The one thing about humans is they have a unending ability to hope for peace and and equally if not superior ability to screw up any chance of it. Ying/Yang I guess.
For decades after the USSR fell, there was a belief that we had finally reached the “end of history” as far as the two competing superpowers and the threat of nuclear war. Sadly, as we have observed in the last 16 years, that is not going to be the case. Over at the American Interest website a pretty detailed article was written to address this very issue, human’s stubborn greed for power and their place in history causing “the end of history” to be delayed again, if not put off forever.
The new Eastern Europe, which includes Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova, is sliding back into the Russian sphere of influence, while the belt of countries from the Baltics through Poland to Romania and the Balkans are at a risk of becoming a contested space yet again—“lands in-between.” With the next NATO summit in Warsaw just three months away, an increasingly militarized fault line dividing Russia from the West is in place, running along the eastern frontier of the Baltic States, Poland’s border along the Bug River boundary, and farther south along the frontier of the Black Sea NATO allies. And there are reasons to believe that the process of a further geostrategic readjustment in Europe has barely begun.The key factor contributing to the reordering of Europe’s security landscape has been the resurgence of Russia under Vladimir Putin’s leadership. Today Russia is unequivocally a revisionist power. Putin seeks to undo the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he has called the “greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century,” and Europe is his primary target. Hence, the United States is facing in Europe an aggressive and revanchist Russian regime that is determined to pursue its objectives not just through economic and political means but also through its increasingly modern military.
Putin has a plan, and it’s a good one, especially with the leadership we have here and in Europe.
Putin’s two principal goals in Europe have been: to hollow out the existing security regime by undermining NATO’s ability to act collectively in a crisis; and to exploit the current crisis in the EU, especially the MENA migration crisis, in order to paralyze European Union institutions to a point where business is transacted predominantly on a national basis.NATO has responded to a resurgent Russia but with enough hedging—no permanent bases along the northeastern flank—to keep Putin’s opportunistic momentum going. Since Russian power was significantly degraded in the 1990s, Putin has played from a position of relative weakness. Nonetheless, before the collapse of energy prices, he managed to capitalize on Russia’s energy resources to consolidate state power and to modernize the military. Putin’s decision to launch that ten-year military modernization program—at a time when Europe has effectively disarmed and the United States has withdrawn assets from Europe—has significantly altered the balance of power along NATO’s northeastern flank. Russian deployments in Kaliningrad and more recently in Crimea constitute a direct challenge to NATO’s ability to operate in the Baltic and the Black Sea (and following the Russian military campaign in Syria, also in parts of the Mediterranean). This changing strategic landscape poses a direct threat to the United States, our European allies, and, increasingly, Turkey.In the near term, by increasing military pressure along NATO’s periphery, Putin expects to break the allied ability to mount a unified response in a crisis, to force the lifting of economic sanctions, and ultimately to bring key European states into an accommodation with Russia on his terms. The Baltics may become the principal area of Russian-American competition, but Russian pressure and influence are also increasing in Moldova and in the Balkans. Moreover, Putin’s strategy reaches beyond Europe, challenging U.S. interests in MENA and the Pacific, where Russia has positioned itself in opposition to the United States and aligned itself with its competitors and adversaries, even as it presents itself as a status quo power.
Do not think for a second that Turkey’s allowing Syrians to cross its borders into Europe, and Russia’s continuous war in Syria are not related to his overall plan. Turkey has its own reasons, but it is more than willing to bollix up Europe’s stable economy and political structure in order to allow Putin to seize more territory. And the Russians will be tickled pink that the migrant issue will tie up nations and prompt the belief that there will be war again.
There is a belief that the EU is a temporary thing. It added to its eventual demise by including nations that could not stay up with the big three economies. Plus, and I believe this to be true, there is no “end of history” to be had. No utopia of nations and people merging as one. The EU desperately wants to duplicate the concept of our United Nations, but cannot because they are not from the same stock or from the same history. In truth, they are an amalgamation of separate peoples, and will always be that. As we speak, there is a movement to separate the nations back to their national borders. The immigration crisis accelerated the problem. In fact, the article addresses this too.
One of the key questions confronting the European Union is how Brussels, Berlin, and Paris will respond to the surge of national assertiveness in Europe, especially that which has marked the coming of age of the first generation born into freedom in the postcommunist states. In Poland in particular, but also in Hungary and increasingly in Slovakia, the notional idea of Central Europe has merged with the political project of building a regional grouping around the core of the Visegrad Four: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia. So recompiled, this Central European project could accelerate the process of the regionalization of security within NATO, anticipating a change in Central Europe’s foundational relationship with Germany, with the burden of historical legacies potentially resurfacing and putting more daylight between Berlin and the region. The revisiting of the Visegrad idea can serve to strengthen security cooperation in Central Europe, but it also carries a risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Greater regional cooperation within a larger NATO umbrella is a welcome development, but regionalization that generates more distance between the allies will weaken the already tenuous consensus on allied solidarity. If the regionalization of security in Europe puts more distance between the “old” and the “new” Europe, it risks transforming today’sMitteleuropa into another incarnation of Zwischeneuropa, making it more vulnerable to Russian pressure.
My inclination is to go “Blah, blah, blah” and wave my hands because all the talk about being civilized from the elites of Europe will not translate to the people in the towns and villages across the continent. I spoke to a very bright Italian who moved to America to get away from the madness that is enveloping Europe. Aside from his fear that we are following the path to suicidal socialism that Europe has taken, his other point is the EU is a farce. There is no more an acceptance of Europeans believing they are EU citizens rather than natives of a nation, than you would expect to see from Obama on the right to bear arms. When I see Obama say “Let’s grab up some guns, there is a sale at the Basspro!” then I’ll believe the individuals in Europe have stopped seeing themselves as national citizens.
The gentleman from Italy put it best. “We hate the French, the French hate the Spanish, nobody like the Germans, and the Greeks are just a pain in everybody’s ass.” Sounds like a recipe for success doesn’t it?!
And Putin is a great reader of situations and other leaders. So you will be seeing this again.