Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Yes, there are times when it’s better for a country to be neutral than to be your ally

That seems counterintuitive. After all, in war, you need all the friends you can get, right?

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 9.57.44 AM
Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 9.57.44 AM

 

That seems counterintuitive. After all, in war, you need all the friends you can get, right?

Not always. Sometimes it is better for your operations to have a country stay out of the fray, especially if it is weak.

 

That seems counterintuitive. After all, in war, you need all the friends you can get, right?

Not always. Sometimes it is better for your operations to have a country stay out of the fray, especially if it is weak.

Case in point: World War I with Romania. While it was neutral, it effectively held down the left end of the Russian front. But when it entered the war in August, 1916 on the side of the Russians and the Allies, it suddenly required military aid. The top Russian commander was furious. “A neutral Romania had been a bulwark on his southern flank,” notes Chris Dubbs in his book, American Journalists in the Great War, which I recently read. “Now he had to stretch his reserves and his limited inventory of shells to support Romania’s tottering army.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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