November 1, 2000




Yesterday, Governor Bush issued an important statement on NATO and Europe. It makes the fundamental point that “the security of the United States is inseparable from the security of Europe,” and commits a Bush Administration to NATO’s continued expansion as a strategic priority. The statement’s vision of a Europe “whole and free” reclaims the Reaganesque foreign policy principles of the “distinctly American internationalism” with which Bush began his campaign a year ago.

In contrast to President Clinton, which came late to the cause of NATO expansion and was driven by domestic political motives as much as by strategic concerns, Bush yesterday declared that “the enlargement of NATO to include other nations with democratic values, pluralist political systems and free market economies must surely continue.” Further, he promised to press “our European allies to advance the process of NATO enlargement at the next alliance summit,” in 2002, thus placing the issue at the forefront of his foreign policy priorities.

Governor Bush further declared that “Russia must never be given a veto over NATO enlargement,” reversing the current administration’s excessive concern with Russian sensitivities. Most important, he sounded a call for continued American leadership in Europe. He promised that he would “work with [the emerging democracies of Europe] as they seek to become members of the European Union,” but reminded Europeans that America has a special role to play and that “a powerful and cohesive NATO is the foundation of peace.”

The recent comments by Bush advisor Condoleeza Rice on pulling U.S. troops out of the Balkans led some in Europe and America to question Governor Bush’s commitment to NATO and to the exercise of American leadership in European security affairs. It is true that, without boots on the ground, Washington cannot exercise its role as the alliance’s leader. Governor Bush’s statement, following on the strong foreign policy platform adopted by the GOP at this year’s convention, should help alleviate those concerns.