Y’all remember the last 2012 presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida on national security/foreign policy? There was a moment when CBS moderator Bob Schieffer asked Obama and Romney, what was the greatest geopolitical threat to the world, and Romney responded Russia. Barack Obama then launched into one of his petulant rants asserting to Governor Romney that “the 1980s are calling, they want their foreign policy back.”
Obama’s unfunny response demonstrated — well, to those with a functioning understanding of global threats — was a lack of any intellectual rigor on the critical matter. And as a matter of fact, it was President Obama who had confided in former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that after his reelection he would have “more flexibility.”
Now we know what Vladimir’s response was to that flexibility — and courtesy of Lieutenant General Frederick “Ben” Hodges, commander of USAREUR (US Army Europe), we now know how wrong President Obama was.
As reported by the UK Telegraph, “The commander of the U.S. Army in Europe has warned that Nato must remain united in the face of a “real threat” from Russia. “It’s not an assumption. There is a Russian threat,” Lt-Gen Frederick “Ben” Hodges said. “You’ve got the Russian ambassador threatening that Denmark will be a nuclear target if it participates in any missile defense program. And when you look at the unsafe way Russian aircraft are flying without transponders in proximity to civilian aircraft, that’s not professional conduct.”
“Gen Hodges spoke to the Telegraph on the sidelines of a military debriefing after an exercise to move live Patriot missiles 750 miles across Europe by road and deploy them on the outskirts of Warsaw. The sight of a U.S. military convoy crossing the German-Polish border more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War made international headlines and brought traffic to a standstill as people posed for selfies beside the troops.”So it seems Governor Mitt Romney was correct in his assertion of Russia being the greatest geopolitical threat. Just to explain, militant Islam — terrorism and jihadism — is a global threat, but not a geopolitical threat because it is not a viable nation-state…perhaps, not yet. But Russia is, and has the ability to project traditional military power, as well as other aspects of national power — just check out the move to arm Iran with the S-300 missile system. President Obama recently stated in Panama that the “cold war was over” before he unilaterally decided to drop Cuba from the terror list — after all, Cuba has been good for six months!
The Soviet Union may have been defeated but the thing known as the Cold War has just rebranded itself. For Putin, he clearly articulated his sentiments when he called the defeat of the Soviet Union one of the tragic moments of the 20th century. And so it is that LTG Hodges has ordered something that has perhaps not been seen in Europe for some time — a large U.S. military convoy.
I was in the last major Army European exercise, REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany). I deployed my entire MLRS Battery from Ft. Riley, 1st Infantry Division to Germany where we exercised our battle plan for the defense of Europe against Soviet incursion. Now today we are convoying military capability into the “new Europe” that was freed when President Reagan’s words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” came to fruition.
Don’t forget though – it was President Obama who decided to cancel the missile defense shield for our Eastern European brethren — a sign of weakness that Putin sought to exploit.
“Gen Hodges pointed to recent Russian decisions to move Iskandar ballistic missiles to its Kaliningrad enclave, between Lithuania and Poland, and long-range nuclear-capable bombers to Crimea. “I don’t think a military confrontation is inevitable. But you have to be militarily ready in order to enable effective diplomacy,” he said. “The best insurance we have against a showdown is that Nato stands together.” Since taking over command of the U.S. Army in Europe last year, Gen Hodges has found himself on the front line of an increasingly nervous stand-off with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Eastern European countries are looking to Nato, and the U.S. in particular, for reassurance that they will not be left to face Russian aggression alone.
I know LTG Ben Hodges and he is a warrior and not someone who will cower away from a confrontation. He is also an astute leader who understands the strategic chess match of foreign policy. The one thing our Eastern European allies need to know is that LTG Hodges is a solid man of his word. Now, if all of a sudden he ends up being relieved of command, we’ll know something is amiss.
We find ourselves in this precarious situation because of that moment back in 2012 at that debate. It was obvious that President Obama did not comprehend geopolitics — but he was good at debasing and denigrating Governor Romney.
America voted for cool and what we got was a resurgence of the Cold War.
What should we do? Exactly what LTG Hodges is doing and show resolve in the face of a bully dictator — not flexibility.