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Partnership for Peace and NATO-Russian Relations
Remarks by Walter Slocombe, undersecretary of defense for policy, The Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, Thursday, March 02, 1995

It's an honor to be asked to come here to present to this distinguished audience some thoughts on how the United States and our allies and friends in Europe are moving to meet the security challenges that go with redefining NATO's role in the post-Cold War world.

The new European environment, produced by the collapse of the Soviet system, presents immense opportunities. We have the possibility to build a system in Europe -- and indeed in the entire world -- organized on the model of what we used to call the Free World -- that is, liberal market democracies living in peace with their neighbors.

These developments also come at the same time that Europe itself is moving toward the realization of the dream of European integration not only as an economic, but as a political and strategic phenomenon. But in this changed world, military power remains a central instrument of national influence and the central threat, in the wrong hands, to the security and prosperity that we all seek. So we have to find ways to manage power and do so in a way that makes the most effective use of diminishing resources.

The United States must be, and we are, ready to act alone when we have to defend American interests. But our own interests and those interests we share with others are far broader than the resources that we can responsibly commit alone. And indeed, in any case it is neither fair nor wise for America to have to bear the military burden of defending shared interests alone.

This is one reason the administration so strongly opposes legislation that would effectively destroy U.N. peacekeeping. But this common interest, and our self-interest in common responses to challenges, means that alliances, cooperative defense arrangements and coalition warfare remain central to our security doctrine. Nowhere is that more the case than in Europe. The bedrock of United States security policy remains our commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance. To that end we will maintain in Europe a force of about 100,000 troops. We will remain fully involved in European security issues. We will continue to make a heavy investment in lift, power projection and other forces and capabilities to enable us to play a worldwide role and to hedge against the possibility of the revival of a first order threat.

We make this commitment to Europe not as an act of charity, but because the security of the North Atlantic region is vital to the security of the United States. This is so not just because of Europe's great economic and military potential, but because of even more important bonds of culture, values and kinship. Now we no longer need to fear attack from a common enemy. But if our common adversaries have vanished, we know that our common dangers have not, as surely our common interests have not.

NATO has a unique capability and a unique potential for meeting these challenges because it has unique assets and characteristics. Simply put, it is the only effective, continuing multilateral military alliance in the world.

We need, then, to use NATO as a cornerstone of a structure of European security that reflects new world conditions. Those changes include changes in Central and Eastern Europe -- including the former Soviet Union; the growth of European integration; continued U.S. involvement in European security; the need to preserve NATO's core mission of defending its member nations' territory, but also recognizing the reality that threats to European security can and do arise from conflicts beyond its members' national territories.

Most of what I have to say will focus on the issue of relations between NATO and the countries to the east. It is important to take account of what NATO is doing and of developments both in the south and within the institutions of Western Europe itself.

Real, immediate challenges to NATO allies have been mounting to the south. Flash points have emerged in the Mediterranean, in Southwest Asia, in the Balkans and in North Africa. The potential spread of instability across the Mediterranean would not only threaten friendly regimes of North Africa and the prospects for peace in the Middle East, it would also threaten Europe with new social and security problems. Not, in the first instance, military in the traditional sense, but nonetheless immensely challenging, because they would involve terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Attention to these issues has to be high on the agenda of NATO as it meets other challenges as well.

Second, the evolution of European institutions and arrangements is a key part of the future of European security. This administration has gone beyond previous American governments to support integration of European security efforts. Consistent with that goal, we have proposed making NATO assets available to West[ern] European Union operations in which NATO itself is not directly involved -- through combined, joint task forces.

We look forward to the decisions of the European Union's intergovernmental conference next year on European security, confident that the principle of a growing common security and defense policy and a common European security and defense identity can be preserved within the principle that these institutions should be a European pillar of a strong trans-Atlantic alliance and not separate and competing entities.

Let me, then, turn to the issue of NATO enlargement. Inevitably, with the wall down, the nations of Central and Eastern Europe independent once more and the Soviet Union dissolved the issue of NATO enlargement has arisen. The impulse or the desire of many Central and Eastern European countries to join NATO comes not from a judgment that they now face threats of external aggression; rather they seek to hedge against uncertainty and to affirm their link to Western European cultures and values and to gain the sense of thorough and permanent inclusion in the West that comes with NATO membership.

The process of NATO enlargement may be said to have begun at the January 1994 summit a year ago, when NATO's leaders declared that they would welcome new members as part of an evolutionary process. NATO agreed in December of 1994 -- at U.S. initiative -- to begin a deliberative process considering the practical requirements of membership; of why enlarging the alliance is important and can serve all of our common interests; to how that enlargement can be accomplished.

We do not, in this process, seek to set arbitrary deadlines or list favored candidates, nor do we seek to label any countries as excluded a priori. We intend for the process to be gradual and transparent, but we intend for the process to proceed. We expect to reach intra-alliance agreement on the broad character of the process and then, during the latter part of this year, present alliance thinking on that process and the requirements and character of membership to all interested countries.

As we consider the expansion question we need to refer back to, and bear in mind, four basic propositions that have made NATO the strongest, most successful alliance in history, and which principles must be preserved in any enlargement process.

First, NATO is an effective alliance, not a system of paper guarantees. New members must be prepared to defend the alliance and have capable, professional military forces that contribute to that effort. There can be no free riders.

At the same time NATO must recognize that enlargement means they will be prepared to come to the defense of any new member. This is not an abstract concept. It is a commitment, certainly, of treasure and potentially of lives. It suggests that new members must commit themselves to joining NATO's integrated military structure. Expansion must not mean dilution of the effectiveness of the alliance.

Second, NATO is an alliance of free nations and is committed to the principles of liberty. New members must uphold democracy and free enterprise, protect freedom and human rights inside their borders and respect the sovereignty of their neighbors outside their borders. Their military forces must be under effective civilian control.

Third, NATO works by consensus. New NATO members will not have to agree on everything -- to put it mildly, the current members don't. But they must respect the past history, culture and traditions of all members, and they must be willing to hammer out differences on security matters in a spirit of cooperation. It would behoove no one to import new instabilities and rivalries into the alliance.

Fourth, NATO is ultimately a military organization. New members' military forces must be capable of operating with NATO's to support the NATO current members. This means being open about defense budgets and plans, having commonality with NATO defense doctrine and having interoperability on key equipment, particularly for communications.

These principles should not be regarded as hurdles to NATO membership. Rather, maintaining them will guarantee that the alliance, as it enlarges, maintains its effectiveness, military capability and political cohesion.

Finally, there is a broader principle. NATO enlargement will be part of a broader process of creating a general cooperative European security order. As we move forward we must avoid drawing new lines across Europe -- the risk that taking in some countries will imply the permanent leaving out of others or the permanent exclusion of others in the European security system, thereby either inviting a new division of the continent or undercutting the apostles of reform in places like Russia, Ukraine or elsewhere.

Therefore, NATO enlargement must not only be inclusive rather than exclusive, but it must be accomplished in tandem with developing broader European security institutions.

All these are serious problems, but none is insuperable. All will be solved. Indeed, in many respects they're well on the way to solving -- at least, agreeing on the principles for solving most of them. The enlargement of NATO, when it comes, will effectively meet all of these requirements.

Meanwhile we will take steps both to strengthen the Partnership for Peace and to develop concepts of a broad security framework for Europe as a whole, including an appropriate role for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Partnership for Peace is an essential element of this process. For those nations who seek NATO membership the partnership is an essential stepping stone. For all, including those who do not seek membership or who are unlikely to be early members, it is a road to closer relations with NATO.

Every partner country that makes the effort can take part in most of the practical, day-to-day activities of the alliance. That includes training, exercises, development of common military doctrine, defense planning, civil/military relations and, in time, the practical work of NATO peacekeeping and other operations, and the NATO alliance's new combined task forces as they are set up.

The partnership has accomplished a great deal in its first year. Twenty-five nations have already joined, including Russia and the former European neutral states of Austria, Sweden and Finland. Three exercises were held last year between NATO and partner nations with good success. We have 20 more planned for this year.

The new activities cost money. Partner nations must and do foot most of the bill, but many have severe resource problems and need help. President [Bill] Clinton has asked the United States Congress to provide $100 million in the coming fiscal year to help our partners take full advantage of partnership opportunities. Congress has made $30 million available for that purpose in the current fiscal year.

We are urging our allies to provide similar bilateral assistance. Such relatively modest amounts give a reality to our commitment to the partnership, enable us to move partnership activities forward more vigorously and are a worthwhile investment in European and American security.

The partnership work program for 1995, which was presented recently, outlines a very ambitious program of cooperative activity in a wide variety of fields. I want to call particular attention to the fact that NATO has launched a Partnership for Peace defense planning and review process modeled in many ways on NATO's own program in this area. The United States is determined to assure that Partnership for Peace defense planning becomes an effective tool for developing the ability of NATO and partner forces to operate together effectively.

Partnership for Peace is also being supplemented by extensive bilateral programs between allies and partners in such areas as air defense, communications, defense procurement and standardization.

In sum, the Partnership for Peace, far from fading as the enlargement process goes forward, will assume even greater importance.

What makes this process so challenging is that the 16 present allies are trying to create something better than the balance of power. We are seeking to do nothing less than to extend the European civil space eastward -- one cautious step after another. In particular we seek to extend to all of Europe the reconciliation and renunciation of force among its members; that is perhaps NATO's most distinctive accomplishment.

Obviously one of the key elements in this evolution will be the redefinition of NATO's relations with Russia and the definition of NATO's relations on the security front with Europe as a whole.

It is no exaggeration to say that Russia's development, both internal and external, is the critical factor in determining the future of European security. It is also a critical factor to NATO enlargement, not because Russia or any other nonmembers will have a veto over the decisions that will be made by the allies, but because that process of enlargement must be carried out in conjunction with developing new relationships with Russia. To say that Russia will not have a veto is not to imply that NATO enlargement threatens or sees a threat in Russia. Enlargement can add to the security of all and diminish that of none.

We in the United States, we in the alliance, we in the world generally have an enormous stake in the outcome of Russia's transition, and we must continue to support Russian reform. Quite apart from our wishes and desires, our security interests -- indeed, our economic interests -- will be profoundly well served by a free and stable democratic process in Russia and challenged if that ambitious program for Russian reform fails.

It is because we have so much at stake in the outcome of this effort that we have been so concerned about Russia's tactics in Chechnya, which have managed to combine human tragedy on an extraordinary scale with military ineffectiveness on an extraordinary scale.

While we support the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, these tactics are a serious step backwards. We need to be clear and open with Russia about our intentions with NATO. NATO is a defensive alliance created to ensure more security and stability for Europe as a whole, Russia included, whatever its formal or informal relations with the alliance. NATO is not an alliance against Russia.

NATO's basic principles -- collective defense, democracy, consensus and cooperative security -- are no threat to the Russia of today or, we trust and hope, the Russia of tomorrow. With our allies we have begun a dialogue with Russia about its role in European security and its relationship with NATO. This NATO-Russia dialogue will follow parallel tracks with NATO's own dialogue about its future, and it is a serious priority complementing the NATO enlargement process itself.

To pursue this parallel track we need to define with Russia in the coming months a long-term relationship with NATO. Right now a set of plans for Russia's cooperation within and outside the Partnership for Peace awaits their signature. We can build on those plans.

For example, Secretary [of Defense William] Perry has suggested that we could have a formal arrangement, perhaps eventually codified in a charter or memorandum of understanding, for a number of cooperative arrangements within the alliance and Russia. These arrangements might include a continuing dialogue on a variety of subjects such as counterproliferation, cooperation on defense technology, transparency in defense policy making, crisis management and peacekeeping doctrine.

Secretary Perry has also suggested that it might be useful to establish some sort of standing consultative commission to provide the formal structure for the NATO-Russia relationship. In whatever form or forum they take place these consultations would give input into each other's decision-making, and would allow for cooperation in implementing each other's decisions. Of course all the while we would respect each other's independence.

One place consultations might begin is by reaffirming some rules for the conduct of European security and international affairs. We could jointly appraise the European security environment or set up mechanisms that consult on future crises. All NATO allies, including the United States, also need to strengthen their bilateral dialogues with Russia, and perhaps it is worth making a point that the uncertainties that face Russia make those dialogues all the more important.

Whatever we decide, NATO is committed to keeping Russia fully informed. There will be no surprises, and Russia will not be isolated. We urge Russia to participate fully in this dialogue and in the Partnership for Peace. As it does so Russia will see more clearly that far from drawing new security divisions in Europe, NATO wants to erase the lines that exist.

Far from being naive in our approach on the issue of Russia's place in the European security order, we are acutely conscious of the dangers and of the hard lessons of history. In particular should Russia turn away from its new path, we can re-

evaluate our approach to it and the trans-Atlantic security and NATO's strategic priorities.

We have already made clear -- indeed, we did it more than a year ago -- our view that when Russian forces operate beyond Russia's borders or, indeed, as Chechnya underlines, within, they must do so in accord with international norms. It was for this reason that we pressed hard and successfully that the planned and pledged Russian withdrawal of military forces from the Baltic states be carried out on schedule. We made clear that Russia's methods in protecting its legitimate interests in Chechnya are not consistent with the role she rightly seeks in the future of Europe.

We're also realistic about Russian foreign policy under any government, whatever its character. Russia is a great power. It will have interests different from ours. A partnership between nations does not mean identity of view, but a recognition that our mutual interests in secure relationships provides a basis for working out concrete problems.

All that said, it would be equally premature now to let our real concerns about Russia's future lead us to abandon our hopes for a fundamentally new Europe. President Clinton said a year ago in Moscow, addressing the Russian people, "There are few people anywhere that have more knowledge of history -- both positive and negative, that have more reason to hope for the future than you do. I know," he said, "the present is difficult, but if you make the right decision, if you choose hope over fear, then the future will reward your courage and your vision."

The reward of that would flow to us all. That is why, for example, we are pursuing Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, why we need to continue aid for reform in Russia and why we need to have a strong Russian element to creating a European security system.

In sum, our vision for European security is of a system rooted in a common commitment to democracy and free economies, and mutual respect for security, human rights, independence of states and the inviolability of borders -- a Europe that for the first time since the establishment of nation states would not be divided by present conflict or lingering animosity.

Through the Partnership for Peace, through considered and gradual enlargement of NATO to members able to meet its requirements and contribute to the common security and through the development of new institutions and habits of cooperation, particularly with a reforming Russia, we are proceeding together to lay the security framework within which, as I said when I began, the entire world can truly be characterized as the Free World.


Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission.