On June 26, 1997 a group of 50 prominent foreign policy experts that included former senators, retired military officers, diplomats and academicians, sent an open letter to President Clinton outlining their opposition to NATO expansion. Stanley Resor, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association, spoke at the press conference announcing the letter, focusing on the arms control implications of expansion. Resor’s remarks and the group’s letter are printed below.

June 26, 1997

Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned, believe that the current U.S.led effort to expand NATO, the focus of the recent Helsinki and Paris Summits, is a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability for the following reasons:

In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement, and galvanize resistance in the Duma to the START II and III treaties; In Europe, NATO expansion will draw a new line of division between the “ins” and the “outs,” foster instability, and ultimately diminish the sense of security of those countries which are not included;

In NATO, expansion, which the Alliance has indicated is open-ended, will inevitably degrade NATO’s ability to carry out its primary mission and will involve U.S. security guarantees to countries with serious border and national minority problems, and unevenly developed systems of democratic government;

In the U.S., NATO expansion will trigger an extended debate over its indeterminate, but certainly high, cost and will call into question the U.S. commitment to the Alliance, traditionally and rightly regarded as a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy.

Because of these serious objections, and in the absence of any reason for rapid decision, we strongly urge that the NATO expansion process be suspended while alternative actions are pursued. These include:

—opening the economic and political doors of the European Union to Central and Eastern Europe;

—developing an enhanced Partnership for Peace program;

—supporting a cooperative NATO-Russian relationship; and

—continuing the arms reduction and transparency process, particularly with respect to nuclear weapons and materials, the major threat to U.S. security, and with respect to conventional military forces in Europe.

 Russia does not now pose a threat to its western neighbors and the nations of Central and Eastern Europe are not in danger. For this reason, and the others cited above, we believe that NATO expansion is neither necessary nor desirable and that this ill-conceived policy can and should be put on hold.


George BunnTownsend HoopesSam Nunn
Robert BowieGordon HumphreyHerbert S. Okun
Bill BradleyFred IkleW.K.H. Panofsky
David CalleoBennett JohnstonChristian Patte
Richard T. DaviesCarl KaysenRichard Pipes
Jonathan DeanSpurgeon KeenyRobert E. Pursley
Paul DotyJames LeonardGeorge Rathjens
Susan EisenhowerEdward LuttwakStanley Resor
David M. EvansMichael MandelbaumJohn Rhinelander
David FischerJack F. Matlock Jr.John J. Shanahan
Raymond GarthoffC. William MaynesMarshall Shulman
Morton H. HalperinRichard McCormackJohn Steinbruner
Owen HarriesDavid McGiffertStansfield Turner
Gary HartRobert McNamaraRichard Viets
Arthur HartmanJack MendelsohnPaul Warnke
Mark HatfieldPhilip MerrillJames D. Watkins
John P. HoldrenPaul H. Nitze

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