ObamaPutin_640Here we go. The pretext Vladimir Putin used to go into Crimea, to protect Russian speakers, has now brought into play with NATO member, and former Soviet satellite state, Estonia, under the threat of Russian invasion.

Things aren't going so well in Crimiea, either, with Russian forces taking over Ukraine military bases, a Ukrainian soldier shot and killed, and a Ukrainian commander now reportedly missing. 

In its dispute with Ukraine over Crimea Russia has asserted its right to act beyond its own borders to protect Russian language speakers. We saw what happened in Crimea. It has now been swallowed whole by Putin and the Russian Duma, and in the word used by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, it is "gone".

Estonia is a whole different animal. Along with Latvia and Lithuania it forms the three state Baltics, all of which are members of NATO. Vice President Joe Biden is in Europe now assuring other NATO member states that the United States still fully supports the alliance and it's tripwire charter provision known as Article Five. That particular aspect of the NATO agreement obligates all member states to regard an attack on one as an attack on all.

So while the Obama White House could ignore the Crimea takeover as not much of a big deal with pathetic little sanctions on not even a full dozen Russians and Ukrainians, an attack or incursion of a NATO country is an entirely different matter.

Russia Today, a Putin propaganda arm on American cable television, published an online piece today titled Ten Powerful Points made by Putin in yesterday's speech celebrating the annexation of Crimea. Please read his remakrs on various objections from the U.S. and Western Europe about his Crimean takeover. NATO's expansion into what Putin calls his "backyard" is evidently a particularly sore point:

"NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our own backyard; in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round."

So... if Putin were to conduct an incursion into Estonia, to protect a Russianphone minority, NATO would be required to respond with military force. NATO has many members but the only one with any true military force is the United States. The President of the United States, Commander in Chief of those American NATO forces, seems particularly unwilling to use the American military ("I was elected to end wars not start them.").

But there's even more. The United States is a bit over a barrel in other matters regarding Putin's Russia. Putin is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear weapons ambitions on behalf of the United States. Now Russia says it may reevaluat its position and drop its efforts. This bit of news had to be disconcerting to the American Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as President Obama. They were counting on Russia to get out of a jam with Iran. In order to stop Israel from attacking Iran, the U.S. had to somehow arrange for Iran to halt its bomb-building. That's where Putin offered to help.

The same equation is in play with Syria. When President Obama threatened a military strike against Syria he clearly did not want to carry out , it was Putin who stepped in to broker a deal. Not that Bashir Assad has followed through with turning over his chemical weapons, but the pretense has given Obama cover. Now, Putin may pull out of that deal too.

Plus we currently supply our forces in Afghanistan through Russian airspace. Expect that to go too.

And that eviscerated funding for Nasa's rockets? We now go to space on Russian rockets. We may not be going to space much longer.

With Iran negotiations, Syria negotiations, Afghanistan transit, and a way to get to space on the line, would Barack Obama confront Putin with military force as required by NATO's Article Five?

If you have your doubts, you are entitled.

And if NATO didn't come to the defense of little Estonia, would there be any credibility left to the NATO alliance?

And if NATO had no credibility left, would there be a NATO left?

If you have your doubts, you are entitled.

And you may now be thinking like Putin.