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NATO Commander Warns Alliance May Send Troops To Eastern Europe

NATO

NATO’s top military commander is sending an interesting message to Russia:

PARIS (AP) — NATO’s top military commander in Europe, drafting countermoves to the Russian military threat against Ukraine, said Wednesday they could include deployment of American troops to alliance member states in Eastern Europe now feeling at risk.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove told The Associated Press he wouldn’t “write off involvement by any nation, to include the United States.”

Foreign ministers of the 28-nation alliance have given Breedlove until Tuesday to propose steps to reassure NATO members nearest Russia that other alliance countries have their back.

“Essentially what we are looking at is a package of land, air and maritime measures that would build assurance for our easternmost allies,” Breedlove told the AP. “I’m tasked to deliver this by next week. I fully intend to deliver it early.”

Asked again if American soldiers might be sent to NATO’s front-line states closest to Russia, the four-star U.S. general said, “I would not write off contributions from any nation.

These comments come while Russian forces near the border with Eastern Ukraine continue to maintain what analysts who have examined satellite photographs describe as a state more closely resembling combat readiness than the training exercises the Russians claim to be conducting. Additionally, the past week has seen an uptick in protests in large cities in eastern Ukraine such as Donetsk which have large ethnic Russian populations. Ukrainian police have cracked down on these protests as they have attempted to take control of government buildings, and in some cases succeeded. This led Russia to warn Ukraine not to crack down on protesters in an announcement that seems to have come without any sense of irony on the part of the Russians themselves.  As for Breedlove’s comments, we’ll have to wait to see exactly what moves NATO makes in the coming days, but sending even token forces to Eastern Europe would be the strongest signal yet to Russia that the West is not going to stand buy while it gobbles up more and more territory.

This isn’t to say, of course, that we ought to push the Ukraine situation to the point where military threats are exchanged. However, it’s exceedingly hard to determine exactly what game Vladimir Putin is playing here. The annexation of Crimea, after all, was based on the alleged desires of that area’s Russian population and on Russia’s supposed desire to protect their interests, but Crimea isn’t the only part of Eastern Europe with significant ethnic Russian populations. We’re already seen some Russian officials make similar comments about certain areas of Moldova, for example, and, perhaps most ominously, NATO member Estonia. How much of this is actual threat and how much of it is bluster is hard to tell, but it’s worth remembering that one of the reasons that Putin made the moves in Crimea that he did is because he knew that, in the end, the West wouldn’t take serious action to stop him. If he starts thinking that about other parts of Europe we could have problems on our hands that pose a far more serious threat to the interest of ourselves and our allies than the question of which flag flies over Crimea. Given that, it seems advisable to let Putin know that we’re paying attention.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Really? Whose troops?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. @Dave Schuler:

    Obviously most of them would be American/British.

    However it strikes me that NATO ought to do something to make it clear to Putin that there are limits to what he’ll be able to get away with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    @Dave Schuler: Indeed, are the Germans going to be willing to put their troops on the line? I say no American troops!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I still say no American troops and I don’t see the British having any real enthusiasm. This should be up to the Germans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. TastyBits says:

    This is beyond silly. If NATO is serious, they would have begun mobilization by now. It will take months to get troops, equipment, and supplies into Europe and positioned.

    Does anybody think that the Russians are too stupid to know what it takes to amass a viable fighting force. Does anybody think that they can bluff Putin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    With the sharp cuts they’re making in military spending, clearly the Brits are preparing themselves for action.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. @Ron Beasley:

    So are you saying we should withdraw from NATO?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. @Dave Schuler:

    Even with the cuts in the UK and here in the US, NATO’s spending still outstrips Russia’s. And our military is superior to theirs. Putin knows this.

    What do you think our response should be if Russia continues on this course, especially if they start laying eyes on our Baltic allies?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You really need to look at a map. There are no prospects whatever for a land war with Russia. Turkey controls entrance to the Black Sea and its trade with Russia just about equal to its trade with us and their trade with Russia has been growing fast.

    There’s no room for brinksmanship here. War with Russia would turn nuclear in a heartbeat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  10. edmondo says:

    What do you think our response should be if Russia …..start laying eyes on our Baltic allies?

    you mean if they try to steal back what we stole from them after they stole it after WWII?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    What do you think our response should be if Russia continues on this course, especially if they start laying eyes on our Baltic allies?

    Let’s ask this question another way. What do you think a stable end state would look like in that part of the world? I think we’ve been screwing up there for the last 15 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  12. @Dave Schuler:

    What do you think a stable end state would look like in that part of the world?

    Very good question, and I’ll admit to not really knowing the answer.

    The main problem, of course, is that we as human beings are generally not very good at determining what the consequences of our actions will be that far down the line

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I wouldn’t object to that. Since the end of the cold war it has primarily become an institution for mischief.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. @Dave Schuler:

    Where did I say there was a prospect for a land war? That’s certainly not what I intended.

    So what’s the best course of action, letting Putin have whatever he wants?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. @edmondo:

    Last time I checked the Baltic States were free and independent nations. A status they never enjoyed under Soviet, or Russian, rule

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. @Ron Beasley:

    If you’re referring to Iraq, that wasn’t a NATO operation

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. Dave Schuler says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Where did I say there was a prospect for a land war?

    Let’s return to the quoted passage:

    “Essentially what we are looking at is a package of land, air and maritime measures that would build assurance for our easternmost allies,” Breedlove told the AP. “I’m tasked to deliver this by next week. I fully intend to deliver it early.”

    For deterrence to be effective there must be a credible threat. In this comment I addressed each in one terse sentence. Russia isn’t Iraq or Libya. Its air defense capabilities approximate ours. An attack by air is just too dangerous without degrading their defenses first and that would tempt nuclear war.

    There is no credible deterrent. Consequently, it’s a waste of time and an exercise in brinksmanship with stakes that are too high a risk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I don’t think that’s right.

    First, their air defense does not equal ours, witness the way we’e walked over Russian client state air defense in every engagement.

    But deterrence does not rest on a belief that we’ll attack, merely a prospect that we will defend. That’s the purpose of moving NATO forces forward. We create a tripwire. And the Russians would be insane to try and cross it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  19. @Dave Schuler:

    Okay, well those are from the article, but I get your point.

    And, yes, the idea of a land war in Central Europe would be exceedingly stupid (although I will note that we are approaching the 100th anniversary of a war in Europe that also started for stupid reasons).

    Nonetheless, my question remains. What, if anything, do we do in response to Russia’s actions?

    As I stated in posts here while it was going on, I certainly didn’t think we should have done anything serious to attempt to stop the annexation of Ukraine, and I also don’t think that NATO ought to concern itself with the political future of Ukraine. At the same time, there are those reports about Russian politicians talking about things such as the “safety” of the Russian population in Estonia. Is there some point where we — and by we I mean the US/NATO/the EU — say that enough is enough?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. @michael reynolds:

    But deterrence does not rest on a belief that we’ll attack, merely a prospect that we will defend. That’s the purpose of moving NATO forces forward. We create a tripwire. And the Russians would be insane to try and cross it.

    Agreed

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Here’s an assessment of Russia’s theater air defenses.

    Syria isn’t relevant. They had obsolete equipment—Russia wouldn’t give them the latest and greatest.

    Also, please explain how a purely defensive NATO force defers Russian movement into Ukraine. If a NATO forces advances into Ukraine, it isn’t defensive any more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of deterring Russia going into Ukraine. As I understood it the discussion revolved around making clear to Putin that there were limits – the Baltics, Romania. Maybe I lost the thread there somewhere, but that’s what I understood.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So, Ukraine is an acceptable limit?

    That isn’t the way our NATO allies have been talking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  24. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: How many people who are not you are you prepared to sacrifice for this bold crusade of yours?

    Oh, and how much are you personally willing to sacrifice? Would you consent to seeing your taxes raised to pay for one more idiotic military adventure? Or are you just going to give the Republican’s standard sacrfice and put an “I support our troops” magnet on your car?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  25. Dave Schuler says:
  26. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “That’s the purpose of moving NATO forces forward. We create a tripwire. And the Russians would be insane to try and cross it.”

    Which is a good plan, because if there’s one thing history has taught us again and again, it’s that if one side creates a tripwire it would be insane to cross. the other side NEVER crosses it.

    That’s why we haven’t had a war since 1066.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  27. dazedandconfused says:

    IIRC, a mistake Sakashvili got suckered into making in the Georgia mess was believing the tough talk he heard from us in regards to us supporting him, should Russia get upset or frisky.

    Sure hope the new Ukrainian leaders, whoever they are, paid attention and are apportioning their grains of salt liberally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    We maintained a tripwire with the USSR from 1945 to 1989 when they collapsed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Our allies can say what they like, but we have no defense obligation to Ukraine. It’s obviously “unacceptable” for Russia to carve off chunk after chunk of Ukraine, but it’s only “unacceptable” is quotes, meaning we really don’t like it. What’s really unacceptable is any incursion into NATO territory, and that’s how I took talk of sending more units forward.

    I can’t believe Putin’s stupid enough to try anything of that sort. Setting aside the likelihood of a nuclear escalation (kind of a big set-aside) in a conventional war the Russians would be badly beaten. His economy is the size of Italy’s, his income derives from the very people he’d be turning into enemies, and a conscript army armed with last-gen weapons and devoid of recent war experience isn’t beating a professional army with the latest toys. The Russian navy is irrelevant, I doubt their air force has more than a handful of pilots with actual war experience, and the side playing defense has major inherent advantages. Speed of mobilization – never a Russian strength – would be critical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    We also have a current tripwire between the two Koreas that has endured for 60 years, a sea-based version between China and Taiwan that has also lasted 60 years, give or take.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  31. Tyrell says:

    @edmondo: Many of us remember the ’50’s and 60’s when the Russians were trying to take over everything. We remember the sadness and outrage over Russians taking over Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and the infamous Berlin Wall, the “Wall of Shame”. We see the same pattern today: moving in with tanks and troops, brutalizing the populace and daring the free world to do anything. I am not sure where anyone could come up with the US “stealing” any country. That is not my memory of the Cold War. And it wasn’t called the Iron Curtain for nothing.
    “Go ahead.Make my day” (Detective Harry Callahan)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  32. Ben Wolf says:

    @michael reynolds: You have to keep in mind that U. S. forces have never engaged front-line Soviet or Russian equipment. It’s all been obsolescent stuff we’ve ripped through, and the Soviets actually helped us during Gulf War I by giving our military technical data on what they’d sold to the Iraqis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Stonetools says:

    I say let Germany fully rearm. If there’s a bear in the woods, maybe a Doberman might keep him coming further west.
    I’ll be honest. I fully understand the moral case for defending the Baltics, but is Estonia really worth it? For real?
    Again, that second round of NATO expansion was really effing stupid. If you are going to promise to defend somewhere, make sure you can actually do it. A Russian invasion of Estonia would be done and dusted before our tanks make it across Poland.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: So what’s your point? We’ve managed not to blow up the world, so let’s light another fuse and see what happens?

    Hey, maybe this could be as successful as our last two wars. Sure, hundreds of thousands of people were killed or injured and the world is left a worse and less safe place, but neither you nor I had to sacrifice anything, so it’s probably worth doing again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “We maintained a tripwire with the USSR from 1945 to 1989 when they collapsed.”

    And at what cost to the people of Iran, of Chile, of El Salvador, of Argentina, of Vietnam, of Cambodia… you know, all those little countries lying right under the trip wires.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. wr says:

    @Tyrell: ” I am not sure where anyone could come up with the US “stealing” any country. That is not my memory of the Cold War.”

    No, we were much subtler. We sent in the CIA to assassinate democratically elected leaders we didn’t like and replace them with dictators, and then we trained their death squads to kidnap, torture and murder any citizens who didn’t want to have a fascist dictatorship imposed on them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  37. Rafer Janders says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    You have to keep in mind that U. S. forces have never engaged front-line Soviet or Russian equipment.

    But the Afghans did….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. Rafer Janders says:

    @wr:

    And at what cost to the people of Iran, of Chile, of El Salvador, of Argentina, of Vietnam, of Cambodia… you know, all those little countries lying right under the trip wires.

    No, no, the tripwire was the West German border. Soviet leadership knew that any move across that line would be immediately opposed with all NATO’s force, up to and including nuclear. That’s precisely why we fought proxy wars everywhere else in the world but there. The tripwire worked precisely for what it was intended to do, which was to stop any war in Europe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  39. dazedandconfused says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I think it was the nukes, not the troops. A war between big time nuclear powers can get outrageously out of hand in the blink of an eye. Most fortunate, perhaps, due to the political unacceptability of our only logical defense of Europe -defense in depth- we stacked everything up in the front line. That is an offensive formation. Having massed mobilized forces on ones border would have been intolerable for the Soviets (or pretty much anybody else) if it weren’t for the specter of MAD and their certain knowledge that at the very least they could nuke a NATO invasion to bits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    “Go ahead.Make my day”

    Are you prepared to die for Ukraine? To send your children to die?

    It’s so easy to talk tough when someone else is going to be the one getting shot at.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  41. Robin Cohen says:

    @Dave Schuler: Anybody but us. Time out for the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Xenos says:

    NATO is not talking about defending Ukraine.

    Poland, however, could certainly accommodate a much larger military presence.

    But not too many Germans, please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. Robin Cohen says:

    I don’t care whose soldiers are sent over there, as long as the soldiers are not American soldiers. Enough is enough. We cannot afford the cost to our military or to our Treasury.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Xenos says:

    @Robin Cohen: Are we still a member of NATO, or what?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. Robin Cohen says:

    @Xenos: Apparently we are. Perhaps we need to rethink our membership in view of our all volunteer stressed to the limit military and our financial constraints, items we should have considered before getting involved in Iraq and Afghanistan and accomplishing nothing but further draining our resources.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. Xenos says:

    @Robin Cohen: N@Robin Cohen: No disagreement with you re Iraq, but the the idiocy of not using NATO as intended is astonishing. We have pretty much the same threat that NATO and the EU were set up to stop, and a much stronger and larger western Europe to step in and defend itself. Set up defenses in depth, consolidate the political and strategic gains of the last three decades, lock it it in. Russia is acting out because they have short-term crises and poor long-term prospects. We (US and EU) have less severe short-term crises and excellent long-term prospects.

    Or walk away from the whole scene, because of Bush’s incompetence?

    This is not a difficult choice, whether diplomatically, legally, or morally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  47. Robin Cohen says:

    @Xenos: While I agree that NATO should be employed for it’s designated purpose and respect your point of view, I have had enough of wars which are not in OUR best interests first and foremost. We have already given one billion to the Ukraine while we have cut food stamps and other social programs supposedly because we cannot afford them. If that is true, how can we then give one billion to the Ukraine while our own citizens are hurting? If we commit troops to the Ukraine, we will again be engaged in 2 wars and we still have troops in Iraq, I believe. At some point we need to reconsider our position on engaging in wars that do not threaten America’s interests. I am a member of the Vietnam generation and have seen endless wars, for no viable purpose, deplete our resources. I deplore our rush to war but will never support a return to the Draft because we have no concept of what war does to
    military and civilians alike, in part because recent Presidents have had no first hand experience of the impact of war. Enough is enough. Time we learned from our egregious mistakes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. Lounsbury says:

    @edmondo:

    How pray tell is Baltics self-determination ‘stealing’ from the Russians? The fact they ran to embrace NATO and EU was all about Russian bad behavioiur throughout their entire historical relationship with the Bear, not any particular action on the part of NATO or EU.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  49. Lounsbury says:

    @wr: Brilliantly solicitous you are, in one unique direction.

    Simple enough, one can stipulate that countries on the front line of the conflict made out poorly. That said, the Sovs were rather more nasty to their side captive nations and the populations made out rather more poorly across the board.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. TastyBits says:

    In order to defend Ukraine military, Nato needs troops, equipment, and supplies in place. It would take months to achieve this, and NATO has not started. Hence, “NATO aint’t gonna defend Ukraine from no stinkin’ invasion.” A token force can simply be maneuvered around and left in-place. All talk is silly, and anybody with a few brain cells knows it.

    There is no reason for Russia to forcibly take control. Like Egypt I & II, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, overthrowing the government with enough Facebook likes, overthrowing a government is no longer a coup. The Ukraine government should be illegal, and through social media, it can be replaced. What Facebook and Twitter giveth, Facebook and Twitter taketh.

    With a new Facebook approved government installed, they can follow the Crimea model. If they need to exit from the EU or NATO, they can, or they can break off. No muss, no fuss.

    All the talk of military activity – sending troops, equipment, money, well- wishes, Sen. McCain – is all to make Americans feel better when the inevitable occurs. As with Iran, Egypt, Libya, and Syria, reality is outside the comfort zone of most Americans, and they will be stunned when it occurs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  51. wr says:

    @Lounsbury: So we have no moral culpability for our crimes since the Soviets were bad?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  52. anjin-san says:

    @ edmondo

    you mean if they try to steal back what we stole from them after they stole it after WWII?

    I have some friends of Latvian descent who want you to know that you are an idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  53. Paul Hooson says:

    Careful! Careful! Careful! Russia adopted a new military policy a few years ago, endorsed by Putin in which Russia could have a first battlefield nuclear weapons strike on conventional forces if they pose any threat to Russia’s allies or bordering states. This is a dangerous policy that could result in a nuclear strike on NATO troops if they amass near any border of Russia and appear to threaten Russia’s sense of security. Since WWII, Russia developed battlefield type weapons meant to clear a battlefield of their opponents. These are a very dangerous class of weapons since the modern versions are short range smaller nuclear weapons meant to take out hundreds of tanks or thousands of soldiers with a single Scud-type short term missile.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  54. dazedandconfused says:

    What’s all this NATO talk about? They couldn’t even manage to maintain a bombing campaign against itty-bitty Libya. Now we are supposed to believe they can field a credible anti-Russian army?!

    Everybody has their last nerve. If “NATO” wishes for a cycle of escalations with Russia, they had better take a hard look at what the Ukraine is to Russia. Might be different than what they wish it to be. Might just be, to Russians, facing an organization (NATO) that is first and foremost anti-Russian, the Ukraine is their Alamo. If the Russians are ready to go full honey badger over this, and the taking of Crimea indicates they are, is it worth it? What is so important about the Ukraine that it’s worth fighting a major war for it? Looks like an economic basket case to me. Looks like the austerity that will be imposed by the EU bankers will trap it forever in an interest-payment trap.

    Who is running NATO? The bankers?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  55. Grewgills says:

    @Stonetools:

    I’ll be honest. I fully understand the moral case for defending the Baltics, but is Estonia really worth it? For real?

    If we don’t, what does NATO membership mean?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  56. michael reynolds says:

    Jesus, some of you folks have paid literally zero attention to foreign policy.

    1) NATO exists. We have obligations pursuant to same. So we really have no choice but to defend NATO countries.

    2) Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but the Baltics are. Therefore we have an obligation to defend them. A legal as well as moral obligation.

    3) NATO military forces are deliberately configured to be interdependent. A given member state will have an assigned role. For example, a smaller country may specialize in mine-clearing. They’ll have specialized, trained forces for that. A larger country will have more varied areas of specialization. But only the US, UK and France have the sort of broad spectrum of capabilities that allows for projection of force outside of NATO.

    3.1) This is how we want it, because it makes sense. There’s no point insisting that Norway, for example, should have every kind of military function. That would be dumb.

    3.2) Germany does not have the sorts of military capabilities that we or even the UK do because that’s how we, the French, the Brits, and pretty much everyone in Europe, including the Germans, wanted it. If you can’t figure out why, I refer you to the history of Europe in the 20th century.

    3.3) So, yes, German forces can be used to reinforce Estonia, but the heavy lifting will necessarily fall to the US, UK and France.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  57. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    I understand your instinctive rejection of swaggering neocons, but American isolationism has resulted in more deaths than the neocons have come close to causing. Had we been ready to go to war in 1939 there would have been no Operation Barbarossa.

    Our willingness to risk war from 1945 onward is all that kept freedom alive in Europe. Our willingness to be in Europe in force is why they’ve had an unprecedented seven decades of peace. The prosperity that followed for Europe, for Japan, for Korea and that is now spreading to China, are the result of American willingness to stare down the USSR with all the terrifying risks that entailed.

    The world is experiencing historically atypical levels of peace and prosperity that are very largely the result of the pax americana. I realize Iraq looms huge in our experience, but it is historically speaking a fairly small matter. And before you huff and puff in outrage, consider that even the most inflated estimates have the total Iraq casualty list as less than the siege of Stalingrad, one battle, in one theater of the war we could have stopped had we not been quite so smugly isolationist.

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  58. socraticsilence says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I think Poland would be a likely candidate for ground forces given their willingness to back Ukraine outside of NATO action.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  59. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: Just as it would be wrong to forget the lessons of WW2, it is equally wrong to overlearn them. Not every military action by someone other than us is Hitler invading Poland.

    I do find your citation of the Siege of Stalingrad as a reason to attack Russia to be amusing, though. I’d think there are some other lessons that could be learned from it as well. Hitler and Napolean got their lessons — it would be nice if smart people like you would brush up on that history before agitating for ramping up military action against Russia.

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