Thursday, October 13, 2011

Georgia on My Mind

The US is apparently pushing to have Georgia start the NATO membership process.  Oy!  First, of course, Georgia hardly meets the criteria for entry, given its inability to control its own territory and its failure to resolve its relations with its neighbors.  Not that I think that membership criteria are serious barriers to entry.  Far from it.

Second, and, more importantly, it undermines the essence of NATO.  The heart of the organization is a promise by all to help out when any one of the members is attacked.  Sure, as my work the past few years has shown, the opt out clause in Article V is quite real, so not all countries will show up.  Indeed, we saw this in the aftermath of 9/11 and the first time article V got invoked.  But it is one thing for some members to stay out of the common defense.  It is another to admit a country that no member seriously intends to defend, not even the US.  In the crisis a couple of years back, the US helped out Georgia, but not very far and far less than they expected.

Which leads to a third problem: providing Georgia with the appearance of security guarantees might just encourage its leaders to be less cooperative and perhaps even more provocative with its neighbors--namely Russia.  As I just lectured yesterday, one of the major kinds of war-causing misperceptions focuses on allies.  Will they or won't they come in to play in a crisis?

So, I have no real clue what the US is doing here.  Does anyone else?

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