Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I read the ongoing struggle to define America's role in Ukraine and the Balkans. It makes me wonder if people understand that the underlying basis for realpolitik demand a certain underlying hard truth. I don't think even 10% understand where we stand on the issue anymore.

It was always the Delian League. It's funny how few in the West understood this truth even after many decades of undermining it at every opportunity. I was born at the height of the Cold War in Bavaria at the instant the Berlin Wall first appeared. My father was an artilleryman trained to fire nuclear bombs from artillery and in Germany to do that if it became necessary. The Russians had good reasons to believe that one of us was serious about keeping the borders we had agreed upon.

When we pulled the nuclear weapons out of the OTAN equation it all became nothing but myth, voodoo and legend. Our Armies alone had zero chance against the forces of the Warsaw Pact. That state lasted until the USSR collapsed the first time. Mutual Assured Destruction still reigned up until the demise of the USSR. Everybody knew that. Reagan made it so clear even the French understood that Pershing II missiles and GLCMs maintained not just the balance of terror but the status quo of the post-Concert of Europe, as approved by the Republic.

That light went out soon after the USSR collapsed. Not immediately. It took some time and serious effort to extinguish the hope of NATO. We did it with the reliable help of all of our "allies." It takes effort to maintain a credible threat to the Armies of the USSR and Russia. Not one single one of our European satraps even bothered to try. Two of them tried to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent but, honestly, hell would freeze over before either would launch a nuclear weapon of any size. They would lose Paris or London in the exchange and that's all there is to either of them. We could lose Washington 20 times over and not miss it much. It's not our Center of Gravity.

As you read about this, reflect on how difficult it is to keep enemies out of the Baltic or the Balkans or Eastern Europe. Those places are not ours to contest. As always, they exist on the strength of diplomacy alone. I think all of them know that. I'm losing confidence that we or the State Department know that. There seems to be a widening acceptance that their fate is ours to contest, even if it requires all military means. Means we lost long ago. We aren't the shadow of the military that staved off the might of the USSR and Warsaw Pact and we gave up the nuclear weapons decades ago in the spirit of friendship. A nuclear sunrise in the east will never happen at our hands. We'd better hope that none of our "putative allies" figure out how to make a nuke and raise a tall man in a wide hat in a place dear to Russia. They're a hasty bunch but war in Western Europe now has just one outcome.

It's not like the Japanese Empire defeating the United States or us defeating China or Russia. Those simply cannot happen. Major war in OTAN would lay waste to Europe. Still, they have been there and done that so many times. I don't think OVERLORD will ever happen again. We have found that we can live with an accommodation with Russia. Yalta proved that in spades.


Anne Bonney said...

Thanks again for the history and analysis.

HMS Defiant said...

Live and learn. This is old hat to people who studied the rise and fall of Empires. We're in a period where borders collapse again. They're transient things in Europe. A lot of people don't understand that.