Dr. Sean Gervasi (continued):
The Eastward Expansion of NATO
Back to the beginning of the article.
NATO had never carried out a formal study on the enlargement of the alliance until quite recently, when the Working Group on NATO Enlargement issued its report. No doubt there were internal classified studies, but nothing is known of their content to outsiders.
Despite the lack of clear analysis, however, the engines for moving things forward were working hard from late 1991. At the end of that year, NATO created the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. NATO member nations then invited 9 Central and East European countries to join the NACC in order to begin fostering cooperation between the NATO powers and former members of the Warsaw Pact.
This was a first effort to offer something to East European countries wishing to join NATO itself. The NACC, however, did not really satisfy the demands of those countries, and in the beginning of 1994 the US launched the idea of a Partnership for Peace. The PFP offered nations wishing to join NATO the possibility of co-operating in various NATO activities, including training exercises and peacekeeping. More than 20 countries, including Russia, are now participating in the PFP.
Many of these countries wish eventually to join NATO. Russia obviously will not join. It believes that NATO should not be moving eastwards. According to the Center for Defense Infromation in Washington, a respected independent research center on military affairs, Russia is participating in the PFP "to avoid being shut out of the European security structure altogether." (6)
The movement toward the enlargement of NATO has therefore been steadily gathering momentum. The creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council was more or less an expression of sympathy and openness toward those aspiring to NATO membership. But it did not carry things very far. The creation of the Partnership for Peace was more concrete. It actually involved former Warsaw Pact members in NATO itself. It also began a "two-track" policy toward Russia, in which Russia was given a more or less empty relationship with NATO simply to allay its concerns about NATO expansion.
However, despite this continous development, the public rationale for this expansion has for the most part rested on fairly vague premises. And this leads to the question of what has been driving the expansion of NATO during the last four years. The question must be posed for two areas: the Balkans and the countries of Central Europe. For there is an important struggle going on in the Balkans, a struggle for mastery of the southern Balkans in particular. And NATO is now involved in that struggle. There is also, of course, a new drift back to Cold-War policies on the part of certain Western countries. And that drift is carrying NATO into Central Europe.
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for mastery in the Balkans
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Last revised: Dec. 29, 1998