Why Won’t Europe Defend Itself? — Peter Robinson

 

Back when the United States had no qualms about maintaining an enormous defense establishment, I could see why the Europeans wanted to let us do all the nasty work, maintaining only nominal defenses themselves. But now?  President Obama has devoted the last five years to reducing our commitments abroad, shrinking our armed forces, and making us, withal, much less reliable allies than we used to be.

The European response? To make their defense budgets even smaller.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Obama theory of “collective security” is that as the U.S. retreats from its historic commitments in Europe and the Middle East, allies will step up to deter aggressors and protect Western interests. NATO budget cuts suggest otherwise.

The cuts have created “gaps in meeting core NATO tasks” and resulted in “forces that are not ready, not trained, and not sufficiently equipped,” according to a 2012 study by the U.S. National Defense University. In plain English, this means that if Vladimir Putin sets his sights on NATO’s eastern periphery—by targeting the Baltic states, for example—the alliance may not have the capability to resist even if it has the political will.

European powers in recent years have shelved entire divisions and weapons systems. The British Royal Navy doesn’t operate a proper aircraft carrier. The Netherlands in 2012 disbanded its heavy-armor division, and France and the U.K. each now field a mere 200 main battle tanks. France has cut its orders of Rafale combat jets to six a year from 11. This isn’t even a Maginot Line. 

Most alliance members are also dangerously demobilized: Germany last year announced plans to cut its troops to no more than 180,000 from 545,000 at the end of the Cold War. The French military has shrunk to 213,000 from 548,000 in 1990. The U.K. now has 174,000 armed forces, down from 308,000 in 1990.

It’s not just the “Obama theory” that’s in question here. Lots of people have supposed that, if the United States scaled back its commitments to Europe, then the Europeans would very naturally take on the defense of Europe themselves.

Way back during the late 1980s and 1990s, no less a figure than Irving Kristol suggested that NATO, at least as then constituted (with the United States as very much the senior partner), was close to having outlived its usefulness.  Immediately after the Second World War, Europe needed American protection. But by the late 1970s Europe had not only recovered but become, roughly, just as rich as we—and much, much richer than the Soviet Union. By continuing to permit the Europeans to free ride on our defense budget, Kristol argued, we were infantilizing them.  We should cut back, he insisted, forcing the Europeans to defend themselves—forcing them, that is, to grow up.

The argument made sense to me then—and still does. But in recent years we’ve effectively put it to the test—and instead of taking their own defense upon themselves the Europeans have become…still more infantile. Good Lord.   The United Kingdom—”Hail, Britannia!  Britannia, rule the waves!”—without a single working aircraft carrier.

I just don’t understand. Why should this be?

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  1. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG:

    Mark Wilson: By keeping things stable, I mean we do our best to prevent stuff like this. Do you think I implied that I would be ok with this?

    But this is what they’re doing, now. It’s too late to prevent it. Proliferation has already happened. Iran will get nukes, 100%.

     I agree that it is likely, but I disagree with the 100% estimate. Also, getting nukes is not the same as using them. In particular, it is not the same as using them immediately.

    I think that we were incredibly luck to spend the 1990s and 2000s without a major American city being nuked, and we will be lucky to have this decade pass by without a similar issue (or maybe a British, French, or Israeli city), but part of this was because America was not passive. If Iran gets nukes followed by regime change, the new regime might be willing to part with its nukes given sufficiently generous bribes.

    Unfortunately, Democratic weakness and resurgent conservative isolationism have caused us to behave shamefully in Ukraine, and this will increase the rational price of such bribes, possibly to unattainable levels.

    • #91
  2. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Valiuth:

    Good question. Are we just paranoid? Speaking for the Romanians I know, and they might not be that representative, the view is this. On its own Romania never could militarily stand up to Russia, if the US won’t back them they might as well surrender and save themselves the pain of loosing a war. 

     At this point, what would it profit Russia to militarily conquer Romania?  Or to militarily conquer France or Germany?  I would argue that the world has changed enough that the Russian elite does far better out of doing business with the West than spending a lot of money occupying it.  The Soviet Empire collapsed because it was so expensive to maintain and it didn’t turn a profit.  The last thing Russia wants is to be trapped holding down conquered peoples when it would rather be selling its oil and spending the money on vulgar excess in Cyprus or Goa.  

    Apart from the Russophone/Russophile margins of Eastern Europe, and so long as the Russian equivalent of the Munro Doctrine is respected, I doubt that they’ll be invading many places soon.  

    • #92
  3. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    Valiuth:
    Good question. Are we just paranoid? Speaking for the Romanians I know, and they might not be that representative, the view is this. On its own Romania never could militarily stand up to Russia, if the US won’t back them they might as well surrender and save themselves the pain of loosing a war.

    At this point, what would it profit Russia to militarily conquer Romania? Or to militarily conquer France or Germany? I would argue that the world has changed enough that the Russian elite does far better out of doing business with the West than spending a lot of money occupying it. The Soviet Empire collapsed because it was so expensive to maintain and it didn’t turn a profit. The last thing Russia wants is to be trapped holding down conquered peoples when it would rather be selling its oil and spending the money on vulgar excess in Cyprus or Goa.

     I agree that occupation of Rumania is unlikely, but a single punitive expedition (as with Hungary in 1956), could easily reap large financial rewards if unpunished; the European hinterlands have a long history of demanding tribute from their more civilized neighbors.

    • #93
  4. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Zafar:

    Valiuth:
    Good question. Are we just paranoid? Speaking for the Romanians I know, and they might not be that representative, the view is this. On its own Romania never could militarily stand up to Russia, if the US won’t back them they might as well surrender and save themselves the pain of loosing a war.

    At this point, what would it profit Russia to militarily conquer Romania? Or to militarily conquer France or Germany? I would argue that the world has changed enough that the Russian elite does far better out of doing business with the West than spending a lot of money occupying it. The Soviet Empire collapsed because it was so expensive to maintain and it didn’t turn a profit. The last thing Russia wants is to be trapped holding down conquered peoples when it would rather be selling its oil and spending the money on vulgar excess in Cyprus or Goa.
    Apart from the Russophone/Russophile margins of Eastern Europe, and so long as the Russian equivalent of the Munro Doctrine is respected, I doubt that they’ll be invading many places soon.

     This is cotton candy thinking.  How do you know how the Russians and Putin think? They may want to have another go at the USSR, or some truncated facimile thereof – only this time without the communism part.  Putin might believe that he can avoid the unpleasant bits of the USSR.   How would you bloody know?  The same logic you use above would argue that Russia never would have done what it did in Crimea, wouldn’t it – if the West continues it’s sanctions regimes?

    • #94
  5. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Manfred Arcane:

    This is cotton candy thinking. How do you know how the Russians and Putin think? 

     

    Well neither of us knows, Manfred. 

    Hence the question – what’s the benefit to Russia from invading Poland?

    I don’t see any benefit to them from that – but I do see more benefit than loss to them from invading/absorbing/retaking Crimea. (Western sanctions don’t seem crippling, and I suspect they won’t be maintained by Europe anyway.)

    Which is why I put down some caveats. (Russophile/russophone areas; and so long as the Russian sphere of influence isn’t impinged on to a degree that makes them uncomfortable – the equivalent of the Munro doctrine. So Belarus joining NATO would probably be a trigger, for eg.)

    If you think that they are likely to invade Central Europe (again), tell me why.

    What material benefit did they gain last time that re-invasion would grant them again?  Would the cost be greater or less this time?  Can they get a similar benefit while paying less?

    • #95
  6. Blue State Curmudgeon Inactive
    Blue State Curmudgeon
    @BlueStateCurmudgeon

    Why in the world would you spend money to defend yourself when you know damn well that Uncle Sam will do it for you?

    • #96
  7. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Zafar:

    Manfred Arcane:

    This is cotton candy thinking. How do you know how the Russians and Putin think?
     

    Well neither of us knows, Manfred.
    Hence the question – what’s the benefit to Russia from invading Poland?
    I don’t see any benefit to them from that – but I do see more benefit than loss to them from invading/absorbing/retaking Crimea. (Western sanctions don’t seem crippling, and I suspect they won’t be maintained by Europe anyway.)

    So are you going to explain what these benefits are that you see here, so i can relate my answer to them?  Expansion of influence has its own rationale in the minds of the Putin’s of the world, that doesn’t lend itself to mere logical analysis.  The clout of the USSR dwarfed what Russia’s is today.  Any degree of restoring some/much/all of that might appeal to a Putin, especially since he probably believes he has identified all the mistakes the old USSR made when it failed, and may believe he can put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  Building empires has been for millennia, not just centuries, the favored pastime of his type of ruler.  Once you get used to the idea of subjecting territory to your yoke, you lose inhibitions the rest of us possess.

    • #97
  8. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    @Zafar,

    And, Sir, I appreciate the basis for the limits you think will guide Putin in his choice of adventurism; they make some logical sense, only I caution you against projecting your logical intuitions onto a mind such as his.  He is most-likely a lot different from the rest of us.  The experience of power manifested in the USSR and autocracy in Russian down through the ages is different from our sensibilities in deep, fundamental ways.  So many errors in predicting the future come from believing that everyone thinks like we do.

     

    Putin’s and Russians’ pride is hurt.  They feel diminished in stature and that really, really smarts.  Maybe the better analogy to work with here is the hurt the Germans felt between WWI and WWII.  Did they pursue logical policies in reaction to those feeling?  No, they screwed themselves ultimately into total destruction.  Maybe we need to consider the parallels with this recent history before we make Putin out to be some rational, Western-type leader regarding his overall designs.

    • #98
  9. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Manfred Arcane: they make some logical sense, only I caution you against projecting your logical intuitions onto a mind such as his. He is most-likely a lot different from the rest of us.

     Yes, exactly.  It’s tempting to believe everyone thinks like ourselves.  But it’s rarely true even of our allies, let alone our adversaries, who have completely different values, worldviews, and imaginations about the arc of history.

    • #99
  10. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Manfred Arcane:
    @Zafar,
    And, Sir, I appreciate the basis for the limits you think will guide Putin in his choice of adventurism; they make some logical sense, only I caution you against projecting your logical intuitions onto a mind such as his. He is most-likely a lot different from the rest of us.

     I caution you against too much hope in this regard. Zafar is quite comfortable denying that the Iranian claims that they would wipe out Israel implied any suggestion that they might attack Israel. While the Russians obviously have motivations for suborning their neighbors and establishing regional hegemony, they don’t regularly go around telling people they will do this, making the case less clear than for the Iranians.

    • #100
  11. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Manfred Arcane:

    So are you going to explain what these benefits are that you see here, so i can relate my answer to them? Expansion of influence has its own rationale in the minds of the Putin’s of the world, that doesn’t lend itself to mere logical analysis. The clout of the USSR dwarfed what Russia’s is today. Any degree of restoring some/much/all of that might appeal to a Putin, especially since he probably believes he has identified all the mistakes the old USSR made….

     
    Oh does he probably believe this? Based on what? If you compare ‘I can’t see the benefit’ to ‘he’s probably thinking that he can revive the Soviet Union’  I don’t think I’m the one who’s engaging in cotton candy thinking.  Just because your view is negative doesn’t make it realistic – fears can also be unrealistic.

    Crimea is low hanging fruit because it used to actually be Russia till 1955 (?), it has a Russian majority population, it is/was part of a weak internally divided State (Ukraine), it’s right next door.  On the plus side: Sevastopol, warm water port, Black Sea fleet.

    Contd.

    • #101
  12. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Re cost: benefit, Crimea clearly costs less than Russia loses to get  it.  Especially, as you pointed out, given the US’ view of how much Ukraine is worth re fighting for it, and Europe’s dependence on Russian gas [and the newly completed expansion of pipelines from Russia to China] Western sanctions are likely to be limited  and  short lived .

    There are other parts of Eastern Europe where the cost/benefit makes Russian takeover more rather than less likely (Eastern Ukraine, places like Transdniestria) but in most parts the cost would be higher than the benefit.

    As you say, Russia is weaker than the Soviet Union – and even the Soviet Union couldn’t contain the nationalities that eventually wanted out.  What makes you think that Russia is even capable of reabsorbing them leave alone keeping them? It’s own southern border is already unstable.

    One thing all regimes share is the urge for self preservation.  None of them – not Putin, not the Islamic Republic, not the Western Democracies, not NK or China or indeed anybody I can think of – will actually take actions which decrease their chances of survival.  Different though they are, this they have in common.

    • #102
  13. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Mark Wilson:

    Manfred Arcane: they make some logical sense, only I caution you against projecting your logical intuitions onto a mind such as his. He is most-likely a lot different from the rest of us.

    Yes, exactly. It’s tempting to believe everyone thinks like ourselves. But it’s rarely true even of our allies, let alone our adversaries, who have completely different values, worldviews, and imaginations about the arc of history.

     I agree that people can be very different, but it’s a mistake to assume that different means they have no sense of self preservation.  Assuming that a different point of view  is irrational about this is a bit of a caricature – and a dangerous self indulgence when we should be looking  at our adversaries and our conflicts (and ourselves) with a colder eye.

    • #103
  14. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Zafar: I agree that people can be very different, but it’s a mistake to assume that different means they have no sense of self preservation. Assuming that a different point of view is irrational about this is a bit of a caricature

     I’m not saying they are irrational nor that they lack a sense of self-preservation.  They have likely different ideas of what it takes to preserve themselves than we do.  They also have a different hierarchy of cost and value than we do.  When you say it costs Russia less to annex Crimea than they gained, whose values are you basing that calculation on?  In this case, ours and theirs agree.   It would be a fallacy to assume they will in every situation.

    • #104
  15. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Mark – that way everybody who is ‘not me’ is ultimately unknowable.  But I still manage to deal with most ‘not me’s and they manage to deal with me most of the time with a manageable level of misunderstanding and assumptions.

    Given that we can only understand others by observation – it’s worth looking at the what regimes have done and what they have not done in the past – and to assess whether (just in our humble opinions) whether their actions have been understandable and rational wrt self preservation or not.

    Not whether they’ve been well thought out and successful, or whether they’ve been in our opinion moral, but whether they’ve been understandable and rational from our pov in terms of self preservation.

    I’m not a fan of Putin’s Russia or of the Islamic Republic – they’d both put me in jail or kill me –  but I think that both regimes pass that test if you look at their actions.

    • #105
  16. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Zafar: I think that both regimes pass that test if you look at their actions.

     Arguably yes, but past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.
    Other than that, I don’t think we are too far apart on this.

    • #106
  17. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Zafar: Mark – that way everybody who is ‘not me’ is ultimately unknowable. But I still manage to deal with most ‘not me’s

     I’ll just add finally that people like Putin are exceptional, not members of the group “most ‘not me’s’ “.   That is how they get into positions of power, and how they catch people off guard when they make big decisions.

    • #107
  18. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Zafar:
    One thing all regimes share is the urge for self preservation. None of them – not Putin, not the Islamic Republic, not the Western Democracies, not NK or China or indeed anybody I can think of – will actually take actions which decrease their chances of survival. Different though they are, this they have in common.

    Come on now, that’s crazy.  Hitler and Saddam Hussein for starters.  Now, to make your statement true, you would have to postulate (and can do so reasonably) that they view their chances for survival differently than we do in hindsight.  But, observing that (and I think it is credible as a working hypothesis) undermines your point entirely, doesn’t it?  If these actors miscalculate, then they take actions that look like mistakes in hindsight, yet did not deter them when those actions were still in prospect.

    • #108
  19. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Well, there are no guarantees with anybody, are there? We could all change our spots tomorrow – but it’s so unlikely as to be irrelevant, especially when it comes to regimes and self preservation. (An almost 100% track record I think. The only exception I can recall is Nazi Germany.)

    Asking for a 100% guarantee – based on ‘I know what they’re thinking and will be thinking in the future’ – is completely unrealistic. Demanding one (selectively) as a pre-requisite for action or even consideration of an issue is just a way of saying that your mind’s made up and won’t be changed by any facts.  Which is fair enough, I guess, if a little indirect.

    • #109
  20. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Manfred Arcane:

    Zafar: One thing all regimes share is the urge for self preservation. None of them – not Putin, not the Islamic Republic, not the Western Democracies, not NK or China or indeed anybody I can think of – will actually take actions which decrease their chances of survival. Different though they are, this they have in common.

    Come on now, that’s crazy. Hitler and Saddam Hussein for starters… 

    Nazi Germany is the only exception I can think of.  Can you think of any others?

    Saddam Hussain did everything he could to preserve himself and his rule.  How is that an exception?

    • #110
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Manfred Arcane:
    If these actors miscalculate, then they take actions that look like mistakes in hindsight, yet did not deter them when those actions were still in prospect.

    Being mistaken isn’t the same as not valuing your own preservation above other goals.  

    It’s just making a mistake, which is human.   Most mistakes are understandable – ie they’re decisions, made on a rational basis, which turn out to be bad choices.  

    Either because the reasoning was faulty or the assumed facts were incorrect.  And sometimes just bad luck.  

    • #111
  22. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Zafar:

    Manfred Arcane:

    Zafar: One thing all regimes share is the urge for self preservation. None of them – not Putin, not the Islamic Republic, not the Western Democracies, not NK or China or indeed anybody I can think of – will actually take actions which decrease their chances of survival. Different though they are, this they have in common.

    Come on now, that’s crazy. Hitler and Saddam Hussein for starters…

    Nazi Germany is the only exception I can think of. Can you think of any others?
    Saddam Hussain did everything he could to preserve himself and his rule. How is that an exception?

     Come on, you are not even trying.  SH invaded Kuwait, right?  That could have been the end for him.  He cut off our inspectors, ditto.  And he knew both times we were going to invade, yet still went ahead with his dubious conduct.  He attempted to kill G. H. W. Bush also.  Folks like him make different calculations than you or I would.  Putin right now could be thinking like him, or Hitler, or the Japanese before Pearl Harbor, or the North Koreans before they invaded the South, or the Russians when they put missiles in Cuba, or Castro when he lobbied the Russians to nuke the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the Argentines when they invaded the Falklands, or Noriega when he trafficked in narcotics into the US, etc..

    • #112
  23. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Manfred Arcane:

    Come on, you are not even trying. SH invaded Kuwait, right? That could have been the end for him. He cut off our inspectors, ditto. And he knew both times we were going to invade, yet still went ahead with his dubious conduct. He attempted to kill G. H. W. Bush also. Folks like him make different calculations than you or I would. Putin right now could be thinking like him, or Hitler, or the Japanese before Pearl Harbor, or the North Koreans before they invaded the South, or the Russians when they put missiles in Cuba, or Castro when he lobbied the Russians to nuke the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the Argentines when they invaded the Falklands, or Noriega when he trafficked in narcotics into the US, etc..

     
    Sweetheart, none of these decisions deliberately destabilised the regimes that made them.  They were all miscalculations.  Can you understand the difference?

    • #113
  24. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Zafar: Sweetheart, none of these decisions deliberately destabilised the regimes that made them. They were all miscalculations. Can you understand the difference?

     That is the whole point.  You make calculations, they make calculations with different inputs and different goals.  In hindsight they can be judged mistakes.  But in foresight, they are sometimes unpredictable because we don’t know what calculations they are making with their different inputs and different goals.

    • #114
  25. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Mark Wilson:

    Zafar: Sweetheart, none of these decisions deliberately destabilised the regimes that made them. They were all miscalculations. Can you understand the difference?

    That is the whole point. You make calculations, they make calculations with different inputs and different goals. In hindsight they can be judged mistakes. But in foresight, they are sometimes unpredictable because we don’t know what calculations they are making with their different inputs and different goals.

    Yes, but that’s true of anybody and anything wrt input and rationale.  Does that mean we refuse to make any assumptions about anybody else’s possible actions?  Actually we make these assumptions all the time, and with some degree of success.  If we should not assume specifically about Russia while continuing to assume about everybody else, why? It needs to be argued, right?

    Wrt goals – did any of them set out to deliberately destroy themselves or to fail?  Without reading their minds we can’t tell, but it seems unlikely to me.  Goals honestly seem more standard when it comes to self preservation, but that’s jmho.

    • #115
  26. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Zafar, you seem to be missing my point.  I am not saying they deliberately set out to destroy themselves.  I’m saying they take action that, from our perspective, are unpredictable because we don’t understand their goals and how they perceive the best way to achieve their goals.
    This doesn’t mean we can’t estimate how they will act; obviously we have to do that.  But we can’t make predictions confidently as you seem to imply when you glibly say they won’t do anything we don’t predict because of “self-preservation”. 
    The reason people like Putin come to power is because they are able to make strong moves that surprise people, and give them an advantage that their adversaries didn’t foresee.

    • #116
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    True.  But being wary is more mindful than being a doom merchant.

    • #117
  28. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Also Occam’a razor.

    • #118
  29. user_313423 Inactive
    user_313423
    @StephenBishop

    Peter Robinson – European powers in recent years have shelved entire divisions and weapons systems. The British Royal Navy doesn’t operate a proper aircraft carrier. 

    By proper aircraft carrier you mean they do operate helicopter carriers. Also the UK has two fixed wing aircraft carriers under construction. As the F35 which is going to be its aircraft is running behind on development and in front on spend there is currently little urgency. The carriers which they are replacing and which are now out of service were half the size and no longer fit for purpose. 

    The main weakness of the new carriers is they use a ramp instead of cats and traps. They were ordered by the last Labour government and true to form they didn’t procure a state of the art carrier. The coalition government investigated changing the design when they formed their government but it was found to be just too expensive to make the changes necessary for cats and traps.

    The disadvantage of the ramp is the planes will need to be F35B’s which will fly off the ramp but land vertically. This halves their range and halves the weapon payload. Also it means they will not be inter-operable with the US carriers which will use F35’s.

    Nonetheless when they enter service they will be a huge improvement over the Royal Navies previous capability.

    http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/The-Fleet/Ships

    • #119
  30. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Zafar:

    Manfred Arcane: Come on, you are not even trying. SH invaded Kuwait, right? That could have been the end for him. He cut off our inspectors, ditto. And he knew both times we were going to invade, yet still went ahead with his dubious conduct. He attempted to kill G. H. W. Bush also. Folks like him make different calculations than you or I would. Putin right now could be thinking like him, or Hitler, or the Japanese before Pearl Harbor, or the North Koreans before they invaded the South, or the Russians when they put missiles in Cuba, or Castro when he lobbied the Russians to nuke the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the Argentines when they invaded the Falklands, or Noriega when he trafficked in narcotics into the US, etc..

    Sweetheart, none of these decisions deliberately destabilised the regimes that made them. They were all miscalculations. Can you understand the difference?

     MA: You just won’t concede the obvious.  Putin could make any number of aggressive actions that would cross the boundary you set of: “deliberately destabilis[ing] the regimes that made them”, in hindsight, only he might have a markedly different view now of the fruits of those actions than the West does or would, had they advance knowledge of what he contemplates.  Consider how half of the West (the Dems) thinks that BO is an effective leader, with effective foreign policies.  Do you think that Putin or the Russians believe this?  Putin thinks BO is a wuss!  Their perception of the West is entirely different than the West’s perception of itself.  So their anticipation of how the West will respond to what Putin does, and what value to put on it, is shimmied from the start.  The West, for starters, has no appreciation of Russia’s injured pride…etc., etc.

    • #120
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