And given the fact that the U.S. would do most of the heavy lifting in any conflict with nuclear-armed Russia, the critical question for Washington is whether adding a new member would increase Americans’ security. Montenegro, a bit like the Duchy of Grand Fenwick of the novel The Mouse that Roared, is largely a nullity, a microstate with 2000 men under arms threatened by no one. Podgorica’s membership didn’t help America, but it probably didn’t hurt much either.
Ukraine is a dramatically worse candidate on both political and security grounds. NATO theoretically insists that its members meet minimal democratic standards. Admittedly, there’s no hard-and-fast rule. Montenegro was a bit dubious. The political systems of Bulgaria and Romania leave something to be desired. Prospective members such as Kosovo and Macedonia have serious problems. If democracy really mattered, Turkey’s descent into autocracy would put it outside the alliance.
Kiev, too, has far to go.