Saturday, August 30, 2014

Diplomacy is Like Comedy

There are lots of old jokes about timing and comedy because it is so very important for making a good joke.  Well, timing is also very important for international relations.  The classic example of bad timing is the Falklands/Malvinas war, as the Argentinean Generals should have waited a year or so.  Why?  Because the British were just about to dismantle key hunks of their navy which would have made the counter-attack damn near impossible.

Why do I raise this now?  Because Russia's escalations of the last week seem to be at odds with one of the key imputed intentions: to break NATO.  With the Wales summit a few days away, Putin was just about to win a key diplomatic victory--Germany standing in the way of permanent basing in the Eastern part of the alliance (Poland, the Baltics).  Reports had suggested that Germany would allow permanent basing only if Russia did something like really invade Ukraine.

Well?  There you go. EU more likely to apply real sanctions, NATO likely to develop greater unity.  Sure, Putin might find some benefits to increased isolation, but it is not clear why escalation occurred before the Wales summit.  Yes, the separatists were losing, but they were not going to be defeated in a few days.  The timing here indicates some desperation and not "cleverness" or "strategery."

Of course, we really do not know why Russia is doing what it is doing.  All I can really suggest is that this escalation is poorly timed.  And that matters--I expect a commitment of either permanent basing or permanent-ish basing at Wales.

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