As we know, the Bush administration has gifted
us with two wars. It has also promulgated the "Bush Doctrine," which
asserts the nation's right to launch a preventive strike against any country
that could potentially threaten the U.S. At the same time, this administration
has supported expanding NATO to include former parts of the Soviet Union, such
as Georgia and Ukraine. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West has moved
its presence closer and closer to Moscow itself. The Baltic states, which border
Russia, have been brought into the European Union and NATO. Poland, together
with Bulgaria and Hungary, once elements of the Soviet Bloc, are now members
of the EU and NATO.
In addition, the administration has pressured and bribed Poland, as well
as the Czech Republic, into authorizing our military to establish anti-missile
weapons and advanced radar in the two countries. Although Washington claims
that those bases are intended solely to protect against Iranian rockets Ė which
are not advanced enough to threaten the U.S. Ė Moscow believes that they are
being installed with Russian weapons in mind. As a result, Russia feels increasingly
that it is being surrounded and pushed into a corner. That is very dangerous.
If the Russians were to adopt the Bush Doctrine, they might launch a preemptive
strike against America.
Sen. McCain has called for expelling Russia from the G8 group of industrial
nations and preventing it from joining the World Trade Organization. McCain
also wants to establish a League of Democratic states that would not include
Russia or China. Which countries are democratic enough to qualify, he has failed
to specify. All of these steps isolate Russia further from the West.
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin asserted in her interview
with Charles Gibson of ABC news that Georgia and Ukraine deserve to join NATO.
Should Russia attack one of them, she acknowledged, we would be obligated to
go to its assistance. In other words, we would have to launch a war on Russia.
Through 40 years of the Cold War we managed to avoid a nuclear war with the
Soviet Union. It would be devastating and tragic if now we were to become embroiled
in a war with Russia, which has nuclear weapons, plus the intercontinental
missiles powerful enough to deliver them to the U.S.
If you are hiking in the woods and come across a wild animal, you should
always give it a way to escape. Once cornered, the animal will attack you.
The same advice applies when dealing with a dangerous country. Never corner
it. Unfortunately that is exactly what this administration has been doing with
We have already seen the results of attempting to bring Georgia into NATO.
The Russians felt cornered. After we encouraged the Georgian regime to attempt
to bring back the wayward territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moscow
felt justified in sending troops into Georgia. Had Bush prevailed and secured
Georgia's membership in NATO, we would have been obliged to send troops to
Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, Pat Buchanan stresses British Prime
Minister Neville Chamberlain's promise to the Polish government, a military
dictatorship reputedly as anti-Semitic as the Nazis, that Britain would go
to war to defend Poland, handing those unsavory rulers the power to force Britain
into war. Given the British guarantee, Warsaw was unwilling to negotiate with
Germany. Extending NATO to Ukraine or Georgia would allow those unstable states
to force the U.S. and other NATO countries into war with Russia.
Ukraine's membership would be even more of a provocation than Georgia's.
The Crimean Peninsula is a flash point. In 1954, the peninsula was transferred
from Russian to Ukrainian administration, partly as a reward to Ukraine, partly
because the peninsula was geographically closer to Ukraine. With the breakup
of the Soviet Union, Ukraine claimed the peninsula. The population, however,
generally speaks Russian, not Ukrainian, and identifies more with Moscow than
with Kiev. In 2001 the population
of Crimea was about 52 percent Russian, 24 percent Ukrainian, and 18 percent
Tatar, with other groups making up the balance. Under a 20-year treaty with
Ukraine that expires in 2017, the Russian navy is stationed in Sevastopol.
This provides Moscow with a year-round warm water port with access not only
to the Black Sea but ultimately to the Mediterranean. Were Ukraine to join
NATO, Russia would be expected to abandon its naval base. Clearly, it would
be very unwilling to do so and would probably encourage the local population
to demand independence from Ukraine.
There have been several attempts by the population of the Crimea to become
independent. The peninsula now has considerable autonomy. Recently it has been
alleged that Russia has been issuing passports to those in the Crimea who request
them. In South Ossetia the Russians have given their passports to anyone who
wanted one, leading to the claim that the Russian army was simply protecting
its own nationals.
The Bush administration has led America into two interminable wars. It has
threatened Iran with attacks and has been attempting to box in Russia by adding
more countries to NATO, thus giving small, backward countries with unstable
governments the power to ignite another war. The U.S. cannot afford a third
conflict, either in money or in human lives. We should neither include these
states in NATO nor should we build the anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe.
By cooperating with Russia, we might be able to achieve a great deal of good
in the world, but cornering the Russian bear might lead to catastrophe.