Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More teeth; less tongue

That is Max Boot's prescription for what ails Eastern Europe. It has always been true, you get what you pay for, and this world still has a place for those who understand that those who do not know how to use the sword are slain by it.
Poland's foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, says, "Parchments and treaties are all very well, but we have a history in Poland of fighting alone and being left to our own devices by our allies."
In spades in as far as Poland goes. Georgia has been a wake-up call to most who want to hear it, but it is best to remember that the USA helps those who help themselves.
The only thing that the frontline states can count on is their own willingness to fight for independence. But willingness alone is not enough. They also need the means to fight, and at the moment they don't have them. We have already seen how the tiny Georgian armed forces -- with fewer than 30,000 men -- were routed by the Russian invaders.

What gets ignored is that Georgia, although a small country (population: 4.6 million), has the potential to do far more for its defense. According to the CIA's World Factbook, Georgia has over 900,000 men between the ages of 16 and 49. It could easily create a larger military force than it has, but that would require spending more on defense. By the CIA's estimate, its defense budget was just 0.59% of GDP in 2005.

Georgia's military spending has grown in recent years, but not Eastern Europe's. According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies, only one country in Eastern Europe spends more than 2% of GDP on defense. That would be Bulgaria at 2.2%. Romania is in second place at 1.9%, followed by Poland at 1..8%. Nor do these countries maintain large standing forces. Poland has 7.9 million males of military age but only 127,266 active-duty personnel in its armed forces. Hungary could mobilize 1.9 million men but has only 32,300 in uniform. Bulgaria has 1.3 million potential soldiers but only 40,747 actual soldiers. And so on.

Is is not a suicide mission - it deters well like with the Swiss, and pays dividends in the worst case scenario. While we are on the subject -- let's beat that history drum!
Small states have often shown the ability to humble great powers. In 1920, under the inspired leadership of Marshal Josef Pilsudski, the Poles staged a brilliant counterattack to save Warsaw and drive the Red Army off their soil. In the winter war of 1939-1940 the plucky Finns held off Soviet invaders, forcing the Kremlin to settle for a slice of its territory rather than all of it. More recently, the Afghan mujahedeen drove the Red Army out of their country altogether, thereby helping to bring down the Soviet Union.
Will and desire can do much if given the right tools. When this started, all I could think of was, "An AT-4 in every pot!" Max sees that too.
That means having large reserves ready for fast call-up and plenty of
defensive weapons -- in particular portable missile systems such as the Stinger and Javelin capable of inflicting great damage on Russia's lumbering air and armor forces. That's more important than fielding their own tanks or fighter aircraft. We should offer to sell them these relatively inexpensive defensive systems, and to provide the advisory services to make the best use of them. But the first step has to be for the Eastern Europeans to make a larger commitment to their own defense.
History favors the prepared. Time to wake up and get to work Eastern Europe. Remember, you live in a very rough neighborhood.

Along those lines, Ukraine leans into the wind. Secondary Effects.
Mr Yushchenko condemned the "forceful intervention and "aggression" waged against Georgia but vowed his country would not be Russia's next target.

"Ukraine will do everything to prevent any military escalation in our region."
Ukraine, which has a large ethnic Russian minority, has sided with Georgia in its confrontation with Russia over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, whose rebel leadership is backed by Moscow.

Ukraine has sided with the West in condemning Russia for sending tanks and troops into Georgian territory in response to a Georgian offensive on August 7 to retake South Ossetia, where residents have been given Russian passports.

Addressing several thousand people gathered on Kiev's independence square, Mr Yushchenko said "the events in Georgia did not leave Ukraine indifferent.

"I share a deep empathy with all the suffering people of the indivisible Georgian land. Your pain is in our hearts."

Ukrainians watched a military parade on Kiev's main Kreshchatyk street, cheering tanks, armoured personnel carriers and missiles mounted on vehicles as they rolled by.

There was also a fly-past of some 22 fighter jets and other warplanes in the parade, the first military display since 2001 to mark the anniversary of Ukraine's secession from Moscow.

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