Next Up, Dogs And Cats Together

NATO has made
Russia a "junior partner" in the 50-year-old group designed to fight… the Russians
. This is certainly an interesting development to say the least. While Russia is now considered a NATO partner, they will be unable to have a vote into such issues as the expansion of NATO into former Soviet republics.

NATO is no longer the military alliance against the very real threat of Soviet aggression it once was. Now, it’s become another way of giving handouts through military aid, and a political tool. There are two big reasons why NATO expansion places politics above good policy.

The first is pragmatic. What purpose does NATO now serve? NATO was all about preventing a ground war in Europe through a combined show of strength against the Soviets. Al-Qaeda isn’t going to roll tanks through the plains of Germany any time soon. NATO isn’t equipped to handle the realities of the post-Cold War world. Expansion of NATO only further adds a larger overhead needed to get things done. NATO is essentially an organization without a mission.

Second, Russia isn’t ready to join NATO. The Russian military is in shambles, their command systems don’t work, and their personnel often go months without seeing a paycheck. The only way for the Russian military to rebuild itself is for the rest of the country to rebuild itself. It’s the classic guns and butter problem – Russia needs a stable economy to rebuild its military. Joining NATO means that Russia needs to have a level of military readiness they are not prepared to meet at this point. Until such time as they can pull their own weight, giving them membership in NATO is essentially pointless.

Russia is going to play a more and more important role in the world stage, now that they seem to be through the most violent of their teething pains. The level of commitment shown by President Putin proves that he’s serious about reforming the troubled former core of the USSR. But none of that justifies expansion of NATO. Indeed, the whole mission of NATO needs to be reexamined in light of the end of the Cold War. What I see happening is NATO embracing the kind of bureaucratic creep that all governmental groups engage in when their original purpose is threatened. Rather the expanding NATO, what the US and its allies must do is look to retooling a new organization dedicated to fighting battles of the 21st century, not the US/Soviet battles of the past.