Foreign soldiers stationed in faraway lands is always a recipe for disaster. 

 

This is not an American phenomenon. Or a NATO phenomenon. It’s a human reality that transcends nationalities and allegiances. 

 

So imagine our surprise when a U.S. Senator rebuked Estonians she met who were worried about NATO soldiers being above the law (which they are, in a certain respect). 

 

In the United States, there is constant concern about “rape culture” and “victim blaming”.

 

And yet here is a U.S. Senator who is “shocked” by Estonians concerned about foreign men with guns (who can be shipped home in a heartbeat if they get in trouble with the law) stationed in their country:

 

 

Like any standard SOFA agreement, it appears that NATO troops would only be handed over to Estonian authorities if they were formally charged with a crime. This allows NATO an incredible amount of leeway to avoid any “embarrassments” should they arise:

 

The agreement complements the already existing agreement on the status of armed forces between NATO member states (NATO SOFA), spokespeople for the government said. It will reduce the red tape related to the stay of members of the U.S. armed forces and their contractors in Estonia and make available to them certain advantages based on common strategic interest and principles.

 

It will also regulate the application of Estonian penal law to members of the U.S. armed forces and their dependents. The document determines in greater detail the cases in which the jurisdiction of Estonia as the receiving state and in which cases the jurisdiction of the U.S. as the sending state will apply to members of the U.S. armed forces.

 

And Estonians have every right to be worried about NATO troops not respecting Estonian law. NATO soldiers certainly have made “mistakes” in the past: 

 

Last year, an international scandal broke in the Latvian port city Ventspils. During NATO drills, a brawl between locals and the NATO troops stationed in Ventspils prompted Mayor Aivars Lembergs to call the behavior of the NATO soldiers “piggish.” According to Mr. Lembergs, who filed an official complaint with NATO’s secretary general, the NATO sailors “behaved like pigs, ignoring the laws of Latvia and the rules of self-government.”

 

“After drinking,” the mayor continued, “they urinated in public places and on shop windows. They vomited and drank alcohol in public, which is not allowed. They also tore the flowers from the flowerbeds to present them to prostitutes.”

 

The mayor raised his suspicion that the NATO sailors received their injuries from local men protecting local women from harassment by the foreigners.

 

But remember, Estonia: If you report misbehaving NATO troops, that means you are a Russian agent. 

 

 

 

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