The current proposal to expand
NATO eastward creates many dangers.
It should be stated that many
leaders in Western countries oppose the expansion of NATO, and they have
repeatedly explained the dangers of such expansion. It is important to
recognize, that despite the official position of NATO and the recent report
of the Working Group, there is strong opposition to NATO's moving eastward.
Nonetheless, for the moment, those in favor of NATO expansion have won
Four dangers of NATO expansion
in particular require discussion here.
The first is that the expansion
of NATO will bring new members under the NATO umbrella. This will mean,
for instance, that the United States and other Western members are obliged
to defend, say, Slovakia against an attack. Where will an attack come from?
Is NATO really prepared to defend Slovakia in the event of a conflict with
another East European country?
In a country like the United
States, this would be very unpopular. As Senator Kassebaum put it in October
of last year:
|"Are the American people prepared to pledge, in
the words of the North Atlantic Treaty, that an armed attack against one
or more of these potential new members will be considered an attack against
The issue of extending the
umbrella is a critical one. For the NATO powers are nuclear powers. The
Working Group report stated that, in appropriate circumstances, the forces
of NATO allies could be stationed on the territory of new members. And
the Working Group did not rule out, as it should have, the stationing of
nuclear wepons on the territory of new members. The failure to rule out
such a possibility means that NATO is embarking on a dangerous path, a
path which increases the risks of nuclear war.
The Working Group's silence
on this matter cannot fail to be taken as a threat by those who are not
joining NATO. And, clearly, the most important of these is Russia, because
it, too, posseses nuclear weapons -- as do the Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
The second danger is that
expansion will jeopardize relations between the United States and Russia,
or even lead to a second Cold War. While NATO countries present the organization
as a defensive alliance, Russia sees it quite differently. For more than
forty years, the Soviet Union considered NATO as an offensive alliance
aimed at all the members of the Warsaw pact. The general opinion in Russia
is still that NATO is an offensive alliance. The former Foreign Minister,
Mr. Kozyrev, made this quite clear to NATO members. How can Russia possibly
see things differently in the future?
The expansion of NATO is inevitably
perceived by Russia as encirclement. It is seen as assuming that Russia
will inevitably again become an aggressive state. This, however, is much
more likely to push Russia toward belligerence than to do anything else.
It will certainly not calm its fears about the intentions of NATO in moving
into Eastern Europe. Referring to the recent NATO decision on expansion,
the Director of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies of the Russian
Academy of Sciences, stated recently that:
|Russia is still a military superpower with a huge area
and a large population. It is a country with enormous economic capabilities
which has extraordinary poten- tial for good or ill. But now it is a humiliated
country in search of identity and direction. To a certain extent, the West
and its position on NATO expansion will determine what direction Russia
chooses. The future of European Security depends on this decision."
The third danger in extending
NATO is that will undermine the implementation of the START I Treaty and
the ratification of the START II Treaty, as well as other arms control
and arms limitation treaties designed to increase European security. The
Ruyssians, for instance, have made it clear that they will go ahead with
the implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty
"if the situation in Europe is stable". The expansion of NATO
into Eastern Europe, however, significantly changes the present equilibrium
in Europe. So NATO countries are risking many of the achievements of the
last 25 years in the field of disarmament. Some argue convincingly that
NATO expansion will undermine the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Such consequences will hardly
make Europe, or the globe, a safer place in the future.
The fourth principal danger
in NATO expansion is that it will unsettle the situation in Eastern Europe.
NATO claims that its expansion will help to ensure stability. But Eastern
Europe, particularly after the changes of the last five years, is already
an unstable place. The piecemeal expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe
will increase tensions between new members and those left outside. It cannot
fail to do so. Those left outside NATO are bound to feel more insecure
when NATO has established itself in a neighboring country. This would place
them in a buffer zone between an expanding NATO and Russia. They are bound
to react in a fearful, and even hostile manner. The piecemeal expansion
of NATO could even trigger an arms race in Eastern Europe.