Yet, it was understood during the Cold War that if a NATO ally like Norway, West Germany or Turkey, which bordered on the Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact, were attacked, America would come to its defense.
Can any sane man believe the United States should go to war with a nuclear-armed Russia over Stalin's birthplace, Georgia?
Two provinces of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, have seceded, with the backing of Russia. And there are 10 million Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east of that country, and Moscow and Kiev are at odds over which is sovereign on the Crimean Peninsula.
To bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO would put America in the middle of these quarrels. We could be dragged into a confrontation with Russia over Abkhazia, or South Ossetia, or who owns Sebastopol. To bring these ex-republics of the Soviet Union into NATO would be an affront to Moscow not unlike 19th century Britain bringing the Confederate state of South Carolina under the protection of the British Empire.
How would Lincoln's Union have reacted to that?
With a weary army and no NATO ally willing to fight beside us, how could we defend Georgia if Tbilisi, once in NATO, defied Moscow and invaded Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- and Russia bombed the Georgian army and capital? Would we declare war? Would we send the 82nd Airborne into the Pankisi Gorge?
Fortunately, Germany is prepared to veto any Bush attempt to put Ukraine or Georgia on a fast track into NATO. But President Bush is no longer the problem. John McCain is.
As Anatol Lieven writes in the Financial Times, McCain supports a restoration of Georgian rule over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine. He wants to throw Russia out of the G-8 -- and talks flippantly of bombing Iran.
Says McCain, "I would institute a policy called 'rogue state rollback.' I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically elected governments."
Wonderful. A Second Crusade for Global Democracy. But with the Joint Chiefs warning of a war-weary Army and Marine Corps, who will fight all the new wars the neocons and their new champion have in store for us?