House Republican Policy Committee
Report to the Conference
The Key to Peace and American Security is NATO Expansion
May 23, 1997
On March 6, 1997, House Republicans released their Legislative
Priorities for the 105th Congress. Priority 11, Rebuild a Strong
National Defense, included a call to "Expand NATO to ensure peace for future
generations." This Report summarizes current progress and challenges
in implementing this priority.
America's victory in the Cold War, which liberated
the nations imprisoned in the Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union,
is President Reagan's greatest legacy. Consolidating and safeguarding that
victory through expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has
long been a key priority of the Congressional majority. The NATO
Participation Act, a Republican initiative enacted in 1994, created a framework
to assist the leading candidates for admission to the Alliance. And
the NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act, a key plank of the Contract with
America enacted in 1996, fostered the impending expansion of the NATO Alliance
to include, at a minimum, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.
Today, the Congressional majority is committed to
a broader and deeper expansion of the Atlantic Alliance. The European
Security Act, introduced by Chairman Gilman of the House International
Relations Committee on April 24, 1997, paves the way for expansion of NATO
and a free and secure Europe.
But successful expansion of the Alliance is threatened--by
a Russian diplomatic offensive, and by the Clinton Administration's ill-considered
responses to it. The "Founding Act" agreed to by Russia and NATO,
as well as the expected adoption of a restricted program of expansion at
the Madrid Summit in July, threaten both NATO expansion and the integrity
of the existing NATO structure. Congress must ensure that freedom's
victory in the Cold War is not compromised in its aftermath.
Defending Central and Eastern Europe
The fundamental geopolitical reality in Central and
Eastern Europe is the inherent imbalance of power between Russia and its
immediate and near neighbors, either individually or in combination.
This age-old reality is reflected in Russian dominion over Poland, the
Baltic nations, Finland, Belarus, and Ukraine in the 18th and 19th centuries,
and over the vast imperium of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact in the 20th
The current eclipse of Russian military and economic
power should not blind us to centuries-old realities of geography and economics.
An expanded NATO remains an essential shield against a resurgence of Russian
power. Even today, there is clear evidence of a revival of Russian
Russia has achieved a "reunion" with Belarus, a
nation of 10.5 million the size of Romania. On April 2, 1997,
Russian President Yeltsin and Belarussian President Lukashenka signed a
treaty creating a union of the two countries with joint armed forces and
common citizenship and currency, as well as a binational ruling body.
The union will again bring Russian power, after an absence of only six
years, to the eastern borders of Poland and the Baltic states--700 miles
farther west. Russian commentators stressed that the "union" was
a riposte to NATO expansion, and that it is open to other members.
As a result, Russia will have achieved an expanded union before NATO does.
Russia has serious border disputes with Ukraine,
and has refused to define its thousand-mile border. Russia continues
to claim the strategic Crimean Peninsula, as well as significant units
of the former Soviet Black Sea fleet.
Russia has repeatedly and brutally threatened the
three Baltic Republics.
Russia maintains significant military forces in the
Kaliningrad enclave bordering Lithuania and Poland--forces not restricted
by the CFE Flank Agreement limitations.
TASS reported on January 9, 1997 that Russian Foreign Minister Y.M.
Primakov stated at a cabinet meeting that "Russia should not be afraid
to use economic sanctions" to in disputes with former Soviet republics
over the status of their Russian minorities.
A February 12, 1997 statement by the Russian Embassy in Washington warned
that "entry of Baltic nations into NATO would... have an extremely negative
impact on the prospects of formation of a long-term model of constructive
cooperation in the region."
That statement's insistence on "creating favorable transport conditions
for the Kaliningrad region," prompted one analyst to observe: "If Poland
becomes a member of NATO, Lithuania will be the only landbridge between
the two. And Moscow is thus making it very clear it will demand a
transit accord with Lithuania, something Vilnius is unlikely to agree to
Russia's armed forces have seized control of portions
of Moldava, a small state physically separated from Russia by 325 miles
of Ukrainian territory, but contiguous to NATO candidate Romania.
Russia has repeatedly intervened to destabilize
and subvert the strategic Republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus
Mountains--the latter of which has newly-found, exceptionally important
gas and oil reserves whose transit routes westward Moscow seeks to control.
Russia has stationed its armed forces in Ukraine,
Armenia and Tajikistan.
And while tolerating dramatic deterioration in its
Soviet-era force structure, the bankrupt Russian state still commits vast
resources to military research and procurement that will bear fruit in
the intermediate future--like the defeated German Reichswehr of the 1920's.
Russiaís revised military doctrine in essence neglects current military
assets to concentrate on leapfrogging potential foes by developing next-generation
technologies. Since Russia observed the performance of U.S. high-tech
assets in Operation Desert Storm, its doctrine "places new emphasis on
the need for military technology advancements in C4I (command, control,
communications, computers, and intelligence), long-range smart weapons,
and increased mobility, especially in air and space."
Russian spending for research and development of high-technology weapons
has increased nearly sixfold over the past three years, rising from $2.1
billion in 1994 to almost $13 billion today--versus other defense spending
of $19 billion. Current high-priority projects include production
of an upgraded mobile ICBM, tactical nuclear weapons, miniature nuclear
warheads, and a new Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile--all already in
development or production. And Janeís of Britain reports that
Russia has developed several new chemical and bacteriological weapons,
including a new strain of anthrax which antibiotics cannot counteract.
Russiaís entire negotiating posture on NATO expansion
reveals not a fear of aggression--which Russiaís leaders from Boris Yeltsin
on down have disclaimed--but a conscious desire to dominate both the former
Soviet Union and the former Warsaw Pact. Why else would the current
Russian Foreign Minister (and former Soviet KGB head) Y.M. Primakov have
opened negotiations with the following demands:
These negotiating positions made sense only if Russia
seeks the ability to blackmail or actually occupy the whole former Warsaw
Pact, and direct military dominance over the mis-named "Commonwealth of
Independent States." Indeed, given the unfolding sequence of events,
NATO expansion might fairly be characterized as a Western response to accelerating
Russian efforts to revive the Soviet imperium.
That NATO accept a 10-year moratorium on the accession
of any other Central European nation after the entry of Poland, Hungary,
and the Czech Republic in 1999.
That NATO forswear ever placing troops, nuclear or other
heavy weapons, or even military infrastructure on the soil of those new
members Moscow is prepared to countenance.
That no former Soviet Union republic--including the
Baltic states forcibly annexed by the USSR as part of the infamous 1939
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact--ever be considered for NATO membership.
Promoting Democracy and Stability in the Former Warsaw Pact
Beyond defending Western Europe from Soviet imperialism
during the Cold War, NATO proved essential to fostering democracy and the
rule of law in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Turkey.
So too will NATO membership today lend stability to states still trying
to revive or create capitalism and democracy after generations of Communist
autocracy. NATO membership will in particular help inculcate the
norm of civilian control of the military. And just as membership
in NATO helped abate the historic rivalry between Germany and France and
contain disputes between Greece and Turkey, so too will NATO membership
help diminish longstanding animosities between Central European nations.
Already, the mere prospect of NATO membership has helped promote settlement
of outstanding issues predating the Second World War between Germany and
the Czech Republic, and led Hungary and Romania to resolve their centuries-old
The alternatives, then, are not the current status
quo and NATO expansion. Rather, they are a stable, prosperous, democratic
Central and Eastern Europe, secure against external coercion but threatening
to no one, or an insecure zone of 160 million people in the heart of Europe,
riven by social, economic, and national tensions, and subject to intimidation
or worse by outside forces. The latter choice would threaten Russia,
Western Europe, and therefore the United States, which has already twice
been drawn into world wars originating in Central Europe.
The Clinton Administrationís Policy
Unfortunately, the Clinton Administration has badly
mismanaged what ought to be a bipartisan policy. President Clinton
delayed concrete steps towards NATO expansion throughout the entirety of
his first term, losing the most favorable opportunity for securing an enlargement
of the Alliance without significant Russian opposition. He refused
to designate anticipated new members so that they could receive accession
facilitation funds the Republican Congress repeatedly provided. Then,
after waiting until far more nationalist forces were in the ascendant in
Russia, the President used their opposition as a further excuse both to
delay the first round of expansion until 1999 and to negotiate it on dramatically
unfavorable terms. Laborious negotiations with Russia before, during,
and after the Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Helsinki on March 20-21 have resulted
in a NATO-Russian "Founding Act"--not subject to Senate ratification--that
will be signed on May 27 in Paris. The Founding Act, and the severely
limited expansion likely to be approved at the Madrid Summit in July, threaten
the candidates for the first round of NATO expansion, those nations excluded
from the initial expansion, and the integrity of NATO itself.
Undermining NATOís Structural Integrity.
Ostensibly designed to reassure Russia before expansion decisions are made
at the Madrid NATO summit in July 1997, the Founding Act could critically
undermine the structure of the existing Atlantic Alliance. Its most
troubling feature is the creation of a NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council
at NATO headquarters to supplement the existing NATO Council, the highest
decision-making body for the Alliance. It will be co-chaired by the
NATO Secretary General, a Russian Ambassador, and a rotating representative
of the other NATO powers.
As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote
"The NATO Council, in which the allies conduct their most sensitive
consultations, is to be diluted by the creation of a competing NATO-plus-Russia
forum. Russian liaison officers will be attached to the various NATO
commands. Henceforth, crises are unlikely to be managed--or even
defined--with anything like the previous coherence....From now on, all
discussions within NATO--and at every subordinate headquarters--will be
influenced by Russian participants whose objectives cannot possibly be
the defense of NATO territory."
And, since the Administration is introducing Russia
into NATOís deliberations well before the admission of even the first tier
of candidate nations, Russia will in effect enter the NATO decision-making
process years before our prospective allies.
Russia and NATO are currently in apparent disagreement
over Russiaís new role in NATO. President Yeltsin said categorically
on the day that the agreement was reached that Russia would enjoy a veto,
stating that "[s]hould Russia be against any decision, the decision will
not pass"--just as, after the Helsinki summit, he stated that "the way
we solve these issues is by consensus. Thatís how it is today among
the NATO countries. And that is how it will be once we conclude an
agreement between Russia and NATO."
The Administration maintains that this veto extends
only to joint actions by Russia and NATO, and that both sides will retain
their freedom of unilateral action in the event of disagreement.
But even if the Clinton Administrationís construction of the Founding Act
were technically correct, it ignores the clear political ramifications
of creating a parallel council with concurrent jurisdiction over the same
subject: proposed NATO action. As Secretary Kissinger wrote
shortly after the Helsinki summit,
"Until now, NATO has been a family club where--even with occasional
backsliding--common purposes were taken for granted. This is bound
to end with Russiaís de facto participation. .... Heretofore, in a crisis,
vacillating NATO members took some political risk when they made separate
overtures to Russia; henceforth, these will be built into the system of
More broadly, the Administration appears to envisage
a transformation of NATO from its current form--an alliance committed to
the defense of a defined territory against largely identified threats--into
a much looser collective-security relationship, without clear territorial
definition or commonly-understood threats and interests. Such organizations,
from the League of Nations to the 1925 Locarno Pact between future World
War II adversaries Germany, Italy, France, and Britain, to the United Nations,
have not kept the peace or secured their members in war.
Second-Class Citizenship for New NATO Members.
Russia has insistently demanded throughout the negotiations that NATOís
current members commit in a legally binding fashion never to station nuclear
weapons, military bases, or military forces, nor to upgrade military infrastructure,
on the territory of even the first round of candidates--Poland, the Czech
Republic, Hungary, and possibly Romania and Slovenia--nations that no longer
have even a significant common frontier with Russia. In the Moscow
agreement, NATO elaborated on the Administrationís already conceded "three
noís"--that NATO has "no intention, no plans, and no reason" for nuclear
deployment in the new member-states, and no current need for "substantial"
deployment of combat forces. The Founding Act additionally pledges
that infrastructure in the new member-states can be built or upgraded solely
to promote better integration and interoperability of NATO forces or to
facilitate reinforcement in the event of a crisis--not to station NATO
troops there, as they have been stationed for decades in other NATO countries.
Taken as a whole, these limitations--even if expressed
in an ostensibly non-binding document--could make the new NATO members
second-class citizens. Article V of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty
guarantees that an attack on any NATO member will be considered an attack
on all NATO members. But this guarantee is meaningless without the
military capability necessary to deter or resist attack. And the
dramatic imbalance between the military potential of Russia and all of
its neighbors in the so-called "Near Abroad" of the former USSR and the
former Warsaw Pact--individually or collectively--means that in future
such defensive capabilities could largely depend on the presence of military
forces or infrastructure from other NATO members on the territory of the
Moreover, delaying deployment until there is a clear
and present danger to the new members--the "strategy of reinforcement"
espoused by the Administration and codified in the Founding Act--may fail
in such a crisis. As a practical matter, it might be possible for
Russian military capabilities to expand incrementally and with little visibility
over a course of years, gradually creating a viable threat to the new NATO
members. But a Western response could not proceed incrementally or
with little visibility. Deployment of NATO troops or weapons to the
new member-nations, unlike a gradual Russian buildup, would immediately
cross a bright line. As a result, the Alliance would face the dilemma
of either deploying troops before a Russian threat had fully matured--a
decision that by definition could be denounced as premature--or waiting
until a crisis occurred--a decision that would inevitably be inhibited
by fear of further escalating the crisis. (Significant upgrading
of military infrastructure, of course, could not occur in a crisis.)
The new NATO members themselves, caught between
an existing threat from Russia and the possibility of effective assistance
from other NATO members, might be reluctant to solicit or accept such assistance--just
as Belgium and the Netherlands refused all offers of Allied assistance
during the runup to the Nazi blitzkrieg in May 1940, for fear of further
angering the Reich. And such NATO reinforcement could in any event
come too late to provide an effective defense of the new members--just
as in 1940 British and French forces suffered the greatest military catastrophe
ever to befall the Western Allies when, pursuant to the disastrous "Dyle
Plan," they advanced into Belgium without any predeployment after the blitzkrieg
Despite these compelling arguments against such
limitations, the Administration appears to be attempting to give Russia
precisely what it wants--binding NATO arms limitations. Rather than
writing them into a NATO-Russian treaty, the Administration instead is
proposing to write them into a revised version of the 1990 Conventional
Forces in Europe (CFE) Agreement that Russia is currently violating.
As one high official in the Clinton Administration told the Washington
Post on May 3, 1997, "the agreement would respond to Russiaís insistence
that NATO not move large amounts of equipment into former Warsaw Pact countries.
NATO would not agree to any such limitations, but the CFE limits would
apply to the individual countries. Thus, if NATO moved, say, 1,000
tanks into Poland, Polandís own forces would have to be reduced accordingly."
In short, it is not surprising that some of the
highest praise for the Founding Act has come from the strongest opponents
of NATO expansion.
Denying NATO Membership to Those Who Most
Need It. The likely outcome of the Madrid summit--a
very restricted expansion of the Alliance--is also a missed opportunity.
Though the Administration pays lip-service to the idea that the first round
of new NATO members will not be the last, it appears unwilling to support
early NATO membership for European nations that need it even more urgently
than the three current candidates for admission. Romania, for example,
is directly threatened by Russian forces stationed on the territory of
neighboring Moldava, and has recently made significant progress in democratization
and economic reform. The exposed geographic position of this nation
of 23 million people makes it particularly vulnerable to Russian coercion
And Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are even more
vulnerable: these three Baltic republics share extensive common borders
with Russia, its Belarussian ally, and the Kaliningrad salient now occupied
by at least 25,000 Russian troops. Russian officials have frequently
threatened all three nations, making illegal military overflights over
Lithuania, and attempting to dictate the Baltic nationsí treatment of the
Russian minorities forcibly settled in the Baltic states during the decades
of Soviet occupation. Clearly if need for NATO membership were a
criterion, the Baltic republics would rank at the head of the list.
Yet the U.S.-Baltic charter being drafted by the Clinton Administration
reportedly merely recognizes the Baltic statesí "aspirations" to NATO membership,
without holding out any assurance that those aspirations would ever be
fulfilled. And on November 24, 1996 then-Defense Secretary William
Perry told Baltic leaders in Copenhagen that their nations "are not yet
ready to take on Article V responsibilities of NATO membership."
In other words, Perry suggested they were not yet ready for NATO membership
because of their inability to contribute militarily to the alliance.
Yet it is precisely the relative military weakness of the Baltic states
that makes the NATO common-defense guarantee essential to their independence--an
independence the United States recognized throughout the darkest days of
the Cold War. And the Administrationís purported insistence on military
capacity rings hollow in an alliance that welcomed Luxemburg and Iceland
as charter members, and vowed to go to war if the USSR attacked militarily
indefensible West Berlin.
Despite these strong arguments for a broader expansion
at Madrid, the Administration seems likely to support a restricted one.
Its reported rationale is revealing: if Romania and Slovenia were admitted
in the first round, the question of the Baltic republics would be squarely
presented in the second round. By deferring Romania and Slovenia,
Administration officials reportedly believe that they can create a respectable
roster of second-round candidates even without the Baltic nations, whose
membership would be deferred still further.
This strategy reveals the Administrationís fundamental
ambivalence to the very idea of NATO expansion, and creates a significant
risk that further expansion will not occur. Although all reports
confirm that NATO expansion is not an important issue for the Russian public,
over the past five years opposition to it has steadily gained strength
within the governing elite. There is little reason to think that
these attitudes will improve as NATO contemplates expanding across the
former USSR state border. And since agreement in 1997 on the first
round of will result in actual expansion of the alliance only two years
later, in 1999, further rounds of expansion would occur well into the next
century. Thus, under the current plan, propitious political conditions
in Russia will have to endure for the better part of decade if further
NATO expansion is to occur with Russiaís acquiescence. As a result,
the window for a smooth expansion of the Alliance may be closing before
The Administration has also been remiss in laying
the groundwork for what could ultimately be the most important accession
to NATO--that of Ukraine, a nation that has surrendered its independent
nuclear arsenal to Russia at our insistence, is currently involved in border
disputes with Russia, and is key to ensuring an effective military equilibrium
in Eastern Europe. Only if this of this large, populous, strategically
located nation remains politically and militarily independent can Central
and Western Europe be truly secure.
Congressional Response: The European Security Act of 1997
The correct response to the deficiencies of the Administrationís
NATO policy and the "Founding Act" is not to abandon expansion but to improve
it. The Founding Act is in its incipiency, and is not binding on
the Allies in the same way that the North Atlantic Treaty is. And
the pace of expansion can be accelerated. All of the dangers described
in this Report would be exacerbated by abandoning or curtailing existing
plans for expansion. Congress must instead work to improve them.
The "European Security Act of 1997" represents a
congressional initiative to put NATO policy back on track. Specifically,
it has three main components. First, it works to promote the timely
expansion of NATOís membership. It expresses the Sense of the Congress
that the Baltic nations and Romania should be admitted to NATO. It
requires the President to designate multiple nations as future NATO members
eligible for accession facilitation aid (beyond Poland, Hungary, the Czech
Republic, and Slovenia--which have already been so designated). Second,
it warns that Congress will not approve further revisions of the Conventional
Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty that embody Moscowís demands in the expansion
negotiation--including CFE revisions "restricting the construction of defense
infrastructure" in newly admitted member-nations, one of the key points
in the Founding Act. Third, the bill requires congressional approval
of any agreements with the Russians to revise the ABM Treaty on "demarcation"
between national and theater missile defense. It expresses opposition
to any constraints on theater missile defense systemsí technological capabilities--which
could protect American troops in Europe, as well as the citizens and troops
of NATO states--including new members in Central Europe.
Congressional Republicans have played the leading role
in securing President Reaganís legacy of victory in the Cold War by integrating
newly liberated nations into NATO. Today, the congressional majority
must ensure that NATO continues to expand, without conditions that will
undermine the structure of the Alliance or the equal rights of its members.
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