Doubling down seems to be a frequent strategy nowadays.
While agree with you that NATO needs strengthening and I to think Swedish and Finnish membership in the Alliance would be a good step towards that goal, I think you misstate the issue when framing it as “admitting” them. The issue has never been if NATO is ready to admit these two, but rather if they themselves wish to do so. Sweden has a history of almost 200 years of neutrality and peace. Finland, with its very exposed border and recent history of fighting (bravely but outnumbered) has refined the art of lying low.
I futher believe that NATO will do itself a disservice if any ouvert efforts are made to persuade the populace in these two countries of the benefits of membership. As Groucho Marx said “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”. That being said, the Nordics are already interating their defences, thus Sweden and Finland could be said to be sneaking into NATO via their co-operation with NATO-member Norway. But anyone who thinks that an actual membership is in the cards has misread the minds of these countries’ peoples and their leaders.
PS The Baltics joined NATO in 2004, after a decision made in 2002, i.e. not under the Clinton administration
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It may be important to think of Russia/Georgia, et. al./United States in terms of China/Taiwan/United States.
How many of these potential flash points — which have the clear potential to derail peace and prosperity — do we really want to sign up for?
Time to determine our priorities.
It’s reasonable to suggest that rhetoric should not run too far ahead of reality, especially at a time like this when it appears that the West couldn’t even organize the equivalent of a two-car funeral in response to anything. However, a couple of things occur to one. First, I would submit that Saakashvili (and the rest of us) discovered something more unpleasant about Russia than about the value of US and NATO pubic support. Russia’s behavior toward the Near Abroad in the last interval (i.e., since Chechnya calmed down) has not particularly indicated that its meddling (obnoxious as it’s been) would escalate into intervention and occupation. Perhaps Saako figured that a deterrent could thus be made out of rhetorical support from the West. Unlike the Hungarians perhaps, the Georgians I know generally speaking had no illusions about what the West could or couldn’t do in support of Georgia. That leads me to a second thought. It isn’t the rhetoric of one’s international supporters that causes isolated national groups to assert themselves. They will do it irrespective of what anyone thinks is reasonable. In response to the Abkhaz and S. Ossetian separation from Georgia, Russia’s Ingush, Bashkirs, Tatars, etc., have riled themselves up. This, despite the dismal reality of their circumstances the predetermines their fate. Finally, it’s more likely the multiple reverberations of Stalin’s elaborate and wholly cynical nationalities policy in former Soviet space that will cause the Russians (and us, and us vis-à-vis the Russians) fits for a long time to come than it is the rhetorical promotion of democracy and the free market by the West. While I agree that most of what we reasonably can do to protect newly independent, democratic states needs to be done quietly and in keeping with realistic possibilities, can we really hold our tongues to the extent, say, of avoiding saying anything provocative of tyrants while supporting democratic regimes?
And, Frank, Georgia is not land-locked. Yes, yes: it might as well be, I know. But it isn’t.
A look at the transcript of Medvelev speech is very instructing :
Indeed, US gave hopes to the pro-Western president Saakashvili, but to say that US could not protect Geogria is as to say US cannot deploy forces in Irak and Afghanistan. It is easier to deploy forces in Georgia than in Irak: Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania are already NATO members.
Geogia is not landlocked, it has access to the Black Sea. Moreover, it has border with Turkey, which is a NATO-member. So, if US would want it could protect Georgia. Saakashvili managed to solve the conflict in Adjaria, so it was reasonable to presume that he would try to solve the other conflicts.
Russians aim at something else, as Lavrov was saying in August, they would like to have a new Trateay on European Security, where Russia would be as a partner.
Last, but not least, Russians could not defeat Chechen rebels for quite a long time, so I would not be so sure that Russia would be able to occupy Georgia just in a few seconds, before help from other countries arrives. The question is whether Russians were prepared for those actions. I tend to think based on following the Russian media that Russian reacted spontaneously. The problem with the Georgian conflict is that people on the ground send different information then the American and Russian media.
Mr. Fukuyama, accept my condolences: the history is not over.