Putin Sends a Message to Obama

By Dr. Earl Tilford

“Si vis pacem, para bellum” (“If you want peace, prepare for war”)

Obama and Putin
Obama and Putin
The Center For Vision & Values
The Center For Vision & Values

Grove City, PA -(AmmoLand.com)- On April 11-12, two Russian SU-24 fighter-bombers made repeated low-level passes over the USS Donald Cook, an American destroyer sailing in the Baltic Sea.

The ship’s crew recorded the incidents and the Navy released them online. The video reminds one of the antics of Maverick and Goose, two naval aviators harassing Russian fighter planes in the 1986 motion picture “Top Gun.” During the Cold War, such incidents were common. If we are, as some think, in a new Cold War, they will occur more frequently, so it’s important that we understand them.

First, it’s important to understand what this incident and a similar one in the Black Sea last April were not. While ill-advised and dangerous, they were not acts of war. The USS Donald’s commanding officer and its crew knew the SU-24s were unarmed. Had they been armed and had their surface-to-air missile radars locked on, the Donald could have shot them down initiating a serious confrontation between the world’s two superpowers.

Second, it's unimaginable that Russian pilots would do this as a form of hijinks. A gust of wind or unanticipated mechanical failure could have proven deadly. Furthermore, no local commander would sanction such behavior on his own accord. This was a message from Vladimir Putin.

Third, it was not wise, especially since a Polish helicopter was attempting to land on the destroyer’s small flight deck as part of a refueling effort. Helicopters are very complex and inherently difficult to fly, especially hovering over a moving platform on a rolling sea. Harassment by two very powerful twin-engine jets presents more than a distraction. The jet blast could have sent the helicopter crashing into the Donald, causing destruction, death, and precipitating an international crisis.

Under different circumstances, the Donald’s commander might have engaged and destroyed aircraft acting in this manner. For instance, it would be foolish for a pair of Iranian pilots to pull this stunt given the high tension in the Persian Gulf. While blasting a pair of Iranian pilots to smithereens might start a war, since Iran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, it wouldn’t mean Armageddon. It is likely a Navy ship commander would shoot down a civilian aircraft engaged in such behavior to eliminate the threat of a suicide attack.

The Russians picked the USS Donald for two reasons. First, it was operating in what Moscow considers its territory. That it was co-operating with a Polish helicopter is also significant because during the last Cold War Poland’s communist regime was a Russian ally in the now defunct Warsaw Pact. In this case, tomcat Putin is marking his territory and backing it up with an angry hiss.

Second, Putin also is testing U.S. resolve. If the Obama administration reacts weakly, an emboldened Putin might invade Ukraine. While Washington and NATO are not likely to react militarily to further Russian aggression in Ukraine, a move on Latvia, Estonia, or Lithuania—all NATO allies—could mean war. Not reacting would leave NATO meaningless and invite further Russian aggression. Weakness begs for bullying.

The Obama administration needs to stand up to Putin. Here are some things to consider:

  • First, modernize the nuclear arsenal to maintain the credibility of our deterrence.
  • Second, build a NATO air base in Poland and base a squadron of USAF F-22s on it.
  • Third, bolster Polish defenses with additional F-16 fighters and provide them a couple of squadron of A-10 Warthog tank-busting attack planes. Also, arm Poland with enough M-1A2 Abrams tanks to discourage Russia from its historic propensity for blitzkrieg type invasions. If invaded, the Poles will fight and make Russia pay dearly.
  • Fourth, end the scheduled reduction of the U.S. Army from its current level of 485,000 to something between 420,000 and 450,000. Build the Army back to a force of at least 550,000.

While ISIS and other terrorist groups—and rogue regimes in North Korea and Iran—remain serious threats, Russia and China can challenge our nation’s existence.

If Russia is deterred, China and lesser threats are also significantly lessened. But if terrorists and rogue nations are not deterred, then the world’s real bullies are emboldened.

The old Latin adage, “If you want peace, prepare for war,” still applies to a world as dangerous today as it was in the fifth century when Roman patrician Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus urged military strength to meet the threat posed by Goths.

Dr. Earl Tilford
Dr. Earl Tilford

About the Author:

Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.

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    Jim Halberson5WarVeteranduraboDr Timothy-Allen AlbertsonGabedini Recent comment authors
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    5WarVeteran
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    5WarVeteran

    Well said Dr Tim!

    Dr Timothy-Allen Albertson
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    Dr Timothy-Allen Albertson

    All in all, w must realize that it is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin who is keeping jihadists at bay. I never thought that I would see the day that the leader of the free world would be a Chekist. But I have because of the racist stupidity of the American electorate in 08 and 12. I would take a bullet for President Putin. Although never want to be that close to that piece of half-white trash obama-boy I would hit the deck rather than take a bullet for him yet praying as I did that no Secret Service Agent or police… Read more »

    durabo
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    durabo

    Well stated, sir. I can see the day when the Right in the USA loses the presidential election (not that the fat-arsed Marxist will WIN it, but the moribund GOP will LOSE it) and American expatriates will flee this Socialist Workers’ Paradise to immigrate in capitalistic Russia. Far-fetched? Just wait.

    Jim Halberson
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    Jim Halberson

    Dr Timothy-Allen Albertson – I agree. The current administration is the only one crying about Putin trying to stamp out radical islam. “But, but Russia is making the President of the United States look bad, we certainly can’t stand for that can we?” Actually we can, Because it’s called the Obama legacy or as Putin loudly proclaims “Barack, because you don’t really have any balls, you’re my bitch now”. Yet this kind of posturing between Russia & America has been going on as far back as the cold war. ……or as Officer Barbrady say’s “move along folks, nothing to see… Read more »

    5WarVeteran
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    5WarVeteran

    Dude! This sh*t happens all the time. I am retire Navy I saw it plenty of times. It is now that sailors have cameras on every phone. That is the ONLY DIFFERENCE. Had there been no pictures you would not have heard of it.

    "Taj"M.A. Hall USAF retired.
    Guest
    "Taj"M.A. Hall USAF retired.

    5warvet

    you are right my friend. This not an unusual occurrence. They do it to us, we do it to them. Has been going on a long time.

    Janek
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    Janek

    The first message Putin sent was way back when he took the Super Bowl ring. LOL

    Janek
    Guest
    Janek

    If Obama challenged Putin, Vlad already had an answer – Well you have a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Randall
    Guest
    Randall

    Sorry Earl, you got it wrong. Yes, we do need to rebuild our armed forces. However, NATO and Europe need to start paying and defending themselves. We can’t afford it and if they don’t, they deserve what they get.

    And, Poland? Haven’t you read the news? A completely corrupt, totalitarian goverment! I we bolster their arms they will only use them against thier own people.

    Gabedini
    Guest
    Gabedini

    Although I agree that Russia is overstepping its bounds and we should do something. I definitely agree with your point about them defending their own land. I’m tired of NATO being “the US pays for all your problems, then after they’re done we’re gonna badmouth them”

    hippybiker
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    hippybiker

    If O-Homo was a white Republican, he would have been impeached and imprisoned a long time ago. What is wrong with us?

    durabo
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    durabo

    What is wrong with us? We have been brainwashed by clergy. , educators and the LameStream EneMedia into a sense of ethnic guilt. We are not able to judge Bathhouse Barry for his obvious Marxism and support of Islamic terrorism just because of hos ethnic composition. He has turned the USA into the USSA, a lighter shade of Venezuela and Cuba. Every time Putin growls, this poofter wets his panties, and runs for the golf course. Years ago, leaders such as Generals George S. Patton and Curtis LeMay would have overthrown him, charged, tried nd probably executed him for high… Read more »

    Jimboy
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    Jimboy

    I like the way you think Herb!
    Right on.
    A little tracer fire out in front of those Russian jets would be a simple response too.

    Bryan StMartin
    Guest
    Bryan StMartin

    I would suggest energizing the Phalanx, a few short radar pulses is really imposing on a pilots sphincter.

    Herb
    Guest
    Herb

    Good luck on getting bath house Barry to do much of anything that interferes with his golf game. And forget his democrat buddy, Clinton. She likely hates the military more than does the turd with ears. Maybe they could get their Iranian advisors to draw another red line in the sand and rattle a couple of sabers. They could also put up big “NO ATTACK AIRCRAFT” signs to protect the various military activities. Such patriots are the democrats. Besides, thinking up all those lies they tell is tiring. There may not be much left after that.