Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Public Opinion and NATO: Some Europeans Are ... Weenies

This NYT piece reports on a survey that is causing much angina--that the populations of the big European countries are divided on "an attack upon one is an attack upon all."  I have many reactions to this, so let me just bullet them:
  • We cannot rely on the Germans, the Italians or the French?  Really?  Well, aside from the French, well, yeah, of course.  I have already argued that having the Italians and the Germans be among the first contributors to the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) is quite problematic.
  • Other publics are more NATO supportive: US, Canada (not entirely sure how the PM feels, but as long as there are diasporic votes in it), UK (with what military, given the deep, thoughtless cuts?), Poland (of course), and Spain (maybe this might mean less caveats).
  • Seems like German reunification comes at a cost as much of the opposition comes from East Germany.  Verrrrry interesting.*
  • Putin's stances continue to play well among Russians even as the costs rise.  Well, sanctions are not an instant fix.  But the moves to hide the costs (banning reporting of the Russians killed in this adventure) suggests some vulnerability.  Still, I don't expect Putin to make real peace in Ukraine.
    • Which raises a question related to the "how implausible can plausible deniability be and still be useful"--how many violations of a ceasefire agreement can happen and still consider the agreement to be operative.
Maybe it is confirmation bias, but this survey just reinforces my belief that we need to put bodies in the way.  That the US with or without its allies needs to forward deploy in the Baltics so that politicians' hands are tied if Russia attacks.  A tripwire is most necessary when domestic audiences are unenthusiastic as credibility must be created and not just asserted.  How to create credibility? By making response more automatic.  What would make a response more automatic?  Dead Americans, Germans, Italians, etc on Day 1 of a Russian attack.  Yes, the old playbook applies once again.  

 *  About the oldest pop culture reference I could make here.

UPDATE: See Dan Nexon's post on the limitations of the survey

No comments: