Friday, October 17, 2008

The Unanswered Question

Over at New Atlanticist, James Joyner asks the "unaswered question": what is NATO really for?

He quotes from the latest CRS report on expanding the alliance, but then concludes:

"Inherent in the discussion, but not answered in the report — which is, after all, intended to prevent Members of Congress and their staffs with information, not dictate policy — is the goal of the Alliance. Albania and Croatia add little strategic value, Macedonia creates friction within the Alliance just by its name, and Georgia and Ukraine are on the other side of a "red line" drawn by Russia. So, if NATO is primarily a defensive military alliance, adding any of them in the near future is counterproductive.

"If, on the other hand, NATO is only incidentally military but mostly a means of spreading and institutionalizing Western values and cooperation, then cautiously adding those states as they meet the required political, economic, and military standards promotes the Alliance's mission.

"This, unfortunately, is not a question for which social science can provide valuable insight."

But it is a question policymakers should be able to answer.

But they won't and can't.
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