Obama Visit and Wales Summit Updates: Cassandras Out in Full Force

NATO fighter jet F-15. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)
8/26/2014 9:53 AM
Category: Politics

A jittery mood of doubt has settled in with less than two weeks to go until US President Barack Obama's one-day trip to Tallinn on September 3 and the NATO summit in Wales.

Perhaps due to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's public "nein" in Riga last week to permanent NATO bases in the Baltics, some commentators have openly voiced the prospect that things may not go in Estonia's favor in Wales.

While no one has uttered the word "Munich" or "disaster" yet, Estonian politician Eerik-Niiles Kross authored a piece for Postimees titled "The government's capitulation before the summit?" It was sparked by a interview by prime ministerial adviser Kadri Peeters that Kross saw as not being independent-minded enough.

"NATO doesn't want us to be an obedient junior member who receives wisdom from Brussels," wrote Kross. NATO, he says, is genuinely concerned about the Russia threat. "NATO is asking us directly what we want. Estonia's task is to make maximum use of this 10-year opportunity."

Kross adds: "It's possible the Cabinet has developed fears that Estonia will not achieve much success in Wales and the the adviser was put out on the front lines to let the public down easily."

One of the international big guns is in Estonia's corner, The Economist's Edward Lucas, turned out a raft of pieces this week rapping the West for not reacting sooner to Russian threats but also urging action.

Details about Obama's visit to Tallinn on September 3 are still sketchy and unconfirmed - though this might change soon - but Lucas did not shy away from dictating what Obama should tell Tallinners if he gave a speech here.

In a highly shared piece for Politico, Lucas compares the Baltics to West Berlin (i.e., indefensible except by deterrence) and writes that Obama should say that "I am an Estonian" - "eestlane olen."

If Obama's team does take advice from Lucas, it won't be through flattery: Lucas derided Obama as the "worst president in the history of the Atlantic alliance" in an opinion for the Wall Street Journal (behind its paywall).

In a busy week, Lucas also wrote about the West misreading the geopolitical warning signs in Ukraine for ERR's commercial Baltic cousin, the Lithuania Tribune.


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