NATO Beyond 2000
Ambassador Robert E. Hunter
United States Mission to NATO

I would like to discuss the prospects for "NATO Beyond 2000," which is not a presumptuous title. Only a few years ago, some wrote the obituary for this Alliance, but the critical value of NATO has been fully proved. In fact, we have gone beyond that: the structure of enduring European security for generations to come has now been designed. The intellectual heavy lifting is mostly over, and we are now fully into the process of constructing. Thus, discussing "Beyond 2000" will be less dramatic than any such presentation would have been in the past, because we now believe at NATO Headquarters that we have a road map that will take us into the new century effectively.


After the year 2000, I foresee several realities that demonstrate the continuing need for this institution, founded first and foremost on four great undertakings which are the core of transatlantic and broader European security:

Those are NATO's four big purposes, and you will notice that they cover a geographic area that starts approximately on the English Channel (including, of course, Britain) and moves through the heartland of Europe all the way into Russia.


In the time that remains between now and 2000 as well as after that point, we are prepared to meet these four responsibilities. They derive from proposals made by President Clinton at the Summit a year ago, ratified by all the Allies, and now deeply sunk within the body politic.

First, I believe, is Partnership for Peace. It is a permanent institution, not only a transition program for countries that will join NATO, but a permanent engagement for those countries that are not (at least not at first) able to be members of NATO. Frankly, if we do our job right, the difference between being a Partner and being an Ally is going to be minuscule.

Second, of course, is formal NATO enlargement. Without going into the questions now of "when" and "who," we are clearly on track to providing security for all the nations that are engaged in this process and diminishing it for none. By the year 2000, we will be clear on exactly how these two processes work together.

Third, of course, is developing the NATO-Russia relationship, starting immediately with implementing the Russian Individual Partnership Program, working beyond Partnership for Peace, and developing by the end of this year a basic understanding of the framework to govern relations between Russia and NATO for the period ahead. The relationship is a big conundrum--we cannot be clear that it is going to work the way we would all like it to work, but at least in the West and in NATO we are clear on how we need to proceed and why this is important.

These three efforts--Partnership for Peace, enlargement, and NATO-Russia relations--together and in parallel define the core strategic relationships for the Alliance in the future.


Now, in order to get there and to get it done properly, we need by the year 2000 to have answered five key questions:

1. We have to be certain that, when we take new Allies into the Alliance, we will be able to get the full support of all 16 parliaments. NATO does not do paper treaties. It is a "three musketeers" alliance, in the sense that each country commits itself to the security of all the others, and that has to be made absolutely clear or it is worthless to enlarge the Alliance.

2. Countries that come in must demonstrate that they are prepared to be producers and not just consumers of security. In fact, a new ally that comes in from the East will have to be willing to come to the rescue, to the aid, of the rest of us and not simply expect that NATO will be a guarantor of its own security.

3. We must answer the very profound question about what happens to countries that do not join.

4. We must determine how to prevent a new division of Europe, which has been brought up repeatedly. It is completely an apposite question, and one that we have to face most fundamentally if expansion is to be a truly positive development.

5. Finally, we need to be able to reinforce the efforts of reformers in all the countries of the East, including Russia. There is no point in undertaking security challenges with new expansion if, in the process, we undercut those who are attempting to build new futures for their own countries.

The task involves moving eastward the European civil space, as I call it. We have to find a way to go beyond the balance of power, as has been done here in the western part of the continent. And we need to get well beyond (as we at NATO are beyond) the concept of buffer states. There is no place for buffer states in the new conception. We are not talking at NATO about confronting a common enemy, except one, and that common enemy is insecurity. And every country participating in this process has that interest in common.


Now, these are the core issues and questions that we have to answer. Clearly, however, there are other things we are going to have to work on mightily between now and the year 2000 and after. One is Combined Joint Task Forces. Another is relations with the Western European Union--things that I would refer to as the internal plumbing of the Alliance, and whose reforms we are essential for meeting even our core responsibilities. The relationship with WEU is complementary, but that institution cannot and will not supplant the fundamental requirements we have at NATO. We must also work on OSCE relations with the U.N., and on the risks from weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them. This last interest is likely to become more significant in the future, posing radical challenges for us.

We could also talk about the Alliance's Mediterranean initiative, but I put that very much in a secondary category. In fact, we must face quite clearly, as we move forward, how possible it is to refocus the Alliance geographically away from where it has been in the past and still preserve its core elements. I think the answer is that we have to be extremely circumspect before we shift the geographic focus of the Alliance.

What I have said is a reminder of several key tasks that we have to undertake to make this positive future a reality. A priority is to build public support for all of the key missions and the ways of meeting them. If we have one thing at NATO that we feel has to be achieved now, it is to make people understand what our basic rationale is and what we are doing about it, and to build essential parliamentary and public support . And I have to say that it is far from being assured in all of our countries.

We will also have to keep up defense spending. We will need to build even better cooperation among the defense industries--bridges, not walls. We will need to have tangible support for all of NATO's budgets. Right now, that is in jeopardy. Across the Atlantic we will need a division of effort, at least in monetary terms, to demonstrate to the American Congress that our European allies are, as always, stepping up to the responsibilities they share with us.

Third, we must prepare for a wide range of developments that could take place in the East, especially within Russia. We now have developed a methodology that we believe can do as well as is humanly possible to account for possible futures within Russia, in terms of the possible risks they present to European security. We wish that country well, but we are also prepared to do what we have to toward the common security of all.

Fourth, we have to recognize and we have to ensure that, in modernizing the structures of NATO, we do not lose our capacity to undertake our core requirements. This includes continuing centrality for the NATO integrated military structure, both for Article V and for non-Article V activities. We cannot have two NATOs; we can have only one, because neither would be effective.

Finally, of course, we need complementary efforts by other institutions; I have already mentioned WEU and the European Union. It will make little sense in the grand historic perspective if we do everything at NATO effectively, moving eastward in Europe, if that effort is not accompanied by steps by the European Union. Security in today's world is organic. NATO can take the lead, but it cannot do it alone.


What are we, as 16 nations (and at some point more nations than that), prepared to do in areas and situations that do not fall along history's great fault line in Central Europe? This is the most difficult question for us conceptually at NATO and inevitably brings us back to Bosnia. Clearly, we have learned a lot from this experience. What we have learned has helped us create Combined Joint Task Forces. We have also learned a lot about political-military control for non-Article V situations. And yes, we have learned a lot about dealing with the U.N. in a more effective relationship. But let me be clear: It is not certain that the NATO institution can adapt--or should adapt--to play a critical role in what is now known as peacekeeping or peace making. I think we have to have some very clear standards for judgment. It is not how we deal with non-Article V situations with future Bosnias. It is not, in fact, about how we change our structures; it is about how we at NATO make our decisions:

This is a difficult set of criteria. And it leads us to be quite prudent and quite conservative in taking on new tasks. Yes, at NATO we no longer talk about out of area circumstances. We are out of area. We are, as I have said, already deeply engaged in Central Europe. But there are going to be limits imposed, not in advance but with experience. It is important for us to recognize and to account for those limits. It is important for us to work out new relationships with OSCE,and to understand what the WEU can indeed do on behalf of all the Allies. And we also have to understand that we are entering into an era in which, in some circumstances, we are going to operate with coalitions of the willing.


We cannot find final answers to all of these questions now, but, while what I have just outlined is conceptually the most important task we still face and conceptually the most difficult, it is not politically the most important challenge facing NATO. This is not an Alliance searching for a new mission; it is therefore not necessarily ready to take on new missions like peacekeeping for want of other reasons for being. The four key commitments that I have outlined, along with the threat of weapons of mass destruction, provide a clear and compelling rationale for NATO far beyond the year 2000. This is, clearly, truly a Cartesian argument. Indeed, if there were not a NATO, we would now be in the process of inventing it. In fact, I think for the year 2000 and beyond, we should be quite thankful that the previous generations that designed and tested the NATO Alliance created an institution that has proved, in an amazing fashion, to be readily adaptable to the reality of the demands of the future.

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