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Ukraine Crisis Reminds Americans Why NATO Should Not Expand: Not to Ukraine, Georgia, Or Anyone Else

July 29, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The bitter conflict in Ukraine drags on. Russia appears to have decided against trying to conquer its neighbor. However, Moscow continues to destabilize Kiev by supporting Russian separatists. NATO remains divided on how to respond.

Most Europeans have little stomach for confronting Russia. Economic ties with Moscow are profitable, there is no treaty obligation to Ukraine, and no alliance member desires war. So Washington has taken the lead against Moscow even though America has little at stake in Russia’s misbehavior.

In fact, the crisis has generated a spate of U.S. proposals for military action. Some analysts and politicians advocate direct support for Ukraine and other potentially embattled states. Also popular are proposals to expand NATO.

For instance, ever belligerent Sen. John McCain urged adding Ukraine to the “transatlantic” alliance. Former UN ambassador John Bolton suggested putting “both Georgia and Ukraine on a clear path to NATO membership.” Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates similarly called for making NATO association agreements with Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova. Other proposed candidates for the alliance include Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Sweden.

Efforts to expand NATO are strikingly misguided. Traditional military alliances were created to advance a nation’s security. They were not intended to act as clubs for international business, associations for shared values, or tools for political integration. Military alliances were supposed to prevent and win wars.  During the Cold War the U.S. established the alliance to protect the war-ravaged European states from America’s hegemonic adversary, the Soviet Union, and its satellite-allies.

The end of the Cold War eliminated the reason for creating NATO. America’s dangerous global enemy had disappeared while Washington’s prosperous and populous allies had recovered economically and developed internationally. The U.S. no longer needed to protect Europe.

However, alliance advocates acted like nothing had changed and proposed new justifications for the old organization, such as promoting student exchanges, fighting the drug trade, and encouraging environmental protection. None of these dubious suggestions won much support, however, so member governments turned NATO into a mechanism to integrate Central and Eastern European states. This task should have been left to the European Union, but Washington wanted to “lead” even when America was not directly concerned. The alliance expanded up to the borders of Russia, the shrunken successor state to the Soviet Union.

Efforts to expand NATO are strikingly misguided.”

Included as new members were countries in the Baltic region, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, areas that …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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