Don’t Expand NATO: The Case Against Membership for Georgia and Ukraine

At the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in December, U.S. officials will once again make the case for admitting Georgia and Ukraine to the alliance. Our NATO allies, with Germany and France leading the way, already blocked the two countries' path to membership last spring, a move that in retrospect might have prevented August's dustup between Russia and Georgia from escalating into a nuclear standoff. Rather than being grateful to them, U.S. leaders are instead doubling down on folly.

If the Bush administration gets its way, NATO will this time offer these nations Membership Action Plans, one of the last steps towards full membership that generally lasts one to two years. Although the interests of the United States -- and its NATO allies -- militate against expanding the alliance, both U.S. presidential candidates support the misguided position, meaning that it will very likely outlast the Bush administration.

To justify another round of NATO expansion, U.S. foreign policy analysts portray a Russia -- fueled by energy wealth and Vladimir Putin -- that has reinvigorated its economy, cast off pretenses of democracy and repaired its military. According to this scenario, Moscow is now poised to overrun its democratic neighbors and reclaim the Soviet empire, all the while gathering energy supplies to use to blackmail Western clients. Hitler and Stalin taught us that aggressors must be stopped early, so it follows that we must now contain Russia by extending security guarantees to its neighbors.

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