Postpone NATO Expansion
Jude Wanniski
March 19, 1998

 

Memo To: Sen. Bob Smith [R-NH]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: NATO Expansion

I want to congratulate you on your attempt to postpone Senate approval of NATO expansion. I've argued your position exactly, for the last year, that NATO expansion may be a good idea, but first someone has to tell me what that idea is. The American people have not even been told why NATO should not be dissolved. In your "Crossfire" appearance on CNN last night, Bill Press kept insisting that because the Berlin Wall came down almost ten years ago, it is time to expand NATO. This is of course an obvious non sequitur. Indeed, it makes more sense to say NATO's mission ended almost ten years ago and nobody has yet figured out what it should do next, except get bigger. The governments of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic of course imagine there will be benefits in joining the Club. But public opinion polls in the Czech Republic indicate a bare majority of those responding favor the idea wondering if too much security will have the opposite effect on their relations with the Russian Bear.

There is a great need to have debate and discussion about the New World Order. If we could ever agree on what that Order should look like, perhaps the NATO infrastructure could be massaged enough to make it fit global security needs of the next epoch. By expanding NATO without knowing why, or how much it will cost, or who will be responsible for what, when and where, is obviously a case of the tail wagging the dog. Among the 22 Senators who have joined you in asking for postponement of the vote until more information is available on these counts, I'm sure there are some who would oppose NATO expansion no matter how much time goes by. Your position is an eminently reasonable one... simply asking the world's Greatest Deliberative Body to debate. There is no hurry. There is no threat. Your colleagues devalue their own powers as serious men and women who were given these powers by the Founding Fathers to make sure the ship of state does not inadvertently get pushed in the wrong direction. Well begun, half done is an aphorism that applies especially in this matter.

A year ago, I wrote Jesse Helms on this matter, and he responded with a letter in which he seemed uncertain of his position, and my guess is that he somehow got tipped into approval by the sheer momentum of the campaign. My guess is that if you would get Colin Powell to discuss his support for NATO expansion, he would tell you frankly that there is no reason to rush ahead with it, and that it would help for the Senate to conduct hearings on the shape of jurisdictional issues in the New World Order. My close friend Jack shape of jurisdictional issues in the New World Order. My close friend Jack Kemp supports NATO expansion, but if you would ask him, I believe he would agree that critical issues have not yet been answered to his satisfaction, and that Senate hearings and a serious debate would not hurt the national interest. Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined is another. Once this step is taken, the United States and the world is committed to a history that will be almost impossible to alter. You are doing a great service, Senator. It does not seem likely you will succeed, but I certainly pray that you do.