||THE FUTURE OF NATO|
October 30, 1997
Return to this forum's introduction.
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.
A profile of Dr. Michael Mandelbaum at the John Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies home page.
Read Dr. Mandelbaum's paper, NATO Expansion: A Bridge to the Nineteenth Century at the Center for Political and Strategic Studies
A profile of Robert Zoellick at the Center for Strategic and International Studies home page.
Check out The New Atlantic Initiative at the American Enterprise Institute
Steve Atkins of Champaign, IL, asks:
Proponents of NATO expansion argue that enlargement will help secure a more peaceful future for Europe while also contain any future Russian threat. If this is the case, 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?
Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, professor of American Foreign Policy at the John Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, responds:Where the three Baltic countries are concerned, expansion as planned by the Clinton administration will present the United States with a problem that can be neither avoided nor solved. The Balts have been promised membership. American officials have made statements to that effect. The three countries have come to expect membership. And if Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic are entitled, by whatever standard, to join NATO, then Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are equally entitled - indeed more so. Yet all Russians, from Boris Yeltsin to the most obscure members of the Duma, have repeatedly and emphatically declared that Baltic membership in NATO is entirely unacceptable to them and that they would respond to it in negative fashion. If they should do so, the United States would confront three options, each of which would leave us worse off than we would be without expanding NATO in the first place.
First, NATO could expand to include the Baltic countries, thus putting the Western military alliance squarely on Russia's border. In that case, we would have to expect a sharp decrease in Western cooperation with Russia and the remilitarization, perhaps with an emphasis on nuclear weapons, of the dividing line between NATO and Russia.
Second, an American effort to include the Baltic countries in NATO could fall because of a veto by our Western European allies. Privately, the Western Europeans make it clear that Baltic membership is unacceptable to them. In this second case, the question of Baltic membership would, like the issue of burden sharing, provoke a transatlantic quarrel that would weaken NATO, perhaps fatally.
The third, related, and most likely option for Baltic membership is the failure to include them in NATO. This would accomplish precisely what the Clinton administration claims its plan for NATO expansion is designed to avoid. We would renege on a promise. We would give Russia a veto over NATO's affairs. We would draw a new line of division on the continent that would make the new democracies to the east of that line second-class citizens of Europe.
Some proponents of expansion suggest privately that the issue of the Baltic countries can be avoided, that expansion can be confined to the three countries already formally invited and that the whole project can be abandoned or postponed indefinitely at that point. But this is not feasible even if it were proper, which it is not.
The United States is on record as promising membership to the Balts. They will press us on this issue, and if Poland Hungary, and the Czech Republic have become NATO members, they will be right to do so: the Balts' claims are as strong as, if not stronger than, those of the Central Europeans. Moreover, no American president will ever be able unequivocally to rule out Baltic membership in NATO. Russians will thus have to assume that these countries might well become members. At the very least, this would mean that the issue of Baltic membership in NATO would become central to relations between Russia and the West for as far into the future as the eye can see with absolutely no benefit whatsoever to the United States.
Mr. Robert Zoellick, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, responds:
When NATO takes in new members, the existing NATO members, and the United States in particular, must be willing to back up NATO's security guarantee with the lives of their soldiers. Membership in NATO is much more than friendly relations; it is a deadly serious commitment.
Therefore, it is sensible for NATO's members to weigh carefully not only which nations they would like to help, but which ones must be protected to ensure the future security of Europe and America. We have seen that the security of Central Europe cannot be separated from the security of Western Europe and America. This indivisible Central and Western European security has been reinforced by the successful integration of a united and democratic Germany within both the European Union and the trans-Atlantic community. Therefore, it is reasonable that the three new members should be Central European states that are closely connected to the security of Germany and the rest of Western Europe,
It is possible that NATO may, at a later point, take in additional new members, including the Baltic states. I described above, in my answer to question two, the three factors I would consider in deciding on more NATO members.
Moreover, the Baltic states need not be members of NATO to receive security benefits. Russians recognize that any actions to subvert the independence of the Baltics or Ukraine would ruin Russia's relations with the West, to Russia's significant detriment. The Baltics and Ukraine, in turn, will be motivated to try to forge reasonable relations with Russia.
It is clear that the Baltic states and Ukraine believe they will be better off with Poland in NATO, even if they are not in the alliance themselves. A NATO that extends further east is more likely to play a constructive role in the security of the whole region, even if NATO has not extended its defense guarantee to all.
If NATO did not add the new Central European members, the Alliance would be affirming the old line of the Cold War. By adding three new members, NATO is moving to eliminate the old Cold War division of Europe. By entering into special agreements with Russia and Ukraine, NATO has recognized that enlargement should be combined with ongoing efforts to cooperate across old lines to address new problems. By leaving the door open to further members, NATO has signaled that cooperation can lead to an Alliance that continues to adapt to new needs and circumstances.
What will NATO expansion cost?