War In Europe? Ho Hum

It seems to be a closely guarded secret, but preparations for war are going on in Europe. A Russian fleet that includes that country’s only aircraft carrier made a point of sailing through the English Channel and along the European coast en route to Syria. Nuclear-capable Russian ships are making a demonstration in the Baltic Sea, and Russian troops, reportedly equipped with nuclear weapons, have moved near Russia’s borders with Poland and Lithuania. In response, NATO countries are hurrying troops and ships into the potential war zone.

Iskander missile launchers have been deployed on Russia's borders with Poland and Lithuania

Iskander missile launchers have been deployed on Russia’s borders with Poland and Lithuania

Traditionally, this would have been considered important news. But don’t try to tell that to the New York Times. This is what the Times had above the fold today; it’s all Trump, all the time:

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The Times is 100% focused on the real enemy, Republicans. The plebeian Daily Mail, on the other hand, is all over the European crisis:

Russia’s military escalation on Europe’s border has triggered the West’s biggest show of force in the region since the Cold War as Nato continues to square up to Vladimir Putin.

Britain is to deploy troops, tanks and jets to Estonia to deter Russian aggression while UK and Romanian forces will also join a US battalion in Poland. As part of the biggest military build-up in Eastern Europe since the Cold War, RAF planes are also being dispatched to patrol Romanian airspace for the first time.

The moves are designed to stop Moscow taking over or undermining its former Eastern European satellites as it has with Crimea and Ukraine.

The US is hoping for European nations to fill four battle groups of some 4,000 troops as part of Nato’s response to Russia. More troops will be sent to the Baltic states and eastern Poland early next year. They will be backed by Nato’s 40,000-strong rapid reaction force.

France, Denmark, Italy and other allies are expected to join the four battle groups led by the United States, Germany, Britain and Canada to go to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, with forces ranging from armoured infantry to drones.

It comes after Russia unveiled pictures of its largest ever nuclear missile – Satan 2 – which is capable of obliterating the UK.

The Satan 2

The Satan 2

The Daily Mail adds this helpful illustration. Click to enlarge:

27R_NATO Estonia v RUSSIA 1

The background to the current crisis is NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe, including the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This expansion was carried out while NATO’s military capabilities were declining, creating the potential for dangerous miscalculation. Russia views NATO’s expansion as an aggressive poke in the eye, while at the same time being acutely aware of the relative weakness of Western Europe.

Barack Obama has drawn a red line in the region, assuring Vladimir Putin that the U.S. will fulfill its commitments under Article 5 of the NATO treaty and fight for the Baltic states:

I say to the people of Estonia and the people of the Baltics, today we are bound by our treaty alliance. We have a solemn duty to each other. Article 5 is crystal clear: An attack on one is an attack on all. So if, in such a moment, you ever ask again, “who will come to help,” you’ll know the answer — the NATO alliance, including the Armed Forces of the United States of America, right here, [at] present, now! (Applause.) We’ll be here for Estonia. We will be here for Latvia. We will be here for Lithuania. You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again.

You know, and I know, that Obama didn’t mean a word of it. He wouldn’t fight for Chicago, let alone Vilnius. But if Putin calls his bluff and invades the Baltic countries, killing some British, American and other NATO troops in the process, we could be looking at World War III.

Do I think it will happen? No, probably not. On the other hand, can I rule out the possibility that Putin might decide to take advantage of the last months of an incredibly inept U.S. president by making a decisive move in Europe? No, I can’t.

The American news industry is a disgrace. Instead of serious coverage of the growing crisis in Europe (and, also, in Syria–where Russia now has an aircraft carrier poised for action–and elsewhere) we get absurd daily updates on women to whom Donald Trump allegedly made a rude remark 15 years ago. The incompetence of our news media parallels the incompetence of the Obama administration–no surprise, since we are basically talking about the same people.

Glenn Reynolds made a similar point in his most recent USA Today column. Glenn notes the many important issues that are getting little attention in the press, which, determined to elect Hillary Clinton at all costs, obsesses on Donald Trump’s sex life:

ObamaCare is imploding because the original concept was unworkable, as many critics argued at the time it was adopted. Now, several years later, insurers are abandoning the project and Americans’ premiums are facing double-digit increases.

Given that this was President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, and given that Clinton is running, essentially, on the promise of a third Obama term, you’d think this would be a top story in the news, getting the full-bore coverage every day that, say, a groping allegation against Donald Trump receives. But you’d be wrong. As Twitter humorist Jim Treacher says, “Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.”
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Corruption, unaffordable healthcare, a burgeoning national debt: These are all things that will have serious consequences for Americans for decades, to come. In a healthier society, our election would turn on these issues. But we do not live in such a society. And that suits politicians, and their supporters in the press, just fine.

Important events are occurring that have nothing to do with smearing Donald Trump. But don’t count on your newspaper or on network television to report on them.

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