Red lines haven't been kind to President Obama. When he warned Syria's Bashar Assad against using chemical weapons, Assad used them anyway. When he warned Russia against seizing Crimea, Vladimir Putin went ahead and annexed the place.
But there was Obama in Poland this week, solemnly reaffirming the biggest and brightest red line in U.S. foreign policy: the 1949 North Atlantic treaty that commits the United States to defending its allies in Europe against any outside threat — which these days, once again, means Russia.
… Establishing a large and permanent NATO troop presence next door to Russia is still unlikely, if only because no country is eager to bear the cost. But here are three ways a stronger Western presence in Eastern Europe could be made more reassuring at a reasonable price.
First, longer deployments could be instituted, even if they're not quite permanent...
...Second, make the deployments small but still visible. "A modest detachment of special forces would make the point," said retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former NATO commander now at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The host countries should be asked to pay much of the cost, he added.
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