For example, expansion’s opponents correctly argue that, like costs for the operation in Bosnia, costs for NATO’s expansion will be much greater than the Clinton administration admits. An embarrassed administration was forced to accept the ridiculously low NATO estimate of $1.5 billion over 10 years as the cost of admitting three new members with obsolescent forces and dilapidated military infrastructure to the alliance. The administration had earlier rejected the NATO projection as being too low and was then forced to reduce its own estimate — which was three to four times higher than NATO’s — because major U.S. allies declared that they would pay none of the added costs of expansion.
The plummeting cost estimates were justified primarily by claiming that the armed forces and military infrastructure in new member states were suddenly in better shape than expected. That rationale contradicts leaked classified NATO documents, an intelligence assessment and the belief of outside experts that the infrastructure is in abysmal condition. Furthermore, the NATO estimate — the details of which conveniently remain classified — includes only the portion of expenses that would be funded from the alliance’s common budgets. When expenses accruing to national defense budgets of the three new members and current members are added, the Congressional Budget Office — the only organization that made public the details of its estimate — reports that the cost could reach a whopping $125 billion. Moreover, the costs would be far beyond even $125 billion if the administration’s open door policy toward further expansion is actively pursued. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the United States will pick up a gigantic tab sooner or later.