The nominee for top U.S. military commander in Europe wants there to be some sort of response to Russia’s decision to have fighters buzz the USS Donald Cook. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti told the Senate Armed Services committee on Thursday there had to be some response to what Russia did (clip below via C-SPAN).
A lot of hay is being made about Scaparrotti’s “response of some type” and “keep everything on the table” comments, which makes a lot of sense. The Washington Times suggested this meant a military response of some kind, and if that’s the case, then that’s troublesome. Russian President Vladimir Putin is obviously a strong man, but I’m not sure deciding to do troop buildup somewhere is the actual answer. Russia is playing a dangerous game of chicken, and for the U.S. to decide to go along with this isn’t very smart. If anything, both sides are hoping the other will either blink or start shooting first. The fact the Pentagon told reporters this week Russian had been doing this on a regular basis shows the Kremlin is hoping for something. Via CNN.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday, “There have been repeated incidents over the past year where Russian aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns.”
“Unsafe and unprofessional actions by a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between the two countries,” he added.
It ought to be noted U.S. ships should not just let Russian jets buzz them on a regular basis. Our sailors need to be alert at all times in case Russia decides to turn its buzzing war into an actual shooting war. This is why cooler heads need to prevail in this entire Russian/U.S. Standoff. It could be Russia is just letting its pilots be cocky because they know the only thing the U.S. will do is mewl in the press. Whoever the next U.S. president is will have to have regular conversations with Russia, and not just the occasional tete-a-tete the current administration has with Putin. Ronald Reagan once said Russia needs to understand our position, why we have it, and that we won’t back away from it. This is something the U.S. needs to remember because isolating a country only works so well. If anything, it can drive the isolated country further into tyranny, like North Korea, Iran, and Cuba. Russia needs to be reminded of the benefits of freedom, but not by staring at the barrel of a gun (or a Tomahawk missile).
This means being very careful with language and choosing actions very wisely. It’s easy to think we should say, “All options are on the table,” and “By Odin, Vlad, I’ll send MY fighters to buzz your ships!” but I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Nor is sending troops along a border which isn’t our own. Would announcing an arms sale to Finland, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania work? Maybe, but it might be better to do more trade with these country, along with Russia. This way, the economies of all countries increase and their leaders start getting ostracized by their own people for claiming things “aren’t great.” It’s just a delicate balancing act which most politicians (and people) don’t seem to want.