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MONTENEGRO: THE MOUSE THAT ROARED

MontenegroDeyan Ranko Brashich

The big boys – that’s the NATO to you and me – just asked little Montenegro to come and join in the Big Leagues. What Montenegro doesn’t get is that the big boys aren’t asking Montenegro to play in the game – its little Montenegro that is being played.  The big boys are just using Montenegro as a chip to be won or lost in the world roulette game where the house, the big boys, always wins.

Reminds me of the Peter Sellers’ 1959 movie The Mouse That Roared, based on the satirical novel of the same name, the one where the tiny imaginary Duchy of Grand Fenwick declares war on the mighty United States. In the movie globalization has destroyed Grand Fenwick’s economy by marginalizing its only export, the local pinot noir wine – Napa California is bottling and selling a knock-off pinot with a like name.

In retaliation Fenwick declares war expecting prompt, total defeat followed by massive foreign aid – much like the Marshall Plan for Germany after World War II – to rebuild its devastated economy.

As all good plans made by mice and men and purely by accident New York City is successfully invaded by Fenwick’s armed forces of 1 commander, 3 men-at-arms and 20 longbow archers giving it control of the “Q Bomb”, a device with an “explosive potential greater than all the nuclear weapons of the United States and the Soviet Union combined.” With Russia and the United Kingdom offering support the victorious Grand Fenwick is able to dictate armistice terms assuring world peace with tiny countries having as much say in world affairs as the big boys.

Wish it were so in real life, which brings us to today – do you wonder why NATO chose this very moment to invite Montenegro to join.

Perhaps NATO desperately needs Montenegro’s 1,950-man strong army, navy and air force to supplement the standing armies of the 28 other member countries including Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States and Canada to fend off the forces of evil. Perhaps Montenegro’s €37 million military budget would shore up NATO’s billions in defense spending. Perhaps Montenegro’s navy – two 1985 Kotor class frigates – would assure control of the high seas and not only the Bay of Kotor. Perhaps Montenegro’s Special Forces trained in defense of mountainous terrain could be deployed to Iraq’s desert to fight ISIS. I think not.

NATO’s invitation to join is a cynical geopolitical move reminding me of the morally bankrupt Henry Kissinger or, seeing that it concerns the Balkans, a move worthy of Richard Holbrooke or Madeleine Albright at their worst. In complicity there is power, you don’t want the little guys questioning the big boys as to what in hell they are up to, like shooting down a Russian jet fighter over Syria or shooting up a Doctors without Borders hospital in Afghanistan.

For if you don’t co-opt the little guys and make them part of your grand scheme they could become the next Duchy of Grand Fenwick dictating  terms  and conditions or even getting veto power in UN’s Security Council. Now, wouldn’t that be a fine how-de-do, the meek inheriting the earth?

Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is a wily old duck, a political survivor in power for some 25 years and counting. He may publicly declare that accession to NATO for Montenegro “was entering the exclusive circle of states which are synonymous with the highest values of modern civilization” but deep in his heart he doesn’t believe a word he is uttering.

Milo is a realist. He knows that blowing things up is not what little guys are allowed to do – that’s reserved for the big boys. Survival for Milo and Montenegro is going along so as to get along. Past sins of omission and commission, transgressions will be forgiven or forgotten if you join NATO.

Perhaps Milo and Montenegro will have the last laugh – laughing all the way to the bank after receiving, like the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, foreign assistance.

Deyan Ranko Brashich is a frequent contributor and the author of Letters from America, Contrary Views and Dispatches, to be published February, 2015.  His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com

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