For years, NATO has relied upon tough talk and promises of support for its member nations in order to reinforce an image of invincibility.
That image is supported by the implicit backing of the US military and Washington has been keen to perpetuate it in the past 48 hours by presenting the straw man argument that Moscow is set to inexplicably bomb Turkey (and if you follow geopolitics you know that that makes absolutely no sense at all) and so the West must do it what it has to in order to support its friends in Ankara in the face of "Soviet" (and we use that term on purpose because that's how this is being pitched now by Western media) aggression.
To be sure, keeping up appearances was easy in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. It was simply a matter of saying publicly that the West wouldn’t allow Moscow to overrun Kiev and re-establish the Soviet Union.
But it doesn’t take a foreign policy genius or a lion-hearted NATO general to maintain that line.
That is, some of this was just posturing, because no matter what one wants to say about The Kremlin’s support for the separatists at Donetsk, Moscow wasn’t and isn’t about to invade every state in the Balkans which means that NATO’s excuses for stationing heavy artillery in Poland (to cite just one example) and for conducting very public war games that look quite a bit like preparations for a Ukrainian invasion, are largely bogus.
Well, now that Washington is scrambling to find the right spin tactic to explain why Russia has done to ISIS in a week what the US hasn't been able to do in over a year, NATO is now going all-in on the "we'll defend Turkey" narrative even though i) no one is attacking Turkey, and ii) Ankara is waging a horribly bloody civil war on its own people with NATO's blessing. Here's AP:
NATO talked tough Thursday about Moscow's expanding military activity in Syria, but the U.S.-led alliance's chief response to the Russian airstrikes and cruise missile attacks was a public pledge to help reinforce the defenses of member nation Turkey if necessary.
"NATO is able and ready to defend all allies, including Turkey, against any threat," alliance secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg declared at the onset of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
The meeting attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and counterparts from NATO's other 27 countries was overshadowed by concerns about Russia's recent military actions in Syria. On Wednesday, Russian warships fired a volley of cruise missiles in the first combined air-and-ground assault with Syrian government troops since Moscow began its military campaign in the country last week.
U.S. officials said Thursday that some of those missiles missed their targets and landed in Iran.
Over the weekend, Turkey reported back-to-back violations of its airspace by Russian warplanes.
Stoltenberg said NATO had already increased "our capacity, our ability, our preparedness to deploy forces, including to the south, including in Turkey, if needed."
However, pressed about what NATO precisely intended to do to aid Turkey, which shares a border with Syria, Stoltenberg told a news conference the mere existence of a beefed-up alliance response force, as well as a new and highly nimble brigade-sized unit able to deploy within 48 hours, may suffice.
"We don't have to deploy the NATO Response Force or the spearhead force to deliver deterrence," Stoltenberg said. "The important thing is that any adversary of NATO will know that we are able to deploy."
Oh, ok. "Any adversary of NATO will know that we are able to deploy." Well you know what NATO? You have an "adversary" that doesn't seem to understand that and they are called "ISIS," and either you are incapable of eradicating a rogue band of Nike-wearing militants, or else you're not really trying, and if the latter is the case, then the world needs to start asking serious questions about who the "bad" guys are here.
We'll close with the following from ... well, let's just be honest, from Russia (via RT) and from Maria Zakharova, who is quietly turning into quite the geopolitical powerplayer:
Vladimir Putin’s press secretary has said that the excuses used by NATO to move its infrastructure to Russian borders were nothing but camouflage and warned that none of such steps would be left unanswered.
“An invented excuse about the suggested threat coming from Russia is possibly just camouflage used to disguise the plans to further expand NATO toward our borders,” RIA Novosti quoted Dmitry Peskov as saying.
“We are talking about a buildup, there have been statements about larger contingent, we are talking about an increase of military presence. And it is military presence practically near the Russian borders,” he said, adding that this project was not new and that it could cause no other feelings but regret.
“Of course, any plans to bring NATO’s military infrastructure closer to the Russian Federation lead to reciprocal steps needed to restore the necessary parity,” Peskov said.
Earlier Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance’s plans to boost its Response Force and set up two more headquarters in Hungary and Slovakia. Stoltenberg admitted that this will be the biggest reinforcement since the end of the Cold War as six more, smaller headquarters had already appeared in Eastern Europe.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented on NATO’s buildup of forces in Eastern Europe, saying that these steps were not contributing to peace and stability on the continent.
“First of all, we need to hear and understand the position of those who take such actions. They need to tell us about their goals and objectives so that we could comment on them. So far, none of the latest events added stability to the European continent. On the contrary, this stability is being put in jeopardy,” Zakharova said.