Thursday, March 6, 2014

Future Canadian Wrong-ness

Folks are starting to ponder a new effort to bring Ukraine into NATO.  Oh joy.  In Canada, this makes a heap of sense because Ukrainian-Canadians are not an insignificant voting bloc.  And, yes, enlargement of NATO can be driven by domestic politics.

But I am not sure Canada would do more than just alienate itself a wee bit in NATO.  The Europeans have thus far not been so thrilled as they understand a bit better than the Canadians (or care more, since Canadian decision-makers are not dumb, just domestically oriented) that a Ukraine in NATO might pop the credibility bubble.  That is, the essence of NATO is the commitment to each other in case of attack.  Well, would France risk Paris for Kyiv?  Would Germany risk Munich for Sevastopol?

The US spent the entire Cold War trying to convince its allies as well as its adversaries that, yes, the US would endanger Chicago for Bonn.  Alliances, as Glenn Snyder instructed a while back and Patricia Weitsman (get well!) wrote more recently, the fundamental problem of alliances are two fold and related: one needs to assure allies that you will show up when needed, but that allies can drag you into wars you don't want to fight.  The allies must not engage in more reckless behavior with the guarantee in their pocket.  The US put hundreds of thousands of troops and families into Europe to serve as a credible tripwire to assure the Europeans.

Is anybody thinking of what it would take to credibly commit to Ukraine's defense if it became a member of NATO?  Just flying some jets over on a regular basis like the Baltics?  Probably would need more than that.

In short, I would not be surprised if domestic politics pushed the Harper government to push for Ukraine membership in NATO.  I would also not be surprised if Canada lost that battle, one that I would hope Canada loses.  Enlargement has reached its natural boundaries of credibility.  No Georgia, no Ukraine, no thanks.

and, yes, I hate agreeing with Kissinger.

1 comment:

SAO said...

The problem with Ukraine and Georgia is not that we won't risk Chicago for Kiev or Tblisi, it's that the fundamental problem is internal and NATO is designed to deal with external threats.