NATO expansion and the US-Russian relationship


in Bombs and rockets, Politics, Security

But [Richard] Holbrooke was irrepressible and his proposal [to invite Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic states to join NATO in 1996] moved forward. I went to President Clinton, explaining my concerns, and asking for a full meeting of the National Security Council to air my concerns and my arguments for a delay. The president called a meeting of the NSC dedicated to the issue, and I made my case for delaying NATO membership for a few years. I was amazed by the dynamics of the meeting. Neither Secretary of State Warren Christopher nor National Security Advisor Anthony Lake spoke out. The opposing arguments were made instead by Vice President Gore, and he made a forceful argument in favor of immediate membership, an argument more persuasive to the president than mine. The president agreed to immediate membership for Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic but delayed the membership of the Baltic states for later consideration. Vice President Gore’s argument was based on the value of bringing Eastern Europe into the European security circle, with which I fully agreed. He believed that we could manage the problems this would create with Russia, with which I disagreed. I continued to connect the maintenance of a positive relationship with Russia with the delaying of NATO expansion for several more years. And again and most fundamentally: when I considered that Russia still had a very large nuclear arsenal, I put a very high priority on maintaining that positive relationship, especially as it pertained to any future reduction in the nuclear weapons threat.

Perry, William. My Journey at the Nuclear Brink. Stanford Security Studies. 2015. p. 128-9 (paperback)

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