How is Provoking Russia in the Black Sea Putting America First?

Military officials say that the Navy is provoking Russia in order to “desensitize” them.

Obviously, if the Navy are sending guided-missile destroyers to “desensitize” Russian leaders, as they admit, then they are intentionally provoking Russia. They are willfully doing something that will provoke them in the hope that they will decide to endure the provocation rather than escalate the situation. The idea is that they will get used to doing nothing.

What would happen if the Russians sent a couple of guided-missile destroyers into the Gulf of Mexico to desensitize us? Would we consider that reasonable behavior?

Given the immense possible consequences of this kind of action, I fail to see how it is consistent with an “America First” policy.

The Military Times reports, “Navy sends destroyers to Black Sea to ‘desensitize’ Russia.

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The Navy has deployed the guided-missile destroyer Carney to join the destroyer Ross in the Black Sea in a move that U.S. military officials told CNN is intended to “desensitize” Russia to the presence of American military assets in the strategically important region.

The deployment of the Carney marks the first time in four years that two American destroyers have operated in the Black Sea outside of scheduled exercises. The move comes as Russia continues to militarize Crimea, the peninsula it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

The CNN story elaborates:

A Europe-based US defense official criticized Russia’s attitude of ownership over the Black Sea, noting that “NATO nations have more coastline by far on the Black Sea than Russia does, so it’s certainly not a Russian lake.”

In addition to Russia, the Black Sea is bordered by NATO members Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania as well as NATO partners Ukraine and Georgia. NATO has boosted its activity in the area as part of its “tailored forward presence,” which is headquartered in Romania, one of only six NATO nations to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense.

Officials say that given the heightened tensions and increased military activity in the region it is important to increase the frequency of US activity in the area and desensitize Russia to the presence of US military forces there, helping to establish rules for how the two countries should safely operate in proximity to each other, as they did in the Cold War.

“In the Cold War we had a dance we did and everybody knew their roles in the dance: You fly your bomber here, I’ll fly my bomber there. You put a ship here, I’ll put a ship there,” another US defense official in Europe told CNN.

“I don’t think we’ve got to that level yet, and so we’re still trying to figure out what that dance looks like in the year 2018 versus what it was back in the Cold War, and I think there are some growing pains, obviously,” the official added.

Read the entire Military Times story and the CNN story.

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