|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
On July 8, 1997, the sixteen member nations of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, met in Madrid and extended invitations to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to join the alliance by 1999, its fiftieth anniversary. Despite agreeing to expansion in principle, the heads of state and government of the sixteen member nations failed both to address how it will take place and what purpose an expanded NATO will serve.
The once heated debates that surrounded expansion have largely subsided since the Madrid Summit. Although expansion still requires confirmation by each of the member nation's respective parliament, most experts agree that it is virtually guaranteed. Attention now has shifted toward the agreement itself, particularly: what will it cost; who will pay for the costs; is it necessary; how should enlargement be conducted; what is an expanded NATO's purpose?
With the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, NATO has experienced something of an identity crisis. Originally conceived as a military alliance to deter Soviet expansion into Western Europe, recent events have forced NATO to reassess its once clear objective. As the political and military circumstances have changed in Europe, many people believe that NATO should adapt and reflect these changes.
Experts believe that the collapse of the Soviet Union has presented a historic opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and extend security to the countries of the former Soviet bloc. An expanded NATO, they argue, may provide the military security and political integration necessary to aid the development of these young democracies. Furthermore, these experts contend that enlargement will help secure a more stable and peaceful future for Europe, which is crucial for U.S. interests. In addition to resolving previous errors, many of these experts argue that an expanded NATO should address the problems of the post-Cold War world, including: drug trafficking, international terrorism and regional conflicts fueled by ethnic, racial and religious hatreds.
Critics of expansion contend that enlarging NATO risks diluting both its military effectiveness and capabilities. They argue that the new alliance will lack the cohesion and clearly defined purpose that made NATO in its previous incarnation the most successful military alliance of modern times. Opponents of expansion also insist that the economic price of enlargement far outweighs its benefits. Furthermore, these experts fear that an enlarged NATO threatens to divide the world into coalitions, not to mention the very real possibility of isolating Russia and fanning the flames of the hardline forces that still threaten Russia's democratic development.
NATO's leaders recognized the possible ramifications that expansion might have on Russia. In an effort to ease Russia's fears, NATO leaders and Russia signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act at the Paris Summit in May. At the heart of the agreement is the establishment of a Permanent Joint Council to discuss security matters of common interest, but it does not grant Moscow the veto it demanded over NATO decisions. In another move to placate Russia, the Group of Seven industrial nations offered Moscow membership at the Denver Summit in July. Nonetheless, the danger of sewing the seeds of distrust with Russia remains a real concern for the new NATO.
Despite the seemingly irreversible course NATO has taken, many questions still remain regarding expansion. In the United States, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has begun its hearings on NATO expansion on October 7, and is expected to vote on it sometime next year. Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, professor of American foreign policy at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, argues that "the Senate should reject NATO expansion, an idea with no benefits and potentially enormous costs….Not one of the reasons cited in favor of expansion stands up to scrutiny."
In contrast to Dr. Mandelbaum, supporters of NATO expansion, like Mr. Robert Zoellick, former State Department counselor and Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs during the Bush administration, argues "that this is one of those important times in history where after an end of one era and the beginning of another, we have to get the structure right....This would be an unfortunate time to leave them (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary) in the lurch."
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?
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