Opposition to NATO Expansion

  • Opposition to NATO Expansion

    On June 26, 1997 a group of 50 prominent foreign policy experts that included former senators, retired military officers, diplomats and academicians, sent an open letter to President Clinton outlining their opposition to NATO expansion. They said, “We, the undersigned, believe that the current U.S.led effort to expand NATO, the focus of the recent Helsinki and Paris Summits, is a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability… Because of these serious objections, and in the absence of any reason for rapid decision, we strongly urge that the NATO expansion process be suspended… In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement, and galvanize resistance [to arms control treaties]…”

    On February 21, 2022, after Russia had invaded Ukraine, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman published “This Is Putin’s War. But America and NATO Aren’t Innocent Bystanders” in which he reported:

    On May 2, 1998, immediately after the Senate ratified NATO expansion, I called George Kennan, the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union. Having joined the State Department in 1926 and served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow in 1952, Kennan was arguably America’s greatest expert on Russia….I asked for his opinion of NATO expansion. [He answered]:

    “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever… Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime…” (Posted in Political/Foreign Policy)

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