The New NATO Appeases Europe, Russia, and US

Article excerpt

Back in 1949, when we were all young, including the cold war, I watched the North Atlantic Treaty Organization being created. Its purpose, pithily summed up by the British Lord Ismay, NATO's first secretary general, was, "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down."

It was not long before the West Germans were in. The Russians, now partners with NATO in peacekeeping in Bosnia, are no longer entirely out. A big problem has become how to bring in some of the former Soviet satellites clamoring for admission without raising too many hackles in Russia. Formulas are being found for that, which may include a promise not to station forces too close to the Russian border.

Less openly talked about is the problem of the terms on which the United States will stay in. For a long time the Europeans, especially the French, have looked for a way of dealing with European military problems without requiring American endorsement. A contributing factor to this was the experience in Bosnia, where the United States, before it sent troops, was perceived as willing to engage in bombings that might lead to retaliation against European troops on the ground.

At a conference on NATO at the National Defense University, defense under-secretary Walter Slocombe was frank to say, "The job for NATO today is to allow all allies to work together and to find a way to manage without the United States. …