Saturday, September 06, 2014

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Speech

President Obama famously said that words matter. The problem is he thinks words are the only thing that matter.

This is indeed bad:

On Friday morning, less than 48 hours after President Obama delivered a speech in Estonia warning that Russian aggression against Estonia could trigger war with the US and NATO, Russian security forces have seized an officer with Estonia's state security bureau at gunpoint and taken him into Russia.

Estonia says the officer was kidnapped (or "abducted") on Estonian soil and taken across by force. Moscow says the Estonian officer was on Russian soil and detained with a gun, 5,000 euros and "materials that have the character of an intelligence mission." Nearby Estonian police radios were reportedly jammed during the incident.

One day, maybe (but probably not), NATO will be able to dispatch a brigade of ground troops to Estonia within a week of such an abduction to ... well--okay, I'm stumped.

But it will look fabulous on TV as stern-looking multi-national (cue the soaring instrumental score and wait for the goose bumps!) NATO troops disembark from C-130s, drive along Estonian roads to the "Eastern Front," and take up positions near the border; as CNN cameras zoom inside Russia as if they'll spot the missing Estonian officer running from hulking, unshaven, Russian troops spraying inaccurate fire from their AKs, leading to a dramatic rescue as the NRF provides precise covering fire.

Roll credits.

But I'm cynical that way. The British assure me this force will work wonders. Well, there is one tiny--I don't even know why it is mentioned!--loophole that might make it useless:

"Why would this be enough?" said Gen. Sir Adrian Bradshaw, NATO's deputy supreme European commander. "Well, precisely because in becoming embroiled in a conflict with capable combat forces from across the alliance, a potential aggressor recognizes that they are taking on the whole of NATO and all that implies."

"I don't think that anyone believes that Russia wants a strategic conflict with NATO," the British army general said. "Anybody would be insane to wish that."

Um. Yes. Counting on Putin's sanity is like money in the bank, eh?

Or even just counting on Putin thinking like a NATO officer. No danger is mirror-imaging Putin is there?

Remember, as I noted in that post way back in March, German Chancellor Merkel said Putin was "in another world" and she wasn't sure he was in touch with reality.

I eagerly await the "clarification" of President Obama's pledge to defend Estonia by noting that the president did not pledge to protect "Estonians."

And besides, there was some Internet video that apparently incited the Russians who were otherwise just walking around their side of the border before they were justifiably enraged.

Obviously, we're gonna need more presidential words.

Have a nice day.

UPDATE: This is not good:

The Estonian [Eston Kohver, a counter-intelligence officer in the Estonian security agency, Kapo] was taken to Moscow where he was paraded before television cameras. The Russian Federal Security Service, the FSB, successor to the Soviet KGB, claimed Kohver had been caught on Russian soil.

The FSB said in a statement: "A Taurus handgun with ammunition, €5,000 (£4,000) in cash, special equipment for concealed audio recording and documents that bear evidence of an intelligence mission were seized from the intruder."

We know that Putin is an aggressive thug who has rattled nuclear sabres over Ukraine. Now I guess we find out whether or not he beheads hostages.

It's always good to know what your foe will do, I suppose.

Say, is this part of the flexibility that Putin expected from President Obama after the 2012 election?

UPDATE: Thanks to Stones Cry Out for the link.