The possibility of Montenegro’s accession to NATO provokes further questions regarding why the alliance currently exists, Emma Ashford explains in War on the Rocks.
Montenegro, a tiny nation, has little to add to any defensive alliance. For example, Montenegro currently contributes just 17 soldiers to NATO operations in Afghanistan. Despite this, Ashford writes, “there is unlikely to be major opposition to Montenegro’s membership in Washington” or elsewhere.
Ashford observes that this is because NATO struggled to find a purpose in the aftermath of the Cold War, eventually transforming into an organization designed to spread Western values. Now, NATO membership often proxies as a stepping stone for increased economic ties and membership in the European Union, which are proposed as means to preserve stability.
But Ashford asserts that “in the more than ten years since NATO ended its Balkan peacekeeping mission, no country in the region has returned to conflict,” making the effort seem to be little more than an attempt to taunt Russia, which has opposed Montenegrin inclusion in NATO.
Ashford argues that although Russia should not be in position to block NATO expansion, U.S. and NATO leaders should prudently consider whether Montenegro can truly add value to the alliance at the forefront. To Ashford, admitting states simply to slight Russia “is akin to cutting off our nose to spite our face.”