Updated: 23-Apr-2002 NATO Review

Web Edition
No. 4 - Aug. 1993
p. 3-6


Warren Christopher
US Secretary of State

Last April, President Clinton described NATO in this journal as "an alliance built and sustained not solely on the power of arms, but by the power of ideas" (1). The ideas that NATO cherishes - peace, freedom, democracy, and security - are gaining strength throughout Europe and beyond, but they also face new challenges. This changing environment requires a vital and adaptable NATO that will continue to defend and promote our common values and interests. In order to assess how to strengthen the Alliance and hasten NATO's transformation to the post-Cold War world, President Clinton has proposed a NATO Summit at the end of this year or early next.

In preparing for this Summit, we should never lose track of the stunning truth that, among us, we have built the most successful alliance in history. For the past few years, NATO has been setting its course for the future but there has been an important continuity in its mission: to keep the peace; to promote the freedom and security of our member states and peoples; and to reinforce unbreakable links across the Atlantic. There is also an important new mission: to help the emerging democracies to the East share in the benefits we have gained from this Alliance.

Above all, safeguarding the security of our countries and maintaining stability throughout Europe remains NATO's core responsibility. The United States will sustain its unparalleled military strength, and we will continue to maintain substantial, effective forces in Europe - about 100,000 troops - to ensure our ability to meet our security commitments. The end of the Cold War is making American leadership even more important - and we accept the challenge.

In this new era, we must show our parliaments and peoples that we share burdens as we share risks. The drastically diminished threat after the Cold War leads us to reduce our military spending. But if any Ally cuts spending to the point of imperiling the common needs of the Alliance - even worse, if there is a free-fall in defence spending - then the Alliance would face not only a crisis of confidence but a corrosion of capability. The United States will maintain its military commitment and responsibilities in Europe, but President Clinton must be able to show the US Congress that our Allies are contributing commensurately. Sharing must be a visible NATO principle: sharing of burdens; sharing of responsibilities; sharing of decisions.

The Alliance, we believe, will succeed only if we make our political and economic linkages as strong as our military ties. We must strengthen bonds between North America and Europe in every sphere in order to preserve our common security. Transatlantic relations cannot be overly compartmentalized - either in substance or, increasingly, in institutions.

Five areas for progress

Together, we must create the basis for tomorrow's security in the North Atlantic area and throughout Europe. At the Athens ministerial meeting last June (2), I set out five important areas in which progress needs to be achieved before the Summit.

First, we must strengthen the unique qualities of NATO cooperation. Never before have so many nations joined together to confront common challenges, and never before have the military forces of so many countries worked together so effectively, both in NATO's integrated command and in informal arrangements. Never before have the defence industries of so many countries adopted the same standards and made possible such a multiplication of military strength. These achievements must not be squandered - we must maintain our ability to act when our interests are challenged.

Despite the grave situation in the former Yugoslavia, there is no fundamental challenge to the political order in Europe that could produce a new Continent-wide war. Sustaining that achievement will depend in part on reinforcing our Alliance, our practices of cooperation, and our robust military defences and command structures.

If the cooperative linkages among our defence industries are permitted to erode as defence budgets fall, each member nation, as well as the Alliance as a whole, could lose the benefits of this special force multiplier. That is why the Defence Trade Code of Conduct is so important. We must also continue updating NATO's common infrastructure programme to ensure that we invest in assets essential to meeting new challenges.

Second, we must help to make and keep the peace in Central and Eastern Europe.Peacemaking and peacekeeping are most effective when they are preceded or accompanied by timely political efforts to reduce tensions and settle disputes. NATO must be able to make political decisions for early, sustained, and credible engagement, and its military leaders must have confidence in the ability of the North Atlantic Council to provide timely and effective political direction.

Different member states will approach situations with different political sensitivities in mind, and with different peacekeeping structures that they might prefer. But we should also work to develop core NATO peacekeeping procedures that will balance political acceptability and military effectiveness. We do not need to "reinvent the wheel" each time NATO's peacekeeping capabilities are needed. These capabilities are especially important to help new democracies succeed - and to draw our North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) partners firmly to the West.

We strongly support the NACC's programme of cooperation on peacekeeping (3). This should create the capability for joint action to respond effectively to new threats to peace, stability, and human rights. The NACC programme should also support the work of the UN and CSCE and send a powerful signal of the resolve of the Euro-Atlantic community.

Third, we must work more effectively with other institutions with goals similar to NATO's. The US commitment to European security will continue to be expressed first and foremost through NATO. We reaffirm that "The Alliance is the essential forum for consultation among its members, and the venue for agreement on policies bearing on the security and defence commitments of allies under the Washington Treaty." (4)

But, while NATO is central to our common purposes, it is not alone in pursuing goals consistent with the broadest definition of security. The UN, CSCE, European Community, NACC, WEU and Council of Europe have valuable roles to play - and each should be energized. While important progress has been made in developing complementary, interlocking institutions, NATO needs to build more effective links for crisis prevention, crisis management, and communication among these institutions in order to meet new challenges to European security.

With the United Nations, we should extend planning beyond ad hoc arrangements to a more systematic relationship. We must also seek to ensure that NATO states that are not members of the UN Security Council are nonetheless more engaged in reaching decisions that affect their interests. The United States supports the idea of establishing a contact group consisting of key contributors to peacekeeping activities.

The United States also welcomes the development of a European security and defence identity. This will make our own commitment even more effective. Such an identity can also sustain and build popular support in Europe for meeting European commitments and responsibilities. We also welcome the opportunity to work even more closely with France in Alliance defence activities, and we look forward to expanding that cooperation.

NATO must develop closer ties with the Western European Union. At the same time, we should also recall our declared intention "to preserve the operational coherence we now have and on which our defence depends" (5). And we must act on the premise that although the military capabilities of the two institutions are separable, they must not be seen as separate.

Fourth, we must create the basis for Continent-wide security. In declarations of the North Atlantic Council since 1990, we have accepted the mandate for developing a system and practices of security that span the Continent. All states need to implement reductions in Cold War weaponry already negotiated and further reduce any residual risks. Moreover, states left outside the security system could in time pose dangers to it, thus outreach activities with NACC partners - and work with the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe - are vitally important. The innovative work of the CSCE on crisis management and conflict prevention is one of the most promising security experiments under way in Europe today.

Securing the full benefits of ending the Cold War depends on consolidating the place of the post-Communist states in the community of democratic nations. Western Europe has succeeded in replacing a thousand years of strife and turmoil with a new approach to security grounded in basic human values and the rule of law. Now, the great test is whether it can be achieved in the East. At an appropriate time, we may choose to enlarge NATO membership. But that is not now on the agenda.

What is most important is that we intensify and expand the work programme for the NACC and broaden its mandate. The NACC was conceived as a means for NATO to contribute to healing the division of Europe. It aims to foster political dialogue, practical cooperation, transparency in military affairs, and the peaceful integration of the new democracies into the transatlantic community. The NACC is becoming a central element in the growing web of security ties that bind us together. It is tangible proof that the security of NATO members is inseparably linked to that of all other states in Europe. It reflects, above all, our concern for the security of the new democracies.

We are pleased with the progress that the NACC has made in promoting these goals. But as the conflicts and tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan and elsewhere demonstrate, we still have far to go. Our ties must deepen and we must develop a new cooperative security order in Europe. That new security order will depend on mutually reinforcing institutional and bilateral relationships, and it will succeed by developing new capabilities to address common problems.

I believe the NACC should step up its consultations on political and security issues - and improve its ability to develop solutions. Provisions should be made for systematic consultations during crises, through our Missions and Embassies in Brussels. We should also undertake an expanded programme of joint activities on peacekeeping and develop further programmes for exchanges of civilian and military personnel. To facilitate this closer cooperation, we should accelerate steps to provide for a permanent presence for NACC partner states at NATO Headquarters. We should also examine additional ways in which other CSCE countries with the requisite experience can be associated with the important work of the NACC.

In recent years, the West has created a series of ad hoc means of coordinating policy toward the post-Communist states in a number of areas, especially economic policy. But as yet, we have no shared strategic framework to link nations across the old East-West divide. We should strengthen the North Atlantic Council - along with the NACC - as a central forum to discuss broad strategic policy. We need to ensure that we develop an approach that reaches out to Russia and all the new states of the region.

The United States is developing a strategic partnership with Russia, agreed upon by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin at Vancouver last April. We want to build similar relationships, based on commonly shared values and principles, with all the new post-Communist states. In building more partnerships, we will of course work closely with our NATO Allies. We do not see these relationships as mutually exclusive or as a substitute for other bilateral or multilateral relationships.

Fifth and finally, just as we recognize the importance of extending NATO's role Eastward on the Continent, we must intensify cooperation on threats to Allied interests arising from beyond Europe. We have learned that we must act against other threats to our common security from outside the North Atlantic area - whether or not the Allies act together or through the institutions of the Alliance.

We face no more urgent security threat than the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them. NATO governments must work to achieve the unconditional and indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the 1995 Review Conference. But we must do even more. Proliferation is the emerging arms control agenda of the 1990s and we must be prepared collectively to take stronger action. States seeking to threaten the peace by acquiring these weapons must know that we will oppose them.

Our agenda for the proliferation problem must also encompass new partners. Above all, we should cooperate with Russia and the Newly Independent States (NIS) on the territory of the former Soviet Union. All NATO governments have a direct interest in the rapid and safe dismantling of the former Soviet Union's nuclear forces. This task is beyond the means of any one nation and it will involve much greater costs if we do not combine our efforts to accelerate denuclearization now.

This agenda is both ambitious and appropriate to the requirements of the post-Cold War world. We seek not to find new tasks to justify an old alliance, but to use NATO to face the new challenges in Europe. We must push forward in advance of the forthcoming Summit for peace, security, and democracy.

Footnotes :

(1) See President Clinton's message to NATO Review readers, NATO REVIEW, No. 2, April 1993, p.3.

(2) For Communiqué see NATO REVIEW, No. 3, June 1993, pp. 31-33. - NATODATA FILE nac38.93

(3) For Report by the NACC Ad Hoc Group on Cooperation in Peacekeeping, see p. 30. - NATODATA FILE nacc9.93

(4) See paragraph 6 of The Rome Declaration published in NATO REVIEW, No. 6, December 1991, pp. 19-22.

(5) Op.cit., paragraph 7.

© Copyright by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 1993.