By David Edenden
This is a very encouraging (edited) oped from Donald Rumsfeld. I also like the cartoon by David Klein with the Macedonian flag flowing proudly. I can't predict what will happen regarding Nato (I am not optimistic) but it is nice to have some senior US officials on our side.
Some Greeks had bitterly complained that US recognition of "Macedonia got a political boost from the United States when the Bush administration dropped the FYROM name in 2005, after Macedonia agreed to send a few troops to Iraq. He called the action "Rumsfeld gift," referring to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld."
My advice to Macedonians is to stand firm, stand tall and go to the UN if Greece vetoes Macedonian membership in Nato. If Nato members want to bend over backwards to accommodate Greece while ignoring the plight of ethnic Macedonian minority then Macedonians have lost nothing!
In the meantime, lets get cracking about building that statute to Rummy is Skopje.
and Macedonian Minister of Defense Vlado Buckovski
take part in a press briefing, Oct. 11, 2004, in Skopje, Macedonia
NATO Expansion Should Continue
By DONALD RUMSFELD
Wall Street Journal
March 28, 2008; Page A13
Next week Romania's capital of Bucharest will host representatives from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 26 member nations. There the alliance will make critical choices about its mission in Afghanistan and expanding to several former Soviet-bloc nations. These decisions need not and should not be further delayed for yet more "meetings" and "consultations" in capitals across Europe.
There is no better way for NATO to move forward than by extending full membership invitations to Albania, Croatia and Macedonia and by beginning the process to bring Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance in the future through membership action plans (MAPs). At a time when European commitments to the NATO mission in Afghanistan are being questioned, the determination of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia to contribute to tough missions is clear. Collectively, the three Balkan nations have more than 650 troops currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At the moment Croatia has more than 200 troops training the Afghan National Army and serving in Provincial Reconstruction Teams. A company of Macedonian troops leads the mission of defending NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. In addition to its continuous troop presence in Afghanistan since 2002, Albania was among the first nations to deploy to Iraq in 2003. Five years later, Albania intends to be among the last to leave. As the Albanian military commander in Mosul, Iraq, recently said, "We'll be here as long as the Americans are."
For the past several years under membership action plans, the governments of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia have been preparing to join the ranks of NATO. They now meet the necessary criteria for membership. They have shown their commitment to human rights and regional stability by protecting the rights of ethnic minorities. They have allocated a greater percentage of their GDP to defense expenditures than most NATO countries in Western Europe, and they have built sound defense capabilities in intelligence, medical support, and special operations.
Perhaps most important in light of NATO's demonstrated shortcomings, Albania, Croatia and Macedonia have made use of those capabilities in Afghanistan and Iraq by taking on the tough missions that several current NATO members have been unwilling to carry out. Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are certainly not large geographically, but the operational -- and attitudinal -- contributions they bring to NATO will far outstrip their size....
The administration, bipartisan majorities in Congress, and most members of NATO have expressed support for extending membership to nations in Southeastern Europe and for partnerships with those nations beyond. Why then the hold up? Aside from Russia's opposition, Greece has threatened to issue a sole veto over Macedonia's entry because Macedonia refuses to change its country name. The future of the trans-Atlantic alliance -- and its credibility as the pre-eminent political and military instrument of the world's democracies -- are too important to be constrained by narrow disputes over semantics or to intimidation tactics more befitting the last century (My Emphasis - David Edenden)
Expanding NATO to Albania, Croatia and Macedonia and building closer partnerships with Georgia and Ukraine would help to assuage any concerns that the alliance no longer has the collective grit for the tough work necessary to overcome the challenges in Afghanistan. All five non-NATO nations currently under consideration -- in contrast with several full NATO members -- have demonstrated willingness to accept NATO responsibilities.
Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are today ready to accept those responsibilities. Georgia and Ukraine will likely be ready to accept NATO responsibilities in the coming years if issued membership action plans next week. The Bucharest summit presents an opportunity to advance the interests of all 26 member nations by expanding the NATO alliance. Now is not a time for self-doubt. It is a time for U.S. and European leadership.Mr. Rumsfeld was U.S. ambassador to NATO from 1973 to 1974 and was the 13th and 21st U.S. secretary of Defens