So now we’re inviting Ukraine and Georgia into NATO.
Great. Uh… then what?
NATO used to mean something. It used to do something. Namely: defend Western Europe from a Soviet attack. If Russian tanks ever came streaming across the North German Plain, we had a plan in place to deal with it. We had REFORGER sites up and down Germany, where pre-positioned equipment waited for our flown-in soldiers to “mate up” and drive (hopefully) eastward into battle. We had transport ships and naval escorts nearly at the ready to bring in more troops and fresh supplies. We kept nuclear subs in place to slow the Soviet Red Banner Northern Fleet, surging out of bases on the Kola peninsula. We even, Whomever help us, had nukes trained on the enemy. Most importantly, we trained — and trained hard — with our West German and British allies on the actual terrain we’d be forced to defend.
In other words, NATO had a plan.
If we’ve learned one thing from the disastrous first three years in Iraq, it’s that you’ve got to have a plan. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be in place. I’ve even offered my own modest plan for the Long War against Islamic terrorism.
And if Russia were to attack Ukraine, what would we do? Lithuania? How about even Poland, or eastern Germany? Do we have a plan? Have we trained with the Poles? Do we have units tasked to the defense of the roads leading into Warsaw?
NATO isn’t a defensive alliance anymore. It’s a club. It’s a very nice club of very nice countries, and it even has a very nice clubhouse — er, headquarters — in Belgium. But it’s an alliance without a plan, and without even a real enemy.
And while it probably wouldn’t hurt to let in a couple more members, two questions need to be asked. What would they contribute? And what would be our responsibilities?
No policy-makers asked these questions when NATO let in Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, and all the rest after 1989. And nobody important is asking them today.
So by all means, let in Ukraine. Bring in Georgia. Might as well let in Armenia and Mongolia, too. How about the Zambians? They seem nice.
My point is, it doesn’t matter. Because until NATO has a plan, it’s not a real alliance. It’s just a big G-8 meeting with guns.