NATO Enlargement: What's the Rush?

Temporizing is not always a good idea, but neither is impetuousness, and it is nothing other than impetuous to end the NATO enlargement debate prematurely, to decide such an important issue before its time.

Issue: Winter 1996-1997

The question of enlarging NATO has occasioned the most important
foreign policy debate in the United States since the end of the Cold
War, and rightly so. The issue is integral to determining America's
future role in Europe, still a very important place in world politics.

But it has been a curious and unsatisfying debate in several ways:
Unsatisfying because it often seems as though there has been no
debate at all, only contrary assertions passing each other without
making useful contact; curious because of the various and
contradictory trajectories of shifting opinions. Several policy
analysts who started out favoring NATO enlargement have subsequently
become opponents of it, while the Clinton administration has moved in
the opposite direction, from skepticism and efforts at deflection to
avid embrace and the declaration, last summer, that debate over
essentials was closed.

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