A DRUMBEAT for enlarging the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) will reach a crescendo this fall on both sides of the
Atlantic. It is propelled by the alliance's criminal inaction in
Bosnia, an impending NATO summit in January 1994, and fear of
NATO's waning relevance.
On Capitol Hill Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana has
popularized "out of area or out of business" sloganeering, while
think-tank analysts have begun to echo that conviction. German
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel used an early September speech to
advocate NATO's extension into East-Central Europe, endorsed a few
weeks later by NATO Secretary-General Manfred Worner.
If the nations of East-Central Europe were accepted into NATO,
fresh perils and false promises would befall a Europe already beset
by post-euphoric communism. NATO'S own capabilities would be
When East Europeans first tasted political freedom in 1989-90,
there was eager anticipation of a post-cold-war European security
system that could emerge from the Conference on Security and
Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). But by December 1991 the language of
collective security had been shelved. The foreign ministries of
Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary began a campaign for NATO
membership, while "Atlantic clubs" or NATO "friendship
associations" sprouted, advocating their countries' entries into
A NATO that reached to the Bug River and Transylvania would
import the intractable problems of Europe's eastern half - peoples
and borders. That every nation has a diaspora and every state
harbors irredentist issues will not disappear. When Hungary's
principal security issue - its diaspora of more than 3 million in
Slovakia, Transylvania, and Vojvodina - is invoked by Budapest as
a nascent NATO member, will NATO become a player in such disputes?
Admitting some, but not all, former Warsaw Pact members also
raises the thorny issue of membership criteria. Criteria related to
democracy never troubled NATO while Portuguese dictator Antonio
Salazar led that member state; neither Greece nor Turkey lost
membership when military coups took place, and Italian corruption
troubled no one very much either.
Publishing criteria today is unlikely to foster alliance
integration or warm relations with states that are excluded.
A troubling consequence of NATO's extension east may be the
perception of heightened threat to Russia and other Soviet
successor states, forging a re-integration under Moscow's tutelage.
Boris Yeltsin uttered a vague acceptance of Polish or Czech entry
into NATO in visits to Warsaw and Prague. But Russian nationalism,
not Mr. Yeltsin or his foreign ministry, is the problem.
Proponents of NATO's expansion rely heavily on the argument that
democratic transitions in Eastern Europe will be more stable if
these countries are rapidly included within the North Atlantic
alliance. Yet this, too, misses the point. We want successful
transitions, not just rapid ones.
Polish Vice Minister of Defense Przemyslaw Grudzinski has spoken
of a 50 percent increase in defense budgets that would be needed to
get Polish forces in shape to contribute in a meaningful way. …