International Equilibrium

Jeffrey Tayler, writing from Moscow, has a smart dispatch on the war in Georgia. His thoughts on NATO:

...that the United States would even consider proposing Georgia for membership in NATO reflects a blindness to the consequences of the first two rounds of NATO expansion and defies elementary strategic logic.

Leaving aside how enrolling a tiny, technologically backward nation located in the remote Caucasus region jibes with NATO’s treaty-adjured mission to “promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area,” the next round could kill what remains of Russia’s strategic cooperation with the Westcooperation the West will need, for example, to fight Islamic extremism in Central Asia, contain nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, and control the proliferation of nuclear weapons. And Russia, with vast reserves of oil and gas, its arsenal of ICBMs, its million-strong conventional forces, its advanced arms industry, and its close relations with states like Iran, Syria, and North Korea, retains considerable capacity as a maker or breaker of international equilibrium. The West needs Russia on its side, much more than it could benefit from admitting Georgia to NATO, and even more than it would profit from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa pipelines. Moreover, NATO’s previous encroachments into formerly Soviet terrain, in conjunction with NATO’s 1999 war to prise Kosovo from Yugoslavia (an historic Russian ally and fellow Orthodox Christian nation) ignited in Russia the very anti-Western passions that have propelled nationalistic Vladimir Putin to sustained approval ratings of between 70 and 80 percent and threaten a new cold war.