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The Next NATO

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
interpret it.

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
widespread.

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.

Indeed, vast areas of the globe are less integrated into the global
economy and a world order than they were fifty years ago. This is the
case with most of Africa, most of Southwest Asia, an increasing part
of Southeast Asia, and an increasing part of the Andean region of
South America. These four regions add up to a vast realm where
globalization has already failed and where it is highly unlikely to
succeed in the foreseeable future. There has been much talk about
"the African renaissance", "the Islamic resurgence", and "Plan
Colombia", but no one has offered a credible plan or even hope for
turning these regions into stable parts of the global economy and
world order. On the contrary, they have created their own perverse,
underworld version of the global economy consisting of a very
widespread traffic in narcotics, diamonds, weapons and human
beings--all run by global criminal or terrorist organizations.

Furthermore, major powers, in particular China and Russia, have
declared that they oppose the American version of globalization.
China is probably the biggest single winner from the globalization of
the past decade, and Russia may well be the biggest single loser, but
they can agree on one thing: they are not going to be globalized in
the American way. There are also those "rogue states" (or "states of
concern"), especially Iraq and Iran but also Afghanistan and North
Korea, which persist in trying to thwart the American project.

The regions where the American way of globalization is succeeding are
actually rather few, and together they add up to much less than half
the area of the globe and much less than half its population. These
regions include almost all of Europe, much of Latin America, some of
the countries on the periphery of East Asia, and of course Australia
and New Zealand. As it happens, these four regions largely correspond
to the U.S. system of alliances as it existed fifty years ago (NATO,
the OAS, a series of bilateral treaties with Asian countries, and
ANZUS). The extent of "globalization" in 2001 is not that different
from the extent of the "Free World" in 1951.

There is one big difference, of course, and that involves what was
then Eastern Europe--the communist Europe--and what is now once again
central Europe along with eastern Europe--a liberal-democratic and
free-market Europe. This is also the region where the recent round of
NATO expansion occurred and where the second round of expansion is
proposed. It is this difference that links the American way of
globalization with the American proposals for NATO enlargement.

Globalization and America's Europe

It is natural that the United States should want to expand and secure
its new trade and investment relations with central and eastern
Europe. More fundamentally, however, it seeks to consolidate all of
Europe--western, central and eastern--into a secure core of the
American way of globalization. It is crucial that this European core
be integrally joined with the American one (now defined by NAFTA) and
that it accepts American leadership on matters of major importance.

It might seem odd to imagine that Europe will accept American
leadership at a time when much of the European media is criticizing
American policies on issues ranging from the death penalty to global
warming agreements, and when many young Europeans are demonstrating
against globalization. But in truth there is now a vast realm of
Europe that is willingly recreating itself in the American image.
This is especially the case with people engaged in the new
information economy and the technical professions. It is also
especially the case with the peoples of central Europe and the Baltic
states. It is true that many of the peoples there are not
enthusiastic about NATO, especially after its experience with Kosovo,
but they do want to be part of an American alliance, even of
something that would be akin to an American commonwealth. They loathe
the Russians, are suspicious of other Europeans, and are attracted to
the Americans. For these central and east Europeans, it is true today
what was true for many West Europeans fifty years ago: the purpose of
NATO is to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans
down.

Essay Types: Essay