NATO: Strengthening the Credibility of Article V

Article excerpt

I thank the Chairman for this opportunity to continue our examination of the future of the NATO Alliance. I join in welcoming Secretary Albright and our other distinguished witnesses. For decades, discussions of NATO frequently have begun with the premise that the Alliance is at a crossroads or even in crisis. When evaluating NATO, I start from the presumption that after 60 years, it is still a work in progress. If one takes this long term view, current alliance deficiencies though serious -- do not seem insurmountable. It is important to take stock of just how remarkable it is that NATO has enlarged from 12 to 28 countries and is now involved in combat three thousand miles from Europe. NATO possesses enormous geopolitical assets and a history of achievement that, with the proper leadership, can undergird success in the future. The paramount question facing NATO today is how to strengthen the credibility of Article Five. Recent developments have eroded some of NATO's deterrence value. This erosion has occurred as Members of the Alliance have expressed less enthusiasm for NATO expansion and found an increasing number of reasons to avoid committing forces to Afghanistan. The decline in the deterrent value of Article Five became more apparent with the onset of a string of energy crises in Europe and the adoption by several West European governments of "beggar-thy-neighbor" policies with respect to oil and natural gas arrangements with the Russian Federation. The Obama Administration's decision to alter missile defense plans also has implications for Alliance confidence in Article Five. Iranian missiles never constituted the primary rationale for Polish and Czech decisions to buy into the Bush Administration's plan. Rather, it was the waning confidence in NATO, and Article Five in particular, that lent missile defense political credibility in those countries. The United States must be sensitive to events that have transpired in the broader European security environment since the Bush plan was proposed and negotiated. Our commitment to NATO remains the most important vehicle for projecting stability throughout Europe and even into regions of Asia and the Middle East. It is critical that we re-establish the credibility of these assurances. An invigoration of NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe and joint planning for contingencies would be a first step. The Administration also must raise the profile of U.S. political and economic cooperation with Eastern Europe, and intensify military contacts with selected countries. …