What NATO Should Do Now
Plus, how the culture war has come for the Russians.
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ERIC EDELMAN and DANIEL FATA: What NATO Should Do Now.
Now is the time for NATO to reaffirm its Article 5 commitments. Its core obligation is to defend its members. As a key aspect in maintaining peaceful relations with non-member neighbors, it also has taken on the important duty of supporting its partners bordering Russia, notably including Finland and Sweden, in part by keeping the door to membership open. As in 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia, NATO must do whatever it can to stop Russian aggression, express support and solidarity with its allies and partners on the front line, and, in the long term, roll back Russian gains.
Beyond its member states, NATO should continue to provide military equipment and humanitarian support to those fighting against Russian domination and to ensure NATO’s eastern flank remains solidly defended.
What Putin craves is for a new Russian empire to be recognized as a great power. He should be isolated on the world stage, denied a voice in transatlantic security dialogues, and surrounded by a stable circle of democracies.
In June, Spain will host a NATO Summit that will unveil the latest version of its Strategic Concept, a document that is meant to guide NATO’s ambitions for a decade or more. The last Strategic Concept was promulgated in 2010. The most important element of that document should be formally identifying Russia as the foremost threat to transatlantic security. In 2017, the NATO Secretary General said Russia was not a threat. Today, the Alliance needs to affirm that Russia is without question the biggest threat to stability and security in Europe, and to develop the mechanisms and policies to guarantee its members’ safety and security.
Putin lost the disinformation war in the West over Ukraine, but the man who laid waste to cities in Syria and Chechnya has a massive convoy heading to Kyiv. He doesn’t want to just win — he wants to be remembered.
Ukraine Coverage 🇺🇦
TIM MILLER says: RT: Go Fuck Yourself.
Western leaders in the public and private sectors will have many choices in front of them in the coming weeks that carry more weight than the fate of the RT profiteers. We should have no illusions that cutting the cord on a half-baked propaganda network with washed-up D-list stars and weird North Korea apologia will halt Russia’s attempted advance.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. We’ve seen other unimaginably stupid attempts at democracy destabilization succeed in the not so recent past, if you don’t recall. And we can’t forget that millions of Americans think these 8chan yokels infiltrated the American security state and are constantly on the cusp of both taking down a global pedophile ring and resurrecting a handsome Kennedy scion from the dead.
So, ya know, better safe than sorry.
But even if you aren’t convinced that RT poses a threat, there’s the principle.
This great country of ours is built on free expression. The independent, creative minds we have nurtured are what led to our dominance in the media and technological space.
On the one hand, charges of hypocrisy are easy to bandy about. Disney and WB continue to do business with China, which is engaged in an ongoing genocide. FIFA’s ban of Russia looks slightly silly when one realizes that the World Cup is taking place in Qatar (where human rights abuses are rampant) in stadiums that were built by migrant workers who were essentially slaves. Why is Russia being held to such a high yadda yadda.
On the other hand: Sure it’s hypocritical, but it’s better than doing nothing. I’d love for Hollywood to take a harder line on China, but Russia is engaged in an illegal and bloody war right now. I’d love for FIFA to be shamed out of existence, but if soccer’s most corrupt body has to exist, it’s better that it use its power to try and pressure Putin and his cronies to do the right thing.
And yes, these measures hurt the people more than they hurt Putin, at least in the sense that depriving someone of something they want “hurts” them even when that thing is as small as a movie or a soccer game. Maybe that’s not fair; Russia ain’t exactly free. Putin’s approval rating was through the roof ahead of the invasion, but what are you going to tell a stranger who calls you up to ask you how you feel about the guy who poisons his political opponents and imprisons protesters? I have about as much faith in those polls as I did in Saddam Hussein’s margins of victory.
So sure, these moves are designed to hurt the Russian people. But all efforts at isolation are going to fall harder on the general population than the elites. Even if we start bombing oligarch-owned yachts (and we should), the collapse of the ruble is going to hit the babushka harder than the plutocrat. If the people are tired of living in a pariah nation—if they want to watch The Batman in theaters or cheer for their team in the World Cup—then they better make Putin’s cronies feel their angst.
Happy State of the Union Day! I don’t know about you, but I love the State of the Union. Maybe it’s the former hill staffer in me, but the pageantry, the unpredictable moments (“You lie!”, Rubio and the water bottle, etc.), just the whole thing. My bosses were never into taking Skutniks, and their spouses didn’t like attending, so we’d have an office lottery to see who could sit in the gallery. I never won.
Tonight’s SOTU, like all of them, is important, politically. Biden not only has a bunch of hostile Republicans who are allergic to governing, but not one, but two responses to his speech… from his own party. Dems in Disarray! and all that. But a two-front war is not good for Joe Biden. Nor is this normal. But it is a sign that the more far-left members in the Democratic House don’t feel they’re being heard.
The Republicans have picked Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to give their response, probably because the Congressional GOP is so messed up and divided about a number of things other than “Joe Biden is weak.” Seriously, who would they pick from the House or the Senate? There’s not an easy answer, so Reynolds it is, reading some bland speech written by an RNC speechwriter. Should make for an interesting night.
Speaking of Congressional Republicans… Mitch McConnell told reporters that Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) contract with America that has tax increases, wasn’t going to happen. Scott walked away from the presser because he knew it was coming. Another gift for Democrats. Also, McConnell was a real profile in courage when asked about Trump’s laudatory views of Putin. So too, was Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), silent.
Meanwhile, in the House… Kevin McCarthy is too focused on the war in Ukraine to discuss Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and her future after getting on stage with some white nationalists who love Putin.
And fences are being put up around the Capitol for the SOTU, and the truckers are supposedly coming to town. Though they haven’t seemed to have made it to this protest by the Washington Monument just yet…
Flying from the Kaliningrad exclave… Is now a whole heck of a lot harder.
This is how you #MAGA… Former State Department spox Morgan Ortagus moved to Tennessee to be a carpetbagging congresswoman. It went hilariously south quite quickly. The pop-quiz about Tennessee’s fifth district was called “Taking the Fifth” and perhaps Ortagus should have taken it more often. The best part, and there are so many good parts, was this:
Leahy: A rather well-known Confederate general – one whose name and history have been a source of enormous controversy in Tennessee the last few years – was born and raised in the community of Chapel Hill, in the 5th district. Who was he?
Ortagus: I don’t know.
Leahy: Nathan Bedford Forrest.
What county is Chapel Hill in?
Ortagus: I don’t know.
Leahy: Marshall County. It’s in your district.
Wendy Rogers is censured… Finally, Republicans have used the tool to police bad actors and not slap anti-Trump folks on the wrist for having a spine. The Arizona state senator was censured by the body after her speech at the America First (white nationalist confab) that Taylor-Greene spoke at. They should have expelled Rogers, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Rogers seems to be taking it well.
Looks like we’ll have to wait longer for baseball… The MLBPA rejected the owners’ proposal.
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