Still pushing the button

At the risk of too much Bush-blogging, one has to wonder about the irritation level in Athens as George Bush continues to make the case for Macedonia’s admission to NATO, even against the backdrop described by Doug Muir over the last week. Here he is in St Mark’s Square in Zagreb —

The invitation to join NATO that Croatia and Albania received this week is a vote of confidence that you will continue to make necessary reforms and become strong contributors to our great Alliance. Henceforth, should any danger threaten your people, America and the NATO Alliance will stand with you, and no one will be able to take your freedom away. (Applause.)

I regret that NATO did not extend an invitation to Macedonia at this week’s summit. Macedonia has made difficult reforms at home, and is making major contributions to NATO missions abroad. Unfortunately, Macedonia’s invitation was delayed because of a dispute over its name. In Bucharest, NATO allies declared that as soon as this issue is resolved, Macedonia will be extended an invitation to join the Alliance. America’s position is clear: Macedonia should take its place in NATO as soon as possible. (Applause.)

The NATO Alliance is open to all countries in the region. We welcome the decisions of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro to take the next steps toward membership called Intensive [sic] Dialogue. And we hope that soon a free and prosperous Serbia will find its rightful place in the family of Europe, and live at peace with its neighbors. (Applause.)

Perhaps the other NATO countries were thankful he didn’t offer membership to Kosovo. But the Macedonia position seems like a case study in how he’s viewing everything through the Iraq prism. Military involvement in Iraq, however small, is a big plus in his eyes, Greece be damned — even after all the nice things he said on Greek Independence Day. On the margin one would have thought that his pro-Macedonia position makes a name-compromise less likely, since Macedonia knows it has NATO’s biggest member in its camp.

3 thoughts on “Still pushing the button

  1. This is pretty funny. Your opinion could hardly be more authentically European.

    NATO is a military alliance, and yet you find it strangely incomprehensible that a country like Macedonia should be given credit for providing actual military help in an actual military conflict.

    Look at this for a moment from the American point of view. Most NATO ‘allies’ are about as useful in real situations as if they were made of tissue paper (at best). You would do what Bush is doing – focus on the ones who look as if they have some ‘fight’ in them, and utter politely meaningless phrases flattering the others.

    America works with the parts of NATO that are willing because that’s all that remains of the alliance today. The rest of Europe will, as on so many prior occasions, still be wondering ‘what it all means’ when the next enemy comes crashing across its borders.

  2. I don’t doubt that military involvement in Iraq is a big plus in Bush’s eyes. And God knows Macedonian leaders have done some horrible things in an attempt to get on this administration’s good side. (Google “Macedonia Pakistani Al Qaeda”, if you can stomach it.)

    That said, blind pigs and stopped clocks; it’s not in NATO’s or the US’s interest to encourage this sort of nonsense.

    I note in passing that the Balkans is a region where there’s been a lot of continuity between late Clinton and the seven years of Bush. This is partly — okay, mostly — because the Bush administration has not been very interested in the Balkans. But it’s also because US policy in the region has been gradualist, meliorist, and aligned with what (most of) Europe wants.

    Also worth noting: the key US players in the Balkans have all been career diplomats. Nicholas Burns — the State Department’s “last grownup” — has been particularly central.

    Oh, and: a hypothetical Obama administration would probably stay the course on most issues, but might back off a little on Macedonia. Obama has a lot of Greek-Americans in his Illinois constituency.

    Doug M.

  3. NATO is a military alliance. Countries enter alliances because they believe it serves their interests. NATO was built on the premise of partners with common interests, not slaves to Mr. Bush. With this in view:
    -when the US takes the decision to invade Iraq on the false premise of WMDs, Europeans do not have to follow; it will be very hard to sell to the public why their kids have to die over a planless
    occupation of Iraq. If my friend wants to go and do something stupid and I advise him against that, and he does it anyway, I do not have to share responsibility for the consequences.
    -Similarly Greece has no interest to help a country whose sole purpose is to first hijack its history and ultimately annex a part of it.
    Countries don’t commit suicide to please a US president on his way out, especially a president whose administration has been downright hostile towards them, no matter what they did. Nor do they have an obligation to help out countries that behave in an insulting manner towards them . In many countries, including Greece, sending troops to Iraq would be extremely unpopular and with good reason: right now EU soil is OCCUPIED by a foreign army(in Northern Cyprus). The purpose of armies of both countries and Federations is to first defend their own soil, then maybe help with missions abroad.
    -Furthermore, on Kosovo, law , in particular international law, is the one thing the weaker parties have against stronger ones. So countries with nuclear weapons for example can go ahead and recognize Kossovo, disrespecting their own vote in the Security Council. Countries who want to invoke international law would be understandably reluctant to break it by recognizing Kossovo.
    Incidentally, being straight with both friends and enemies is wise in the long run. Now Ahmadinezad, who is a much larger threat to everybody than Milosevic ever was and certainly than the current Serbian government, can believably tell his own people “do not take western guarantees seriously, because they also guaranteed Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity and look how much they respect that”. Also, with NATO forces spread thin in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, what do you do if Russia, who does not recognize Kossovo, sends forces there at the invitation of the Serbian government, whom they(and 1244) recognize as sovereign there?

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