Thursday, March 04, 2010

In Washington, 2010 is just 1939...

In recent years there’s been a lot of loose talk about far-flung former Soviet republics joining NATO. The idea is that once you’re in the club, you’re guaranteed protection from the Russians. Anyone who believes that need look no further than what’s going on with the Falkland Islands... again.

When Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, the British got the rude awakening of discovering what a fair weather friend the US is. The so-called “special relationship” was revealed to be a British pipedream as the US State Department refused to back Britain. That this was clearly a matter of central importance to the British meant nothing.

Fast forward 19 years. Terrorists attack New York and Washington. The US is determined to kick in doors in Afghanistan and Iraq. They beg for allies, moral and military. Amazingly, the British rise to the occasion. Both times. Regardless of whether I agree with that or not, it certainly shows that the British are to be depended upon.

Fast forward again 9 years. Argentina, again, is raising the issue, gathering allies in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Falkland Islanders are British citizens; none of them consider themselves Argentinian, or occupied, or in need of liberation (indeed, they celebrate June 14, 1982, the day the British retook the islands, as "Liberation Day"). The British fought, and won, a costly war on their behalf. Again, this is clearly central to the British people. Again, the US clearly demonstrates that only 1941 is their problem. 1939 is forever someone else’s. British newspapers sigh their disappointment; perhaps the lesson will sink in with the British this time. But they shouldn’t be the only ones.

Does this speak well of US commitments in Europe, or to its allies elsewhere, anywhere? Is NATO anything more than an excuse for the US to butt in on European affairs? When even Britain is shut out in the cold, can any other country on Earth really believe the US will go to bat for them when push comes to shove?

Georgia, Ukraine, et al.: take note.

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