When the United States pulled together international coalitions to support its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, few allies volunteered as quickly and enthusiastically as this small former Soviet state.
As the Afghan war comes to a close after 13 years, the makeup of the multinational force has grown as anemic as the conflict has become unpopular. Yet Georgia, driven by an incessant quest to join NATO, is among the stragglers sticking it out until the end — and playing and outsize role.
…Some former U.S. officials who have observed the evolution of the Georgian military over the past decade say the Georgians are owed more than Washington has been willing to give.
“When we were in a corner, so many countries were willing to go with us,” said Damon Wilson, who oversaw European policy at the White House during the final years of the George W. Bush administration and is now executive vice president at the Atlantic Council. “We would be incredibly shortsighted to wash our hands of them.”
Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, who stepped down as the top military commander of NATO last year, agreed. He said Georgia has earned a formal pathway toward joining the alliance, a process called a “membership action plan.” But he conceded that the misgivings of some alliance members are a significant impediment.
“There are reservations over the fact that 20 percent of their territory is occupied by a large and aggressive neighbor,” said Stavridis, the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. “It would lead the alliance to a place where we would have to make some very difficult decisions.”
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