North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Future. (Legislation and Policy)

Article excerpt

[The following are excerpt of the speech given to the Prague, Czechoslovakia Meeting held in November 2002.]

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) future in the run-up to the Alliance's summit meeting in Prague next November. The preamble to the 1949 NATO Treaty states:

[The Parties] are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic Area.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) achieved these purposes during the Cold War. Since then, it fulfilled them in the Balkans through its peacekeeping work in Bosnia and in the war against ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. NATO has adapted itself to play an important role supporting the current U.S.-led war on terrorism. In the future, an expanding list of NATO members will continue to promote Euro-Atlantic stability. The Alliance will continue to safeguard the community of North Atlantic democracies against threats of all types, including, I suppose, threats we cannot now even anticipate.

Since 1949, broad, bipartisan support for NATO has been an element of U.S. national security policy. This is a sign that the phrase Atlantic community is meaningful. The United States and its European and Canadian Allies indeed constitute a community. We are not just a collection of members of a multinational forum. We share fundamental beliefs for example, about the nature of human beings, their rights and their relationship to their respective governments. And the security of the community's different elements is of a piece. Among the Atlantic community's members, there are large common interests economic and political as well as military and there is true fellow feeling that motivates action. For an alliance of this kind to remain vital for over fifty years, there must be more than a treaty underlying it. There must be sentiment a sense of community--that makes the Alliance richer than a simple legal obligation.

This point, I think, was illustrated in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attack on the United States.

NATO and our NATO allies responded to the attack quickly, loyally and usefully. Less than 24 hours after the World Trade Center and Pentagon were hit, the NATO Alliance, for the first time in history, invoked Article 5 - the collective defense provision of the 1949 NATO Treaty. Since last fall, seven NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft have been patrolling U.S. skies. The war effort and the post-Taliban reconstruction and security effort in Afghanistan are benefiting from individual NATO Allies' and Partners' contributions. Such Allied contributions have come within and outside formal NATO structures. All those contributions, however, are the result of more than fifty years of joint planning, training and operations within NATO.

Those contributions have entailed great sacrifice. America is not the only NATO ally to have lost soldiers in Operation Enduring Freedom. The forces of our Canadian and European allies also have suffered losses, as have other coalition states in Operation Enduring Freedom.

In his statement to NATO defense ministers last June, Secretary Rumsfeld listed terrorism first among the new threats facing the Alliance. The others he mentioned were cyber-attack, high-tech conventional weapons, and ballistic and cruise missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction. Members of this Committee also recognize these new threats. As Senator Lugar pointed out in a recent speech:

The terrorist attacks on the United States of last September have graphically demonstrated how vulnerable we are. And when I say 'we', I mean the West in general, including Europe. The next attack could just as easily be in London, Paris, or Berlin as in Washington, Los Angeles or New York. …