TBILISI—Transnational security cooperation, as an idea, has seen better days.
Real and rhetorical commitments to NATO are flagging: President Donald Trump has called the alliance “obsolete”; Germany sees itself soon spending barely half of NATO’s mandated but unenforced target for defense spending; and Britain’s defense budget fell by nearly one-fifth from 2010 to 2015.
The trend is largely understandable. Seventy years after NATO’s founding, and nearly three decades after the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, maintaining the alliance is a lesser priority, if not a burden. Even with a resurgent Russia, the threat of tank divisions rolling across Europe seems mostly ludicrous.
Yet farther to the east, this scenario is not a fantasy—it is recent history. Indeed, for this small country, not even a member state, NATO is nearly sacrosanct.
Situated on Russia’s doorstep, the Caucasus republic of Georgia has long been an enthusiastic proponent of NATO membership. Since the Rose Revolution in 2003, when peaceful demonstrations forced the ouster of a Moscow-backed leader and propelled the pro-Western politician Mikheil Saakashvili to power, the country has prioritized integration into the transatlantic security alliance. Georgia remains the top non-NATO contributor of troops to the coalition mission in Afghanistan, with 885 soldiers in the country, and previously stationed the third-largest contingent of soldiers in Iraq during that country’s occupation, after the United States and Britain. Despite such efforts, the prospects of Georgia joining the alliance remain dim.