What do Cherry Garcia ice cream, "Monkees' Greatest Hits"
CDs, and G.I. Joe action figures have to do with NATO expansion?
More than one might think. The heads of firms that produce
these products - Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, Rhino Records, and Hasbro
Inc. - have all joined an unusual alliance that's against adding
Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to the Atlantic Alliance.
Whether such last-ditch opposition will make a difference
remains to be seen. With a US Senate vote on NATO expansion set for
late this week, all signs still point to easy approval of arguably
the most fateful foreign policy initiative of the Clinton
Even opponents admit that the administration right now has
more than the 66 "yes" votes needed for approval.
But an intensified effort by foes has at least guaranteed
that the final Senate debate on the subject won't be as listless as
seemed likely only a few weeks ago.
Business groups, arms control advocates, fiscal
conservatives, and think tank wonks have all raised their voices in
an effort to make sure senators think hard about the consequences
of the NATO expansion ballot.
Their main points: NATO expansion could cost much more than
predicted, might blur NATO's purpose, and could isolate Russia and
revive a cold war mentality on both sides of the new NATO line.
"The downside potential if things go wrong is considerable,"
warns former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, who during his time in
office was one of Washington's most respected national-security
The addition of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would mark the first
expansion of the organization since Spain was accepted as a member
The Clinton administration has pushed hard for the move,
saying it would ensure stability in the region and help cement the
emerging democracies of Eastern Europe into the larger Western
Under the NATO charter, all of the 16 current NATO members
must approve any expansion. That gives the Senate an effective veto
power over the move, via its authority to ratify presidential
The full Senate began debating NATO expansion in March. The
discussion seemed largely preliminary, however, and majority leader
Sen. Trent Lott (R) of Mississippi put off full consideration until
after the Easter recess.
That's given time for the opposition to organize. Business
Leaders for Sensible Priorities (BLSP), an education and lobbying
organization headed by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc.,
began a TV and newspaper ad blitz on April 19.
"Hey, let's scare the Russians!" ran the ad the group placed
in some major US newspapers. "Let's take NATO and expand it toward
Russia's very borders. …