UKRAINE UPDATE: 7:00 AM, @cjjohns1951

Podcast Notes: “Doomsday Watch”

Interview with Jason Pack, fellow at the Middle East Institute.

  • NATO countries are not automatically pledged to defend NATO territory.  There still has to be a decision among NATO members.  If the Russians were to attack Poland, for instance, there would still have to be a decision made.
  • The Article 5 commitment
  • NATO and the UN are coordinating mechanisms.  They coordinate operations.  They work together in many ways.
  • Under the UN Charter, the taking of territory by force is against UN Charter.  But, the UN didn’t take action after the invasion of Crimea.
  • NATO was the vehicle through which a no-fly zone was implemented in Libya even though there had been no attack on a NATO member.
  • Had the NATO members wanted to decide that any invasion of Ukraine was something they wanted to take action on, they could have done so.
  • As treaty is only as strong as the will of the signatories.
  • 1994 Budapest Memorandum ended the cold war period.  It guaranteed Ukrainian territorial integrity in exchange for them giving up nuclear weapons that were on their soil.  With the annexation of Crimea, none of the signatories acted.  They did not discharge their obligations under this treaty.   
  • Article 5 has to be invoked.
  • A treaty is ratified by the Senate.  They have an extra layer because they have multiple layers of government involved.  A memorandum only involves the executive.  But, both require willingness to be upheld.
  • Invoking Article 5 is discretionary.
  • Ukraine is an important part of the world.  It is the fulcrum on which much of politics exists. 
  • We in the West are not good at enforcing our red lines.  Obama, for example, drew a line about chemical weapons and then did nothing.  In 2014, sanctions were pretty limited after the invasion of Crimea.
  • Putin has seen that as long as he moves incrementally, we bend and do not break.
  • We needed to have made clear in December, January and February that Nordstream 2 would be turned off.  Germany was wavering about Nordstream 2.  If you fold, your opponent has every reason to believe you will fold again.
  • There is a range of things that can be done to raise on the part of the West, like cyber.  We have not been good at this. 
  • No matter what your resources, the willingness to risk those resources is what’s going to make the difference.  In America, there is a trend from Reagan, that we are not willing to put our key interests on the line.  That puts us at a disadvantage.  We must be willing to do things like cyber offensives.
  • Putin is on the back foot.  Now is the time to push.  We are in a war even though we don’t want to admit it.  We didn’t include every bank in SWIFT restrictions. 
  • Pack does not support a no-fly zone.  There are other actions that would be less escalatory.  Cyber is being discussed.  We should have done this sooner.  “It’s a test of wills.  It’s not a Ph.D. thesis.” 
  • If Putin could have done cyber successfully, he would have done so by now.  He wouldn’t be holding this in reserve.  If we have cyber tools and are not deploying them, it would be very disappointing.
  • When you have an advantage, you have to be willing to press it. 
  • Article by Pack in Foreign Policy Magazine.

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