Georgia Needs Our Help—Not a Seat at NATO
Investment, not guns, is the way to face down Russia: Kristof
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2008 7:14 AM CST
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer gestures at a joint press conference in Kosovo's capital Pristina, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.   (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
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(Newser) – Nicholas Kristof travels to Tbilisi, where ambitious, America-loving Georgians live in fear of a resurgent Russia. The United States needs to support this capitalist enclave in the Caucasus, writes the New York Times columnist—but not by letting it join NATO. The reason? President Mikheil Saakashvili may be brilliant and charismatic, but he has also been "spectacularly reckless," and tying American and Georgian troops together under a NATO flag would make things much worse.

After Georgia was "mauled by the bear," the US pledged $1 billion in aid, but that cash needs to be apportioned wisely. Spending it on defense is useless with Russia bearing down; instead, making Georgia into a trade and investment hub will do more to keep Moscow from invading again. Above all, a President Obama must engage Russia, despite its irresponsible behavior: "Poking badly behaved bears is no substitute for sober diplomacy."