Friday, December 23, 2016

Survival Instinct?

Given the importance of Poland in anchoring NATO defenses in eastern Europe, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea coast, a political crisis that seems to be threatening rule of law is disturbing:

Law and Justice won the presidency and a majority in parliamentary in elections last year. Since then, it has taken a firm grip on the public media, purged the leadership of state controlled companies, and hobbled the country’s top constitutional court.

The party argues it is acting to bring down a web of corruption holding the country back. Its actions have sparked growing domestic protests and put Poland at odds with the European Commission, which has launched an unprecedented procedure against Warsaw for violating the bloc’s democratic norms.

I say "appears" because I don't follow Poland's political process to know whether the complaints by the European Commission--the executive arm of the anti-democratic European Union--should be taken seriously.

And are domestic protests really significant reflecting large numbers of Poles?

So this is something I watch.

Let me add that if Poland is truly lurching dangerously to authoritarianism, would the Poles be doing that if they had more confidence in America's ability to deter Russian aggression in the wake of Moscow's Ukraine invasion? Or could fear of Russia be pushing Poland to clamp down?

And yes, President-elect Trump's apparent dismissal of the importance of NATO adds to such worries.

And for other countries in the east, as Hungary seems to represent lately, is fear of Russia pushing authoritarianism in the form of appeasing Russia?

Perhaps this military trend of returning American heavy armor to Europe will help reduce the fear in the newest NATO states in the east that could be prompting both anti- and pro-Russian authoritarian trends:

In September, the U.S. Army began to assemble additional so called Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) for permanent storage in Europe. The latest shipment includes ammunition.

The additional combat equipment will give the Army the option for another heavy armored brigade. Presently, it has only two light brigades in Europe: 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

Sure, the Russians deny these heavy forces are needed:

Russian President Vladimir Putin's government has repeatedly stated that it "will never attack a NATO member state."

But Russia promised not to invade Ukraine, too, in exchange for Ukraine giving up their nuclear weapons.

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine demonstrates, Russia keeps such a promise by simply denying that Russia is invading even as Russian troops fight and die to take over territory of the target nation.

More REFORPOL, please.

Oh, and as America responds to the Russian threat by adding heavy armor to the force pool and to Europe, Britain will cut the tank battalions from 3 to 2 in their entire army. In America, we call an army with that few tanks a "brigade."