A Bear's Nose in NATO's Tent

To reward Russia for supporting the US-led war on terrorism, NATO plans to give it partial membership in the Western military alliance.

Granting it full membership would have dangerously removed one pillar for NATO's existence - European-US defense against Russia.

But partial membership - under a new sub-NATO council dealing with only a few select topics - is a way to tease Russia into ending its historic imperial intentions and join the developed world.

This decision has sent shivers through East European nations and former Soviet states that want to join NATO. Many still fear Russia's power. But a final decision on what topics the new council will deal with has been put off until May. Giving Russia veto power over, say, a NATO plan on counterterrorism, might be safe, while also showing Moscow's conservatives that they need not fear NATO.

The plan to admit former Soviet-dominated nations into NATO, even as Russia is slowly welcomed into some NATO decisionmaking, runs many risks. If managed carefully, though, the West can defy Russia's history of aggression and someday make it a partner for peace.

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