Nato: Keep your eye on the ball

NATO in Georgia.  Source: AFP

Little kids want to live in a world where they get everything they want.  Parents teach kids that they can control only so much.  In AA meetings, recovering alcoholics quote the “Serenity Prayer,” attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

Let us add to this – use your scarce resources to change the things that are important to change.  This would be a good prescription for the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO should focus on what really matters to Western interests over the coming half-century:  arresting the proliferation of WMD; stopping Iran from acquiring the above; anchoring the Great and Rising Powers (including Russia and China) into Western institutions in order to more effectively resolve regional conflicts and other global problems; and, gently pushing human development in the direction of Fukuyama’s End of History. 

Ensconcing Georgia in NATO and other Western institutions is expressly not on this list of priorities (see NYTimes article).  Sure, it would be nice to have Georgia in NATO.  Likewise it would be nice to have Russia in NATO, Kissinger’s point that alliances must be against someone notwithstanding.  But, as adults we must realize that we cannot have it all.  America’s unipolar moment of the nineties gave us a false sense of our power.  Let us therefore refocus our priorities on what is important.  We can debate the latter, but let us at least open the debate.  This is change we can believe in.

I understand the notion of not caving into Russia on every action they take in their so-called “near-abroad.”  However, I wonder if NATO could have quietly “postponed” the military exercises in Georgia (which are part of its Partnership for Peace program, a name that probably appears like doublespeak to the Great Powers not participating, much like Ronald Reagan’s MX “Peacekeeper” missile). 

Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia who behaved irresponsibly last summer in that country’s conflict with Russia, is bolstered by the seeming Western support of his objectives.  A report on NATO’s exercises in Georgia appeared on the front page of China’s Xinhua news agency’s web site.  Are these military exercises in Georgia critical to the security of NATO’s members, and by undertaking them, are we encouraging Russia and China to help us (the West) achieve our priorities?  Read what NATO has to say about its relations with Georgia.

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