||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 ythe 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
Brett Kravitz of Bucks County, PA, asks:
Many critics of expansion, like George Kennan, have argued that enlarging NATO risks inflaming the anti-democratic and militaristic tendencies of Russia. But according to a recent poll, most Russians could care less about NATO expansion as they have their own problems to deal with it. Have these critics overstated the possible impact of expansion on Russia?
Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, professor of American Foreign Policy at the John Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, responds:
The Russian public is generally uninterested in and uninformed about NATO expansion; it is far more concerned with domestic matters. Although it is not yet intense 31 however, opposition to NATO expansion is widespread in the Russian, public. A January 1997 poll found that 50 per cent of the respondents opposed the admission of former Soviet republics into NATO and 41 per cent said former Warsaw Pact members should not join- The proportion of respondents supporting the idea of admitting former Soviet republics to the Atlantic Alliance was 13 per cent; in the case of former Warsaw Pact members it was 15 per cent. In Russia, as in other countries, it is the political elites who define the desirable foreign policies and then seek to mobilize support for them. The poll findings confirm what observers of Russia have warned: NATO expansion is an issue that has the potential to arouse popular feelings of danger and vulnerability and discredit those who argue in favor of cordial relations with and integration into the West. This becomes more likely if NATO is expanded to the Baltic countries, which would bring it to Russia's borders, as the administration has on several occasions indicated it plans to do.
In addition, both a short--term and a long-term danger to good relations between Russia and the West from NATO expansion, should be noted. In the short term expansion makes it more difficult to obtain Russian cooperation on a wide range of issues of importance to the United States, such as preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and containing rogue states, where Russia has leverage. Over the long term, expansion risks' discrediting in Russian eyes the entire post-Cold War settlement, which, in all its aspects - the end of Communism, the independence of former Soviet republics, and the deep reductions in armaments - is extraordinarily favorable to the West.
Mr. Robert Zoellick, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, responds:
Definitely yes. As you point out, the Russian public is focused on other issues -- jobs, inflation, corruption, crime, and even the cohesion of Russia. Those are the topics that will determine Russia's fate, not NATO enlargement.
Frankly, the Administration's mistake was to delay enlargement so long. As you may recall, four years ago President Yeltsin said in Warsaw that he didn't object to Poland's membership in NATO. Not surprisingly,, as old thinkers in Russia's national security establishment came to believe that throwing tantrums might intimidate NATO, they grew more shrill. You won't be surprised to learn that many of the vehement Russian opponents of NATO's enlargement arc the same old Soviet officials who threatened the U.S. in the Cold War. They have also shrewdly claimed that NATO's enlargement will preclude cooperation in other areas (in which they wouldn't have wanted to cooperate anyway!)
Interestingly, some true Russian reformers, like former Foreign Minister Kozyrev, have pointed out that to give in to these old- Russians/Soviets would strengthen them and hurt Russia's reforms, because they would then be able to argue that threats and taking a hard-line pay off. It would be a grave mistake to retreat in the face of such pressure. The people governing Russia, and the public, know that NATO is no threat. NATO's aims arc not hostile; in fact, the stability that NATO will help provide in Central- Eastern Europe will make for healthier neighbors that can benefit Russia.
To emphasize NATO's positive agenda, NATO should combine enlargement with an effort to reach out to Russia. And this is what NATO is doing. We should seek to cooperate on common issues of concern - such as nuclear proliferation, energy security, terrorism, and, as appropriate, peace-keeping missions. Then let Russia decide whether it wishes to accept the hand that NATO has offered. It certainly is in Russia's interest to do so. Russia's real security risks are to its south and east, not west. I believe most Russsians, including those in the security establishment, recognize tills reality. But if tantrums and threats can squeeze concessions from NATO, some Russians will employ them.