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Sir Malcolm Rifkind on NATO

Rifkind20malcolm202Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind made a noteworthy observation about NATO during Foreign Office questions yesterday:

"Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington and Chelsea) (Con): Does the Foreign Secretary agree that an urgent priority for the Obama presidency—and, indeed, for that matter, for the British Government—is to ensure that we do not extend NATO membership to countries unless we are prepared ultimately to go to war in their defence? As there is not the slightest possibility of either the United States or the countries of western Europe going to war over countries such as Georgia or those like it whose territorial integrity might be threatened, will the right hon. Gentleman discuss with the American Administration other ways of enhancing the security of Georgia—by accelerating its membership of the EU, for example, as well as through other initiatives?

David Miliband: Yes, we will discuss a whole range of ways in which Russia’s neighbouring countries can give greater security and support—political and economic, including through the EU, as well as on the security front. We should certainly not welcome people into NATO unless they are willing to live up to all the obligations. I would say, however, that when the three Baltic countries joined NATO 10 years ago, many people asked whether they could ever be properly bound into a western security architecture, yet they have been—and they are far more secure for it. I absolutely assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the Georgian and Ukrainian cases will be decided on the basis of their merits, their capacity and the determination of their population to join. These countries must want to join; it is not just a matter of whether we allow them to."

It will be intriguing to see how much the approach to foreign affairs taken by Sir Malcolm and Lord Hurd holds sway if the Conservatives win the next election, and to what extent neoconservatism is a busted flush in a post-Bush world.


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