To the Editor:
One can have thought the USSR an evil empire and Strobe Talbott naive concerning it and still not consider the current announcement of future NATO membership for Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic part of an optimum policy for East European security. In military matters it is better to say less and do more. President Clinton has said little and will do less. George Weigel’s error, in “Creeping Talbottism” [March], is in thinking that by saying more about NATO now the West will be constrained to do more both now and later. Instead, the West should say less about NATO and more about the European Union (EU). Meaningful NATO/East European military preparation is more important than any announcement, but less likely to occur. A Western announcement of East European membership in the EU, not in NATO, will more likely lead to such preparation. If it does not, the West will at least have done itself less damage than empty talk about NATO.
When one fully articulates the balance-of-power analysis supporting Mr. Weigel’s proposal, its weaknesses become apparent. To the West’s great good fortune, the USSR accepted a unified Germany within NATO; the Soviet Union then disintegrated and left a turbulent but potentially democratic Russia in its wake, thereby drastically shifting the balance of power in favor of the West. In light of this, Mr. Weigel urges the West to draw a line in future sand, i.e., to announce future East European/ NATO membership dates, a proposal he supports with the following considerations:
1. Russia is unlikely to be weaker in the foreseeable future than it is now; thus, it is less able to do anything about such line-drawing now than it will be later. (True.)
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