April 1, 1998
President Bill Clinton made the NATO Expansion Treaty his primary foreign policy
objective in his State of the Union Message. It was also an essential (albeit little reported)
element of his 1996 campaigning in big cities with large blocs of ethnic voters, such as Detroit.
The Washington Post explained the politics. NATO Expansion has "a major American
constituency in millions of voters of Eastern European extraction, many of them in pivotal states,
who would welcome closer ties to their ancestral homelands."
So why is the Republican Senate about to hand Clinton a stunning foreign policy and
political victory? Especially when it will give him convenient cover for his personal scandals?
It looks like some highly-placed people in both political parties haven't discovered that
the Cold War is over and our side won. Instead of helping America to move on to meet new
challenges, they want to keep the Cold War going by perpetuating its structures.
These tunnel-visioned spokesmen have a "Maginot Line" mentality. They are committed
to re-fighting the last war instead of preparing for the future.
NATO was the linchpin of the Cold War strategy to scare the old Soviet Union out of
invading Western Europe. It succeeded. Nobody is worried any longer about Soviet troops
marching into Western Europe.
The NATO Expansion Treaty would be a profound change in that mission. It is a life-and-death commitment to go to war to defend Eastern European borders, which ethnic factions
have been fighting about for a thousand years.
All those borders were established as a result of bloody battles. There is nothing sacred
about them, and there is no reason why America should promise to go to war to preserve them.
The New York Times calls the NATO Treaty a "commitment to use American soldiers
and weapons, including nuclear arms, to defend new members in Eastern Europe." The
Washington Post calls this treaty "the most ambitious expansion of U.S. global commitments
since the end of the Cold War."
This dramatic expansion of our commitments to expend our blood and treasure has had
almost no media coverage outside the Beltway, so the
American people are almost wholly in the dark about it. Where are the experts on television to
explain the pros and cons?
It is irresponsible for the Republican Senate to ratify this watershed commitment without
a national debate. What's the rush? This decision is too important to be made casually or
Seventeen Senators, nine Republicans and eight Democrats, petitioned Majority Leader
Trent Lott to delay the vote at least until June. They would like the answers to some major
questions. Where is the need? Is Bosnia the model for future entanglements?
And how much will it cost? Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is on record as saying
in reference to the Marshall Plan, "We have to do for Eastern Europe what we did for Western
Europe." Open up your pocketbooks for the tax collector!
Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen went to an Ohio town hall
meeting to try to sell their tough talk on Saddam Hussein and they got clobbered by skeptical
questioners. They don't dare to risk a town hall meeting on NATO Expansion, which commits
us, not just to a quick bomb strike against one obnoxious outlaw, but to use ground troops, over
and over again, to defend Eastern European borders when we may have friendly ties on both
The supporters of the NATO Treaty admit that the admission of Poland, Hungary and the
Czech Republic will be followed by many others. Romania, Slovenia, and Bulgaria are already
On January 12, Clinton signed a Charter of Partnership at the White House with the
presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. It explicitly supports bringing those countries into
NATO and, while not binding, Administration spokesmen bragged that future administrations
will not be able to back away from it.
When Madeleine Albright testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she
admitted that this treaty commits us to defend not only the borders, but the NATO-defined
"interests" of Eastern Europe. She urged that NATO extend its geographic reach beyond
Europe to "the Middle East to Central Africa."
The NATO Treaty means that NATO, not Congress, will decide when America goes to
war. It will inflict us with one "Bosnia" after another, using our Armed Services as global
policemen and global social workers in costly conflicts that are none of America's business.
It means institutionalizing Clinton's Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD 25) to put
U.S. troops under foreign commanders. It will cost billions of taxpayer dollars by assuring
perpetual foreign giveaways to countries that are unwilling to pay to defend themselves.
The NATO Treaty is a repudiation of Ronald Reagan's successful strategy of peace
through strength, and its replacement by the Clinton-Albright strategy of repeatedly using our
military forces under NATO or UN command.
The NATO Treaty also repudiates George Washington's advice "to steer clear of
permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world," and instead commits us to
permanent involvement in foreign conflicts. It should be called Clinton's Go-To-War Treaty.