Whom the gods would destroy, Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, they first make mad. What would Nietzsche make of the current, truly mad US and NATO obsession with charging into the Black Sea? It is a useful thought to ponder.
The Black Sea was far outside NATO’s traditional theater of operations for most of the Alliance’s history. However, Brussels and Washington have been piling up their military assets and visibility in the region like bees at a honey pot – or like a rogue herd of elephants charging off the edge of a cliff.
Yet NATO’s “In Your Face” presence in the Black Sea protects no one. On the contrary, it puts America’s allies in the region at grave risk by escalating tensions and increasing the danger that full scale war could break out by deliberately manufactured incident (Just think the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964) and or through a random error or clash that escalates out of control.
The US/NATO forward presence in the Black Sea is strategic madness. And it replicates parallel incendiary US exercises in fake macho stupidity against Beijing in the South China Sea: A region from which the Chinese people suffered invasion and societal collapse on a genocidal scale following defeats by Britain and France in the First Opium War (1839-42) and by Imperial Japan in its terrible invasion of summer 1937.
Washington seems equally intent on opening up a third front against Iran with its parallel forward policy in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Three simultaneous wars against three major nations, two of which are the largest, most populous in the world and formidably nuclear armed? US grand strategy –insofar as there is one – seems to have national suicide as its only goal.
This is especially bizarre in the Black Sea: Washington’s strongest and most important ally in the region, Turkey is now on the brink of being expelled from NATO because of the Turkish government’s determination to buy Russia’s excellent S-400 air defense system, the best of its kind in the world.
Expelling Ankara makes no rational sense whatsoever for the US and NATO. Turkey has proven vital to Washington’s demented 21st “strategy” of stirring up trouble throughout the region, especially in Iraq and Syria. If Turkey is driven out of NATO, the US will lose its restraining leverage to prevent Ankara from cracking down hard on the quasi-independent Kurdish enclaves – a move that Iran, Iraq and Syria would all enthusiastically welcome.
Worse yet, if the United States pushes ahead with defying the 1936 Montreux Convention and packing the Black Sea with its warships, combat aircraft and other military assets, it risks having them cut off if an enraged Turkey closes the Bosporus Strait past Istanbul to them. There is no way the United States could maintain its own, and other NATO forces meant to “protect” Ukraine and Georgia in the Black Sea if Russia and Turkey, supported by a friendly China and Iran decided to cut them off or move against them.
The United States would then have the choice between surrendering, losing a catastrophic conventional war on a scale never before experienced or going nuclear.
President Donald Trump repeatedly proclaims his desire for peace and appears to be sincere at a conscious level. Yet he has appointed and allowed himself to be surrounded by wild extremists and adventurers. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Curtis Scaparotti have all talked tough about maintaining and expanding US military power in the Black Sea.