1:02 PM, Mar 4, 2014 • By SETH CROPSEY
Vladimir Putin is aggressive, increasingly armed, and dangerous. Besides his recent attack against Ukraine, he invaded Georgia in 2008 and has been rearming since well before then. Like his Communist and czarist predecessors, Putin seeks to expand Moscow’s control. Russian military spending—for example, on its impressive new nuclear attack submarine, the Severodvinsk, along with Moscow’s ambitious plans to rebuild its Pacific fleet—indicate that Putin does not regard the post-Communist contraction in imperial reach as permanent.
He is also highly vulnerable. He is sustained by the export of oil and gas, whose revenue lines the pockets of his political base, Russia’s plutocracy. But he needs foreign technology to extract and export energy, and he depends heavily on unchallenged control over the gas and oil markets to his main purchasers in Europe. Large oil and gas revenues and aggressiveness is a toxic brew. The invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula this past weekend demonstrates again that Putin is moving deliberately to gather back what was lost when the Soviet empire imploded.
As with stars, the death of empires is usually explosive. However, unlike stars, imperial explosion is not bound by physics to occur simultaneously with the precipitating event. The Ottoman Empire perished a slow death that ended in the early 20th century. Current Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s embrace of the old Ottomans’ religious fervor, his longing for the associated caliphate and his navalist ambitions show that a century can pass before a state convulses in partial reaction to its lost imperium.
Russia, by contrast, is only 23 years away from the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Its briefly suppressed and now reawakening imperial appetite could lead to serious trouble which would come in the shape of the West’s appeasement or a violent shock from one of NATO’s newer members which recalls Soviet occupation with horror. Either one of these has the potential to destroy NATO. The best and most remote possibility is that a unified NATO would act in the understanding that resoluteness now lessens the likelihood of a far more grave crisis in the future.
The West could do worse than to learn from its history. Justifying his invasion of Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1939, Hitler told the Reichstag that the “German minority living there [the part of Czechoslovakia he called the ‘southern land’] has been ill-treated in the most distressing manner.” Justifying his nation’s invasion of Crimea, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov conjured up the equally nonsensical excuse that Ukraine’s ethnic Russian citizens are in danger. He told the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva on Monday that “we are talking here about protection of the most fundamental of the human rights—the right to live and nothing more.” Autocrats are supremely unimaginative. The excuses they offer for aggression haven’t changed in 75 years. More important, the limits of territorial aggression in Russia’s case—absent persuasive Western action—will not stop with Ukraine and encompass the former satellite states that lay on the eastern side of the iron curtain. Because most of those states are NATO members the West now faces a major choice: effective action to reverse Russia’s annexation of Crimea or the real prospect that other parts of Ukraine will be seized. Russia’s possession of Ukraine ultimately risks such neighboring states as Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
Cutting pay 'an effort to keep them safe.'12:31 PM, Feb 26, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
As Andrew Tilghman at Military Times reports, Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, is telling the troops that, while they may not be getting much in the way of pay raises, they will be better off for it and that:
10:44 AM, Sep 9, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The New York Times reported on September 5 that the United States is widening plans for proposed strikes on Syria to punish the Assad government for its alleged chemical weapons attacks. The plans now reportedly include the use of aircraft in addition to cruise missiles:
1:23 PM, Apr 17, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked at today's press briefing, in the context of the Boston bombings, whether U.S. bombings in Afghanistan last month that killed civilians were "terrorism." Carney gave a long answer, but never says "no."
12:19 PM, Nov 4, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
At a campaign rally for President Barack Obama yesterday in Virginia, former President Bill Clinton talked about bringing "this country together" and crossing "all of its diversity." Then, Clinton added this:
8:00 AM, Sep 7, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
In his speech last night to the Democratic convention, Vice President Joe Biden referred to fallen soldiers as "fallen angels."
10:50 AM, Aug 15, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
One of the minor disgraces of this year's campaign is that the presidential candidates act as if the war in Afghanistan doesn't exist. We have 84,000 troops fighting over there in very difficult circumstances; they've had a tough few weeks, with 41 killed in the last month, but the candidates barnstorm the country with barely a mention of the war or the troops.
Skipped last year to vacation at Martha's Vineyards.12:21 PM, Jul 23, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama will be traveling today from San Francisco, California to Reno, Nevada to “take part in an official event where he will deliver remarks at the 113th National Convention of the VFW,” according to t
4:42 PM, Oct 5, 2011 • By DANIEL ALLOTT and GARY BAUER
It has been a decade since U.S. armed forces—with the United Kingdom and the Afghan Northern Alliance—launched what has become America’s longest war, Operation Enduring Freedom, in Afghanistan. And, in addition to recognizing the heroism of those who work to keep America safe, it is worth praising the contributions of an often overlooked group: America’s non-citizen soldiers.
...to support wounded Marines.
4:35 PM, Jul 5, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Here’s a chance to help Purple Heart Family Support (PHFS) win a $25K grant from the Pepsi Refresh Everything Challenge. I know volunteers who work with PHFS at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and can vouch for their activities.
The film.10:05 AM, Jul 23, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
What is combat in Afghanistan like? For those of us who have not been embedded as reporters, but want to know what our soldiers in this difficult war are up against, there is now Restrepo, a documentary film by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger.
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