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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

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November 27, 2002

November 27, 2002

PRAGUE SUMMIT: NATO REINVENTED FOR NEW THREAT AND AS 'TOOL' FOR U.S.

 

KEY FINDINGS

 

** Global opinionmakers concluded that the Prague Summit had "buried" the Warsaw Pact and given NATO a "new mission" in a supporting role in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism.

** Many reflected that the significance of admitting former members of the Eastern bloc had been eclipsed by the focus on Iraq and the "reorganization" of the U.S., Russia and Europe.

** European writers either praised NATO enlargement for strengthening the alliance or complained that it had been retooled to serve U.S. interests first.

** Others derided NATO for becoming a "political club" instead of a military alliance.

 

MAJOR THEMES

 

NATO needed and found its post Cold War 'raison d'etre'-- European papers were in large part relieved that Prague had breathed "new relevance" into NATO and agreed that the Alliance had no choice but to adapt to the new threat of global terrorism. Though some found America's "mugging" of the Alliance "deplorable," they came to terms with the "brutal truth" that the old NATO had ceased to exist. Pristina's leading independent Koha Ditore recognized that it was time for NATO to "look beyond the Balkans" and "face the new challenges." "Pragmatism won" at Prague, as Berlin's right of center Die Welt declared: "It is better to have a dynamic NATO under control than an Alliance that embarks on the sad road of dying bureaucracies."

 

Critics complain NATO has turned into an 'instrument' of the U.S.-- Mostly liberal and left-leaning dailies in NATO outlets along with observers elsewhere suggested that the alliance had been relegated to America's "toolbox." They claimed that the U.S. had taken advantage of the summit to "lobby" allies to support the campaign against Iraq. Some echoed Cairo's leading Al Ahram's charge that NATO was nothing more than a "political garage to be used, whenever necessary, by the U.S." Some editorials reflected Europe's sense of inferiority, that "NATO is nothing without the U.S." They lamented that Europe's failure to speak with one voice left it without the "capacity to influence Washington." Others, including a Brazilian writer, held that NATO suffered from an "identity crisis." Moscow's reformist Izvestiya chided that "NATO members have yet to decide what they are, U.S. partners or an alternative to U.S. hegemony."

 

NATO's new 'recruits' and standards of admission meet with skepticism-- Although most writers in newly inducted NATO states were cautiously optimistic about accession, some recognized they would be used, in the words of Bulgaria's leading Trud, as "service personnel at best." A Canadian daily insisted that the U.S. pushed for the "militarily feeble" states because it needed their bases as "waypoints" to U.S. bases in the Mideast. Belgrade's influential Politika asked: "Isn't it a little bit too easy to enter the NATO alliance? Also questioning the "vague geographic requirements," a Tel Aviv paper argued that with the threat of "militant Islam," Israel fits the "new NATO mold" better than its newest members.

EDITOR: Irene Marr

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This analysis is based on 94 reports from 41 countries, 11/18-11/27. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.

 

EUROPE

 

BRITAIN: "America's Warning Shot"

 

The conservative Daily Telegraph offered this view (11/22): "The division of Europe that followed Yalta has vanished. However, while the political significance of its passing is obvious, the military benefit is less so. The three newcomers in 1999 have not lived up to their commitments and similar difficulties can be expected from the next lot of entrants.... That said, membership has changed Cold War patterns of subservience and enhanced democratic civilian control of the armed forces and intelligence services. To be effective, the proposed rapid reaction force should not have to depend on unanimous approval for its deployment.... Its success also hangs on the Europeans improving their military capabilities.... The rapid reaction force is a lifeline offered by Washington to an alliance now facing the unpredictable threats of the age of terror. Without greater investment in defence, Europe will fall behind America to the extent that joint operations become impossible.... The lesson is clear: either the Europeans remedy their operational deficiencies or the alliance will become irrelevant."

 

"NATO Has Lost An enemy And Is Searching For A Rule"

 

Peter Ridell, wrote in the conservative Times (11/21): "The rapid growth of American defence spending...[has] left European countries struggling to keep in touch. This capabilities gap has reinforced a growing difference in strategic thinking. America's reliance on air power...[has] produced a reluctance to commit ground troops.... By contrast, the Europeans believe in being more engaged on the ground and more involved in later peacekeeping.... Hence the suggestion that the Americans do the hard stuff, and the Europeans do the clearing up afterwards.... The Europeans worry that they have little influence on American decisions.... The practice, as opposed to the rhetoric, is more complex, as shown by the negotiations leading to the recent UN resolution. The Bush administration has wanted allies, but on its own terms. The choice for Europe is simple. It cannot compete militarily on the same scale, or technical sophistication, as the United States.... But unless European countries spend more and develop rapidly deployable forces, they will not be listened to in Washington."

 

"NATO Is Not Dead, But Missing In Action"

 

Gerard Baker observed in the independent Financial Times (11/21): "Not even the most determinedly faithful would try to revive a marriage by adopting seven new family members. In Prague today, the members of NATO will do just that. Setting aside their differences for the sake of the children, Western Europe and the United States will renew their old vows and admit a clutch of eastern European countries.... To the bigger question of what this partnership is really for in the 21st century, there will be deafening silence.... The most recent events suggest that neither side is really prepared, even at critical moments to take NATO seriously.... A disdainful refusal even to respond to a genuine offer of support from close allies at the time of America's most serious crisis in decades--spoke volumes about its attitude to the alliance. In Europe too, recent events suggest some of the most important countries regard NATO as at best an irrelevance, at worst another opportunity for the United States to antagonize them.... NATO is not dead.... But if the Bush administration's national security strategy....is to be the defining feature of U.S. defence strategy for the next 50 years, most Europeans do not want anything to do with it. And, for all the fanfare, it is getting harder to disguise the views of policymakers on both sides."

 

"What Is NATO for?"

 

The liberal Guardian held (11/19): "The NATO meeting will focus primarily not on the long-anticipated decision to admit seven new east European members, but on a Bush adminstration to transform NATO into an alliance tasked with fighting WMD proliferation and terrorism.... Despite surprisingly little public debate, Prague is expected to approve the plan. The main overarching argument in favor is that this rededication of NATO to George Bush's 'war on terror' will give it a relevance it has lacked since the cold war's end.... But the disadvantages for Europe are serious. A green light in Prague will inevitably be seen as a political endorsement of Mr. Bush's aggressive global security strategy.... Such free-range militarism may quickly come into conflict with the UN system, collective European interests and, perhaps, European security priorities such as Balkan peacekeeping. The basic,unresolved issue remains a united Europe's long term need to provide for its own defense and security, in concert with the U.S. perhaps, but not under its direction."

 

FRANCE: "Bush, Putin, NATO and Iraq"

 

Right-of-center Les Echos editorialized (11/25): "No sooner the NATO summit in Prague over, President Bush ran to Saint Petersburg to confirm to Vladimir Putin that NATO's expansion is a peaceful endeavor which in no way threatens Russia.... Since Sept. 11 Russia and the U.S. have discovered they have a common enemy: terrorism. While NATO has just set down the guidelines for its new mission by approving the creation of the rapid reaction force, the American President has gone further in his gesture towards Putin: he has absolved the Russian President for his forceful resolution of the Moscow theatre hostage situation.... Russia, like NATO, has reminded the U.S. it must conform to the UN resolution on Iraq.... But the U.S. is in a position of strength. President Bush has promised Russia to protect its oil interests in Iraq in the post-Saddam era."

 

"Fighting Terrorism With NATO"

 

Gilles Delafon observed in right-of-center Le Journal du Dimanche (11/24): "George W. Bush has a pretty clear idea of what the future NATO should be: the Pentagon's Foreign Legion.... The NATO summit has once again underscored the philosophical gap between the U.S. and Europe when it comes to handling world affairs.... President Bush would love to turn NATO into an instrument to be used in his war against terrorism.... But terrorism must be fought with information and intelligence gathering, and this is one area in which Washington does not like to share with NATO."

 

"A Hold-Up On NATO"

 

Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (11/22): "If NATO does not adapt its means to tomorrow's threats, it will condemn itself to a slow death even while continuing to expand. This is why the U.S. is pressing its allies to increase its military budgets, to reform its armies and to acquire military equipment which is technologically compatible with its own. Otherwise the allies will become useless allies for Washington, maybe even cumbersome ones. But such a plan would be more convincing if it were the result of a concerted effort founded on a common analysis of the risks and the solutions. Unfortunately this is not the case. For Washington, NATO must serve America's policies. We cannot help but deplore America's mugging of the Alliance. But as long as the Europeans remain incapable of making themselves heard, Europe's protest will remain useless."

 

"Bush Wins NATO's Political Support On Iraq"

 

Jacques Hubert-Rodier wrote in right-of-center Les Echos (11/22): "George Bush has obtained at least one important thing from his NATO allies, and that is a firm political commitment on the last UN resolution on Iraq.... On the other hand, the U.S. was not able to convince all of its allies to participate in the preparations for a military intervention in Iraq.... France considers that 'the moment has not yet come,' even if it does not consider the request premature. All in all the NATO declaration on Iraq is considerable because it reaffirms Washington's interest in the Alliance.... The U.S. has also scored elsewhere: the NATO summit has approved, at least in principle, the plans for a rapid reaction force."

 

GERMANY: "Changes"

 

Jochen Thies commented on national radio station DeutschlandRadio of Berlin (11/23): "The Prague summit was important for Central Europe and the Baltic states. NATO will admit new members and expand eastward to the gates of St. Petersburg. The brutal truth, for Germany and western Europe, is that the old NATO, which was a stable political factor for the past fifty years, has ceased to exist. Washington has created an alliance based on specific needs with which it will cooperate according to its own purposes. A race for U.S. goodwill has begun among Alliance members. The German chancellor will soon have to decide whether he will embrace realpolitik, which would be good for Germany, or whether he will stick to his campaign promise and keep Germany out of a war on Iraq."

 

"The End Of The Old NATO"

 

Karl Feldmeyer noted in a front-page editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/23): "NATO's new structure grants the United States even more power than before, and that will have an impact on European attitudes. The Europeans have to realize that they are not equal partners anymore but dependents. This will create problems. While the NATO Council still needs the support of all members to initiate Alliance action, the weight of U.S. power will be the decisive factor in the end. The German government had to acknowledge this reality in Prague when it came to voting on the Iraq resolution. There was no alternative to backing the resolution. The damage done to U.S.-German relations was obvious in Prague. Much depends on whether the current tension remains an isolated incident or whether it leads to permanent transatlantic changes. NATO's ability to expand without too many problems has a lot to do with Putin's willingness to embrace a new realism in foreign policy after September 11. The Russian president used the attacks as an opportunity to redefine U.S.-Russian relations in the context of the international fight against terrorism. The reorganization of relations between the United States, Russia, and Europe came to a first end in Prague."

 

"With A Smile"

 

Clemens Wergin stated in an editorial in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/23): Rarely has a NATO summit been dominated by the United States as much as Prague. The rules for NATO are the same that apply to Germany: anyone who does not play along, at least a little bit, will become insignificant. This is the price that Europe has to pay for Germany's escapades. It was impossible to build up a meaningful European opposition based on Germany's refusal to take military action against Iraq even under UN mandate. Now there is hardly any European resistance to Bush. A whole continent has backed down."

 

"Ready For Intervention"

 

Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine argued (11/22): "In Prague, the Warsaw Pact was buried.... The division of Europe, which is linked to other names, Yalta and Potsdam, has now been overcome, and this happened in a quiet way that does not really show how profound this process was.... When NATO invited the first central-European states to accede to the Alliance five years ago, Moscow was still ravaged by imperial after-pains and threatened a new ice-age. But this did not happen, new trenches were not dug. The enlargement of the Atlantic zone of security and stability to the north and the southeast is no longer considered a strategic threat, since Russia itself has gained privileged access to NATO in the meantime. And since NATO wants to keep its doors open, those European nations that are not members of the first group of acceding countries need not panic. If they continue to go along on the path of democracy, reduce internal and external conflicting potential and meet military requirements, they also have a chance to join the Alliance."

 

"Without A Mandate Of Peoples"

 

Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau editorialized (11/22): "The term that was we heard all over in Prague was the term transformation. But this is a deliberate attempt to mislead. The new NATO Response Force (NRF) is not part of a historically necessary transformation, but it is the first step to a deliberately planned new foundation of the Alliance.... Political honesty would make it useful to return the debate to the people over how and in which format we want to defend ourselves militarily to new challenges. Those who want the NATO whose first steps were made in Prague, must negotiate a new Atlantic Treaty. This will be difficult and in the end, it may be possible that some members will leave the Alliance. It is a bad sign that NATO is dodging such a debate over principles and sticks to the illusion of historical continuity. The Alliance seems to forget that its strength is based on the approval of peoples which is the basis for the need of defense. Those who like NATO embark on such a profoundly new path must get the approval [of the peoples]. Or the understanding of what is necessary will dwindle. And with it the power of the Alliance."

 

"NATO's Rescue"

 

Katja Ridderbusch editorialized in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/22): "The rebirth of the Alliance, which augurs declared dead after September 11, took place only with massive--some may say violent--assistance of the biggest partner. In Prague, pragmatism won: It is better to have a dynamic NATO under control than to have an Alliance that embarks on the sad road of dying bureaucracies. In Prague, the United States urged NATO to approve a Response Force made up of European elite soldiers. Despite all prophecies of doom that the Americans would use the new NATO force as a kind of 'foreign legion,' the new NATO designed by the Americans may, in the end, even inspire the Europeans to set up their own Rapid Reaction Force, since the European will need those military capabilities for their plans which the Americans demanded from them in Prague. Optimists may say that the United States woke NATO in Prague with a kiss."

 

"NATO Reshaped According To U.S. Notions"

 

Joerg Schoenenborn commented on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late evening newscast (11/20): "For months, it seemed that the United States would go its own way...but this is no longer the case. The common military response force that will be agreed upon in Prague, is a kind of political re-assurance for the United States. If the Europeans back this force, they will also back the idea behind it. Those who set up a response force will also intervene in case of a worst-case scenario. President Bush knows what he wants, and he is obviously able to learn.. Despite all their military strength, the Americans decided to embark upon the path of political alliances. This offers the Europeans the chance to co-shape it. France and Britain took advantage of it, while Germany only played the role of a spectator over the past few weeks. It is still a long way to get out of its isolation."

 

ITALY: "Neither Winners Nor Losers In Prague"

 

Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio commented (11/25): "What are the tangible results of the Atlantic Council in Prague, and what are the consequences, especially for Europe? NATO expansion to include seven new members was taken care of in a matter of minutes, and almost by acclamation: something inconceivable until a couple of years ago, but made possible by the September 11 attacks and by the recent rapprochement between NATO and Russia. The paradox, if any, is that the seven new Central European allies have finally become members of an Alliance that already is (and will increasingly become) much different from the one that they were dreaming to join five or three years ago. And this is the second true development of the Prague summit: a 26-member NATO, with the United States less and less committed on the European front and less and less interested in involving the Alliance, as such, in its most relevant military operations, and with Russia no longer an open enemy or an invisible participant, but rather an external interlocutor and even a partner in certain fields. Furthermore, a NATO that is planning to equip itself with a multinational special force, properly trained and capable to intervene anywhere in the world, tuned on the Pentagon's wavelength rather than that of NATO headquarters in Mons. There is no doubt that discussions will continue in Brussels to bring agreement among the allies, but it is as if a long-time mission has been completed and new, still vague deadlines have been presented to a 'club' whose new members have not quite understood yet how they should behave."

 

"Europe's Right Image"

 

Mario Platero wrote in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (11/25): "In Prague, we witnessed the materialization and the identification of a new mission for NATO. And last Friday, during the rapid but intense summit with Putin, Russia and the United States formalized an agreement, finding a unifying element in the fight against a common enemy, terrorism--something that overcomes the barriers over the enlargement of the Atlantic Pact. Even Putin admitted that, if NATO's mission is, indeed, to fight terrorism, Russia would be able to work together with NATO. While everybody agrees on the basic principles that inspire the war on terrorism, however, there is no agreement over priorities. Let's take Iraq. Everybody agrees that disarmament is the goal, but differences remain over the methods to achieve it.. The disputes over how to interpret U.N resolution 1441 will continue: there is no doubt that the resolution of the Iraqi problem will become determining also for the debate over the centerpoint of Europe's politics."

 

"Bush Pockets A Double 'Yes' From Putin"

 

Mario Platero reported from St. Peterburg in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (11/23): "Perhaps Bush Bush expected something more on the Iraqi front, and perhaps Putin was looking for support to identify at least some of the Chechen political leadership with terrorism. Yet, during their seventh summit, Putin and Bush achieved at least one important compromise: the war on global terrorism prevails over the differences regarding NATO enlargement.. In sum, if terrorism defines the new NATO mission, it also defines Russia's new relationship with NATO, namely with the United States.. Putin, however, asked America not to undertake a unilateral action against Iraq and said he is not certain that Iraq possesses mass destruction weapons."

 

"The Risks Of The Alliance: Diluted And Increasingly 'American'"

 

An analysis by Franco Venturini, writing from Prague in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/23): "The general satisfaction voiced by participants in the NATO summit and the general welcome given to the new former enemies and now new members have not succeeded to mask completely the unknown factors that weigh on the renovated Alliance. The enlargement that has taken NATO as far as Russia's borders adds little to its military capability.. The effectiveness of the Alliance, in fact, is jeopardized by a long-time problem, revived by new roles: the growing gap between the financial-technological involvement of the United States and that of its traditional European allies."

 

"A Shadow Over The Alliance's Celebrations: The War Against Iraq"

 

Maurizio Molinari wrote from Prague in centrist, influential La Stampa (11/21): "Thirteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO is expanding to include seven former members of the Warsaw Pact and is dealing with the terrorism emergency by creating a 'rapid reaction force' on the global level. But there is no agreement on Iraq: America is asking the allies for troops and materiel while Paris refuses to go beyond support for UN inspections. And Berlin remains silent.... Agreement among NATO partners over NATO reform appears to be possible without too many difficulties, while Iraq remains a problem."

 

"Bush's Requests Amid The Allies' Doubts"

 

Andrea Bonanni commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/21): "Like the Roman Empire 18 centuries ago, right at the time of its maximum territorial expansion and the virtually unchallenged hegemony of its values, the NATO alliance is also experiencing the germs of decline and the emergence, under the crust of routine self-celebrations, of the fault of a growing internal split between its Western and Eastern souls. So much so that it would be legitimate to wonder whether NATO's ultimate goal may have become that of keeping its pieces together under a single leadership--American leadership, of course, thus preventing each of the two souls to autonomously decide on its fate.... President Bush, who yesterday, right at the time when he should have drawn the Alliance's future objectives, preferred to launch a general appeal to about 50 'friendly' nations for a new ad hoc military coalition against Saddam Hussein's Iraq.... With an expansion that is similar to that of the European Union, and with a series of initiatives that seem to prevent EU initiatives in the military field, NATO is increasingly turning into a symmetrical creature with respect to the European Union: a 'clone' that, by anticipating Europe's moves, jeopardizes its autonomous growth and preserves American leadership."

 

"RUSSIA: "Twenty To Grow To Twenty-Seven"

 

Vadim Markushin said in centrist army Krasnaya Zvezda (11/26): "The words and gestures George Bush has said and made over the last few days (i.e., during his meeting with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg) highlight certain things regarding NATO-Russia relations. Obviously, the United States values them not less than admitting new recruits to NATO. This might mean, for instance, that Latvia has to take a new look at its being NATOized, and that having good-neighborly relations with Russia is good for it, meaning that it should solve the problem of the Russian-language minority. Similarly, the Baltic States should abide by the CFE agreement. The Twenty must grow to Twenty-Seven. That says it all."

 

"NATO Can Only Have Russia As Enemy"

 

Vasiliy Safronchuk argued on page one of nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (11/26): "Pro-American politicians in this country allege that NATO poses no military danger to Russia, that it has set out to transform and adapt itself to new threats and challenges, and that it views international terrorism, not Russia, as its chief enemy now. Why then spend more than $500 billion annually on arms buildup? Why keep tens of thousands of tanks and aircraft? Clearly, a formidable war machine like NATO can only have Russia as an enemy. It is not that present-day Russia is no longer an ideological opponent. The sociopolitical systems of Nazi Germany and Japan were similar to those of the so-called Western democracies. That did not stop the war.... In a future war to redivide the world, the United States is sure to face Russia, a major repository of the world's resources. Otherwise, we might have been admitted to NATO."

 

"It's Like Afghanistan"

 

Valeriy Panyushkin opined in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (11/26): "Never help the weak, but seek help from the strong is one rule that has been followed by politicians at all times. What is happening to Georgia once happened to Afghanistan. Nobody wants to make friends with it. Nobody shows respect for it. And nobody will as long as terrorists feel free to set up training camps in parts of its territory it cannot control.... That Georgia is trying for NATO is bad for Russia. That NATO is playing an 'admission' game with Georgia, while certainly having no intention to admit it, is bad for NATO. Left out in the cold, Georgia is certain to become a rogue state."

 

"U.S. May Want To Set Up A New Alliance"

 

Aleksey Lyashchenko commented on page one of centrist army Krasnaya Zvezda (11/23): "Weighed down with a load of passengers, who are as poor and unsure of themselves as they are ambitious, the NATO juggernaut is very slow, so slow it can stall. Also, it takes the White House a lot of effort and time to keep the juggernaut on the right track. Washington is increasingly irritated with the EuroNATO allies being reluctant to invest much in military programs and the renovation and development of their military potential. Under the circumstances, Washington, analysts say, may find it much easier to form a new alliance, with close trade and economic ties among its members. It might keep its membership to a minimum but whoever might be admitted would support the Chief Ally's ideas and goals without demur. Russia might join the new alliance on certain conditions, too. This country was the first to identify with the United States' war on international terrorism and is a great military power with considerable weight and influence in the world. It must figure quite big in the United States' policy."

 

"NATO At Crossroads"

 

Fyodor Lukyanov opined in official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (11/22): "Time runs ahead of the wildest of predictions. Who knows, one of the next summits on NATO's enlargement may take place in the Kremlin. In a sense, the current summit is make-it-or-break-it. NATO may get its second wind or continue on its downslide precipitously. Some believe that Prague is the last chance for NATO as a determining international force. Washington may not offer Europe another one. But the Europeans may not like all of the Americans' recipes with regard to NATO's survival. Even London, though with some reservations, along with Paris and Berlin, the key players in Europe, does not want NATO to become the world's policeman, an instrument to help the United States gain global hegemony.... Russia, while not objecting to NATO's enlargement in public, continues to consider it a mistake."

 

"They Pined For Old NATO"

 

Georgiy Bovt stated on page one of reformist Izvestiya (11/21): "The truth is that former Warsaw Pact members yearned for a quite different NATO, a bloc that was run, managed and financed by America alone and that had a common bugaboo, a myth about a reviving Russian empire. Now as the rookies get into NATO, they will find that it is different. The U.S. media's reaction to the summit is quite indicative--they are skeptical through and through and do not believe in the European allies' fighting spirit, power, and more importantly, ability to make at least one coherent decision.... The Euro NATO members have yet to decide what they are, the United States' partners or an alternative to the United States' hegemony. The Americans, it seems, have ultimately been disillusioned with NATO over their war plans against Iraq. Aside from the British, no one has supported them."

 

"NATO Makes No Sense"

 

Andrey Lebedev observed on page one of reformist Izvestiya (11/21): "Sometimes it looks like NATO has been enlarging through inertia. Once a decision is made, it has to be seen through.... Having lost a potential enemy...the Alliance does not seem to make much sense."

 

AUSTRIA: "NATO, The US And Europe"

 

Security affairs writer Alexander Purger commented in centrist Salzburger Nachrichten (11/22): "The NATO summit in Prague clearly shows it is not the European Union, but NATO that's pushing European unification.... On top of that, NATO is nothing without the U.S. None of the European NATO members have the political and military potential that would make the U.S. take them seriously. Europe becoming an equal partner of the Americans would require a division of military tasks among European countries. But neither the EU nor NATO will be able to pull that off."

 

"A Quiet Sensation"

 

Foreign affairs writer Christoph Winder opined in liberal Der Standard (11/22): "The fact that this second round in NATO's enlargement process could proceed so smoothly, is not only due to Russian President Putin's pragmatism. Especially the anti-terror alliance formed between Washington and Moscow has done a great deal to guarantee that Putin does not intend to make a fuss over the critical issue of the Baltic states. A quiet sensation and a clear sign of how quickly things can change."

 

"No Power, No Voice"

 

Foreign editor Livia Klingl opined in mass-circulation Kurier (11/21): "Since the United States' defense budget is more than double the amount of what Washington's European NATO allies spend on defense, nothing will change with regard to U.S. predominance. Consequently, Bush's policy isn't going to change course either. He will continue to work along the lines of 'If you don't assist us in the anti-terror war, we'll just go it alone.' Which means the United States will make the decisions and fight the wars. But it will be up to the Europeans to pay for the reconstruction efforts.'

 

BELGIUM: "One Big Family"

 

Foreign editor Frank Schloemer observed in independent De Morgen (11/23): "Officially, Russia no longer has a problem with NATO's eastward enlargement, although Moscow has asked not to use it to flare up anti-Russian feelings. That remark was directed at the Baltic republics, in particular, where major Russian minorities live.... However, now that the enlargement summit is over, NATO is one big family of 26 members who have drafted new tasks for themselves. The new members will have to seek their place in the Alliance and they will have to spend much money to meet the NATO requirements. Soon, the citizens of the new member states will wonder whether their country shouldn't have spent that money more effectively."

 

"Differentation In Burden-Sharing Will Lead To Different Assessments Of Crises"

 

Foreign affairs writer Marc Reynebeau wrote in liberal weekly Knack (11/21): "The new threats require a different kind of defense and NATO wants to force the member states to do something in that field.... In the end, NATO is a crucial channel through which the Untied States can have a say in Europe--including its military dimension. That is why the creation of a NATO Response Force is high on the agenda. It will have 'only' 21,000 troops but they will be capable of carrying out a much wider variety of tasks than the EU's Rapid Reaction Force. As usual, it is said that one initiative will not hinder the other initiative, that such intervention forces must be formed with troops that the members states are willing to provide and that everything will depend on the task that NATO or the EU are willing to take upon their shoulders. Of course, rivalry between both forces must be avoided. That is obvious--until things real matter, of course."

 

"A Useful Toolbox"

 

Foreign affairs writer Jean Vanempten in financial De Financieel-Economische Tijd (11/21): "More and more the Americans view NATO as a useful toolbox. Depending on their needs, troops can be deployed to stop conflicts when they start or to exercise control. Just like the UN is being pushed into a secondary role, NATO seems to become an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Every criticism on the United States triggers a grumpy response.... The American president is clearly heading for one goal: a war against Iraq--verbally for the time being. His statements in Prague leave little to imagination. For the rest of the world the UN resolution on the arms inspections in Iraq is a 'last chance' for Iraq. For the United States it is only an obligatory diplomatic intermission. Bush does not need NATO for this plans regarding Iraq. He will choose his partners in function of their loyalty and obedience. The British--faithful as a dog--are already putting their troops on the alert."

 

BULGARIA: "NATO Requirements"

 

Center-left daily Sega commented (11/25): "The government should realize and make it clear that NATO will require much more from Bulgaria during the membership ratification stage. The political class has another problem if it wants to have public opinion on its side. It will have to preserve the dignity of the nation and negotiate beneficial terms in return for Bulgarian cooperation with NATO. Bulgaria is not rich enough to give away presents. But judging from the actions of the major Bulgarian political players, it looks like Bulgaria is ready to give it all away and the people will not understand that."

 

"After The Champagne, We Should Get To Work"

 

Center-right, Western-oriented Dnevnik observed (11/22): "It's good to keep in mind that the invitation to join NATO became a reality due to political factors outside of Bulgaria--the Kosovo crisis, 9/11, the global war on terrorism and the Iraq problem. Why is it important to know that? The Bulgarian government should spare us any manipulative statements that the invitation is a fact because the military, the prosecution, and all Bulgarian institutions are up to NATO standards. We all know that this is not true and the people over the Atlantic Ocean know that, too."

 

"No Time For Fanfare"

 

Largest circulation Trud editorialized (11/22): "The NATO invitation is a fact. However, the government should not start singing the 'Ode to Joy' now. Quite the contrary, the invitation is an historic nod of approval, but the difficulties before the real accession still lie ahead.... This sort of country would be hard-pressed to be an equal ally to the Great Powers. Its population will become the Alliance's service personnel, at best. And that wasn't really the point of all this, was it?"

 

"After Prague, On To Beijing"

 

Centrist, largest-circulation Trud opined (11/20): "After zigzagging and slipping, and sliding for the last 13 years, Bulgaria will finally join the cream of the civilized world. This way, we will put an end to a century-long dependence on Russia, half of the time spent under a Soviet-type of regime. It would be a bad idea to go to the other extreme and slam the door to the East, because precisely as members of the Atlantic club we could maintain wonderful economic, cultural and all other kinds of ties with Moscow, just like France, Germany and Greece and many other NATO members do.... The other side of the coin is that many people are under the false impression that NATO membership will be the magic wand that will fix all of Bulgaria's problems.... Even years after the Prague Summit it is questionable whether the country's economic situation would improve.... Where to after Prague? The answer is--on to China. In 20 years only the Asian dragon will become the world's giant. This is why we must start building bridges to Beijing now."

 

CZECH REPUBLIC: "About What the Alliance Has Forgotten"

 

Filip Pospisil commented in center-right Lidove Noviny (11/25): "World statesmen had to solve a range of delicate issues at the NATO summit in Prague....They tried to satisfy Americans and issued the statement on Iraq, but they didn't pledge to anything particularly important in that sense.... But there were a few important issues that have not been touched upon during the diplomatic whirl. Under the slogan of new threats, the summit discovered new methods of fighting international terrorism and fighting against the spread of weapons of mass destruction, but it has not mentioned the uncontrolled spread of conventional arms.... There were talks about new capabilities, but it was forgotten that new arms acquisitions usually brings about sales of old arms to destabilized, third-world countries.... Also, 'new members' became the main motto of the summit, but no new initiative were passed leading towards new members handling their arms export controls more responsibly.... The finished meeting didn't pass any important document relating to the fight against the irresponsible sale of conventional arms. The Prague summit could contribute to international security and a true fight against terrorism, but this opportunity was missed. Everything suggests that it was an intentional omission."

 

DENMARK: "NATO's Future"

 

Center-right Berlingske Tidende carried the following op-ed by FM Per Stig Mller (11/21): "The enlargement of NATO is much more than the end of a sorry chapter in European history. It is important to remember that Prague is a beginning and the enlargement process will crucially bolster the Alliance's ability to safeguard peace and stability."

 

FINLAND: "Changing NATO And Finland"

 

Leading independent Helsingin Sanomat ran international security affairs expert Max Jakobson's op-ed (11/20): "It is...the duty of the media to convey a realistic picture of what NATO will gradually become. Many misconceptions regarding this exist among Finns. The issue on membership is a political one: do we want to be part of the decision making that takes place both among NATO members and between NATO and Russia, or are we going to remain outside? Staying outside would not be fatal, but might in due course lead to a situation where we would lose the political advantages that we have achieved by our active contribution in the Union decision making."

 

GEORGIA:"Georgia's Accession to NATO Will Be Event -driven"

 

Georgia's independent liberal opposition 24 Hours observed (11/25): "General Myers' answer to the question if the U.S. would use Georgia's military bases in the case of war on Iraq was the one that Georgian and Russian journalists were most eager to hear: 'The United States has not made the decision with respect to Iraq so far. The Iraqi regime has to comply with the UN resolution first. As for U.S.-Georgia cooperation in case of war, its up to the Georgian Government to make a decision. I have already mentioned that we have not discussed this possibility during the meetings.' Like General Myers, Georgian officials claim that the use of Georgia's military bases in case of war against Iraq is not yet on the agenda. Even though there is some theoretical probability for Americans to consider using Georgia's bases, the likelihood is very little due to the poor condition of their infrastructure."

 

HUNGARY: "What Has Changed and What Has Not"

 

Foreign affairs writer Balazs Pocs wrote in leading Nepszabadsag (11/25): "NATO's mission and the number of its members have changed. But one thing has not changed. The United States is not only the main military force of the alliance but the key player who sets the organization's political agenda. After 9/11 it attained that the other members of the alliance invoked Article 5. Later, beyond NATO, the U.S. went ahead to act alone in Afghanistan. In the case of Iraq the United States was threatening to act, again, unilaterally. Then, later it included its allies in the settlement process. Now it requests concrete military contribution from them. In other words: new members, new mission, old (balance of) powers."

 

"Atlantic Metamorphosis"

 

Senior columnist Janos Avar judged in weekend Vasarnapi Hirek (11/24): "It is time to reform NATO. But as says the French proverb 'the more things change, the more they remain the same.' NATO has practically no 'outside' enemy today. But it does not mean that there are no 'outside' threats either. But NATO's main goal has not changed: to protect Europe's peace. The most practical tool of fulfilling this goal today is to admit as many as possible European countries to the alliance so that they don't even think of bearing a grudge against each other."

 

"Historic Moment"

 

Liberal Magyar Hirlap editorialized (11/22): "We must rejoice over the further enlargement without any reservations. Let us see that the countries whose commitment was often questioned before will now be accepted into this club that conditions the strengthening of stability and democracy. It is true even if many say that not all of the invitees meet the criteria of membership, and they can primarily thank Washington's interests for the invitation made in Prague.... The summit in the Czech Republic is a historic moment for NATO, too. The alliance has been being buried for years, its true role doubted in the shadow of America, as well as its capability of effective action among the changed--now more faceless and geographically unidentifiable--threats. Now [NATO] has been given another--perhaps last--chance. It will be bigger and stronger, and its leaders have made a commitment to its modernization, too."

 

IRELAND: "Bigger NATO May Not Be In Better Shape To Fight Terror"

 

The liberal Irish Times' foreign affairs editor Deagln de Bradn held (11/25): "NATO has failed to answer serious questions about its future role in enhancing world security.... There were still some nagging questions and concerns.....The summit saw a renewal of vows in the war against terrorism. But al-Qaeda was hardly trembling in its shoes....Happily, the terrorists did not strike at the NATO summit. But NATO's enemies scored a victory of sorts in that they obliged the authorities to close down a whole city.... Sensitivities about our neutrality meant that...the Irish seat was occupied by a non-Cabinet member, the Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr Dick Roche.... Whether NATO is capable of being transformed into the kind of instrument suitable for dealing with future Muhammad Attas and their fanatical followers, is ...open to some serious doubt. If, as many expect, there is another '9-11', it will come where we least expect it and at our most vulnerable point. In this doomsday scenario, gatherings of smiling politicians remote from the ordinary people and bunkers full of missiles with no target to aim at probably won't be much help."

 

"U.S. Wants To Fit Allies Into Their Grand Scheme Of World Order"

 

Ann Cahill commented in the centrist Irish Examiner wrote (11/21): "Washington has been attempting to find a suitable role for NATO and has stepped up earlier efforts to force its European allies to increase spending on arms and become a more streamlined organization.... The series of reforms that have been largely formulated by the Americans in an effort to fit NATO into their grand scheme for world order. There are three major reforms-to purchase military equipment that will be compatible for all members; to streamline military structures, and to create a NATO rapid response force.... The growing sense of insecurity among the NATO allies has been heightened by the growing willingness of the U.S. to act alone and their insisting on their interpretation of the war on terrorism."

 

KOSOVO: "Without An 'Exit Strategy'"

 

Independent Zri had this comment by its publisher Blerim Shala (11/22): "In Prague there is no need of mentioning Kosovo but as a story of success. In fact, without NATO troops in Kosovo and Bosnia the war would not stop, the peace would not be maintained and a hope giving political process for the stabilization of the region would not be carried. From this perspective, Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia are special countries: for the moment these cannot imagine themselves being in NATO but NATO itself is more present in these than in any other countries that have accessed or will access NATO. However, it's clear that the long term deployment of NATO in Kosovo and the region requires that these countries join NATO. Therefore, one cannot talk about NATO 'exit strategy' from Kosovo and the region."

 

"What Kind Of NATO Mankind Needs Today"

 

Brussels correspondent of the leading independent, mass circulation Koha Ditore, Augustin Palokaj opined (11/18): "Although in the Prague Summit it will reconfirm its commitment to complete its mandate in the Balkans...the time has come for NATO to look beyond the Balkans.... NATO must prepare now to face new challenges that are not anymore in the form of Soviet Union attacks by tanks, nor human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing and Milosevic-ian genocide. Challenges are less predictable and the enemy undefined. Created to protect the Western Europe from a possible attack from the former Soviet Bloc, it was only when this Bloc disappeared that NATO became militarily active to intervene in Kosovo. This NATO, which is obsolete now, is looking beyond Kosovo and heralds its greatest transformation in its history to face new challenges. Despite there are many NATO foes that already gather in Czech's capital to protest...today the mankind needs a strong NATO. The fact that the Russian President goes to Prague now as a participant of a meeting with NATO representatives and not as a member of a dictatorial state that colonized this beautiful city for years, and the fact that Prague is now the capital of a NATO member state and Russia is its partner, tells best how much NATO and the reason of its existence have ."

 

LITHUANIA: "Lithuania On 'Western Civilization Time'"

 

Largest national Lietuvos Rytas commented (11/22): "Yesterday will be noted in the Lithuanian history textbooks as a day when Lithuania was invited to become a member of NATO. However, we keep hearing from the Western and Middle European media, that maybe NATO has become less useful, if they accepted seven new members from the former Soviet bloc without long discussions. But NATO has proved not once, that they are able to adjust to new conditions, not only without losing the importance, but also making themselves stronger. We cannot forget that the U.S. military generals have always taken all of their political promises very seriously. Their readiness to fulfill these promises is not a matter of doubt today, not even for U.S. enemies..... We can state, that Lithuania's invitation to NATO has become a final accent in the long fight for independence. The history clock has started ticking real Western civilization time."

 

MOLDOVA: "Will The OSCE Guard Dog Ever Bark?"

 

Kishinevsky Obozrevately published an article by Vladimir Socor (11/21): "With NATO present on the ground in the Western Balkans, the OSCE can and often does perform effectively. Those countries are still some years away from NATO membership, but are already evolving or beginning to evolve as part of the Western world. When left to face Russia in what the latter considers its ex-Soviet sphere of influence, however, the OSCE is consistently failing in its tasks. The OSCE is being largely paralyzed by its consensus rules, which give Russia effective veto power over the organization's decisions. When the admission into NATO of the formerly Soviet-ruled countries proved unstoppable, Mr.Putin apparently no longer felt it necessary or useful to show respect for the OSCE; indeed, he has felt free to repudiate Russia's own signature on some key OSCE decisions."

 

NETHERLANDS: "Future Of NATO"

 

Influential liberal De Volkskrant held (11/22): "The existence of NATO can never be a goal in itself.... The past few years we have learned that it is not sufficient for the Alliance to exist but that it is also important that it does something.... That is why it is very good that the NATO countries decided to establish the Response Force.... The fact that this gap is being filled is happening partly due to pressure placed by the Americans. President Bush's message in Prague was very clear: Europeans should not be focused on themselves too much and should not be indifferent to the threats of modern times. That is true. But from their side the Europeans should make clear that military force is not necessarily always the only option. Sometimes preference should be given to go via diplomatic ways or other enforcement services.... However, if military reactions are necessary then it is important to try to operate with a UN mandate and it will be important that the necessary means are available. NATO is the best institution for that."

 

NORWAY: "The New Alliance"

 

Independent Dagbladet commented (11/22): "The lack of agreement on security policy in the EU together with American military dominance in NATO makes Europe constantly dependent on the superpower's support to keep order in its own hous.... But the dependence on the U.S. has a price, and this price increases in tone with the political distance between Europe and the U.S.... It is important that NATO is not developed as a pure support group for the U.S. A NATO without clear European integrity will be a dangerous and harmful NATO."

 

"Belligerent Wake"

 

In the independent VG editor Svein A. Roehne commented (11/21): "For now it is uncertain if NATO as an organization will play any role in a potential American-led war against Saddam or in Iraq after a war is over and Saddam removed. But according to well-informed sources several large European NATO countries like Spain, Italy, and possibly also France are ready to make common cause with the Americans and Brits if the war should start... Still the majority chooses to be on the approximately same line and wants to speak the least about the danger for a war. Now is the time to allow diplomacy to work, is the refrain. That does not mean that a NATO engagement in Iraq is prevented. Nor Norwegian engagement, for that matter.

 

POLAND: "George Bush Has Lost Patience For European Allies"

 

Piotr Cywinski wrote in centrist weekly Wprost (11/25): "The seven countries invited to NATO expect that Americans will die for Tallinn. But unanswered remains the question how many Europeans are ready to die in the name of solidarity with U.S. policies. After the Prague summit, the Alliance's future role and objectives are as vague as the jointly stated need to rebuild it.... Bush has evidently lost patience. He does not want to wait for the NATO allies to mature to jointly oppose global threats. Europe thinks and acts too slowly, and the Alliance is slowly transforming itself into a sort of Partnership for Peace Two."

 

"The Summit Is Over"

 

Commercial nation-wide radio station RMF FM ran its post-Summit comment (11/24): "The North Atlantic Alliance faces another big challenge--how to define its new tasks during the fight against global terror, at a time when the world is threatened by the uncontrolled flow of weapons of mass destruction, and when unaccountable but superbly armed countries like North Korea or Iraq refuse to comply with international arms reduction agreements."

 

"Enlargement And Declarations"

 

Maciej Rybinski wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (11/22): "The area of security and political stability has extended substantially.... It seems that everything is fine, all the more so because Europe has been long convinced that the very existence of NATO guarantees peace, and that membership in NATO guarantees security. In fact, there is a huge imbalance between NATO partners on both continents. Europe with its current level of technology and the current quality of its armies would not be able to defend itself. The conviction that they are secure under the warm protection of the U.S. has put the Europeans to sleep. Now NATO has enlarged, and it has extended its responsibility to cover new areas. This cannot mean that the entire responsibility for the security of Bulgaria or Estonia should be put on the shoulders of the U.S. European members of NATO cannot challenge American strategy against terror every step of the way while standing safely on the sidelines under the pretext of that criticism."

 

PORTUGAL: "Historic Accord At The Prague Summit"

 

In his weekly column in leading financial Dirio Econmico (synthesizing commentary broadcast Sunday evening on top-audience private television channel TVI), influential center-right analyst Prof. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa noted (11/26): "The Prague Summit...was good for at least three things. First, as a historic step...[with] Russia accepting the enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance.... Secondly, Russia gave the green light to an invasion of Iraq. If you read between the lines, that is exactly what Russia is saying. The third aspect is an alert for the need for a regime change in Saudi Arabia, because that country is financing terrorism."

 

"To Be or Not To Be Responsible"

 

In a signed editorial, influential moderate-left Pblico editor-in-chief Jos Manuel Fernandes noted (11/21): "[F]aced with the disappearance of the 'original enemy', the Soviet Union,...NATO only continues to make sense if it confronts the new threats to the security of the allies, the principal one being terrorism.... For the United States, the allies don't help, they get in the way. Complicate. And slow down decisionmaking. In this framework, being in NATO is a shameful irrelevance for the allies, since they can do little more than show off their military decorations and act offended when they are ignored. Does all this mean that NATO has stopped making sense at the precise moment it is enlarging? Not necessarily. And not because the United States...is indicating the path to follow if the Alliance wants to maintains some usefulness: creating a rapid reaction force capable of intervening in any part of the world.... We're dealing with an enormous leap in strategic and military vocation -- but the only leap that makes sense if we remember the conflicts we are facing.... If Europe is going to keep up, and accept the hand that the United States is extending it, NATO will make sense. If that is not the case, it will end up reducing itself to a talking shop. For us, Europeans, it is a matter of being responsible or not to ourselves and our future, and of wanting, or not, to continue collaborating with the United States. All the more since we continue to need them more than they need us."

 

"The European Dilemma"

 

In an analysis in influential moderate-left Pblico, foreign affairs editor Teresa de Sousa claimed (11/21): "[...] September 11th and the new American strategic doctrine forced us to abandon the conservative attitude that [the Europeans allies] maintained over the last decade.... But Europe is still missing a common idea about the sense of that change that leaves room for the development of a European defense policy and that gives meaning, in this way, to a true European pillar in NATO. If not, two scenarios remain: either accept that the Alliance is evolving into a mere 'debate club', or condemn Europe to being a strategic appendage of America.... In the last few months, far from the spotlight, Europeans have come to progressively accept the new American agenda for the organization.... What remains now is for Europeans to face the double challenge that consists of the American demand that they invest more in defense and the need to assume more and more of the responsibility for the security of their own continent.... The problem is that relations with America are a powerful divisive factor among Europeans today, and especially among the three main EU powers, as the Iraq question has demonstrated. In Berlin, Paris or London, there are distinct visions of what post-Cold War Europe should be.... Without answering this question, Europe doesn't have the capacity to influence Washington in the reinvention of the Alliance."

 

ROMANIA: "Romania Must Be A Responsible Member"

 

Foreign policy analyst Bogdan Chirieac commented in the leading independent Adevarul (11/21): "The NATO summit in Prague and President Bush's visit to Bucharest in the next 48 hours have all chances of marking Romania's evolution for a long time to come. Together, the two events may significantly shorten Romania's road towards being a mature democracy and having lasting prosperity...) Romania, just like Bulgaria, has more time for NATO because the other countries invited in Prague are getting ready to join the European Union only 13 months from now. This takes all of their energies and they are less available for a sustained partnership with the United States.... So far, our country joins NATO and, as a result, it must behave as a reliable member of the Alliance. When the time comes for Romania to join the European Union, it will behave as a responsible member. In general, during this historic moment, what is good for Romania is also good for America, and for Europe, and for the entire western world."

 

"Today Marks Beginning Of New Age For Young People"

 

Editorialist Cornel Nistorescu wrote in the independent Evenimentul Zilei (11/21): "Logic and common sense make us believe that...today is a blank check for the young generation. They didn't experience any of the shortages of communism. But they don't have the prejudices of that system either. The children from that time are not full grown ups, accustomed to freedom, untouched by the ideological influences of the communist epoch. Today marks the beginning of a new age for young people. Their time has come. They must ask the politicians for new standards. They must participate in the decision making process. They have the right to ask for answers on how this opportunity is used for them and for the country. They must fight so that democratic values become solid and strongly established. And all those who are trying to hold on to power and to enjoy its privileges, thus keeping young people away, do nothing but slow down Romania's course on a road with no return."

 

SLOVENIA: "Good Day, NATO"

 

Left-of-center Delo editorialized (11/22): "Had Slovenia been invited...five years ago, that invitation would have meant more than everything for many Slovenes. Five years later, there is little satisfaction in drawing closer to the political icon, from which the United States has been scraping the last remains of a powerful transatlantic alliance. The most underestimated president of the simplest country in the world has again succeeded in achieving more than everything. He invited seven countries to join NATO and at the same time killed seven birds with one stone: the East is experiencing the climax; the United States has gained the most pro-American allies, the most faithful front in the war against terrorism; Europe is humiliated, NATO marginalized; demoralized; Bush--with his war--is on the top, leader of the world."

 

"Big Bang Of A Golden Hammer"

 

Left-of-center independent Dnevnik opined (11/22): "The company at the table...stated that the old bloc NATO no longer existed and that an organization emerged from it which is more fond of love for freedom and commitment to settle accounts with all who jeopardize this freedom, than of a military way of thinking.... According to already standard Washington habit, the Americans cooked and ate lunch in Prague, and let the Europeans wash the dishes.... The first enlargement of NATO was entirely political; the second one is even a bigger mistake from the military point of view, because there is no compatibility between the United States and the invitees."

 

SWITZERLAND: "A NATO Stripped Of Its Core Concept"

 

In left-of-center Tages-Anzeiger, Luciano Ferrari argued (11/22): "The Iraq crisis and America's declared willingness to proceed alone against Saddam Hussein if need be has turned the core concept of NATO, 'one for all and all for one' into an empty phrase.... It is noteworthy that the U.S. request for military assistance for a possible war against Iraq has not been addressed to NATO but rather individually to around 50 countries. This appears to be the approach that America will be using from now on in dealing with NATO: Washington offers its NATO partners protection and military support and, in return, hopes to get at least some of them to participate in so-called coalitions of the willing. That strategy bears little resemblance to the old NATO with its spirit of 'one for all and all for one.'"

 

TURKEY: "After The NATO Summit"

 

Haluk Ulman wrote in economic/political Dunya (11/26): "The demise of communism left the NATO alliance without an enemy. The lack of a common enemy led many to ask whether European members of NATO should seek more independent policies by loosening their military ties with the US. The continuation of NATO is a very important issue for the United States. NATO remains the most appropriate tool for the US to preserve its influence and control over the European continent..... The search for a good justification for NATO's existence has ended for the benefit of the US following the 9/11 events. The new enemy is international terrorism, and the Prague summit signified that new era. What both the old and the new members of NATO accepted, in fact, either reluctantly or enthusiastically, was the American view on how to cope with the common enemy, i.e. international terrorism."

 

"The Huge Gap"

 

Fikret Ertan noted the military gap between the U.S. and Europe in the Islamic-intellectual Zaman (11/20): "NATO Secretary General Robertson once again emphasized the need to increase NATO's military capabilities due to a series of new threats such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Actually, he has been issuing similar warnings for over a year, and has also criticized the Europeans for wasting money on defense. ... Robertson is trying to raise awareness on the need for the Alliance to monitor European defense spending, which is now 150 billion Euro, to make sure that it is properly spent.... The fact of the matter is that the gap in military capabilities between the US and Europe has been widening in the post-cold war era.... In contrast with the defense budget cuts that Europe has been making, the US is spending at least twice as much for defense capabilities, and U.S. spending is increasing still further since 9/11.... This is one of the major and important issues at the Prague s ummit, and the gap is of Turkey's direct concern."

 

YUGOSLAVIA: "How Important Are We?"

 

Influential Politika editorialized (11/25): "NATO survived and is creating its new strategy now. From a defensive military-political alliance it has transformed into a system of broader regional security, and into an offensive organization against terrorism and the states that are supporting terrorists.... Regarding us, we have been treated equally ambivalently today, as we have had during the breakup of Yugoslavia, when NATO proved itself the factor of stability in Europe.... NATO acted independently for the first time in Bosnia, however, the aggression against Yugoslavia was the first attempt to provide peace by waging war. By demonstrating armed force on an already isolated and exhausted country, NATO initiated the right to undertake 'preventive strikes' even without the approval of the Security Council. Strategically, FRY was very important for NATO to successfully explain why it needed to exist. Today we are the sole isolated island in the Balkans which still couldn't recommend itself for PfP, least of all for NATO [membership.]... The reason that we don't like NATO is because all the European countries involved bombed us, and have shown no regret since. Reconciliation is a necessity, but it is not easy to enter into the alliance with doubts and suspicions. Probably that is the problem on the other side, too.

 

"Big Bang"

 

Influential Politika's politico-military correspondent Miroslav Lazanski observed (11/22): "This is the biggest spreading of the NATO Alliance since its foundation 53 years ago, and the historic step in the organization's transformation..... The new, modern alliance, the biggest coalition of free countries ever, would give an efficient response to all threats. Washington will remember the Prague summit by the readiness and solidarity of its allies to support the American preparations for war against Saddam Hussein, but also by attempts to direct the old and new members toward investments in new military technology. The Prague summit is another confirmation of American superiority in Europe and in the world. The European NATO countries are now simply the bases for the American strategy of a global interventionism. What the Russian bear was before, global terrorism is now. The Americans are giving the European countries the global tasks, as a part of a global policy. With Americans, NATO conquers the world, without them it is just another European stabilization agency.... Is the enlargement of NATO to the East its primary goal and the reason for its existing? Isn't it a little bit too easy to enter the NATO Alliance? Will the new phase of enlargement improve the security of the West if it incites Russia's anger?"

 

MIDDLE EAST

 

ISRAEL: "Israel Should Join NATO"

 

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/24): "As a neighbor of NATO member Turkey and as near to Europe as 'partners' such as Kazakhstan, Israel clearly fulfills the current vague geographic requirements for membership.... More importantly, however, Israel fits the new NATO mold even more than most of its newest members, none of which are as involved as Israel is in the war against terrorism. With all due respect, Israel is in a better position than Lithuania to contribute on the military, police, and intelligence levels to the struggle between militant Islam and NATO's membership.... The threat from Russia is not exactly a live one at this moment, but the threat from militant Islam is. If Israel were to join NATO, militarily it might not mean much, but symbolically it would be seen as the ultimate Western rejection of the Arab world's quest to destroy Israel. It would also perfectly symbolize NATO's transformation to face new threats, its recognition from whence those threats come, and its determination to overcome them."

 

EGYPT: "NATO Is Looking for a Job"

 

Leading pro-government Al Ahram's senior columnist Salama Ahmed Salama wrote (11/25): "The Iraqi crisis benefited NATO by presenting it a role to play and NATO benefited President Bush by securing European support for his war against Iraq.... This time Bush sought to use NATO in his campaign against Iraq under a claim of eliminating of weapons of mass destruction and in renewal of the call for fighting terrorism...however, Bush continues to face resistance from key European countries.... NATO appears ridiculous as facts reveal it to be nothing more than a political garage to be used, whenever necessary, by the U.S."

 

SYRIA: "America's Achievements at the Prague Summit""

 

Shawkat Abou Fakher opined in government-owned Al-Ba'th on (11/25): "Expansion of NATO and the establishment of a NATO rapid reaction force are two American necessities. The U.S. needs to expand towards Russia and China in keeping with her endeavors to reach the region and observe it closely. Washington wants to work freely under the NATO umbrella and test new fighters. Therefore, the U.S. needs to use these (new) members as human shields in pre-emptive wars that started in Afghanistan and will end no one know how or where. It is enough to point out that hundreds of Romanian, Lithuanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian soldiers working under the command of American forces in Afghanistan were sent to carry out the dangerous tasks that the Americans would not be sent to do."

 

TUNISIA: "Looking For Arms Or For Pretexts?"

 

An editorial by co-editor-in-chief Noureddine Hlaoui in independent French-language Le Temps stated (11/22): "The more time that goes by, the more the American position concerning the Iraqi issue proves strange in its constant opposition to Baghdad.... While the Iraqi authority has provided constructive and positive cooperation with the UN inspectors in compliance with Resolution 1441, the chief of the White House has taken advantage of the NATO summit in Prague to demand that the Iraq issue lead the agenda.... As expected, the U.S. does not look to disarm Iraq, because it knows well that Iraq has nothing to disarm; it rather wants to topple Saddam. It is this goal, and not the weapons of mass destruction, that the U.S. is pursuing. Having learned a lesson from past mistakes, Baghdad is doing well this time; properly and reasonably, it has managed to counter the American maneuvers and those of their allies, the British. The question is, until when can it endure this enormous pressure.?"

 

EAST ASIA

 

AUSTRALIA:"In Changed Times A Different NATO"

 

Editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (11/27) states: "The question now is whether this large, lumbering security grouping will inevitably wither as a relic of this past, or manage to redefine its brief in a post-Cold War environment.... The U.S. has always been the dominant military force in NATO. However, the growing capability gap leaves NATO looking as though it can do little more than rubber stamp Washington's strategic agenda. That said, there are advantages to wider European co-operation while territorial tensions persist, such as those in the Balkans.... Europe's recent unease over U.S. war plans for Iraq, despite unfailing British support, is an encouraging case in point as is the emerging capability of smaller European forces to fulfill another vital global security role - as peacekeepers.

 

CHINA: "NATO Defense Development"

 

Zhong Yan commented in official, popular Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (11/21): "It will take a long time for NATO to develop into an influential global military alliance because the defense budgets of NATO member countries are very limited. The military strength of each member country is different from one another and there are also many political differences between NATO and the U.S. NATO member countries doubt whether the U.S. is really willing to pursue multilateralism and their views on the U.S. leading role in NATO are dissimilar."

 

(HONG KONG AND MACAU SARs): "NATO Security Strategy Has Major Readjustment"

 

Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (11/23): "U.S. President Bush made use of the summit to lobby NATO countries to back its actions against Iraq. NATO, internally, is very divided about the U.S.'s Iraq policy. Apart from Britain and a very few countries, others are unwilling to participate in a U.S. war against Iraq. In the meeting, NATO issued a declaration on Iraqi issues, urging Iraq to fully carry out UN Security Council Resolution 1441. Not a word in the declaration says that it will support the U.S. in taking action against Iraq. This reflects that Atlantic countries always sing different tunes when they talk about a series of hot issues, or when the issues involve their own security and interests."

 

"Historic Changes To NATO's Mission"

 

Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (11/20): "At the Prague summit, the U.S. and senior NATO members are planning to redefine NATO's mission, urging it to shift its focus to the war on terrorism. If the Prague summit goes smoothly, the participating leaders may agree that NATO's new military mentality should focus on the triple threat of terrorism, rogue states with nuclear arms, and the proliferation of biological weapons. Member states will announce their readiness to combat these threats wherever they emerge. This change hints that NATO's counter-terrorism efforts may no longer be restricted to its traditional war zone of Europe and the North Atlantic. Another change will be the reformation of NATO's military structure, following a more flexible principle with the establishment of a rapid-reaction force of 21,000 troops. The U.S. views such a plan as vital to ensuring NATO's counter-terrorism capability. The force also will be important to the preservation of NATO's military function, ensuring that it does not become a toothless political organization."

 

INDONESIA: "Expansion of NATO Could Create New Iron Curtain"

 

Leading independent Kompas (11/21) commented: "Although not within the official agenda, terrorism and Iraq issues will likely dominate the NATO Summit. The U.S. apparently will use the Summit to consolidate support for its desire to strike Iraq and its global war against terrorism. It seems very unlikely that NATO members will collectively provide military support if the U.S. launches attacks on Iraq.... Thus far only Britain has expressed military support to U.S. plan.... Aware that NATO members are reluctant to provide military support perhaps, President George W. Bush will very likely expect firmer political and diplomatic support from its allies. Thus far, the U.S. has felt disturbed by comments from some NATO members expressing their objections to the plan to attack Iraq. Even waves of demonstrations have started in Western Europe to oppose the plan to strike Iraq."

 

JAPAN: "NATO Searching For Its New Raison D'etre"

 

An editorial in the business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed (11/24): "The NATO Prague summit decided to form a rapid reaction force that can be deployed globally on short notice. It also called on Iraq to accept UN weapons inspections unconditionally and stressed the need for arms buildups among member nations. But these ambitious moves could hardly close differing perceptions on national security between the U.S. and its European partners. Against such a background, NATO will have to continue the arduous task of exploring its new raison d'etre. Some observers call the organization dysfunctional and even dead. This is partly because NATO allies in Europe have not been making as many contributions to the post-9/11 war on terror as Washington wants. The expansion of NATO that admitted seven Central and East European nations will likely become more of a political club consisting of European-style democratic nations."

 

"Central And East European Nations To Activate Support For U.S."

 

Business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed (11/22): "NATO's admission of seven central and east European nations at the start of a two-day Prague summit has ensured these nations' support, direct or indirect, for the U.S. in the event of its use of force against Iraq.... Both Romania and Bulgaria have offered a positive helping hand to U.S. military action against Iraq in return for U.S. support for their admission to the alliance. If the U.S. Air Force secures staging points in these nations, it will be able to launch massive air operations against Baghdad. The U.S. is hopeful that these nations will also send troops to replace American peacekeepers, deployed in Bosnia and Kosovo, some of whom the U.S. military plans to relocate for the Iraq campaign. The U.S. is undoubtedly taking advantage of NATO's eastward expansion to muster greater international support for the imminent war."

 

PHILIPPINES: "The $10-million Man"

 

Publisher Max Soliven wrote in the third-leading Philippine Star (11/22): "When you're in charge of the world's only remaining superpower, the midgets around you deeply resent it. And Bush, doomed by fate and habit to play the broad-shouldered role of an unpopular Tall Texan in the Land of the Dwarfs, no matter how he tries to soft-pedal it, can only fan further resentment when he tells NATO to shape up, and asks his...er, allies...to back up his play on Iraq.... Yep, I meant what it says: Distraction. The two-day Prague summit was, of course, 'protected' by US AWACs or early-warning aircraft...which surely must have only deepened the humiliation and unease of the 53-year-old alliance's 'junior' members - including a sulking Germany and a post-Napoleonic France. But let's face it. The other NATO nations, for all their bluster, have not been carrying their share of the load... Can NATO be harnessed to fight global 'terrorism'? How on earth can this be done? The other NATO bravos are too busy attacking Bush, or sniping cattily at America, to bother about the likes of Osama, Saddam, Hambali, or even Abu Bakr Ba'asyir. Bush already knows it. If he goes to Baghdad, he's going alone - well, with the exception probably of Tony Blair."

 

VIETNAM: "Will Reforming NATO Help Reduce Disagreements Between EU And US?"

 

Government run Ha Noi Moi declared (11/26): "The summit this year shows that the U.S. still directs all activities of NATO. It is the US that pressures NATO member countries to increase defense spending, reform armed forces, equip their armies with more modern weapons and military equipment. It is certain that that the U.S. continues to manipulate this organization will deepen disagreement between the two sides of the Atlantic."

 

"NATO Goes Out To The World"

 

Lu Pho An wrote in Lao Dong, the daily of the Vietnam Confederation of Labor Unions (11/23): "The historic significance of the NATO summit...lies in the definition of NATO's enemy, or the subject NATO deals with: it is no longer a specific country, but it is now the international terrorism and similar invisible threats. That alone requires that NATO must become a new alliance and have new scope of activities, which create new reasons for NATO to continue to exist.... People can see that whether NATO will enlarge or not, it will continue to exist and be dependent on the strategy of the U.S., just like before. The Bush administration did not need the support of NATO in the war in Afghanistan, but it is certain that they will not let the new NATO goes out of its influence. Opening a way for NATO to go out to the world is also a means for President Bush to mobilize support for a new alliance for a war the U.S. intends against Iraq."

 

SOUTH ASIA

 

INDIA: "The New NATO"

 

An editorial in the center-right national Nation (11/26): "The intrinsic raison d'etre for NATO was to defend Christian west from the non-Christian forces. The Prague Assembly revived this fear in covert if not overt terms, of a new danger that is again threatening the prosperity and civilization of the west.... Leaders of NATO's cousin EU at the same time are voicing fears of the threat to Christian civilization by admitting Islamic states into the Union. Strong words were uttered which ripped the facade of European tolerance of their non-Christian neighbors. The NATO's expansion too, strangely enough admits many of those mainly Christian states which are also seeking to enter EU which gives meaning to its new role".

 

"Enlarged NATO Goes Global"

 

L.K. Sharma wrote in Bangalore-based left-of-center independent English Deccan Herald (11/25): "The entry of some military have-nots into NATO or an unwieldy crowd of 26 member nations does not bother the U.S. because it now views NATO more as a political club rather than an operational force.... Washington would have liked even a stronger NATO statement on Iraq but then it did not want to push France and Germany too hard. By raking up the Iraq issue in Prague, the U.S. was only seeking to make use of NATO as a political club rather than a military alliance.... After September 11, NATO went out of the way to invoke a clause in the treaty to show its full solidarity with the U.S., but in Afghanistan, the U.S. did not want NATO around. Ironically, while NATO is being kept alive and being transformed, in some ways, it has been privately written off by the U.S. as an operational military alliance."

 

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

 

CANADA: "A Tale Of Two alliances"

 

Security specialist Jennifer Welsh contributed the following to the leading Globe and Mail (11/26): "There is no doubt that Europeans, like Canadians, fear U.S. unilateralism. There is strong sentiment in Europe that the U.S. is a 'rogue superpower' determined to ride roughshod over international rules and institutions and to use force rather than diplomacy in the resolution of disputes.... Things got so bad that Europeans began to worry more about how the U.S. would handle the problem of Iraq than about the threat from Iraq.... Hence, while the Prague summit statement said NATO stood 'united in the commitment to take effective action' to support the UN vis--vis Iraq, there was no elaboration of what that action might be. Mr. Bush was left to lobby his closest allies informally about their willingness to participate in any use of force.... We know security is never absolute: Terrorists cannot be completely eliminated, democracy cannot be imported and built overnight, and failed states cannot be 'fixed' by removing dictators. If these questions serve to dampen the Prague image of NATO collegiality, it is a price worth paying."

 

"Speech All Greek To Me"

 

Contributing foreign editor Eric Margolis wrote in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (11/24): "The White House pushed hard for admission to NATO of militarily feeble Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. This was primarily because the U.S. needs their air bases as refuelling and logistical waypoints on an air bridge that extends from North America to new, permanent U.S. bases in the Mideast and Afghanistan. These economically weak nations are quickly becoming U.S. dependencies, replacing increasingly 'undependable' European allies like France and Germany. Even so, few noticed that the admission of these four states, plus Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, would likely weaken instead of strengthening NATO by draining rather than adding to its military resources, and making its least capable members vulnerable to an inevitably resurgent Russia."

 

"NATO Revamped"

 

Mario Roy editorialized in Montreal's centrist La Presse (11/22): "As we have often noticed here, George W. Bush is often given to 'bulldozing' tactics that are most irritating, sometimes even worrisome. It just happens that sometimes, positive effects can ensue from such tactics. This is what just took place in Prague, where a revamped, corrected and stepped up NATO was reborn.. Evidently, they (NATO) were encouraged, pushed - shoved? - in that direction by America, that has in a certain way, given a wake-up call to a dozing (European) continent."

 

"NATO's Overhaul"

 

The leading Globe and Mail opined (11/21): "[I]f the United States, Canada and the key Western European members are serious about rejuvenating NATO as an effective political and military entity, they will have to do more than make fine-sounding speeches. They will have to reshape the alliance into a serious player in a vastly different world from the one in which it was concocted in 1949. So far, as always with NATO, we have had far more talk than action.... To be any more than that and to encourage Washington to move away from its tendency toward unilateralism, Canada and other NATO members will have to significantly boost their military capabilities and, as a result, their political clout."

 

ARGENTINA: "NATO No Longer Exists"

 

Claudio Uriarte, leftist Pagina 12's international analyst, opined (11/24): "This Summit didn't cement a new military alliance, neither against terrorism nor Iraq. In fact, it was nothing but a gigantic 'Public Relations exercise' designed by the U.S. to maintain the enlarged 'Western Europe" within a margin of consensus, but with its members carefully apart from the issues that trigger key decisions. For this reason, they allowed Russia's 'partial participation' through the Alliance Council: Washington allows the participation of all the applicants, even 'lumpen' countries such as Albania, viewed more seriously for the next enlargement... As a result of the Prague Summit, NATO became the equivalent of the UNSC, an entity with its decision power undermined by contradictory interests and veto powers that are exactly the opposite to the swift vehicle a unilateralist U.S. wants to have. Europe's military capacities are way behind the U.S., to the point that NATO's gap - in weapons only - makes cooperation between the two entities incompatible."

 

BRAZIL: "A New NATO"

 

The lead editorial in liberal Folha de Sao Paulo (11/25) asserted: "Despite the changes agreed to at the Prague Summit, NATO's identity crisis is far from being resolved.... Having lost its original purpose [with the end of the Cold War], NATO is looking for a role today. Its principal member, the U.S., wants it to become a force capable of helping in the fight against terrorism.... However, there are doubts about the possibility of success in this endeavor. The problems are both practical and geopolitical. To begin with, NATO's decisions are taken by consensus. Clearly, it will be necessary to change this criterion now that the organization has enlarged its membership.... Moreover, the U.S. is demanding more investment from its European partners, who do not seem willing to increase military spending. The truth is that it is hard to maintain a structure like NATO without an objective that provides a sense of cohesion to the organization, such as common defense during the Cold War. The U.S. wants a multilateral military organization that will submit [to U.S. priorities] - but maybe this role no longer suits its major European partners."

 

MEXICO: "Super NATO!"

 

Alfonso Elizondo comments in independent El Norte (11/23): "It really is not probable that Bush decided to make this three-day visit to the Czech Republic in order to celebrate NATO's anniversary, and even less to welcome the small countries now incorporated in the alliance, since the economic power of all of them doesn't even reach the size of a country like Spain. ... A feasible hypothesis, among others, could be that the moderates in Bush's cabinet have convinced him of the convenience of the distribution of Iraq's oil through NATO and the U.N. preceded by Hussein's downfall"

 

"The New NATO"

 

Gabriela de la Paz wrote in independent El Norte (11/20): "NATO needs a joint strategy so that members are able to face global terrorism threats; but first, members must reach an internal consensus on modernizing equipment, training military and civil personnel and correcting the differences in military expenditures between European countries and the United States.... A second issue is the East's expansion process. NATO will have to select and accept (these countries) by stages.... According to an article published by Andre Cottey in NATO's magazine, the new members are relatively poor compared with the 19 current members. That means that the real benefit will be minimal.... In order to decide its course and select its members NATO needs to seriously analyze its mission because NATO will no longer be restricted to a European-Atlantic region.... The United States favors NATO's eastern expansion because it (the U.S.) can spread its values and interests but first it (the U.S.) has to convince others that any threats to the U.S. are threats to all others."

 

AFRICA

 

CAMEROON: "Bush's Main Agenda For Attending NATO Summit"

Editorialist Che Anoma wrote in the Yaounde-based pro-opposition English-language bi-weekly Post (11/22): "Whereas NATO leaders have a common agenda, Bush has a personal agenda. He hopes to enlist the support of the seven Eastern European countries for a possible military attack on Iraq, in case the latter defies the new UN resolution. Even though Iraq has pledged to comply with the tough UN resolution, George Bush, probably because of previous experiences, does not seem to have faith in the Iraqi leadership. The Bush administration strongly believes that Saddam Hussein's acceptance of the weapons inspectors is a ploy and that as time goes on he will relapse to his paroxysm of erratic decision taking about the weapons inspectors."

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Commentary from ...
Europe
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere
November 27, 2002 PRAGUE SUMMIT: NATO REINVENTED FOR NEW THREAT AND AS 'TOOL' FOR U.S.



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