Suddenly NATO’s southern marches are astir with trouble. The European Union’s heady advance into Eastern and Southern Europe has produced serious challenges. The most obvious flashpoint is Greece. Robert Kaplan writes in the Wall Street Journal that admitting Greece to the EU was a mistake, but now that Brussels has turned it into a cornerstone of its edifice there is no prising it out.
On purely economic grounds, Greece should never have been admitted to the European Union in 1981 and might have been ejected from the eurozone months ago.
But what many European policy makers know—even if few articulate it—is that Europe will be increasingly vulnerable to Russian aggression if its links to Greece are substantially loosened. Greece is the only part of the Balkans accessible on several seaboards to the Mediterranean, and thus is a crucial gateway to and from the West.
NATO can’t afford to lose Athens. “Greece spiraling into chaos would be a significant strategic disruption for Europe and therefore for the U.S.,” retired U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, a former NATO supreme allied commander, said in an interview. “There’s more to this crisis than money and the financial markets.” Not that anyone knows of a way to keep Greece solvent inside the EU, but that’s where it has got to stay anyway. Brussels has created an insoluble problem and bet the alliances’ southern flank on it. All of a sudden the unstoppable expansion of the EU has turned into a fight for survival.
One can conceive of an arc that starts in the Ukraine, descends through the Black Sea to Turkey and Iran then follows the coast of the Mediterranean around through Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. That whole arc is now trembling on its foundations, while president Obama celebrates the supposed best week of his two terms.
Starting from the top, aerial drone footage has found a complete Russian forward operating base inside Ukraine. ”What’s significant about where this Russian FOB is located is that it’s sandwiched between (Ukrainian-held Volnovakha) and (separatist-held) Telmanovo, and would therefore play a lead role in any forthcoming Russian offensive on Mariupol, the port city on the Sea of Azov which also happens to the economic powerhouse in the Donetsk region.”
John McCain warns there’s trouble brewing. “U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today on new aerial footage released by the Ukrainian volunteer regiment Dnipro-1 showing a Russian military camp in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.”
“Two weeks ago, I traveled to eastern Ukraine and visited with the Dnipro-1 volunteer regiment, where I was shown and briefed on new video footage captured by a Ukrainian drone, which shows Russia’s continued buildup of tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers, and military personnel inside Ukraine. This new evidence, now public, further demonstrates that the ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine is fiction, and that Russia is deepening its military involvement in Ukraine.
“Standing idly by and ignoring the mounting evidence of Russia’s duplicitous war on Ukraine signals weakness, potentially inviting the very aggression we seek to avoid. The United States must take immediate steps to deter Russia by increasing the military costs of its aggression, starting with the provision of the defensive weapons and other assistance the Ukrainians desperately need. Vladimir Putin must be forced to determine how long he can sustain a war he tells his people is not happening.”
To be fair Washington, like Putin, is not saying anything either, the Obama administration being currently too busy blocking a new Redskin’s stadium because it objects to the name to do much. It seems to work this way: Putin pretends not be advancing and Obama pretends not to be retreating. The press in both countries seem willing to support the line.
But in actuality Washington, like the Brussels, ain’t what it used to be. Like a lonely heart at a clip joint it is resorting to paying for company. Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal in an article titled “Secret Dealings With Iran Led to Nuclear Talks” describes how Obama bribed the Ayatollahs to pick up the phone.
Iran secretly passed to the White House beginning in late 2009 the names of prisoners it wanted released from U.S. custody, part of a wish list to test President Barack Obama’s commitment to improving ties and a move that set off years of clandestine dispatches that helped open the door to nuclear negotiations.
The secret messages, via an envoy sent by the Sultan of Oman, also included a request to blacklist opposition groups hostile to Iran and increase U.S. visas for Iranian students, according to officials familiar with the matter. The U.S. eventually acceded to some of the requests, these officials said, including help with the release of four Iranians detained in the U.S. and U.K.: two convicted arms smugglers, a retired senior diplomat and a prominent scientist convicted of illegal exports to Iran.
The exchanges through 2013 helped build the foundation for the first direct talks between the two nations since the 1979 Islamic revolution, current and former U.S. officials involved in the diplomacy said.
Obama is paying for bottle service with a bearded ayatollah. All the same, the area from the Ukraine, Turkey and Tehran has the solidity of crumbling limestone. If the Russians advance, even with slow motion hybrid warfare, what will stop them? Which brings our survey to the map to Syria.