[Congressional Record Volume 149, Number 25 (Tuesday, February 11, 2003)]
[Pages S2180-S2181]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I rise today to condemn in the strongest 
terms the rejection yesterday by France, Germany, and Belgium of 
Turkey's formal request for defensive help under Article 4 of the North 
Atlantic Treaty. This was the first invocation of Article 4 in the 54-
year history of NATO.
  Article 4 mandates alliance members to consult ``whenever, in the 
opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political 
independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.'' Fearing 
a preemptive attack by Iraq, Turkey requested Patriot missile 
batteries, AWACS radar planes, and specialized units for countering 
chemical and biological warfare.
  Sixteen of the 19 NATO members voted to grant Turkey its request. 
France, Germany, and Belgium, however, refused, thereby blocking the 
request under the alliance's consensus principle. Paris, Berlin, and 
Brussels argued that even this kind of defensive action by NATO would 
appear to commit the alliance to war before the U.N. weapons inspectors 
in Iraq had issued their second report this Friday.
  I have spoken at length on the situation in Iraq on the floor of this 
chamber and in many other venues. Today, therefore, I will restrict my 
comments to yesterday's action in NATO's North Atlantic Council, NAC, 
and the potential ramifications for the future of the alliance.
  Frankly, I am shocked and outraged at the behavior of France, 
Germany, and Belgium. I could easily give an emotional response, but I 
will not descend to the level of caricature and vitriolic insults that, 
unfortunately, one increasingly hears from Western European America-
  Nor will I indulge in blanket criticism. France is this country's 
oldest ally and in the last 12 years took part in the Gulf War, the 
Kosovo air campaign, and in Operation Enduring Freedom. Germany too has 
participated in recent military and peacekeeping operations and on this 
very day, together with the Netherlands, is assuming command of the 
International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, peacekeeping operation 
in Afghanistan. Belgium is also contributing troops to peacekeeping in 
the Balkans.
  This is, however, only part of the story. Recent history, 
unfortunately, gives us a foretaste of yesterday's action in the NAC. 
One might recall Belgium's refusal during the Gulf War to sell 
ammunition to NATO ally Great Britain. Or more directly applicable was 
the Bundestag speech early in 1991 by Mr. Otto Lambsdorff, then a 
leader of the German Free Democratic Party, opposing military shipments 
to NATO ally Turkey because of elements of Ankara's domestic policy.
  Germany's action yesterday was particularly distasteful, since that 
country's postwar economic miracle or ``Wirtschaftswunder'' was to a 
considerable extent built by the sweat of Turkish guest workers.
  Aside from moral considerations, the refusal of assistance to Turkey 
by these three countries gravely undermines the solidarity that is the 
bedrock of the North Atlantic Alliance.
  At first glance, their behavior is puzzling, since they surely know 
that the United States will stand by its Turkish ally and either 
unilaterally, or in conjunction with other NATO members, will provide 
the equipment that Ankara feels it needs.
  Already one European ally has stepped up to the plate. The Dutch 
Foreign Ministry has declared that ``the Netherlands is strongly 
opposed'' to the French-German-Belgian move and ``will go ahead with 
providing Patriot missiles to Turkey.'' The Dutch, in fact, have 
already sent an air force team to Turkey to prepare for the dispatch of 
the Patriot missile batteries, which will be manned by 370 Dutch 
military personnel.
  So since Turkey will receive defensive assistance, the French-German-

[[Page S2181]]

Belgian refusal can only be seen as a symbolic gesture--a direct swipe 
at American leadership of the alliance--but one with more than symbolic 
importance. U.S. Ambassador Nick Burns declared that it is causing NATO 
to face ``a crisis of credibility.''
  I would use a metaphor to describe yesterday's action: Paris, Berlin, 
and Brussels are playing with fire. If the United States believes that 
NATO is a hindrance to its security requirements, it will continue to 
bypass the alliance, and NATO will quickly atrophy. No serious observer 
believes that the European Union has either the capability or the will 
to provide a credible military alternative to a NATO deprived of 
American muscle. A security vacuum would quickly develop on the 
continent, thereby undoing more than a half-century of common effort 
and endangering the EU itself.
  Finally, let me address the faulty logic offered by France, Germany, 
and Belgium for their action yesterday. To repeat: their ambassadors 
argued that if NATO were to furnish Turkey with the defensive materiel 
it requested, it would appear that the alliance was committing itself 
to war before the U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq had issued their 
second report this Friday.
  Paris, Berlin, and Brussels might be interested to learn that U.N. 
Secretary General Kofi Annan will brief the members of the Security 
Council this Thursday on the status of contingency planning by the 
United Nations for humanitarian assistance for Iraq in the event of 
  According to the argument used yesterday in the NAC by the French, 
Germans, and Belgians, the U.N.'s action, therefore, is hastening the 
outbreak of war.
  I fully anticipate that French President Chirac, German Chancellor 
Schroeder, and Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt will condemn 
Secretary General Annan for his recklessness.