Being Necessary To The Security Of A Free State

While Trump plies his wiles trying to get the feckless Germans and Dutch to pay their share of defending their stagnating continent, at least part of free Europe doesn’t need reminding of the consequences of not standing up for their own freedom.

The Poles need no reminding about keeping their defenses strong.

And to their north, the Latvians, Lithuanians, and especially Estonians, in the wake of Obama’s debacle in Ukraine, seem to grasp the need to defend their freedom.  Four percent of Estonia’s entire population is in the military or the (voluntary) reserves – not bad for one of the more libertarian states in Europe.

It‘s very personal to them:

Like almost all Estonians of his generation, what drives [Estonian special forces Colonel Riho] Uhtegi is intensely personal, and tends to be tied up in the history of his country.

“We all had one grandparent that remembered independence,” said Uhtegi, speaking of growing up during the Soviet occupation, “and they filled our heads with stories of it.” He shifts his very blue Estonian gaze back from the distance. Unspoken is the fate of all the other grandparents—the ones who were executed by the Russians or died somewhere in a gulag. Wartime casualties aside, more than 10 percent of Estonia’s population was deported before Stalin’s death in 1953.

And it’s not even a little bit abstract:

“You know why the Russians didn’t take Tbilisi in 2008?” Uhtegi asked me. “They were just up the road, 50 kilometers or so, and nothing was stopping them.”

Having spent many years in Georgia, I knew the answer to this one: because Georgians are crazy. Uhtegi barked a laugh. “Yes. Exactly. Georgians are crazy, and they would fight. The idea of this unwinnable asymmetric fight in Tbilisi was not so appealing to the Russians.”

He continued: “There are always these discussions. Like, yeah. The Russians can get to Tallinn in two days. … Maybe. [The Estonian capital is about 125 miles from the Russian border.] But they can’t get all of Estonia in two days. They can get to Tallinn, and behind them, we will cut their communication lines and supplies lines and everything else.” That dead-eyed Baltic stare fixes me again. “They can get to Tallinn in two days. But they will die in Tallinn. And they know this. … They will get fire from every corner, at every step.”

Read the whole, fascinating thing.

85 thoughts on “Being Necessary To The Security Of A Free State

  1. I’d love to see Trump tweet something like this:

    “US defended Europe since 1941. Time to move out of your parent’s basement.”

  2. Almost every single action NATO has backed since the Cold War has favoured the geopolitical interests of the US which is the overwhelming beneficiary of the sacrifices and efforts of NATO… by far.

    Trump knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

  3. “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
    – Winnie, of course

  4. Oh, c’mon, Russia could cake-walk into the Baltics – just like they did in Finland in 1939…. Uh, maybe not. That one didn’t turn out so well.

  5. Pretty much agree with you, however I’m taking a different perspective.

    One might consider the idea that the size of the US military, and its adventures overseas, are driven by American interests, not European.

    The US defense budget is not strictly a function of the world’s security needs. I’d say it’s mostly profit-driven by US congressmen and contractors. Last time I checked Brussels didn’t have a vote on Capitol Hill, and I doubt very much the EU hires K Street lobbyists. The Europeans, Japanese, Koreans and Filipinos didn’t stoke the flames of American security paranoia after September 11th. We have our very own defense industry and political elite class to thank for that. Nor do our allies shriek about Russian and Chinese global hegemony. That’s all pure 100% made in the USA (viz. Lockheed, Boeing, GE, inter alia).

    You guys may as well take a swing at Israel, which does lobby, intensely, for more and more US defense spending in its interests.

  6. “Almost every single action NATO has backed since the Cold War has favoured the geopolitical interests of the US ”

    Give us an example.

  7. OK, Emery, let me get this straight. Half a million Americans were deployed in the Fulda gap from 1945 through the nineties because….it’s in our interest to spend all that money? We had hundreds of submarines playing cat and mouse with the Soviets for the same reason? And nobody in Germany is aware that about 225 1970s era tanks might not be sufficient if the Russians start moving?

    And you truly believe that the EU has no lobbyists on K street? Nobody in the District of Columbia to present their view of the world? No ambassadors, consulates, or anything? Really?

    You sure you didn’t just move to Colorado and take advantage of freedoms there?

  8. So the rich Europeans should pay for the millions of wretched immigrants forced onto their shores by US wars; They should lose billions in trade to sanctions on Russia, Iran and other real or perceived geopolitical rivals of the US; and pay a couple of hundred billion more annual protection money to the US for their security, or else! Donald Trump playing the Godfather? Marlon Brando was better, at least that was fiction.

  9. Which U.S. wars forced those immigrants to Europe, Emery? Seems to me that the Russians and Iranians are responsible for the SNAFU in Syria that’s mostly responsible.

    Well, I guess we can blame Mr. Obama for the “Arab Spring” that destabilized a lot of countries and led to a lot of refugees, but that wasn’t exactly your point, was it?

    Reality here is that for the past 70 years, Europe has benefited from the U.S. desire to contain Communism, and now benefits from our desire to contain Russian ambitions, which are looking suspiciously similar to those of the USSR. If you’ve got some substantive proposals for doing so in a more cost effective manner, have at it, but if you’re going to pretend the threat doesn’t exist, please go to Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Czechia……they will set you straight on the matter.

  10. and pay a couple of hundred billion more annual protection money to the US for their security

    Uh……. to my knowledge no one has ever proposed or is proposing or even considering proposing that a single Euro be sent to the United States for European protection.

    What Trump is proposing, is what both Bush and Obama proposed and the Europeans promised to do – is spend their own money, on their own military by producing their own weapons. Even Saab makes great fighter jets and the Swedes build their own submarines (Gotland-class).

    You must be listening to too much Democracy NOW!

    Having said that…. Yes, the military/industrial complex is a problem but then so is the educational/industrial complex and the climate-change/industrial complex and the social welfare/industrial complex and (the list goes on forever)

  11. To qualify a prior comment, I cited two instances where Sweden makes its own fighter jets and submarines, it should be noted that Sweden is not a NATO member. But then the point still stands, NATO countries are responsible for their own defense spending and if they wish, can produce their own weapons.

  12. …and maintain them, Greg. Wasn’t there something recently about 75% of their Leopard tanks and 90% of their planes are “in the shop”?

  13. JDM: Why do you think it is in this country’s best interests for Trump to be advancing Putin’s agenda of disrupting NATO?

    Trump believes he is a master negotiator in pursuit of a stronger America. With Europe, as with so much else, he gravely undervalues what he is giving up.

    Trump is a man who is clearly incapable of understanding the significance of American world leadership or the nuances of foreign policy. He sounds more like a know-it-all who has an opinion on everything but lacks knowledge about the subject. And it shows.

    Interesting side note: South Korean media is reporting North Korean officials didn’t show up for a planned meeting with U.S. counterparts to discuss returning the remains of American war dead.

  14. He sounds more like a know-it-all who has an opinion on everything but lacks knowledge about the subject. And it shows.

    Huh. Go figure. This is what I always thought about you. And the other Emery.

  15. … oh, and “Putin’s agenda of disrupting NATO” is inferred by you when Trump requests that the Euros step up and do their part to defend their own countries? I repeat, if the Euros don’t want to defend their own countries, then bring our people home.

    F’r’crying out loud, without the US population or GDP, there are some 600M people with a GDP of $20T in the NATO countries compared to Russia’s 142M and a GDP of $1.5T. Why are we wasting our money there?

  16. If the US quit NATO, there would be a collective yawn from America, and panic in the capitals of Europe.
    It is amusing to listen to a collection of Trump statements warning of Russian aggression interwoven with supposedly unbiased MSM talking heads warning that Trump is doing Putin’s bidding.

  17. JDM: Why do you think it is in this country’s best interests for Trump to be advancing Putin’s agenda of disrupting NATO?

    Actually, Trump is advancing Obama’s agenda because the enlightened one wanted the same thing as Trump. Unfortunately, Europe, nor anyone else took Obama seriously. They patted his little head and told him how wonderful he was then went and cut deals with the Russians knowing full well that Uncle Sam would come save their asses again if called upon to do so.

  18. Chin up, Woolly. Our president will return home to cause problems in just a few short days.

  19. Greg: Yesterday Russia was the enemy when speaking to Germany. Today Russia is not an enemy but a competitor.

  20. Full emplyment, DJIA at 25k, ISIS defeated, two new conservative SC justices, Saudis and Israelis shaking hands . . .
    I can’t take the winning! No more winning!

  21. I think it would be great if Trump grew out a little Hitler “paint brush” mustache. Just to watch the MSM go absolutely freakin’ nuts.

  22. There is an adult conversation to be had here. The Europeans want to be free from the threat of Russian control, but are reluctant to pay the cost themselves — they would prefer US protection — yes, even from a US with Trump as its president.
    This is reality.
    The protests against Trump, and the evil words spoken about Trump by the very people who are dependent on his good will — are childish & stupid.
    Thank God my ancestors left the land of ideologically driven violence and conflict across the Atlantic.

  23. If Trump uses American Military to defend Europe, he is a tool of the military industrial complex corporate interest.

    If Trump fails to use American military to defend Europe, he is a tool of Putin, aiding Russian expansion.

    Trump can’t win. So he might as well do what is right. Bring them home.

  24. EI,

    Having served in the military, I have been stationed, for various amounts of time, at seven bases and visited several more (1 – 3 days), including 2 in Europe and 2 in the Far East. Close to 55% of the maintenance, food services, construction and other ancillary services, are sub contracted to local civilians. Further, supplies of all types are brought in from local farmers, etc. I know that the economic literacy of both you and your twin avatar is challenged, but I think that even you can probably do the math and realize how much money U.S. bases contribute to the economies of their host countries.

    Consequently, your statements about military operations, NATO or otherwise, just serving American interests, were asinine and uninformed.

    That said, I’m all for the U.S. giving a huge middle finger to any country that doesn’t want to pay their fair share of their own defense, close the bases in those countries and bring all of our personnel home. Even the threat to do so, would have those countries asking President Trump, “How much money do you need”?

  25. Wonderful results! The Europeans are going to do… exactly what they promised to do in 2014! Wonderful! Another Trump win… they promise to do the exact same thing they promised four years ago, on the same schedule. Trump, as usual, is taking credit for the work of other people.

    I’m almost tired of so much winning, Trump, please let up.

  26. Greg: Yesterday Russia was the enemy when speaking to Germany. Today Russia is not an enemy but a competitor.

    Was that yesterday before Russia invaded South Ossetia, Crimea, the Ukraine and shot down the occasional Malaysian airliner?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  27. Putin’s (and Trump’s) logic is simple: If the people in a place speak mostly Russian, and if it once belonged to Russia at some point, then Moscow has every right to come in and take it over again.

    Someone who is more comfortable with human rights abusers and dictators and seeks to isolate and divide allies and friends only helps one’s enemies. That’s someone who imperils the security not just of allies, but of his own country. Makes you wonder who he’s actually working for.

  28. We’re gonna need NATO to keep the Chinese and Ruskies from joining their American fellow travelers while we have another go at civil war.

  29. ‘Course they’ll have their hands full just keeping the horde of barbarian migrants they’ve let in from burning their own capitals down.

  30. Someone who is more comfortable with human rights abusers and dictators and seeks to isolate and divide allies and friends only helps one’s enemies. That’s someone who imperils the security not just of allies, but of his own country. Makes you wonder who he’s actually working for.

    I have never seen Barack Obama described so well.

  31. “Moscow has every right to come in and take it over again.”

    Donald Trump is not the President of Estonia. It is not his job to protect and defend Estonia from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    “isolate and divide allies” We don’t have any. We have dependents, living under our shelter, receiving an allowance, who refuse to help with chores. When those nations were toddlers, it was fine. Now that they’re fully adult nations, it’s time for us to push them out of the nest so they can seek their own destinies.

  32. How to tell that you are in crazy land: you believe that a president who urges NATO members to increase their military funding and to avoid policies that make them economically dependent on Russia is doing Putin’s bidding.

  33. Trump is doing what he does best no matter where he is, embarrassing the US.

  34. Here’s an interesting comment:

    The funny thing about this soap opera is that Trump is supposed to be Putin’s stooge, but Nord Stream 2 has exposed Merkel as the real Agent of Moscow. I’m wondering how the chaos she’s created in the EU has been excused this long.

    Good follow-up EI. A brand new unsupported assertion that just changes the subject to something irrelevant. National embarrassment? Way to go.

  35. Things that should embarrass Democrats more than Trump:
    -Highly partisan operators Strzok & Page carrying on an illicit affair while they “investigated” both a politician they loved and a politician that they hated.
    -Democrats defending the honor & integrity of Strzok.
    -Democrats defending the honor and integrity of Page (You know they will when she testifies).
    -Maxine Waters. She thinks men landed on Mars, fer God’s sake.
    -Hillary Clinton & John Podesta ginning up the “Russian collusion” narrative the morning after she lost the election.
    -The utter failure to anticipate a Trump win.
    -Outspending Trump 2:1 and still losing to a gauche, inexperienced blowhard.

  36. Wouldn’t a Democrat party run by adults be concerned about the head of FBI counter intelligence carrying on an extramarital affair and exchanging literally thousands of texts with his FBI agent lover? That would seem to leave him and her open to blackmail attempts by a hostile power — you know, like Russia. These FBI guys are a joke, these Democrats are a joke.

  37. The idea that the public will go back to having the opinion that the elites tell them to have is optimistic at best. What has changed since 2008 has been the idea that the elites have the best interests of the public in mind. I think the public now believes the elites have the best interests of the elites in mind. They’re now more likely to vote against what a member of the elite tells them. The elites have failed the public; that trust is gone.

  38. Let’s be clear about who we are talking about when we speak of “elites.”
    The elites are the bourgeois, the management class. The bourgeois as a social class appeared in middle to late Medieval times. The aristocrats were no longer warriors. They engaged in statecraft & politics instead of physical combat and became concentrated in the cities, away from their estates. The bourgeois emerged as class of educated freemen who managed the aristocrats’ estates for them.
    The bourgeois have a unique place in society. They are educated, but have little attachment to place. They prize money as a sign and expression of merit. They are nothing like the old aristocracy or the old peasantry. The bourgeois think differently than either the aristocracy or the peasantry. In fact the landed aristocracy and the peasantry have more in common with each other than either has with the bourgeois.
    In America there is no aristocracy, and for a very long time moving between the worker/farmer class and the bourgeois was common (in both directions). In the last fifty years — since the boomers became adults — the barrier to moving up or down in social class has become more difficult. If you aren’t raised by the right parents (two bourgeois, one of each sex) your chance of moving into the bourgeois is difficult. If you do not attend a prestigious college moving into the bourgeois is difficult. If you attend public schools as a child moving from worker/farmer into the bourgeois is difficult.
    With more rigid social separation between bourgeois and worker, it is no surpise that the bourgeois and the workers would develop different interests. The goals of managers and workers are not easily aligned.

  39. Oversimplification of complex problems only leads to government by unintended consequence, as Trump is ably demonstrating.

  40. MP, are the “elite” the bourgeoisie, the entrepreneurial class, or more precisely a management class of stewards? I’d always had the notion that the bourgeoisie (literally castle-dwellers if I remember right) were the merchants who made and sold things to the aristocracy, not the servants of the aristocracy specifically.

    Reason I ask is that as far as I can tell, the social separation between entrepreneurs and workers is far less than it is between managers and workers.

    No debate that the “elite” are increasingly at odds with the common people–perhaps the “proletariat” if we must use Marx’s nomenclature–the question in my mind is more simply who is at fault. My take is it’s not the bourgeoisie, but rather the bureaucracy.

  41. Trump is doing what he does best no matter where he is, embarrassing the US.

    Really? Has he been dressing trannies in Army uniforms? Did he marry one?

    Bowing for Kings?

    Been apologizing to third world shit hole country’s for our greatness?

    Did Iran snatch up another US Navy patrol boat and parade the sailors for television?

    Did he light up the White House like a gay bath?


    Then STFU

  42. Seems to me that the one oversimplifying complex problems is the guy who ignored the obvious physical and temperamental differences between men and women when admitting women to combat jobs in the military, and who ignored a ton of Islamist wars to declare that the problem was that we were there, and the guy who felt that the problem in Muslim countries was dictators, ignoring who might replace those dictators.

    The culprit, Emery, lives in DC, but thankfully no longer at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hopefully he soon can live in federal prison where he belongs.

  43. BB, the term originally refered to the inhabitants of a walled town.
    In economic terms, the bourgeois were free labor. The could sell their labor to whomever they liked for as much as they could get. The bourgeois did not make their livings from owning land or working the land. To a large extent, bourgeois culture is Jewish culture, and Jewish culture is bourgeois culture (I’m being accurate, not anti-Semetic. And yes, I know Jews were baned for centuries from England, the most bourgeois European nation of all). Since they owned their labor, the bourgeois were incentivized to increase its value by becoming more educated or a more highly skilled artisan, or by becoming skilled in trade.
    Both the communists and the fascists condemned the bourgeois as a class, the commuists because they were disconnected from labor, the fascists because they were nationless cosmopolitans.
    Yet it is easy to see why socialist leaders come from the ranks of the bourgeois, and not the workers.
    The problem I have with the bourgeois is that they believe bourgeois values are normative and rational, and they are not. They have the values they have because those values are good for them and for people like them, not because they are “true.”

  44. For someone who loves to hurl insults at others Trump and his people are remarkably thin skinned.

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