Trump’s NATO trip is an unmitigated disaster. I know that everyone is shocked to read this, and will be equally shocked to learn that water is wet, but what’s unusual here is the level of complete disaster Trump has created.
In an effort to be in front of the Cameras looking important. Donald Trump shoved Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković aside, walking between him and another leader. Here’s the video:
Here it is again in slow motion:
So that’s bad normally, pushing other leaders. But to add even more injury to this massive diplomatic insult, Montenegro literally just joined NATO.
Welcome to NATO. The American President will now literally push you around. I’m sure Critics of NATO and friends of the Russians will respond to this situation with their usual reserved and intelligent brand of discussion.
Montenegro is important for a number of reasons. As one of the constituent states of Former Yugoslavia, Montenegro sits in an unstable but stabilizing part of the world. It borders Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and the region of Serbia that is Kosovo.
Montenegro is important for a number of other reasons. Like the Serbs, the Montenegrins manufacture weapons. Their new TM-4 battle rifle is a hybrid between the US M-16 and the old soviet Kalashnikov. It uses an advanced version of the gas-piston system used by the Kalashnikov instead of the Armalite pattern’s direct impingement system. The Result is a rifle that supposedly has all of the accuracy and all-weather ruggedness of the Armalite pattern and the durability, low-maintenance, never-overheat/never-jam mythic powers of the Kalashnikov. The same company, TARA Group, manufactures precision parts for Russian aircraft like the Mig 29/35 and Su 25. They also have a lot of tourism, and one of the largest Aluminum plants in Europe.
In addition to geographic and economic importance, there’s some really significant geopolitical stuff going on here. The current Russian imperialist view is that every Slavic nation ought to be within the Russian sphere of influence and under Russian control. This view goes back to the Pan-Slavic movement of the late 1800s. As part of Yugoslavia, Montenegro is very much within the sphere the Russians see as their right to rule.
So is Poland, and the Baltics (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia,) the rest of the former Yugoslavian nations but especially Serbia, and pretty much all of Eastern Europe. Especially certain artificial Breakaway Regions that, like Kaliningrad, exist as Russian population centers outside of Russia. A good example of that is Transnistria, in Moldova, but there’s also South Ossettia and Abkhazia in Georgia. (Edit: As pointed out by user a gilas girl this applies to nations which are not in fact Slavic, but which the Russians like to call Slavic for political and hegemonic reasons, such as Estonia, Georgia, and occasionally Czechia.)
The Russians are using cold-war era “Salami Tactics” here. You never take something over all at once, you simply slice pieces off. War by baby steps. And unlike what’s described by our own cold warriors who discussed Salami Tactics, the Russians aren’t using military force, and taking over completely or quickly. They’re deploying oligarchs and engaging in economic war, and they’re playing a long game. One of which involves throwing a fit if anyone else ever interacts with someone in their sphere of influence.
Even taking advice from American experts has caused the Russians to get salty about Montenegro.
They’re currently calling Montenegro’s joining of NATO “Antirussian Hysteria” (антироссийской истерии,) and are extremely upset. The Serbian-Ethnic New Serbian Democracy party, whose leader flies to Moscow regularly for meetings and advice, has promised that if his party wins an election, he’ll throw out the NATO agreement.
That isn’t likely to happen, at least not without Russia hacking their elections. But what could happen is an attempt by Russia, as they have done elsewhere, to create a violent situation or harsh economic consequences in anger over Montenegro’s decision. That could mean the closure of the Russian Oligarch-owned KAP aluminum plant, it could mean the arming of a Serbian separatist movement on the Montenegrin-Serbian border to create a situation similar to South Ossettia, Abkhazia, Transnistria, or Crimea, which would allow the Russians to send in “Serbian” peacekeepers, just like they sent little green men to Ukraine. It could involve hacking their elections. It could involve bombarding a tiny country with propaganda. There are a ton of options for Russian retaliation here.
That’s why the Montenegrins want to join NATO. They’re tired of living with Russian threats. Every time they try to have a friend or work with a country that isn’t Russia or Serbia, the Russians throw a complete fit. This has been a long time coming, and is seen by Montenegrin leaders as a step along the path to joining the EU.
They become full NATO members on June 5.
And in the midst of all of that, with Russian-backed political parties in Montenegro throwing a fit, the blundering idiot this country elected just physically shoved the pro-EU leader of Montenegro aside.
Everything this man does is a complete disaster.
He’s an incompetent buffoon, and ought to be fired immediately. Congress has the power to do that, and really ought to take steps to bring in at least minimally competent leadership as a placeholder til the next election.