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Geographical perspective

Point on the North Atlantic coast nearest Tbilisi, Georgia: Lausvnes, Norway
Approximate distance between Tbilisi and Lausvnes: 3,320 km
Approximate distance from Signal Hill, Nfld., to Muxía, Galicia: 3,400 km
Other countries with a potential claim to NATO membership on the basis of being as close or closer to the actual North Atlantic than Georgia: Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Nigeria, Chad, Egypt


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Comments (24)

What makes you think Colombia, for instance, wouldn't be admitted to NATO in a second if it wanted to be?

Or Japan, for that matter,

So everybody but Russia is eligible then? The neocons keep reassuring 'em we're not "encircling them"—do you suppose they'll keep buying that right up until literally everybody else in the Northern Hemisphere except the neutrals is a member?


If Russia ever made a credible case for being a stable country yearning for western liberalism, I expect they'd be welcome, too. I'm not counting on that happening in the next twenty years, though.


Lol, because NATO is the very soul of western liberalism.

I can't wait for Georgia to join NATO so that they can leap to our defense when the Chinese try to invade Canada, or fucking Spain, man. That would be fucking USEFUL, that would.

So, to recap without my clumsy sarcasm... NATO is a military alliance for mutual defense purposes.

Now precisely what that has to do with the boondoggle in Afghanistan is debatable, but it's arguable at least that we're in there fighting the same general group of guys that attacked a NATO member in 2001.

But there are two pretty big fucking problems with admitting Georgia to a north Atlantic based military alliance - they are able to do fuck all to help out NATO militarily in the event that a member comes under attack, and more to the point, we certainly are utterly fucking helpless to come to their military aid if they get attacked. I think this past week has made this last point abundantly clear.

Seriously... the way some of these idiots are talking, they would have WANTED us to have been obligated to get into a shooting war with Russia last week, ten thousand kilometres from here.

C'mon now man, some of us are a little closer. I'm just shy of 9,200 from Gori city hall.

(Simon Sebag Montefiore points out in his awesome Court of the Red Tsar that Gori is closer to Baghdad than Moscow—a fact of which fellow Central Asian hillbilly Saddam Hussein, who privately venerated the Gori-born Stalin, was well aware.)

I would have thought the relocation of a Pacific Coast League team to Round Rock, Texas (1861km from the Pacific Ocean, 244km from the Gulf of Mexico) would have taught you not to put much faith anymore into the accuracy of an acronym.

It's more like 1,180 from Round Rock to the coast if you head due SW. And, to be honest, the old location was at least 950 from any point on the Pacific proper.


In other news, the Big Ten has eleven teams. Penn State has yet to lose a game by automatic disqualification on grounds of numerical perspective.

Cute, though.

Haven't there been PCL teams in New Orleans and Memphis for quite some time? At least Round Rock is on the Pacific side of the Mississippi.

Haven't there been PCL teams in New Orleans and Memphis for quite some time? At least Round Rock is on the Pacific side of the Mississippi.

And other "Pacific" regions such as Albuquerque and, in the past, Calgary and Edmonton. Because I know when I think "Pacific," I think Alberta.


Yes - and an East Coast Hockey League team in Victoria, although they made the strategic decision that ECHL is no longer an acronym - it is merely the name of the league. I suppose it is pronounced like 'eachle,' or something...

Good point. The only answer I can think of is:

"But...but...but...they all said they don't like us!"

Well, not Colombia, of course. But then, NATO, no es macho, eh?

Warmongering Lunatic:

How much different is this, geographically, than Turkey in NATO?

As far as utility, Georgia at least has a military. How much use is NATO member Iceland?

Defending specific land directly isn't the point of most alliances in history. The Triple Entente, for example, did not hinge on the ability of Britain to deploy troops to repel Imperial Germany from Russian Poland, nor the ability of Russians to reinforce Verdun.

But even on a theatre level, if Georgia were in NATO, Georgia would be liberated from the Anatolian highlands. The reason that is not happening now is it is a political impossibility, not a logistical one. Neither NATO in general nor Turkey in particular is willing to send in the armored divisions to defend a non-member.

Good point, it's not like Turkey in NATO was ever a source of trouble with Russia. As for the usefulness of Iceland, maybe you want to check with a pilot on that one when you're finished using the Triple Entente as a model security arrangement?


Colby, you're usually spot-on, but here you are either wrong or are being ironic -- "it's not like Turkey in NATO was ever a source of trouble with Russia"? Remember the 70's and 80's and the SALT treaties/talks regarding medium range ballistic missiles and their placement in Turkey? Surely you're aware of the Bosphorus and the importance of controlling it vis-à-vis Russia's Baltic fleet and its access to the Med?

And as for your Iceland + pilot comment -- this ain't the Triple Entente, nor is it the 1940's anymore (what with aerial refueling, etc). That's why Gander AFB in NL and Keflavik AFB in Iceland have been decommissioned (the latter in 2006). The US found it much more important to keep Thule AFB in Greenland operational than Keflavik.

NATO was never just about the "North Atlantic" (are charter members Italy and West Germany on the North Atlantic?). Rather it was/is developed as a political/practical mechanism to counter the threats posed by the the Russian conglomorate towards smaller states in Europe. In this context, Georgia's inclusion is not irrational (nor is Estonia's, Latvia's, Romania's, etc. etc.).


Um, I meant "Black Sea fleet". Not Baltic... Too much geography here.


Rather it was/is developed as a political/practical mechanism to counter the threats posed by the the Russian conglomorate towards smaller states in Europe. In this context, Georgia's inclusion is not irrational (nor is Estonia's, Latvia's, Romania's, etc. etc.).

NATO is not "political" in any sense beyond the sense that war is politics carried out through force. Its roots (in any sense other than a talking shop) lie in Korea and the military coordination of the Western liberal democracies against Comintern expansion (I guess in that sense it's "political" - the threat was perceived through a political lens); they were cemented by West German entry and the creation of the Warsaw Pact.

And forget about "smaller states in Europe". Although a mutual defense treaty probably helps Denmark or Belgium more proportionally without Germany or Italy or the UK, NATO's purpose is much more to do with the containment of aggression against Western and Central Europe as a whole. I can see how admitting the Baltic states, or Slovakia, or even Ukraine, can serve that purpose. I can't see how admitting Georgia does anything but harm it.

It is not necessarily "irrational" to want to admit Georgia, or Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria or anyone else to NATO. To do so, though, there needs to be an interest among NATO members in doing so. In the case of Georgia in particular, there is none. Georgia offers nothing to the mutual defense of NATO members and would become a member solely as a political football. It does not even practically extend the "defensive" encirclement of Russia - Russia cannot use Georgia in any meaningful way to attack any NATO member. So admitting Georgia is not "irrational", it's just that there is no positive benefit to be gained from doing so, and a lot of negative benefits as we have seen. There are a lot of imperial-power zealots in the U.S. foreign policy establishment that are spoiling for a fight with Russia; let's not give them one just because they want it.


As far as whether Georgia could provide any muscle to the alliance, I'm pretty sure they could kick Canada's ass too. Not that that's the only criteria anyway.


Sorry for the long post, but…

The origins of NATO are actually in the “Atlantic Charter” of 1941 b/n the US and UK and the “Brussels Treaty” of 1948 which called for social collaboration and collective self defence b/n France, Belgium, the UK, and the Netherlands. This is why NATO is headquartered in Brussels. The Soviet blockade of Berlin (among other things) in the summer of 1948 made it obvious that the US (and Canada!) would be needed to help counter Soviet power in Europe. This resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty (aka “Treaty of Washington”) which brought the US, Canada, Italy, Norway, Portugal, etc. into the fold and created NATO.

Lots of interesting docs here: http://www.nato.int/docu/basics.htm

Korea helped sort a host of “practical” issues such as command and control, equipment and standards commonality, etc.

Anyway, NATO is not just about commonality between armies and mutual self-defence – it is about safeguarding what we now call “western values.” This is the actual text of the treaty:

"The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.

They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area."

Sounds good to me.

[BTW, Colby, before you go off about “geography” again, keep in mind that technically, Venezuela IS in the North Atlantic area! Korea, not so much.]

I realize that I’m probably in the minority on this since I’m definitely a Canadian “imperial-power zealot” (!). I’m all for the promulgation of western values in the interest of peace and I think it is wise to welcome nations who share in those values and ask to be included in the fold.

Why? Because NATO, for all its dysfunctions, has worked rather well in fostering peace (I can’t think of any other wide-ranging international accord that has worked better). Consider a few points:
- NATO countries have never gone to war with one another;
-The existence of NATO likely deterred Soviet intervention in Italy, Austria, Greece, Portugal, West Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK in from the 1950s through 1970s (compare that to Soviet activity in Eurasia, Africa and Central America, where there was no real deterrent);
-the collective militaries of NATO form a formidable deterrent (even with relatively modest defense expenditures) and can bring stability to historically bellicose regions (ie. Western Europe, the Baltics, Eurasia).

To relate this back to Georgia, the question shouldn’t be “what can Georgia offer to the defence of NATO members?” but rather, “what can NATO do to safeguard western values and peace in Georgia?” After all, what could Portugal offer to the defence of Canada in 1949?

For what it’s worth, I have a hard time believing that Russia will take on NATO over Georgia. Not even the Soviets took on NATO when they were arguably more powerful than NATO. Russia is far more likely to try to fracture the alliance by creating/fostering political discord and doubts within it, and if there is any “western” angle or purpose to its foray into Georgia, this would seem to be the goal of it, although that may be a bit of a stretch.


"Not even the Soviets took on NATO when they were arguably more powerful than NATO."

That's pretty arguable, particularly in retrospect. By the time Russia was done being a post-German-invasion basket case, it was stagnant. That's not to say it wasn't aggressive, just to say that the Russians never quite thought they could pull it off. They certainly had the plans - they just never quite thought they had the resources.


Yes, my point wasn't very well made.

I was thinking of the 1970s when the US Army was rather taxed (Vietnam + global cop duties) with largely obsolete equipment (old tanks, etc.), obsolete submarines and surface warships (except for a few aircraft carriers), and an Air Force that was losing its technical advantages over the Eastern Block. Allied militaries – particularly the UK and Canada, had also significantly reduced their capabilities during that period.

It was also a time of interesting political figures and happenings -- Nixon’s resignation, labour difficulties and “The Troubles” in the UK, political instability and domestic terrorism in Italy, Franco in Spain, military dictatorships and communist coups in Greece and Portugal, strongly socialist governments in Scandinavia, and the strong communist movements throughout Western Europe (Red Brigades, etc.), Greek/Turkish squabbles over Cypress, France’s “independent” foreign policy and Algerian troubles, Trudeau’s wackiness, the rise of Red China, South American coups, etc.

Combine all of that with the fact that the West suffered rather severe recessions for much of the decade while the Soviet Union experienced some of its most productive years in terms of military, scientific and economic production, it can be argued that the West was ripe for plucking. My thnking is that only the existence of NATO prevented the USSR from pulling a Hungary 1956 or Czechoslovakia 1968 in Finland, Austria, West Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, etc. during those years.

Instead they chose Afghanistan…


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