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Old 01-11-2004, 12:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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US military forces leaving Germany

Quote:
Posted by Telegraph | News

The United States plans to withdraw its heavy armoured formations from Germany next year, in the largest reshaping of the European military landscape since the end of the Cold War, it emerged yesterday.

The historic plans are part of a drive to turn the American military into a more flexible, rapid reaction force.

They have been in gestation since long before the Iraq war, and Washington officials insist they are not punishing Germany for opposing the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

The decision to move all US armour home marks the end of the Cold War era when huge tank armies backed by millions of troops and thousands of aircraft readied for war in the heart of Europe.

Following the withdrawal of Russian troops from Germany, in 1994, America's pull-out would leave Britain the last foreign power with heavy armour on the plains of Germany. Britain maintains a force of some 23,000 troops there.

Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's top policy official, told German counterparts last month that America will start pulling out heavy ground forces late next year, eventually withdrawing up to 40,000 men from Germany by 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Units will return to the US, although Washington plans new bases in Poland, Bulgaria and the Baltic States through which troops would move to future trouble spots.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, has led an aggressive campaign to reshape the military for the new, less predictable, conflicts of the war on terror.

The changes aim to close many of the sprawling bases that span the globe from Germany to South Korea - many of them mini-Americas, complete with schools, hospitals, shopping centres and suburban housing estates.

Instead, Mr Rumsfeld wants troops to rotate through a global network of small bases, deploying to hot spots at short notice, and picking up equipment and supplies pre-positioned at storage sites.

Although many Germans will cheer the departure, there is no concealing the impact the American pull-out will have on their nation, politically, economically and even psychologically.

The rumble of American armour has been a backdrop to life in Germany since 1945. The two units earmarked for withdrawal - the 1st Armoured Division and the 1st Infantry Division - are steeped in European history.

The "Old Ironsides", as the 1st Armoured is known, landed in North Africa in 1942, fought German forces the length of Italy, and entered Germany as part of the allied occupation in 1945.

The "Big Red One", or 1st Infantry, fought the Kaiser's armies in the First World War under General Pershing, and helped drive Hitler's troops from France and Belgium.

Some important US facilities will remain in Germany, including the giant Ramstein air base, the US European Command headquarters in Stuttgart and a military hospital near Hamburg.

Russia has raised concerns about the arrival of large numbers of US troops in Poland and the Baltic states, ostensibly because such arrivals might violate Cold War era treaties on American troop strengths in Europe.

The Pentagon believes that careful juggling of European bases will avoid breaking those treaties.
'bout time.
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Old 01-11-2004, 02:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That's interesting. They want to close some of the German bases down, and move them to other places around Europe and bring some back home to the US. So much for the FY05 BRAC.
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Old 01-11-2004, 02:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by forseti-6
That's interesting. They want to close some of the German bases down, and move them to other places around Europe and bring some back home to the US. Wouldn't this be a conflict of interest with the impending FY05 BRAC?
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Old 01-11-2004, 08:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Those who can, explain this:
Quote:
Although many Germans will cheer the departure, there is no concealing the impact the American pull-out will have on their nation, politically, economically and even psychologically.
Why is that? What possible impact can this have?

Germany is one of the european nations together with France and Belgium who want to build a true European defense force that works seperatly from the US and the NATO alliance - if anything this "change" was long overdue, not only for the US but also for the EU.
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Old 01-11-2004, 08:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, most people see the american military force as a great protection. If someone would engage our troops there the surrounding populace can safely assume the full might of ur armed forces would come in to secure the location.

Additionally our troops there pay rent, buy food, clothes and entertainment in the regions. When our troops go lots of money goes with it.
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Old 01-11-2004, 09:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by damił
Those who can, explain this: Why is that? What possible impact can this have?

Germany is one of the european nations together with France and Belgium who want to build a true European defense force that works seperatly from the US and the NATO alliance - if anything this "change" was long overdue, not only for the US but also for the EU.
What impact will this have? Ever go to a vacation area? Every year there is a huge spike in income for a certain period of time when people come for their vacation.

I believe the largest number of soldiers stationed during peacetime, overseas, is in Germany.

I'm trying to remember the name of the town, but it's described in the book Fast Food Nation. Basically the US Army decided "Hey, lets put NORAD in that mountain over there." and now there's a town of 200,000 people.
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Old 01-11-2004, 09:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It's in Cheyenne Mountain
Peterson Airforce base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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Old 01-11-2004, 11:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
It's in Cheyenne Mountain
Peterson Airforce base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

And there's a zoo on the mountain...Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Strange, eh?

Now back to your regularly scheduled thread!
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Old 01-12-2004, 01:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Here in Mannheim, Germany, there's a US base just down the street from me. It also contains a small University of Maryland campus. I'm a UMD student studying here in Mannheim for a semester (unrelated to this Mannheim campus), so I went to go check the place out.

The German guards at the gate, after trying to keep as much pride as they could, allowed me in after I showed my US passport and my UMD ID card. I walked around a bit... but it felt completely deserted. Hardly any signs of life at all. I ran into a few guys walking around, and asked them some questions. They were soldiers stationed there, and they explained that places like this base were seeing big drops in the number of soldiers stationed there. Most were shipped off to Iraq or elsewhere. And it also turns out that the UMD campus there is shutting their doors, after being open for over 50 years. There's just so fewer people there, soldiers, miltary personel, and their families, that the campus is no longer useful. As for the base itself... I got the impression it was on its last few breaths as well.

Just wanted to provide a first hand account. I probably don't know the whole story, but it seems as if this plan is already well underway.
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Old 01-12-2004, 05:08 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jimmy4
What impact will this have? Ever go to a vacation area? Every year there is a huge spike in income for a certain period of time when people come for their vacation.

I believe the largest number of soldiers stationed during peacetime, overseas, is in Germany.
Ok it may impact the local communities around the military bases - some bars and grocery stores may even have to close their doors - but at a national level it won't have any real economical impact.

I fail to see how this should impact Germany politically and even psychologically - the Cold War has been over for 15 years and Germany has embarked together with other EU member countries on a path that's moving away from US interests for an even longer time - so one could say that it'll be the military personal and their families that will be affected the most psychologically and the restationments just reflect post Cold War politics and the US loosing its grasp on the other side of the Atlantic.
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Old 01-12-2004, 05:46 AM   #11 (permalink)
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When the Navy closed it's base in the Phillipines, the economic impact was in the billions. The same thing held true for Panama when we left in '99. The impact will probably be less for Germany, which is much more reliant on it's on populace than the two I previously mentioned. As for psychological impact, I'd say it runs the gamut from no longer feeling the protection of the American umbrella to happiness at being free from, as they see it, "occupation".
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Old 01-12-2004, 08:11 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sparhawk
When the Navy closed it's base in the Phillipines, the economic impact was in the billions. The same thing held true for Panama when we left in '99. The impact will probably be less for Germany, which is much more reliant on it's on populace than the two I previously mentioned. As for psychological impact, I'd say it runs the gamut from no longer feeling the protection of the American umbrella to happiness at being free from, as they see it, "occupation".
Absolutely agree. There will be substantial economic impact in the short term but it will lessen as German industry, government, and private citizens make use of the freed up land/buildings the US has controlled for decades.
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Old 01-12-2004, 02:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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To be honest, I think Europe today feels safer without US military bases.

This wasn't true a decade ago when we needed the nucular umbrella as much as the US needed a (sometimes more somtimes less) neutral distance to the russia. Thanks for a sucessful cooperation.
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Old 01-13-2004, 06:24 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nad Adam
To be honest, I think Europe today feels safer without US military bases.

This wasn't true a decade ago when we needed the nucular umbrella as much as the US needed a (sometimes more somtimes less) neutral distance to the russia. Thanks for a sucessful cooperation.
You are probably right about that.

But, will it feel the same when/if Russia decides it's had enough of the "play nice" game? Or Germany decides that it's current strategy of teaming with the French to dominate the EU isn't working and they need/deserve more? How about if one (or a group) of the former Soviet states begins amassing troops and looking outside their own borders at the prosperity that they haven't quite been able to provide for themselves?

I wonder how quickly all the anti-American feelings will disappear when a real threat comes along. I further wonder how quickly that anti-American feeling will come back after that altercation is settled (assuming that there is an America left after the next war).
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Old 01-13-2004, 09:09 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I think it's possible that this will help to reduce anti-American sentiments once we withdraw our troops. Although most of he people know that we were there to fight the Soviets, there is an inevitable feeling of being occupied that people get when a foreign military has bases set up in another country.

It's also a lot more practical to have an EU defense force set up rather than having troops from a NATO country there, due to the huge distance between the US and Germany.

Although I think it is a good time to withdraw troops and that the withdrawal is occurring now for practical reasons, I forsee a whole lot of speculation that this is in retaliation for lack of support in Iraq.
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Old 01-13-2004, 09:34 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by onetime2
But, will it feel the same when/if Russia decides it's had enough of the "play nice" game? Or Germany decides that it's current strategy of teaming with the French to dominate the EU isn't working and they need/deserve more? How about if one (or a group) of the former Soviet states begins amassing troops and looking outside their own borders at the prosperity that they haven't quite been able to provide for themselves?
I think you are reading way to much into American "exeptionalism" - Europe is trying hard to build its own defense force and working together in the UN security council to balance their interests, sometimes teaming up with Russia and China - sometimes going completely against China's & Russia's interests - the only thing that is blocking it now is the UK, which is behaving like the 51st state and is keeping the EU from becoming a true "political" and "military" union that could re-examin the Trans-Atlantic relationship - the EU has allready established a free trade zone and is steadily surpassing the USA in economical potential - so it has gained enough institutional power and means to mend its own affaires.

While I do believe in the concept of "exeptionalism" in a "real (german) political" way - I think the US has more interests in and is focussing more on "other" problem areas to put it into practice - the EU doesn't longer need US "interference" to solve its own and other peoples problems. I actually think that a more balanced power relationship between the two transatlantic powers can be benificial to both
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Old 01-14-2004, 04:52 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by damił
I think you are reading way to much into American "exeptionalism" - Europe is trying hard to build its own defense force and working together in the UN security council to balance their interests, sometimes teaming up with Russia and China - sometimes going completely against China's & Russia's interests - the only thing that is blocking it now is the UK, which is behaving like the 51st state and is keeping the EU from becoming a true "political" and "military" union that could re-examin the Trans-Atlantic relationship - the EU has allready established a free trade zone and is steadily surpassing the USA in economical potential - so it has gained enough institutional power and means to mend its own affaires.

While I do believe in the concept of "exeptionalism" in a "real (german) political" way - I think the US has more interests in and is focussing more on "other" problem areas to put it into practice - the EU doesn't longer need US "interference" to solve its own and other peoples problems. I actually think that a more balanced power relationship between the two transatlantic powers can be benificial to both
I'm not clear on what you term "exeptionalism" so I can't discuss that point. But,...

Do you want to take bets on the success of the EU defense force? Look at the level of military readiness in many of the EU forces today. They typically have not done a good job within their own borders and it will be a long time (if ever) before they can get something useful together across borders. Creating a defense force from a population with similar backgrounds, a base in nationalistic beliefs, common language, etc is far easier than trying to build a multinational force that has at its core a sense of loyalty to the entity they are trying to defend. There is German nationalism, French nationalism, Spanish nationalism, etc but there is no EU nationalism. Maybe it can be built, but that's a mighty big task.

I welcome Europe's attempt to unify their economies and emerge from under the umbrella of US "interference" as you put it. I hope it succeeds. If the current trend continues (collusion between Germany and France to impose their will on the rest of the EU) it's doubtful that it will.
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Old 01-14-2004, 10:03 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I completely agree what all you have said in reply to my post

Quote:
Originally posted by onetime2
I'm not clear on what you term "exeptionalism" so I can't discuss that point. But,...
I only got to know the term recently myself - it has something to do with that the US believes that they have a "moral obligation" to defend, promote and sometimes even "force" democratic change: building a world that mirrors their socio-political system - exeptionalism in that context means that the US judges itself to be the only ones able and willing to do it.

But like I said that's just the theory - haven't seen much put into practice lately, more like the opposit - that's exactly why I am for a more balanced Trans Atlantic relationship ... maybe we could set a better standard together operating as geo-political equals instead of one partner dominating the other one.
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Old 01-14-2004, 10:17 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by damił
I completely agree what all you have said in reply to my post

I only got to know the term recently myself - it has something to do with that the US believes that they have a "moral obligation" to defend, promote and sometimes even "force" democratic change: building a world that mirrors their socio-political system - exeptionalism in that context means that the US judges itself to be the only ones able and willing to do it.

But like I said that's just the theory - haven't seen much put into practice lately, more like the opposit - that's exactly why I am for a more balanced Trans Atlantic relationship ... maybe we could set a better standard together operating as geo-political equals instead of one partner dominating the other one.

Like you, I'm not so sure I buy into that theory. I mean, there are some core beliefs that I think US policies try to "encourage". Things like everyone having a voice in the government, certain basic rights like freedom of speech, private property ownership, capitalism, etc. Right or wrong these are among the foundations of western civilization (whether US or others). Perhaps there is an attitude here that only we can do it and I think that's based on the multinational failures throughout recent history. With the exception of the cooperation immediately after WWII and possibly the first Gulf War, there haven't been too many examples of multi national coalitions being successful at many tasks. I guess from a civilian perspective, the adoption of the Euro has been relatively successful, but the jury is still out on it. It kind of goes back to the subject of my last post. It's just too difficult, at this point in world politics/economics, to get a coalition to agree on an action and implement it. I really hope this changes and countries realize that there are a lot of things that we agree on and that we should work towards together (without all the suspicion, fear, and invectives).
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Old 01-14-2004, 03:13 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by onetime2
You are probably right about that.

But, will it feel the same when/if Russia decides it's had enough of the "play nice" game? Or Germany decides that it's current strategy of teaming with the French to dominate the EU isn't working and they need/deserve more? How about if one (or a group) of the former Soviet states begins amassing troops and looking outside their own borders at the prosperity that they haven't quite been able to provide for themselves?

I wonder how quickly all the anti-American feelings will disappear when a real threat comes along. I further wonder how quickly that anti-American feeling will come back after that altercation is settled (assuming that there is an America left after the next war).
Well, today Russias economy and morale is in no condition to attack Europe, plus that the incentive isn't there, nothing is gained by taking land and unless you can't rebuild the infrastructure you destroy during a war then nothing is gained economicly either.

As for the anti-american feelings. They are less strong than one might think even though they have grown stronger during Bushs attempts to twist some countries arms into a war on false premises.

I think europes biggest problem today comes from the inside, to much leftwing parties getting to much influence, that's what we need from the US, your entreprenur attitude in business, not the military bases.
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Old 01-15-2004, 06:43 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by onetime2
Do you want to take bets on the success of the EU defense force? Look at the level of military readiness in many of the EU forces today. They typically have not done a good job within their own borders and it will be a long time (if ever) before they can get something useful together across borders. Creating a defense force from a population with similar backgrounds, a base in nationalistic beliefs, common language, etc is far easier than trying to build a multinational force that has at its core a sense of loyalty to the entity they are trying to defend. There is German nationalism, French nationalism, Spanish nationalism, etc but there is no EU nationalism. Maybe it can be built, but that's a mighty big task.
Well, we've come a long way together, really. There was a plan for a European Defense Community (EDC) as early as 1950, but the French National Assembly never ratified it then. Reasons were that the French were a bit reluctant to give up the sole control over their forces, and off course, the idea of the rearmament of Germany -with the second World War still fresh in their memories- didn't have to count on much support of the French either. With the Cold War coming to an end in 1989, talks about a EDC came up again, expecting that American forces would soon redraw from Europe.

I believe there will be such a thing as a European Army one day, but it will probably take a loooong time to convince every partner and to find the most appropriate ways.

It is a delicate matter off course. An army is one of the core-policies of a national state. But then, so is the national currency! And we (most of us) succeeded in that area. Should you have spoken of a single European currency in the 1950's, you'd encountered some very heavy eyebrow-frowning!! First, all the partners have to be convinced of the mutual gain they can get out of such a community.
National states (not only in the European Union) should start to realize that their sovereignity is declining, and that that isn't necessarily a bad thing!

The European Union is an "ever closer union", in my opinion, it's just a matter of patience!
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Old 01-16-2004, 06:28 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nad Adam
Well, today Russias economy and morale is in no condition to attack Europe, plus that the incentive isn't there, nothing is gained by taking land and unless you can't rebuild the infrastructure you destroy during a war then nothing is gained economicly either.

As for the anti-american feelings. They are less strong than one might think even though they have grown stronger during Bushs attempts to twist some countries arms into a war on false premises.

I think europes biggest problem today comes from the inside, to much leftwing parties getting to much influence, that's what we need from the US, your entreprenur attitude in business, not the military bases.
I wouldn't count Russia out just yet. You're talking about a country that has a lot of nationalism. They were a superpower for a long time and the fall in influence and international respect hurts that pride. They embraced capitalism only to see conditions worsen for many and power transfer from the politicos to the mafia. It is not a stable situation and an enthusiastic leader with a strong message that taps into that nationalism could turn the tide.

I haven't put all that much stock in the anti american feelings. When it comes down to it, I think there're too many common roots among our societies for it to get too bad. Yeah there will be disagreements and outright fights, but ultimately we mostly share common beliefs.

I agree that you don't need our military bases right now and that they aren't that much of a help anyway since the most likely first steps if an aggressive state came to be in the area would be towards places where bases traditionally have not been.

As for what we could do to help the EU, I'm not sure there's anything we could do right now other than remain close to Great Britain and Spain since they are two of the biggest losers in the France/Germany coalition.
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Old 01-18-2004, 12:37 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by onetime2
I wouldn't count Russia out just yet. You're talking about a country that has a lot of nationalism. They were a superpower for a long time and the fall in influence and international respect hurts that pride. They embraced capitalism only to see conditions worsen for many and power transfer from the politicos to the mafia. It is not a stable situation and an enthusiastic leader with a strong message that taps into that nationalism could turn the tide.

I haven't put all that much stock in the anti american feelings. When it comes down to it, I think there're too many common roots among our societies for it to get too bad. Yeah there will be disagreements and outright fights, but ultimately we mostly share common beliefs.

I agree that you don't need our military bases right now and that they aren't that much of a help anyway since the most likely first steps if an aggressive state came to be in the area would be towards places where bases traditionally have not been.

As for what we could do to help the EU, I'm not sure there's anything we could do right now other than remain close to Great Britain and Spain since they are two of the biggest losers in the France/Germany coalition.
Think maybe you're overestimating the nationalism of Russia from the Soviet era. (Maybe, I wasn't born in that place and period so I don't know for sure), but conditions weren't fantastic in the cold war period. The populace was probably under constant fear, and would've had to deal with bad situations. I doubt memories of that time are glorious. Besides, some economic figures as well as standard of living figures show that Russia is improving since the application of a democratic system (albeit improving slowly).

At least, I'd hope that what I say is right, but I think I'd agree with Nad Adams point that the system they've adopted would mean they'd be more likely to attempt to strengthen internally before starting war.
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Old 01-19-2004, 05:36 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by HunterDevourer
Think maybe you're overestimating the nationalism of Russia from the Soviet era. (Maybe, I wasn't born in that place and period so I don't know for sure), but conditions weren't fantastic in the cold war period. The populace was probably under constant fear, and would've had to deal with bad situations. I doubt memories of that time are glorious. Besides, some economic figures as well as standard of living figures show that Russia is improving since the application of a democratic system (albeit improving slowly).

At least, I'd hope that what I say is right, but I think I'd agree with Nad Adams point that the system they've adopted would mean they'd be more likely to attempt to strengthen internally before starting war.
Historically, Russians have been very nationalistic and still are. Expectations of change were very high when they welcomed capitalism and shrugged off communism, slow change is okay for a while, but at some point it gets to be too slow.

I don't necessarily put my "forecast" on Russia high on the probability scale, but it's something that is almost never talked about as being a possibility. Look at how quickly Germany rose up after WWI. They too were a nationalistic society who went from being a big player in world affairs to a whipping boy for other nations. Russia is in no less a position to do the same, if they tire of the pace of "reform".

The break away republics can be just as, if not more so, dangerous. They have the military remnants of the cold war throughout their countries, many have been filled with civil war and power struggles, but at some point they may begin looking outside their borders for a common enemy to unite the various factions and end their struggles. Again, not high on the probability scale any time soon, but it's the social/political stability of countries that determine their path, not just how big a military they have right now, or what their intentions are at the moment. Things can change quickly in world politics and just because Europe has been relatively stable in the last several decades, it doesn't mean it will be stable for the coming several.
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