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Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

miércoles, 26 de marzo de 2014

La posible respuesta de los EE.UU. al desafío ruso.

Planning the U.S. Military Response to Russian Revanchism

By Steven Metz, on 

When the Cold War ended, the days of imperial expansion seemed to go with it. No one expected the revanchism of bygone empires to affect, much less shape, the 21st-century global security system. But that is exactly what is happening. Al-Qaida is using the dream of a long-lost Arab empire to justify terrorism. China is yearning for territory it owned centuries ago and seems willing to use its rising economic and military power to regain it. And now Russia has joined the revanchists by invading Ukraine and seizing a large chunk of its territory. As a result, policymakers, military strategists and security specialists are dusting off old ideas about imperial revanchism and reconsidering how to stop it. 

While Vladimir Putin’s desire to reconstitute the old czarist/communist Russian empire has been a wake-up call to the West, Russia has neither China’s economic power nor al-Qaida’s ideological appeal to fuel the rebuilding of its old empire. There are few if any angry young Russians willing to undertake terrorism on Putin’s behest. Nor can modern Russia call on a transnational communist movement like the Soviet Union could. Putin’s only proxies are the Russian speakers living in former parts of the empire and powerful criminal gangs with close ties to the Russian elite. 

Still, Putin remains, in former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s words, the “ultimate revisionist,” obsessed with reversing the dismantling of the Soviet empire. Even before Moscow has fully digested Crimea, NATO officials are warning of a Russian military build-up that may portend further aggression, possibly a move into eastern Ukraine or Moldova’s Transnistria region

Putin’s revanchism must be taken seriously. The United States and its partners must manage the threat Russian aggression poses to the security of Europe and, potentially, Central Asia. Economic and diplomatic efforts will be key, but the strategy also must have a military component. Thus the Pentagon must consider both immediate responses to impending Russian land grabs and the “long game” based on bolstering the ability of small nations to resist Moscow’s pressure and intimidation. 

Doing this will not require a radical change in plans for the U.S. military. Balance and adaptability will remain the keys: If the United States cedes its effectiveness in any military domain, that is precisely the one that Moscow—or any other opponent—will exploit. Washington may, however, need to revise or change other components of its strategy. Take, for instance, the withdrawal of most American military forces from Europe. This was based on a diminished threat from that region, the assumption that Europe could largely take care of problems that did arise and the belief that Russia had abandoned its historical aggressive insecurity, which assumed that the only secure border is one with Russian troops on both sides. This all made sense a few years ago, but now Russia, flush with petrodollars and driven by Putin’s revanchism, has again made Europe a dangerous place.

For this reason, the United States should reverse its withdrawal from Europe and redeploy some forces, particularly in NATO’s eastern areas. An increased ground and air presence in the Baltic republics, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania could help steel the resolve of nations facing Russian intimidation. Greater naval activity in the Black and Baltic Seas would help as well. But what of Putin’s potential victims that are not members of NATO? One thing the United States could do for them would be to expand the techniques it uses to assist the armed forces of other nations. Rather than making partner militaries miniature versions of the American force, designed for complex combined arms warfare, the U.S. military should help nations facing Russian revanchism build a “nation in arms” capability to include universal military service and preparation for guerrilla warfare. 

Russia should know that even if it defeated a small state’s standing military, it would face armed resistance, possibly with active U.S. support. To make this more credible, the U.S. military would need to augment its ability to help partners move to a nation in arms model and, if worse comes to worst, assist guerrilla forces resisting external invaders. This would require research, analysis, wargaming, concept development, leader development and training. But the prospect of facing guerrilla warfare might help Putin remember the role that Moscow’s intervention in Afghanistan played in bringing down the Soviet Union.

There is another crucial military implication of this new wave of imperial revanchism: It may inspire smaller states to pursue nuclear weapons. Nations don’t invade other nations that have nuclear weapons. Just as the U.S. military intervention in Iraq may have increased the incentives of Iran and North Korea to develop nuclear weapons or add to their nuclear capability, the Russian intervention in Ukraine may push its former colonies in this direction, particularly in the absence of a firm security commitment from the United States and some indication that Europe is putting the brakes on its de facto disarmament. Unfortunately, the more nations that have nuclear weapons, the greater the chances that they will be used some day or fall into the hands of terrorists. 

Thus, the short-term response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea should be primarily economic, followed by a mid-term effort to increase U.S. military presence in Europe and to support a nation-in-arms strategy on the part of small states. But the long-term strategy of managing security in the face of Russian revanchism will require further development of homeland security to protect the United States against terrorists with nuclear weapons, and the ability of the U.S. military and other government agencies to undertake stabilization and relief operations following a nuclear exchange somewhere in the world. Hopefully, the U.S. military will not be forced to fight the Russian armed forces. But failing to consider that possibility and to develop better ways to contain Putin’s revanchism could lead in that direction.

Steven Metz is a defense analyst and the author of "Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy." His weekly WPR column, Strategic Horizons, appears every Wednesday.

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