Before they vote on the expansion of NATO, U.S. Senators should have accurate estimates of the cost.
Ivan Eland of the Cato Institute warns that enlarging the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic will "cost new members and existing members money, because armed forces will need to be improved and military infrastructure in the substantially expanded territory will need to be augmented to receive and support them." NATO members are obligated by the terms of the treaty to come to each other's defense. "The new members are located near unstable areas of Eastern Europe and would benefit greatly from admission to the alliance," Eland concedes. "Even so, they expect that joining the alliance will lead to increases in their defense budgets."
Eland argues that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic "may not be able to afford even the expenses required for collective defense, because their economies are in transition from communism to capitalism, and polls show that their populations do not support increases in the proportion of government spending devoted to defense. Thus, upon entering the alliance, they may require subsidies from existing members to help them finance improvements to their dilapidated infrastructure and obsolescent armed forces."
Eland insists that "Members of Congress and the public, when passing judgment on any public policy initiative, have a right to cost estimates that are methodologically rigorous and reasonably accurate. In the case of NATO expansion," he contends, "the administration has failed on both counts. The administration's cost figure resulted from a negotiation between the White House and several offices in the Pentagon," Eland charges; "it is not a valid estimate based on the military requirements of expansion."
Eland estimates the cost to the United States of NATO expansion "to be at least $7 billion, compared with $1.5 billion to $2 billion in the administration's estimate. Even $7 billion could grow," he warns, "if, as is likely, the new member states were unwilling or unable to pay" their share. Eland warns that an out-break of violence and the need to station troops in the new member states could drive up U.S. costs to as high as $19 billion.
The situation in Bosnia should discourage NATO expansion. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Harry Sum-mers analyzed that situation in a recent Washington Times commentary, concluding that the U.S. government would never tolerate the kind of interference in its own domestic affairs to which it has subjected Bosnia. Summers endorses the sage advice of our sixth President, John Quincy Adams, who as Secretary of State in 1821 opposed American intervention in support of Greek independence. America, said Adams, "has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when the conflict has been for principles to which she clings. . . . She goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."