In The Wall Street Journal the neocon flame begins to burn.
Sanctions, skipping the G-8 summit in Sochi, hitting Russian oligarchs in their pocketbooks, isolating Russia in international forums—all of these options are legitimate responses to Mr. Putin’s land grab in the sovereign state of Ukraine. But there is also a need to think about military options.
First, NATO should reconsider its so-called Three Nos from the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. The Three Nos were shorthand for the NATO allies’ joint declaration that they had “no intentions, no plans, and no reason” to station nonstrategic nuclear forces in new member states. But NATO left the door open to future deployments if front-line allies were threatened. While NATO still lacks the intention and plans to station nuclear forces in new member states, such as Poland, it now has more than sufficient reason to do so.
A preliminary step should be making the Polish air force’s F-16s capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons so that they could participate in NATO’s nuclear mission. That should quickly be followed by site surveys to identify suitable locations for potentially storing nuclear weapons on the territory of front-line allies, including Poland, if relations with Russia further deteriorate.
Second, NATO should reinforce its front-line allies with additional conventional force deployments. The time has come for the U.S. and other NATO allies to consider permanently stationing forces in Poland and Romania as well as the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to back up their words of strategic solidarity. Their mission should be defensively oriented, establishing what military strategists call “anti-access, area denial” zones. (This might include missile defenses to protect major bases in those countries along with anti-air, anti-armor and anti-ship weapons to counter air, land or naval incursions.
Taking these steps in the Baltic states would reduce Russia’s temptation to encroach on their sovereignty in the name of “protecting ethnic Russian populations,” a pretext it has used in Ukraine. It would also preclude Russia’s option of a quick, Crimea-like operation to establish a fait accompli on the ground before NATO can decide to act.
And it goes on here.
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