US Wants Ukraine to Join NATO

Earlier today, Vice President Joe Biden said the US still supports Ukraine’s bid to join NATO despite opposition from Russia and European allies.  American officials have also expressed a desire to see Georgia join the alliance.

Russia is strongly opposed to NATO expansion near its border in countries that have historically been part of Russia’s sphere of influence. 

After a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Biden said “We do not recognize any sphere of influence.  We do not recognize anyone else’s right to dictate to you or any other country what alliance you seek to belong to or what bilateral relationships you have.”  Perhaps to try to ease Russian concerns, he went on to say “We’re not trying to build our own sphere of influence.  The partnerships aren’t being built against anyone.”

It is disengenous for the US to claim that it is not trying to extend its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe by expanding NATO, because bringing nations into a political-military alliance with the US, which will necessarily bear most of the burden and hold most of the power in the relationship, inherently adds them to America’s sphere of influence.  And despite Biden’s assertion that the US does not recognize spheres of influence, America has claimed predominance in areas of the globe since the 19th century and the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted US primacy in the Western Hemisphere.

Suggestions that NATO expansion and the continued existence of the Cold War alliance is not aimed at deterring Russia are also dubious.  If it is not directed against Russia, what is it directed against?  At the present time, Russia is clearly the only significant military threat to other countries in Europe.

Allowing Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO would be a mistake and have a destabilizing effect on the region.  Thus far, post-Cold War NATO expansion into Central Europe and the Baltic states has been a stabilizing force.  But allowing Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO would have the opposite effect and constitute a major mistake on the part of the West.  It is unlikely that Russia would sit back and allow those two countries to permanently partner with a group of nations that many Russian officials consider adversaries.  Russia would probably respond with military force or intense economic pressure against its neighbors, and diplomatic ties with the West would be strained at best.  It is doubtful that NATO forces could defend Ukraine and Georgia against a Russian attack without precipitating a major war.  Admitting two weak countries that would be difficult to protect into the alliance would not be worth risking a major conflagration or jeapordizing a relationship with a country that is strategically important to the US.

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