Training missions and foreign policy

So I came across these questions at Solomon’s…

Two things.  First.  Will someone tell me the threat that Russia’s Army poses to Europe?  Something stupid happened in Ukraine and we all got a glimpse of the games being played by the US State Dept and Russians.  No one is without dirty hands in that affair.  But even with the Russians annexing a portion of the basket case that is Ukraine I don’t see a wider conflict being inevitable.  Additionally even if you could properly make a case for why we should be willing to spend lives and treasure defending Ukraine, I could easily make the case that the time for action has long passed.

Second.  Is it just me or do we use the excuse of training missions to slow walk ourselves into either wars or major commitments that cost us more than they’re worth.  Do you remember when the “training mission” meme was first used in the modern era?  Yeah.  It was used in Vietnam.  Fast forward to the end of 2016 and they’re still rolling out that old chestnut.

The first answer is that the Russian Army is poised to take over large swathes Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania while conquering Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania completely. The mess that is Ukraine is the test run to see if the method of “foment some sort of internal conflict to create conditions for a territory grab that won’t trigger a NATO article 5 reaction.” It is really that simple.

The second isn’t even question, it is a statement. There is no direct comparison between Vietnam and Ukraine in terms of historical precedent. Vietnam came about because France didn’t do as good a job dismantling their empire as the Brits did, full stop and end of story. Ukraine came about because Russia didn’t like pro-American politicians who were selling an anti-corruption platform that Ukrainian citizens were buying. We also had training missions to the Balkans as part of supporting the side we wanted to win after Yugoslavia broke apart, so historically it isn’t out of character for the US to do this. We’ve also had plenty of training missions in Africa, and did two wars worth of it in Iraq and Afghanistan after we got done with the major killing part and tried to help those governments stand up a credible security force.

My previous post about how IO affected the perceptions of American citizens is very valid here, you can’t read the above question and statement by Solomon without getting the feeling that the US is somehow being unreasonable. That spin, repeated over time, is why I’ve had to call him out before for acting as a useful idiot for Moscow. Of course he gets mad and full of bluster and denies it, but it doesn’t stop him from repeating the propaganda of Russia Today, Ruptly, or Sputnik which advances the interests of Moscow ahead of anything else.

Now, should the US be in Ukraine? Yes, because what Solomon leaves out are all the OTHER nations that are also part of the training mission to the Ukraine. It simply isn’t just a US only show. That Ukraine and economic sanctions are keeping Moscow from believing that they will have to face an alliance response if they try the “grey zone” tactics in eastern Europe is well worth the price of admission. Russia doesn’t make a move it can’t get away with, and so it is money well spent to draw good hard lines for Russia to understand the limits of Russian grey zone power.

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4 Responses to Training missions and foreign policy

  1. DW says:

    I get what you are saying in this post and the IO post below, but what I don’t get is why or to what end does Russia benefit from a civil war in the US?

    I have also seen plausible IO explanations that the Trump victory was due to the “global elites” deciding to abandon Clinton as too much of a liability and the desire to saddle Trump with the possible upcoming global depression due to pretty much every countries fiat currency being bankrupt/valueless. It also appears that the Trump victory was due to us serfs saying FU to the “elites”. It’s hard to know what the truth is and I doubt much will change, but it’s a nice pause in the US march to serfdom.

    You are much more knowledgeable about the composition of NATO, but I am pretty certain that the US is 80-90% of the strength of NATO. Without the US, the EU has no way to defend against a Russian invasion, but the question remains – why would Russia want too? With the path that the EU is on Russia can sit tight and wait for the EU to self-destruct. Certainly Russia has it’s own set of internal problems to deal with and I understand that Putin is basically a dictator. But Putin has shown himself to be very pragmatic. His dealings with Syria certainly show more reason and logic than anything that has come from the idiots running the US foreign policy. Why Putin would risk any type of war at this point, especially with the US.

    I understand that Russia could take over all those countries you list, which sucks for them, but at this point why is that a US problem? If the Ukraine training is indeed a joint effort of many countries, then let “those” other countries defend the EU. I fail to see why the US has to spend coin/life to defend those that won’t fund/provide their own defense? I respect your commitment to defending others freedoms, I just don’t think it’s our responsibility anymore.

    And as I have discussed with you previously, to the extent I can control it – no one in my family will risk life or limb in another war in Europe ( or the middle east for that matter ). If my family is going to war, it will be to defend the US against an attack, not some politicians wetdream idea of threatened US interests? No we are definitely done with that line of bs.

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    • rthtgnbs says:

      1, Russia wants a civil war in the US because it will weaken NATO and allow Russia to achieve regional hegemony over more of Europe and the middle east. This will give a boost to Russian exports and a several year economic boost.

      2, there were many international interests trying to effect the outcome of the election, I haven’t done an in depth study to see whether Hillary or Trump had more outside support. But my initial assessment is that Hillary legitimately lost because she didn’t connect with people as well as Trump did.

      3, The US is about 50% of the strength of NATO at any given time depending on whether you are counting men, boats, or aircraft. Remember the US military doctrine requires the ability to fight two wars on two fronts, so you can’t ever commit more than half of the DOD assets to supporting NATO. But Poland is roughly the number and strength of the entire USMC, and between the UK, Germany and France you’ve got the same numbers as the US Army. America’s most visible contribution is Naval power, as the US has more supercarriers than the next three nations combined, and air power as we’ve retired more stealth aircraft than any other nation has ever fielded.

      4, why is this a US problem? Because treaties. If we don’t honor the treaties that say “we will honor mutual defense” then no one will want to ever make a treaty with the US again, and the stability of the “cold war” will never happen again. Former presidents signed the treaties, and former Senates confirmed the treaties, and now we are where George Washington warned us about getting entangled in the politics of Europe.

      5, I pray that we never have to fight for European freedom ever again, however I also think that putting American and NATO allied combat power on the border with Russia is the best way to do that. A credible defense is often the only thing that prevents aggression. A new Cold War is better than WWIII.

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      • DW says:

        1. Possibly, but I still think Russia can achieve those goals without a war, and as I previously outlined, Russia’s Middle East policy is much more coherent than the US policy. At this point it is unclear why we care what goes on in the middle east other than supporting the US war industry. I see no benefit to spending more lives/coin in the middle east. Let Putin have that black hole if he wants it.
        2. I agree.
        3. I am surprised at the numbers you present, but okay. I still think the EU needs to step up the ratios. It’s their continent/countries – they need to defend it.
        4. I get the treaty issue and honoring our commitments. But we should notify and begin planning our withdrawal from NATO. Only then will the EU step up and spend their own coin on defense.
        5. And how would we feel if Mexico and Russia conducted military exercises on the border here? I don’t think we would be very happy about that, so why would Russia be happy about military exercises on her border? It’s just provocation and saber rattling.

        I was going to continue this reply ranting back at you about all the things that are wrong about the US government, how the senior military sucks and all the failed foreign wars/interventions, but I am sure these are things you are already painfully aware of.

        Instead in keeping with the holiday, I thank you for the work you do, for maintaining the blog and a providing a place for us to discuss (rant about) issues and I extend my best wishes for a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving to you and your family.

        God bless!
        DW

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  2. rthtgnbs says:

    1, Russia doesn’t want a war with the US, Russia wants Russia to take a bigger role on the world stage. Having the US fight itself is a better deal for Russia, even if the fight is only social and ideological. Russia views the US as it’s only real rival on the world stage, so anything that hurts America is good by Russia.
    3, I don’t disagree, right now the majority of NATO members are increasing the size of their armed forces and the size of their defense budgets.
    4, France left NATO then came back. It didn’t hurt NATO or France at all. If the US withdraws from NATO, I don’t know enough to understand whether that will be a good thing or not for the US. Honestly that one might go either way, but right now all of the EU is spending a lot more on defense, so they at least are growing while the US is cutting.
    5. I’d be perfectly happy with Russia conducting training in Mexico provided that it meets the same standards as the OSCE (Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe). Russia gets advance notice of anything NATO member states do and is always invited to send Russian observers to observe the training to confirm that it is what was said before. Everything NATO does is transparent to Russia, who even have “Open Skies” access to send spy planes over NATO countries with prior coordination. Russia’s complaints about “how would you like it if we showed up in Mexico?” rhetoric is only rhetoric.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well, and I really hope that we do have peace. Life is better in the world when international relations are normalized.

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