Score One for Europe

My rant against the President’s NATO folly has had the desired effect: no dice for Ukraine and Georgia. In another nice move, NATO’s European members have agreed to missile defense. (Caveat: “The Poles have yet to agree to the plan.”) This action annoys Russia, just like eastward NATO expansion. But of course it was never about not annoying Russia — just not making stupid and useless provocations. And think of how easier it is to assure Russia that we’re not in the stupid-and-useless business if we leave Ukraine and Georgia where they belong.

Or belong for now, at least. Resilient Mr. President is unbent:

NATO’s door must remain open to other nations in Europe that share our love for liberty and demonstrate a commitment to reform and seek to strengthen their ties with the trans-Atlantic community,” Bush said in brief remarks at an alliance meeting. “We must give other nations seeking membership a full and fair hearing.”

Well, yes, but only out of politeness, because “we” needn’t admit any “nation” simply because it wants to join the club. Still, if, some day, Ukrainians and Georgians develop the same sort of broad-based interest in NATO now shared by NATO’s European members, the situation will look rather different than it does now. Rather than leaving the door open, NATO should leave it, like your favorite professor’s door, closed but unlocked. If Ukraine and Georgia really became thriving democracies — a goal which it is not, and must not become, NATO’s mission to assure — then I suspect Russia would recognize its own options had become limited, and off to NATO the two former SSRs would go. Getting to that point, however, is a job for the EU, if any institution.

UPDATE: test your NATO foreign policy acumen at the Duck.