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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2002 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

NATO Expansion

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Testimony Before the Senate Armed Services Committee
Washington, DC
February 28, 2002

(As prepared for delivery)

Senator Levin, Senator Warner, Members of the Committee, it is an honor and a privilege to be here. I thank you for the opportunity to address the Senate Armed Services Committee and especially to sit on this panel with my friends and colleagues, Doug Feith and Joe Ralston.

Before I do anything else, let me thank you and so many other members of the Senate for what you have done, are doing and, I know, will do to continue to support NATO, the greatest alliance in history. I have had the privilege and good fortune to consult with you and take your advice over the years on NATO. We have always made better decisions because of it.

When I remember the work we did in getting ready for the last round of NATO enlargement, I recall the Kyl Amendment and the work that so many Senators did both in this Committee and in the Foreign Relations Committee, including Senator Helms, Senator Biden and Senator Lugar. I know we will have as much useful dialogue and consultation in the future.

As you say in your invitation letter, Mr. Chairman, I come before this Committee at a time when some on both sides of the Atlantic are asking questions about the future of NATO. I welcome this debate. Our governments, our parliaments and our publics ought to talk about the future of NATO. That is what democratically supported foreign and defense policy is all about. The future of NATO has been debated before and we have always come back to the fundamentals: values matter. Collective defense matters. Capabilities matter. The transatlantic relationship matters. And because NATO has always adapted to meet new challenges, NATO matters.

Before I try to answer some of the questions posed in your letter of invitation and speak to some of the current debate about NATO taking place in Europe and the United States, I ask you to step back with me for just a moment and realize how far we have come. Think about these three quotations:

First: Winston Churchill, Fulton, Missouri, March 5, 1946: "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere."

Second: President Vaclav Havel, in Prague on July 1, 1991: "Prague, once the victim of the Warsaw Pact, became the city where the Warsaw Pact met its end as an instrument of the Cold War."

Third: President George Bush, Warsaw, June 15, 2001: " All of Europe's democracies, from the Baltics to the Black Sea and all that lie between, should have the same chance for security and freedom -- and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe -- as Europe's old democracies have."

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization remains a fundamental pillar of our foreign and defense policy. As President Bush’s speech in Prague shows (and it is worth reading again as we enter into the critical months before the Prague Summit), we want NATO to succeed. The Alliance must be an effective tool in the world after September 11.

NATO is not less important after September 11, it is more important.

21st Century NATO: New Capabilities, New Members, New Relationships

The attacks of September 11 and NATO's rapid and steadfast response prove NATO's continuing value. Invoking Article 5 for the first time in its history, NATO sent a clear message that the Alliance is united and determined to defeat terrorism.

We greatly value NATO's collective response, as well as the contributions of individual Allies to Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force. NATO AWACS have logged over 2,600 hours patrolling the skies above American cities, and NATO ships patrol the Eastern Mediterranean. All NATO Allies have provided blanket overflight rights, access to ports and bases, refueling assistance, and stepped up intelligence efforts.

Fifty years of cooperation through NATO made natural the participation of Allied and Partner forces in Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force. Allied and Partner contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom include extensive air reconnaissance, refueling, cargo, and close air support missions, an array of special forces missions, specialized nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons units, mine clearing units, medical units, and an array of Allied ships on patrol. Almost all of the contributors to the International Security Assistance Force, currently led by Britain and we hope to be followed by Turkey, are either current Allies, potential future Allies, or NATO Partner countries who have been training and exercising with NATO in the Partnership for Peace. Altogether these Allies and Partners have deployed nearly 4,000 troops to Afghanistan.

September 11 has brought home to us all that we face new threats and new challenges. That is why NATO ministers at their meeting in Brussels last December agreed to intensify common efforts to meet the threats from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction that all Allies face. When President Bush meets with Allied leaders in Prague later this year, we expect that Allies will be ready to approve a program of action to enhance NATO's ability to deal with these and other threats.

I am confident that NATO will respond to these challenges, just as it has responded to every challenge that has come its way. I say this because, contrary to the myth of NATO as a Cold War relic struggling to define its role since the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO has adapted effectively throughout its history. From integrating West Germany in the 1950's to responding to Soviet missile build-ups of the 1960's and 70's, to the INF debates in the 1980's and the ultimate demise of the Warsaw Pact in the 1990's, NATO has responded to new threats while seizing opportunities to foster stability and security.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has been key to the stability and security of the Euro-Atlantic area. A round of enlargement began to erase the line Stalin drew across Europe. NATO responded to end murder in Kosovo. NATO acted to end a war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. And, NATO has built new patterns of cooperation through a Permanent Joint Council with Russia, NATO-Ukraine Commission, the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

As we consider the future of NATO, the words of one of its founders over half a century ago still offer guidance on the road ahead. Speaking in December 1950 following a NAC meeting in Brussels, Dean Acheson observed:

"The attitude which we take is that we and our allies are moving ahead with courage and with determination to build our common strength. We regard dangers as common dangers and we believe that they can and must be met by common strength. We believe that they need our help in order to maintain their security and that we need their help . . .. Therefore, we are taking a policy of going forward with vigor and with determination and with courage. We are rejecting any policy of sitting quivering in a storm cellar waiting for whatever fate others may wish to prepare for us."

The September 11 attacks made clear that the world is far from safe and secure. Czech President Vaclav Havel, who will host the Prague Summit, observed that September 11 "alerted us to the evil existing in this world. And we still reject the policy of quivering in a storm cellar. In this dangerous world, Allies are indispensable if we are to defeat new threats posed by terrorists and hostile states seeking weapons of mass destruction. Those who suggest that NATO is no longer essential ignore the fact that NATO derives its strength from the common purpose of defending our people and our values.

NATO faces many challenges. The Prague Summit will mark a crucial step in our effort to shape an Alliance for the new century. Our agenda will be threefold:

-- ensuring NATO has the new capabilities needed to meet today’s threats to our people,

-- extending NATO's membership to more of Europe's newer democracies,

-- and intensifying NATO's relationship with Russia, Ukraine and other Partners. New capabilities. New members. New relationships. It is no accident that this new agenda parallels NATO's founding goals as set out in the 1949 Washington Treaty -- to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of our peoples, live in peace with all peoples and governments, and promote the stability and well-being of the North Atlantic area.

New Capabilities

The required effort to improve NATO's capabilities to meet 21st century threats will build on work done since the end of the Cold War. NATO's strategic concept recognized as early as 1991 that "Alliance security interests can be affected by other risks of a wider nature, including proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, disruption of the flow of vital resources, and actions of terrorism and sabotage."

The 1999 Strategic Concept reiterated this recognition, noting that "new risks to Euro-Atlantic peace and stability were becoming clearer -- oppression, ethnic conflict, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the global spread of weapons technology and terrorism."

The growing capabilities gap between the United States and Europe is the most serious long-term problem facing NATO and must be addressed. NATO Allies need flexible, sustainable forces, able to move long distances in a hurry and deliver overwhelming firepower on arrival. Today, the United States has the vast preponderance of such forces. Other Allies, by comparison, have only limited capabilities in critical areas such as lift, precision weapons, intelligence and surveillance platforms, and protection of forces against biological and chemical agents. NATO Secretary General Robertson is committed to bridging the gap between the U.S. and European Allies, and will make this a centerpiece of the Prague Summit. We welcome these initiatives and will continue to urge Allies to refocus their defense efforts, if need be by pooling their resources to do collectively what they are unable to do individually. If our Allies are serious about bridging this gap, however, they must be prepared to do much more to improve their capabilities."

New Members

Our second goal for Prague is to continue the process of building a united Euro-Atlantic community by extending membership to those democratic European countries who have demonstrated their determination to defend the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law, their desire to promote stability, and their resolve to unite their efforts for collective defense.

As the President observed last year in Warsaw, "Yalta did not ratify a natural divide, it divided a living civilization." He made it clear that his goal is to erase the false lines that have divided Europe and to "welcome into Europe's home" every European nation that struggles toward democracy, free markets, and a strong civic culture. The process of enlargement to Europe's new democracies launched in 1997 has fulfilled NATO's promise and brought us closer to completing the vision of NATO's founders of a free and united Europe. But our work is not done.

The President affirmed his belief in NATO membership for "all of Europe's democracies that seek it and are ready to share the responsibilities that NATO brings." In his first meeting with Allies last June, the President secured a consensus to take concrete, historic decisions at Prague to advance enlargement. He made clear to Allies and aspirants his belief that NATO "should not calculate how little we can get away with, but how much we can do to advance the cause of freedom."

Since the President spoke, we have been working closely with Allies and the nine current aspirant countries to strengthen their preparations so that the aspirants who may be asked to join will add to NATO's strength and vitality. Today, a team led by Ambassador Burns is completing a series of visits to all nine current aspirant countries to reinforce the importance of addressing key reform priorities in the months before Prague. We look forward in the months ahead to a close and continuing dialogue with the members of this Committee and others as we approach these historic decisions. You have great responsibility on this question. It is our goal and expectation that, working with you, we will be able to forge a solid and united approach to enlargement and build an equally strong consensus with the Alliance.

Some have asked in the aftermath of September 11 whether enlargement should remain a priority. The President's answer is "yes." The events of September 11 have reinforced the importance of even closer cooperation and integration between the United States and all the democracies of Europe. If we are to meet new threats to our security, we need to build the broadest and strongest coalition possible of countries that share our values and are able to act effectively with us. With freedom under attack, we must demonstrate our resolve to do as much as we can to advance its cause.

Members of this Committee will rightly ask what capabilities and contributions potential new members will bring to the Alliance. The Washington Treaty makes clear that states invited to join NATO should be in a position to further the principles of the Treaty and contribute to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. This is the standard that we and our Allies will apply as we approach decisions at Prague. All nine aspirants know that NATO involves serious commitments and solemn responsibilities. Many have already demonstrated their determination to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and stability. The Vilnius Group, meeting in Sofia last October declared their shared intention to "fully support the war against terrorism" and to "act as Allies of the United States." Individually, aspirants have responded as de facto allies offering overflight rights, transit and basing privileges, military and police forces, medical units and transport support to U.S. efforts. Most will participate in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Prior to September 11, most aspirant countries had contributed actively to NATO efforts to prevent further hostilities in the Balkans.

We believe that NATO enlargement is a means of achieving NATO’s core purposes, and will contribute to NATO's continuing dynamism as the core security institution in the Euro-Atlantic area. Enlargement will also widen the circle of democracies and expand the zone of stability and security through the Baltics and the Balkans. Not to embrace countries that have overcome years of communist dictatorship and have proven their ability and willingness to contribute to our common security would be to abandon the very principles that have been NATO's source of strength and vitality. We look forward to the closest consultations with the Congress on this subject, and if NATO does offer new invitations, to the debate in the Senate on that proposition.

New Relationships

Our third goal for Prague is also aimed at advancing NATO's core principles -- those of living in peace with all peoples and promoting stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. As we work to complete the vision of a united Europe from which, Winston Churchill once observed, "no nation should be permanently outcast," we must continue to reach out and expand cooperation and integration with all of NATO's Partners.

NATO and Russia have taken steps to give new impetus and direction to their extensive cooperation in the aftermath of September 11. President Bush's vision is of a Russia "fully reformed, fully democratic, and closely bound to the rest of Europe," which is able to build partnerships with Europe's great institutions, including NATO.

At the most recent ministerial meetings in Brussels, Allies agreed to create a new NATO-Russia body -- the NATO-Russia Council -- that will facilitate joint decisions and actions in areas of common concern between NATO and Russia. We have been working intensively with Allies in Brussels to develop this new body, which we expect to have in place by the time of the Reykjavik NATO ministerial this May.

This so-called "at 20" relationship will offer Russia the opportunity to participate in shaping the development of cooperative mechanisms in areas that the Alliance chooses, such as counter-terrorism, civil emergency preparedness, airspace management, and joint training and exercises. "At 20" will not give Russia the ability to veto NATO actions in any areas. It is not a back door to NATO membership. Nor will it infringe on NATO prerogatives. NATO members will continue to take any decision by consensus on any issue. The NATO-Russia Council will be fully separate from the NAC, which will continue to meet and make decisions as it always has on the full range of issues on NATO’s agenda.

While forging new links with Russia, our cooperative vision for NATO embraces all of NATO's Partners, including Ukraine, countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and Mediterranean Dialogue partners. In fact, NATO is the only institution that can unite the continent in security cooperation, and remains the nexus for broadening and deepening Euro-Atlantic security.

We are particularly determined to focus NATO's Partner activities on countries of Central Asia that have played such constructive roles in the war against terrorism. The Partnership for Peace and EAPC have been successful vehicles for integration, but we believe that much more can be done to expand cooperation between NATO and these countries.

Nearly fifty-three years after its creation, NATO remains the core of the United States commitment to Europe and the bedrock of our security and stability in a still dangerous world. Secretary Powell made this point best in his confirmation hearings when he observed that "the value of NATO can be seen by the fact that ten years after the Cold War, nations are still seeking to join the Alliance, not to leave it." NATO can meet new threats, building cooperation with former enemies, and ensuring stability in Southeast Europe, giving time for this region to become a part of the European mainstream. NATO's fundamentals -- its shared values, and common commitment to defend freedom -- remain sound.

President Bush has a profound respect for NATO's achievements and a determination to strengthen it for the future. We and our Allies have much work ahead, but also an historic opportunity to achieve our goals of defending, integrating, and stabilizing the Euro-Atlantic area and continuing to strengthen this greatest of Alliances. A Europe whole, free and at peace is a goal fast becoming a reality. As we look to Prague and our agenda of new capabilities, new members, and new relationships, we look forward to working closely with the members of this Committee to ensure that NATO will meet the challenges of today and tomorrow as successfully as it has those of the past.

Thank you.


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