Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Montenegrins! They're like wild beasts, I tell you!

Damn those crazy little bastards!
“Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member that’s attacked,” Carlson said to Trump. “So let’s say Montenegro, which joined last year, is attacked. Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?” In response, Trump told Carlson that he understood his concerns. “I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,” the president said. “They’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations you’re in World War III.”
You have your Montenegrins and your Albanians and your Macedonians and your Serbians and they all just can't wait to get aggressive and next thing you know the nukes are a-flyin! The lamps could go out all over Europe at any time. ANY time, I tell you!


  1. Montenegro is bordered by Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, and Serbia, plus it has a maritime border with Italy. All save Kosovo and Serbia are in NATO, but Kosovo has applied for membership and the Serbian Parliament has formally declared neutrality. So who is going to invade them and who are they going to get aggressive with. Serbia maybe wants re-unification, but Montenegrin ethnicity is identical to Serb ethnicity.

    Probably Montenegro is justifiably wary of Putin:

    Aggressive? Montenegrins are hardcase like many other mountain people. They have fought for their freedom from the Byzantines, the Venetians, the Ottomans, the Italians, and Hitler. But have they ever invaded any country since the Slavic migration of the 6th and 7th centuries displaced the earlier Illyrians?

    I note their entire Armed Forces total up just 1,950 active duty personnel - including the Navy. And yet they sent troops to ISAF in Afghanistan before they were even in NATO. Not many but if you look at Percentage they have double what the US has.

    Carlson is a whiny little creep. When his children were small he cheered the invasion of Iraq (although he did reverse course later). But I don't think he is worried about his son. He is just pushing the Trumpy/Putin asinine meme that they want peace and NATO and Granny Hillary want war.

  2. The moron doesn't understand alliances because they don't follow zero sum thinking.
    He would understand a more feudal system in which some small power pledges allegiance to a great power, assists it with troops and gets a promise of protection in return. He would only like such a 'deal' if he thinks he gets more than he gives, and he would probably default on the promises made, though.

    Just think about how the moron talks about NATO spending as if it was about allies paying the United States or paying much into NATO, not spending on their own and having their forces more or less under joint NATO commands.
    He doesn't egt the idea, he's too stupid.

  3. NATO has long outlived its usefulness.

    Great Power alliances inevitably spawn balancing alliances.
    The continued expansion of NATO begs for a counter alliance consisting of some subset of Russia, China, India, Iran, North Korea, etc.

    1. NATO has great utility, but the moron demolishes its real utility.

    2. I disagree. Exchanging a rivalry with Germany for a rivalry with Russia and China (but having Germany on your side) is not a winning play.

      We know how to fix the problem via global institutions. My objection to NATO goes away if everyone (including Russia, China and India) get to join.

    3. Ael...I'm not sure I'm following you.

      Granted, NATO was formed post WWII to counter Stalin's USSR annexation/occupation/Vacation spots in Eastern Europe forming the Warsaw Pact as a Demolition/Renovation alliance...

      but how, exactly, is NATO defunct?

      I can see it morphing into a beneficial economic block sans German intransigence on the Euro in regards to countries like Greece and Italy that issues, but it also can form the skeletal frame work for a unified Europe, again, sans the regional hostile ethnocentricity certain countries populations tend to express (looking at you Switzerland...oh yeah, I've been getting all sorts of fun reports about you!)

    4. @Ael; NATO is NOT positioned against China. NATO could nuke Honolulu and article 5 would not be triggered.

      And it's not a rivalry with Germany that gets traded, it's a rivalry with non-Slavic Europe. Non-slavic Europe has proved for centuries to be much bigger trouble than Russia.

    5. Non-slavic Europe is insufficiently coherent to be a serious rival (in the great power sense). Again, global institutions function nicely in order to keep the "western" oligarchic hegemony functional while defusing the danger of great power games getting out of control. Except that American wanted to be the sole superpower forever.

    6. I think you grossly underestimate how Europe could oppose the Americans.

      The entire Mediterranean and Black Sea regions would immediately become European influence spheres, with Americans completely lacking basing opportunities there.

      Europe's ties to Africa are much stronger (especially France's), and there's little reason to expect the Americans to gain better ground with India than the Europeans would. India opposes Pakistan, which gets American support and is essential for American meddling in Afghanistan. Moreover, aligning with America would risk drawing India into a SinoAmerican conflict, while Europe is not noticeably at odds with China.
      Australia has nothign to agin from helping America to oppose China, and could seek long-term security from China and Indonesia by aligning with Europe instead.

      You are used to the status quo, and apparently not aware how much America's position in the status quo depends on European amity.
      American without European amity would be reduced to dominance of the Americas and to its Eastern Asian entanglements, as well as costly and unproductive MidEast and Afghanistan adventures.

      The U.S. would furthermore instantly lose in any effort to maintain a two-power rule against PRC and EU at sea. An EU that seeks the ability to destroy any U.S. battlefleet within 1,000 nm of EU territory would accomplish this within a decade and might mutually share the tech with China.
      Seriously, I doubt you thought through what European rivalry instead of amity and cooperation would really mean to the U.S..

  4. I won't argue over NATO, largely because I've been reading The Proud Tower and the appalling overconfidence and blindness of both the Entente and Central Powers that led to war is pretty sickening.

    That said...the notion that 1) tiny Montenegro is going to start WW3, or that 2) the U.S. would be obligated by Article 5 to back up an Montenegrin Schlieffen Plan is so transparently ridiculous as to render both these idiots inadmissible to intelligent discourse forever. That was the only real point here.

    I'd be open to an open thread on the topic "NATO - valuable alliance or dangerous anachronism?"

    1. I can see Montenegro starting telling Putin to fuck off, and die-in-a-fire.

      Beyond that...uh...they ain't got a whole lot about it that isn't risible.
      Sure, they got...well...they possess and economy...I guess something...but I just having hard time figuring out what exactly Montenegro possesses (besides a port, sport hunting for upland bird and fishing)which makes it a concern for nuclear powers?

  5. Getting Montenegro into NATA was all about locking up the entire north coast of the Mediterranean sea against the Russians. Balance that against the potential liability of adding another country with it's host of historical baggage and unsettled grievances to the alliance. It isn't as crazy as adding Estonia or Georgia, but it still doesn't carry its own weight.

    If you visited the grave of Gavrilo Princip, I suspect you might hear a quiet chuckling.

    1. Adding Montenegro ensured that Serbia has no choice other than a pro-Western grand strategy.
      They still considered Russia its big friend in 1999, pan-slavism and all that.

    2. I don't get any kind of sense that Montenegro is nursing particularly virulent grudges. I can't imagine they and the Croats are pals, but they're pretty small beans compared to the Serbs.

      Re: seems to be a solution in search of a problem. With the caveat that I have no idea how serious a threat Russian military actions might be to the former SSRs and satellites. Political threats...yes. But that's not a thing NATO can solve. How realistic is 1) the possibility of Russian tanks rolling into Estonia, and 2) NATO risking general war to stop that?

    3. I'm waiting for some group of Yugoslav nationalists to decide that Yugoslavia needs to be re-invented.

    4. Give it time...difficult to imagine, but the possibility of that region devolving into...don't laugh...tribal units isn't to far off.

    5. @AEL - "Getting Montenegro into NATA was all about locking up the entire north coast of the Mediterranean sea against the Russians."

      Montenegro wanted in, they did a referendum. 86% of the country voted, 55% of the voters wanted NATO. Their parliament voted unanimously, 46 to zero, to join. Montenegro had been the victim of an attempted Russian-Serbian coup. They weren't enticed in by the big, bad West. Although Croatia and Slovenia their neighbors did push for it.

    6. I understand why Montenegro wanted in. The puzzle is why the rest of NATO wanted to accept Montenegro. The unbroken NATO frontier on the north coast of the med was given as the reason.

    7. There was no reason not to accept Montenegro in.
      Only a moron would think that NATO would be drawn into a war by Montenegro.

    8. Yep, Montenegrins are just Bosnian Ottomans in disguise - all they will be interested in doing is sabotaging both the EU, western Europe and NATO - and chuckling back to their current Sultan - Erdogan.
      They are the hardcore-est of Islamic brotherhood priests behind closed doors - but pretend to be Orthodox Christian to sabotage Russia, as they pretend to be NATO to sabotage America and what they see as Austria.
      They are wimps though - part of their camouflage is to either pretend they are much more powerful than they are, to occupy your thinking and divert it away from Iran and Iraq - or to suck up to you so you make them BIGGER.
      One good prolonged period of food shortages and sanctions would sort them out for at least a century (and hopefully eradicate them by sending them off behind Constantinople and out of the mainland Europe)

  6. While I agree the points are clumsy and stupid and the Montenegrins aren't the best example, I think the larger point they are trying, badly, to get at is legitimate. And history is full of major conflicts that started in ways and locations that no one expected. I do not think we're any better at foreseeing conflicts now and certainly our hubris and overconfidence have not diminished.

    I think we expanded NATO without much thought or consideration for the potential long-term consequences. And I think this expansions really is mostly a US commitment as most NATO members do not have the ability actually defend small periphery members in the unlikely even they're attacked. The other side of that coin is that it was the US the pushed for the expansion, thanks to our insular and unaware natsec establishment.

    I also agree with FDChief that NATO is a solution looking for a problem. Without the US it would not be much of an alliance at all. And maybe the US is still needed to keep Europe in check (especially Germany) and make everyone play nice, but I'd question the stability of that kind of indefinite US commitment.

    1. "I think this expansions really is mostly a US commitment as most NATO members do not have the ability actually defend small periphery members in the unlikely even they're attacked."

      And now please open your eyes to reality. Especially the reality of Russian weakness. The Russian land forces of the Western and Southern and Northern military districts combined might fail to defeat the Polish army.

      Almost everyone seems to use gut feelings instead of actual, real-world information when assessing the Russian military.

      "[NATO] Without the US it would not be much of an alliance at all."

      That's located somewhere in a triangle of lie, ignorance and insult.

    2. The Russians certainly have their problems, and I honestly don't know about Polish capabilities. It is interesting, however, to note that the Poles desperately want a permanent US armored division stationed on their territory. Not a German, French or British division, a US division. They seem to see the strategic situation differently than you do.

      As for my "triangle of lie, ignorance and insult" the fact remains that NATO has been and is incapable of conducting any major operation without significant US support. It isn't a question of manpower - Europe has plenty of that - it's a question of the ability to conduct sustained combat operations outside of your own borders or immediate territory. It's about the ability to respond to a crisis in a timely manner.

      If the Russians were to invade the Baltics, how long would it take for NATO forces to defend them absent US support? What is your estimate of NATO's ability to retake that territory from the Russians absent US support? What is the state of readiness of non-US NATO forces?

      For the alliance to be meaningful, it must have the actual capability to fulfill its obligations. In my judgment, if you take away the US, the rest of the alliance does not have the required capabilities.

    3. You're conflating things. The Europeans keep doing things together with the U.S. to nurture the relationship and because the U.S. has ridiculously built up its military for the beating up of 3rd world powers.
      Tanker aircraft and such would be of little use against the Russians, but they sure are handy when bombing Afghanistan from Diego Garcia or Kuwait and when bombing Libya from comfortable airbases in Northern Italy.

      The U.S. military as is is close to irrelevant for the Defence of the Baltics and even Poland. The two brigades in Europe are crap against a similarly-sized mechanised Russian opposition force. Their artillery sucks and they have no MBTs.
      The detachments to the four multinational tripwire battalion groups are cannon fodder.
      Maybe the U.S. has "the required capabilities"; but it surely doesn't deploy them for the security of Europe. It does almost nothing for European security.
      The Polish government is being run by paranoid nationalists. They don't think clearly about Germany or France or the UK. Their crazy minister of defence thinks Germany is a threat to Poland. I don't consider their opinions to be indicators about the real world.

      I answered your questions in 2016:

    4. Well, conflating wasn't the correct word. I meant you don't look behind the curtain there.

    5. Sven,

      You're not making much sense to me at least. In one comment you state the Russians are too weak to take on Poland, in the next you say US forces in Poland would be "crap" against the Russians.

      But if US units are "crap", then maybe we should pull them all out of Europe. If the Russians can't even beat poor Poland then there's no purpose to permanently stationed US combat forces.

      Instead, we can keep equipment staged and if something happens, you all can deal with it for the 3-6 months it takes us to mobilize.

    6. Maybe you should look at the two crappy brigades the United States has in Europe.

      There's no tank battalion, no self-propelled artillery, no battlefield air defence other than Stingers. See the 2nd link.

      I don't remember to claim that those brigades matter to Europe's security.
      So what doesn't make sense is an amalgam of assumptions and what I wrote, but what I wrote is coherent.

  7. There is an interesting interview in FP magazine with Radislaw Sikorski, former Polish Minister of Defense.

    Sikorski compares Trump to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain back 80 years ago after the Munich Agreement. That is the same comparison that you first read here on 14 July in the
    baby-snatcher-n-Britain post. It is my guess that there are probably lots of Europeans thinking the same.

    Sikorski also suggests the current right-wing & nationalist government in Poland is an ideological soulmate of Trump. And since that current government is hostile to Germany and France they were happy with Trump’s disrespect of Angela Merkel. But they are now embarrassed and at a loss after his meeting with Putin and his attitudes towards NATO.

    Worth the read.

    1. I think - I "hope", if you can call it that - that governments and people all over the globe are realizing that Trump is, well, what he is; a skeevy old idiot whose only consistent interest is himself. There's no real way to predict or anticipate his actions or reactions unless there's a very obvious stake in it for his wealth or prestige. He has no real fixed mores outside of some pretty raw racism and greed.

      My larger concern is for the party for which he currently stands at the head. The GOP has visibly devolved into a white nationalist party with some pretty strong authoritarian overtones. The likelihood of a GOP with an overtly white nationalist (as opposed to the barely-concealed, somewhat random) foreign and domestic policy is looking larger with every shuffle-step the Congressional GOP moves closer to Trump. They may think (assuming they're actually thinking about this) that they're protecting their grip on power, but the effect they're having is to shred the rule of law and push the US closer to an open zero-sum polity. It's becoming obvious that to defend their Gilded Age domestic agenda the GOP will be willing to deny opponents the opportunity to peacefully take power.

      At least Chamberlain's party didn't wreck the British parliamentary system to keep Chamberlain from being indicted. I suspect that the GOP will do that for Trump.

    2. @FDC -

      As for Chamberlain being indicted? Why would Parliament even consider that? There was no collusion qua the Trumpster. And unlike Donny there was no cheating of investors or vendors when he was a businessman - at least none we know about so maybe he was smarter than Trump at hiding them, or maybe he was just an honest bumbler.

      His deal with Hitler at Munich was extremely popular with the war-weary Brit public. To misquote Sikorski re Gdansk, no Englishmen in 1938 wanted to die for the Sudetenland. The King called his efforts 'magnificent'.

      The Parliament kept him on as PM during the first eight or nine months of the war. They say that then-Princess Elizabeth wept when he stood down as PM.