Does US Foreign Policy help or hinder?

It's time Americans debated the NATO question

A January, 1997, presentation
to the Portland, Oregon "Great Decisions" Program

Alan Kimball

[SAC editor has inserted a few hypertext links that help contextualize issues raised here]

We can divide the last half decade in East Europe into three phases. First, the Warsaw Pact and the USSR disbanded, and thus the Cold War ended. Second, experiments at clumsy "Westernization" of old command economies caused great distress for millions. Third, Communists were voted back into power, or held on behind the scenes of sham democratization. This big three-part picture of East Europe brings an old Soviet joke back into currency. In preparation for a test, a schoolgirl asked her mom to help her understand the difference between Communism and Capitalism.

The mom replied, "Well, you see, under capitalism, man visciously exploits his fellow man. Under communism, it's just the other way around."

In some paradoxical way, the old joke is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago, only "just the other way around".

I predicted a few days ago that we are this year [1997] at the opening of a new, fourth phase.

{_{ 1997 February 3:The Oregonian. "Russia and the U.S.: Yeltsin’s ineffectiveness, NATO expansion plans bode ill for democracy", an editorial column invited by the Oregon World Affairs Council and the editorial staff of The Oregonian.}_}

I must always attach a consumer warning to my predictions. August 19, 1968, before a gathering in Palo Alto CA, I argued persuasively that the Soviet Union would never invade Czechoslovakia. As my head hit the pillow, so to speak, the Soviet tanks hit Prague. By the way, I have always felt that I was right. The Soviets were the ones who were wrong in this embarrassing and traumatic situation.

Once again, as in the famous Prague Spring of 1968 [ID], striking images of an aroused East European public fill our news media. From the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria, come pictures of demonstrators with eyes closed in bright red blindfolds. The masks symbolize Communist Party rule which many fear still holds the future of their nation in its grip.

We hear that in Belgrade, Serbia, whistles scream out against President Slobodan Milosevic's effort to subvert democratic elections. Serbs now arm themselves like referees, blowing "a cacophony" against every official infraction. "Old ladies" join the concert pounding out percussion on garbage cans. Vox populi, the people's own voice, drowns out official newscasts.

Other East European capitals present scenes not unlike Sofia and Belgrade. Citizens mobilize themselves in massive, boisterous demonstrations to force democratic change in unpopular government policy. We have to go all the way back to the fall of the Berlin Wall to discover scenes as dramatic as these.

Will the fourth phase be one of popular, democratic mobilization? I would like to make two points today, two warnings. The fourth phase might be one of civilian political mobilization, but it also might be one of military mobilization.

First, we must recognize that Yeltsin is not the great democrat some make him out to be. There are many others better suited to that role in Russia. It would be sad if confused US policy on Russian democracy were rooted in USA domestic political confusion about democracy in general.

Second, NATO expansion threatens both Russian and East European democracy and, for that matter, the security of those regions. At the same time, it threatens general European unity and America's own adjustment to the "new world order".

1. America should not identify democracy with Yeltsin

Things are hopping in East European capitals, but so far the big boot has not dropped. In Moscow, ailing and ineffective Boris Yeltsin holds onto power like the fabled dog in the manger.

It's not just his health, it's his politics that underlie the Russian crisis. The dominant image of Yeltsin in the American media has been that of a beleaguered democrat. But the truth may be that he is the one who has beleaguered democracy these past few years. We have not been inclined to pay proper attention to the serious reversals suffered by democracy in Russia and throughout East Europe since its early flourish, 1988-1992.

For one thing, we have allowed ourselves to confuse Yeltsin's "marketization" with democracy. Thus confused, the American public hardly noticed how Yeltsin subverted the constitutional drafting process set in motion by Gorbachev in 1988. We didn't acknowledge anti-democracy in Yeltsin because we did not acknowledge democracy in Gorbachev. Gorbachev got little credit for his purely political or institutional perestroika. He did not cause much of a stir among "Western" opinion-molders when he simultaneously created the Congress of People's Deputies and pushed Soviet citizens into an era of democratic electioneering and authentic public mobilization, unwitnessed by Russians since the revolutionary disorders of 1905 or 1917.

Americans strained to peek over the lofty new parliament under construction. We concentrated on "marketization" of the old Stalinist command economy, as if that were the only story, or, to put it more accurately, as if these were together the SAME story. But democracy and free market economics are not the same thing, even if they have sometimes flourished together.

Not only has marketization been confused with democratization but the expression of democratic opposition to statist power has been confused with Stalinism. When ruinous marketization provoked popular discontent, and especially when that discontent was expressed in the new parliamentary institutions otherwise largely ignored by us, we have been inclined to see a backward people still in the grip of communist totalitarianism rejecting modern ways. We see parliamentary "hardliners" struggling to block progress and restore the Stalinist past. Thus we have not acknowledged a democratic resistance to Yeltsin.

We would have done better to hear the true voice of human suffering and to have recognized, among the complex variety of Yeltsin opponents, the actions of a nascent civil society engaged in healthy and natural democratic opposition to a state out of touch with them. US officials have too often praised and supported the Yeltsin-style democracy and insider-controlled privatization and neglected the broader spectrum of political parties.

Lack of a more broadly sympathetic understanding of the politics of post-Soviet Russia has also hampered American policy. We do not hear the voice of those whose views were recently summarized by Tatyana Ivanova. Ivanova does not share these views but understands that they must be taken seriously: The people, she says, will not forget how Yeltsin's and Gaidar's free-marketeering

brought down a great and powerful country. Undermined its military might. Inflicted irreparable damage on the system of kolkhozes and sovkhozes. Robbed the working people. Turned our fine young people into drug addicts and bandits. Gave the world's greatest readers a liking for erotic literature, pornography, and thrillers. Devastated mineral wealth. Clogged up the reservoirs. Sold our fat herds in the West. Wrought havoc in our fertile fields. Took away our gold, our cotton, our oil, and our timber. God forgive us, but there are brothels now in our trade union hospitals. The camps where we were accustomed to send the children have become deserted. There are no herring to catch, and if you could catch them, there is no means of pickling them, and if you could pickle them, there is no point in eating them because instead of pure Russian vodka bought with coupons from the apartment block maintenance office there is imported swill made from chemicals in the capitalist jungle.

Ivanova thinks much of this is wrong, but this is what the people, the demos, think. When democracy speaks in Russia, it speaks with this voice, among others. And only some of what it says may be ridiculed with honesty.

In response to a mounting crisis, largely the product of his own anti-democratic policies, Yeltsin launched a military attack on the Russian Parliament in October, 1993. Most US news services applauded the attack, and the US administration stuck with Yeltsin. The NYT found a way to describe the shelling of an elected, representative institution as a defense of democracy. Out of touch with reality, the press spread the incorrect and misleading assertion that Yeltsin was the only duly and democratically elected official in Russia. Thus the elections that brought hundreds of members of parliament to Moscow were journalistically nullified. Almost comical was the ignorance of the prominent fact that Yeltsin's main opponent, Vice-president Rutskoi, ran on the same ticket and was elected with Yeltsin. The press employed nonsense words like "hardliners" to describe those elected representatives hiding behind desks while the parliament building shuddered under canon fire and burned. Many were scoundrels, true enough, and some fought back, but those two things can happen in any elected body or among any group attacked.

Flush with victories over parliament, Yeltsin placed severe restrictions on a number of Russian political parties. In November, 1993, Yeltsin ambushed the constitution-drafting process which had been put in motion by Gorbachev five years earlier. He presented his own draft only days before he staged a primitive national election, what is called a plebiscite, in December.

The plebiscite--big YES or NO from great crowds--has been the electorial trick of statist rulers at least since the days of Napoleon III just after the 1848 Revolution in France. The plebiscite is often a sham democratic substitute for legislative deliberation and a way to escape the democratic give-and-take of party politics.

Yeltsin's constitution so enhanced executive authority and severely limited the authority of the legislative and judicial branches that when the President does not function, the whole system appears to come to a standstill. It doesn't really come to a standstill, of course. It grinds on under the direction of unelected, largely unknown advisers within the executive branch, especially the police and security organs. Only the irregular insiders close to Yeltsin and the mafia continue to do their business. Yeltsin's constitution eliminated the office of vice president. There is currently no way to deal with the now months-long problem of presidential incapacity, except to let the shadowy gang of presidential advisers run the whole nation, or to try extraordinary legislative action. When the Duma tried to impeach Yeltsin a few weeks ago, US media ridiculed their actions. When they are not demons, Russian legislators are clowns. At least that’s the way Americans have been asked to see the story.

Yeltsin's secretly drafted constitution blocked any clear and effective checks and balances on executive authority. It also excluded what we might call "federalism" in the relationship of the unified government in Moscow with local authority. The new constitution thus squelched the hopes of many national minority peoples active in the very drafting process Yetsin ambushed in November. The extremities of the Chechnya situation are thus largely chickens come home to roost, and this must be the earliest moments in a mounting crisis of regional independence movements.

With unflagging official US support, Yeltsin's whole process of constitution building helped fragment national unity and make cynics out of an emerging Russian civil society. Cynicism is the foundation of political centralization; civil society is the essential social ingredient in any solid democracy. We will have to return in a moment to the question of cynicism and its usefulness to the enemies of democracy.


2. The Threat of NATO Expansion

There is more at work here than lack of US sympathy for East European democratic opinion. We sometimes confuse market reform with democracy, but an equally dangerous confusion stalks our political discourse, the confusion of the military with democracy. We have sometimes succumbed to the temptation to think of the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet system as a military victory rather than a poltical victory. We thus render ourselves vulnerable to the ambitions of the American and West European cold-war military establishment to occupy defeated territory, and we disregard--even threaten--the indigenous political movements spawned by the collapse of the Soviet system.

Gorbachev certainly got the attention of Cold-War leaders when in 1988, at the time he introduced the dramatic political democratization of Soviet governing institutions, he also announced a unilateral 500,000-man troop build-down in Warsaw Pact forces. Gorbachev initiated the dismantlement of the Cold War. Listen to the headline in one of the most important "Western" Military-Industrial Complex publications, Aviation Week and Space Technology 129 (1988de12):24--"Unilateral Soviet Military Cutbacks Put West on Political Defensive". That "West" in the headline appears to have recovered from the Gorbachev challenge. In 1996, the Russian military budget was $188 billion, the US military budget was $256 billion.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization now pushes for selective inclusion of certain nations once in the Warsaw Pact, right up to the Russian border. NATO was the counterpart to the Warsaw Pact back when we had a Cold War. But the Warsaw Pact is now dissolved, and the Cold War officially terminated by Russian and "Western" authorities. Yet NATO now plans to advance.

NATO expansion plays into the hands of ambitious military-industrial insiders left over from the Cold War, and maybe not just those in Russia and East Europe. One might confidently predict militarist backlash in Russia. Civilian democracy cannot be expected to flourish under these conditions. This might be so even if a newly independent state seemed to welcome NATO. Of course, it is even more likely so for those who feel the need to protect themselves from that expansion. They too will be vulnerable to the subordination of civilian authority in favor of a national security state "forced" to saddle evolving economies with crippling military-industrial projects.

If there is now something of a race between militarist and civilian forces to seize the Russian future, then Yeltsin's cancellation just a few weeks ago of his visit to the central office of the European Union in The Hague takes on added significance. The EU is an economic alliance of fifteen European nations who seek to expand trade and stabilize currency relations in the larger European market. They are working to create a Euro-centric security wing which is titled the Western European Union (WEU). Russia has been close to recent EU deliberations and participates there as a natural, if distant, member of the European community. NATO expansion in this connection might be seen as a competitor with EU and WEU, and a way of driving a wedge between Russia and West Europe. West Europe's own programs for unity and self-defense are threatened with marginalization in the face of ambitious NATO expansion.

It's clearly not just Russia that is threatened by NATO expansion, but Yeltsin's inability to sustain close relations with EU comes at a time when the old Soviet military establishment is inclined to rattle sabers in the face of seemingly unprovoked expansion of NATO toward Russian borders.

This enhances the stature of figures like Alexander Lebed, a retired general with distinguished service in the Afghan War and Moldova. Lebed ran unsuccessfully for the Russian Presidency last spring. Many now see him as just the sort of strong hand needed to set things right.

Lebed plans to attend meetings of the little-known but significant Davos Forum. Unlike the activated and irregular crowds on the streets of Sofia, Belgrade, and other capitals, and unlike the open, public deliberations of EU, the Davos Forum is an exclusive gathering, hosted annually at a Swiss resort for some of the most powerful European political and economic insiders.

Back in Russia, others defeated by Yeltsin last spring maneuver for position in anticipation of sudden opportunities. Vladimir Zhirinovskii stands at the head of a long list of Russian extremists who play on wide-spread Russian fear that alien forces--some abroad, some lurking among them--are working to cash in on Russian misery. Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Russian Communist Party defeated in his bid for the Russian Presidency last year, draws encouragement from each new failure of Yeltsin and each needless threat from NATO. The boot hasn't dropped, but Zyuganov last week predicted wide-spread popular unrest in his homeland soon.

So, Russian problems mount which could provoke democratic solutions like those being tried by Bulgarians in red masks and Serbs with police whistles, or which could encourage further closeness to a stronger and larger EU. These same problems could also provoke militarist conspiracies like the August, 1991, coup that weakened and eventually brought Gorbachev down.


2.b. NATO Threatens European Security

NATO expansion is thought by some to rekindle both the recent Cold War hostility and also multiple, ancient hostilities, quiet for a half century. The familiar Cold War fears of the Russians themselves might not be the most important thing. Selective, phased expansion of NATO threatens to promote insecurity among the very states whose security ostensibly motivates expansion. Each new member gains the power granted by NATO charter to every member singly to veto admission of another. Some think Hungary might veto Slovakia, to name only one conflict potentially provoked by phased NATO expansion.

What's needed in East Europe is vigorous and united diplomacy and political wisdom to help structure free and peaceful relations where Soviet power recently substituted for normal commerce among nations. East Europe does not need expanded military power of the USA and its unenthusiastic West European partners.

On that note, it is vital that we not confuse or conflate the word NATO with the words "the West" and "Europe". NATO denotes a rather precise institutional organization. The noun "West", the adjective "Western", and the concept "Westernization" are vague and polemical terms, useful mainly to combine the English-speaking people of North America (USA & Canada) with their allies among certain of the nation-states on the European continent. NB! this term "West" does not include all peoples and nation-states even of West Europe. "Europe" applies to a "peninsula of peninsulas" on the great Eurasian landmass (as a good friend described it). Europe is given the status of "continent" and includes dozens of ethnic and language groups which have never known NATO membership, nor have they ever been much thought of as "the West" (think of Ireland and Portugal, two nation-states at the western extreme of Europe). More than two dozen sovereign nation-states, including Russia, make up Europe. The islands that constitute England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland are sometimes not thought to be in Europe, but their exclusion is as artificial as the exclusion of the East Europeans. A significant district of the Islamic nation Turkey is in Europe, and Turkey is a member of NATO, as is its nearly irreconcilable enemy Greece. These three words—NATO, the West, and Europe--represent three different concepts, even though some seek polemical advantage from the pretense that they are the same.

NATO, however, has never had as members many sound and secure "Western" or European nation-states. If I remind you that Lichtenstein is not a member of NATO, you will laugh only if you respond in the same way to the reminder that Luxemburg is a member.

Most instructive is the non-membership of Austria. Austria, with its capital in Vienna, only minutes by tank from Soviet controlled territory during the Cold War, has never seriously sought, or been courted for, membership in NATO. Remember, Austria was occupied by the victorious allies after the Soviet Red Army liberated East and Central Europe from Nazi power at the end of World War II. The USSR chose on its own not to become a replacement for Nazi power--at least not there--and left after a ten-year occupation. Austria has since that time played the role of calm buffer between the two hostile Cold War alliances, and it works now to expand its positive role in East European affairs in the aftermath of the Cold War.

All this might suggest a dark side of NATO expansion. We might well ask if certain NATO members might not seek to cop an advantage from Austria as NATO thrusts itself Southward into Bosnia over Austria's head, and prepares to jump Eastward between Austria and Russia. Switzerland, Sweden and Finland have never been members of NATO and might suffer the same exclusion from East European affairs as a result of NATO expansion.

Yugoslavia and its successor nation states were never members of either the Warsaw Pact or NATO. Having torn itself asunder and now [1997] occupied in places by 50,000 NATO troops (ca. 25,000 of them American sons and daughters), Yugoslavians will not likely soon play any role in rebuilding their SE European region, unless those whistle blowers of Belgrade have miraculous effect, eject Milosevic and persuade foreign troops to get out.

Spain joined NATO only fifteen years ago. France withdrew from the joint military facet of NATO thirty years ago, in the time of Charles de Gaulle, only very recently announced readiness to rejoin that project, mainly as an expression of it fear that it might be losing advantages as a non-member in view of the growing competition between France and Germany (a NATO member since 1955).

Maybe Ireland has needed protection from its most powerful neighbor, but these other non-alliance members have seemed secure, and seem still secure without being members of NATO. In deference to the sensibilities of my wife, who was a McEwen by birth, I'll say nothing about Scotland, viewed by some as a captive nation denied NATO or Warsaw Pact protection or membership all these years.

But, you might say, NATO was there, even for its non-members, and thus did protect them all, members or not. Many in the old Warsaw Pact region thought of NATO as their defender, even in the days when they were members of the rival Pact. Well, let it continue thus. A NATO without expansion, maybe even with significant reduction in size, could still do that job. This is no argument in favor of East European states becoming members; it is rather the opposite.

An aggressive NATO in the absence of anything like the Warsaw Pact seems to many a dangerous imbalance of international powers. We should be very slow to risk breaking a cardinal rule of realistic foreign relations, the rule against over-extension or over-projection of power and capability. Despite frequent news releases designed to convince readers of the opposite, NATO expansion is not popular among either West or East European populations. East Europeans fear that civilian resolution of their own internal crises is rendered even more difficult and that various strong-arm and reactionary resolutions are made more likely in response to NATO expansion. West Europeans are cautious on this point, but we should know that many of them fear expansion of overweening American power in their own affairs. Are long term American best interests served by alienation of West Europe?

We therefore cannot allow the sloppy or perhaps cunning confusion of "the West" or "Europe" with NATO. The values, even the "security", of "the West" or of Europe might just as well be threatened by NATO as protected by it. The same may be said about the values, security, and interests of the USA.

The most profound problem might be this: foisting NATO on the emerging democracies of East Europe also foists otherwise indefensible, high costs for re-militarization upon some combination of local East European and American taxpayers.

Those economies seeking their way out of the old Stalinist mode (and our own US economy as it adjusts to new global market conditions) might find themselves fettered by non-productive and arguably unnecessary military expenditures. The old Warsaw Pact countries have no effective military now, only remnants of Soviet military obsolescence. Nor do they yet have thriving market economies. Now they (and American taxpayers) will be saddled with the cost of a new militarization of their obsolete forces. Estimates of the cost to make these new NATO members NATO-worthy is from $3 to $11 billion a year. To get a sense of the magnitude of those figures, compare them with the combined total value of American and Russian international trade in armaments: $10 billion.


2.c. NATO Expansion Threatens US Adjustment
to Post-Cold War World

Now, perhaps more than at any time earlier, East European political life is coming under broad democratic pressure. The people were not absent from earlier events, but they may now be on the verge of forcing profound and lasting changes in the new world order created by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. This happens at a time of renewed efforts to bring all of Europe together, East and West, under generously extended umbrella organizations like EU and WEU.

The American public has always been sympathetic to people who resist central governments out of touch with citizens. But is it possible that our unwillingness to debate the NATO question unknowingly betrays the hopeful, democratic forces on the streets of Sofia and Belgrade, even as we appear to urge them on? Could the USA be at one and the same time an inspiration to public activism and an ally of those who seek to crush it? Could it be that NATO will thwart Russian and East European democracy every bit as effectively as it did the ambitions of the Soviet Union?

The US is a central player in this European and global crisis. To their credit American officials have for the most part tried to relax tensions, to give some room for free development of the new, non-militarized East Europe, and to offer various forms of assistance.

But all the previous help could be neutralized by provocative and so-far unjustified expansion of NATO. This single issue could profoundly influence the outcome of the struggle for democracy in East Europe and unity throughout Europe. And this could determine the future of the world.

In Portland today [1997], we are gathered to play some role in these events--in less boisterous assemblies than those of the Bulgarians and Serbs, but in our own way perhaps an equally significant furtherance of the democratic ideal. Hats off to the World Affairs Council of Oregon, the sponsor of the "Great Decisions" program.

I think it is good that we do not need masks and whistles at this point. We should not ask for any demagoguery or hysteria mongering as we consider expanding, freezing, or even cutting back on NATO. We have not reached the point where action on the streets is called for. It is useful to remember that the establishment of NATO almost fifty years ago and the astonishing expansion of the US military budget at that time was accompanied by purposeful stirring of emotions and passions. In those years Senator Vandenberg had it right: If, he said, you expect American taxpayers to finance military buildup in the aftermath of WW2 sacrifices you will have "to scare the hell out of them". Enter Joseph McCarthy, stage right.... In the aftermath of the Cold war we should want no such bombastic entrances, left or right.

Shortly therafter President Eisenhower tried to calm and warn us all.

But then came Kennedy's bold fabrication of the "missile gap" in his successful bid for the presidency, out cold-warring the old cold-warrior Nixon. Then came the deception of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. (Hats off in memory of Wayne Morse, and cheers to Mark Hatfield now lecturing down at George Fox University on this very theme.)

{_{ Mark Hatfield, "A plea for peace: America's military mistakes on the mind of Mark Hatfield as he retires from the U.S. Senate", ERG (1997 January 12):B-1.}_}

Pentagon budgetary addiction, inertia, and near silence appear to be sufficient this time. Now, 37 years after Eisenhower's farewell speech, in the aftermath of four decades of Cold War, the nation is not aroused; there is no debate. Intellectual bankruptcy is even suggested in the apologies that come our way from the State Department: "It's still a dangerous world out there". At the same time a committee of ex-SAC commanders have been making public appearances in which they say: Yes, it is a dangerous world, and our own failure to power down a bit at the end of the Cold War is a major cause of that danger.

Two letters to the editor appeared in the same issue of ERG (1997 January 4) suggesting that Americans are fed up with tired old slogans left over from the Cold War epoch. They are outraged to think certain officials are up to the same old tricks. All papers, ERG and Oregonian included, run regular news and opinion columns that strip the protective cover of silence from significant moments when our national foreign policy went bad, occasionally even betrayed the public with smoke and mirror.

A few letters to the editor aside, it is not at all clear what the American people think about the continued maintenance of the larger part of the old Cold War Military-Industrial Complex at taxpayer expense. Clinton did touch on that question in his 1992 campaign, but dark threats of job losses brought an end to this discussion, brought an end even to the discussion of demilitarization without serious job losses. Clinton backed away from this issue, shifting increasingly toward military-industrial positions. Now we have job losses and job deterioration without significant demobilization.

We do not know what Americans think about one-sided accent on NATO as the symbol and projection of American greatness. Do Americans feel that NATO is the best way for the USA to participate in all these European changes, East and West? The recent presidential campaign largely ignored the issue.

It seemed to me that only one national candidate for the presidency last year addressed the wide-spread anguish about America in the world, such as one sees represented in letters to the editor and other scattered occasions. The public is apparently asked to be no more than a "silent majority". Sometimes the public is diverted from these pure political issues by being offered the attractive but unpolitical role of "moral majority". Remember the famous recent tax policy: "Read my lips". IE: no words, only vague gestures from on high.

One possibility is most disturbing. In these and other vital areas of national policy, is the public being asked to become cynics, rather than activists? The public is invited to read the disturbing truth about health, education and welfare budgets slashed while the monstrous and sometimes graft-ridden procurement of military hardware sustains itself only slightly below levels achieved back in the heyday of "the evil empire". Our news informs us about the only slightly diminished global threat of nuclear weaponry, about reckless deployment of American military power and the stationing of American soldiers in the line of distant fire between implacable foes of uncertain purpose. Does this all encourage us to respond with sophisticated grumble only, to assume the disastrous posture of angry cynics?

I promised near the beginning to return to the topic of cynicism. A cynic is one who's learned all the inside truth about public officials and institutions, and has concluded that they are always sordid and only corrupt. Thus there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Here is a frightful truth: If a leader does not have uncritical acceptance of his actions, it is just as good--it may even be better--to be confronted by immobilized, numbed cynicism. That's true East or West. When everything is the same but "just the other way around" public life is vulnerable to every known chicanery

You might guess that I'm not a cynic. I'm certain that you are here because you are not a cynic. We probably all agree that public ignorance or silence about the "new world order" is a bad and unnecessary thing. It could spell disaster for the democratic future of the East European peoples, to say nothing of our own future.

Another thing we are not, or should not be--physically CANNOT be, even if we wished--is isolationist. As a nation-state we are out and about in the world, and the world has found its way to our own doors. The USA is a powerful and positive force in the world. We should--we must--acknowledge and welcome the challenge presented by this reality. Our choice--our great decision, as your program calls it--is not between two simple options: either expand NATO, by God, or get the heck out of Europe. Nor is it between total disarmament or World War III. We cannot allow these extremes to steal center stage and shout down the sane middle ground.

Therefore, my reply to the question you have posed about whether there is or should be growing cooperation between the USA and the old Soviet blok is a loud YES. Among the many mutually beneficial forms of cooperation, including the famous ones we read about, like IMF loans, World Bank credits, Harvard professors' learned Adam-Smithian economic advice, insider palaver at Davos forums, and guarantees of security, I would put at the head of the list of useful forms of cooperation just this: let us mobilize ourselves in support of those masked Bulgarians and those whistle-blowing Serbs. Let's exercise and expand democratic decision-making in our own public life.

American political culture can play a key role, I think, in building the fabled bridge to the 21st century. We cannot box democracy and ship it C.O.D. We must revive our very own tradition of hard-hitting, democratic, public POLITICAL debate about foreign policy. In our own midst we must push for democratic domestic and foreign policies, and offer this mobilization as a real-life example of how to be democratic. Democracy cannot be exported, but it can be immitated.

Of course, we all know that international relations cannot be administered by initiative and referendum. We Oregonians need especially to remind ourselves that representative democracy is designed in part to remove certain necessarily delicate operations of government from the direct pressure of crowds, whether inspired by pointy-headed professors, by slick molders of fleeting opinion, or by paid signature gatherers who put ballot measures before a dispirited, passive public. (My best regards to the Oregon Citizens Alliance and to Bill Sizemore, as well as to my colleagues among the pointy-headed professors.) But there are still times and places where an aroused public must make its mark, blow its whistles, shake its fist.

It is good to modulate the role of the broad public in the daily business of government, but it is "un-American" to neutralize it, and it is dumb to ignore it. (I say "un-American" for those still nostalgic for the vocabulary of our 1950s; just as I say "pointy-headed" for those nostalgic for the 1960s.) We can drift too far from the voice of the people. Specifically, I think we have drifted too far with respect to NATO and American policy toward post-Soviet Russia, and with respect to continued tax handouts to our own Military-Industrial budget. Our current foreign policy and defense policy have not been shaped at all by the American public.

In 1994 Clinton uttered premature and oddly absolutist views about the certainty of NATO expansion.

{_{ See Paul Goble, "NATO: Analysis From Washington--Why NATO Expansion May Not Happen", Johnson's Russia List Archive, Goble reports cooling on the part of certain current NATO member states, citing Voelker Ruehe, German Defense Minister, and Tansu Ciller, Turkish Foreign Minister.}_}

He did not consult widely with democratic opinion among NATO allies, nor did he properly weigh democratic opinion in the old Warsaw Pact regions.

{_{ A recent William Pfaff column in IHT, syndicated in ERG (1997 January 19) guarded against the growing tendency of the US "to be an obnoxious world leader" (headline). He cited the 1994 writings of then President Francois Mitterrand of France, who wrote "France does not realize it, but we are at war with America. Yes, permanent war, vital [??]--an economic war".}_}

But most lamentably, he took no pains to utter a clear public stand on the issue before the American people or to listen to his constituency's opinions in return.

{_{ In the venerable establishment journal, Foreign Affairs (1996), William Kristol and Robert Kagan voiced a narrowly militaristic vision of America in the world. The goal of US foreign policy, they said, should be to preserve its world "hegemony" by means of military supremacy and "moral confidence".}_}

It is not at all certain what might be the outcome of a national debate on US policy in Europe, especially focussed on NATO expansion, nor is it at all certain what the outcome OUGHT TO BE. I've made no effort to hide my own current take on the issue, but my most fundamental certainty is that we citizens need to talk it out before we let our nation be herded into what might be yet another 40-years of military, rather than cultural, economic, and political exchange with this new Europe, East and West.

Joshua Muravchik's widely read policy brief, "The Imperative of American Leadership" concedes that "aside from perhaps the French, the only people averse to American leadership are the Americans".

{_{ As quoted in Pfaff above.}_}

Almost certainly, Muravchik did not express himself accurately here. What he meant was that maybe the French--but certainly the Americans--represent a significant and respectable public opposition to certain features of American leadership. Among the many who do oppose it, none, in Muravchik’s view, are worthy of serious consideration at this time. Even if Muravchik's outrageous presumption were correct, the opposition of the American people to global Military-Industrial Complex should suffice to quell these hegemonists. There are still American enterprises that seek competitive survival in a free market, American cultural figures who seek to interact with international cultures, everyday folk to want to travel safely, sometimes to seek their roots beyond the ramparts of the US global fortress. There are still Americans who think of national grandeur in terms other than smart bombs.

It becomes clearer than ever to me with each passing milestone toward the onramp of that bridge to the 21st century, that the best new world order for the peoples of East Europe can be accomplished only via explicit and institutionalized political change which they are themselves striving to achieve. We are, as a nation, qualified to help this happen, but only if we remember what our own political legacy is.

Without glorifying it, without forgetting its many sorrowful ups and downs, we can return to the fundamental concepts of popular sovereignty, public participation in a vigorous multi-party political environment guaranteed by civil rights, and checks and balances within a complex hierarchy of institutions, running from local to national levels.

In our time we must give special accent to yet another feature of the American legacy--strict subordination of police and military power to civilian control and to civilian needs. Everywhere, here and over there, we need to begin to role back the massive and irresponsible power accumulated during the Cold War by special agencies. I am speaking primarily of those agencies concentrated within the Executive Branch of government in a variety of Cold War national security bodies, yet insulated from the three-part system of checks and balances: the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, AF&T, and similar institutions. These are sometimes useful but nonetheless dangerous growths on the body politic with recognizable counterparts in many areas of the world where people are gathering in demonstrations and blowing whistles in the streets.

In anticipation of a national debate on NATO expansion (a debate which will probably not happen), Ambassador Jonathan Dean drafted a critique of current administration plans with a recommendation for an alternate policy. Deans' proposal still has not made its way to the level of national debate, even though it was endorsed by a group of eighteen distinguished senior foreign policy professionals and specialists. These included Jack F. Matlock, Jr., former ambassador to the USSR in the Reagan years, and Paul H. Nitze, Cold Warrior supreme, ex-Secretary of the Navy, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State on Arms Control Matters, serving under every president since JFK. Sam Nunn, recently retired Senator and leading legislative expert on US defense policy and armaments, came out against NATO expansion and for a policy very much like that in the Dean letter.

The alternate plan looks like this:

1) Do not expand NATO, but broaden its "Partnership for Peace" program, in which Russia is already a participant. In this setting work for joint NATO/Russian guarantees for the security of the nations of East Europe.

2) Work to expand the European Union and its defense arm, the Western European Union, to include all states between NATO and Russia who wish to join and who qualify. The EU and WEU are more distinctly European ventures without the "baggage" of Cold War Associations, and thus not a direct offence to Russia.

Author's message: We must insist in every way and everywhere that our foreign policy favor (as in "most favored nation"), respect, and encourage authentic, institutionalized democracy. We should give higher priority to this, rather than to abstract economic formulae, insider manipulation of national treasure, or rash military opportunism and the growth of anti-democratic police and security agencies. Thus we would do better to promote the integration of East and West Europe in a European Union that reaches from Ireland to the Bering Sea, rather than to promote the expansion of NATO.

In the Cold War era the old macro-economic formula passed from usage: Guns or Butter? NATO expansion tips the scale toward guns, not just for East Europe but for USA and the whole globe.