Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts NATO Enlargement vs. American Interests

NATO Enlargement vs. American Interests

The stage is set for the United States Senate to hold its first major foreign policy debate of the post-Cold War era. Following NATO’s decision in Madrid in July 1997 to invite Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to join its ranks, the Senate must signify its approval in accordance with the provisions of Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty (adopted in Washington D.C., on April 4, 1949), which stipulates that the admission of “any other European state” requires “unanimous agreement.” With no other NATO government likely to act before the United States does, all eyes are on the Senate. Whatever may be their public expressions of support for NATO enlargement, West European and Canadian leaders consider it an American policy initiative, and-in private-are far from unanimous about its alleged virtues. Indeed, most probably agree with the unguarded comments made by Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien to his Belgian counterpart: “It’s not for reasons of security; it’s all done for short-term political reasons, to win elections.“’ However embarrassing this may be for Chretien, for Americans it should be a wake-up call.

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