||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
Kristine Harris of Tacoma, WA, asks:
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 cost?
Mr. Robert Zoellick, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, responds:
The Administration has estimated the cost of NATO enlargement to the U.S. at about $150 to $200 million a year over 10 years, approximately 20 percent of the total cost.
As your question suggests, however, it is useful to look at the concept of "cost" in a broad fashion. First, if the new members were not part of NATO, their spending on security would likely be even higher because they could not rely on the protection of allies. Moreover, their military investment would be far less efficient. As a NATO member, Poland will be able to rely on NATO's sophisticated air defense and need not try to build an independent system. Therefore, Poland will be able to focus it defense spending on the development of inter-operable and integrated capabilities with the U.S. and other NATO allies.
Second, because the new NATO members do not face the immediate military threat that NATO encountered in the Cold War, it would be a waste of resources to plan on the basis of Cold War requirements (as some of the published estimates have done). In reality, NATO and the new members can phase-in investments in upgraded capabilities, inter-operability, communications, and infrastructure such as roads and airfields. If dangers become more immediate, NATO will need to achieve this integration more quickly. It is most likely, however, that the costs will be spread out and some NATO spending can be reallocated from other categories.
Third, we should consider that not enlarging may also lead to "costs" if the security of Central and Eastern Europe frays. The costs of not preventing two World Wars in Europe were enormous; even the costs of coping with Bosnia are large by the standards of NATO enlargement. It is useful to think of the costs of NATO enlargement as the purchase of a prudent insurance policy for modest sums the U.S. and its allies can ensure the security of the heart of democratic Europe .
Fourth, the "costs" are in effect an investment in new partners; as such, we should also consider the "returns" on the investment. I believe Poland and the other new members will be exceptionally willing to contribute troops, resources, and political effort to help solve other security problems faced by the U.S. and NATO. Indeed, they are already doing so in Bosnia. These new members will make the trans-Atlantic community stronger. They will help its address future challenges that we may not foresee today.
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 dramatically underestimated both the total costs of NATO expansion and the American share of them. The administration's estimate of the total is $35 billion, but the Congressional Budget Office has produced figures four to five times as high. Moreover, the administration's estimates presume three or four new entries, but promises of one kind or another have been given to at least eight - Romania, Slovenia, and the three Baltic countries in addition to the three already formerly invited.
Furthermore, the administration's estimates assume that no American troops will be stationed in any of the new member countries. It is unlikely that NATO will be able to guarantee the security of the Baltic countries, however, without the deployment of Western troops. Thus a prudent estimate of the total cost of expansion would put it in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Such an estimate is based on three assumptions: that the Balts will join, as promised; that this will be unacceptable to Russia as virtually all Russians have asserted, leading to a Russian response of some sort; and that expensive, Cold War-style military deployments will therefore be needed in the Baltic countries to protect them. The estimate of hundreds of billions of dollars may be too high, but only if one or more of those three assumptions is unfounded. The Clinton administration has not disputed any of them.
Where the distribution of the burden of bringing the new members up to NATO' s standards is concerned the administration foresees the United States paying 15 per cent of the fixed costs and six per cent of the total costs- This is not remotely plausible- The administration foresees the new members from Central Europe paying 35 per cent of the total costs. But they will not be able to pay- They have all steadily reduced their defense spending since 1989 and have been cautioned by the international financial institutions not to increase it. Public opinion polls in these countries generally show that no more than 20 to 25 percent of the public is willing to spend more on defense than it is already spending. Thus, 75 to 80 per cent of the citizens of these new democracies have indicated that they wi11 not do what the administration presumes they will do.
The administration predicts that the Western Europeans will pay 50 per cent of the total costs of expansion. The leaders of the major Western European countries,, however, have said flatly that they will do no such thing. Chancellor Kohl of Germany, President Chirac of France, and the British Defense Minister have each said, on the record,, in one form of another, that his country will pay nothing for expansion. Nor is this simply political posturing, or a negotiating tactic, on the part of any of them. It is not politically possible for any of these countries to spend more money for NATO expansion. Germany and France are under enormous pressure to reduce government spending to meet the standards established for the new single European currency, a project that is far more important to them than is NATO expansion. While it will not join the single currency, Britain is under similar fiscal pressure: the new Labor government has promised not to exceed the overall budget of the last Conservative government while at the same time committing itself to higher spending on health and education.
The fact that the Western Europeans will spend nothing for it will raise one of two questions in the minds of the people who will have to pay for expansion: American taxpayers. First, if NATO is, indeed, a security organization, why is European security, as the Clinton administration defines it, more important to Americans than to Europeans? If, on the other hand, as the administration sometimes claims, NATO is being turned into a social welfare organization, then why are American tax dollars being used for social spending in Europe rather than on social spending, or tax relief, or military priorities, in the United States?
Will NATO expansion inflame anti-democracratic tendencies in Russia?