Casting Aspersions – EXTRA
It has been an exciting couple of weeks in Trump World. Rarely, if ever, has a U.S. president been able to turn so many allies into enemies in so short a time without actually declaring war. Topping even this accomplishment with the Helsinki Summit’s display of supine abasement before Russian strong man, Vladimir Putin left Trump the focus of media attention everywhere. That’s his idea of a win. Regardless of what you may think of all this, there is indeed one outstanding accomplishment — one flash of real brilliance and insight that Donald Trump must be given full credit for; at last the threat to world peace of Montenegro’s aggressiveness has been brought out into the open.
Of course the most surprising aspect of this is that Trump actually was aware of Montenegro’s existence. There is no evidence indicating he knows where it is, but hey — let’s not pile on the man over petty details. The important thing here is that the possible threat represented by Montenegro’s 1,926 man military is out from behind closed doors. It is no longer the subject of worried and fearful secret meetings in the chanceries of Europe. Now it can be faced and talked about.
In addition to land forces, Montenegro also has an actual navy, Yes it does! It has a frigate inherited from Yugoslavia, an attack craft; a couple of sailboats, the Jadran, a really lovely three masted barkentine built in 1931, and some rowboats. This means Montenegro is able to project force beyond its borders and across oceans. Atlantic City beware!
Trump was right in indicating the Montenegrin people are tough. The country has a long history going all the way back to the 9th Century — a history of repeated foreign conquest and repeatedly throwing the invaders out and regaining sovereignty. While Montenegro has never tried to conquer someone else’s country, I wouldn’t want to try conquering them. They can bite, as was discovered by the Ottoman Turks when a 7,500-man Montenegro army led by Grand Duke Mirko Petrović in 1858 defeated their 15,000-man army. Not counting partisan operations against Nazi and Italian occupiers in World War II, that was pretty much the last time a Montenegro army took the field. Even so, the dreadful lesson Grand Duke Mirko taught the Turks still no doubt resonates in the world’s corridors of power.
But seriously folks — while Montenegro does not exactly stack up against the forces of the United States — or really of anyone, they do have something very important that the U.S. does not have; leaders with common sense. His Excellency Vesko Garcević, former Montenegrin ambassador to NATO, commented, “he [Trump] seems to be out of touch,” which must rank as the understatement of the century.
After 48 hours of silence and thought following Trump’s broadside, the government of Montenegro responded as follows: “Montenegro is proud of its history and tradition and peaceful politics that led to the position of a stabilizing state in the region and the only state in which the war didn’t rage during disintegration of the former Yugoslavia…. Today as a new NATO member and candidate for EU membership Montenegro contributes to peace and stability not only on the European continent but worldwide, along with US soldiers in Afghanistan. We build friendships, and we have not lost a single one … in today’s world, it does not matter how big or small you are, but to what extent you cherish the values of freedom, solidarity and democracy.”
Montenegro may be a very small country but it clearly has very big heart. “Not lost a single friend,” Wow! Wouldn’t it be nice if the U.S. could say that? Actually, has Trump left us any friends to lose?
Writer Toby Grace is Out In Jersey magazine’s Editor Emeritus