The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

NATO enlargement: who’s fooling whom?

April 2, 2008

How should one account for President Bush’s April 1, 2008 speech at the NATO summit? In my view, either those who drafted the speech went a bit too crazy with the Control-X and Control-V buttons, or they just don’t care if he makes transparently inconsistent arguments.

Bush on missile-defense deployments in Eastern Europe:

“This week President Putin is planning to attend his first NATO summit and later this week I plan to travel to Sochi, Russia, for further talks on this and other matters. In our discussions, I will reiterate that the missile defense capabilities we are developing are not designed to defend against Russia just as the new NATO we are building is not designed to defend against Russia. The Cold War is over. Russia is not our enemy. We are working toward a new security relationship with Russia whose foundation does not rest on the prospect of mutual annihilation.”

Bush on MAP for Georgia and Ukraine:

“This week, our Alliance must also decide how to respond to requests by Georgia and Ukraine to participate in NATO’s Membership Action Plan. These two nations inspired the world with their Rose and Orange revolutions and now they are working to consolidate their democratic gains and cement their independence. Welcoming them into the Membership Action Plan would send a signal to their citizens that if they continue on the path of democracy and reform they will be welcomed into the institutions of Europe. And it would send a signal throughout the region that these two nations are, and will remain, sovereign and independent states. Here in Bucharest, we must make clear that NATO welcomes the aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine for membership in NATO and offers them a clear path forward toward that goal. So my country’s position is clear: NATO should welcome Georgia and Ukraine into the Membership Action Plan. And NATO membership must remain open to all of Europe’s democracies that seek it, and are ready to share in the responsibilities of NATO membership.”

So, let’s take a quiz. Who, exactly, might the Bush Administration believes constitutes a threat to Ukrainian and Georgian “independence”?

a) Moldova and Azerbaijan, respectively
b) Svalbard
c) The Robots
d) The European Union
e) Russia


a) -15 points, b) 5 points, c) 5 points, d) 10 points, e) 1,030,053,021 points

Ranking your foreign-policy acumen:

-15 to 0 points: Okaaaay….
1 to 5 points: Plausible, but unlikely
6 to 20 points: Oddly plausible
21 to 1,030,053,041 points: Does anyone really buy the stuff they’re selling?

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.