Monday, March 16, 2009
The Penalties of Rapid Expansion
"Allowing an enthusiastically pro-EU, pro-NATO state to fail for want of a few billion presents "a different sort of moral hazard," says one senior Western diplomat in Moscow. "The bottom line is, you have to stand by your friends … or you don't make any more friends."
It does seem that expansion occurred too fast, too soon--and the costs that are now being incurred are likely to inhibit any further expansion.
The EU is looking at economies sliding into collapse all across its eastern periphery (and some of the countries of the earlier expansions aren't doing so well either). NATO expanded at a time when Russia seemed prostrate and Article 5 commitments could be extended without much thought--then came the Russia-Georgia war. Plus NATO's continued unraveling over Afghanistan doesn't inspire much confidence.
Twenty years ago, NATO as a smaller group was much more formidable--and the EU was born at Maastricht with a smaller number of states whose economies were much more aligned. Are either stronger today as a result of expansion?
A serious PFP program, an expanded EFTA--could these not have started countries on a slower, more gradual path to integration?
I don't know--but the questions have to be asked.
When I studied Eurpean law at a German University in the late 80`s there was a clear idea of had to be done before enlargement became viable.
All this homework has never been properly done. It was judged more opportune to proceed without it.
So here we are, with a grotesquely inefficient hyper - multiligual bureaucracy and no political consensus.
Hope we can muddle through somehow. Not our finest hour, though.
Anyhow, let`s look on the bright side of life - after this thing people will be even more skeptical about bringing Turkey in, hopefully giving the EU time to reorganize.
But the fact of the matter is that Ukraine is a dependency, incapale of paying their bills without continual, massive subsidy. Up until recently, Russia paid the bills, in return for little but Western-supported Russophobic vituperation. Unfortunately for Ukrainians, that Western support shows no indication of amounting to much beyond words.