How close is Putin to blowing up NATO?
The Turkey-Russia feud raises a few questions about the future of NATO. In other words, are NATO allies ready to defend Turkey? Or are they expecting U.S. jets to do it?
Based on what we saw in Iraq in the late 1990s (enforcing the no-fly zone) and Kosovo in 1995, NATO will come down to U.S. and U.K. jets doing all the flying.
My guess is that Putin knows this and will try to force NATO to act. He is now saying that the U.S. knew that Turkey would shoot down a Russian jet. On the other hand, Turkey is telling Russia not to play with fire.
Who really knows? At the same time, it does not matter. The jet is down, a pilot is dead, and Putin just got the opportunity to prick the NATO balloon.
Putin has been trying to downsize NATO for some time. I agree with Stephen Covington:
Russia’s leadership wants a Europe without strategic Alliances, without multi-national organizations and without a U.S.-Europe Transatlantic link that can through collective policies and action offset the national strengths Russia would hold over any one European nation. It would be a European security environment that would allow Russia to apply its national strengths to great effect without challenge and competition – enhancing its power abroad and at home.
How does Putin blow up NATO? He doesn't. He simply watches NATO blow up itself. He forces NATO to work together, such as in defending Turkey under Article 5 or fighting ISIS.
In the end, NATO won't work together because of weak U.S. leadership and the reality that most countries have no real military resources to bring to the game. NATO is like a baseball team where only a couple of guys can play and the rest can't do much more than watch from the dugout.
We will watch to see how this plays out. Putin is a master tactician, and he assumes that Obama is weak and the West is weaker. He is betting that he will win because the other side doesn't want to fight. And he is right!