Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I see your Ken Bone, and Raise You a Michael Cecire

Remember, history is a trickster. She makes you think she was, when the whole time she simply is.

She likes to let you think you know her. She will leave little hints for you to find here and there that lead you to think you know what she is up to - if you even bother to look.

She prefers that you don't look, she much prefers you to live in the now. The real and false clues she leaves around in case you are looking? They are so good, they make so much sense, they connect perfectly if you just tilt your head right - as she likes it. You see, she lays these very real clues, hints, and tracks for one reason only - to hide what she is actually going to do next.

Yes, she will try to keep you in the now with the flirty twirl of her hair, a furtive glance, the flash of beautiful jewelry, the perfume that causes you to close your eyes and think of better times - but the trails and hints are there just in case you figured the game out, you don't sample the lotus, that your desire to know is greater than your desire to feel.

Her obvious tricks catch the arrogant ones the easiest; you know the type. At each head fake she throws, there is a clear "End of History," an "End of the World as We Know It," a "game changer," because ... see how nice everything is when all is transforming in to the new?

But the buzz-kills and worry-worts try to escape her glance, go deaf to her lies, cover their noses and look at the sea of trails she laid around. The arrogant ones always pick the obvious decoys, so you look for other threads. You know that many of theme will lead nowhere, will circle back, will simply mutate with no progress, but some lead where she is actually going.

Almost all the "thought leaders" and "top men" were wrong in 1913, 1938, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2002, 2010, 2013 - they were all wrong. Almost all.

There were some who saw the real thread history laid out. If you read obscure sources enough, read the back up slides, step outside your comfortable echo chamber, you would have seen them. You would have also read a bunch of junk - but that is part of her game. You have to test out and examine her decoys, false leads, jackassery and trolling in order to have a chance to find out what she actually plans to do.

Last week at TheNationalInterest, you could find Michael Cecire examining a thread that leads to a dark, divisive, and dangerous place - but a familiar one. Not quite fully formed yet, but it is almost one of those things that, with a few more cards coming out of the deck, would be bold, clear, and distinct as a fist rising to your face;
NATO is slouching towards crisis. Beneath a facade of solidarity in the face of Russian revanchism, the Atlantic alliance is facing potentially its stiffest existential test since the end of the Cold War as questions emerge over the kind of organization it claims to be—versus what it does in practice.
no amount of reform can overcome the reality that NATO membership depends on a unanimous political consensus between its twenty-eight members. Corralling twenty-eight variations in national interest, risk perception, and vision for the alliance is difficult during the best of times. Today, it appears virtually impossible with Russian armies bearing down on Europe’s doorstep.

With expansion on indefinite hold and NATO’s increased focus on territorial defense and retrenchment, the practical outcome is a Europe rent between the “haves,” blessed by geography, the NATO umbrella, or both, and the “have-nots”—who have neither. In effect, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, despite European aspirations and some impressive reforms (particularly in Georgia), have been stranded on the wrong side of fortress NATO, condemned to subsist in Russia’s shadow because of the scars Russia itself inflicted: Crimea, Donbas, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria.
NATO’s current posture of retrenchment, at least in the way that it undermined expansion, is arguably a kind of withdrawal from the Alliance’s founding raison d’etre. And as a result, NATO’s expansion impasse has contributed to a widely perceived suspension, if not outright slow death, of Euro-Atlantic conditionality, a largely successful policy linking liberal reforms with integration.
Russian power, not to mention the wider spectrum of threats, menaces well beyond the Suwalki Gap; among plausible (if unlikely), potentially catastrophic scenarios, the threat to the Baltics is only one of many. More practically, NATO has neither the manpower nor resources to exhaustively fortify every region under potential threat, and any Alliance response to a large-scale contingency should be organized and launched not from the chaos of the front lines, but from regions benefiting from stable supply lines and strategic depth. This is the only (conventional, large-scale) means by which NATO would ever be successfully defended, and also the only way any future NATO members should expect the NATO cavalry to arrive. Alliance membership is not a substitute for national security, and any aspiring member should have no expectation that it can count on Western (read: U.S.) military bases in the event of accession.
NATO’s relevance in the twenty-first century won’t be found by erecting walls against Putin’s Russia, but in continuing to protect and extend the borders of a liberal European space. And while hard power is a pillar of that mission, it was always only intended as an instrument, and not as an end in itself.

Outside the wire, the likes of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia should not sit by and wait for the Alliance to fix itself—or collapse. Fairly or not, hard power is now the coin of the realm, and “defensibility” is a key prism through which their Euro-Atlantic aspirations will ultimately be judged.
As NATO approaches three years since Russian forces occupied and annexed Crimea, it is becoming increasingly clear that Moscow’s belligerent posture is a long-term issue. However, Moscow’s saber rattling should not trap the Euro-Atlantic West into an indefinite era of insecurity, and compel its members to abandon the values that have long underwritten Europe’s unprecedented period of peace and prosperity. NATO is in the midst of a crisis of purpose and identity at odds with its founding spirit, and only by reversing that trend can the Alliance and the broader Euro-Atlantic project be successful.
Has the alliance that stood down the Soviet Union morphed and twisted itself to the point its internal contradictions prevent it from standing up to a rump Russia?

Will the second half of this decade show that Romney in 2012 had it right? What is the correct response to the bear of today?

The logic of an approach to an angry bear all depends on if it is bluffing or not - and your perception of it.

The bear will always threaten when cornered, the key is to know if its response is for show or not. If the bear is just bluffing; if you stand there firm and calm, he will eventually relax and move away. If he is just bluffing and you run away in a panic, you will probably trigger a reflex attack. If the bear is bluffing and you move towards it aggressively, he might run away, but if you are not convincing, you will most likely cause a defensive attack.

If the bear is not bluffing, but you stand there firm and calm - but are not ready or able to respond to the eventual charge, you will get mauled. If the bear is not bluffing and you run away in a panic, you only delay the mauling by a few seconds. If the bear is not bluffing and you move towards it aggressively, you won't know what hit you. If the bear is not bluffing but you stand as tall and as firm as he does, show no fear and are obviously ready, the bear might move to a show-n-bluff and figure you are not worth the risk. The bear might charge anyway, but in that case you are ready for him and should give as well as you get - and have a chance to survive.

Looking over Cecire's overview of NATO's challenge, I guess the question is if Russia is bluffing or not. Either way, what posture are we showing?

What does the bear smell? Does it smell fear? Indecision? Lack of resolve? A desire to retreat to roll up in a ball?

Does out behavior encourage aggression?

On 06 OCT, we move this direction;
“I want to be clear to those that wish to do us harm.

"I want be clear to those around the world who want to destroy our way of life and those of our friends and allies.

"The US military, despite all our challenges, will stop you, and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before.

“We will destroy any enemy, anywhere, any time.”
Then, a few days later, they play their card;
Russia has moved nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles into the Kaliningrad enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday, adding it was part of routine drills.

"These missile units have been deployed more than once (in the Kaliningrad region) ... and will be deployed as part of military training of the Russian armed forces," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

A U.S. intelligence official said on Friday that Russia had started moving the Iskander-Ms into the enclave on the Baltic in what he said could be a gesture to express displeasure with NATO.

Konashenkov said one of the missiles had been deliberately exposed to a U.S. spy satellite. "We did not have to wait for too long - our American partners confirmed it themselves in their revelatory endeavor," he said.

Lithuania, neighboring Kaliningrad and a member of NATO, said it would protest to Moscow.

"The deployment not only increases tensions in the region, but also possibly violates international treaties which limit deployment of ballistic missiles of range of over 500 kilometers," Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told a news briefing in Vilnius.

"There will be a NATO-Russia Council meeting, and this is shaping up as one of issues on the agenda," he added.

"We will use all channels available to not only raise this question, but to demand that international agreements are adhered to."

Some modifications of the Iskander can hit targets 700 km (450 miles) away, putting the German capital Berlin in range of Kaliningrad, Linkevicius said.

"This is a usual Russian tactic: escalate tensions, create a discord and then expect concessions elsewhere. I would like to hope that this will not work this time," he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday suspended a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium, saying it was a response to unfriendly acts by Washington.
What is history doing here?

I have no idea, but I don't trust her and she is up to no good in 2016.

Russia? Russia will be Russia and she has her own mind.

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