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Another Pointless Round of NATO Expansion

Another pointless round of NATO expansion has moved one step closer to completion:

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) presided over a unanimous vote Tuesday ratifying a treaty to accept Montenegro as the latest member of NATO. Backers want the Senate to take up the measure later this week, when two-thirds of senators would need to approve it in order for Montenegro to be on its way to becoming the 29th member of the alliance.

The outcome of the vote today was a foregone conclusion, and I imagine the floor vote will be just as lopsided and predictable. Unlike bringing in Georgia or Ukraine, letting Montenegro in doesn’t pose the same risk of triggering a conflict with Russia, but it is also unnecessary and serves no real purpose. Neither the U.S. nor NATO will be more secure as a result of this move, and Washington will have yet another security dependent that it doesn’t need and shouldn’t want to have. Montenegro won’t really be any more secure than it is now, because it isn’t under any threat that joining NATO can protect against. Adding Montenegro to the alliance is pointless in itself, but it is unfortunate in that it keeps the idea of continued NATO expansion alive.

Joining NATO is the prize that Montenegro gets for its “pro-Western” orientation, and so the alliance continues to expand for reasons that have nothing to do with collective security. As a practical matter, adding one more member to NATO just makes the alliance that much more unwieldy and incapable of consensus. The good news is that this will make it slightly more difficult to get all members on board for the next war of choice carried out under alliance auspices, and the bad news is that it will make a coordinated response to real security threats harder to organize. It goes without saying that the alliance should stop here and be finished with expansion at least for the foreseeable future and preferably forever.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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