Deputy Executive Director
SUBJECT: NATO Enlargement
On Wednesday, the
House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming 372-to-46 vote a bill,
aptly named The Gerald B.H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act of
2001, for the late chairman of the House Rules Committee and tireless
champion of American political ideals and power. The bill endorses further
expansion of the NATO alliance and authorized $55 million in security
assistance to seven former Warsaw Pact nations who now seek to be American
allies. Although the current war on terrorism has rightly become the principal
focus of our national security concerns, NATOs enlargement is still
a matter of importance to the long-term security of the United States.
In passing this measure, the House has wisely reminded us this fact, and
done so at a crucial time.
It has also shown
strategic vision: the largest amounts of security assistance are earmarked
for Romania and Bulgaria. While these two countries may be less economically
and politically developed than other NATO candidates like the Baltic states,
they are of enormous importance for the future security of southeastern
Europe. Building on todays hard-won and uncertain success in the
Balkans would be easier were Romania and Bulgaria full, stable members
of the alliance
The House has also sent a strong signal to the other side of Capitol Hill. The Senate, and in particular the Foreign Relations Committee, has begun to waver in its commitment to NATO enlargement. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin now grasps that a stable and democratic southeastern Europe, in NATO, is not a threat to Moscow and indeed is in Russias interest. The Senate should take up and pass the Solomon Act, and begin the push for broad NATO expansion in 2002.