adviser at Rand, a Washington study group.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
April 28, 1998:
A background report on the NATO debate.
October 30, 1997:
Read a past Online Forum on NATO expansion.
July 9, 1997
Sec. Albright discusses NATO expansion.
NATO offers membership to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland.
May 27, 1997
A Newsmaker interview with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.
May 16, 1997:
Czech President Vaclav Havel discusses NATO expansion.
May 12, 1997:
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General George Joulwan discusses NATO's future.
May 14, 1997:
Sec. Albright discusses the agreement reached between NATO and Russia.
March 20, 1997:
Debating NATO expansion.
March 20, 1997:
Looking at NATO expansion from Russia's perspective.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the Europe, international affairs and Bosnia.
Outlining the Senate debate.
Sen. Lieberman, what to you is the most important reason for expanding NATO?
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Well, to me the most important reason for expanding NATO is the principle of freedom. NATO is a military alliance, but it is an alliance in defense of the principle, which is freedom. It was formed after the Westís experience with fascism in Europe during the Second World War. It was formed to stop Soviet aggression in Europe, but it was always during the Cold War not just a military bloc; it was a bloc in defense of the principle of freedom, against Soviet Communists, who were defending a very different idea of how states should relate to individuals. Weíve won that war, and now the nations who lived under Soviet domination aspire to join us in the family of freedom. Theyíre knocking on our door. I think we have a moral obligation to let them in. I canít believe we would turn them away. And as we let them in to this expanding family of freedom, we will secure Europe, and we will also help ourselves by bringing allies in our own defense of our own security and NATO security. So itís all about principle, which is freedom.
JIM LEHRER: Principle, freedom, a moral obligation, Senator Warner?
SEN. JOHN WARNER: Take no disagreement with freedom. Itís the most precious thing in the world, but I strongly disagree when he opens his hands and says, take them all in, it could be 12 in number; you could be creating another mini-UN--unwieldy, inefficient, indecisive, when we have in place an alliance for now 50 years that has worked beyond the expectations of everyone that put it together.
Jim, tonight, the men and women of the armed forces of the United States are serving all over the world in the cause of freedom, but they have too few ships, too few aircraft, and our total military budget, in terms of GNP, is less than what we had before Pearl Harbor, and yet the Senate within the next few days could be voting to add to their mission and to expend dollars, American taxpayer dollars, over and above our commitment, which we should always keep to the present NATO, which should be going to our military for modernization and to help relieve the pressure on the men and women of the armed forces today. I say it works, it has worked well, and it will continue to work well, and its size today is better able to assure freedom and the American presence, which is essential on the European country, than if we open it up and go from sixteen to perhaps twenty-eight.
Robert Hunter: "Itís a chance to provide confidence, stability, in the center of the continent."
JIM LEHRER: Ambassador Hunter, it works. Why fool with it?
ROBERT HUNTER: It works because it meets the needs of the time. It met the need of containing the Soviet Union and Communism better than any other alliance. The need today in addition to spreading freedom to countries who for all those years wanted to be without it, in addition to that, itís a chance to provide confidence, stability, in the center of the continent. But we had three wars in the century, two hot wars and one cold war. We have a chance to take these countries who want to join us out of history, giving confidence to everybody, including the Russians, that we will not again have a conflict in this part of the world.
NATO TIMELINE: 1949 The North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington, DC, by 12 nations. 1952 Greece and Turkey join NATO. 1955 The Federal Republic of Germany joins NATO; Warsaw Pact signed by nations of the Soviet bloc. 1961 The Berlin Wall is erected. 1966 France withdraws from NATOís military command structure. 1982 Spain joins NATO, becoming the organizationís 16th member. 1989 The Berlin Wall comes down. 1991 Warsaw Pact dissolved. NATO launches North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), establishing a framework for dialogue and cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe 1995 NATO deploys Implementation forces (IFOR) in Bosnia following the signing of the Dayton Accords. 1997 (May) The "Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security Between NATO and the Russian Federation". North Atlantic Cooperation Council is replaced by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. 1997 (July) NATO offers membership to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
JIM LEHRER: What about Sen. Warnerís point, though, that this creates another mini-U.N., all these countries are already involved in this kind of thing at the U.N., why have another organization?
ROBERT HUNTER: We took the decision to enlarge four and a half years ago. The reason it took so long to get here was to make sure that as NATO takes in new members it can be just as strong, if not stronger. We have required of each of these countries coming in that they settle any disputes they might have with our neighbors; that they agree to join Allied Command Europe, our military muscle, that they do things for their own military strength, that they demonstrate democracy, get on with their--we have a whole shopping list. The three countries that the Senateís voted on this week have passed that test, and anybody else we take in is going to have to pass that test too. Who knows? We may never take anybody else in.
JIM LEHRER: When you look at this, what do you see as the single most important reason not to expand NATO along the lines that is now before the Senate?
MICHAEL MANDELBAUM: Itís not only pointless because these countries are not remotely threatened, itís dangerous. If you take the case that Amb. Hunter and Sen. Lieberman make, then it applies just as forcefully, if not more so, to countries to the East of these three. If you believe what they say, we have to take in Ukraine and the Baltic countries as well on Russiaís very border. Russia has said that this is unacceptable. In order to defend the three Baltic countries, we would have to recreate Cold War military forces and probably rely on nuclear weapons. On the other hand, if we did not take the western alliance all the way to the Russian border, then we would be excluding new democracies, drawing a new line of division in Europe, and consigning friendly democracies to the wrong side. So we have an impossible choice if we go ahead with these three countries that certainly donít need NATO. For that reason we ought to follow Sen. Warnerís wise advice: stay where we are, keep the NATO we have, and proceed to deal with the issues that really threaten the United States.
Do these countries need NATO?
JIM LEHRER: You say these countries donít need NATO. Why do they want it so badly if they donít need it?
MICHAEL MANDELBAUM: Well, one has to wonder how badly they want it. First of all, they certainly do not believe that theyíre incapable of conducting democratic politics without being part of NATO. Their motives are purely anti-Russian. They had about 50 years with the Russians, thereís no doubt about that, but itís also the case that they donít have borders with Russia now, that theyíre not threatened by Russia, and that whatever their views of Russia, theyíre not willing to spend a dime to protect themselves. These are countries that cut their defense spending in half since 1989.
JIM LEHRER: Youíre talking about Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
MICHAEL MANDELBAUM: Iím talking about Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. The measure how concerned they are is how much theyíre willing to spend, and theyíre spending nothing. If you go to these countries and say weíll give you an American nuclear guarantee and upgrade your roads and military facilities at no cost to yourself, why would they say no, and thatís the deal I think theyíre getting.
JIM LEHRER: Sen. Lieberman.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Well, quite the contrary. They are spending to upgrade their military to NATOís standards, and the opposition to this enlargement bringing these three in is based on the two factors cited in your earlier piece. One is the fear of alienating Russia. But every poll that I read says that the Russian people donít care about NATO enlargement. What they care about and what is the threat to stability in democracy in Russia is their economy, about whether theyíre going to have a job, whether theyíre going to get paid, whether their kids can get educated. So to do a kind of psychoanalytic, political reaction to supposed fears in Russia and, therefore, to shut the door on these countries and the opportunity to stabilize Europe post Cold War is for us incredibly to redraw the line that Stalin drew in Europe after the Second World War.
JIM LEHRER: Let me ask you a question.
SEN. JOHN WARNER: He says Russia does not want to be upset. Youíre wrong, my dear colleague. Their thinking in their Russian parliament, the Duma, of not ratifying our important arms control agreements--
JIM LEHRER: Because of this?
SEN. JOHN WARNER: Thatís because of this NATO enlargement. Iíve met personally with them. Secondly, weíre dealing in compassion, gentlemen. We all share the compassion for these nations having suffered in World War II. Iím concerned about the future, the young men and women of our armed forces who will be a part of NATO and who will be called upon if necessary to fight. Theyíre not even stationing troops in the new countries for fear of aggravating Russia. I say to you this decision is not made at the right time if itís to be made. Russia is struggling for its political identity, struggling for its economic survival in the free market, and we have an uncertainty about the year 2000 as to who will succeed into leadership. And thatís why I put forth an amendment this coming Thursday to say if unwisely the Senate admits the three, then thatís--
JIM LEHRER: Thatís it.
SEN. JOHN WARNER: --it for a period of three years, so we can study and get cost analysis and--
JIM LEHRER: Let me--
SEN. JOHN WARNER: --live through the Russian transition to the next government.
Michael Mandelbaum: "So thereís absolutely no doubt that this is hurting us. The question is how much."
JIM LEHRER: Let me ask all of you, beginning with you, Ambassador Hunter, those of us who are not experts on NATO ask this question: What--how could you have an alliance without an adversary? I mean, is this an alliance against Russia? If itís not, who is it against? Who are these people protecting? Who are we going to help them protect themselves against?
ROBERT HUNTER: We do have an adversary. Itís the kind of uncertainty, instability, lack of confidence that helped give us the three wars in the past. You donít have to have an enemy to prevent war. If NATO were just enlarging, as weíve been hearing here, then perhaps it would be a bad idea in terms of the Russians--thatís not all itís doing. In fact, NATO has been reaching out to the Russians to try to draw them out of their 80 years of self-imposed isolation. Now, there may be some concern in Russia, as Sen. Warner correctly says, about hurt feelings and about NATO incorporating countries that used to be part of their sphere of influence, but Mr. Yeltsin didnít have to go to Paris last year and sign the agreement for a partnership with NATO. The Russians this very day donít have to be at NATO working with the alliance on a strategic partnership and, in fact, today is the 860th day that troops have been in Bosnia. That includes 1500 Russian soldiers acting just as though they were already in NATO. So all these things are being done together to help prevent what Sen. Warner is talking about of our troops ever having to fight.
JIM LEHRER: Do you think this could actually have a negative impact, that it could cause more instability, rather than stability?
MICHAEL MANDELBAUM: Itís already had a negative impact. Weíre already getting less cooperation with the Russians on the issues that matter to us, including first and foremost reducing the nuclear threat to the United States. The deputy chairman of the Committee on National Security and the Russian parliament was here a few weeks ago. Heís devoting night and day to trying to pass that treaty, and he has said flat out that this makes it much harder for him, that NATO expansion has interfered with arms production and with the desire of Russian democrats to cooperate with the West. So thereís absolutely no doubt that this is hurting us. The question is how much. And alas, this is going to be the gift that will keep on giving because if we pass this first expansion, we will be morally and politically and strategically committed to taking it all the way to the Russian border.
JIM LEHRER: What about Sen. Warnerís amendment, even with Sen. Warnerís amendment?
MICHAEL MANDELBAUM: Well, Sen. Warnerís amendment will help but the pressure will still be there. Weíll never be able to get this off the agenda.
SEN. JOHN WARNER: Do you realize that the American taxpayer today is expending billions of dollars to help Russia in the dismantling safely, primarily of its military equipment related to nuclear weapons? Thatís with one hand, and the other hand weíre taking a hot poker and shoving it right into them and saying weíre going to start to build the ring around you of these new nations, and that poses a potential threat in their viewpoint, looking from their side.
JIM LEHRER: Sen. Lieberman.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Jim, the fact is that NATO has always had two purposes: one is common defense against an enemy previously from the East, no longer from the East; secondly, it has been an institution in which disputes among the members could be resolved, and thatís why I feel very strongly that my friend, Michael Mandelbaum, is absolutely wrong on this one. There would be greater instability in Central and Eastern Europe if we turned these nations down because NATO membership has given them a motivation to democratize, to move to market economy, and to reconcile their problems. We have threats. The threats will come from instability in Central and Eastern Europe, and not from the East but from the South. Remember, that as we approach--
JIM LEHRER: The South.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: The Middle East. Remember, as we approached the possibility of military action just a few months ago in Iraq, the forces in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland were among the most enthusiastic and steadfast about coming to our aid. These three countries add 200,000 soldiers to NATO. In fact, they reduce the prospect that my friend from Virginia has suggested. They will protect American soldiers from going into combat that would otherwise have to do it. They share our burden.
What happens if the Senate says no?
JIM LEHRER: What do you think would be the effect if the U.S. Senate turns this thing down?
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Oh, I think it would be devastating. I think that the effect, again, Russia has nothing to fear from these three countries in our expansion, so this is all psychology there. In these countries it would create tremendous instability; it would probably bring about the movement against some of the democratic trends that have occurred.
JIM LEHRER: Just by a vote in the U.S. Senate?
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: I believe it would because--itís a slap in the face to these people who have fought for freedom. And now theyíve gotten it, and we would shut them out.
JIM LEHRER: Sen. Warner, Sen. Lott was on this program last week. I asked him what was going to happen, and he said that he thinks the Senate will, in fact, ratify this. Do you count the same way?
SEN. JOHN WARNER: In my judgment, the persons in opposition--Senators in oppositionís growing. Weíve crossed the 20 mark. We had 24 votes today on the First Amendment. The key amendment--
JIM LEHRER: You need what? You need--
SEN. JOHN WARNER: We need 34.
JIM LEHRER: You need 34. Okay.
SEN. JOHN WARNER: Itís not that weíre trying to trash the American foreign policy. Weíre thinking about the future and how our foreign policy can add greater strength to Europe, less risk to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, and, indeed, less cost to the American taxpayer. And Russia is stabilizing now to stabilize itself politically, militarily, and economically. And thereís a window of an opportunity. They pose no threat. They couldnít even put down a civil war in Chechnya, much less mount a military attack against these three nations today.
JIM LEHRER: We have to go. The vote is going to come tomorrow or--the final vote Thursday night. Gentlemen, thank you all very much.