July 19, 2018


Why did Trump choose to parrot Putin on Montenegro? (John R. Schindler, 18 July 2018, The Spectator)

Let's omit the oft-encountered, vaguely homoerotic Trumpian obsession with strength. Neither shall we dwell on Trump's glancing reference to NATO's Article V, the collective defense provision, the alliance's cornerstone, which the president did not mention because he presumably has never heard of it. Trump implied that Montenegro - NATO's newest member, which joined last year - is an aggressive place which may drag America into World War III.

In fact, Montenegro is a tiny country of scarcely more than 600,000 people. It's known mostly for its sunny Adriatic beaches, and in recent centuries it hasn't attacked anyone except rampaging Ottomans. Its military has fewer than 2,000 troops, its army is a single light infantry battalion lacking armor or modern artillery, and its "air force" is a squadron of aging helicopters. Who exactly is Montenegro going to attack?

Neighbouring Serbia was far from pleased with Montenegro's NATO accession - the two countries, having been joined (not always happily) in Yugoslavia from 1918, divorced in 2006 - since it cut off their former Adriatic coastline, leaving Serbia landlocked. However, Serbia's mostly ramshackle military only looks impressive compared to Montenegro's, even with Moscow's recent gift of six MiG-29 fighters (aging aircraft to bolster Serbia's handful of truly ancient MiG-29s that Moscow sold to Yugoslavia in the 1980s), Not to mention that nobody in Serbia wants to invade Montenegro, which Serbs view as errant kin rather than a real foe. That NATO could destroy Serbia's military without breaking a sweat is also a mitigating factor.

Where, then, does Trump's bizarre belief that little Montenegro is a big problem for America come from? It may not be irrelevant that Moscow was very upset about that tiny Balkan country joining the Atlantic Alliance.

Posted by at July 19, 2018 4:27 AM