I have already reviewed Tom Hayden's arguments regarding the validity of this motive as a "double whammy" that, with one blow, can deal a crippling blow the to Democratic Presidential campaign while, at the same time, resurrecting The Project for the New American Century, whose obituaries were written almost two years ago. That motive would then extend to getting NATO "back in the game" at a time when its very relevance is under review, particularly when the European side of the game is being played quite well by both the European Union and the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Furthermore, it is clear from remarks by Gordon Brown reported this morning on the BBC NEWS Web site that European leaders do not pose a threat of "pacification" (to invoke the current Republican rhetoric of choice) but are quite capable of standing up for their own principles while trying to ease the current tensions at the same time.
There is little we can do about this. The Vice President is an official a representative of our Executive Branch as the Secretary of State is; and, as far as I can tell, he has not yet committed any impeachable offense in planning this trip. The most comfort I can take is from a story that Howard Fast once wrote, entitled "Cato the Martian" (which I first read in Groff Conklin's 17 X Infinity collection, which also happened to be the first place I read "The Machine Stops"). Fast was an author of both conscience and courage who understood the value of science fiction in setting a cautionary tale. Here is a slightly oversimplified summary I found on the Web:
Martians use broadcasts to study Earth. The protagonist, named after his Roman counterpart, is a specialist in Latin who begins and ends every speech, "Earth must be destroyed." Fearing a nuclear attack from Earth, he persuades the normally peaceful Martians to fire atomic weapons at the planet to precipitate a suicidal war between East and West. Instead, Earth attacks Mars.
Like the fictitious representations of NATO and the Soviet Union in Fast's tale, it would not make much deliberation for the European Union to arrive at the conclusion that there is more to gain from working with Russia in opposing the United States than in breathing life back into NATO and letting the Americans call the shots (perhaps literally, rather than metaphorically) one more time. If the Europeans are not that well read in American science fiction, they probably have a better appreciation for the history of Ancient Rome and Carthage, which would be all that would be required for events to play out along the lines of Fast's plot!