NATO Enlargement: Sailing between Scylla and Charybdis

By Binnendijk, Hans | Strategic Forum, November 1995 | Go to article overview

NATO Enlargement: Sailing between Scylla and Charybdis


Binnendijk, Hans, Strategic Forum


Conclusions

The NATO enlargement process faces two dangers. The first is that enlargement will proceed too fast. If we move too fast, enlargement could upset a very delicate political process underway in Russia. This has been Europe's concern this year.

The other danger is that if we slow the process too much, we will lose momentum and the process will stall. This may be Europe's concern next year.

NATO needs an enlargement plan that sails deftly between this Scylla and Charybdis.

What Can We Learn from History?

History teaches us the importance of Central and Eastern Europe to world peace. Two World Wars and the Cold War were fought this century primarily over the territory between Germany and Russia.

There have been four previous enlargements of NATO. The lesson is that previously countries either have joined in steps or with conditions.

* Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, but they became associate members before becoming full members.

* West Germany joined in 1955, but at first it joined indirectly via the Western Union.

* Spain joined in 1982 but it has not yet joined the integrated military command.

* East Germany joined in 1990 when it united with West Germany, but NATO deployments in the former East Germany are initially limited.

Recent history tells us that the U.S./NATO decision to enlarge was made in phases and without a clear consensus:

* l993 was a year of deliberation in the U.S. Government, mostly in the State Department. Both State and the National Security Council were split internally on the issue. Momentum for enlargement was reversed temporarily by Russian events of October l993. This cleared the way for Partnership for Peace (PFP) to become the centerpiece for the January 1994 summit.

* 1994 was a year of decision. The January NATO summit in Brussels created the PFP and it opened the door for enlargement. Richard Holbrooke became Assistant Secretary of State and championed enlargement. President Clinton travelled to Warsaw that July and declared in a speech that enlargement was not a matter of whether, but when. The December 1994 Ministerial commissioned a NATO study on the "why and how" of enlargement, and a sense of momentum was created.

* 1995 is the year of the Russian reaction. It actually started in November 1994 with President Boris Yeltsin's "Cold Peace" speech in Budapest which was followed by Russia's unwillingness to sign its Individual Partnership Program (IPP) and to implement its cooperation plans with NATO. While the Russian reaction was modified at the May l995 Moscow summit and Noordwijk meeting, their opposition continues.

Partnership for Peace a Success

In less than two years, PFP has become a true success. It is no longer seen by most partners as a second best alternative to NATO membership, but as a practical way to modernize their armed forces and to become more interoperable with NATO forces.

Twenty-six new partner countries have joined PFP and they are beginning the process of self-differentiation. Sixteen have liaison officers at SHAPE's Partnership Coordination Cell (PCC); and the PCC together with Russian liaison officers participated in planning for the Bosnia IFOR deployment. Fourteen countries are participating in the PFP Planning and Review Process which provides a high degree of military transparency.

The United States has committed $100 million to support PFP activities. Militarily, PFP countries have participated in numerous exercises and significant military events. But PFP is still somewhat schizophrenic. Some see it as a prep school for NATO--others see it as a lasting institution which will perform peacekeeping, humanitarian, and search and rescue functions.

So Why Enlarge?

There are at least four reasons why NATO enlargement has emerged as U.S. policy. The reasons can be personified in four individuals. …

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