Montenegro is one of ten nations that constitute what we learned in elementary school is the Balkan peninsula, including Slovenia, birthplace of Melania Trump. The region was consumed by civil war in the early 1990s and Montenegro became a safe haven for many thousands of ethnic refugees fleeing the bloodshed. Later, Montenegro gained independence from Serbia in 2006 and subsequently, last year, was admitted to NATO. Long a tourist destination for wealthy Russians, the nation has also enjoyed significant investments by Russian companies. Geopolitically, it is situated roughly in the middle of the Adriatic Sea, which separates the Balkans from Italy. Recently, Russia, unhappy with the NATO decision, has been reported to be supporting civil and political unrest to overthrow the present government.
In May 2017, at an earlier NATO meeting in Belgium, the president of the United States rudely shoved aside the Montenegro prime minister, Dusko Markovic, to get to the front of a phalanx of participants at the summit. Up to that moment, Montenegro was hardly a topic of conversation in the U.S. However, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, in an interview of the President following the Marx Brothers summit meeting with Putin, posed the type of question that might be heard during a round of drinks at the local bar:
…Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?
A stunner! Directly from the right wing deep state and bristling with ideological bluntness and blindness. We learned that Carlson might have a son but not whether he is serving in the military. The question is also a spear for the “America first” theories of the right wing suggesting that our nation should not be engaged in one-way military obligations. The question is so obvious and clever that viewers, slack-jawed, could answer, laugh, fist bump, and buy another round of drinks.
But . . . a few small facts intrude upon this piercing line of inquiry: Montenegro has been sending troops to Afghanistan at the request of the U.S. since 2010, seven years before its membership in NATO. Slovenia, not a NATO member, also sends troops to Afghanistan along with 6 other Balkan nations for a total of 8 of 10. Why should the sons of Balkan countries be sent to assist the U.S. in a war not of their making? That is the better question that Mr. Carlson might have asked. Facts are not important at Fox or in the White House.
The President responded to Carlson’s inquiry with:
I’ve asked the same question. . . . They’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive. And, congratulations, you’re in World War III.
Oh, one other thing. The mutual defense clause —Article 5—of the NATO pact was first called into action in behalf of the United States following the 9/11 attack in New York City.
And so American foreign policy and military strategy succumb to backhanded barroom blather by two uninformed citizens.