One of the advantages of working in the Washington brain trusts involved in national security issues, is that my childhood passion to “play war” is not rested in the Lord, but simply took a different form. But playing adult war games and building models of actions of countries in crises, such as invasions, terrorist attacks and all-out nuclear war, I understand that the results of these actions can be frankly devastating. They also demonstrate what should be obvious to anyone who studied geopolitics: alliances are important.
The current situation in Europe with which the President trump will face head-on Thursday due to their presence at the most important NATO summit, it looks like the most intense and scary war games, in which I participated.
For example, last year one of the Washington think tank gathered experts from around the world to simulate a situation in which Russia is carrying out full-scale invasion of the Baltic countries. The simulation results were shocking. NATO troops have failed to stop the Russian offensive and the British counterattack has led to the fact that they used tactical nuclear weapons. But when the situation started to become more and more interesting, the game is over. According to the rules of the simulation, it is possible to play only the first three days of the conflict. So as luck would have it, the three days ended just in the moment when we started something like the Cuban missile crisis, but much worse to be honest.
Maybe it’s some kind of anomaly, a deviation? Maybe the beginning of a nuclear war, it’s just a coincidence? Experiencing a burning desire to see what happens next, we are a few weeks later repeated this simulation game. This time the script was designed for seven days; were others involved, played for different countries, but the result was the same. It was to use nuclear weapons first, it was used again Russia.
Good thing it was only a game. However, this is a very useful reminder of why the tension in Europe between NATO and Russia is still very serious, and why the upcoming NATO summit is of paramount importance. Moscow in the near future is unlikely plans to invade the Baltic States and capture it, but the problem spots between Russia and the Alliance a huge lot that is disturbing. This tension in the Baltic States and the war in Ukraine, which became permanent, and the ongoing civil war in Syria. So enough of a spark to cause a very real crisis. And since American and Russian forces are in close proximity to each other, it is enough for one pilot get too close to his co-worker, and this can result in such a confrontation, such as was not since the cold war.
Given that the stakes are extremely high, as was shown above, and that the threat of terrorism has become permanent, as we have just recalled the tragic events in Britain, the new administration should make it so that the Alliance remains a top priority for Washington in the formation of its foreign policy program. The upcoming NATO summit will be very short, so every minute is important. Specifically, I would give the President of the Trump in Brussels three simple suggestions that will rally the Alliance, but strengthen it.
First- and most simple — do no harm. Trump turned on the NATO summit in their first foreign tour, thus demonstrating the intention to make the Alliance a top priority. This in itself is no small achievement. But he can in a moment destroy all that good will by making some kind of delusional comment or rally from the coils (especially if you allow yourself some reckless tweet). Trump needs to stick to those theses which has prepared his team, and not to depart from them. And it is very difficult…
Second, Trump needed to declare its unconditional support of the Alliance and to abandon completely veiled threats to withdraw from the NATO if it does not achieve its the issue of military expenditures of other member countries. And to the point. He must insist, and insist actively and persistently, to the member countries of NATO have honestly contributed to the Treasury of the most successful military Alliance in history. But to do that trump needs to be more cautious and diplomatic. Such methods, he will achieve much more than threats.
And finally, the President of Donald trump needs to reassure members of the Alliance, who fear that he intends to appease Moscow in damages and NATO. There is an impression that today the administration has no space to maneuver, and she is unable to enter into any transaction with Russia. However, trump needs to make it absolutely clear that curbing the revanchist aspirations of Russia will be for him a top priority and the main task. The President needs to stress that will not tolerate any of the Kremlin’s interference in the internal Affairs of countries-members of NATO will not allow Russia to threaten their borders. This statement will help put to rest any thoughts that the current administration will not come to help in a crisis situation. And it is precisely this kind of doubt undermine and weaken any Alliance.
Approaching the summit, which is one of the shortest in history, gives the President the Trump much-needed opportunity to look presidential and to support this extremely important Alliance. Let’s hope that he will take advantage of this opportunity.