Bolton on NATO Expansion

John Bolton on Fox News wants to “get tough” on Russia but, of course, doesn’t actually have any concrete steps in mind that the United States could take that could persuade Russia to withdraw from Georgia in a speedy manner. So he suggests that the Europeans should do something. Specifically, they should drop their objections to Georgia joining NATO:

Whether or not you support NATO membership for Georgia as some kind of long-term measure, this doesn’t make much sense as a short-term strategy for getting Russian troops to leave. For one thing, it’s just not going to happen (a topic to which we’ll return). For another thing, it’s a bit of a Rube Goldberg device — we persuade the Europeans to extend a NATO security guarantee to Georgia and then, with that guarantee in place, Russia has to choose between leaving and war with the United States and we hope they choose leaving. It would be quicker and simpler, albeit insane, for the United States to just straight-up threaten Russia with war unless they withdraw from Georgia. Then Russia needs to choose between leaving and war with the United States, and our plan to use a threat of war to force them out isn’t held hostage to the vagaries of French and German decision-making.

But of course my suspicion is that leaving things hostage to France and Germany is the point of this proposal. Even the John Boltons of the world aren’t genuinely crazy enough to think that threatening Russia with war over this is a good idea. But they always need a “get tough” proposal. So they put this proposal on the table, knowing that European allies won’t go for it, thus allowing Bolton to fulminate against the weakness of the Europeans even as their reasonableness allows Bolton to avoid taking responsibilities for the consequences of his proposal. It’s a nice trick.