Wednesday Open Thread [9.3.14]

Filed in International, National by on September 3, 2014

Tom Friedman:

There are no words to describe the vileness of the video beheadings of two American journalists by ISIS, but I have no doubt that they’re meant to get us to overreact, à la 9/11, and rush off again without a strategy. ISIS is awful, but it is not a threat to America’s homeland.

I am all for bombing them whenever we find an opportunity, like we do with Al-Queda. But I will not accept any new ground invasion or war to go after them. To put it bluntly, we cannot afford another land war in Asia for the next 100 years. Both monetarily and morally. If John McCain is so desparate to fight, he is free to join the Iraqi Army and take up arms. And he is free to encourage his sons to do so.

What concerns me more is this:

“As Ukrainian leaders warned on Monday of ‘a great war’ with Russia, NATO leaders meeting in Wales this week were expected to endorse their most concrete response yet to increased Russian military intervention in Ukraine: establishing a rapid-reaction force capable of deploying quickly to Eastern Europe[.] The new force of some 4,000 troops, capable of moving on 48 hours’ notice, will be supported with logistics and equipment pre-positioned in Eastern European countries closer to Russia, with an upgraded schedule of military exercises and deployments that are intended to make NATO’s commitment of collective defense more credible and enhance its deterrence.”

World War III just became 50% more likely to happen in the next two years. You see, Russia’s belligerence is really all about its position in the world, or more accurately, how it sees itself in the world. To most, it is a corrupt and fascist obligary with only nominal nods to democracy and the free market, which, absent its nuclear weapons, would be a second or third world power at best. Russia, on the other hand, sees itself as a former grand empire that is entitled to recapture that status through any means necessary. Which is why it sees NATO as such a threat.

When Russia was rebuilding in the 90’s after the fall of the Soviet Union, the one thing that was antagnostic in the relationship between the West and Russia was the issue of NATO expansion.

And as you can see, NATO did expand into the Baltics, into the Balkans, into Poland, and into Romania and Bulgaria. And we are talking a rapid reaction force that can be deployed to…. well the article does not state it, but the assumption is into the Ukraine.

How will Russia (Putin) react? Allegedly, Putin told EU President Jose Manuel Barroso that he could “take Kiev in two weeks.” Marc Champion thinks Putin is serious.

Earlier this year it was only those on the lunatic nationalist fringe in Moscow who talked about taking Kiev. Now it’s Putin. This is part of a disturbing pattern. For a long time, only ultranationalists talked about a place called Novorossiya, or New Russia. In April, Putin took that up, and by June the separatists in Ukraine had merged their self-proclaimed republics to found Novorossiya. So what are the Russian lunatics talking about now? Ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians in Novorossiya, and attacking Poland and the Baltic states.

Jonah Shapp at Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish:

We would not be where we are if Western leaders had not chosen to ruffle Russian feathers by inching the NATO umbrella steadily eastward since the end of the Cold War. That is not the same as saying that this is all America’s fault, but it does acknowledge the basic facts that actions have consequences, that countries tend to respond rationally to real or perceived threats, and that Putin had every reason to believe that Ukraine would eventually join NATO absent some kind of Russian intervention. Putin’s ethno-religious and political ideologies should be judged independently on their merits (or lack thereof), but his belief that the Cold War never ended is readily borne out by NATO’s expansion, as well as other signs, such as the IMF’s misguided handling of post-Soviet Russia in the 90s.

The cold war never ended according to Russia. And yet, they are not fighting the cold war the same way anymore, and we, the West, are going to have to find a new way to combat and deter Russia other than military threats. Consider this from Matthew Gault:

It’s no wonder that Latvia and other Baltic area NATO countries asked the alliance to deploy more troops within their borders—and NATO agreed. Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told The Guardian that NATO would build more bases in Eastern Europe. But new bases and extra troops will do little to deter maskirovka [the term for the allegedly unaffiliated Russian terrorists popping up in Eastern Ukraine]. If Russia can badly undermine a country without actually invading—withholding direct military force until the conditions are just right—then NATO troops could end up just standing around while the society around them disintegrates. The collapse could slowly render a traditional allied military presence politically unsustainable—it might look like an occupation—while simultaneously giving Russia an excuse to eventually send in “peacekeepers” whose true intentions are anything but peaceful. That’s how 21st-century maskirovka beats dated Cold War thinking.

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  1. cassandra_m says:

    CVS stopped selling tobacco products today! I had no idea they were even thinking of this.

  2. Anny says:

    I thought it was at the end of the year, I know the cigarette area behind the counter looked quite bare.

  3. Steve Newton says:

    DelDem let me make sure I am not misreading you here: I am all for bombing them whenever we find an opportunity, like we do with Al-Queda.

    Does the “them” in this sentence include Russian troops or just Ukrainian separatists?

    If Russian troops, are you actually advocating bombing troops of the world’s second-largest nuclear power, with whom we are not at war, and who have an official doctrine of using tactical nuclear weapons to “de-escalate” conflicts with other major powers.

    I’m really hoping I read you incorrectly, but I had to ask.

  4. Delaware Dem says:

    [The following addressed a comment from a reader who confused my intentions towards ISIS and Russia, but that comment has since been deleted since the commenter realized his misunderstanding].

    No, no. That paragraph has to do with ISIS. I am all for bombing any ISIS target in Iraq and Syria whenever we get the opportunity. If we bomb Russian or Pro-Russian Separatists, World War III would immediately commence and Delaware would become a radioactive wasteland… well, more so than it already is. 😉

  5. SussexAnon says:

    Clown car cleared of harassment charges.

    I expect the silence to be equal to Korn being aquitted.

  6. Jason330 says:

    We still have Fortune 500 companies in the US doing billions of dollars worth of business in Russia. There are real economic actions we could take that would have a significant impact on Russia.

    That we are not taking those actions probably means that those same companies have made all the right donations.

  7. pandora says:

    Profits over patriotism.

  8. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    NATO’s expansion merely stoked Russia’s deep seated, historical paranoia of the West’s intentions. The suggestion that NATO precipitated Russia’s current behavior ignores that Russian mind set. The fact is that the Russians would have gotten to the same place without NATO’s eastward creep. The facts would have been different, the geography in dispute might be different and maybe it takes longer but the result would be largely identical.

    The only hammer the West holds is to remove Russia from the UN Security Counsel. That position provides Russia with international leverage that is not commensurate with their economic or military power. Remove Russia from the Security Counsel and many of its international alliances quickly dissolve.

  9. puck says:

    Smeared then cleared – this is getting to be a pattern:

    Corporal Mark Hoffman tells WDEL Chip Flowers has been cleared after police investigated harassment claims made by ex-deputy treasurer Erika Benner.

    Police say the conflict between Flowers and Benner was mutual and that no illegal conduct was found on the part of Flowers.

  10. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    If you can’t wipe shit off of shit, then not sure where the pattern is.

  11. Dana says:

    ATAIM wrote:

    The only hammer the West holds is to remove Russia from the UN Security Counsel.

    [laughter] You write as though the United Nations is somehow a tool of the West. Perhaps, in 1946, it was, but the addition of so many new, non-Western nations, has made it primarily a tool for third world nations to bash more productive ones, but that’s about it.

    As for Russia’s military power, if you are going to argue that the bear has lost the military credibility to hold a permanent membership, and veto, on the Security Council, then what do you say about the United Kingdom and France, both of which are far weaker, militarily, than Russia?

    The West holds no hammer at all here, because President Putin has judged, rightly, that the United States and Europe are very much unwilling to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia over Ukraine. Everybody heard the collective sigh of relief that Ukraine chose not to join NATO in 2010, which meant that the Russian incursion did not trigger the “attack on one is an attack on all” clause of the North Atlantic Treaty. The only real question is: will Vladimir Vladimirovich decide that NATO won’t live up to its word if he moves into Estonia?

  12. Tom Kline says:

    Putin leads while Obama golfs… I don’t blame him because if my mother in law lived with me I’d be doing the same.

  13. SussexAnon says:

    Isn’t congress still on vacation?

    Yeah, the Ukraine thing must be a real national emergency for us, or yet another crisis that Americans think only America should inject themselves into and/or possibly solve unilaterally.