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Fine, but first can we kick out the French?

Romania and Bulgaria are hoping to join NATO, now that the organization looks likely to expand its membership significantly.

Determined to be on that list, Bulgaria and Romania are working closely with the United States in the campaign in Afghanistan to show how valuable they can be as military partners. The two countries "are making the best use of this tragic opportunity," the Bulgarian foreign minister, Solomon Pasi, said in an interview here in the Romanian capital.


And in the rush to impress the Bush administration, viewed as the critical voice in determining the final list of countries invited to join NATO, Romania and Bulgaria are refurbishing airstrips and ports with the implicit promise that if the United States wishes to use them in future campaigns, including in strikes against Iraq, they are available for the asking.

"The next time when [the United States] asks for support, or needs support, Bulgaria will be an excellent ally," said Pasi when asked about Iraq. Romanian officials echoed his comments.

What a thought -- to show that they're our allies, countries are cooperating with us. Don't they understand that this isn't how things are done in Europe? But they've got at least one part of the French plan down pat:
The United States had been particularly concerned that the countries' military spending is low and that their armed forces cannot "inter-operate" with NATO's. Both countries have boosted their military budgets above 2 percent of their gross domestic products in an effort to accelerate the restructuring process and modernize equipment. At the same time, Romania is slashing the ranks of its top-heavy military and moving to create a professional, non-conscript army by the end of the decade, officials said.
Incompetent armed forces that can't work with us, but that promise they will be able to, someday. Now that's more like it.

Still, this does little to answer the long term question: what is NATO for? Certainly not to defend against a Warsaw Pact invasion. Does it even have a mission, and does expanding serve that mission? Right now, it seems that expansion is really just a way to avoid having to answer these questions. For NATO to turn down these applicants would require that NATO come up with a reason why. To keep expanding is just inertia. We've already seen that NATO is worthless as a military alliance; after all, even without NATO, the British can cooperate with us and the French can thumb their noses at us.


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