So said Donald Trump. While he may have been alone in putting the sentiment so bluntly (Trump will be phenomenal for isolationist rhetoric!), he is not alone in this thinking. The United Kingdom is considering the Brexit—that is, departure from the European Union. The EU, too, is considering keeping to itself, the latest example of which is the Dutch rejection of a non-binding referendum on an EU association agreement. Strains of political populism are on a roll in the West, bringing with them a broader geopolitical mood increasingly edging towards isolationism—and against long-cherished affirmations of Euro-Atlantic expansion.
But for embattled Eastern European states, NATO is not obsolete. Far from it. Which is why those who do not agree with the Donald must convey to these countries that it is time to get serious about investing in self-defense to boost national security and to jumpstart stalled NATO integration efforts. If Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine want to join NATO, then, now more than ever, they need to show that they’re willing to do—and spend—what it will take to be in the Alliance.
It’s election year in Georgia. That means rhetorical broadsides, political maneuvering, dirty tricks, and more than your fair share of protests. With parliamentary polls set for October, the country appears set for a high stakes contest between a multitude of parties—liberal, conservative, technocratic, populist, pro-West, and, yes, pro-Russia.
But in Tbilisi, it almost seems like everyone only wants to talk about Donald Trump.