I've been going back an forth with a blogger who advocates admitting Georgia into NATO. A political liberal, he argues that Putin would never dare invade a NATO country and so, by entangling ourselves with Tiblisi, we draw a line that the Russian Bear would never cross.
Using the word "never" in this case is naive to the point of being dangerous. The Soviets, of course, would "never" have dared invade Afghanistan. The Germans would "never" have dared to invade Poland. Saddam, I'm sure, thought that because he had done such a good job convincing the world that he had weapons of mass destruction, we "never" were going to invade Iraq. Yeah, and those sub-prime CDOs were "never" a risk to the stability of the American banking system.
Invading Georgia is a gimme for the Russians. It's on their border. It's small and it's weak--the size of South Carolina with approximately the same population. Swallowing Georgia would boost Putin's and Russia's manliness both at home and on the international playground. It would strengthen Moscow's stranglehold on Europe's energy supply. It would even make them rich.
From Putin's perspective, what's the potential downside? We might boycott the winter Olympics? Weak. We'll kick them out of G8? Boo-hoo. We'll put more missiles in Poland? My guess, they can live with that. Yet in the end they'll still have Georgia. And they will have sent a message to Ukraine: play by Moscow's rules or suffer the Georgian fate.
Georgia in NATO would be a big mistake. As I say to my kids, be careful in choosing your friends. George Washington put it differently in his farewell address when advising future generations to steer clear of permanent alliances--avoid entangling alliances.
So, let the European nations kill Georgia's admittance to NATO. Barry and McC, you can say it's important all you want. That shows that you're strong and gets you votes. But . . . are you really willing to go to war over a piss ant country the size of South Carolina?
For the sake of our future, don't commit us to a fight on the far side of the Black Sea. The risk far outweighs the reward.