Tuesday, October 18, 2022

The Baltic Nations are Subject Matter Experts Here, we Should Listen

I always recommend that if people even have a remote opportunity, they should visit the Baltic Republics.

When there, take time to visit their museums. I especially recommend Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom in Tallinn, Estonia.

These are small nations from Estonia's 1.3 million, Latvia's 1.8 million, to Lithuania's 2.8 million. These little ethnostates each have a unique language, culture, and have survived as a people since pre-history. They are survivors who have not had many years to be masters of their own fate.

The fall of the Soviet Union gave them their latest chance, and they've made a good run of it. They, more than most, know Russia - indeed, all three have significant Russian minorities in their nations who decided to throw their lot in with their Baltic neighbors after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Though they are small, when they speak about Russia, larger nations should listen. Their larger neighbor, Poland with 38 million souls, also has a long and brutal history with the Russians. All four nations will be the first to feel the results of making the wrong decisions towards their big neighbor to the east. A no kidding existential threat. They are also NATO allies, so their threat is in a very real way our threat.

They cannot afford vanity-filled feel-good theories.

Since February, the Baltics and Poland have repeatedly called for the provision of more and faster military assistance, including more powerful offensive weapons, only to be rebuffed by the United States and Western European allies who wanted to make clear that they were not in a direct conflict with Russia.

Slowly, that’s started to change, after Putin proved his wary neighbors right — repeatedly.

“Estonia knows the face of Russian occupation firsthand,” Kallas added. “We know that peace under occupation doesn’t mean the end of atrocities but more of them.”

Baltic leaders have long argued that Western sanctions adopted in 2014 after Putin illegally annexed Crimea showed the West’s lack of resolve in confronting the Russian president over his land grab. European leaders seemed to think the Baltics were so traumatized by Soviet occupation that they could not be objective.

“Jokingly, you know, we call this ‘West-splaining,’” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said. The West’s message, he said, was that “after 50 years of occupation, it’s understandable that you would have trust issues with a country that occupied you.”

“For us in the Baltics, it all boils down to this notion of appeasement: that basically we can appease Russia,” Landsbergis continued. “For us, it was always very clear, black and white. If a country is eager to cross another country’s border, they’re an aggressor and they will do that again, if they’re not stopped. And they have not been stopped.”

For free people to remain free - for liberal democratic systems to remain so - there must be military strength. Unfree and autocratic nations respect nothing more than power. You cannot maintain and built peace in their presence without it.

On a broader context specifically towards China, Rep. Mike Gallagher's (R-WI) speech this AM at Heritage drives this point home - hard power matters; overt hard power.

It may be cliché but it is true; the more you prepare for war, the less likely it will occur - but if it does - then you have the capability to win, vice being rolled over and your nation's future subject to the whims of another.

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