It is Time for Ukraine to Join NATO
While the U.S. is still regarded as the world's superpower, the reality is that America's zone of influence increases when it is coupled with European support on economic, diplomatic and military action globally. America's gravitas decreases when it decides to go it alone. The transatlantic relationship has been instrumental in promoting democracy in former Soviet satellites, halting conflicts in places as far flung as Afghanistan and helping states recover from the ravages of the global financial crisis at a time when the world has split into two main camps with the rise of a prosperous China and Russia.
.NATO has been a key reason for the success of the alliance, binding 28 disparate nations in a desire for peace through collective security. I was able to witness this firsthand traveling through Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland as a Marshall Memorial Fellow in 2002. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, some have called into question whether NATO's raison d’être is still pertinent today. In fact, it has only grown more important as wealthier, non-democratic powers serve as an alternative to poorer nations with weak governments who favor the idea of financial aid with little political interference.
China's purported largesse has enabled the nation to develop military infrastructure in Pakistan and tap resources in Africa. Putin's Russia stifles domestic opposition and acts with impunity in independent nations like Ukraine, sending military hardware to rebels that has only escalated the conflict and made the world a more dangerous place. In the wake of global outrage over the downing of Malaysia flight MH17, which killed 298 people, the world is looking for leadership in confronting Putin. NATO is uniquely qualified to serve that purpose given its history as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism. NATO should, at the very least, send its observers to gather evidence on the atrocity at the behest of the government of Ukraine.
In the long term, NATO should consider full Ukrainian membership at a time when public support has reached the highest levels ever in the aftermath of a revisionist Russia. NATO must evolve to confront new challenges as it has been the hallmark of a successful transatlantic relationship built on a desire for world peace.
Allen Wan is the Deputy Shanghai Bureau Chief at Bloomberg News and a 2002 Marshall Memorial Fellow.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.