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Sun Jun 12, 2016, 11:58 AM

The Poor Man's Cold War?

The Russian Threat: NATO Struggles to Recover after Years of Budget Cuts

RAND Corporation simulations aren't for the faint of heart. The think tank in Santa Monica, California is a progeny of the Cold War and the 1960 study conducted by legendary systems theorist Herman Kahn -- which examined the consequences of nuclear war -- has not been forgotten.'

He believed the aftermath could be managed. Following a nuclear conflict, Kahn proposed, contaminated food should be reserved for the elderly since they would likely die before contracting cancer as a result of radiation. The researcher thus became one of the inspirations for Stanley Kubrick's film satire "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

Several weeks ago, the California-based game theorists released another study that received a fair amount of attention. Financed by the Pentagon, they created a series of simulations for a hypothetical Russian invasion of the two Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia.

"The outcome was, bluntly, a disaster for NATO," the RAND researchers wrote in their report. In each simulation, the Russians were able to either circumvent the outnumbered NATO units, or even worse, destroy them. Between 36 and 60 hours after the beginning of hostilities, Russian troops stood before the gates of Riga or Tallinn -- or both.



So Russia is suffering economically under sanctions and 'artificially' low oil prices, while the U.S. and its NATO allies are struggling with their own survival. Seems like a game of economic chicken. Who will fold first?


'We Don't Want A New Cold War'

NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg: 'We Don't Want a New Cold War'

SPIEGEL: Mr. Secretary General, three former high-ranking NATO generals have sharply criticized the alliance's Russia policy. They wrote that NATO has "too often acted like a homeowner who sets the alarm once the burglars have left." What is your answer to that criticism?

Stoltenberg: NATO is the most successful alliance in history. Thus far, we have prevented war through a combination of strong defense and deterrence. Now we are positioning ourselves to address the challenge presented by an increasingly confident Russia. We have enhanced our presence in the eastern part of the alliance to a greater degree than any time since the Cold War and sent a strong message to potential adversaries.

SPIEGEL: This enhancement is exactly what the generals are criticizing. They say it isn't credible because NATO has sent too few soldiers to the Baltic States and that Russia is in a position to block or impede reinforcements any time it wants.

toltenberg: Our exercises have demonstrated the opposite to be true. We have just successfully completed the Brilliant Jump maneuver and transferred a Spanish brigade to Poland where it participated in a mission with units from Germany, Great Britain and many other countries.

SPIEGEL: Maneuvers are one thing, but reality is often quite another. Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas has demanded that NATO troops be permanently stationed in his country.

Stoltenberg: We have developed detailed plans combining several elements for the defense of our Eastern European partners. At the NATO summit at the beginning of July in Warsaw, we will determine how to credibly defend ourselves in the future as well. Our planning staff has proposed sending battalion-sized units to various countries in the eastern part of the alliance which could be quickly reinforced in an emergency. We will improve our infrastructure and position materiel and reinforcements in the region. We have already opened eight small headquarters in the eastern part of the alliance area and the NATO rapid reaction force has been tripled in size, to 40,000 troops.

SPIEGEL: NATO has been careful about sending more troops into its eastern member states because it wants to remain in compliance with the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations. When it signed this agreement, NATO wanted to create a new foundation for the relationship between Russia and the West. Will that agreement be sacrosanct forever?

Stoltenberg: We comply with our international obligations and with the NATO Russia Founding Act. Our stronger presence in the east in the form of rotating troops, combined with the ability to bring in reinforcements in the case of a serious incident, is the right, balanced mixture and is in keeping with the counsel of our military planners. We can deploy NATO soldiers from Germany, Spain or Norway all over the world on extremely short notice, including to the Baltics. And don't forget one thing: We are no longer in the Cold War. Back then, there were hundreds of thousands of soldiers permanently stationed at NATO's borders. Today, the decisive factor is rapid deployability.

SPIEGEL: Are we understanding you correctly: The NATO-Russia Founding Act will not be touched?


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