Is NATO brain dead? Are the Russians not a geopolitical foe? I actually don’t think Macron is completely wrong. Here we see some interesting geopolitical factors at play.
- Syria is at the intersection of a variety of post-imperial spheres of influence. Syria was once a French mandate. Before that, it belonged to the Ottomans. Now the Russians are deeply involved to support their client. The US, heavily compromised by the Trump presidency, is ceding its Western foothold in Syria to the Russians and Turks. But the Turks are officially a US ally. And yet Trump is in bed with the Saudis and Russians. Trump giving a green light to the NATO member Turks is actually — on paper — one ally supporting another. And yet the Turks have been happy to shoot down Russian planes, if necessary. Meantime, the French are not pleased about what is happening to the Kurds in Syria, like everyone else. Therefore, yes, Macron is right, NATO is pretty brain dead here. What the hell is the policy exactly?
- Russia is a geopolitical foe of Europe, just not specifically of France (at the moment). However, instability on the eastern flank of Germany threatens the core of Europe. A war in, say, the Baltics, would create a humanitarian and geopolitical crisis in Scandinavia and Finland. An expansion of the war in Ukraine to the west would not only prompt incursion by NATO forces, it would lead to a hard war against Russia. This would also endanger the Russian city of Saint Petersburg and the Russian western frontier. This city is right in the neighborhood of both Tallinn and Helsinki. One should bear something in mind here — the last time there was a war in the Baltics, Germany was occupying Paris, Helsinki was being bombed, and Germany and Russia had dissected Poland. German troops were in the Low Countries. German troops had occupied Norway and Denmark. This is what happens when Europe goes to war. All of Europe goes to war. A country that uses force to alter the borders of Europe, even in the murky east of Ukraine, is starting a war in Europe and therefore is a geopolitical foe of Europe. I think Macron knows this, but is still trying to preserve a pre-Georgian War status quo that doesn’t exist.
- I actually think some elements of Estonian foreign policy have been okay in light of all this. I think Kaljulaid was right to invite Putin to Tartu, and to try and normalize relations. I have never understood the actions of some parliamentary members who want to make the border an issue still. Or even the Treaty of Tartu. It’s clear that the Estonians view it as their birth certificate — which it is — but, honestly, even if the Russians honored it, would it make any difference? Any document they sign isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. So what real difference does it make to what extent they acknowledge Estonian history or not? It’s not the Estonians’ job to play psychologist to the Russian psyche. They’ve killed loads of people. Why are the Estonians so special?
- I agree with Macron’s idea of a European army. Europeans have a common territory. Yet they have outsourced security to the Americans, an unreliable partner. You just don’t know how the folks in Ohio or Florida are going to vote in the future, and you can’t always bet that they will be willing to ship Americans overseas to fight European wars as they have in the past. The weakest links here are America’s internal culture war and Europeans’ inability to defend their own borders. There are far more Europeans than there are Russians. Let that sink in, because yes, I know Russia looks huge on the map. Forty million Poles. Eighty million Germans. Seventy million French. Those are just three countries. There are only 145 million people in Russia. But they have a willingness to project hard power. The Europeans do not. That should change.
Just some thoughts from the Green House Cafe in Viljandi.