U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership

The other story of note over the weekend was the announcement by the Georgian Foreign Ministry that the U.S. and Georgia would be signing a Strategic Partnership Agreement on Jan. 4. The declaration sent the State Dept. scrambling to issue its own statement, and illustrates yet again the way in which, regardless of the merits of a U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership, a U.S.-Saakashvili partnership leaves us exposed to the whims of a man who has demonstrated his willingness to force our hand in very problematic ways.

That said, the agreement itself, if it is in fact modeled on the recently inked U.S.-Ukraine agreement, is not terribly alarming. It basically reiterates the relationship that already exists on the ground, and the stickiest issues, namely defense and military cooperation, will take place within the framework of the NATO-Georgia Commission. And it in no way provides an American security commitment to Georgia, which would in any event require Congressional approval.

But inasmuch as it’s essentially a private, bilateral Membership Action Plan accorded to Georgia outside the auspices of NATO itself, it’s a good idea, very badly executed. NATO is entering its 60th anniversary under tremendous strain. This is no way to smooth the internal divisions about expansion, in particular, and the alliance’s increasingly blurry role, more generally.