Estonia, a tiny nation whose population is less than that of Phoenix, Ariz., can show the U.S. why the NATO alliance is in America’s best interest despite President Trump’s criticisms.
In short, Estonia is the best U.S. ally that most Americans have never heard of — they even sent combat forces to Afghanistan where their troops have one of the highest casualty rates per capita of any nation in the NATO contingent.
My piece is long-form news analysis and commentary with reporting that includes interviews with Estonia’s commander-in-chief of their Defense Forces, the commander of their largest land force who is also the EDF’s new chief of staff, a defense ministry official, a former president of Estonia, and two Baltic think tank experts on defense issues involving Estonia and the United States (one is British, the other American).
You can read it here at Arc Digital.
Probably no other group has taken the fight to ISIS like the Kurds. They are staunch allies of the United States — and quite frankly, their numbers so far have kept U.S. military presence in Syria to a minimum of Special Forces advisers. But what is the future of that alliance during a Trump administration? Our support of Syrian Kurds drives Turkey (a NATO ally) nuts. Furthermore, the Russians play the U.S. and Turkey against one another over the issue. My article in Arc Digital Magazine explores everything you need to know about what comes next for the Kurds.
Russia and Pakistan continue to grow chummier by the day. My latest story at We Are The Mighty describes a live-fire, “anti-terrorism” exercise held by the two countries through October 10. The joint exercises are a first — and one more example of how Russia wants to change the balance of power in South Asia to its advantage.
What was it that Winston Churchill said about Russia? “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
If that’s the case, Russia has been downright transparent — or at least boastful — when it comes to various weapons developments in recent months.
Last month, there was the Kremlin’s swagger regarding the new RS-18 Sarmat a.k.a. Son of Satan because of its links to the long-deployed SS-18 Satan. It is an ICBM so powerful it will be capable of hefting 12-15 MIRVs each with a 750 kiloton yield. (That’s more than 20 times the yield of the Hiroshima bomb.)
Now, there is news that the Russians will shield their SA-21 Growler in containers that will block electromagnetic signatures created by operating electronic equipment, presumably to escape detection that would compromise their positions. Propaganda publications like Sputnik claim it will make the missiles invisible. I give what I hope is a more balanced assessment here.
Sometimes its easy to dismiss the Russians and what seem to be their outlandish claims. After all, isn’t Russian leadership even claiming that European football hooliganism by Russian fans was provoked?
It’s worth noting that in defense matters all the Russians are telling us is how they are living up to the military goals set by the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin has made it clear repeatedly that Russia will not be No. 2 to any nation, including the United States. Some say he has a long way to go before accomplishing that goal. If your metric is just manpower and hardware, maybe. If its willpower and achievements, just look at how the Russian Federation has supplanted the United States in terms of influence in the Middle East.
Most people forget Churchill’s own answer to his statement about Russia:”…But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Putin has reinvigorated the cause of protecting and expanding the fortunes of Slavic peoples while embracing the belief in a unique worldwide role for Mother Russia. It’s in Russia’s national interest to brag about its military might, even if its claims are perhaps more powerful than some of its military hardware. Its boasts remind the world that Russia is still a force to be reckoned with. The political leadership of the United States, our military, and our intelligence community dismiss that fact at their peril.