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Debate: NATO expansion

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Should NATO continue to expand into East Europe and possible beyond?

Background and context

The decision whether to enlarge the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation from its present membership of 19 States to include the States of Eastern Europe, the Baltic and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) stems from the admission of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary at the Madrid summit of the alliance in 1997.
The subsequent 50th anniversary summit in Washington DC in April 1999 brought strong statements of support for NATO enlargement. In adherence to the pledge made in the Republican Party’s ‘Contract for America’, President Bush has maintained the impetus for enlargement through speeches made during his official trip to Europe in June 2001. In response, NATO Secretary General George Robertson has affirmed that NATO expects to proceed to further enlargement at the November 2002 summit in Prague.However, the debate has received more critical attention in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Russia holds a pivotal role in the alliance against terrorism and President Vladimir Putin has evinced significant willingness to cooperate with American strategy in Afghanistan. The question is whether the US and NATO States are prepared to risk this novel alliance for the enlargement of their Cold War one. The discussion turns on the persuasiveness of the threat posed by Russia now and in the future, and conversely the view taken of the stability of the myriad republics of the CIS.

Contents

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Post-Cold War: Is NATO still needed in the post Cold War era?

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Yes

  • NATO expansion helps deter Russian expansionism. Russia still has a large influence on its neighbors. The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the protracted collapse of the Soviet Union into the Commonwealth of Independent States did remove the overwhelming threat of the USSR against Western Europe. However, the threat persists in a different form. The newly independent republics remain vulnerable to the vast political and military influence of Russia. The new threat is the destruction of stability of the new republics, and thus Russian expansion that is hostile to both the republics and the Western European states in their proximity. The solution is pre-emptive expansion in the other direction. The broadening of NATO to include the Eastern republics shall offer a bulwark against Russian expansion. NATO shall continue to perform the role of a defensive alliance against a putative military threat.
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No

  • NATO is an outdated alliance against a long gone Soviet threat Russia can no longer offer the conventional military threat of the Cold War. The acceptance of this reality by the US is evidenced by the fact that there are no longer 300,000 troops stationed in Germany. The indebted and demoralised Russian infantry is presently overstretched in the persistent conflicts in Chechnya and Tajikistan. The combination of the weakness of Russia’s conventional forces and the antagonism that would be created by the deployment of NATO troops on its borders in the new republics would be dangerously counter-productive. Russia would be obliged more than ever to depend on her nuclear arsenal. Therefore, expansion is not only unnecessary but it is also likely to increase the threat of nuclear conflict in Western Europe.


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Russia: Will Russia tolerate further expansion? Does this matter?

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Yes

  • The increasing trend towards Russian nationalism can be attributed to the weakness of the economy and the continued conflict in Chechnya, rather than the possibility of NATO expansion. The Russian people are concerned about hardship and hazard within their own borders rather than without. Moreover, now that the promise of NATO enlargement exists, a failure to offer the promised protection would raise grave doubts regarding the steadfastness of the NATO States. Moreover, the nationalism and belligerency of the Russian parliament would be implicitly rewarded. NATO should not be teaching Russia the lesson that hostility in Eastern Europe gets results that lessen the security of all.
  • NATO expansion does not impair US-Russian relations Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. "NATO Enlargement is No Threat to US-Russian Relations". Heritage Foundation. 26 Feb. 1998 - "Eventually bringing Russia into the Western orbit will benefit both Russia and the United States. Post-communist Russia needs to be engaged--not isolated--on the global scene, including on issues of European security. Russian objections to the current round of NATO enlargement are not widespread popular sentiments but rather a facet of Moscow's political games. The United States should mount a comprehensive program, using the USIA and other avenues of public diplomacy, to explain the truth about NATO enlargement to Russia's media and general public. Once the facts are known, Russians will understand that the ascendancy of the new members into the alliance in no way prevents the United States from continuing to work with Russia to enhance bilateral and multilateral security cooperation."


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No

  • NATO expansion threatens and antagonizes Russia The realisation of this policy shall only serve to manufacture the expansionist demon that NATO fears. The election of the ultranationalist Duma in 1996, the choice of the hardliner Yvegeny Primakov as foreign minister, and the failure of the reformist party ‘Russia’s Choice’ under Yegor Gaidar even to clear the 5% hurdle for Duma membership can be attributed, in whole or in part, to the Russian sense of isolation from Western Europe. This sense is dramatically emboldened by such provocative actions as threatening to station NATO troops on its borders. The Russian people are unlikely to consider that the forward deployment is not directed against them, but instead is only designed to maintain internal stability in the neighbouring republics. By inflaming Russian nationalism, NATO expansion is obstructs democratic development for Russia and undermines the security of its neighbouring republics.
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Democracy: Does NATO membership help liberalize countries?

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Yes

  • The prospect of NATO membership encourages democratic reforms. The criteria for NATO membership include stable democracy ; civilian control of the armed forces ; a sufficient military capacity to make a meaningful contribution to collective security ; and the absence of active disputes on or within the borders of the State. This incentivisation is critical given the indication from the European Union at the Cologne conference that the majority of these countries will not be permitted to accede to EU membership within the coming decade. NATO membership will help these fledging States to help themselves.


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No

  • NATO membership does not help democratize countries Dan Reiter. "Why NATO Enlargement Does Not Spread Democracy". International Security. 2001 - "Proponents of NATO enlargement argue that it will help spread democracy in Eastern Europe. The experience of the Cold War and post-Cold War periods demonstrates, however, that NATO enlargement has not and will not have a significant impact on the survival of democracy. During the Cold War, some states flipped between democracy and autocracy with no effect on their status within NATO. Since the end of the Cold War, former communist states have successfully pursued democracy, demonstrating a willingness to democratize regardless of whether NATO membership is in the offing. This does not mean that the West is powerless in advancing the laudable goal of promoting democracy in Eastern Europe. The EU is likely to be equally if not more effective than NATO at democratizing Eastern Europe, without the costs or the geopolitical risks incurred by enlarging the alliance. More broadly, NATO's inability to spread democracy exemplifies limits in the democratizing potential of international institutions, providing an important caveat to the liberal optimism of the synergy between democracy and international organization.
NATO's inability to spread democracy is a telling blow against arguments for further enlargement. NATO did not push democratization during or after the Cold War, and there is no reason to believe that it will do so in this decade."
  • Stability in new democracies would be best achieved through "Partnership for Peace". The policy that received strong support under the Clinton administration involves regular consultations, exercises and opportunities for education that seek to professionalize the civilian and military institutions of the republics of the former Soviet Union. This policy of genuine aid is preferable to the wish-list of democratic ideals that compose the criteria for NATO membership. Paradoxically, were one of the republics actually able to achieve all the criteria delineated, the necessity for their NATO protection would be marginal. Conversely, were the republics predictably unable to realize these goals, the protection of NATO through expansion or PFP would be genuine. Yet, it is in these situations of tenuous stability that States will be denied proper civilian and military aid from NATO.


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Europe: Does NATO expansion benefit Europe politics and integration?

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Yes

  • Expanding NATO reduces potential of conflict between states Former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick explained, "There is . . . only one reliable guarantee against aggression. It is not found in international organizations. It is found in the spread of democracy. It derives from the simple fact that true democracies do not invade one another and do not engage in aggressive wars. . . . Preserving and strengthening democracies in Central and Eastern Europe should be the United States' central goal and top foreign policy priority in Europe, in my opinion. Membership in NATO will help to achieve those goals and strengthen the alliance."[1]


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No

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US interests: Is NATO important in advancing US interests? Is this the problem?

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Yes

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No


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NATO functions: Will expansion strengthen the functions of NATO?

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Yes

  • It ought to be accepted that the NATO alliance is already diluted. It should not be perceived as a standing military force, but a holding company whose individual members can draw upon a collective infrastructure and military support in the event of intervention in and around Europe. The expansion of NATO should be the opportunity to re-examine the current force deployment and strategic capability of the alliance. For example, the US maintains significant permanent deployment of infantry, aircraft and armour in Germany that could possibly be transferred to a more active role in protecting the borders of the newly independent republics. Similarly, the NATO ‘After-Action’ report into ‘Operation Allied Force’ in Kosovo highlighted the dependence of the offensive on the US capacity for strategic airlift. The acquisition of the requisite air transport by the Western European States would allow more credible guarantees of security throughout Europe. Forward deployment of NATO troops into the new republics is not a prerequisite for expansion. The core of the alliance is the pledge to protect which is undiminished by the addition of new members.
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No

  • NATO expansion can only lead to the overstretching of the organisation and thus the undermining of stability for the entirety of Europe. The credibility of the commitment of article V of the NATO Charter in which every member pledges to come to the defence of another has already been undermined by the inclusion of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. NATO runs the grave risk of becoming so large and diverse it resembles a political organisation rather than a military alliance. The military contribution of the new members would be by definition limited. Were these republics already capable of providing sufficient security to their borders, there would be no necessity for NATO membership. At the point where the NATO commitments become more declaratory than real, the security of every State including the new members is called into question. Thus NATO expansion might in fact assist any State eager for its own expansionism in Eastern Europe.


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NATO missions: Have NATO missions been legitimate?

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Yes

  • Despite difficulties, Afghanistan is a success for NATO Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker. "NATO Expansion, and a Bush Legacy, Are in Doubt". The New York Times. 12 Mar. 2008 - "Ten years ago, the idea that NATO would be running a major military operation half way around the world would have seemed preposterous. Even five years ago, just after the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban, I can still remember officials in many allied countries questioning whether the Alliance should take on such a challenging task so far beyond its original mission. Today that theoretical debate about missions is over – every one of NATO’s 26 members not only supports but has forces in Afghanistan. NATO has 42,000 troops in country, 28,000 of which are from countries other than the United States. NATO’s mission began in 2003 with the provision of a single headquarters in Kabul alone, when no single country was willing to take on that task and it has gradually expanded to the north, west, south and east so that it now covers all of Afghanistan. Despite the perception that European allies are losing faith in the mission – indeed a serious concern – it is none the less the case that there are 5,000 more non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan this year than there were last year, and there are decent prospects that more European (likely French and British) troops will be pledged at the Bucharest summit and deployed later this spring."


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No


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Would NATO withstand the difficulties faced by the high cost of expansion?

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Yes

  • The expense of NATO expansion is marginal when compared to the defence budgets of the major NATO States. The US defence expenditure alone for the fiscal year 2002 is $344 billion. Further, the correct equation is not between the expense of stationing troops in these new States and the current saving from non-deployment. The balance is between the expense of forward deployment or other military investment and the prohibitive cost in dollars and lives from a conflict between NATO and Russia, or a conflagration in any of the Eastern republics. NATO expansion is nothing more than a cost-effective insurance policy against a very real risk.
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No

  • The costs of NATO expansion are prohibitive at a time when the Western European members are scaling back their defence budgets and the reducing the size of their conventional forces. It is estimated that expense of ten years of protecting the borders of Eastern Europe are between $10 and $50 billion. Moreover, the bill for stationing forces permanently in the territory new Eastern European members would likely exceed $100 billion per decade. Given the fragile economies of the new republics, the existing NATO States will be obliged to absorb the expense of expansion. The proper question is whether the taxpayers of the US and Western European States wish to pay to protect citizens of distant republics from phantom threats.
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Ukraine: Should Ukraine be given membership into NATO?

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Yes

  • Ukraine already has a close link with NATO. NATO has said that "NATO and Ukraine actively cooperate in international peace-support operations and have developed practical cooperation in a wide range of other areas."
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No

“We were shocked by the results. We suddenly discovered that the number of Ukrainians who supported the country’s entry into NATO decreased ten percent,” bewildered Kucheriv said. Indeed, in March public support for Ukraine’s entry into NATO accounted for 21.8 percent, but last December it accounted for 32 percent, the Democratic Initiatives Fund suggested. It is enough to upset those who tried to persuade the world of Ukraine’s long-standing aspirations to join NATO."


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Georgia: Is Georgia a good candidate for membership in NATO?

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Yes

  • Georgia has made many efforts to improve stability After the Rose revolution the country introduced a large number of reforms to improve stability and the authority of the government. Although they originally resulted in a crises, that government has now asserted its authority and shown its ability to keep the country stable.
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No


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Albania: Is Albania a good candidate for NATO membership?

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Yes

  • The government of Albania are putting a lot of effort into ensuring stability. There have been many large political reforms in the country to do this and, as a result, Albania would be a good candidate for NATO membership.
  • The economy of Albania is strong. Wikipedia notes that "more and more opportunities are emerging in Albania itself as its economy steadily develops." A country like this is the sort of country that is needed in NATO.
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No


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Croatia: Is Croatia a good candidate for NATO membership?

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Yes

  • NATO already has close links with Croatia. Last year NATO held a military exercise in Croatia. This is the only time that NATO has ever held a military exercise in a non member country. This shows that NATO already has very close links.
  • Croatia is doing well at securing stability. Croatia has a well formed government that is relatively stable. This makes it a perfect candidate for NATO membership.
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No

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Israel: Should Israel be given full membership in NATO?

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Yes

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No



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Iraq: Should Iraq be included in NATO?

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Yes

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No

  • Iraq is a very unstable country. There are daily reports of terrorist attacks and a large dispute over the running of the country so Iraq is not stable enough for NATO membership.
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Egypt: Should Egypt be included in NATO?

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Yes

  • NATO would benefit substantially by Egypt's manpower Thomas Friedman. "Expanding Club NATO". The New York Times. October 26, 2003 - "And that brings us to why NATO should invite in Egypt: manpower. As Lord Robertson, the NATO secretary general, explained to me, all of the NATO European members, plus Canada, have a combined total of 1.4 million soldiers on active duty -- but only 55,000 are actually usable for missions abroad. The others are either deskbound, untrained for anything other than sitting in one static position in Europe to deter the Soviet Union or lacking in logistical, engineering and command and control support for long-range missions. Also, many Euro-armies are unionized and don't care to work weekends! Since all 55,000 of NATO's usable Euro-Canadian troops are now deployed on peacekeeping missions, absent military restructuring, NATO is pretty well maxed out -- and so are we."


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No

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Pro/con resources

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Yes


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No


See also

External links

Books:

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