Hearings began this week in the Senate on admitting Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999. This vote in a few weeks on NATO expansion presents senators with a chance to contribute to the future of European security. And the Senate can use this opportunity to provide the president with its advice and consent on the specific changes that need to be made in the NATO Treaty.
As James Anderson of the Heritage Foundation has proposed, the Senate's current opportunity to advise the president is important and should be seized. Specifically, the Senate should condition its support for NATO enlargement on three conditions that will strengthen the agreement.
First, the newly created NATO-Russian Council must not compromise the alliance's decision-making autonomy. Second, the costs of the enlargement must be distributed equitably. And third, the NATO organization must retain its focus as a military alliance.
By insisting on these conditions, the Senate and President Clinton will insure that the NATO organization retains its focus as a military alliance and that NATO's decision-making autonomy remains free from potential meddling by Russians.
To drive home the point, Clinton officials maintain that the North Atlantic Council is NATO's supreme decision-making body. Secretary of Defense William Cohen stressed that the Senate will help to preserve NATO's integrity as a military alliance. The Senate must insure that an enlarged NATO does not lose its raison d'etre. NATO must remain a military alliance, and it should not become subservient to the Organization For Security …