The Next NATO
Exactly fifty years ago, Washington was the scene of what was then
called the Great Debate. The issue in 1951 was the conversion of the
rather spare North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 into a genuine American
military commitment: an integrated military organization under an
American supreme commander and the permanent stationing of U.S.
troops in Europe. Thirty-one years before that, Washington was the
scene of an even more famous Great Debate; the issues in 1920 were
U.S. membership in the League of Nations and a permanent U.S.
security guarantee to Britain and France.
This June, President Bush proposed in a major address in Warsaw that
"Europe's new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea and all
that lie between" be admitted to NATO, with invitations for some to
be issued at the NATO summit to be held in Prague in November 2002.
Although the President did not mention specific countries, it was
taken for granted that he had the three Baltic states of Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania in mind. Other nations that have applied to
become members of NATO and that are being given positive
consideration are Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria.
The admission of these countries into NATO would entail an extension
and transformation of U.S. military commitments as serious as those
at issue in 1951 and in 1920. But there is little sign thus far of
any Great Debate, just as there was no such debate--except in some
highly cloistered intellectual circles--during the mid- to late-1990s
over the admission of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. This
lack of public political interest is all the more curious given that
great powers traditionally have considered their alliance obligations
and military commitments to be at the heart of their foreign
policies, and that both the First and Second World Wars began because
particular great powers were in fact honoring such commitments. NATO
is supposed to be a military alliance, but there has been almost no
public discussion about the implications of NATO enlargement for its
military strategy. And although there has been much talk about not
drawing a new line that would divide Europe like the old Yalta
agreement did, the whole point of a military alliance is to create an
alignment--that is, to draw a line. Obviously, the line that will be
drawn by round ii of NATO enlargement will be one between Europe and
Russia. Russia has consistently argued that it should be defined as
part of Europe, and it has even proposed that it be admitted into
NATO. Conversely, the United States has referred to almost every
other country in Europe as a prospective member of NATO, but it has
consistently refused to include Russia among them. The line, then, is
bound to remain.
The U.S. refusal to consider NATO membership for Russia is not based
upon a Russian military threat to NATO's prospective new members,
however. In the minds of the U.S. foreign policy leadership, NATO
enlargement is not really about the expansion of a military alliance
but about something else. Its real purpose is to consolidate Europe
into a coherent and integral part of the American vision and version
of world order; it is to make of Europe a solid base and loyal
partner in the worldwide struggle now developing over the grand
American project of globalization. But because NATO nevertheless
remains a military alliance--Article v guarantee and all--its
enlargement will have serious military and strategic consequences.
Globalization is us
For the past decade, the grand project of the United States in world
affairs has been globalization. Indeed, globalization has been so
central to the United States, and the United States has been so
central to world affairs, that it has given its name to the new era
that has succeeded the Cold War; more than anything else, the
contemporary period has been defined as the era of globalization.
Globalization itself has been defined by American leaders as the
spread of free markets, open borders, liberal democracy and the rule
of law--in short, an essentially high-tech Wilsonian world in which
the main elements of democratic peace theory are assumed to be valid.
The Clinton Administration was particularly consistent in promoting
globalization and each of these elements. The Bush Administration has
been less explicit about doing so, but its business wing is pressing
for free markets and open borders, while its neo-conservative wing is
pressing for liberal democracy and the rule of law, at least as they
Most accounts of globalization have assumed that the phenomenon is
indeed global in its scope, or that it will soon become so. This
assumption is mistaken, and the awareness that globalization is not
global, and probably never will be, will itself soon become
After a decade of experience with globalization, we can see a greatly
variegated map of the globe, and the reality that it presents is not
a linear and smooth progression, but a lumpy and jagged construction.
It is a pattern of uneven development, uneven acceptance and uneven
resistance. When even the U.S. State Department--one of the most
enthusiastic promoters of globalization--identifies 27 countries
(including such major ones as Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria and
Colombia) that Americans should avoid entirely because of war, crime,
anti-American hostility or simply chaos, it is clear that
globalization's ambit is hardly complete.