The Corner


Not a Great Fit

Sometimes it’s worth saying: I was right.

Little Montenegro is one of the newest members of NATO. At the time it joined, Trump made some disparaging and stupid remarks about it. And this caused a lot of people who are committed to NATO to stand up and defend Montenegrin membership.

And at the time, I said I thought it was a mistake.

My argument was that Montenegro added almost nothing tangible to the alliance, except liabilities. Its people were too divided over the pro-NATO, pro-EU tilt of their then-current government. That government, led by the Democratic Party of Socialists, had been in power for decades and was widely considered corrupt. It had only narrowly held on in the last election. Russia also had major financial and cultural clout in Montenegro. Religious and historic ties between the two nations are serious.

As they do, elections have come around again, and the right-wing Democratic Front, which is pro-Russian and pro-Serbian, is very likely to lead a coalition government.

Grab the fainting couches for our foreign-policy elite.

Just as I mentioned then, NATO was being used for non-military purposes, as a kind of training school for wayward states that could matriculate from NATO membership to the European Union. Well, how are Western foreign-policy leaders responding to what they view as an adverse (though predictable) electoral result in Montenegro? You guessed it: With panicked demands for rushing Montenegro into the European Union in order to stop its ‘backsliding.’

The institutions of the Western alliance need to recognize that there are limits to their project. A sensible search for limits might include evaluating whether there was a significant (or massive) constituency for a pro-Russian government in Montenegro.