As part of the Trump Administration’s relatively new shift toward “great power competition” over the war on terror, 5,600 US troops will be moving eastward, toward Russia. The mainstream press continues to tout this “gift” to Putin by pointing to the wind-down of troops deployed in Germany by 12,000. What kind of withdrawal, as Trump certainly continues to tout this move, leaves almost half of the withdrawn troops *closer* to the border of an unfriendly power? Only the Trumpian kind.
The goal of the troops movements is to “deter” the Russians from expanding their influence into the former Eastern Bloc, the basic driving force of Russian concern in the region, particularly in the Ukraine.
The expansion of NATO control of the region is, historically speaking, the primary driver of the divisions now seen at play in Eastern Europe. Russian foreign policy can be neatly analyzed through the lens of “Statist”/”Slavophile” versus “Westernist” tendencies in thinking. The dominant Statist view could parallel political realism, or at least Realpolitik, in the United States exemplified by Henry Kissinger, and sees the Machiavellian expansion of Russian geopolitical power, particularly over broader Eurasia, as the prime goal of the Russian state, whether it be Imperial, Soviet, or contemporary Russia. In this sense, Russia is a fundamentally realist state, pursuing its national interests above ideological concerns. The Encroachment of NATO into the former Eastern Bloc is perhaps the defining stain on Russian power in the eyes of some Russian thinkers, and Esper’s recent announcement can only exacerbate these volatile conditions.
Aggressively provoking a country whose political class is dominated by extreme Realpolitik is a recipe for more violence in the region funded by the Russian government. This violence, of course, will be manipulated by the American imperialist state and the mainstream press to push us further toward another war-for-profit, perhaps in the Ukraine.
The American presence in the region, once the private backyard of the Soviet and Russian empires, is much more extensive than meets the eye. With Blackwater presence in the region a virtual certainty, along with the support provided directly by the US military to the Ukraine, US-trained troops and American mercenaries are our own version of the “little green men” in that conflict. What horrific future awaits yet another country filled with US-trained and armed extremists, this time with the Russians helping out? The weaponization of Poland in this great-power contest will only exacerbate the already high tension in the region.
With whispers of SecDef Mark Esper’s imminent firing, which even more monstrous war criminal will hold that bloody seat? And how might they treat the question of the former Eastern Bloc?