News Release

NATO Expansion: The Skeptics Were “Proven Correct”


[ will hold a news conference “NATO and U.S. Foreign Policy: Dangers Ahead” at the National Press Club on Tuesday, which will include former State Department officials Matthew Hoh and Ann Wright. There will also be teach-ins and protests in D.C., see:]

JAMES CARDEN, [in D.C.], jamescarden09 at
Carden is a contributing writer at The Nation and the executive editor for the American Committee for East-West Accord.

He just wrote the piece “NATO Turns 70“: “On April 4, 1949, representatives of the United States, Canada, and 10 European countries, including the United Kingdom and France, gathered in Washington to sign the North Atlantic Treaty, a defense pact created at the urging of wartime allies France and Britain as a means to, in the words of NATO’s first secretary general, Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, ‘keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.’ …

“To mark the 70th anniversary of that occasion, NATO foreign ministers will descend on Washington for a ministerial meeting, various think-tank panels and commemorations, all to be topped off by an address from NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg to a joint meeting of Congress. …

“One of NATO’s first major post-Cold War missions, the 78-day aerial bombing of Serbia, nearly ended in disaster when NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark ordered British General Mike Jackson, commander of NATO’s troops in Kosovo, to retake the airfield in Pristina, the capital, from the Russians — by force if necessary.

“Jackson refused: ‘I’m not going to start Third World War for you.’ …

“In an open letter to the Clinton administration in June 1997, dozens of high-ranking former policy-makers and diplomats, including Senators Bill Bradley, Gary Hart, and Sam Nunn; Paul H. Nitze, Ambassador Jack Matlock, and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, warned that ‘NATO expansion is neither necessary nor desirable and that this ill-conceived policy can and should be put on hold.’

“The diplomat-scholar George F. Kennan also foresaw trouble. Writing just after the New Year in 1997, Kennan predicted that ‘the Russians will not react wisely and moderately to the decision of NATO to extend its boundaries to the Russian frontiers.’ For Kennan, the decision was ‘the greatest mistake of the entire post-Cold War period.’ Time has proven the skeptics correct.

“The policy of NATO expansion is largely responsible for the dangerous deterioration in relations between Russia and the West and lies at the heart of the ongoing Ukraine crisis. …

“Instead of a self-serving, self-justifying anniversary celebration, NATO should address what has gone so wrong over the past three decades by reexamining its policies of eastward expansion and non-defensive deployment and seriously consider adopting a nuclear ‘no first use’ policy.”