Thursday, April 03, 2008

PostNATO care

By Carl

Well, some
interesting developments in foreign relations today...

NATO has decided not to include the Ukraine and Georgia among its new members after strong objections from Russia. However, the alliance pledged that the two countries would eventually become members.

President Bush was a supporter of the Ukraine and Georgia's bids to become members of NATO.

Former Soviet republics Croatia and Albania were invited to become members in the decision announced Thursday.[...]

Macedonia was denied entry to the alliance after Greece blocked its invitation because of objections to the country's name. However, leaders said Macedonia can join as soon as it resolves the dispute, AP said.

Greece has a northern province that is also called Macedonia, and argues the former Yugoslav republic's insistence on being known as Macedonia implies a territorial claim.

The denial of Macedonia is a pretty silly matter, unless of course, you're Greek, or Turkish, for that matter. It's a little like denying York, Pennsylvania full American rights because it sounds like New York City.

However, the Georgia/Ukraine as well as Croatia/Albania questions... there's an interesting little bit of chemin de fer amongst the NATO allies. Russia, which of course was most decidely NOT a charter member of NATO, set up to defend against the Soviet Union's hegemony into Europe.

One almost gets the sense that Bush got the split difference: he lost out on Georgia and Ukraine, countries he had explicitly asked membership for, but was granted Albania and Croatia, which, while not former Soviet republics, certainly were under USSR influence in the old Warsaw Pact country of Yugoslavia. He had not lobbied for these. Give the baby his candy, perhaps?

This indicates the rise of Vladimir Putin's profile in European matters in tandem with the decline of American prestige in such affairs, even amongst our staunchest allies and pledged defenders.

In his book
Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, David Rothkopf makes the observation that the 21st century will see a kind of global government arise that will subsume national governments, and it won't be led by America.

While this was likely inevitable before the Bush administration fumbled foreign affairs so badly after the sparkling diplomacy of Bill Clinton, Rothkopf points out that only the Bush administration could have the world hating us...for being the victim of a terror attack!

This "New World Order," to use a hackneyed phrase, will originate in Asia, and be led by China, India (which is poised to become the most populous nation on the planet shortly), and -- you guessed it! -- Russia.

Indeed, several nations which have been mulling admission into NATO have not aggressively pursued admittance simply because they view NATO as not "European enough" (code word for "too dominated by the US").

Keep in mind that Russia, China, and India all possess nukes, and all have shall we say, close working relationships with Iran?

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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  • Great title, Carl. And I think your analysis is correct. Much of this stems, I think, from Bush's weakness as a world leader, and from American's weakened standing in the world. And while the U.S. has seen its standing decline, in relative terms (and perhaps also in absolute ones) over the past seven-plus years, China, India, and Russia have all made strides forward. Yes, even Russia, though it is unlikely to be the the sort of world leader China will be in the years to come.

    As for NATO, one key problem I see concerns what purpose it is supposed to serve in the post-Cold War period. There is no imminent Soviet threat to be checked, but it is still a military alliance. But how can a military alliance be effective when its membership grows to the point where military action would be next to impossible? Which is to say, what's the point of including the Ukraine and Georgia? If it is to continue to be an alliance capable of taking military action, it must remain within manageable organizational parameters. If it grows to include not just Eastern Europe but the entirety of the former Soviet Union with the exception of Russia -- and then why not expand into Africa and Latin America (all that would be required is a name change) -- then it risks becoming a mini-U.N. This isn't to say that I'm opposed to the U.N., it's just that the U.N. isn't a military alliance. NATO is supposed to be different.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 4:12 PM  

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