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NATO: Is It a Brave New World for the Old Military Alliance? : POLITICAL FORECAST

January 16, 1994

What will the North Atlantic Treaty Organization look like by the year 2000? The Times asked six former government officials and scholars.

Paul H. Nitze

Former deputy secretary of defense during the Reagan Administration and a special presidential adviser on arms control.

I think that NATO will be essentially unchanged. I don't know whether it will grow. That's not important. The important thing is that the United States is now the sole superpower and if force is to be used in any way, we have to use NATO as the organization through which that force is applied. Even if we'd like to get out of these obligations, we can't do it.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Former national-security adviser during the Carter Administration.

If all goes well, NATO will be widened--Central European countries will be part up of it and, hopefully, Ukraine and the Baltic republics will be linked closely to NATO. NATO will also have a relationship with Russia--that is the purpose of policy. However, if we continue drifting like we are now, NATO will be in a state of dissolution, Germany will be flirting with Russia and Central Europe will be a dangerous security vacuum. But I think this is avoidable.

James R. Schlesinger

Former secretary of defense during the Nixon Administration.

I would expect that NATO will have expanded by the year 2000 picking up some of the former (Soviet) satellites. I think NATO represents a kind of embodiment of the Atlantic alliance that continues to be quite important.

However, what its specific functions in the military realms will be, are only possibilities. The European members of NATO may come increasingly to believe they have the responsibility to limit instability in Eastern Europe and Southeastern Europe and might involve themselves in the future in Bosnia; but it might not include the U.S. Among the most interesting developments in recent weeks is the recognition that European members of NATO, if they have a mission, will be entitled to use the NATO infrastructure.

Richard N. Perle

Former assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan Administration and now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

If we fail to define a new sense of purpose for NATO, it will not survive until the year 2000. A missed opportunity (last week) was the decision not to admit Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to full membership. They came close, but no cigar. Because NATO was created to deal with the military threat of the Warsaw Pact, over time, there will be an erosion of sense of purpose, whereas enlarging NATO would bring in some new members who worry about the future.

Another way to expand the sense of NATO purpose is to look beyond the traditional, to the southeast, where instability is chronic--the Persian Gulf. Given the importance of the Gulf to NATO, they should take some responsibility for security in the region. But I don't see things moving in that direction. I see no desire on the part of the allies to assume responsibility. Unless that changes, NATO will be increasingly irrelevant.

Raymond L. Garthoff

Former ambassador to Bulgaria in the Carter Administration, now a senior fellow at Brookings Institution.

I think NATO will probably have some form of expanded membership, something that would go beyond Partnership for Peace, where they have membership in the NATO Council without being part of the military committee. . . . NATO as NATO could be superseded by another body or it could take on functions previously held by other organizations. For example, it could take on some peacekeeping functions handled by the United Nations. As (NATO membership) broadens, its commitment to military assistance may not be the same in the future. . . . People would be concerned about open-ended commitments, considering that local frictions might develop into conflicts between members. Greece and Turkey are a good example, and there are similar possibilities with Hungary and Slovakia.

George Bunn

Former arms negotiator and member in residence of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, Stanford University.

I think NATO is going to grow and this will lead to more problems in domestic politics: Congress doesn't want to be online to defend a lot of other countries. There was a question after the Soviet Union disintegrated as to whether (NATO) was relevant. But it's clear that to Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, NATO is very important.


Political forecast interviews conducted by Therese K. Lee.

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