Elder statesman Henry Kissinger testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday in favor of NATO expansion, but he cautioned that the agreement as it stands could undermine the alliance's effectiveness.
Mr. Kissinger argued that the Founding Act, signed this year, giving Russia a seat in the Permanent Joint Council, could erode the "free and easy `family atmosphere' of NATO's existing institutions."
The PJC, which consists of the 16 permanent members plus Russia, would not rule NATO but would act instead as a consultative body between NATO and Russia, the former secretary of state noted.
Created to give Russia a "voice but not a veto" in European security affairs, the act means "de facto membership," Mr. Kissinger said, and full NATO members would be hard pressed to separate the special interests of NATO members from the PJC.
He also pointed out that the Founding Act with Russia is an executive agreement - not subject to Senate ratification - and would have Russia participating in the PJC two years before the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, which have been invited to apply to become the first new NATO members.
"If the admission of the new members is not ratified, we will have inherited the worst possible outcome - the demoralization of Central Europe and a NATO rendered dysfunctional by the Founding Act," he said.
But Mr. Kissinger offered the Senate, in its role as ratifying body, a solution.
"The Senate should explicitly reassert the central role of the Atlantic alliance for American foreign policy and insist that nothing in any other document shall detract from the North Atlantic Council as the supreme body of alliance."
The hearing was …