We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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Samizdata quote of the day

The only thing the West needs to do to see the final end of Russia as the historical threat it has always been is… do nothing. Talk a bit, posture a bit, make a few disapproving clucking sounds when Putin has one of his bare shirted Mussolini cosplay days, but essentially… do nothing. Just wait and watch. Russia’s catastrophic demographics and fragile resource based economics are doing everything the West needs.

- Perry de Havilland

62 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Mr Ed

    Russia, a gigantic Glasgow with tanks, nukes, land, vast amounts of uneconomic timber, and vodka.

  • Alsadius

    Thing is, if inevitable failure was enough to doom a nation, Russia wouldn’t be a problem today either.

  • Alsadius
    April 4, 2014
    Thing is, if inevitable failure was enough to doom a nation, Russia wouldn’t be a problem today either.

    Maybe this should be tomorrow’s SQOTD.

  • Nick BTF! Gray

    Perry, don’t you worry that the mohammedans might move in and recreate a Kaliphate on Russia’s corpse? I’ll bet their birth numbers are Not going down!

  • Eric

    The Russians can do a hell of a lot of damage in the meantime, though.

  • This Anne Applebaum piece points out what is obvious when you think about it: Russian (and before that Soviet) assertiveness and sabre-rattling goes up and down with the oil price, and has done so for many decades. From that, it is fairly easy to deduce that the best way of dealing with Russia is to frack like crazy.

  • I don’t think it’s so much a case of demographics as that competing interests in Russia have made them utterly incapable of collectively achieving any significant objective (one or two Soviet technical advances at the cost of having no bread for half the population notwithstanding). And it’s been like this for centuries. They’ll bumble along, always falling well short of their theoretical potential, and be angry at everybody other than themselves for their state of affairs.

  • Thing is, if inevitable failure was enough to doom a nation, Russia wouldn’t be a problem today either.

    Really? I don’t hear people complaining about the threat posed by the Ottomans or the Austro-Hungarians or, for that matter, the British Empire very often these days.

  • Mr Ed

    I don’t hear people complaining about the threat posed by the Ottomans or the Austro-Hungarians or, for that matter, the British Empire very often these days.

    Listen carefully, Perry, Argentina appears to have complained about the British Empire, and some nuclear missiles in the Falkland Islands, which some Islanders say are actually misinterpreted pictures of penguins.

  • Rob

    Everyone seems astonished and perplexed by Russia’s actions, but really they are just behaving in the way nations used to in the far off days, i.e. pre-1990. They are basing foreign policy on rational self-interest.

    No internationalisation, no projection of ‘soft power’, no self-flagellation over “climate change”. No wonder Western elites ae baffled.

  • PeterT

    Russia/Ukraine interests me less than US/Texas.

  • Oh I am not baffled Rob, I understand entirely. And for all the various people living near to Russia, their ‘rational self interest’ is served by the Russian State, with its preposterous delusions of grandeur, declining into the vodka fuelled geopolitical mediocrity it so richly deserves.

    Those far off days circa 1990 are indeed the vile residue of the Geopolitical System that brought us such joys as… all the assorted wars of global reach from 1754 onwards, cumulating in the doozy that ended in 1945, followed by the almost-apocalypse of the Cold War. Yeah, not that nostalgic for the Good Old Days when Men were Men, “My Country Right or Wrong” and the map was covered in pink or blue or black.

  • bob sykes

    Russia is what it has been for the last few hundred years. It’s Western Europe that is stagnating and on the verge of terminal decay.

  • Well Bob, might I suggest you go look at the GDP per capita numbers then… for extra points, factor out the energy sector to get some notion of the relative ‘depth’ of the Russian vs. EU economies.

    Plus Russian demographics make the rest of Europe look like a stud farm.

  • RRS

    This is perhaps too large a subject for small statements.

    Maternally, my children are of “Russian” descent; that is, of Scots, Tatars, Slavs, a possible Nordic or two; maybe even an ancient Bulgar.

    Russia is not a nation it is a collection of peoples.

    attributed to Nicholas II.

    The “blendings” of diverse peoples in the extensive migrations over Western Europe, including those from the northern perimeters, continuing over into what are today the British Isles formed into “States” (embodiments of Authority) which were not “Nations.” Nations formed later from states.

    Those kinds of blendings have not occurred to the same significant extent in the vast landmass that is within the perimeters delineated as beyond the eastern boundaries of “Western Europe.”

    The difficulties in, and obstacles to, the establishment of a “State” continue to exist as they did when the paraphrase of authority was “Tsar of All the Russias.”

    Thus, Authority (necessary to the existence of a state) has been established by imposition through physical or ideological force. There have not been the cohesions resulting from commonalities of acceptance and consent to the embodiment of authority in a state.

    There have been attempts to attain a sufficient degree of that cohesion by various means (the common patriotism of war and territorial affinities). Such efforts continue now in somewhat theatrical form, but with limited appeals to limited sectors of particular parts of the peoples who constitute the “targets” of particular demagoguery, propaganda and intimidations.

    No doubt others see it differently. It is a big subject.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I have speculated before that Putin’s actions may stem, not from a desire to be Stalin, but to be Chuck Norris.

  • CaptDMO

    But….but…..Baptists and bootleggers?
    Remember what happened when the methane from the pigs was “shut down” in Mad Max?
    I know, I know, gasoline (rationed, sans ETOH) was magically found, but STILL!!!

  • CaptDMO

    “Just wait and watch.”
    Errr….thank you Mr. Chamberlain.

  • Regional

    Don’t worry, you’ll keep bungling on.

  • bloke in spain

    “Plus Russian demographics make the rest of Europe look like a stud farm.”
    Having some experience of Russian women, this is an aspect I find most puzzling.

  • Errr….thank you Mr. Chamberlain.

    Except Putin’s Russia is not analogous to Nazi Germany, it is more analogous to Mussolini’s Italy, at best. Moreover, if the USA halved its military expenditure, Russia would still be no match for it in any serious confrontation.

    Having some experience of Russian women, this is an aspect I find most puzzling.

    Yeah, know what you mean. Most puzzling indeed.

  • JohnB

    When the USSR fell apart I was surprised at how fragile it had been.
    It had, indeed, been propped up by the West.
    That support came to its senses during the years of Thatcher/Reagan.
    The difference, now, it, I think, that they have lots of oil and gas.
    The unworkable system of non-common sense will inevitably tend things to fall apart, but that system (non-common sense) is now very much at work in the West.
    So things are much more level in the stupidity stakes.

  • Yes John, but it is better to be rich and stupid than poor and stupid, so the West still wins :D

    And as the current round of antics by Putin will probably cause the idiot class in Europe to FINALLY get off their arses and FRACK FRACK FRACK… Russia is double fucked.

  • Mr Ed

    Errr….thank you Mr. Chamberlain.

    I would venture that on the basis of that quote, it is not a necessary or even a permissible inference that the writer was comparing Russia to Nazi Germany. I think that he was having a dig at the mentality of appeasement, which Mr Chamberlain manifested towards you know who, just as Mrs Thatcher’s government manifested such an approach towards Argentina’s government until 2nd April 1982.

    However, waiting and watching is a temporary neutrality, whereas appeasement involves granting concessions or waivers.

  • If you read the original comment I was replying to on World Affairs Journal, the suggestion was the West should have helped Russia out rather than ‘exploiting’ it and helping it to disintegrate.

    My contention is that far from “helping Russia out”, the sensible thing for the West to do is watch from the sidelines as Russia circles the drain, perhaps waving occasionally.

  • Mr Ed

    Well Lenin and his gang of killers did so much damage to Russia that you would wonder what might have been had they been eliminated, the ‘Nation Killers’ were well named. The population deficit over what it might have been with no Bolsheviks could be north of 100,000,000. Add almost a century of steady economic growth had the conditions prevailed for it, albeit that collectivism of one sort or another seems to have been the culture for the last 125 years or thereabouts, so it might have been not great, but incomparably better than the failed post-Soviet wreck it is now.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Nick BTF! Gray @ April 4, 2014 at 5:02 am:

    Perry, don’t you worry that the mohammedans might move in and recreate a Kaliphate on Russia’s corpse? I’ll bet their birth numbers are Not going down!

    Moslem birth rates are currently higher than most European societies including Russia, but they have dropped a lot in the last 30 years.

    Iran, for instance, has seen a 70% decline. Syria is down 50%, Saudi Arabia down 60%, Algeria down 50%, Pakistan down 50%, Turkey down 30%, Indonesia down 17% (to near replacement). Iran and Algeria are already below replacement.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Letting Russia fail on its own sounda good…

    But even a failing state can do immense damage on the way down. Russia has very substantial resources of money and technology.

    Another problem is that a failing state may be revived and become strong and dangerous. France in 1789 was weak, corrupt, and bankrupt. But only a few years later, having cast off the ancien régime, revolutionary France overturned much of Europe. A few years after that, under Bonaparte, France stomped all over Europe. It was contained eventually – but Britain was spending half its GDP on the war effort for a while.

    And ISTM that a country that has been a failed state is more likely to become an international gangster than to become a good world citizen.

  • But even a failing state can do immense damage on the way down. Russia has very substantial resources of money and technology.

    But I really cannot see how doing stuff ‘to’ Russia will make Russia any less dangerous. Surely it would be far better to just do what it take to make Russia less of a threat by fracking the hell out of Europe’s not inconsiderable potential. That alone hugely diminishes Russia’s ability to cause meaningful problems.

  • “The only thing the West needs to do to see the final end of Russia as the historical threat it has always been is… do nothing. Talk a bit, posture a bit, make a few disapproving clucking sounds when Putin has one of his bare shirted Mussolini cosplay days, but essentially… do nothing. Just wait and watch.”

    Spoken like someone sitting comfortably in, oh, London, and not someone nervously watching their eastern border in, say, Tallinn. It’s easy to talk about letting nature take its course when you’re in no immediate danger yourself. A rabid dog is inevitably going to die; your perspective may change, however, if the dog is not two counties over, but in your own backyard.

    Now before everyone starts getting all “neo-conning” on me, I’m not suggesting intervention when Russia starts playing “let’s invade our neighbors” (although one would think that this was precisely NATO’s original purpose). There are no easy solutions to the Russia problem, or the U.S. State Department would have fucked them up already.

    But nation-states/empires, even ones as broken as Austria-Hungary or the modern-day Russian Federation, take a long time to collapse on themselves, and along the way a shitload of death and destruction comes to a whole bunch of innocent people. “Doing nothing” is not a serious foreign policy option (although it will doubtless be choice #1 for Obama’s inept State Department).

  • Spoken like someone sitting comfortably in, oh, London

    Perhaps sitting in Texas gives you some different perspective?

    “Doing nothing” is not a serious foreign policy option

    So what do you suggest? US troops in the Western Ukraine? Because if not, then yeah, you actually agree with me. Watch and do nothing other than make tsk tsk noises. Even the lunatic McCain does not think a military confrontation with Russia would be a great idea.

  • veryretired

    What I don’t think any of the posters here seem to understand is that there is no support, none, zip, zilch, nada in the US for coming to the aid of any part or all of Europe in any case.

    Some of the talking heads may talk about this or that on tv, but go to any café anywhere in the country and start up a conversation with ordinary people about military action in defense of any part of Europe and see what happens.

    Here’s a hint—first there will be a scornful laugh, and then a comment along the lines of who gives a shit.

    You’ve been criticizing and bitching and complaining for decades about the arrogant Americans. Well, you got your wish—you’re on your own. Good luck.

  • Regional

    If it hadn’t been for the 100,000 Studebaker six wheel drive trucks America provided Russia during the Second Transnational Unpleasantness the Ruskies couldn’t have reached Berlin and ironically Russia was the only nation to repay Lend Lease to America though Boganstan did acquit it’s war debts in 1958.

  • Mr Ed

    You’ve been criticizing and bitching and complaining for decades about the arrogant Americans.

    That is true, but only of a vociferous, Left wing minority to whom our media pays far too much attention. The vast majority have only a positive view of the USA in my experience. However, it is long overdue that the USA tells Europe to look after itself, remember Stalin’s reputed dictum on being asked if he knew what gratitude was: ‘Yes, I know it very well. It is a sickness suffered by dogs.

  • You’ve been criticizing and bitching and complaining for decades about the arrogant Americans. Well, you got your wish—you’re on your own. Good luck.

    The USA intervened in Europe in WW2 because it suited US geo-political interests. It ‘fought’ the Cold War because it suited US geo-political interests. Western Europe sided with the USA during the Cold War because it suited British, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Turkish, Greek etc. interests too… at least for the most part. The Soviets were indeed a terrible (and mutual) threat, as were the Nazis before them.

    But if you think the US did that it did out of selfless altruism, well I must say it does not look that way to me. Suez comes to mind very prominently when people start talking of The Special Relationship with overmuch reverence. And indeed if I were to characterise the most prominent aspect of said Special Relationship circa 2014, it would be GCHQ, largely funded and enabled with US taxpayer’s money. Gee, thanks guys! Every time I send an e-mail or use my mobile phone my heart swells with gratitude!

    So all I can say is that if the US wishes to retreat back to Fortress America, which I do not for a moment actually believe, please PLEASE stop giving money to the British security services and just ride off into the sunset in the best Hollywood style. If the Russian state really becomes a threat again to anyone not unfortunate enough to share a border with the bastards, the states of Europe have more than enough wealth to face it down without the US giving it a free ride. Just take a look at the GDP and population figures.

    I cannot help thinking it would be better for all concerned really to force Europe to make its own hard decisions… but it is academic: in reality the nation which spends about 40% of the planets military budget is not going to be pulling out and going home any time soon.

  • Mr Ed

    The USA intervened in Europe in WW2 because it suited US geo-political interests.

    The German declaration of war on the USA in 1941 meant that the USA was involved in the European war whether it wished it or not, Italy and Hungary followed Germany, as did some others.

    The list of declarations of war in WW2 has the striking images of Paraguay and Bolivia declaring was on Germany, to little obvious effect, and San Marino chipping in against Germany.

  • The German declaration of war on the USA in 1941 meant that the USA was involved in the European war whether it wished it or not

    Heh. FDR was bending over backwards to get involved in the war. Indeed the USN was depth charging U-Boats well before ‘war’ was declared. Stick “Pan-American Security Zone” in your search engine of choice. FDR & Churchill could hardly believe their luck when the Bozo in Berlin made US entry into the European War a mere formality.

  • Mr Ed

    Yes, but Roosevelt had no constitutional say in declaring War, it was a matter for the Congress. Lend Lease etc. was giving material aid to an enemy of Germany, but the BiB could have declared war for that alone had he wished to, and US ships wished to sail the high seas unmolested, IIRC U-boats were active against US ships, e.g USS Kearney on 16/17 October 1941, a casus belli on its own.

    If the BiB had any strategic cunning, declaring war on Japan after Pearl Harbor would have been one way to try to keep the US out of the war in Europe.

  • the other rob

    Perhaps sitting in Texas gives you some different perspective?

    Nope, the view from Texas looks much the same as it did when I lived in London. Leave it alone, I say.

  • Ed, it was clear that if extending the PASZ all the way to Southampton and Liverpool was what was required, that is what would have eventually happened.

    Too many people in the USA saw the strategic imperative of dis-aggrandising Nazi Germany. Indeed Bozo in Berlin would have been well advised to stave off that day for as long as possible (ie until after he had both Moscow and the Caucasus, which would indeed have changed everything), rather than expediting it as he fortunately did, but I really cannot see any plausible scenario where that day would not have come eventually.

  • Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Just wait and watch. Europe’s catastrophic demographics and fragile socialism-based economics…

  • Nico

    I’ve read that Russia’s fertility rate has been rising and that it’s significantly higher than Ukraine’s and much of western Europe. In any case, demographics are key. Demographics, ideas, culture, in no particular order as the three interact with each other.

  • “Perhaps sitting in Texas gives you some different perspective?”

    Nope. But from my seat in Texas, I don’t make airy suggestions about leaving a corrupt empire to its own devices, probably consigning millions of people to live under a corrupt, oppressive regime.

    Perry, the damn thing is that from a cold geopolitical perspective, I’m more in agreement with you than I’d like to admit — because realistically, military intervention is not only difficult if not impossible, but highly undesirable.

    The problem is that I just see too many parallels between “defending our ethnic Russian brothers” (circa 2014) with “defending our ethnic German volk” (circa 1938) to be comfortable making statements such as yours.

    Rock, meet hard place.

  • Regional

    To you Europeans remember America is heavily armed and they’re all mad, pretty much like every one else and as the Seppos withdraw from the world stage you won’t be able to blame the Great Satan for the despots who will appear, it’s Europe that cultivates despots, but don’t worry about ‘em, they can’t do much.

  • veryretired

    You guys are so funny. I tell you in all seriousness that the Pax Americana is over, as if you really didn’t know it already, and that just about any ordinary person you might ask will tell you, i.e., Europe, to go pound salt, and here’s how you respond—

    One guy says, “Oh, it wasn’t us, it was those nasty leftists over there in the corner.”

    And the other guy says, “Oh, you’ll be back. You can’t help yourselves. You’ll be there to pull our fat out of the fire if we need you.”

    The Dear Leader of the current regime couldn’t manage an effective military campaign to protect Miami, or Walla Walla, or Two Dot, Montana, (a real place, btw).

    And you think he’s going to go to the mat for Budapest, or Warsaw, or even Vienna, where all those Austrians speak Austrian, don’t ya know.

    Too funny.

    Your dream has come true. Enjoy!

  • Your dream has come true. Enjoy!

    Well I hope you are right, I really do.

  • Just wait and watch. Europe’s catastrophic demographics and fragile socialism-based economics…

    Er, because by comparison Russia had great demographics and a wonderful robust widely diversified modern economy?

  • Regional

    Remember it was industrial development in France and Russia that spurred Germany towards war because it was feared they’d be crushed between and anvil and hammer, this time around the Euros will wave their pink boas at each other while mincing up and down and the Seppos will have better things to rather than become involved i.e. watch paint dry.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Russia may be failing, but I think nations with a strong ‘core’ and common culture probably have a better chance of pulling themselves out of the demographic pit they have fallen into.

    Exactly what that ‘core’ consists of, I’m not sure, but I think presence of work opportunity, hope, and shared values across the socio-economic spectrum are key factors.

    Putin, in his own way, seems to have tried hard to rebuild this core. It also seems he has frequently used the specter of the ‘other’ as a rallying point for his own people.

    Russia has in recent years managed to pull up its fertility rate to almost replacement levels, IIRC. That’s no mean feat, given that richer and smaller countries (ie my own) have failed to do so.

    I’ll be wary of writing off the Russians.

  • Pavel

    Russia has in recent years managed to pull up its fertility rate to almost replacement levels

    Nnumbers are not the same as wisdom. Has “Russia” improved fertility rates recently? Yes. Have RUSSIANS improved fertility rates? No. Make this the opposite.

    If you think more Muslims and Chinese means Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin grows stronger, then this is a trend he would make to be encouraged. But I would rather Russia’s population still make shrinking rather than see what is happening demographically. I would rather see the return of Russia’s diasporas now who be in the near abroad to the heartland to consolidate the nation so that Russia stays Russian. To see “improved demographics” give the East to China and fill the rest with Muslims is not a good result, unless you are Muslim or Chinese.

  • hennesli

    Your dream has come true. Enjoy!

    If America is going to treat her friends as enemies, and subject European citizens to all the worst aspects of surveillance, data theft and outright interference in their lives, then all I can say is that I very much hope you are correct.

  • Schrödinger's Hippo

    … and subject European citizens to all the worst aspects of surveillance …

    Would it be at all possible to place them under any greater surveillance than the British already allowed their own politicians to inflict on them? Having recently read that to walk along Whitehall and up the Strand to the Royal Courts of Justice would place you under 100% audiovisual surveillance from over 400 separate units, I do not think it would be possible.

    Regarding Russia’s army there was a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report which stated that Moscow’s

    “troop readiness, training, morale, and discipline suffered, and most arms industries became antiquated”

    It suggests that Russia’s armed forces are now in a far, far worse state than in the Soviet era, Do not forget that the then great show of armed strength and armies ready to smash their way through the West was a complete and total sham – in order to place 25,000 combat-effective troops into Afghanistan with armour support they had to practically tear the Red Army down to find sufficient working tanks, apc’s or even working bicycles!

    Currently their army stands at approximately 285,000 with a combat effective rate of less than 40% and never higher than 60% in even the best-disciplined regiments. They have attempted to copy the US ‘contract soldier’ system (1 year enlisted with another 2 years contracted) with disastrous results – dropout figures are at an estimated 80%. Putin claims to be rebuilding the armed forces, yet admits that he would have to either purchase American tanks and aircraft or plough over $80bn into reconstructing the industrial base he would need to manufacture locally – either option is not something Putin is likely to do. So far his answer has been to subcontract logistics out to Oboronservis – Russia’s answer to Capita but infinitely more corrupt. Modernisation has been limited to less than 2 divisions, typically the Tamanskaya and 5th Guards Separate – both of which are more used to parading around Moscow in their finest than sitting in a ditch on the Ukrainian border.

    Even the air force is suffering badly. Estimates of the 2000 ‘combat ready’ aircraft are chronically overstated. Given the lack of trained specialists and coupled with the lack of interest in those conscripted it is estimated that since 2010 the effectiveness of the Russian airforce decreases by over 200 aircraft per annum. Then it was calculated that Russia had 1,460 ready aircraft and helicopters. Even best guess estimates put that figure down to just 234 MiG-29 Fulcrum/Fulcrum E, 100 MiG-31, 200 Sukhoi Su-24/variants, 110 Su-25/variants and under 200 Su-27/variants.

  • Schrödinger’s Hippo, who must surely be a distant riverine relative of mine, speaks the truth. Russia needs to be taken ‘seriously’ but please people, they ain’t Nazi Germany circa 1935. They are a busted flush. Ukraine? Yeah, unfortunate but history does not apportion its favours with kindness. If they try the same in the Baltics, well sure, lets go to war with them. No kidding. Seriously, lets rip Russia a new one. Oh and Poland says “Thanks for giving us Kaliningrad, Vladimir! Or as it will henceforth be known, Królewiec!”

    But I doubt that is how it will play out, because I think Putin is not even nearly that delusional.

    Even if the USA picked up its toys and went home in a huff, which they won’t I might add, more’s the pity for the hapless US taxpayer, the effete dissipated welfare addicted gender quota apportioned peoples of Europe that dwell so prominently in the imaginations of Real Men From Texas (or wherever), are actually quite capable of keeping the Russian Hordes, in their rust covered jalopies with siphoned fuel tanks, from sweeping across the steppes and threatening to once again park themselves somewhere near the Fulda Gap, presumably out of nostalgia for a place with half decent food. Russia… big dick, but no shoes.

    I have often said the difference between British and American arrogance is the Brits think they run the world, the Americans think they are the world. Yet somehow the world will bumble along even if either don’t get involved with spanking Putin. The US should just fixate the collective paranoia on China because that actually *is* something of a Good Old Fashioned Looming Threat, of the kind much loved by people like Boeing and Lockheed.

  • Jacob

    ““Doing nothing”

    Well, when that’s all you are capable of, it surely is a wise policy.

    Europe might have, on paper, a high GDP, but it’s military capabilities are sub-zero. It needed logistic support from the US even to tackle a clown like Qaddafi.
    As to the US – it has some, very limited capabilities (besides those mighty nukes, which, for all we know, might not even be operable). What it lacks, totally (same as Europe) is the will to do anything.

    So, if you’re lazy and incapable, do nothing is, indeed, the only option.

  • Europe might have, on paper, a high GDP, but it’s military capabilities are sub-zero

    Which is, of course, complete and utter nonsense. If you think Russia could, say, project a force to threaten Warsaw and there is nothing NATO forces in Europe could do about it, then you simply no nothing about the subject.

  • Jacob

    “NATO forces” ??
    You mean the US ?

    There are no other NATO forces. Germany ? France ?

    No, Europe isn’t capable of defending itself, and what’s more – isn’t willing.
    Putin did as he pleased in Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea, and there’s a distinct danger that he gets emboldened by each successful and uncontested move, and all his neighbors are in danger.

    There is nothing that can stop him except his own self restraint. It remains to be seen if he behaves in some semi-sensible way (like he did so far), and doesn’t take too big a bite. Or – he gets a disastrous dose of megalomania, like this type of leaders frequently do, and causes some terrible and catastrophic war.

  • Putin did as he pleased in Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea

    Sure, because NATO does not care over much about Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea. And rightly so. Unlike the Baltic States, they are not part of NATO and unlike the Balkans, they are very much out on the distant periphery. Which might suck if you are in Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea, but it is just stating the blindingly obvious.

  • Laird

    I pretty much agree with Jacob. NATO is the US (much as I hate that; more than once I’ve opined here that the US should have long ago withdrawn from NATO), and the American people lack the stomach for another war. We’re “warred out”. Unless we can see a direct US interest in a conflict (which doesn’t apply to Crimea, Africa, or pretty much anything in the Middle East right now) we want no part of it. And I very much include myself in that “we”.

    But he’s wrong to denigrate US military capability as being “very limited”. We don’t spend more than the next 15 largest nations in the world combined on our military without having something to show for it (all the waste and pork notwithstanding). Our military is extremely capable. It’s just that our political leadership is anything but, and as I’ve already said the people are exhausted. I think we’re testing the limits of Randolph Bourne’s adage that “war is the health of the state”. That may still be true in Putin’s case, but it’s certainly not in Obama’s.

  • Speaking of which, I very much recommend “The Last Survivor”.

  • I pretty much agree with Jacob. NATO is the US

    Well I must disagree. To project force out of the core NATO area, yes, no doubt about it, nothing is going to happen above brigade level without the US supporting it and indeed enabling it (and thus the Frogs will continue to crush anyone who pisses them off in Africa with battalion and even brigade group sized interventions, largely unnoticed by anyone in Peoria). But if you think NATO less the USA could not fight Russia in, say, Poland or Lithuania or Belarus, well sorry, that simply isn’t true. In understates European NATO and vastly overstates Russia’s capabilities. They really only have two usable divisions for any adventures against anyone who can actually shoot back.

    So I agree the USA really could leave NATO, with the hugely reduced influence over Europe that would bring (upsides and downsides to that). And one upside is it would force the rest of Europe to pick up at least enough of the slack to make it much less likely it will have to fight Russia some day. But frankly the USA is not actually essential to Europe’s defence any more, and it hasn’t been for quite some time.

    I realise I will never convince some of the commenters here that we are not on the eve of having Cossacks storming across Europe, down through the Channel Tunnel and then raping and pillaging their way down Kettering High Street, but I’m not actually that worried myself. I am more worried about getting raped and pillaged by Vince Bloody Cable.

  • Laird

    Perry, I hope you’re right. Europe should be forced to “pick up the slack” and take care of its own defense. US subsidization of Europe’s defense is no longer justifiable and is clearly unaffordable. (The same is true for Japan and Korea, too.)

  • Dale Amon

    The biggest damage Russia can do to America is to stop selling the RD-180 engines used in the Atlas V… which is used to launch many defence assets. Putin could make one phone call and effectively isolate the ‘International’ Space Station for several years. There are about two years stock of engines for the Atlas; the US has the plans… but the callouts are in Russia made materials and coatings which are not available in the US and for which the technology is not even known. As to the Space Station… if near traitors like Shelby were more interested in US national interests than his re-election coffers, we’d have had a means of getting there by now… but he sees those alternatives as a threat to the ‘Senate Launch System’ which won’t do brown stuff to get American’s to the ISS, and even if it did, would not do so until later this decade. And then… there is the fracking and the pipeline. The US can be the largest oil producer on the planet and undercut the funding for a lot of bad actors in the world. In all of these cases, the issues are local political ones. We have bipartisan idiocy in this country.