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Stop the Insanity: Halt NATO Enlargement to Salvage Relations with Russia

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When Russian troops rolled into Georgia on 8 August 2008, it marked Russias first offensive operations outside its territory since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1989. Proponents of North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO enlargement saw this as proof that only NATO membership can stop Russian aggression. More thoughtful observers countered that had Georgia already joined the alliance, NATO would have faced the stark choice of confronting the Russian military virtually on its home court or admitting that the organizations security guarantee did not apply equally to all members. NATO should call a temporary halt to enlargement, using the ensuing pause to develop a meaningful partnership with Russia. Further expansion simply risks dangerous conflict with Russia for very little gain. Proponents for NATO enlargement argue NATO membership should be open to all European nations. After all, Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty states the organization may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. They fail to understand how differently Russians perceive this peaceful expansion of the alliance to other democratic nations. Even before Russias Georgia incursion and the subsequent backlash from the West, strong anti-NATO feelings predominated among Russians. In April 2008, over 90 percent of the studio audience for a popular Russian TV talk show believed NATO threatened Russia. During the discussion about NATO expansion, one political analyst asserted NATO strategy is to encirle Russia while a member of Russias parliament stated NATOs goal is to prevent Russia from growing stronger.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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