Friday, February 13, 2015

Hurt Them Now and Worry Less Later

One of the most self-centered reasons for arming Ukraine to fight Russia is that by bleeding Putin's forces now he may have less of an appetite for more aggression against NATO later.

The former head of NATO warns of Russian aggression against one of the Baltic states:

Former Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned that the Russian president Vladimir Putin could mastermind a hybrid attack on a Baltic state to test whether Nato would mobilise.

According to Rasmussen, the Kremlin’s true goal is to shatter Nato solidarity and reassert Russian dominance over Eastern Europe.

“This is not about Ukraine. Putin wants to restore Russia to its former position as a great power,” he told The Telegraph, a major British daily.

“There is a high probability that he will intervene in the Baltics to test Nato’s Article 5,” Rasmussen added.

The American commander of our Army in Europe, LTG Hodges, thinks Russia is gearing up to be capable of fighting a war that they anticipate in 5 or 6 years. And our presence in Europe is vital:

The U.S. military presence in Europe is more vital at this moment than it has been in many years. American engagement is essential if the West is to deter a revanchist Russia that has set out to “redraw the boundaries of Europe,” Gen. Hodges says with a native Floridian’s drawl.

I'm all for keeping a robust Army in Europe. (See my article in this November-December 2003 issue of Military Review.)

If Russia wants to test NATO's security guarantees and redraw borders to their advantage, I'd bet on Estonia as being the target of a Kargil-like war to seize Narva.

If it worked just to collapse Estonia alone even without breaking NATO, Russia would gain a buffer zone for St. Petersburg.

And if NATO fails to respond at all, what would be the status of NATO in 5 years if Russia's armed forces continue to improve from their dismal performance in the 2008 Georgia War?

Would NATO be more or less willing to unite to stand up to Russia if we don't before then?

Don't forget that jihadis aren't the only nutballs out there. Foreign leaders resistant to seeing the reality we assume reside in the Kremlin now, too:

We see the same thing being played out in Russia today with many veterans of the Cold War, who now run the country, insisting that seeking to rebuild the Russian empire is destiny and worth any price. Scary stuff, but it never seems to go away no matter how many times this sort of logic is proven false.

I'd rather bloody Putin's nose now in Ukraine rather than allow him to believe that he gets to define how much pain he wants to endure for restoring the Russian empire.