Have you had enough of the Russia bashing yet? The anti-Russia rhetoric can be heard frequently in the mainstream media, and the new issue at hand is the expansion of NATO further into the Balkans. The Cold War-era alliance is looking to grab its third constituent country from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Although opinion polls within Montenegro show a huge split between those in favor of membership and those opposed, this will not stop the American-dominated alliance from infuriating the giant Russian bear. Perhaps Senator Rand Paul can fly the bald eagle in the right direction.
NATO has been moving into what was formerly seen as the Russian sphere of influence since the end of the Cold War, and the promise made by President George H. W. Bush that this expansion would not occur in exchange for the reunification of Germany and the end of the conflict was broken with the admission of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 1999 (some American officials like to argue that this promise did not occur to justify their actions). This obviously had implications that have led to deteriorated relations between the United States and Russia. It can, therefore, be argued that so-called intrusions by Russia into countries like Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine are responses to the United States creeping ever-closer to the Russian border. Plus, Russia has not invaded these countries, but has rather intervened in response to situations and conflicts that arise there between the governments and pro-Russian citizens.
Now, the United States has made it clear that Montenegro must be added to NATO to defend it from Russian aggression, but it seems like the ulterior motive of this move is to antagonize Russia. Most Americans may not be aware of what something so seemingly trivial means, but this or any other affront to Russia may just be the fuel to start a hot war with the largest country on earth (in terms of area). Montenegro is a country that is roughly the size of Connecticut with a population comparable to Baltimore. Defending it would be more of a burden to the United States than an interest, especially because NATO countries do not pull their own weight. Perhaps the United States should cut back its military spending to defend Europe if these countries cannot contribute an appropriate amount to the alliance. Is it really fair for American taxpayers to have to defend Europe, especially when the United States has fifty entities of its own to defend?
Senator Paul has attempted to hinder NATO’s annexation of Montenegro, but the majority of the Senate is in favor of the treaty. Although his block may push the issue back a few months (due to more pressing matters like confirming the new Supreme Court justice and continuing government intervention in healthcare under a new name), it is likely that the treaty will end up going into effect at some point.
Another irritating part of this debate is Senator John McCain’s response to Paul’s action. He called him a Russian agent. This seems to be the new label that is given to anyone who opposes a war with Russia. If someone opposes a nuclear exchange that could potentially kill millions of people and devastate the infrastructure, that means that he or she works for Vladimir Putin. That seems logical. How about we send all of the senators who favor the admittance of Montenegro, Ukraine, and Georgia into NATO to the front lines of the war that they helped engineer? That seems even more logical.
Craig Peterson is the author of the book, The Global Bully: How the United States Government Has Supported and Committed Acts of Terrorism From the Cold War to Today. He served in the Air Force for four years and is currently attending the University at Albany in New York.