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World & Current Events > US leaving NATO or selling arms?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Preceding Helsinki's Trump-Putin summit, there was an urgent NATO meeting, where the US is rumored to have threatened to leave NATO, unless other members lived up to their expected defense spending (2% of the GDP).
Just some reference for the background:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/...
https://www.defensenews.com/global/eu...
Now, nobody's taking this threat seriously, of course. On the other hand, no one's gonna ignore Trump's demand either. Since NATO members should acquire equipment compatible with NATO standards, I guess we'll see a remarkable increase in sales of US arms within NATO.
What do you think? Business or pleasure?


message 2: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Business, business, business. there's nothing quite like the armaments business.


message 3: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments The demand was of course to sell more US weapons (at a discount if necessary) to keep the economy and employment going for another 2 and one half years


message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments My guess is Europe will ignore Trump. The main reason is with Britain leaving the EU there is a major cash shortage in the EU where budgets are already stretched, and the UK has its own financial problems. None of them are going to massively increase taxes just to please Trump or the US military industrial complex. Added to which Europe already outspends Russia on arms, I believe, if you include the UK. Russia is not the demon everyone believes.


message 5: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments Tell that to Georgia the Ukraine, the Baltic States The Bear is on the prowl


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments Ukraine and Georgia are complex issues, and there is little pointing revisiting them. To the best of my knowledge the Baltic states have no problems, but then I might have been asleep.


message 7: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments There are extremely good points in revisiting them. What it already happened so forget it ?


message 8: by Michel (last edited Jul 17, 2018 05:23PM) (new)

Michel Poulin Ian wrote: "Ukraine and Georgia are complex issues, and there is little pointing revisiting them. To the best of my knowledge the Baltic states have no problems, but then I might have been asleep."

Ian, the Baltic States definitely have some serious problems with Russia, or should I say more precisely Putin. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, young states formed in 1918 after the end of WW1, were all invaded and annexed by the Soviet Union at the start of WW2, after the German-Soviet pact of 1939 was signed. The Baltic States thus became part of the USSR until the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. During those post-WW2 decades, many ethnic Russians lived in the Baltic States and they still form a sizeable minority of the population, mostly concentrated in specific regions bordering Russia or Belorussia. In recent years, Putin has created tensions within the Baltic States by encouraging and supporting the resident ethnic Russians in those states to agitate and ask to split and rejoin Russia (basically the same scenario Putin used to foment trouble in Eastern Ukraine, while denying involvement there). I have an ethnic Latvian friend with whom I correspons regularly and he confirmed to me that there are lots of ethnic tensions and Russian intimidation and claims around the Baltic States.

Ian, Kevin is right to say that the Russian bear is on the prowl, as Putin is working on realizing his ultimate dream: to recreate a powerful Russia in the image of the Soviet Union in its prime. Putin is not to be trusted, period! Trying to excuse his moves would take a lot of bad faith in my opinion.


message 9: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments Michael You are right. I did my thesis in Soviet and East European Area Studies on the relationship between the Soviet Union and the Baltic States after 1921-1939 when they were conquered

The Soviets and now Russia under Putin believe they are part of the Soviet-Russian Empire


message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments Kevin, the reason I say there is no point in revisiting Ukraine and Georgia is that we have already said all there is to say about them, unless something else happens. I am aware of the history of the Baltic states, but I am unaware of current events there. If Michel's friend in Latvia says there are tensions there, I believe it.

However, I really doubt that Putin would try a military move in the Baltic states because that would force war with NATO, and irrespective of what you think of Putin, I don't think he is that stupid.


message 11: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments If he sees an opening he will take it. Trumps statement that it was ok to take the crimena because they spoke Russian is distributing since there are a lot of Russian speaking people in the Baltics as well as other areas of Europe


message 12: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments I don't want to restart the Crimea discussion, but I suggest if you feel that badly about it, visibly proclaim yourself a Jew and speak only Russian, and go live in a part of Ukraine where the Azov Battalion roams.


message 13: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments What kind of response is that? Please


message 14: by Michel (last edited Jul 17, 2018 07:49PM) (new)

Michel Poulin Ian, Putin may not be stupid, but he still is a power-hungry autocrat bent on rebuilding a Russian empire. As for not going against NATO, why do you think that he has done his best in destabilising it, using Trump as his blind stooge to help him sow discord within NATO? Putin will also do as he did in Eastern Ukraine, basically support and arm local pro-Russia groups which will then proclaim their right to secede from the Baltic States. That tactic worked pretty well for him in Ukraine and the ethnic Russian excuse was also used by Putin to invade and annex Crimea, using soldiers who supposedly were not Russian (if you then believed Putin). Anyone believing Putin's public word does it at his own peril.


message 15: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments Michel, regarding NATO the main point I would make in disagreement is that Trump has done all that destabilising by himself.

Regarding my above comment, the point I was hoping to make is that the likes of the Azov Battalion does not exist in the Baltic States. They do roam towards eastern Ukraine. If US citizens were legitimately in a place and they were dealt to by a bunch of neoNazi thugs, do you really think the US would do nothing? No military assistance? If anyone does, they are living in a dream. Quite rightly, the US military would be despatched to restore the rights of the Americans.


message 16: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Ian, you have the right to your opinion, like everyone else, and I believe that you also respect that right for others, but there is a point where continuing an argument would be like two walls slamming against each other. This discussion has hit a wall.


message 17: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments Michel, you are right in that I can't see any way to separate the two options. You think, if I get it right, that Trump is dancing to Putin's jig. I think Trump is playing a rather clumsy form of business "shock and awe" to persuade the other NATO countries to increase their defence spending and buy more US arms, in other words he is being the businessman. I can't see any obvious way of telling the difference between the options.


message 18: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Kevin. wrote: "The Soviets and now Russia under Putin believe they are part of the Soviet-Russian Empire..."

That's a generalization, which in my opinion also perpetuates once actual stereotypes, denying evolution of opinions and doctrine.
Don't know about Estonia, but there is a drastic difference between Lithuania and Latvia, for example. In the former the Russian and Russian - speaking population is relatively negligible and the overall atmosphere is nice and pleasant and no ethnic tensions are felt, while in Latvia where they have 51% vs 49% the pressure is felt in the air and the internal antagonism is evident. Not sure, Russia's gonna stand aside if something happens (or artificially made to happen - could be by Russia itself) with ethnic Russians there...


message 19: by Nik (last edited Jul 18, 2018 01:22AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Kevin. wrote: "Tell that to Georgia the Ukraine, the Baltic States The Bear is on the prowl"

Yes, I think snatching Crimea in the way it was done, is improper and I'm with Ukraine and most of the world community on that. Yet, there are questions/issues that need to be addressed:
- Baltic joined NATO, but are Georgia and Ukraine somehow US' best friends or they are interesting only in the context of containing Russia?
- I hate to say it, but most of Crimea's population never felt Ukrainian. They have maybe 4% of ethnic Ukrainians there and they never felt belonging. Not sure, they wanted to be part of Russia though. Ironically, adding Crimea to Ukraine's jurisdiction was Krushyov's present for 300 anniversary of Russia-Ukraine's unity. Don't think Crimea would ever return to be part of Ukraine.
- An ambition of restoration this or that form of union between former USSR republics is not negative per se, but the way of achieving it through force, incitement and military conquest may well be... EU's way seems more attractive.
- In the current world only a few countries, like the UK or Canada may watch peacefully and apply only persuasion in the face of independence movements and possible secession of their parts


message 20: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments I repeatedly explain to my Ukrainian friends that if they think anyone sincerely cares about Ukraine they are profoundly wrong. They are on their own and need to deal with it responsibly..


message 21: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Nik wrote: "I repeatedly explain to my Ukrainian friends that if they think anyone sincerely cares about Ukraine they are profoundly wrong. They are on their own and need to deal with it responsibly.."

I will agree with you on that, Nik. Ukraine has a long history of deep government corruption and electoral irregularities, plus tendencies towards the extreme right. Anti-semitism is also much evident in its history. Not exactly the model prospective member for NATO.


message 22: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments I was not advocating that it would be a full member of NATO with the Article 8 protections I was just using it as an example of the current Russian expansion policies.


I worry about Trumps' view of Article 8


On another note American taxpayers paid the Trump golf course in Scotland $77,000.00 for his two day stay. It would have been worth it if he prepared


message 23: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Michel wrote: "Ukraine has a long history of deep government corruption and electoral irregularities, plus tendencies towards the extreme right...."

On top of all that, it's kinda pathetic to watch the establishment flocking to either US or Russian embassy, depending what president (pro-Rus or pro-US) is at the helm


message 24: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Kevin. wrote: "On another note American taxpayers paid the Trump golf course in Scotland $77,000.00 for his two day stay. It would have been worth it if he prepared..."

Maybe not a big deal, but avoiding this kind of conflict of interests seems a wiser approach


message 25: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments Well to me it is since he is cutting many programs and the money is indirectly at least going into his pockets


message 26: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments It's your money as a US taxpayer, so I can understand -:)


message 27: by Ian (last edited Jul 18, 2018 03:56PM) (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments In my opinion, there has been a lot of misunderstanding of motives of the various players. Ukraine probably thought that the EU economy was far stronger than that of Russia, so their goal was to join the EU. What they overlooked was that Germany, as the major paymaster of the EU, would expect German style economic policy to be applied before they would be allowed in, and further, a very large amount of Ukraine's trade is actually with Russia. They were probably never going to be allowed into the EU, especially with the level of corruption that has been endemic for a long time.

The US probably couldn't care less about Ukraine, but it would love to be able to park military assets and missiles along the Russian border, or if that is not so, Russia certainly believes it is so.

The average Ukrainian probably does not understand this, but then again the average Ukrainian probably has very little say. If the country wants to run an independent policy, which is a good thing to aspire to, it really has to clean up some internal deficiencies.

Again, I don't know enough about the Baltic states, but the one thing that I think is relevant is they have reasonably prosperous economies and are within the EU. When people have prosperous economies, they may wave the flag for secession, like Scotland or Quebec does from time to time, but the citizens are usually quite happy if it doesn't happen. I suspect Latvia is not going to throw away its prosperity unless its government does something really stupid.


message 28: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 3079 comments Ian wrote: "In my opinion, there has been a lot of misunderstanding of motives of the various players. Ukraine probably thought that the EU economy was far stronger than that of Russia, so their goal was to jo..."

The Euro and EU requirements were glossed over for Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland hence the crisis that followed and is still happening although not in the headlines. Italy has been more recently. Even France has ignored most EU Eurozone spending rules. The Greek loans to get them out of crisis repaid German Banks regardless of what the Greeks wanted to do.

Ireland seems back to boom which means another bust is not far away. Maybe if they collect enough Apple tax (Still not doing so) they can whether the next strom.


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Ian wrote: "Ukraine probably thought that the EU economy was far stronger than that of Russia, so their goal was to join the EU...."

It's not only economical or pragmatic, Ian. It's cultural too. Many forget but Russia too aspired to join EU at the beginning of Putin's era. It's when it was snubbed, he embarked a different policy and ideology.
Many in former USSR are just fond of Europe, so much sometimes that it's even pathetic. I've nothing against Europe, of course, it's just this blind, stupid affection that gets me.. As you read Tolstoy, you probably noticed that most of the idiotic nobility of that era spoke French among themselves and were not Ivans and Pavels, but Pierres and Jans - just clowns.
Instead of making their own countries nice and like the rest of Europe if they want, they buy properties in Europe, send there their families, keep their money and all while embezzling their homelands and fellow countrymen mercilessly. Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit, but just a bit!
Poland is an excellent example, how it could be for Ukraine.
Specifically in Ukraine the difference is acute between Ukrainian nationalists and the culture of the western Ukraine, which were part of Poland and Austria-Hungary not that long ago and have a sort of petite bourgeoisie mentality and between the industrial/largely Russian speaking -East.


message 30: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments Interesting take, Nik. I have read quite a bit of Tolstoy, in English translation, and I assumed that all the Pierres etc were just an affectation, a sort of "their culture is the best", and it never occurred to me that they were embezzling their fellow countrymen. Of course I realized they were running serfs and had huge properties, but Europe was also running an upper class that had inherited advantages gained hundreds of years ago and owned all the land and while they may have abandoned serfdom, all and sundry lived in conditions not that much different. I thought they thought Russia should be more like Europe but keeping the serfs. But when put like that, you are probably right, if a little exaggerated.

Your take on the split in Ukraine seems right, but I am not so sure that Poland is a good example for Ukraine right now. From what little I gather Poland and the EU also are starting to have differences of opinion. Brussels probably has some severe problems they are trying to paper over.


message 31: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6184 comments Nik said: "Instead of making their own countries nice and like the rest of Europe if they want, they buy properties in Europe, send there their families, keep their money and all while embezzling their homelands and fellow countrymen mercilessly. Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit, but just a bit!" I did notice when reading War and Peace that the upper classes were speaking French. And you're saying that they did so because of their fondness for Europe? And that they were sending their families there while embezzling from their own country? That they were espousing Communist beliefs while secretly supporting Capitalism?


message 32: by Matthew (last edited Jul 25, 2018 09:43PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Scout wrote: "Nik said: "Instead of making their own countries nice and like the rest of Europe if they want, they buy properties in Europe, send there their families, keep their money and all while embezzling t..."

Wrong time period, Scout. The Russian elite (as portrayed in War and Peace) predated the Communist Revolution by over a century. But you're right, admiration for European culture was a major motivating factor. To the Russian elite, involvement in European politics and culture was very desirable. The language and customs of the Russian peasantry, on the other hand, was something they viewed as distinctly "Asiatic" and to be ashamed of. Hell, the Russian aristocrats didn't even speak Russian, they spoke French.

In this respect, they were not unlike the royal court of England between 1066 and the 16th century. The Norman conquerors (French-speaking Norsemen) conquered England and viewed the cockney English customs and language as something that was beneath them. It wasn't until they grew apart from the modern French and intermarried with their English brethren that the divide disappeared.


message 33: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11802 comments In fairness, the Norman conquerors merely continued speaking the language they had learned at birth, and they viewed the Anglo-Saxons as "conquered". Conquerors rarely try to assimilate immediately.

I always considered that on the whole (there would be exceptions) the Russian aristocracy simply viewed their serfs as labour required to keep them in the lifestyle they expected. The Americans did the same with their slaves. It probably was simply the Russian aristocrats did not feel much for their serfs, although on the other hand, it is worth reading Tolstoy's "harvesting" scene in Anna Karenina, where the workers are considered as people.


message 34: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Ian wrote: "it never occurred to me that they were embezzling their fellow countrymen...."

Didn't exactly meant that generation, rather modern oligarchical 'nobility'... Aristocrats were less about money then to the degree that many ran poorly their estates, and the empires coffers were often empty, but admired 'western culture' distancing themselves from compatriot Russian serfs. Alaska's sale (although happened not strictly for economic reasons) is telling in this respect..


message 35: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Scout wrote: "And you're saying that they did so because of their fondness for Europe? And that they were sending their families there while embezzling from their own country? That they were espousing Communist beliefs while secretly supporting Capitalism?..."

Matthew has already addressed these questions quite accurately in my opinion -:)


message 36: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16087 comments Just wanna clarify that I've no hatred or enmity towards Russians or Ukrainians, just feel regret and concern about how the things are at the moment and allow myself to be more outspokenly critical as the one of their own to a degree


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