This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Will the Most Qualified Candidate Please Step Forward?

Russian ICBMs
Russian RS-24 Yars/SS-27 Mod 2 solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missiles roll through Red Square in Moscow during the World War II Victory Day Parade, May 9, 2015. Photo: Reuters
"Before Ukraine, the question on Montenegro [joining NATO] was, 'What's the point? It's so small'."
"The question isn't whether NATO is relevant, but what is NATO relevant for? [With the] re-emergence of the Russian threat, Ukraine, concerns in Central Europe and the Balkans, we need NATO."
"But how relevant is NATO for the threats from the south? That's the big subject now."
Derek Chollet, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs

"There has been a tug of war between eastern and southern members about priorities, but now the east sees a Russian threat in the south, too, while the south sees a new conventional threat, as in the east."
"Now we see a decision to boost air defenses off Turkey and put guided missile destroyers in the Black Sea and have more naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean -- it's a similar program of reassurance as the one for the east."
Rem Korteweg, Center for European Reform, London
U.S., NATO Warships Show Support As Russia-Turkey Naval Tension Rises
The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Ross passes through the Bosphorus straits on December 3. (photo: U.S. Navy)
"Ever since Russia went into Crimea and eastern Ukraine, people see NATO's traditional mission of Article 5 [defence of one on the part of all] as more important again."
"It was always in the background, but people were sitting around doing contingency planning on possible threats. Now that's changed."
Senior Obama administration official

"There's a new urgency [to reassure eastern members like Poland and the Baltics] which feel under a lot of pressure."
"NATO has just woken up in time, but it has woken up."
British defense secretary Michael Fallon
Formed during the era of the Cold War post World War Two, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization might have seen its demise with the disintegration of the USSR when the world breathed a sigh of relief that tensions were relaxed and the Soviet Union no longer represented a potential threat as a Communist colossus against the democratic free world led by the United States. And then, along came Vladimir V. Putin and everything changed.

Well, not quite, there were a few other little matters that NATO was engaged in, the least of which was the Bosnian-Serb war and the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban; one was primarily an aerial bombing mission that spelled the end to a bloody conflict, the other was a fully engaged mission which simply prolonged the agony of Afghanistan still afflicted by the Taliban. And then came Russia's proxy entrance into Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

In the aftermath of which came Russia's entry into the air over Syria, championing Bashar al-Assad's bloody tyranny which has created the world's largest refugee phenomenon; 7 million internally displaced and over 4 million exited Syria to flood into Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Europe. Now, when the 28-member NATO alliance meet, the discussion lingers on Ukraine and focuses on Syria.
And, of course, Turkey, a NATO member-country that has clashed with Russia.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant looms large in the geography's complex conflicted zones. Ankara thought it wise to shoot down a Russian warplane, further antagonizing relations between Turkey/NATO and Moscow; a livid Vladimir Putin focusing on Syrian rebels rather than Islamic State which had just recently smuggled a bomb onto a Russian passenger jet leaving from Egypt's Sinai, killing all St.Petersburg-bound Russians aboard, in no mood to forgive.

The Russian President was angered enough when the United States decided NATO would deploy anti-ballistic installations in eastern Europe, Russia's near-abroad, its geographic bailiwick, in its former USSR dependent-states. Assurances by then-President Bush -- whose look deep into President Putin's eyes convinced him they could work well together  -- that the missile defence system was a reaction to any possible attacks from Iran, cut no ice.

And when Moscow could plainly see its former satellites anxiously lining up for membership with NATO, that represented one insulting assault on Russian sensibilities too many. Oil revenues were strong, and it was time to renew the country's military appurtenances, and Moscow lost no time in investing in just that, burnishing the patriotism and pride of the Russian populace who finally had a president they could applaud.

Now, the degenerating position of mistrust and antagonism between Russia and NATO has plunged to Cold War levels of delicate diplomacy. Burdened by the reality that Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan is as brutishly reactive as is Vladimir Putin, yet as a member of NATO, must be seen to be surrounded by supporters in its NATO membership. Russia's interference is Ukraine sees its mirror image in Turkey's interventions in Iraq, and its attacks against Turkey's Kurds.

This is the uncomfortable bed that Russia and NATO have made for themselves. Not bellicose, but very wary. Russia has provoked the international community by its ongoing military mischief cloaked as helpfulness in situations that had no need of further 'help' from any quarters within a wide conflicted area of mismanaged reaction to both state and non-state terrorism.

And NATO is now left to ponder between its embattled members as where best to station troops and equipment to respond if and when required to any untoward moves by an increasingly mischievously heedless autocrat convinced that he is capable of leading his nation to a space recently vacated by the sole remaining world power that decided to abdicate that throne for a more humble elevation.

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