Interesting align with the new europe over the old and keep NATO and US goals seperate ?
By BENNY AVNI
| August 18, 2008
<!—->The next American president should start thinking right now about creating a new military alliance based in New Europe, whose members — some of them members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, others perhaps not — would rush to each other’s defense if attacked.
The creation of international alliances to compete with the all-inclusive and all too permanent United Nations in the field of international cooperation could improve the world body tremendously. Military alliances such as NATO could stand some competition, too. How about a new Warsaw Pact?
It is unclear whether by this morning Russia will have begun withdrawing its troops from Georgia or if it will remain, in the words of Secretary of State Rice on the Sunday morning news shows, “not in compliance” with the cease-fire agreement it signed with President Sarkozy of France. Either way, America and Europe will keep on calling Russia’s actions “unacceptable.”
Is there anything else they can do?
During the Soviet era, the West did not seriously confront the Soviet Union when it violated the Olympic spirit: Hungary was invaded on the eve of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The Mexico City Games in October 1968 were somewhat overshadowed by Soviet tanks rolling into Prague that August; Afghanistan was overrun even as Moscow was preparing to host its own Olympics in 1980. The Soviet Union was settling scores inside its sphere of influence, and for the West that was that.
Times have changed — or have they?
When Russian tanks entered Georgia just as the Beijing Olympics were getting under way, I asked the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, about this Kremlin tradition. Prime Minister Putin was attending the games and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was away on vacation, Mr. Churkin said, indicating — incredibly — that the events in South Ossetia had taken Moscow by surprise and that no premeditation was involved.
At one point this week or early next, the U.N. Security Council will adopt a resolution that would make Mr. Sarkozy’s cease-fire agreement binding. The West wants to squeeze the proverbial toothpaste back into the tube by returning the situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to where it was on the eve of the outbreak of hostilities, on August 7. Russia does not. Georgia can forget about ever controlling those two regions again, Mr. Lavrov said. Russian troops, meanwhile, are in control of the Georgian Black Sea port city of Poti and the strategically located birthplace of Stalin, Gori. They may withdraw from there “sooner or later,” Kremlin officials say, though Mr. Sarkozy says he has Mr. Putin’s word that they should start withdrawing now.
Mr. Sarkozy’s cease-fire is “a terrible deal from Georgia’s point of view,” a former American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, told me yesterday. To prevent Russia from having a “free hand” in the former Soviet Union, Georgia should be admitted into NATO now, he added.
“Georgia is a sovereign state that deserves to be in NATO,” Chancellor Merkel of Germany told reporters yesterday in Tbilisi, where she appeared alongside President Saakashvili. But how soon? Germany has led the opposition to full NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, and even yesterday Mrs. Merkel was noncommittal in her answer, saying, “I cannot tell you when.”
“This is a test for Europe,” Mr. Bolton said. “They need a gut check.”
If the Europeans reject Georgia’s candidacy for NATO membership, he added, “then I think we would have to start thinking of something else.” But “it’s better to know that now, rather than later,” he added.
Since the Old Europeans often fail on “gut checks,” perhaps some new thinking is in order. Last week Poland bravely signed up for America’s missile defense plan, signaling to Moscow that it will not be intimidated by Russia’s aggression in Georgia. Other former Soviet republics and former Eastern Bloc members have shown a similar resolve to avoid returning to the old Cold War rules, which had them catering to Moscow’s dictates.
Just as it has tested the world’s will during past Olympic Games, Russia has always tested new American leaders, and it now seems to have an eye on our next president. President Bush certainly should use all his influence in NATO to promote membership for Georgia and Ukraine. He also should shrink the number of leading industrial countries back to seven, excluding Russia, and push the missile shield program forward.
It’s time for a new alliance, a new coalition of the willing. And since Moscow is in such a nostalgic mood, members of this new alliance should sign their treaty in Warsaw, just like some of them did on May 14, 1955.