Article published on Jan. 13, 2003
community published
Article published on Jan. 13, 2003

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Should enlargement really come before effective co-operation and agreement on the future of NATO has been agreed?

Following the well known Lord Ismays expression from 1949, NATO should be: keeping the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. Today there are no threats from Germany and no reasons for such an attitude toward Russia. During the last few years Russian politics has changed to a close cooperation with its euroatlantic neighbours and the international community. The necessity of dealing with crises and terrorism, as well as organising peace missions lead NATO to try and bring Russia in to the common dialogue. The enemy has changed.

NATO is one of the very few channels of USA-Europe dialogue. However, Europe is another continent, they are in NATO because of their need of support, help, and understanding. Commitment and safety. Thats why the USA is treated as a European friend. It is helplful here to note that Americam expenditure on defence are two times bigger than the whole of the European contribution to NATO. In my opinion modern times exclude cold or even cool relationships between the biggest powers in the world. Every country has to realise that close cooperation with many partners can bring not only economic profits but also considerably strengthen worldwide opposition to threats such as chemical and biological weapons, terror attacks and so on. However it may seem that American policy doesnt fight against terrorism, but more for its own safety, power and strength. The USA wants to be the worldwide superpower.

The dialogue that NATO represents is so important because of the new global problems that appeared after the events of 11 September 2001. Suitable reactions to these were immediate. Unfortunately, America did not take full advantage of the possibility of NATO assistance. This may be frustrating for those who are looking forward to greater and more effective cooperation between the USA and Europe. Despite this, the European members of NATO say that the USA is still very important. There are no hints on the USAs disloyalty. At the same time many American people regard the Europeans as people who want to be a little bit apart and take advantage of the almost limitless American military potential. But if we look at what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan we may doubt American military power because of their mistakes and failures. So this is a point of disagreement not only in USA- Europe relations but also within the European structures. NATOs heads cannot agree about almost any military and political action in the Middle East. Every obvious discrepancy can be explained by national problems which occurred in the last 10 years for many of NATOs members. They have been so serious that it has been almost impossible to focus on military affairs at the same time. On the other hand, European countries have different aims in carrying out military actions. All want an international, global peace and agreement, and justice for all countries. Yet Europe is weaker than the USA and often hopes to achieve this through peaceful methods rather than military ones.

During the NATO summit in Prague there some changes in tha Alliance were decided in order to improve its capacity for quick efficient reaction to unexpected threats. A few countries were invited to discuss their entry to NATO. Although there are still concerns about successful cooperation and dealing with internal divisions, it must be seriously considered whether or not NATO is really strong enough to enlarge. Cooperation and full agreement should come before new members. Without the former NATO will be unable to do its tough job, and will have no future.

Surely, the crisis-point of NATO has come. On the one hand it is very worrying that America and Europe have different expectations from this military alliance. On the other hand this is time to find new solutions, new compromises and to start thinking more seriously about situations where war is almost inevitable.