March 5th, 2014
10:28 PM ET

What I'm reading: Time to reconsider NATO expansion?

By Fareed Zakaria

“The stark fact is that even if Russian military intervention stops with the establishment of a pro-Russian vassal state in Crimea, Russia will have enormous leverage over the new government in Ukraine,” writes Edward Walker in the Los Angeles Times. “It can cut back on crucial gas deliveries, raise the price of gas and other commodities it is selling to an economically prostrate Ukraine, impose painful tariff and nontariff barriers on trade, and, above all, it can stir up endless trouble for Kiev, not just in Crimea but also in other Russian-speaking regions of the country.”

“In the longer term, the crisis in Ukraine suggests that it is time to reconsider NATO expansion and to explore alternative institutional arrangements for European security in the 21st century. Ukraine, for example, would be much better served by a NATO-Russian-Ukrainian treaty that provided for its military neutrality and some kind of a common customs regime for trade with the EU and Russia (or a Russian-led customs union). It is in no one's interest, least of all Ukraine's, to see a continuation of the dogfight between Russia and the West over Ukraine's external orientation.”


“In China today, the ties between ethnic groups are rooted not in Communism but, for lack of a better word, in ‘GDP-ism’ – faith in economic growth and the push for prosperity. But that is a fragile bargain. Militant Uighurs are motivated largely by resentment of their relationship to Han Chinese,” writes Evan Osnos in The New Yorker.

“Xinjiang’s Uighur population has dropped from ninety-five per cent, in the early twentieth century, to forty per cent, in 2008, thanks to an explicit migration policy intended to bind the country more tightly. On the ground, the development policy has created vast new infrastructure and economic activity, but, crucially, it has also accentuated the socioeconomic gaps between Hans and Uighurs. In Xinjiang today, Hans hold more than thirty five percent of the region’s the high-income jobs, while Uighurs hold thirteen percent. The ratio is widening by the year, fuelled by, and creating, even more resentment and suspicion. The events of 3/1 will make that worse.”

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. John Savard

    The Ukrainian people should be totally free to choose their own external orientation, with no fear of external pressures. Unfortunately, Russia has nuclear weapons, preventing us from ensuring this just situation. At least, let there be no doubt or ambiguity about the evil of the Putin regime.

    March 5, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Tell me John, is the Putin regime truly more "evil" than the NATO alliance? Somehow I don't think so! NATO, the most unholy alliance that ever existed not only needs to stop expanding but be dissolved altogether. This alliance made Europe subservient to the right-wing thugs in Washington as it carries out every order without question regardless to the welfare of it's citizens.

      March 6, 2014 at 11:23 am |
      • Joe Balderrama

        Nicely said, Joseph. What a breath of fresh air after reading all those senseless anti-Russian rants!

        March 7, 2014 at 9:27 am |
      • Danro

        NATO is what is keeping the EU together. Europe has been at war with itself for the last 2,000 years. It's has not been united since Roman times and its is thanks to NATO.

        March 7, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
      • sam pisani

        you are an ass you point fingers only at washington I guess in your eyes we have created the worlds evils and only us you better wake up and smell what you shovel ..or maybe just to say General Patton was right.

        March 22, 2014 at 12:32 am |
      • sam pisani

        He is being paid by somebody in Russia

        March 22, 2014 at 12:35 am |
  2. ✠RZ✠

    History has proven that humankind is cursed with a success failure paradox. For every success there is likely a balanced failure. Our systems and methods are barbaric and antiquated providing for no common goal, no overall plan, and no unity. This more or less leaves everyman to his own destiny and whatever size group of followers that might either agree or be impelled to go along with it. We need global solutions, not NATO expansion.

    March 6, 2014 at 12:03 am |
  3. chrissy

    Hey @ RZ, long time, no see...welcome back! This situation is quite similar to corporate america isnt it? And hostile takeovers dont really work all that well! Healthful merging is more the answer and makes for a more peaceful world for all!

    March 6, 2014 at 9:45 am |
    • ✠RZ✠

      As you know chrissy, corporations are what run governments. There are good corporations and there are bad ones generally distinguishable whether you prefer peace or war. Don't get me wrong, I'm somewhat familiar with the art of war all it's facets. And I very much do understand and appreciate the need for adequate defence, safety, security, intelligence, etc. but a nation cannot make war it's main business otherwise peace will result in it's bankruptcy. Sound familiar? Like I've said over and over, the sign on the White House fence reads "WAR or BUST". But war is just not adequately materializing anywhere against the likes of the Middle East, Korea, nor China or Russia. And when the mad dog of war is starved and cornered it will begin to bite at friend and foe alike. Who's next ? Germany? Mexico? Canada? Australia? The UK? Pretty sure our military could fully invade both Canada and Australia on the same day. They must be worth a few trillion dollars to help reduce our debt? No?

      March 7, 2014 at 8:40 am |
  4. Free Tibet

    China is true threat, so...

    March 7, 2014 at 10:53 pm |
  5. Danro

    For Ukraine, Georgia and possibly other nations such as Azerbaijan, NATO looks like the only guarantee for their existence. Being an ally of the new Russia means being dominated by Russia. Neutrality is not an option anymore as we can see from what happened in Ukraine. Russia's fear of NATO expansion will cause countries such as the above mentioned to want to join. If NATO denies membership out of deference to Russia it might cause more instability as Russia will try to bring those countries into its orbit by force or coercion.

    March 7, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
    • Joe Balderrama

      Gee Danro, you sound like a mouthpiece for the right-wing thugs in Washington and London over NATO. Now thanks to NATO, every leader in Europe today is no more than a stooge for these thugs and makes us the bullies on the world stage! Is this what you want?

      March 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
  6. Danro

    I was born in a former Warsaw Pact nation. I am an American citizen now and proud. I've see my birth country go from a dysfunctional mess to a stable democratic and economically vibrant nation. NATO was a key to its security and development. NATO membership is also a key to EU membership. Europe is no stooge by the way. NATO is a membership of countries which can freely join and leave. look at France.

    March 9, 2014 at 10:06 am |
  7. Ferdi

    The Russian proposed a tri-partied discussion between the EU, Ukraine, and Russian after the former Ukrainian president reject the EU – Ukraine economic pact. But the arrogant EU rejected the proposal because the taught they were tough. Now, the former president is out on the run, things have gone out of hand and Russian troops are now patrolling in Crimea.

    March 10, 2014 at 3:56 am |

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