Saturday, September 13, 2008

That which must not be said

Democratic blogs are erupting with righteous fury over a statement made by John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, suggesting the United States may need to go to war with Russia if it attacks would-be NATO members Georgia or Ukraine.  But before I get to the hypocrisy of the partisan reaction, let's go to the tape:
When asked if the United States would have to go to war with Russia should Georgia join NATO and Russia invade the country, [Palin] said, "Perhaps so."
"I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help.
Unfortunately, though the prospect of war with the nuclear-armed Russia may seem horrific, that is nonetheless the widespread -- though unstated -- view of much of the bipartisan Washington foreign policy establishment. 

Consider that Barack Obama, who once fashioned himself as something of an "anti-war" candidate, in response to the recent Georgia-Russia conflict called for "deepening relations between Georgia and transatlantic institutions, including a Membership Action Plan for NATO". Translation: if Georgia becomes a NATO member under an Obama administration, the United States would be obligated to militarily aid Georgia should it ever be attacked by Russia.

As the blogger IOZ points out, article 5 of the NATO treaty says just as much:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Of course, the problem liberal bloggers have with Palin's statement is not that she agrees with the Obama-Biden position, but that she frankly states what that position actually entails. As Ilan Goldenberg writes at the Huffington Post:
Technically, if Georgia and Ukraine were to become part of NATO under Article Five, we would be obligated to protect them and even Obama-Biden support bringing them into NATO. But here's the thing...

No sane American or European leader would ever ever ever give an answer like that . . . . Barack Obama would never give that answer. Joe Biden would never give that answer. They would say that we don't discuss those types of hypotheticals. That might sound like a cop out, but think of the Palin alternative and what kind of alarm bells that sets off in Moscow. Prescisely the type of alarm bells that could one day lead to mushroom clouds.
You see? Everyone agrees that Georgia should be allowed into a mutual security agreement that could conceivably lead to a hot war between the United States and Russia -- but gosh darn it, you're not supposed to be so honest!

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