Dying for Narva? Our Foolish NATO Commitment.

 

imageI confess I have a soft spot for Estonia. I visited for my first and only time when I was six years old. Unlike the other Soviet workers and peasants, who every August flocked en masse to the rocky shores of the Black Sea, my family preferred the wide, uncrowded, sandy beaches, cool northern waters, and fragrant pine forests of the Baltic. The three Baltic capitals – Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius – were ancient Hanseatic merchant towns that, despite 30-some years of Communism, mass-deportations, and Russian colonization, had managed to preserve their distinct Baltic character and culture. To my parents, the whole region – but especially Estonia – looked and felt like Scandinavia or, at least, what they imagined Scandinavia to look and feel like.

Tallinn itself I remember as a medieval jewel straight out of a storybook, with winding cobblestone streets, Gothic windows, and a skyline marked by crow-stepped gables, church spires, fortress towers, and red tile roofs crowned by bronze weathervanes and finials. There were pubs, coffee houses, and jazz clubs. The food tasted different. This place felt … Western. Someone told my mother that, if one stood at the water’s edge on dark nights when atmospheric conditions were just right, one could faintly see the lights of Helsinki across the Gulf of Finland. I clearly remember her standing on the beach at night squinting at the horizon, trying to catch a glimpse of the world beyond the Iron Curtain.

For years afterward, I made childish drawings of Nordic Baroque towers and spires, trying to capture the magic of that place. I often wanted to return, but Tallinn was the one place where my childhood steps remained un-retraced. It was not one of the world’s great capitals, it was off the beaten track and, until the summer after my second year in law school, the right opportunity never seemed to present itself. That summer I tried to visit, but was arrested crossing the Russo-Estonian border, which is kind of a funny story.

This tiny Baltic nation — with a population a hair over 1.3 million (over a quarter of whom are ethnic Russians) — is a huge post-Communist success story, deserving of our deepest respect and admiration. It has a per capita GDP of over $30,000, by far the highest of all the former Soviet states, and second only to Slovenia in all of post-Communist Eastern Europe. It is one of the most tech-savvy countries in the world and has been experimenting with legally-binding internet voting systems since 2005. Indeed, Estonia should be especially near and dear to the hearts of Ricochet podcast listeners, as it is the birthplace of Skype.

Maart Laar, the remarkable prime minister most directly responsible for Estonia’s success, learned everything he knew about economics by reading Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose. As a result, Estonia is arguably the most libertarian country in the world, making it very different from its Nordic socialist neighbors. It has a flat tax, lax regulations and — until it joined the Eurozone in 2011 — one of the world’s most stable currencies. Over 90% of its previously state-run economy is in private hands. In recognition of his role in bringing about the “Estonian Miracle,” the Cato Institute awarded Laar its Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty in 2006.

Having said all that, let’s take a deep breath, step back away from the slough of sentiment, and plant ourselves on terra firma. In 2004, Estonia joined NATO. This step — while understandable from the Estonians’ point of view — may prove to be the country’s undoing. By expanding NATO’s borders to the very threshold of the bear’s lair, the Bush administration committed the United States, politically and legally, to going to war against a nuclear superpower to protect Estonia and the other Baltic States from Russian aggression.

This was quite insane. Does anyone seriously believe that the United States, after seven years of clueless windbaggery, fraudulent red lines, and throwing our friends out the window to appease dictators and psychopaths, would now honor such a commitment?

Today, unlike in 2004, Russian aggression is no longer purely theoretical. Now comes news that the United States is pre-positioning arms and heavy equipment such as Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers in the three Baltic states as a way of deterring yet another Russian takeover of yet another former colony. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter affirms that the US and NATO are “committed to defending the territorial integrity of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.”

Dream on. What’s more, the pre-positioning of equipment is actually worse than a half-measure. It says to the Russians, we are not really serious about our promises to defend these people. It says we will put some hardware in cold storage on their territory and do a joint exercise with them now and again, but we’re not willing to station Americans to act as a tripwire. Please enjoy our tanks and artillery when you overrun them fifteen minutes into your invasion.

I have every sympathy for the Estonians (see above), but they are a tiny people who have had the misfortune of living in a tough neighborhood and being pushed around by bigger neighbors: the Danes, Swedes, Germans, and — of course — the Russians. But that’s their bad luck, not ours. If push ever came to shove, we would sell the Estonians to Vladimir Putin for 30 counterfeit rubles and a mess of beet soup. And we would throw in the rest of the Baltic states for good measure.

Indeed, our foolish commitment to the Balts may prove to be NATO’s undoing. Putin knows exactly the worth of American credibility. Destroying NATO is his number one strategic objective, and there is no better way to achieve it than to demonstrate to the world that NATO’s security commitment to its easternmost members is worthless. After all, it profits the United States little to shed blood for Warsaw or Bratislava. But for Tartu? For Narva? Exploiting American fecklessness as a way of permanently dismantling NATO could prove to be a fruit too low-hanging not to pluck.

I suppose you can’t turn back the clock, but it would have behooved us in 2004 to have remembered our Thucydides:

Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

There are 44 comments.

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  1. raycon and lindacon Inactive
    raycon and lindacon
    @rayconandlindacon

    You have summed it up well. A foolish president, during a time of strength, brought NATO into the lair of the bear. A fool of a president then projected cowardice to the world while simultaneously a Russian thug rose to power.

    It is the plot line to a dark comic opera.

    • #1
  2. Lazy_Millennial Member
    Lazy_Millennial
    @LazyMillennial

    Is America willing to risk war with Russia for Estonia? Doubtful currently, but “current” keeps changing. What about the other members of NATO? Are Germany, France, Great Britain, and Poland willing to accept Russia’s eastward expansion?

    What about Russia? Is it willing to risk war with NATO for Estonia? If Putin is able to win and go from “fighting” to “keeping the peace” in Ukraine and Syria, a Baltic adventure seems more tempting. Not so if he’s facing two quagmires, with Saudi Arabia keeping oil prices below the level needed for Russian profitability.

    • #2
  3. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Very interesting post. Thanks.

    My son teaching English in Moscow now has a strong attachment to Estonia, having visited twice, which piques my interest in the topic.

    I understand the logic that demoralizing NATO might be the enticement for Putin to invade the Baltics. Very useful insight. But I would think that the cost he would incur for doing so would be enormous. For one, I could see Germany rearm, putting the Wehrmacht back in business. Also, the energy business with the EU would take an even worse hit than nowadays. And I would think that the resistance forces in the Baltics would exact a heavy toll on the occupiers. The US and NATO would be shipping a lot more Stinger missiles and sniper rifles to the resistance forces than we feel free to do with Syrian rebel forces who might easily go over to AQ or ISIS the next day and use those weapons against us.

    It just doesn’t seem to me to add up to a smart choice by Putin.

    PS. We would take out Russian bases in Syria pronto, wouldn’t you think, following any attempted invasion into the Baltics? Another item on the cost side of the ledger.

    • #3
  4. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    I am not in a position to know the details of the plan but your criticism may be unwarranted. If the prepositioning is accompanied by a continuous rotation of US forces to the region, as was done in Kuwait after the first Gulf War, there will be a American tripwire in the region.

    What we did in Kuwait was to preposition a division or so worth of equipment in the region and have at least one brigade combat team in Kuwait exercising with a portion of the equipment. The rest of the division was then on the hook to rapidly deploy and fall in on the remaining equipment. The system worked fairly well as many units gained a working knowledge of the area and the realities of quickly deploying.

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

    Killing American forward based servicemen/women is not something Putin would do easily. He would have to make it look like we were the instigators or perpetrators of the violence somehow, or victims of our own miscalculation… that sort of thing. Unfortunately, these kinds of ruses the Russians seem pretty good at.

    • #5
  6. Penfold Member
    Penfold
    @Penfold

    Why does “Dunkirk” pop into my head?

    • #6
  7. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Great post. But I am not as sure as you that Putin wants NATO’s demise. The alternative to NATO is a Europe re-arming and a nuclear Germany.

    • #7
  8. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Creating NATO risked war with Russia (the USSR at the time). Adding any NATO member risks war with Russia and being forced into a conflict. That is the point of an alliance!

    The problem isn’t that we have alliances. The problem is that our foreign policy is worse than would be expected if we randomly made each decision by rolling dice.

    • #8
  9. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Manfred is right. The best way to protect the Baltic is with counter strikes elsewhere. Our equipment and positioning is well suited. Turkey is getting in a deep conflict with the Russians. Greece needs cash. NATO would likely have many avenues of counter attack if Russia concentrated in the North, Center and weakened the South. Wehrmacht 1942, in reverse. While Russia operates along interior lines, our missile/aircraft technical superiority is powerful, especially after the first few weeks. There would be loses, but we would prevail to stalemate quickly. Stalemate for Putin is disaster.

    The best solution, is a strong forward defense. It checks ambition before things get messy.

    • #9
  10. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    If not Estonia? Then where? Perhaps being a Romanian my sentiments and history make me inclined to think defending Eastern Europe is a worthy goal and plan. But, I ask if not the Baltic States then what? Do we fight for Poland? Germany? France? Sweden? What line is a line that can not be crossed?

    • #10
  11. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    I loved your first part where you expressed your love for the Estonians.

    As to your second part, I have to disagree. I think bringing the Baltic countries into NATO was a great idea. First off, who says we won’t honor that commitment? Perhaps Obama is weak, but even Obama has to honor commitments and NATO is not just the United States.

    Second, even if it’s difficult to strategically defend it, then Putin has to gamble. Will we or won’t we? That will certainly give him pause, and my guess it is a deterrent under most cases. Sure if there is an all out war with Russia, they will seize the Baltics, but under most circumstances Putin and Russia will not take a chance. Heck, they’ve been in NATO now for 12 years, half of which under the most weakest of foreign policy American presidents in a century, and Russia didn’t. That tells you something.

    Third, it gave and continues to give Estonia the confidence that they are under western influence and go forward with the very policies that created the Estonian miracle. That miracle will influence their neighbors, and possibly even Russia in the future when they get a real president who cares about his country’s well being. If they had not been under western influence, they would have been under Russian influence, and their policies would have reflected the Russian approach.

    So Bush and his administration pulled off a coupe.

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    The problem isn’t that Putin is trying to destroy NATO. The problem is that Obama is trying to destroy NATO. Obama despises Eastern Europe as much as he despises Western Europe and America. Putin is actually quite timid, not because he thinks Obama is strong, but because he thinks Obama may not really represent the views of most Americans. He doesn’t want to wake the sleeping giant. He’ll do just enough gradually enough not to arouse it.

    The point of Oblomov’s post is that America has given up on it’s own history, it’s own liberty, it’s own prosperity, and it’s long standing commitment to liberty around the world–the effort to “make the world safe for Democracy.” The Kennedy paean no longer holds. We will not bear any burden, pay any price, for the liberty of others. George W. Bush kind of put the kibosh on that, aided by Obama, with the Iraq war. Yes, Americans are war-weary and indulging their tendency to isolationism, unfortunately. We are going to pay, again, a high price for that withdrawal from the world. The only question is when? How soon? Putin gauged correctly in Syria and is back in the Middle East. He gauged correctly in the Crimea and Ukraine. He gauged correctly in Georgia. He is putting pressure on Nato from Turkey, to Eastern Europe, to the Baltics. Expect more.

    • #12
  13. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    The dishonor of allowing Russia to overrun and enslave the Baltics twice would be indescribable. I was there once. I wrote about it here. The sight of memorials like that makes it pretty clear what why we’ve promised what we have; you can know about it, but as always, seeing it is different.

    • #13
  14. GadgetGal Thatcher
    GadgetGal
    @GadgetGal

    Does it matter that Estonia is one of the (very) countries that honors its financial and military commitments to NATO? And, with it’s technical prowess and deep understanding of its eastern neighbor, Estonia may have more strategic importance than appears on the surface.

    For any who are interested–a link to the trailer for “The Singing Revolution“–Estonia’s successful fight for independence.

    • #14
  15. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Oblo,

    This was quite insane. Does anyone seriously believe that the United States, after seven years of clueless windbaggery, fraudulent red lines, and throwing our friends out the window to appease dictators and psychopaths, would now honor such a commitment?

    Today, unlike in 2004, Russian aggression is no longer purely theoretical. Now comes news that the United States is pre-positioning arms and heavy equipment such as Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers in the three Baltic states as a way of deterring yet another Russian takeover of yet another former colony. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter affirms that the US and NATO are “committed to defending the territorial integrity of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.”

    Dream on. What’s more, the pre-positioning of equipment is actually worse than a half-measure. It says to the Russians, we are not really serious about our promises to defend these people. It says we will put some hardware in cold storage on their territory and do a joint exercise with them now and again, but we’re not willing to station Americans to act as a tripwire. Please enjoy our tanks and artillery when you overrun it fifteen minutes into your invasion.

    Your words literally cause me physical pain. Not because they are so false but because they are so true. When the difference between real deterrence and Potemkin deterrence is so obvious one wants to scream.

    We must not think about the stupidity of the last 7 years and fix our minds on proper policy now. If the EU wasn’t trying to micro-manage Europe’s economy it would be screaming for protection. Instead, they have their heads firmly planted in the ground ostrich style.

    The solution. Start adding 2 + 2 and getting 4 again.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #15
  16. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Manny: As to your second part, I have to disagree. I think bringing the Baltic countries into NATO was a great idea. First off, who says we won’t honor that commitment? Perhaps Obama is weak, but even Obama has to honor commitments and NATO is not just the United States.

    Does he? I thought the US also had committed to a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, as well as maintaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It could be argued that neither of those were binding agreements, but to me it seems unlikely that Obama would honor this commitment any more than those.

    • #16
  17. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Matt Balzer:

    Manny: As to your second part, I have to disagree. I think bringing the Baltic countries into NATO was a great idea. First off, who says we won’t honor that commitment? Perhaps Obama is weak, but even Obama has to honor commitments and NATO is not just the United States.

    Does he? I thought the US also had committed to a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, as well as maintaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It could be argued that neither of those were binding agreements, but to me it seems unlikely that Obama would honor this commitment any more than those.

    We are getting a BMD system to defend Europe from Iran, just pared down from Bush’s plan. Though not a fan of Obama’s for sure, in truth, if his Iran treaty holds true, the lower investment might be evaluated in hindsight as inspired. If not, then not.

    • #17
  18. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    I disagree with Ray and Linda Con. The issue was not the Estonians joining NATO. If a country does all the right things and asks to be part of an alliance where they clearly belong, and are turned down because it might involve opposing the local authoritarian strongman, what is the point of the existence of the alliance?

    What is the point of pretending that freedom is something to be sought or cherished? Or have we decided that we are all libertarian isolationists now?

    The whole point of any show of force is to deter. Mr. Obama may not believe in the virtues of the US or medium levels of deterrence, but I certainly do. Are we- and NATO really at greater risk now than we were when Chernenko had nukes pointed at us?

    • #18
  19. Oblomov Member
    Oblomov
    @Oblomov

     

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:The dishonor of allowing Russia to overrun and enslave the Baltics twice would be indescribable. I was there once. I wrote about it here. The sight of memorials like that makes it pretty clear what why we’ve promised what we have; you can know about it, but as always, seeing it is different.

    I agree, it would be tragic and horrible.

    Unfortunately, NATO expansion, especially encompassing the Baltics, makes this outcome more likely.

    But that train has sailed. Now that it’s a done deal, last minute half measures like prepositioning make our position even less credible.

     

    • #19
  20. Oblomov Member
    Oblomov
    @Oblomov

    Thanks for all the comments.

    I want to make a point that addresses many of the objections to the post.

    I think there is a false choice between 1) expanding NATO and 2) leaving the Balts, Ukrainians and others to the tender mercies of Vladimir Putin.

    The rational tried and true solution to what to do in such cases is guaranteed neutrality. Instead of expanding NATO into the core historical zone of Russian interest and poking the bear in the eye, we should have reached an agreement with the Russians to honor a mutual cordon sanitaire running from Finland down to the Black Sea and the Caucasus. Both sides would have understood that violations of neutrality of the countries in this belt would constitute a serious provocation and cause for countermeasures. Both sides would have had strong incentives to maintain the neutrality of this belt.

    But we didn’t do that and now we are in a serious pickle.

    Fortunately for the Balts, but unfortunately for the rest of us, the likeliest place where Putin is likely to challenge NATO is not in Estonia but in Syria/Turkey. That’s not much consolation though.

    • #20
  21. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    The rational tried and true solution to what to do in such cases is guaranteed neutrality. Instead of expanding NATO into the core historical zone of Russian interest and poking the bear in the eye, we should have reached an agreement with the Russians to honor a mutual cordon sanitaire running from Finland down to the Black Sea and the Caucasus. Both sides would have understood that violations of neutrality of the countries in this belt would constitute a serious provocation and cause for countermeasures. Both sides would have had strong incentives to maintain the neutrality of this belt.

    Isn’t that more or less what we did with Ukraine and Georgia?

    • #21
  22. Oblomov Member
    Oblomov
    @Oblomov

    Marion Evans:Great post. But I am not as sure as you that Putin wants NATO’s demise. The alternative to NATO is a Europe re-arming and a nuclear Germany.

    Well, a united Europe with a strong Germany and a U.S. security guarantee is much worse from Putin’s standpoint than a fragmented Europe from which the U.S. is strategically disengaged. So he really, really wants NATO gone.

    Plus, I very much doubt that, even with the U.S. out of the picture, the Europeans will go back to their old habits. They are too exhausted as a civilization for that.

    • #22
  23. Canadian Cincinnatus Inactive
    Canadian Cincinnatus
    @CanadianCincinnatus

    I agree with Claire. Nothing good would come of a shameful and dishonourable policy.

    First of all, if Putin took the Baltics, then what? Emboldened by success, where would he go next? Poland? Now your policy would have converted a smaller war into a bigger war.

    Second, looking at it from a bigger perspective, look how rare liberal democracies are in the world. Beyond this form of government is nothing but misery, poverty, cruelty and injustice. If the liberal democracies do not stick together, then they will be swallowed up piecemeal by the petty tyrants of the world like Putin.

    Third, standing by democracies who are defend themselves is a far cry from Iraq, where liberal democracy is being foisted on an unwilling populace. In this case, the populace would be wholeheartedly on the side of America and violently opposed to Putin’s thugs.

    This is the sort of realist thinking that is anything by realistic.

    • #23
  24. Oblomov Member
    Oblomov
    @Oblomov

    Klaatu:

    The rational tried and true solution to what to do in such cases is guaranteed neutrality. Instead of expanding NATO into the core historical zone of Russian interest and poking the bear in the eye, we should have reached an agreement with the Russians to honor a mutual cordon sanitaire running from Finland down to the Black Sea and the Caucasus. Both sides would have understood that violations of neutrality of the countries in this belt would constitute a serious provocation and cause for countermeasures. Both sides would have had strong incentives to maintain the neutrality of this belt.

    Isn’t that more or less what we did with Ukraine and Georgia?

    No. The U.S., in the case of Georgia, and the U.S. together with the Europeans, in the case of Ukraine, sent very strong signals that these countries should be welcome in NATO. You don’t have to be a fan of Putin to know that this outcome would be unacceptable to the Russians.

    • #24
  25. Oblomov Member
    Oblomov
    @Oblomov

    Canadian Cincinnatus:I agree with Claire. Nothing good would come of a shameful and dishonourable policy.

    First of all, if Putin took the Baltics, then what? Emboldened by success, where would he go next? Poland? Now your policy would have converted a smaller war into a bigger war.

    Second, looking at it from a bigger perspective, look how rare liberal democracies are in the world. Beyond this form of government is nothing but misery, poverty, cruelty and injustice. If the liberal democracies do not stick together, then they will be swallowed up piecemeal by the petty tyrants of the world like Putin.

    Third, standing by democracies who are defend themselves is a far cry from Iraq, where liberal democracy is being foisted on an unwilling populace. In this case, the populace would be wholeheartedly on the side of America and violently opposed to Putin’s thugs.

    This is the sort of realist thinking that is anything by realistic.

    The answer to all these objections is what I spelled out above: guaranteed neutrality.

    Finland was neutral from 1944 to present day. It’s a pretty nice place, a liberal democracy and friendly to us. Why couldn’t Estonia be the same?

    I notice that Switzerland also is a pretty nice place to live. Yet it is not a member of NATO.

    • #25
  26. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Oblomov,

    There was a cordon sanitaire, it was called the Iron Curtain. Such an agreement is like Gerald Ford saying, “There is no Soviet domination of eastern Eruope, and there never will be under a Ford Administration.” You are agreeing to a zone of influence – if not by overt means then by covert means. The entire cordon becomes a Russian playground for espionage, influence, insurgency and green men until it all looks like Belarus – see Ukraine.

    No, this time we need a well thought strike, counter-strike strategy with the intent of making the choice so awful, Putin will not dare risk his reputation at home.

    Putin is unlikely to do anything piecemeal or small. Small is costly and creates resistance that builds for the next step. See Crimea attack adds greater resistance against for Donetsk which then stalls, which adds greater resistance along the entire border which stalls Russian Forces, which brings about surreptitious military aid from the west and affirms Ukrainian resolve. Each time Putin strikes, resistance grows from the West. Small is costly with little benefit.

    Large is risky. Mobilizing a lot of Russian troops will result in body bags. It will strain budgets and defenses elsewhere. And, if it fails it will be a major setback, most likely ending Putin.

    Medium attacks to annex territory are also risky unless that territory adds something strategically important. What do Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania add for Russia? Ports on the Baltic? Resources? No. A buffer? Maybe. Military bases? Against whom? Russia controls Kaliningra Oblast already, they don’t need anything else. There is a land bridge. (easement) through Lithuania from Russian friendly Belarus – along the Lithuanian/Polish border which Russian military planners are prepared to breech militarily and defend along a narrow corridor. Kaliningrad is defended by nuclear missiles.

    The three Baltic states were added when Russia was an observer to NATO and NATO members such as Germany were considering a bigger role for Russia in NATO (believe it or not back in 1997). To turn back now that it has gotten more challenging is a mistake. Putin is sly, not stupid. He won’t confront NAT.. He is stretched a bit in Syria, Crimea, and Donetsk. And the Russian populations in the three Baltic countries are happy where they are – they live better in Estonia, Lativia and Lithuania. They are not eager to return to Russian domination. So, this situation is more stable than it might appear or than Putin wants us to think.

    • #26
  27. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Matt Balzer:

    Manny: As to your second part, I have to disagree. I think bringing the Baltic countries into NATO was a great idea. First off, who says we won’t honor that commitment? Perhaps Obama is weak, but even Obama has to honor commitments and NATO is not just the United States.

    Does he? I thought the US also had committed to a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, as well as maintaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It could be argued that neither of those were binding agreements, but to me it seems unlikely that Obama would honor this commitment any more than those.

    But that wasn’t an overarching NATO treaty. Obama couldn’t do that if he wanted. As Clare said it would be a complete disgrace, but even more importantly it would destroy NATO and Obama’s ego couldn’t handle that he would be forever remembered for that. As I said, Estonia has been in NATO the whole of Obama’s terms and Putin, bully as he is and Obama weak as he is, has not tried to take them.

    • #27
  28. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    James Madison:Oblomov,

    There was a cordon sanitaire, it was called the Iron Curtain. Such an agreement is like Gerald Ford saying, “There is no Soviet domination of eastern Eruope, and there never will be under a Ford Administration.” You are agreeing to a zone of influence – if not by overt means then by covert means. The entire cordon becomes a Russian playground for espionage, influence, insurgency and green men until it all looks like Belarus – see Ukraine.

    No, this time we need a well thought strike, counter-strike strategy with the intent of making the choice so awful, Putin will not dare risk his reputation at home.

    I agree with that. Our Eastern Europe defense strategy is obsolete now that we have an aggressive Russia again. Not only do we need a better counter strike, but more importantly we need a better defensive layout. We need to bring back a good number of the tank divisions and lay them out in the territory of our new NATO allies: Poland, Baltics, and if possible Ukraine.

    • #28
  29. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    I was a defense policy conference a couple years ago at NDU.

    We had some visiting Sweeds there and they were showing us some slides on there national defense policy plans. It was all peacekeeping this and international cooperation that, until the guy in charge said, “This was our plan until this happened.” The slide was of Putin. “We are changing to a new reality.”

    If the Baltics are violated, its war with Poland and Putin doesn’t want that. Putin is like Bismark always seeking the angles. He doesn’t want to risk an actual war, cause he might not win.

    Oh and I wouldn’t put much stock in a rearmed Germany. My contacts in the German Army say its become way to politicized to be effective.

    • #29
  30. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Oblomov

    There have units from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in and out of all the Baltic states, including Poland, over the last few years. Not a large force for sure, but they are combat hardened.

    • #30

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