How Putin could break NATO, or, ready for “Great Northern War II?”

March 26, 2015
Target: Gotland?

Target: Gotland?

The Great Northern War was a conflict in the early 18th century launched by a coalition headed by Russia that broke the power of the Swedish empire in the Baltic Sea region. The war also saw the establishment of Russia as a Continental power and its annexation of the region we know today as the “Baltic states.”

Today, 300 years later, Russia’s ruler might again use an attack on Sweden (1) to reestablish his nation as a world power and cover his re-annexation of the Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania:

Over the past 12 months Russia’s air force flew a series of aggressive combat patrols over the Baltic Sea, including mock nuclear strikes against Sweden’s capital Stockholm, to assess the reaction time and preparedness of Sweden’s air force. Since October 2014 Russia’s Navy has sent submarines into Swedish territorial waters to assess the capabilities and preparedness of Sweden’s Navy. The results: Sweden is defenseless.

Last week Russia’s air force progressed from testing military preparedness to dry runs for a major air assault. A combination of transport planes and fighter jets flew from Russia over the entire Baltic Sea to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. While Sweden didn’t even manage to get a plane in the air, Italian air force jets flying out from Šiauliai air base in Lithuania intercepted and identified the Russian jets. The Italian fighters were outnumbered 4 to 1.

The obvious targets of Russian aggression along the Baltic Sea, namely Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, all share a land border with Russia, so there is no need to mount a large scale air assault to overrun these tiny states. But to keep these three nations occupied and oppressed, Putin must keep the US air force and the US Navy out of the Baltic Sea. This is why Russia is preparing to assault, occupy and fortify Sweden’s Gotland Island.

And why is Gotland (highlighted in red in the map above) needed to keep us from resisting a Russian assault on the Baltics?

If Russia controls Gotland and bases S-300 or S-400 long range air-defense missile systems and K-300P Bastion-P long range anti-ship missile systems on the island, then US air force planes cannot reach the Baltic States and US Navy ships cannot pass the Danish Straits to enter the Baltic Sea. Russia has already S-300 and K-300P stationed in Kaliningrad along with tactical nuclear 9K720 Iskander missiles, but as Poland’s military could overrun Kaliningrad and destroy Russia’s anti-ship and air-defense systems there, Russia will occupy Gotland a few hours before the attack on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania begins.

The author is a writer living in the Ukraine . You can read the rest of the article, which presents an extended scenario in which Russia presents the NATO with a fait accompli and dares it to do something about it. Some of NATO –the US, Poland, Great Britain, and others NATO states as well as non-NATO Sweden– try to mount a counterattack, but are hobbled by Germany’s refusal join or to even allow their territory to be used or crossed by NATO forces, as well as Russian threats to use nuclear weapons against the smaller nations’ cities, which leads Sweden to concede. In Thomas Theiner’s scenario, a Polish refusal to concede leads to a Russian nuclear strike against a Polish city, which in turn brings about the  the end of the war when NATO’s nuclear powers (the US, Great Britain, and France) decline to retaliate. Poland surrenders, NATO breaks up in defeat, and Russia regains its “lost provinces.”

While Theiner’s scenario goes deeper into speculative territory the further he develops his scenario, the initial situation –a surprise Russian attack on Gotland to block relief of the Baltics– is frighteningly plausible:

  • Russia carved off provinces from Georgia in 2008, claiming it was protecting Russian minorities.
  • We have the ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine, another former Russian possession, which began with Russian complaints about mistreatment of Russian speaking minorities there.
  • Russia has also complained about the supposed mistreatment of Russian minorities in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Setting the stage? Russia is already acting aggressively in the Baltic region.

And Sweden has indeed become a target:

Putin is, in my estimation, a predatory aggressive bully who perceives conciliation in others as a sign of weakness, something to be exploited

What a coincidence: Sweden is weak. Its military spending has declined severely on a per capita (2) basis over the last 25 years, and its military is correspondingly small and lacking key capabilities to defend against Russia. While moving to station troops on Gotland and announcing plans to spend more on defense, it is currently vulnerable to rapid exploitation in the event of a Russian attack.

American leadership (meaning President Obama), which would be crucial to any effort to resist Russia and rally NATO, is feckless, appeasement-oriented, and incompetent. And while Theiner assumes the US will try to defend Sweden and the Baltics, I have to wonder just how strenuous an effort President Lead-From-Behind would make, considering he refuses even to meet with the head of NATO. Putin sees this and may well think that now is his best chance to take a huge gamble.

Is a second Great Northern War at all likely to happen? Who knows, but, as I said, I find it all too plausible given the recent past. It’s a possibility that cannot be responsibly ignored.

We have a little less than two years until (we hope) an American president takes office who is interested in foreign affairs and recognizes what needs to be done to protect our interests and the free world’s from predators such as Vladimir Putin.

Until then, sleep well!

Footnotes:
(1) Link courtesy of Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter of March 24th. And I want to thank Jim for the nightmares that gave me.
(2) Data from the SIPRI milex database.

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Bill Whittle: mythbusting Bush, bin Laden, and Obama

May 13, 2011

Ideas that seem to rise from nowhere and take on a life of their own are often called “memes.” They’re those things that “everyone knows,” but they often fall apart when looked at critically. Anthropogenic global warming is one such false meme, but that’s not the topic for today.

Instead, Bill Whittle looks at several memes associated with the The Long War(1) –“mission accomplished,” and “Iraq was a distraction,” among others– and then smashes them to bits with the Hammer of Facts:

It’s like a current-affairs version of MythBusters.

There’s an old saying that, while we are entitled to our own beliefs, we are not entitled to our own facts, and Bill does a great job using fact to skewer false belief.

(1) My preferred name for this conflict, or maybe “Jihadi War.” “War on Terror” just never sounded accurate.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


If it was a secret meeting, why is Lindsey Graham blabbing?

March 18, 2011

I think it was Ben Franklin who once said “Three people can keep a secret if two are dead.” After reading this news in Foreign Policy regarding a secret strategy meeting, we may have to coin another: “Telegraph, telephone, tell Lindsey:”

Several senators emerged from the briefing convinced that the administration was intent on beginning military action against the forces of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi within the next few days and that such action would include both a no-fly zone as well as a “no-drive zone” to prevent Qaddafi from crushing the rebel forces, especially those now concentrated in Benghazi.

“It looks like we have Arab countries ready to participate in a no-fly and no-drive endeavor,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters after the briefing.

Asked what he learned from the briefing, Graham said, “I learned that it’s not too late, that the opposition forces are under siege but they are holding, and that with a timely intervention, a no-fly zone and no-drive zone, we can turn this thing around.”

Asked exactly what the first wave of attacks would look like, Graham said, “We ground his aircraft and some tanks start getting blown up that are headed toward the opposition forces.”

As for when the attacks would start, he said “We’re talking days, not weeks, and I’m hoping hours, not days,” adding that he was told the U.N. Security Council resolution would be crafted to give the international community the authority to be “outcome determinant” and “do whatever’s necessary.”

I’m surprised he didn’t live-Tweet it.

Of course, he wasn’t the only “Ooh! Ooh! Guess what I know!” senator seeking to impress the press. Freshman Mark Kirk (R-IL) also apparently never heard that other wise aphorism, “Shut the Hell up.”

Yeesh.

via Real Clear World


Obama’s new national security strategy: unicorns and rainbows

May 25, 2010

Good news! In his speech at West Point, the President of the United States outlined his plans to keep our country safe. Key to his strategy? Hope, change, and constitutional rights for terrorists:

President Obama’s speech at West Point Saturday is the most sweeping statement yet of his plan to create a national security policy emphasizing education, clean energy, green jobs, anti-climate change measures, the granting of full American constitutional rights to accused terrorists, and “engagement” with America’s enemies.

Yeah, I bet al Qaeda, Moscow, and Beijing are quaking in their boots even now. From laughter.

We are so dead.  Doh


Afghan offensive begins

February 12, 2010

Following up on the last post, the joint US-UK-Afghan Army offensive to clear the city of Marja and Helmand province of Taliban has begun:

Thousands of U.S., British and Afghan troops moved to seize the Taliban stronghold of Marja early Saturday in what the Marine general leading the assault called a “big, strong and fast” offensive aimed at challenging the insurgency’s grip on a key southern Afghan province.

Rounds of tracer fire lighted up a starry, predawn sky as waves of troops, ferried in by helicopters, descended on the farming districts that surround the town. Transport and Cobra attack helicopters also dropped rounds to illuminate the ground.

Troops initially met only modest return fire from inside of Marja.

Sporadic firefights had broken out throughout the day Friday on the periphery of Marja as Marine units probed Taliban defenses.

The commander, Marine Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, had for weeks telegraphed the military’s plans for the offensive, one of the largest since the war began in 2001.

The United States and its allies hope the assault, the biggest joint operation by Western and Afghan troops to date, will prove a turning point in the conflict with the Taliban and other militants that have carved out swaths of territory in Afghanistan.

Military leaders expected about 7,500 coalition troops to occupy Marja by nightfall, with 7,500 more supporting the mission from elsewhere in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province.

The allied command had been prepping the battlefield for months, clearing the Taliban from villages in Helmand and then staying behind to make sure they don’t come back, thus giving the local residents the security they need to start cooperating with our side. Previously, the brave, brave jihadis of the Taliban would come back after we left, and the punishment meted out to those who collaborated with us would be horrific. In this way, Operation Moshtarek (Operation “Together”) resembles the plan used at the outset of the “surge” offensive in Afghanistan in 2007, when US and Iraqi forces began clear-and-hold operations against al Qaeda. In this case, Marja substitutes for Iraq’s Baquba as a key target: a town that had become a central base and depot for the enemy and, our side hopes, a trap where they can be caught and brought to battle.

The Taliban may not be as stupid as al Qaeda in Iraq, however. The offensive had been announced weeks in advance and publicized widely to give civilians a chance to leave. With them, of course, may have gone the Taliban; it’s unclear how many have stayed behind in Marja. What is clear, however, is that they had plenty of time to prepare traps of their own: extensive IED-laden minefields and booby-trapped buildings. Hence the big debut of the Assault Breacher Vehicles.

But it may not necessary to kill thousands of Taliban, much as they need it. The purpose of this counterinsurgency strategy is to deny the enemy access to the population whom he can then hide among and dominate. It was very effective in Vietnam under General Abrams (History later showed that, when we walked away, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.), it worked better than expected in Iraq under General Petraeus, and now one hopes for similar success under General McChrystal. Less committed elements of the Taliban and their allies may be encouraged to quit, once they realize they’re cut off from the people they preyed on. As the article points out, it’s also a chance for the ill-regarded Afghan Army to show its people that it can protect them, even after we eventually leave.

I’m usually highly critical of President Obama, and I do wish he had made up his mind about an Afghan strategy earlier and sent more troops than he authorized, but I’m grateful he is at least taking the fight to the enemy. It’s been nearly a decade, but let’s not forget that these are the same salafis who abetted and protected al Qaeda before and after 9-11, and still do.

Good hunting, gentlemen.

LINKS: Max Boot. Ed Morrissey with a good observation about the departure of Canadian troops in a year or so and the closing window of opportunity.


The Afghanistan speech Obama wanted to give

December 4, 2009

Iowahawk finds the first draft:

I Am Proud to Lead You Men to the Nearest Off-Ramp

general minivan

Brigadier General Barack H. Obama
Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief, Operation Minivan Pool

At ease, men.

As your battalion commanders and General Axelrod have already briefed you, you embark today on an important mission to the Af-Pak Theater. The success of this mission will not only insure the future of democracy and human civilization, but also my Gallup net favorable index. I have every confidence that you will succeed in this great educational field trip, because you represent the finest right-sized, nonviolent time killing force ever assembled.

Arrayed behind me are the mighty Minivans of Democracy that you will soon be loading. These are America’s great 5-star crash rating arsenal of multilateral understanding. And as your supreme commander-in-chief, it is my great honor, privilege, and turn to serve as your pool driver, because Michelle has her Pilates class this afternoon. Now, as our rendezvous with destiny approaches, let me say that I am every bit as proud of you fine young soldiers and Marines as I am when I take Malia and Sasha to gymnastics. Okay, let’s all pair up with a buddy and line up double file for the vans.

Read the rest if, like me, you’re in need of a good laugh these days.  Rolling on the floor


In other words, they were lying

December 1, 2009

Byron York looks at the Democratic discomfort over President Obama’s (grudging) decision to sent 30-34,000 more troops to Afghanistan and comes to a conclusion: when they all said during the campaign that the war in Afghanistan was the good war they could support, they lied:

Other top Democrats adopted the get-tough approach, at least when it came time to campaign.  In September 2006, as she was leading the effort that would result in Democrats taking over the House and her becoming speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi said George W. Bush “took his eye off the ball” in Afghanistan. “We had a presence over there the past few years, but not to the extent that we needed to get the job done,” Pelosi said. The phrase “took his eye off the ball” became a Democratic mantra about the supposed neglect of Afghanistan — a situation that would be remedied by electing ready-to-fight Democrats.

But now, with Democrats in charge of the entire U.S. government and George Bush nowhere to be found, Pelosi and others in her party are suddenly very, very worried about U.S. escalation in Afghanistan.  “There is serious unrest in our caucus,” the speaker said recently.  There is so much unrest that Democrats who show little concern about the tripling of already-large budget deficits say they’re worried about the rising cost of the war.

It is in that atmosphere that Obama makes his West Point speech.  He had to make certain promises to get elected.  Unlike some of his supporters, he has to remember those promises now that he is in office.  So he is sending more troops.  But he still can’t tell the truth about so many Democratic pledges to support the war in Afghanistan: They didn’t mean it.

And then they wonder why so many people don’t take the Democrats seriously when it comes to national security.