Illogic On NATO And Georgia

I always thought Roger Cohen was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and this column on NATO, Georgia and the Ukraine proves it. Interestingly, Cohen starts well:

In retrospect the NATO summit declaration of April 3 about Georgia and Ukraine seems almost criminal in its irresponsibility: “We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.” That lofty commitment emerged from a Bucharest meeting so split over the two countries’ aspirations to enter the Atlantic alliance that it could not even agree to offer the first step toward joining, the Membership Action Plan that prepares nations for NATO.

(Emphasis supplied.) Absolutely. So what does Cohen suggest NATO do?

at the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in December, it should replace Bucharest blather with basics: a Membership Action Plan for Georgia and Ukraine.

Say what? To coin a phrase, that would be "criminal irresponsibility." Does Cohen think we do not have enough wars to fight right now? More . . .

Why should NATO NOT set out a MAP for the Ukraine and Georgia?

It is unconscionable to declare objectives for which the means do not exist, and to paper over European-American division through statements of ringing but empty principle. The history of the so-called “safe areas” in Bosnia, Srebrenica among them, is sufficient testimony to the bloodshed lurking in loose commitments.

That’s a cautionary tale for Monday’s European Union summit on the Georgian crisis: no empty commitments, please, and no feel-good doling-out of threats or sanctions against Russia for which the will and means are lacking. Grandstanding has had its day.

Yes, I am quoting Cohen's own column. A MAP for the Ukraine and Georgia would be grandstanding. No one in Europe or the US is going to war to defend Georgia's territorial claims. And yet Cohen is arguing that NATO signal its willingness to do just that in an act of empty grandstanding. This could provoke Russia to preemptively attack Georgia BEFORE it becomes a member of NATO. Cohen's advice is insane by his own column's argument.

You know when Georgia and the Ukraine should get MAPS? The day after Russia accepts one. And NOT a day before.

Speaking for me only

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    Going to war to defend Georgia? (none / 0) (#1)
    by steviez314 on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 10:14:57 AM EST
    I know this is just the AP and a Russian minister speaking, but after 8 years of Bsuh/Cheney, can you be so sure it's not true?


    Can I even link to an AP story?  I know they've gone nuts over fair use.

    Aren't we all Georgians now? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 11:17:05 AM EST
    Thank God Palin lives in Alaska and is so up on Russia.

    Thats (none / 0) (#6)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 11:47:51 AM EST
    right keep bringing up Palin.  Whats Obama saying now about Georgia?  

    I am NOT bringing up Palin per se (none / 0) (#7)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 12:29:48 PM EST
    I am bringing up dumb comments by conservatives. I certainly  can understand you are embarrassed by the obvious stupidity of the "... being next to Russia" remarks. I would highlight it whether Palin or Murkowski were the governor.

    How do you like being a Georgian now?


    Keep bringin up (none / 0) (#9)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 01:28:10 PM EST
    Palin.  It is working great.  

    So how do you like being a Georgian now? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 01:51:20 PM EST
    Well (none / 0) (#11)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 03:19:50 PM EST
    I do work in Atlanta.  A dues paying, uniform wearing, hourly paid union worker.

    What's at the corner of Monroe & 10th? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 04:50:08 PM EST
    Beats me (none / 0) (#13)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 06:21:02 PM EST
    I work in ATL.  Stay on Virginia Ave (crashpad), go home in Tidewater after my days on the job.

    Try Piedmont Park (none / 0) (#14)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 06:27:28 PM EST
    I used to leave in Atlanta. On Virginia Ave. Which is within walking distance of that corner.

    I'm going to go out on a limb (none / 0) (#2)
    by Maryb2004 on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 10:30:50 AM EST
    and predict that the EU will issue a sternly worded letter.  Cohen will not be happy.  

    I was just reading Gordon Brown's sternly worded op-ed.

    And, in the light of Russian actions, the EU should review - root and branch - our relationship with Russia. We should continue to strengthen the transatlantic relationship and may need to meet more regularly as the G7. We are also reflecting on the Nato response. We must re-evaluate the alliance's relationship with Russia, and intensify our support to Georgia and others who may face Russian aggression .

    Review and reflect.  I guessing the review and reflection could take years.  Or at least until after the American election is over and they can decide how much to "strengthen the transatlantic relationship".

    Well, isn't the real question (none / 0) (#3)
    by frankly0 on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 11:14:22 AM EST
    what does the US (and NATO) do so that it doesn't look like it's completely capitulating to Russia's attempt to exert hegemony over the entire region?

    How does the US in particular push back? How does it make it clear that there are in fact limits to what it will tolerate in terms of Russia's desire to dominate the entire region?

    My guess is that at least some of that pushback must require some brinkmanship -- some blustering (or is it blustering? should be the open question in the minds of Russia's leaders) to the effect that we aren't going to tolerate any bullying in the region.

    This seems to me to be the sort of thinking that lies behind what I've read about Wesley Clark's approach.

    I guess I wonder what those who oppose some kind of confrontational approach (well short of war) offer but an appearance of complete capitulation and weakness.

    the NYT reporting in the last few days (none / 0) (#5)
    by Christy1947 on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 11:44:31 AM EST
    has had some interesting things about the Georgia situation.  First, there was a meeting of a group which includes the large former republics east of the Aral Sea, where Russia sought support for what it had done in Georgia, and DIDN'T get it. Instead the group urged greater diplomatic efforts. Russia reportedly made a huge pitch for that support.  China is also a member of this group, and has its own issues with minority groups in isolated non-Han areas seeking autonomy or worse. So do the former republics. Oops.

    Second, in related reporting this morning, there were articles indicating that places like Chechnya are stirring again against Russia, moving on the belief that Russian resources are tied up in Georgia and therefore there is again opportunity to push for their own indepencence or autonomy.  

    I said some time ago in BTD's posts on this that Russia had its own political problems which were exacerbated by the Georgia situation, with groups inside or right next to its borders also seeking autonomy, who might be moved to new action if Russia let Georgia get away with this or itself misplayed the hand respecting small autonomous groups with territories. Here it now is, again. Hello!

    What might be more useful to consider is splitting apart consideration of Georgia, which does not presently qualify for membership because it does not have real control of everything within its geographical borders, and never has, and Ukraine, which does. Ukraine signed a treaty with us all that in exchange for giving up all nukes left over from the Soviet bad old days, we would protect it against external threats. That's a long done deal from which everyone profits. It may be that a proper course is to find a way to honor that undertaking because of its singular and peculiar nature, and because Ukraine does in fact have regular elections, with one side being pro Russia and one side pro-West, and that may swing back and forth over time. The neutralization by both sides of Ukraine might be worth a good bit if it can be figured out, and honor Ukraine's own right to autonomy and to change its mind back and forth as democracies have a way of doing, without legitimating the lunatics running Georgia at this point. It would also not put nukes right on Russia's border and pointed toward them, which is what is making them not illegitimately crazy.

    And, of course, the second problem with nukes in Ukraine is that if the electorate shifts back to the pro-Russian side, those selfsame nukes can be pointed in the other direction, and will be a whole lot closer.

    Good comment (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 12:39:33 PM EST