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NATO: Bigger Isn't Better

WASHINGTON, D.C. Now that NATO has invited Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to join, President Clinton must seek ratification of the new treaty by the US Senate. The Senate should reject NATO expansion. The scholar-diplomat George Kennan is correct in calling expansion the "most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era."

No reason cited in favor of expansion stands up to scrutiny. Expansion will not bolster democracy, because democracy is not threatened in the countries invited to join. If NATO membership were effective in promoting democracy, it makes more sense to invite Russia and Ukraine to join.

But if NATO is being turned into a club for countries that are already democracies, several questions arise: Why is such a club needed? Why aren’t all the democracies of postcommunist Europe invited to join? And why does expansion require billions of American tax dollars and an American nuclear guarantee? The Clinton administration has supplied no answers, only a series of flimsy rationales:

1. to prevent Bosnia-style ethnic conflicts. But the three new members (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic) are ethnically homogenous. Countries that face ethnic divides are not invited to join.