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Why Should Washington Confront Russia if Europeans Won't Protect Ukraine?

July 13, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Europe is at risk, we are told. Russia’s assault on Ukraine threatens the post-Cold War order. Moscow may follow up with similar attacks on Moldova and even such NATO members as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

But no one in Europe seems to care. Even the countries supposedly in Vladimir Putin’s gun sites aren’t much concerned. No one is bolstering their military. And the European people oppose taking any military risks to help their neighbors.

Unfortunately, the Ukraine crisis is likely to continue for some time. The allies hope sanctions will bring Moscow to heel, but the Pew Research Center found that 88 percent of Russians backed Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, the highest number since Pew started polling in 2003. At least Putin, though no friend of the West, is no fool. He recently opined: “only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.”

But if Putin changes his mind, the Europeans don’t plan on defending themselves. Instead, virtually everyone expects America to save them, if necessary. Washington is being played for a sucker as usual.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently visited Europey. While observing exercises by NATO’s new rapid response force he announced that the U.S. will contribute aircraft, weapons, and personnel to the “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.” Americans will provide intelligence, logistics, reconnaissance, and surveillance support. That’s not all. Separately, the Obama administration plans to pre-position tanks and other equipment for a combat brigade in Eastern Europe. James Stavidis, a former NATO commander, now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts, said this “provides a reasonable level of reassurance to jittery allies.” Carter explained that Washington was acting “because the United States is deeply committed to the defense of Europe, as we have for decades.”

America is more committed to Europe than are Europeans. “We are moving forward together, with new capabilities,” he said. What does he mean by “we”? Washington again will do the heavy lifting. “You can nearly hear the sigh of relief in Europe,” said Heather Conley of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in learning that the U.S. again would bail out its allies. The Europeans scrimp on the military while funding their generous welfare state. They promise Washington whatever it desires—to increase outlays, hit the two percent of GDP level, improve international coordination, and more. Then they will go back to doing what they do best, depend …read more

Source: OP-EDS