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Tiny Montenegro could be the real ‘Mouse That Roared’

August 5, 2018

First China was our nemesis, then North Korea, soon followed by Iran, and now the country that I have to lose sleep worrying about is. . . Montenegro?

And here lots of us less-informed folks thought we should be concerned about Russia’s Vladimir Putin who, according to President Trump, is actually the Mr. Rogers of autocrats: “Would you be mine; Could you be mine, Donald?”

In an interview on Fox News last week the president continued his criticism of NATO, pointing out that it was senseless for the U.S. to commit to defending a nation such as Montenegro. “Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. . . . they have very strong people — they have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. Now I understand that — but that’s the way it [NATO] was set up,” explained Trump in his own uniquely incoherent manner.

Speaking of aggressive, you may recall that President Trump, in a rush to get to his spot in front for the group picture, rudely shoved aside Montenegro prime minister Dusko Markovic at the 2017 NATO summit. Comments on Trump’s aggressive act were quite negative, but it was probably just part of his ‘America First’ agenda.

President Trump just seems to have it in for little Montenegro for some reason. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Montenegro hasn’t been real receptive to the Russian version of foreign diplomacy.

For example, Montenegro has persistently refused to grant Russia a base in the Adriatic seaport of Bar. And in November 2016, Russian nationalists attempted to stage a coup in Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital.

The Russians’ goal in the coup was to assassinate the prime minister, place a pro-Russian coalition in power, and thwart Montenegro’s efforts to join NATO and the EU, fearing this would lessen Russian influence in the region. Now that sounds pretty darn ‘aggressive’ to me!

Have to admit, it does seem a strange coincidence that the president spoke out against Montenegro soon after talking privately with Putin at Helsinki.

But hey, if the President of the United States says that Montenegro is a real threat to spark WW III we better pay attention, don’t you think? The very least we should do is find out as much as we can about this obscure east European country.

If you happen to be one of the few people in the world who for some inexplicable reason does not know where Montenegro is located, let me help. It’s about 100 mojkovacs as the red-throated pippit flies from Herzegovena. There, now you should easily be able to find it on a map.

‘Oh, Bright Dawn of May’ is Montenegro’s national anthem. I don’t know about you, but every time I hear the stirring words “Our mother Montenegro; We are sons of your rocks” I have to fight back the tears.

Water polo and chess are the country’s most popular national sports. As far as I know, they have not attempted to combine the two sports into one, but knowing how ‘aggressive’ and ‘strong’ Montenegrins are it would not surprise me to see them try.

Law enforcement within the country is provided by a police force of around 4,000 officers. The patrol car most commonly used in Montenegro is the VW Golf, a vehicle prized worldwide for its legendary power, speed and agility.

The Montenegro military currently maintains a force of 1,920 active duty members to defend the country’s population of around 600,000. Most of the military’s weapons and equipment were picked up at a Serbian armed forces garage sale about thirty years ago.

Admittedly, Montenegro’s military does not appear to be very intimidating. Yet, don’t forget that the Duchy of Grand Fenwick in Leonard Wibberley’s novel ‘The Mouse That Roared’ defeated the United States with an army consisting of only 20 archers. It’s possible that President Trump saw the film version of the story and thought he was watching a history documentary, thus, his paranoia concerning Montenegro.

Something that the president is probably unaware of is that Montenegro sent 40 soldiers to help the United States in its invasion of Afghanistan. Now that may not seem like very many soldiers, but it’s actually 0.021% of the country’s entire military force. In comparison, if the U.S. contributed a similar percentage of its military to a foreign conflict, it would involve sending 42,000 troops!

Along with the fact that Montenegro has some very nice beaches and the winters are awful, that’s about all I could find out about Montenegro. Now, in regard to President Trump’s comments about their country, needless to say, the people of Montenegro were not happy when they heard them.

Ranko Krivokapic, Montenegro’s current leader of the country’s Social Democratic Party, told the BBC that Trump was “the strangest president in the history of the United States.” Strangest? Gee, that’ a pretty darn nice way to put it.

Sinisa Vukovic, a native Montenegrin and professor of international relations and conflict management at Johns Hopkins University, said in politico.com that Trump’s comments set off a barrage of jokes in the media.

But she concluded that the biggest joke was on the American people “who had the misfortune to elect Donald Trump as president.”

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist whose articles are syndicated by Senior Wire. He recently published a book titled “Tortoise Crossing – Expect Long Delays,” which is a collection of 100 of his favorite columns. It is available on Amazon.com.

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