||THE FUTURE OF NATO|
October 30, 1997
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Questions answered in this forum:
What will be NATO's new mission? Assuming NATO continues to enlarge, how will this effect NATO's decison making process and what will this mean for its effectiveness? Why has expansion failed to include the Baltic nations, the countries most threatened by a resurgent Russia? Does this not create a new line of division in Europe? As there have been many estimates regarding the actual cost of NATO expansion, what may we expect the U.S.'s share to be? Can we afford not to pay this price? Have critics overstated the possible impact of expansion on Russia?
July 9, 1997
Sec. of State Albright talks about NATO expansion.
July 8, 1997
NATO offers Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic membership.
May 16, 1997:
Czech President Vaclav Havel discusses NATO expansion.
May 14, 1997:
Sec. of State Albright discusses the NATO-Russia agreement.
May 12, 1997:
Retiring NATO Commander General George Joulwan discusses NATO's future.
March 20, 1997:
Robert Zoellick and Sam Nunn discuss NATO expansion.
February 7, 1997:
The Gore - Chernomyrdin Summitt
December 11, 1996:
Richard Holbrooke and Professor Michael Mandelbaum debate NATO expansion.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of Europe and International Issues.
Read Dr. Mandelbaum's paper, NATO Expansion: A Bridge to the Nineteenth Century at the Center for Political and Strategic Studies
Check out The New Atlantic Initiative at the American Enterprise Institute
Kyle Harmmons of Oklahoma City, OK, asks:
I understand why we would want to expand NATO to include former adversaries, but I think a fundamental question remains unanswered: What will be the new NATO's mission?
Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, professor of American Foreign Policy at the John Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, responds:
The Clinton administration has suggested a variety of missions for the expanded NATO that it is promoting, none of which makes sense. It has sometimes claimed that NATO membership will consolidate democracy in the countries that join. But democracy is not remotely threatened in Poland, Hungary, or the Czech Republic. If it were threatened in any of them, there is no basis in logic or history for the belief that NATO membership would be an effective way to reinforce it. And if, for some undiscovered reason, NATO membership is a good way to promote democracy,, then the planned expansion will admit the wrong countries. In Russia and Ukraine democracy is shakier than it is in Central Europe, and the stakes for the West are far higher. But Russia and Ukraine are not being considered for NATO membership.
Alternatively, the administration sometimes claims that NATO is expanding to Central Europe because the countries there are already democracies, with the Atlantic Alliance becoming a club of democratic states. It is not clear, however, why there needs to be such a club, or what it would do, or why the already-existing Council of Europe does not suffice for this purpose, or why members of this the new club require an American nuclear guarantee. And even if there were answers, let alone good answers, to these questions, a final question would remain: why aren't the other democracies of formerly Communist Europe being admitted to NATO?
Along with the promotion of democracy, the reason most often cited for expanding NATO to Central Europe is that this will promote "stability" there. What this seems to mean is that NATO membership will prevent the outbreak of Bosnia-style ethnic conflicts. But there is no chance of such conflicts in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, which are among the most ethnically homogeneous countries in Europe. If, on the other hand, the purpose of the new NATO is to be able to conduct Bosnia-style operations, then expansion is at best irrelevant - the current operation in Bosnia did not require an expanded NATO - and at worst counterproductive - in such operations the country whose cooperation will be most important is Russia, and expansion hardly makes Russian cooperation more likely.
Mr. Robert Zoellick, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, responds:
At the most basic level, NATO's new mission will be the same as its old one: to draw together the trans-Atlantic democracies to address their common security challenges. One of the lessons of two world wars - and even of conflicts dating back to the 18th Century - is that security problems in Europe spill over to American shores. So the United States has a strong interest in promoting a peaceful, democratic, prosperous, and friendly Europe. NATO is America's primary governmental link to Europe.
Of course, the nature of the trans-atlantic security challenges, and therefore NATO's purposes, has changed with the end of the Cold War. Today, NATO can help the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe consolidate their newly-won freedoms - internally, with one another, and with respect to their larger neighbors. They should no longer be just "the lands between" the powers of Germany and Russia. They should not be part of anyone' s sphere of influence. They should be part of the united Europe that America pressed for through the Marshall Plan and a host of other far-sighted policies.
NATO can also reach out from its stable eastern shoulder to encourage stability, peace, and democratic development further east - with the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Russia. NATO is not a threat to any peace-loving people; to the contrary, it can provide a model of inter-state relations and counter those that might threaten security, thereby contributing to an environment in which political and economic reforms can continue.
As we've seen in Bosnia, NATO also is the key vehicle through which the United States and Europe can develop common plans, and exercise will and power, to deal with other security problems. In the future, these dangers may lie to Europe's south instead of to its east.
Moreover, the United States should work with its European allies to promote common interest not just protect territory. The U.S. and Europe have common interests in energy security., especially in the Persian Gulf. We have a common interest in stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and in countering those weapons if necessary. We have a common interest in combating terrorism. It will not be easy to develop trans-Atlantic solutions to these challenges, But the European democracies are the United States' natural ally, and NATO offers a proven organization through which we can try to agree on common approaches to the new generation of problems. At a the U.S. forces in Europe are a form of "forward deployment," closer to the Gulf area.
Finally, it is sad but true that democracies will only be able to keep the peace if they are prepared to fight. As the U.S. and the UK recognized during the Cold War - and France learned to its dismay - the NATO experience of integrated militaries demonstrated its value in areas such as equipment, night-fighting capabilities, training, logistics, and intelligence. Over the past five years, Germany also has been increasing its military contributions as an Alliance partner. Throughout history, effective military alliances have been difficult, and costly in terms of lives, to organize once any fighting begins. It would be a tragedy if Europe and America permitted the withering of the combined capabilities of democratic states that share many fundamental interests.
Assuming NATO continues to enlarge, how will this effect NATO's decison making process and what will this mean for its effectiveness?