46 Arguments Against the Present and Future NATO Expansions

TFF Pres Info # 36

"All concerned should come together and discuss the OBVIOUS alternatives to militarist policies in general and NATO expansion in particular," appeals Dr. Oberg. "According to President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the present expansion involving Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary is only the first in a series. Now is the time, therefore, to prepare for a new advocacy of alternatives to the continuation of this dangerous development. Further NATO expansion must be stopped," says the TFF director.

"NATO was and remains geared to the Cold War. In its essence, the alliance has not changed. NATO must not be allowed forever to lead or monopolise world security affairs. Its military priorities and nuclearism in particular make NATO a part of humanity's problem, not an instrument in the exploration of the new peace policies that ought to unfold in this genuinely new era.

NATO expansion is sheer folly. It contradicts every vision of a world in which we learn to clash as civilised creatures, solve our conflicts through negotiations and mutual respect and devote our energies to demilitarisation, civil society, democracy, justice, sustainable development and peaceful, co-existence in diversity."

"The decision to expand NATO has been too uncritically accepted in Europe, whereas there is a reasonable debate in the United States. One wonders why so many media people, security experts and even peace researchers have stopped asking fundamental questions or spoken out against this destabilising policy," states Oberg and continues:

"There are surprisingly few convincing argument in favour of NATO expansion. To understand why it is anyhow swallowed, the project can be seen as any other marketable commodity devoid of self-criticism and moral consideration: if marketed with enough money, with advance preparation of elite attitudes, with appeals to fear or narcissism - it will go down. Human folly combined with interests of money and power can be sold as wisdom and statesmanship even in so-called democracies, in the modern information society. It's actually quite frightening."

"I take pleasure in sharing the arguments below AGAINST this expansion - and those to come. Most of them have surfaced in the debate, some are my own. Many concerned citizens feel that something is wrong. Let's proclaim it from the roof-tops. Indeed, our best "weapons" are better thoughts, ideas, ethics, compassion and networking - and independent minds in an increasingly authoritarian era the slogan of which is that 'there are no alternatives.' But there is no democracy if there are no alternatives. I urge all concerned to come together and discuss the OBVIOUS alternatives to militarist policies in general and NATO expansion in particular," appeals Jan Oberg.


46 Arguments Against NATO's Present and Future Expansions

1. NATO has less experience in handling conflicts than the UN, the OSCE and many NGOs. NATO is not geared to the new challenges, it's toolbox fundamentally belongs to the past. The post-Cold War conflict landscape makes the UN and OSCE, not NATO which is predominantly a military organisation, more relevant.

2. The huge oil resources in the Caspian Sea/the Caucasus may well be high up on the hidden future agenda of this and coming NATO expansions. So is the containment of Russia and Yugoslavia.

3. "Increased stability" and "enhanced security" are magic formulas with which the expansion is sold to citizens. However, no analysis has operationalised these terms or shown that there will be more real stability or security with NATO expansion than without it. The rhetoric goes unnoticed because a majority of journalists and intellectuals have stopped asking critical questions.

4. Today security must be defined in broad terms and include socio-economic, cultural and ecological dimensions. Thus, alternative defensive defence, military as well as civilian, is relevant. Security means handling conflicts efficiently. NATO expansion is based on an outdated defence philosophy.

5. New states such as Croatia, Bosnia or Georgia - and newly non-aligned states such as former Warsaw Pact members - could be pioneers of new defence, security and foreign policies if they had not chosen to imitate the outmoded defence policies of much bigger or older security actors (in comparison with whom their military status will forever remain 2nd or 3rd class, small as they are.

6. Estimates of the costs of the expansion vary from a few billion dollars to several hundred billion dollars over the next decade. NATO members disagree about who shall pay the bill. All this is indicative of the well-known law in military matters: it's going to be expensive, more expensive than "estimated" at the time of the decision-making.

7. The costs - inside NATO and for the new members - are very high. Everybody talks about economic crisis. We should ask what the "opportunity costs" of this expansion are: how much welfare, civil investments, cultural activity could citizens get for the sums their governments now invest in the military?

8. Spending huge sums on the military in times of economic crisis will impoverish the already disadvantaged and reward the rich elites, thus aggravating social tensions. There is already enough of of such conflict-promoting class divisions in Eastern Europe.

9. The expansion will lead to increased American power in and over Europe - a Europe in general and an EU in particular that cannot get its acts together. East European governments seem to want this "proof of Westernness" because the EU could not accommodate them.

10. No nation has unlimited economic resources. NATO investment will mean less resources for the OSCE, the EU, and the UN as well as less for non-military security measures.

11. No-first-use of nuclear weapons should have become NATO policy before any expansion.

12. The argument that "the East European want it so badly and how can we say no to them?" is beside the point. It was President Clinton who already in 1992 started selling the idea of expansion. Eastern dissidents, including Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, were traditionally pacifists and neutralists; they emphasised civil society and culture and cooperation, not nuclearism and militarisation and certainly not NATO membership. That is - until they became representatives of state power and someone whispered "NATO membership" in their ears.

13. Furthermore, must NATO gallantly open the door to any government (however never Russia or Yugoslavia) who seems to have no independent thoughts concerning their own security but want to become clients, protected by big brothers in the West? Are we to believe that citizens longing for democracy and prosperity would really want that, if they were also offered various alternatives to NATO expansion?

14. According to Washington, this is only the first in a series of expansions.

15. Saying there are no alternatives to NATO expansion is indicative of intellectual poverty or, worse, an authoritarian worldview. Democracies are characterised by the presence of more than one option - and public discussion about them.

16. There would hardly be much public support in the new member states if people there were given accurate information about two things: a) the likely real price and opportunity costs of membership and b) that they will, in the worst of cases, be "defended" by nuclear weapons.

17. Russia's military expenditures are believed to be about 10% of those of the United States and, thus, even smaller in comparison with all of NATO. No military threat motivates or justifies NATO's expansion.

18. One may ask whether the world will ever achieve disarmament if the general philosophy is: "When there is a threat we must increase our military; when there is no threat we must also increase it because there could be one in the future"?

19. No nation have suffered as much and been more humiliated in this century than Russia. Just think of the world wars, Stalin's terror, the inefficient Communist economy. Whatever was done in the Gorbachev era to open up to the West (a precondition for internal reforms), the Soviet Union/Russia received no rewards beyond lip service. In a historical perspective, NATO's expansion is simply provocative as seen from Russia - "the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era" as stated by George Kennan.

20. Russia will never be a full member, community is not sought.

21. The expansion is likely to stimulate Russian/Chinese/Asian rapproachment.

22. With the expansion, the fault line Catholic/Protestant versus Orthodox will be polarised.

23. New member are likely to be former Warsaw Pact countries or others such as Slovenia who all feel antagonised vis-a-vis Russia. So NATO expansion can only involve countries that will be seen by Russia as future, potential enemy states.

24. The stronger NATO becomes in its role as "peacekeeper," the weaker the UN will be. The UN - deliberately weakened by US policies in recent years - will be forced to surrender its authority, competence, good name and role as world community organisation to elite group interests that may violate its charter and to missions it can't control. Successively "UN" will stand for "United NATOs".

25. Out-of-area operations will appear more "natural" as boundaries between NATO and non-NATO-members will be increasingly blurred.

26. NATO reforms will take more time; integrating the new members may potentially weaken the alliance and cause a series of conflicts about payment and power inside it.

27. Nuclear weapons will just not be deployed as things stand now. What about a future situation? Russia will feel a stronger motivation now to upgrade her nukes.

28. Ratification by the present NATO member states could cause divisions at the same time as the planned continuation/withdrawal of troops from Bosnia is likely to take place. Who is really willing to pay these bills? And who has the power to make other governments - or, rather, their taxpayers - pay?

29. The "look-at-Bosnia" argument is faked. The Russians are not equal there; Dayton is not a peace but a complex cease-fire agreement. It will not produce a unified state through voluntary commitment by its constituent members. NATO/SFOR and others now form an authoritarian protectorate-like mission way beyond what the Dayton Agreement stipulated, while none of the conflicts that lead to the catastrophe has been solved. NATO came in the wake of all the conflict-management mistakes by Western actors, the EU and the US in particular, since 1991. Bosnia was used to "save" NATO whose raison d'etre had become fragile.

30. What threatens Europe and human civilisation? Answers include environmental degradation, overexploitation of natural resources, socio-economic crisis, alienation, terrorism, financial breakdowns, global inequality, poverty, drugs. None of these challenges can be solved by NATO's military-dominated defence and security policies and, thus, not by its expansion.

31. Nuclear and other illegitimate weapons of mass destruction represent another threat to world peace. No purpose can justify their use. In addition, we witness a decreasing control of nuclear technology and fissile materials. NATO expansion implicitly lends more, not less, legitimacy to these morally indefensible policies.

32. NATO expansion cannot but increase US arms and military technology sales. The new members are likely to go for American technology. Thus, European arms producers will face even stronger competition from the United States. In response they will merge into ever larger corporations and become ever more difficult to control politically.

33. Germany and the UK are important host nations of US bases, wartime operations, peacetime "humanitarian interventions" and peacekeeping. This can only be divisive within the EU and undermine further its - quite unrealistic - goal to "speak with one voice" in security and foreign policy matters.

34. If the real desire of the Eastern Europeans is to assert their "Westernness" and have it confirmed, is Western Europe so intellectually, culturally and economically poor that it can only offer them a militarised "Westernness"? Of course there are better ways to help them develop their identity.

35. The expansion places countries which don't want, or want but are not accepted yet, in a difficult position now; they are likely to feel less secure in the future.

36. Conventional military balances are upset by the new memberships.

37. Integration of mentality, education, inter-operability, and language in NATO becomes more difficult with new countries.

38. The Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic has declared that his country is willing to host nukes.

39. Hungary, a new member, has no border with any other NATO member.

40. Hungary and Slovakia have important unsolved problems.

41. The Baltic states have permanent, troubled relations with Russia; the "new NATO" will be seen as thoroughly "anti-Russian - much worse than a Finnish or Swedish membership."

42. Russia may refuse to ratify START 2 because of NATO's expansion. NATO expansion will strengthen militarist, nationalist and otherwise backward circles in Russia.

43. Russia gets an extra argument for nuclear weapons, to compensate for the tremendous superiority of NATO in the conventional fields. So, if you don't have an enemy, you can produce one.

44. The former GDR is nuclear-free; a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone should include all newcomers plus Belarus and Ukraine. This will be much more difficult with NATO expansion. A lot of peace proposals and alternatives security arrangements will come to look more "unrealistic" after NATO's expansion than before.

45. Diversity and pluralism contribute to security and survival. NATO expansion forces ever more countries to think alike, i.e. either think no independent thoughts or think the same thoughts as the stronger power(s).

46. The more members get in, the more impossible it will be to stand outside. "Follow the flock" will be a maxim for the smaller and neutrals very soon. Sweden's incremental policies towards de facto NATO membership is indicative of which way the winds blow.

April 22, 1998












The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
Vegagatan 25, S - 224 57 Lund, Sweden
Phone + 46 - 46 - 145909     Fax + 46 - 46 - 144512   E-mail:

Contact the Webmaster at:
Created by Maria Näslund      © 1997, 1998, 1999 TFF