NATO Expansion: Too Much, Too Early

PARIS: Democracies are often guilty of doing "too little, too late" in the face of new challenges. Unlike dictatorships, the democratic process takes time, and implies compromise. The slowness of democratic states in meeting the fascist challenge in the thirties or the scourge of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans is often cited in this regard.

Democracies also act prematurely. Such cases of "too much, too early" tend to occur when the initial decision is politically undemanding, and short term consequences limited. NATO expansion belongs to this category. It is a fairly simple matter to declare the enlargement of the Atlantic alliance with little risk involved for NATO’s members: no foreign power is in a position to threaten their territorial integrity. No surprise that a number of Western democracies launched this venture in 1994, raising high expectations in Eastern Europe. Mercifully, the democratic process does make it difficult to execute a policy decision of this magnitude without public debate. As debate unfolds, harsh consequences emerge. Several questions must find answers before NATO’s enlargement should proceed.

Is NATO militarily willing and able to implement mutual defense obligations? Yes, perhaps, for countries contiguous with NATO: Austria, the Czech Republic, and Poland. But who dares suggest that this condition is fulfilled in the West vis a vis Estonia or Ukraine? A mirror-image of this question applies to new members: are they able and willing to contribute to the common defense by adopting NATO standards and making their military available for use by NATO?

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/7OhVhN3;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now