America's New Deal With Europe:
NATO Primacy and Double Expansion
Assessing the prospect of NATO enlargement, George Kennan (1997) writes as a man who has seen his life's work completed and then inexplicably undone. He asks:
"Why, with all the hopeful possibilities engendered by the end of the cold war, should East- West relations become centered on the question of who would be allied with whom and, by implication, against whom in some fanciful, totally unforeseeable and most improbable future military conflict?"
Former MBFR ambassador Jonathan Dean observes that without America's "continual pressure...on the European NATO states, [expansion] would have died a natural death in the NATO Council" (1997:35). So to answer George Kennan's question we must look to the evolution of post-cold war US policy. For the Clinton administration, NATO expansion has less to do with Russia than Germany, and more to do with the Bosnia intervention and out-of-area operations than with either Germany or Russia. A collision with Russia is not the policy's aim, although it may be its price. At any rate, it is not a price that the Administration expects to pay any time soon.
The premise of US post-cold war policy toward Europe has been the pursuit of a new deal in which the costs and benefits of engagement would be re-balanced and yesterday's burdensharing inequities rectified. In this pursuit US policy has had to contend with several European realities: unity efforts in the West, instability in the East, the growth of German influence, and the faltering of Russian transition. The product of this encounter has been the American demand for NATO preeminence and "double expansion" -- Senator Richard Lugar's phrase referring to the addition of new NATO members and new NATO missions.
The most consequential of recent US policy decisions -- the Bosnia intervention and NATO expansion -- rest on a narrow tactical accommodation between a Democratic president and a conservative Republican congress. Public opinion remains fluid and nothing resembling a consensus on these issues exists within the policy community, which is severely divided over expansion. To understand the internal pressures affecting American policy formation it is most revealing to begin at the margins of the debate -- with those who say that America should relinquish its military engagement in Europe altogether.
The collapse of Soviet power prompted the most serious re-examination of America's stake in European security in forty-five years. For the first time since 1947, a chorus of voices rose in favor of military disengagement from Europe (Bandow 1994; Carpenter 1992; Layne 1993; Ravenal 1990- 91; Steel 1995). Although not universally or strictly isolationist, the "disengagers" as a group have challenged the necessity of most large-scale US military deployments abroad. With regard to Europe, a representative view is that "NATO should be dismantled" and "America should withdraw the 100,000 soldiers currently stationed in Europe" (Gholz et al. 1997:18).
Although the renaissance of "disengagement" opinion indicates how much US discourse has changed, "disengagement" remains a distinctly minority perspective. Apart from the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan (1990), disengagement finds only occasional representation in political debates. The predominant American position, spanning two administrations, favors substantial engagement with Europe. Notably, the conservative Republican Contract with America advocates a muscular brand of engagement -- unipolarist in tone, but certainly not isolationist.
While disengagers typically embrace a realist perspective to argue from the fact of Soviet demise to a policy of disengagement, engagement finds supporters within both the American realist and liberal internationalist tendencies. Thus, there is little consensus among "engagers" on what facts, dynamics, or prospects of the European situation are most relevant to policy formation. But they agree that the Soviet demise is not the end of the story, and that the fate of Europe and America are linked, if not indivisible. The differences of opinion among engagers touch on many points of analysis and policy regarding the post-Cold War period, including:
Regarding Europe, engagers embrace various policy planks and focus on several different types of security challenges. Some of their policy planks are exclusive of others; some are open to combination. Engagers variously propose that:
A key consideration in weighing these options is their burdensharing implications. And burdensharing should be understood broadly to comprise not only direct costs but also benefits and issues of control. With regard to European threats, engagers differ on how to define and prioritize them. Their menu of concerns includes:
The persistent influence of the disengagement idea resides in this: The arguments among those who favor engagement echo the disagreement between engagers and disengagers. At the heart of both are questions about the costs and benefits of engagement and how these affect America's broader interests and freedom of action.
Throughout the Cold War, the concerns of disengagers found expression in burdensharing arguments, although disengagement itself was dismissed as a policy option. More generally, America's isolationist impulse has found expression in a tendency toward unilateral action and a characteristic reliance on "decisive" (that is, military) means. If global interdependence required the United States to take the path of international engagement and cooperation, then it would seek to maximize its influence in alliances and orient them toward achieving "decisive results." Making this type of hard bargaining both possible (vis a vis allies) and necessary (for domestic political reasons) was the fact that the United States, although interdependent, enjoyed more power and security than its allies.
For a variety of reasons the pressures on the transatlantic link have increased in recent years. Philip Gordon (1996) summarizes these new pressures as including the end of the Cold War, the shift in American priorities from security to economic and domestic affairs, changes in US trade patterns, and the growing relative importance of other regions to both the USA and Europe.
The disappearance of a global peer challenger to America affects the intensity of US interests everywhere. This has motivated a 20 percent reduction in US military expenditures from the recent Cold War average (Conetta and Knight 1997) and has given rise to an acute American preoccupation with the casualty cost of foreign involvements (Eikenberry 1996; Luttwak 1996). America's link to Europe has suffered more in relative terms because the Cold War had assigned Europe the unique status of "central front."
Don Snider and Gregory Grant (1992) confirm that "the criteria by which [the US assesses] the strategic importance...of an allied nation or specific region have become much more practical and are now driven primarily by economic ties." And many American realists argue principally by way of economic considerations to a shift in US emphasis from Europe to Asia (Betts 1993/94). Few engagers would qualify as "Europeanist" in the sense of advocating a primary emphasis on Europe today. More commonly, engagers combine economic and other rationales to argue for a dual emphasis on European and Asian core areas: "[t]he health of the alliances with Japan and the major powers of Europe is primary" (Binnendjik and Clawson 1995:114).
The most salient issues calling America home are domestic ones. Within the American political process, "[t]he focus on domestic policy...draws support from across the...spectrum" (Binnendijk and Clawson 1995). Former JCS Chief Admiral William Crowe, for instance, contends that the United States keeps "looking overseas when our biggest long term threats are at home." And Walter Russel Mead, a dedicated internationalist, observes that "The dollar is more at risk than the Monroe Doctrine" (1993:12). Pointing to the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing and the growth of a "permanent underclass," Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Russel Travers agrees that "the greatest threats to future US national security may well prove to be internal" (Travers 1997:113). Travers suggests that the current world situation offers a "strategic breathing space" that allows the nation to attend more closely to the home front.
American policy discourse sees global issues as connecting to the nation's economic woes in two ways: through increased global economic competition and the proclivity of the United States to invest more heavily in defense than do its competitors. Focusing on domestic causes, US policy leaders have prescribed variously that the government increase its social and infrastructure investment, cut taxes, eliminate deficits, or do some combination of these. One constant is that most proposals would squeeze the resources available to support the nation's foreign and military policy. Seeing this, an influential body of opinion already predicts a defense policy "train-wreck" due to a purported mismatch between military posture and budgeting (Snider 1996).
Ronald Steel (1995) has called attention to the predominance of domestic concerns among the American public. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (1995) has noted with alarm a decline in public support for internationalist goals, as recorded by the quadrennial Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR) public opinion survey. However, reviewing the CCFR data, Eugene Wittkopf concludes that "'isolationist' quite simply fails to characterize today's public temperament" (1996:94). Although Americans are less internationalist today than a decade ago, public support for global engagement still runs strong.
In comparing the 1986 and 1994 CCFR surveys, Wittkopf finds that support for "defending allies" (in general) is off 15 points, down from 56 to 41 percent; support for defending western Europe is off 12 points, down from 66 to 54 percent. However, survey questions that mention the possibility of going to war often tend to cool expressions of internationalism. So the support for "defending Europe" in 1994, after the Soviet demise but during the Balkans crisis, is impressive. Asked if they supported America's playing a less specific "active part in world affairs," 69 percent of respondents in 1994 answered affirmatively -- the highest level of support for this position since the CCFR began its survey in 1974.
Wittkopf concludes that Americans' "foreign policy opinions remain firmly anchored to a structure of largely internationalist beliefs" (1996:104). This conclusion is confirmed, especially with regard to Europe, by other reviews of public opinion (Asmus 1994:79-95; Kull and Destler 1996; Morrison 1995:72-74). Depending on how questions are framed, Americans favor engagement by majorities ranging between 55 and 85 percent, and they support the continuation of NATO by majorities ranging between 60 and 75 percent. Nonetheless, a moderate reduction in public support for some forms of international engagement is clear, and the evidence for significantly increased concern about domestic issues is overwhelming. While this does not imply a slide toward disengagement, it does suggest a greater sensitivity to the costs and benefits of engagement. As Ronald Asmus points out,
Turning inward to give higher priority to domestic priorities need not be equated with isolationism; it can also be interpreted as an attempt to create a new, politically sustainable balance between domestic concerns and international commitments (1994:89).
Asmus only hints at how an acceptable balance is determined by defining it as "politically sustainable." Some American leaders see the conflict between domestic and international concerns as overstated. Joseph Nye Jr., in arguing for robust global engagement, has suggested famously that "The US is a rich country that acts poor" (1992:93). Whatever the truth of Nye's proposition, America gets little leadership of this sort today -- and few leaders can afford to give it. Public discourse on almost all matters of policy presently operates within a frame of "scarcity." This sensitizes the public to burdensharing issues, and makes its support for engagement contingent on striking hard bargains. In an intensive survey of American public attitudes on global engagement, Steven Kull and I.M. Destler find strong support -- 74 percent -- for America doing its "fair share," but they also note that support for specific acts of engagement" is dampened by a widespread feeling that the US [already]is doing more than its fair share" (1996:4). Moreover, the authors find that Americans often overestimate America's contribution to cooperative endeavors.
As noted earlier, burdensharing should not be understood in purely monetary terms. America's contributions are measured in both blood and treasure, and there also is the question of what America gets in return. Increased influence in joint ventures and the achievement of "decisive results" are part of the equation.
The burdensharing issue reveals the ambivalence of pro-engagement sentiment in America. Wittkopf's analysis of the CCFR polling data exposes similar fault lines. Wittkopf divides engagement sentiment into three categories: standard internationalists, hardliners, and accomodationists. Hardliners incline toward unilateralism and military solutions. Accomodationists favor multilateralism and cooperative solutions to security problems. Standard internationalists pragmatically combine the militant and cooperative approaches. Isolationists form a fourth group. The four groups are approximately equal in size.
Using data from 1994, Wittkopf shows that "hardline" opinion is a moderate reflection of isolationist opinion on a variety of issues. Both tend to reject participation in peacekeeping, detente with former adversaries, and NATO expansion. By contrast, internationalists and accomodationists generally support these initiatives. Regarding the "defense of Europe" and "defense of allies" against aggression, however, internationalists join with hardliners to form a supportive core, while accomodationists and isolationists cluster together in the opposite direction.
Hardliners are motivated to engage when they perceive a traditional threat. They probably rejected NATO expansion in 1994 because no such threat was evident. Accomodationists are more likely to support spontaneously what they see as cooperative goals and initiatives. They are much less impressed by hypothetical portrayals of threat. However, when aggression takes a clear and concrete form, they are ready to respond. Thus, their general support for "the defense of allies" rose sharply in the 1990 CCFR survey, which occurred during the Gulf crisis.
It is also noteworthy that accomodationist support for "the defense of Europe" rose between 1990 and 1994, while hardliners' support fell. Peacekeeping operations in Bosnia formed the backdrop to the 1994 survey. Concern about Bosnia probably motivated the increased willingness of accomodationists to "defend Europe." By contrast, hardliners recoiled from peacekeeping in the Balkans, which involved neither traditional threats nor traditional means.
The relevance of these results to the debate over NATO expansion is two fold: (1) hardliners' opposition to expansion will probably relax and might even reverse should they come to see it as a response to a traditional threat; and, (2) accomodationist support for expansion depends on their seeing it primarily as an inclusive endeavour, not exclusive. Both groups are key in their own ways to support for European engagement -- but devising a policy that can hold the support of both is difficult.
Some argue that America's post-Dayton European initiatives represent a decisive return to Europe. US NATO Ambassador Robert Hunter contends that, after a brief period of "doubt and questioning," the issue has been settled: the United States considers itself a "European power."
We have realized in the United States that security in Europe does matter. It matters to us, and it is a priority that we will pursue regardless of what other distractions there may be elsewhere in the world (1997:69).
Although the Ambassador's reference to non-European events as "distractions" is only rhetorical flourish, the Clinton administration has taken several bold steps toward Europe in the past two years. Not only has it committed US troops to a European combat situation for the first time in five decades, but it also is extending America's commitments eastward, at some significant risk. However, the Administration's strong Europeanist declarations since Dayton belie the conditional nature of America's recent initiatives. In fact, the "decisive" return to Europe assumes European assent on a host of contentious issues: burdensharing, expansion, out-of-area operations, and the form that a European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) will take. The Clinton administration believes that a framework now exists for resolving these issues, but that framework may not outlive America's involvement in the Bosnia crisis -- unless another crisis catches Europe short.
The American "return to Europe" is the most recent phase in the effort to find a policy mix that reconciles America's post-Cold War goals and current European realities. Demonstrating remarkable consistency across two administrations, these goals have aim to:
Placed in the context of America's global security strategy, this European policy aims to transform the Atlantic alliance from a net drain on US resources and energy to a net gain. Indicative of America's new disposition was the combination of major troop withdrawals and Senator Richard Lugar's demand that NATO "go out of area or out of business" (1993).
The number of American troops stationed in Europe has declined by almost two-thirds since 1986. Taking into account operation and maintenance costs, infrastructure investment, and reinforcement units, US military efforts directed toward Europe have declined by about 60 percent (Brown and Kupchan 1995:23-33). This suggests that fully two-thirds of America's post-Cold War defense cuts came out of its European account. By contrast, the defense efforts of NATO's European members has declined far less since 1986 -- a reduction of 12-15 percent is a good estimate (Brown and Kupchan 1995; Conetta and Knight 1997).
America's European goals also have entailed a policy of "NATO first and foremost." In NATO, America's leadership position is integral, and European energies are channeled into the type of instrument -- a standing combined and joint fighting force -- that corresponds to America's unique capabilities and policy inclinations. Potential challenges to NATO preeminence come from two directions: above (OSCE) and below (ESDI). US policy has been able to push the OSCE into a non- competitive corner through a combination of benign neglect and the promotion and resourcing of alternative institutions -- the NACC and PfP. Dealing with ESDI has proved more complicated, however. It remains one of two sticking points in the American program. The other sticking point has been policy toward Russia.
Summarizing the hopes that multilateralists harbored for the CSCE, Richard Ullman observed in 1991 that it is the type of institution "that can tie all of Europe together and, in particular, can reinforce the processes of democratization in the USSR" (1991:150). The role the CSCE process had played in mitigating the East-West confrontation during the late 1980s led Stanley Sloan, a senior analysts with the Congressional Research Service, to speculate that it might prefigure a new European practice of politics:
Instead of basing stability of the system on the manipulations of balance of power politics, as in the past, collective security in a more cooperative political environment would presumably be embodied in the diplomacy of conflict resolution, operated principally through the CSCE" (1992:3-4).
The initiatives taken at the 1990 Paris Summit to develop the CSCE briefly suggested that something of this vision might be realized. But as Catherine Kelleher has pointed out, "Despite extensive institutionalization, states have failed to empower the CSCE by neglecting [its] various crisis prevention and peacekeeping bodies" (1994:313). It was not surprising that the CSCE/OSCE proved inadequate to the tasks arising from the Yugoslav crisis; The organization had not had sufficient time and resources to grow into its new, expanded role. But efforts after 1992 to streamline its executive function and enhance its operational capabilities have not won US favor -- not even with regard to peacekeeping functions.
US policy has tended to treat the weakness of the OSCE as intractable, thus justifying reliance on other organizations -- especially the NACC. Reflecting on the need of European nations to consult on important security matters, former CSCE Ambassador Lynn Marvin Hansen has argued that "It is important that these discussions take place in the NACC, rather than CSCE, because of [its] relationship to NATO and the possibility for some form of military cooperation" (1994:127). From its inception, the NACC had aroused some suspicion that it might come to substitute for the CSCE rather than supplement it. Catherine Kelleher has observed that,
[T]rue to French fears at the outset, the existence of an organizational framework and appointed liaison representatives led to increased consultation, and the emergence of the NACC was viewed by some as an attempt to develop a pan-European competitor to the CSCE (1994:315).
American officials have often explained their reluctance regarding OSCE in terms of a general skepticism about collective defense efforts. But there is much OSCE could do short of attempting collective defense -- for instance: peacekeeping. The only essential attribute of OSCE is its inclusiveness. This seems more to the point of Hansen's objection. Of particular concern to the United States is the weight and role OSCE might afford Russia, as Hansen indicates in his discussion of CSCE/OSCE peacekeeping:
[P]eacekeeping should be a multilateral effort [that] seeks to integrate east and west...The most likely large scale volunteer in the CSCE context will be Russia cloaked in the garments of the CIS. Thus, rather than the integrative function which could take place within the NACC, peacekeeping efforts by the CIS would perpetuate the concept of two Europes: one western and one eastern with the second being under the protective hand of Russia(1994:128).
Presumably, the NACC and PfP can effectively contain Russian influence because they are dependent and centered on NATO. An alternative view might see the United States directly balancing Russia in the OSCE (or, for that matter, in NATO). But this allows for the converse as well: that Russia might balance the United States -- not across a Cold War divide, but within a transatlantic decision-making process.
US policy toward post-communist Russia has been to hope for the best, while doing little materially to aid Russian stability and democratic transition. American diffidence regarding aid to Russia has surprised even the most strident of "shock therapists," Jeffrey Sachs, who argues that the key missing ingredient in the Russian reform effort was Western assistance (Surowiecki 1997). But appeals to aid the Russian transition have proved politically unsustainable, given domestic economic concerns. From a strict realist perspective, there is little reason to even try: Soviet collapse itself obviated a new Marshall Plan -- especially for Russia, who even as a reformed democratic power might contend with the United States for influence.
Nonetheless, in the early years of the post-Cold War period, the US proceeded with some care when taking steps likely to provoke a Russian reaction. Several events during and after 1993 altered the American calculus: the "second coup" and assault on parliament, the electoral victories by Communists and Liberal Democrats, the war in Chechnya, and US-Russian disputes over Bosnia. These left few confident that Russia would evolve on its own into a truly reliable ally. Moreover, Chechnya substantiated the continuing decline of Russian military power. From 1992 to 1997, the US Defense Department revised its estimate of how long it might take Russia to reconstitute a major conventional threat from two years or more to 10-15 years (Cohen 1997). In line with these developments US policy toward Russia slipped from one of "careful management" to one of barely concealed disregard. Among other things, the changed perception of the Russian prospect opened the door to NATO expansion, although it did not motivate it.
Regarding the possibility of eventual Russian membership in NATO: US policymakers need not assume the worst about Russia's future in order to exclude this option. Former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown observes that Russia "almost surely will never become a NATO member; its size geography, and history make it unsuitable as part of a transatlantic security organization" (1995). James Morrison of the US National Defense University invokes power balance considerations to exclude Russia:
Russia is too large. Russia is far larger than any other European member of NATO and admitting it to NATO would change the balance" (1995:56).
The prospect of Europe assuming more of the burdens and responsibilities of alliance security efforts depends on greater cooperation among European nations in both the economic and security spheres. Likewise the goal of reducing the potentials for future European conflict depend on greater unity. These propositions form the basis of American support for unity efforts. However, as Europe assumes more of the continental security burden, and as the United States reduces its presence, the rationale for a predominant American leadership role diminishes. Thus, as Europe becomes more able to assume the place in US global strategy that America desires, there is less to compel it to follow America's lead. S. Nelson Drew explains how this dilemma took concrete form in European efforts to institutionalize a distinct defense identity:
The United States...saw the development of ESDI as a logical extension of its long- standing desire for European states to assume a more equitable share of the burden of their own security, but the benefits of this development to the US would be lost if it took place in a manner that set up a competition for scarce defense resources between NATO and ESDI commitment(1995:20).
Complicating the management of the dilemma is the fact that Europe and America consistently differ in their calculations of how much a burden each carries, and how much influence each exercises or should exercise as a result. Commensurate with its preferred approach to security issues, the United States discounts the value of Europe's contributions in the realm of economic assistance, regionally and globally. America also discounts Europe's relatively greater (and more reliable) contribution to non-NATO security institutions, such as the UN. In turn, Europe discounts America's contributions to European security because they come at a distinct cost in terms of national (or regional) independence. From a European perspective, the American desire to "call the tune" exceeds the extent to which America "pays the piper." Given these disparate assessments there is no deal that can feel entirely satisfactory to both sides.
America's ambivalence toward ESDI is reflected in its fondness for the "European pillar" metaphor, first adopted by President Kennedy as a counterpoint to European defense community initiatives in the early 1960's. Pillars seldom stand independently, except in archeological ruins. Nor do they have an autonomous identity: they are integral parts of a larger structure. And, not incidently, they are weight-bearing elements. As Charles Barry of the National Defense University observes "The US regards the 'pillar' concept as a cooperative caucus of European allies, the aim of which is to achieve greater burden sharing within the Alliance" (1996:73).
President Bush carried forward the traditional American ambivalence regarding European unity, which combined: (1) support for economic and political union -- as long as it did not imply economic exclusion of the United States or unified European policy planks within the Alliance; and, (2) resistance to the evolution of any substantial independent European defense institutions or formations (Conry 1995; Kelleher 1994; Ruggie 1997). The Bush administration's refusal to join the European allies in Bosnia, however, motivated some to pursue precisely the type of independent configuration and capability that US policy opposed. During its first year in office, the Clinton administration assumed a more open stance on ESDI and exercised America's wings, if not feet, in Bosnia. This reflected a reassessment of European unity efforts and a reappraisal of what America would need to do in order to achieve its broader objectives.
Despite American concerns about ESDI, the actual practice of European unity during the first half of the 1990's suggested that it was insufficient to serve even the limited ends that America had in mind. In the evolving American view, the European response to the Balkan crisis showed that Europe lacked both the unity and the military capability to conduct the type of operations that regional stability might require -- to say nothing of contributing to extra-regional expeditions (Taft 1993).
And even worse: with regard to some issues there appeared to be a de-centralization, if not re-nationalization, of European security policy, with key nations or groups of nations taking the lead where their interests were paramount. This tendency seemed evident in Germany's early leadership of European policy on the Balkans crisis, which many American policy-makers saw as contributing to that situation's spiraling out of control.
Western Europe also had not lived up to American expectations regarding outreach to the East. Even though Western Europe gave much more financial assistance than did the United States, US policy was set on the expectation of some substantial and early opening to the East of the European Union. Within this general picture, Germany stood apart. Its economic engagement with the East was vigorous. By 1995, it accounted for the majority of EU trade with the so-called Visegrad group and Slovenia, and it had become first among East European export markets. The East was also focused on Germany as its single most important source of aid, investment, and technical assistance (RUSI 1996). Within the alliance, Germany had become a consistent advocate of East European security concerns and the leading proponent of a more proactive Eastern policy.
In the growth of German influence American realists have found confirmation for their analysis of the European future. They perceive a situation reminiscent of the period before the First World War -- and in this perspective Germany's power and geographic position loom large. In the view of Conor Cruise O'Brien "East of the Rhine there is emerging, in all but name, a new German Empire, a greater power than anything else on the Continent" (1992/93:8).
As far as the present century is concerned, there is no question of confrontation between the new German empire and the West. It is more a matter of distancing and feeling different 1992/93:10).
The more orthodox of realist analyses foresee an expanding potential for German and Russian contention over the cluster of non-allied and relatively insecure states that lie between them. It also anticipates increased friction between Germany and the other Western European states, due to widening power differentials and German predominance in the East (Layne 1993; Mandelbaum 1996; Odom 1995).
The official American perspective is less concerned about big power contention -- a distant prospect -- and more concerned with the problem of policy friction among the Western allies. America recognizes that Germany is doing much of the work -- in terms of trade, aid, and investment -- that American policymakers had envisioned for the EU. And it appreciates that the German stake in the East and its relative exposure to the repercussions of instability -- such as refugee flows -- guarantees that German security policy will orient eastward. However, the United States does not want to see Germany assume de facto leadership of Western policy toward the East. Even less does it want to see the consolidation of a loose German-centered group of states outside the alliance, which would boost German influence and link the alliance to a policy bloc beyond its collective control. Certainly, the United States wants to mitigate any pressures or concerns that might lead Germany to pursue a more independent course.
A comprehensive "new bargain" with Europe began to take form in the last half of 1993, eventually evolving along lines set out by several RAND Corporation analysts (Asmus et al. 1993, 1995, 1996). The bargain initially comprised a more open stance toward ESDI/WEU, and two initiatives advanced at the January 1994 NATO summit: the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF). And, of course, the bargain carried forward the expectation, rooted in NATO's 1991 Strategic Concept, that Europe would prepare for a bigger role in out-of-area operations. American involvement in the Balkans was to be the key to winning European assent.
The PfP proposal, still sensitive to Russian reservations, fell far short of East European expectations. Perceived more as a delaying measure than a firm step, it could not have its intended effect: to reassure the Visegrad group (especially) and re-center their attention on the West as a whole. As early as July 1994, when President Clinton gave his "when and how" speech to the Polish parliament, the United States began to push for more decisive steps.
Although American policy came to accept WEU as representative of the European pillar, it continued to resist the WEU's developing operational capabilities that might duplicate, even on a small scale, NATO's. Instead, the initial American view was that WEU should serve as a legitimizing agency for European action and as a venue in which European nations might align their defense policies. Unsatisfactory to Europeans, American policy on ESDI continued to evolve after 1994, but the US concern about competition -- with or within NATO -- has remained central.
Regarding internal dynamics, "the United States wants an ESDI that will not result in the US facing fait accompli positions at NATO consultative meetings" (Barry 1996:76). With reference to the development of ESDI competencies parallel to those of NATO, Lynn Marvin Hansen has insisted that,
[Europeans] must resist pitting organizations in which North Americans do not participate against those in which they do. Competition among the various institutions comprising a European security order is a senseless waste of talent and assets in an era of diminishing resources(1994:118).
The CJTF concept embodied the goal of "pillar-izing" ESDI and linking it integrally to out-of-area operations. A virtual premise of US policy since 1960 has been that Europe should put NATO investment first and curtail the development of independent capabilities and formations duplicating those of NATO. A second premise has been that Europe should increase its defense investment generally -- and since the Gulf War this imperative has focused especially on the development of power projection capabilities (Asmus et al. 1996; O'Hanlon 1997). However, to the extent that recent European policy has been consistent with the second of these goals, it has contradicted the first.
The CJTF proposals aims for a more consistent alignment of ESDI initiatives and US objectives. The American concession is to allow its allies to "borrow" NATO (or NATO-assigned) assets on an ad hoc basis for multinational operations. The American hope is that this will keep the development of multinational European forces in a NATO framework. For American policy-makers this prospect casts Euro-forces into an entirely different light. Within the limits set by the CJTF concept, Lynn Marvin Hansen allows that "the formation of distinctly European forces may increase the possibility of European states playing a distinctive role in addressing challenges to security and stability outside the traditional NATO area" (1994:130).
The CJTF proposal also failed to bring the allies around, however. Its inescapable limitation is this: Because CJTF operations would remain dependent on NATO headquarters and infrastructure or on assets governed by NATO protocols, the United States would retain a virtual veto over them (Cobhold 1997; Gordon 1997). For this reason, Commander Gert de Nooy of the Royal Netherlands Navy concludes that "although the much-quoted Separable but not Separate might be politically desirable, it is not tenable in military terms" (de Nooy 1997). Philip Gordon shares this assessment, asserting that the CJTF approach offers no more than the "illusion of Europeanization."
The Allies agreed on a more formal and well-defined role for WEU at the June 1996 Berlin ministerial, allowing that it might lead CJTFs. However, the formal concessions did little to resolve the substantive issues about the exercise of a unified European voice within NATO or of unified European military initiatives outside of NATO (Ruggie 1997). In a reading of the accord by NATO Ambassador Robert Hunter, the WEU's prerogatives seem circumscribed by NATO's:
We have asked our friends at the WEU to ask NATO first if they are contemplating an operation. If the United States and the WEU Associate Members...choose not to be engaged, then the WEU will have our blessing to proceed on its own with the use of NATO assets. Let me underscore that the WEU, if it does not call upon NATO assets, is free to undertake its own activities at any time(1997:75).
Of course, the ambassador knows as well as anyone on earth that many prime European national forces are tied closely to NATO today, and that unless the WEU develops, against US desires, some of the operational facilities that presently exist in NATO, there will be little WEU can do on its own.
For the United States the principal goals in seeking a new bargain with Europe have been to maintain US leadership, unify Western policy, enhance European stability, and "get credible and reliable partners to assist it in addressing security contingencies outside Europe" (Asmus et al. 1996:93). The most frequently mentioned non-European contingencies involve defense of energy sources and counter-proliferation activities. However, the architects of the bargain caution that "it would be a mistake to confine this new NATO mission to specific geographic areas," although they allow that, for instance, "The Danes would not be expected to fight with NATO in the Spratley Islands" (Asmus et al. 1996:99).
For Europeans, the most immediate reason to compromise on ESDI and other leadership issues was to encourage a fuller and better integrated US involvement in the Balkans operations. This was not a point lost on Americans; as Charles Barry observes, "The US role (or lack of one) in Bosnia, militarily, was another factor favoring European cooperation on ESDI" (1996:67). It is not surprising, then, that the progress of the bargain has closely tracked the evolution of America's Bosnia policy.
Although intended to improve alliance relations and re-establish American leadership, US involvement in the Balkans initially had a corrosive effect. This was due to its selective and maverick character before Dayton. US intervention initially comprised "standoff" air support to UNPROFOR and independent initiatives that often clashed with those of the allies. US operations reflected the American proclivity for "decisive action," and left the impression that even partial American involvement entailed dominant American influence. Thus, the Clinton administration's activism did not resolve the intra-alliance disputes. Indeed, tensions increased as they focused on tactical issues -- with European ground troops, but not American, held at risk. By late-1994 the situation had grown sufficiently serious for the US Joint Chiefs to warn that the disputes over Bosnia could split the alliance. Senate leader Bob Dole spoke of "a complete breakdown of NATO" and Defense Secretary William Perry prepared a personal White Paper suggesting a new course.
The price of moving Europe into the general framework of the American bargain was a decisive US commitment to the Balkans operations: the provision of tens of thousands of ground troops as well as air, naval, and other forms of support. Of course, with involvement on this scale came decisive American influence over the operation -- but essentially within the framework plan that the European allies had formulated during the previous two years.
While reaffirming America's commitment to Europe, the Administration also sought greater assurance that intervention in a potential Eastern quagmire would be a one time investment, not a recurring cost. Paradoxically, the desire for "involvement limitation" elevated the option of early NATO expansion. In the official American view, the increase in situational control that NATO expansion might allow is more salient than (and serves to diminish) the possibility of future interventions in the East. While the official rationale emphasizes the need to stem Eastern instability, a more immediate goal is to stabilize West European policies toward the East and keep them within a reliable institutional framework.
Expansion serves the goals of stabilizing policy and increasing situational control in several ways. First, it centers the attention of the East on the Atlantic Alliance as a whole (and especially on the United States), rather than on Germany. Given the East's anxieties about Russia, NATO and American military links to the East constitute a strong counterweight to German economic links. Thus, expansion facilitates the formation of a "balanced" Eastern policy caucus within NATO comprising the United States, Germany, and the new Eastern members. More generally, because most prospective members are pro-American, their inclusion "would...provide greater internal support for US views on key security issues" (Asmus et al. 1993). A final putative benefit is that outreach reassures Germany that its allies' are sensitive to its security concerns and willing to guarantee its Eastern frontier and its investments.
Within the policy community the strongest support for sending ground troops to Bosnia came from multilateralists and common security advocates. Isolationists stood opposed. Internationalist of a more realist bent were divided. Those favoring a stricter selectivity in US global engagement saw another Somalia in Bosnia. Other realist internationalists, such as Lt. General William Odom, saw the issue as one of reconfirming the relevance of NATO and rescuing American leadership in Europe. In Odom's view "the feckless NATO policy in Bosnia" was "to be expected as long as the United States [remained] a passive complainer...unwilling to commit significant ground forces" (1995:165). Notably, President Clinton sold the intervention to congressional Republicans as a means of reasserting American leadership -- within the strict limits set by his 1994 policy on peace operations.
The Administration's NATO expansion policy depends more heavily on congressional Republican support than did Bosnia intervention, for several reasons. First, treaty commitments require Senate ratification. Second, NATO expansion has divided the policy community more deeply than did Bosnia. Multilateralists and cooperative security advocates have swung into opposition, seeing expansion as unnecessary and likely to provoke a repolarization of Europe. Realist internationalists are again divided, but more energetically. Those favoring "selective engagement" and, especially, those leaning toward Asia see an increase in America's long-term European commitments without a commensurate gain. And many realists agree that the policy will provoke Russia unnecessarily. Others are closer to the Administration's position, seeing Russia as weak and expansion as a means to contain Germany and preempt big power competition over the East. The Administration's initiative has also gained the support of old-style realists, who are less interested in system dynamics than historically determined power struggles. They add an anti-Russian impetus to the pro- expansion camp.
In 1995, when the Clinton administration began to accelerate NATO expansion, Theodore Sorenson found it "hard to imagine a more provocative decision taken with less consultation and consideration for the consequences." The Administration has had little subsequent success in winning a supportive consensus of informed opinion.
George Kennan (1997) calls expansion "the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post- Cold War era," predicting that it will inflame Russia and "restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations." A June 1997 open letter to President Clinton similarly perceives "a policy error of historic proportions," that will endanger arms control agreements and "bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement." Illustrating the breadth of opposition, among the letter's 40 signatories are former Senators Sam Nunn and Gary Hart, Edward Luttwak, Robert McNamara, Paul Nitze, Richard Pipes, John Steinbruner, Paul Warnke, and former NATO Assistant Secretary General Philip Merrill.
Advocates argue for expansion principally from the need for strategic stability in Europe, which requires attention to both the problem of weak states and the potential for big power competition over them (Lugar 1993). Lt. General William Odom defines NATO's task as ensuring that "Eastern Europe does not become once again a region of diplomatic competition among France, Germany, Britain, and Russia" (1995:163). President Clinton also adopted a realist approach to stability issues when he embraced near-term expansion in October 1996, arguing that "A gray zone of insecurity must not re-emerge in Europe." With clear reference to the century's great wars, he observed that "Peace and security are not available on the cheap," but that if NATO fails to act now, "we will pay a much higher price later on down the road" (Hunt 1996).
Ronald Asmus links the resolution of Eastern instability to an increased capacity for addressing concerns outside Europe, arguing that "until Eastern Europe is stabilized, it will be difficult if not impossible for the NATO allies...to broaden their strategic horizon to confront the serious challenges that lie further afield" (1996:94). The Administration's February 1997 report to Congress on NATO enlargement, uses the same rationale to link expansion to out-of-area operations:
A Europe more secure in its own borders will be more willing and able to assist the United States in meeting challenges to shared interest, including those that extend beyond Europe's immediate borders (1997).
Attacking the stability rationale, Jonathan Dean (1997) criticizes the reliance on 19-century models of European security dynamics as an example of "historicism" and "false analogy" that has led the Administration "to believe that a weak Eastern Europe must inevitably elicit aggressive behavior from both Russia and Germany."
Administration analysts [have] made a wholly pessimistic analysis of the future of Russia (and of Germany as well) and [have] decided that Eastern Europe must be saved from possible aggression by Western action while there [is] still time (Dean 1997:36).
Michael Brown (1995) summarizes the arguments of expansion opponents in three points: expansion is (1) unnecessary and ineffective as a means of stabilizing eastern European countries, (2) unwarranted by Russian behavior, but likely to provoke negative reaction, and (3) likely to overextend NATO at time when organizational reform should be top priority. John Ruggie (1997) also sees NATO expansion as drawing attention and energy away from more pressing issues: European integration, the relationship between EU and NATO, and the development of European out-of-area capabilities via the CJTF. In an article prescribing enhanced European projection forces, Michael O'Hanlon sees the prospect put at risk by expansion:
The need for internal reform to achieve greater real military burden-sharing in NATO is another reason why NATO enlargement is a bad idea. Transforming the Alliance should be a higher priority than expanding it; to the extent that the two create tension, the former should win (1997:13).
A letter signed by 18 former high-ranking State Department officials echoes several of these themes and re-casts the stability issue in terms of provocation:
In our view, this policy risks endangering the long-term viability of NATO, significantly exacerbating the instability that now exists in the zone that lies between Germany and Russia, and convincing most Russians that the United States and the West are attempting to isolate, encircle, and subordinate them, rather than integrating them into a new European system of collective security (Nitze et al. 1995:75).
Michael Mandelbaum (1997), in opposing expansion, concurs that the East does not now need it and that NATO cannot afford it. He departs from other opponents, however, in thinking that preemptory containment of Russia has some merit. But he sees the expansion proposal as leaving out the most vulnerable states -- the Baltics -- while bringing more pressure to bear on them. Even with regard to the first wave of new members, he thinks that NATO will fail to invest the resources required to make its new commitments credible.
The chief objection raised by most opponents is that expansion will needlessly provoke Russia and contribute to renewed tensions in Europe. In several editorials the New York Times has focused on the implications for strategic arms control:
The key to consolidating peace in Europe lies not in expanding NATO but in encouraging Russia to live in harmony with its neighbors and accept deep negotiated reduction in its nuclear arsenal (1996).
The Times editorials argue that increasing Moscow's already considerable sense of insecurity may translate into Russian intransigence on arms control, thus reciprocally reducing Western security. Other opponents raise the security dilemma more generally with reference to the danger of continental re-polarization. Former Ambassador Raymond Garthoff (1997) argues that,
Expansion of NATO to provide security for Western and Eastern Europe would marginalize, if not exclude, Russia from meaningful participation in European security arrangements. ... We should have learned that no one gains security by creating insecurity for others. If legitimate Russian security interests are not met, neither will the long-run interests of Europe, the US, and the world.
Similarly Edward Luttwak (1997) warns that "The attempt to defend against a now nonexistent threat might bring it about, a paradoxical outcome all too common in the annals of strategy." The self- reinforcing character of expansion is also evident in another way: Russian opposition to expansion has come to substitute for evidence of a more general conflict of interest. Former Bush administration official Philip Zelikow observes that "There are no acute areas of political tension between Poland and Russia, other than those created by the NATO enlargement issue itself" (1996:13).
The substitution effect is also evident in the response of Strobe Talbot to Russia's claims that NATO expansion will compel it to take countermeasures: "Enlargement is going to happen; fighting it with threats will only intensify the darkest suspicions about Russia's intentions and future" (1995:27). Senate majority leader Trent Lott (1997) echoes this formulation, asserting that "Whether Russia is ready to accept an enlarged NATO will be an important sign of Russia's departure from its imperial past." Thus, Russian objections themselves become evidence of the need for expansion. From this perspective there is no issue of "legitimate Russian security concerns" and little reason for negotiations -- a stance that may itself be cause for Russian concern.
Both Talbot and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher have tried to portray NATO expansion as the resolution, not the extension, of Europe's Cold War divisions -- a tack that casts opponents as the purveyors of old ways. Talbot writes that,
Freezing NATO's eastern boundaries approximately along the line fixed by Western and Soviet negotiators on Aug 13, 1945 would make sense if Europe's Cold War division was natural and enduring. But in fact, that division is becoming unnatural and anachronistic (1995:27).
Talbot derives his analysis from Warren Christopher's assertion that "Europe's institutional arrangement should be determined by the objective demands of the present, not by the tragedies of Europe's past." In this reading, however, the tragedy of the Cold War is not the fact that Europe was divided, but rather the fact of where it was divided.
Former National Security Council official Charles Kupchan argues that, no matter how expansion is packaged, it will remain provocative because the fundamental problem is that "NATO is still a military alliance that concentrates power against an external threat." Edward Luttwak amplifies this point, noting that the West is offering more than membership in an alliance; it is offering full participation in an integrated multinational military organization. "NATO is not a security-talking shop but a veritable military force...temporarily at peace," says Luttwak. "No wonder that even the most sincerely liberal Russians are dismayed by its eastward expansion" (Luttwak 1997).
As an alternative to early NATO expansion, opponents tend to favor the extension of EU membership either followed by NATO after an interval or not followed by it at all unless Russian behavior so warrants (Harold Brown 1995; Davies 1995; Dean 1997). Jonathan Dean argues that "the real interest of the Eastern European countries has been membership in the European Union," and many expansion critics agree, seeing NATO expansion as a less expensive or symbolic substitute that has let the EU off the hook (Luttwak 1997; Ruggie 1997; Zelikow 1996). Another putative benefit of EU expansion is that it would permit gradual integration of the East without provocation of Russia. Some suggest that an expansion of the WEU would also allow the extension of security guarantees with minimal provocation. In this perspective "it is the centrality of the US component of a NATO-only expansion that creates the problems" (Ruggie 1997:118).
Several leading proponents of early NATO enlargement contend that neither substituting the EU for NATO, nor making NATO expansion contingent on Russian behavior constitute acceptable alternatives (Asmus et al. 1995). In their view, EU expansion will not occur soon enough to have the needed stability effect in Eastern Europe. And making NATO expansion contingent on a deterioration of relations between Russia and its neighbors -- what they call the "Strategic Response" option -- would require the West to take action when it would be most provocative.
Asmus et al. present the problem of provocation quite differently than do expansion critics. While critics worry that expansion will provoke repolarization and remilitarization, Asmus et al. focus on the danger of provoking a strategic or military crisis -- which assumes that substantial repolarization and re-militarization have already occurred. However, it makes little sense to raise this latter type of concern today unless one also accepts unrealistic assumptions about how quickly an anti-Western government could consolidate power in Moscow, reinvigorate the economy, and rehabilitate the military. Such a process would involve many milestones and opportunities to respond before crisis stability became a serious concern. Of course, early expansion also can proceed on the basis of a strong presumption that a Russian threat will re-emerge regardless of how the West acts. Neither the RAND authors nor the Clinton administration espouse this deterministic view, but some significant sector of expansion advocates do.
Henry Kissinger (1994), Zbigniew Brzezinski (1994), and former National Security Council official Peter Rodman (1994) see in Russia a powerful authoritarian and imperialist impulse that transcends its former Communism, and on this basis they support early NATO enlargement. No one expresses this view more clearly than William Safire (1996):
In coming decades, Russia -- with its literate population and rich resources unencumbered by Communism -- will rise again. Its leaders will [pursue irredentist goals] under the guise of protecting their 'near abroad.' The only way to deter future aggression without war is by collective defense. And only in the next few years, with Russia weak, do we have the chance to "lock in" the vulnerable.
Although not espoused by the Clinton administration, such views exert a stronger influence in Congress. Jonathan Dean observes that,
The primary reason many members of the Senate majority today favor NATO enlargement is suspicion of Russia. Russians are right to conclude that many of these legislators intend the enlargement of NATO as an anti-Russian measure (1997:4).
The Administration's position more reflects a disregard for Russia than an actual antagonism -- and so it pursues early expansion as part of a broader program and with little regard for its potential repolarizing effects. However, having failed to fashion a wider policy consensus, the administration remains dependent on congressional Republicans. They may lock the Administration on a confrontational course when other questions bearing on US-Russian relations come up for decision. These include not only a variety of arms control measures, but also the timetable for future waves of NATO expansion. Senate majority leader Trent Lott has already expressed concern about the plight of the Baltics and other (non-Russian) states left out of expansion's "first wave." Of course, inclusion of the Baltics would pose a challenge of an entirely different order -- but each step creates conditions for the next.
Most recent public opinion polls show majorities or pluralities of Americans supporting expansion (Kull 1997). When survey questions specifically refer to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, support runs higher than 60 percent. Support decreases when expansion is framed more generally, as in a January 1997 poll by the Pew Research Center (1997) that found 45 percent of the public in support and 39 percent opposed. Specific mention of new defense commitments further weakens support. An April 1996 survey by the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy that spoke of "defending new members against attack" found only 44 percent supporting expansion and a plurality of 47 percent opposed. Similarly a survey by the Program on International Policy Attitude (PIPA) found that public support dropped sharply when NATO expansion was associated with a $1 billion increase in defense spending (Kull 1997). Without this qualification Americans supported expansion by a margin of 62 percent to 29 percent. With the cost estimate added, support dropped to 46 percent and opposition increased to 44 percent.
Using focus groups the PIPA survey established that the most attractive rationale for NATO expansion was that it would increase interstate cooperation and reduce conflict potentials. By contrast, "traditional arguments in favor of NATO expansion that stressed the Russian threat and...competition with Russia were most unpopular" (Kull 1997:14). However, arguments against expansion that suggested a need to placate Russian opposition were also unpopular (Pew 1997). In short: the public does not see Russia as a threat today and does not want to proactively assume a threatening stance, but it also will not countenance an angry Russian reaction to expansion.
The PIPA survey found that the most powerful argument against expansion (even among supporters) posed the alternative of developing "something new...that includes Russia, rather than treating Russia as an enemy" (Kull 1997:11). And, the idea of including Russia in NATO typically receives majority support in surveys. The PIPA researchers further found that among their respondents "a strong majority supports pacing NATO expansion in a way that accommodates Russian concerns." Thus, popular support for NATO is complex. It is sensitive to some of the reservations expressed by opponents of the current expansion plan and prefers an inclusive approach to Moscow. But it is also ready to assume a defensive position should Moscow react negatively to expansion.
America's new deal with Europe encompasses a range of issues: the relation between NATO and EU/WEU, enlargement, burdensharing, and out-of-area operations. American involvement in the Balkans is the glue that presently holds the bargain together. The first real test may come when the crisis subsides or America withdraws its contingent. Other tests are forthcoming as well: Who will pay for NATO enlargement? Will the future functioning of WEU and the CJTF satisfy the Alliance partners on both sides of the Atlantic? Will Europe improve its power projection capabilities and join America in non-European operations?
The new deal also depends on developments in America and relations with Russia. Today major features of US policy hinge on a tenuous political coalition. Until a broader and more resilient consensus on foreign policy takes hold, it is difficult to say how America will negotiate future turns in its bargain with Europe or how it will deal with the repercussions of NATO expansion. All that is certain is that America's commitment to Europe will come at a higher price than before.
Regarding the effects of expansion: the greatest concern is the future stance of Russia. The march of current policy makes it increasingly difficult to diffuse Russian concerns. And this calls attention to what the American bargain has left undone:
The task of devising a new security architecture for Europe...will not be completed until there is an enduring, full place in that architecture for all European states, including Russia (Dean 1997:4).
Having faced an opportunity to uproot the Cold War divide, Western leaders may prove themselves incapable of doing better than simply relocating it. Their deficit is less one of imagination than will. It is lack of will that has kept Europe disunited and dependent. And it is lack of will that has made America set the price of engagement so high.
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