Thursday, September 04, 2014

Back to Basics

The Ukraine crisis is getting NATO back to its basic mission of defending Europe from Russia.

This is welcome:

More than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union brought an end to the Cold War, Ukraine's crisis is driving the U.S.-led defense alliance back to its original purpose: To protect its members against a perceived Russian threat.

This is a welcome change in terms of the debate:

Whether to permanently station NATO forces east of the Cold War era east-west border, or just to store weapons there, modernize air bases and increase joint exercises and air patrols, will be one of the main topics at the summit.

Since Russia hammered Georgia in 2008, I've asked for American and other NATO prepositioned equipment in Poland.

I didn't (and don't) trust Russia under Putin. I've not been in the camp that believes NATO is obsolete and must change to be an out-of-area alliance.

While I welcome the ability of allies in NATO to work with us abroad, we can hardly rely on them (as NATO's high-profile Afghanistan role as part of ISAF (I Saw Americans Fight) in this mission demonstrates). And if this ability to send mostly symbolic forces to burden our supply lines is at the expense of funding to defend Europe, this is a bad deal.

And since Crimea, I think the basing debate should be settled with both units and prepositioned equipment.

Plus other measures, including restoring an American corps headquarters to Europe and at least a couple more ground combat brigades--I'm inclined to add three more now, including one in Poland to help protect the prepositioned equipment sites.

The end of history is over. History has restarted. Now we just have to figure out if this will be known as an inter-war period between the Cold War and what might happen in the near future.

And remember, even if we manage to halt the losses of Russia's aggression at "just" Crimea and/or eastern Ukraine (and the end of Thomas Friedman's credibility and pretense to human decency), the President's drooling fanboys (and girls!) shouldn't start strutting about as if it is a victory that we "get" most of Ukraine while Putin "just" gets Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

One, this would be a violation of the UN Charter and the Budapest Memorandum.

Two, this kills President Obama's nuclear-nonproliferation ambitions (Ukraine gave up nukes for the paper guarantees of the Budapest Memorandum).

And three, such boasting of victory would be akin to boasting in 1938 that Hitler "just" got the Sudetenland while the West retained the heart of Czechoslovakia with its potent armaments industry.

Because slowing the enemy down isn't the same as defeating the enemy if they continue to pursue their objectives no matter how patient they are:

What does a Great Russia with global power resources look like? The RUBK -- pronounced "rubik" as in in the puzzle Rubik's Cube. RUBK is Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Khazakstan. With its demographics and natural resources, RUBK is a geo-strategic formula for a global power.

When the crisis first started, I thought that Russia would have trouble simultaneously projecting military power into both Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

While Russia has failed to simulate a revolt in eastern Ukraine, they were able to focus their military on just Crimea. Putin is now addressing eastern Ukraine as a sequential power projection mission now that he is already holding Crimea.

Remember, Putin said the collapse of the USSR was a tragedy. Putin would love to write the history books as putting him on the right side of the restoration of Russia's status.

Vladimir the Great probably sounds good to his ears.

We do not have peace for our time.

Have a hopey, changey, reset day.

UPDATE: Old habits die hard:

As leaders began their meeting in southern Wales, British Prime Minister David Cameron said his nation is willing to contribute 3,500 personnel to the rapid response force. He said its headquarters could be in Poland, with forward units in the easternmost NATO member countries and equipment stockpiled there in advance.

"We must be able to act more swiftly," Cameron said. "I hope that today we can agree a multinational spearhead force deployable anywhere in the world in just two to five days."

Are you kidding me? NATO is still trying to make a small force to go anywhere in the world within 5 days when the "back to basics" goal should be to getting a significant force on the ground in eastern NATO in the same time frame?

Are you people blind? Stupid? So bureaucratically locked into out-of-area thinking that you are incapable of reacting to a Russian war on the edge of NATO Europe that is undoing post-Cold War agreements with Russia on peace and stability?

It's like focusing on improving the ability to fight in Norway while the Germans are overrunning France and the Low Countries.

Really? Are you just effing with me?

I think we (and the Russians) can draw the conclusion that NATO will be caught between two objectives and waste money on a force that can't deploy fast enough "anywhere in the world" and won't be large enough to deter Russia in NATO itself.