The kneejerk impulse to punish Russia for its Georgia incursion by withdrawing NATO civilities is exactly wrong, Andrew Meier writes in the Los Angeles Times. The only way the West can get leverage, given the case of nerves the Russians have over NATO’s expansion into former Soviet states, is to invite them into the club, too.
It's not as far-fetched as it sounds, he says. Russia and the West are fully engaged in business: some 25% of Europe’s natural gas comes from the east, and Russian oligarchs have been scooping up everything from condos to companies in the US. Even Vladimir Putin, when quizzed on NATO membership in 2000, said, “I do not see why not.” Like a playground détente, Meier thinks making up is better than a standoff. “Now is the time, before the conflagration in the Caucasus spreads, to reverse course and embrace Russia more tightly than ever.”