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No, NATO Shouldn't Let Georgia In

August 22, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Is NATO fundamentally a military alliance or a social club? Michael Cecire would have us believe the latter as he makes the case for membership for the nation of Georgia.

Since its formation, NATO really has stood for North America and The Others rather than the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The United States always was the dominant member with the largest and most capable military. This was to be expected initially, but the gap closed little even after the Western Europeans recovered from the devastation of World War II.

The U.S. government’s test for any new NATO member should be: would it enhance American security?”

Throughout the Cold War, European NATO members with the most at stake in deterring the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact routinely welshed on their promises to increase military outlays. They knew they could rely on Washington and saw no reason to spend more than the bare minimum. Nothing has changed even though the European Union possesses a larger collective GDP and population than America. Financial and economic crises have reinforced the Europeans’ unwillingness to maintain sizable and capable militaries. Even France and Great Britain are cutting back. Who needs “defense” when there is a welfare state to fund?

America had cause to give Europe a cheap, if not quite free, ride when confronting the Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan once called Moscow and its dominions. But there’s no there there any more, as Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland. Russia is nasty if not exactly evil. But it’s not an empire and has little ability to become one. The European Union, with ten times Russia’s economic strength and three times Russia’s population, doesn’t need defending by the United States. Thus, in the aftermath of Communism’s collapse the world’s most powerful military alliance touted its nonmilitary virtues when inducting former Warsaw Pact members, emerging Balkan states, and even former pieces of the Soviet Union. True, as Cecire observed, NATO served a “sociopolitical” purpose during the Cold War. But that was always ancillary. Had there been no Soviet threat, there would have been no alliance.

Today the Russian threat doesn’t measure up, and the European Union more than compensates. “Humbly encouraging international freedom” is a worthy objective, but need not be done with tanks and defense guarantees. Instead, the EU, with its extensive and complex membership requirements, is most able to push the “eastward …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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