No rest for NATO strategists

Iskander short-range ballistic missiles at a military exhibition in Vladivostok.
Sept. 6, 2016: Iskander-M short-range missiles fit into a tactical nuclear doctrine that serves as an umbrella for Russia to conduct small conventional wars (source: dpa)
  • NATO has hardened its forward defenses against Russia in the east
  • A broader strategy is required to deter cyberattacks and nuclear blackmail
  • Threat assessment and priority setting may be delayed by U.S. and European elections

Enough time has passed since the Warsaw summit to forget the high-flown declarations and take a hard look at the tasks at hand. There is a lot to do. While the summit was important, it was only one element in the much larger process of adapting NATO to new political and strategic realities. Even though no one wants to admit it, these conditions amount to a new Cold War.

Everyone from the NATO General Secretary and the various officials of the alliance and its member states, all the way to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the other side of the barricade, are all agreed on one thing: nobody wants another Cold War.

Nobody wants one, but there it is. This time the danger is not a nuclear cataclysm on a global scale. Instead, the opponent is to be gobbled up in small pieces, “frozen” in place and anesthetized so that he doesn’t even realize he is being eaten. And if he were to rouse himself to resist, it is enough to threaten the use of tactical nuclear weapons – in keeping with Russia’s now famous doctrine known euphemistically as “nuclear de-escalation.”

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