By YENA SEO, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (expository)
In 1998, the most pressing concern for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the integration of former Soviet bloc states into the alliance. The countries of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have expressed a desire to enter NATO at a time in which Soviet influence in Europe is falling, and NATO’s role in global history is being questioned.
When NATO was formed in 1949, the primary purpose of the alliance was to provide protection for member states in the event of an attack by a foreign country or power, and to combat the influence of the Soviet Union in Europe. The organization was a direct response to the rise of the Soviet Union during World War II and the Cold War. However, the Soviet Union is no longer the threat it once was, and NATO must re-define its purpose and adapt itself for a new millennium. The integration of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO could strengthen the alliance, but the move to include former Warsaw Pact states has drawn concern from various nations.
While few nations have expressed outright opposition to integrating the three former Soviet states into NATO, countries such as Germany, Belgium and Canada have expressed concerns as to how they would be incorporated, and whether new standards should be implemented to facilitate such inclusion. Additionally, Canada noted that countries should be committed to their own individual constituents before the alliance.
“Building a new requirement to integrate new countries into NATO would be too time-consuming and excessive,” the delegation from Belgium said.
However, other delegations are hard at work to integrate Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO and to create a framework that could be used for future states wishing to join the alliance. Portugal, the United Kingdom, Spain, Greece, Luxembourg and Iceland have formed a bloc to expand NATO not only in membership, but through military might.
The working paper, spearheaded by the United Kingdom and Spain, expresses great interest in approving Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for NATO membership as long as the states agree to the NATO treaty, commit to upholding human rights and democratic ideals, and agree to implement a Visegrad regional joint-military framework.
Another aspect of the working paper orients NATO’s technical and military cooperation towards developing and strengthening the military capabilities of individual states. This would force states to fortify their own security structures and reduce dependency on larger member states. Additionally, the paper introduces the concept of Regional Combatant Commands that would be implemented in forward deployed bases and quick response forces for deployment, training and unit cohesion purposes.
Due to the structure of NATO, only one paper may be passed by the alliance. At the turn of the new millennium, it is essential that NATO redefine its purposes and restructure its organization. It is in the committee’s best interest to facilitate mergers that would create a paper that not only addresses the integration of former Soviet states into the alliance, but also addresses the expansion of NATO’s military powers and structures.
Delegates in the Historical NATO committee are working to strengthen the alliance and redefine its purposes for the 21st century.