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As NATO Dominance Vanishes, British General Predicts War with Russia

Former NATO deputy commander says Russia will attack Ukraine and Baltic States next May.

Alexander Mercouris

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Though it has attracted little attention, a book by a retired British general, Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff, is predicting Russia is going to attack NATO next year.

General Shirreff, who was NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2011 to 2014,  has even said in which month next year the attack will take place.  According to him it will be in May 2017.  That month Russia will apparently conquer eastern Ukraine and Latvia whilst threatening NATO with nuclear war.

Lest anyone think these are the isolated ravings of a madman, the book was launched at the London offices of Britain’s Royal United Services Institute and contains a foreword by none other than US Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, who writes portentously that:

“Under President Putin, Russia has charted a dangerous course that, if it is allowed to continue, may lead inexorably to a clash with Nato. And that will mean a war that could so easily go nuclear.”

Similarly wild – though rather less precise – warnings of coming war have been made by other NATO generals including US Air Force General Breedlove – Stavridis’s successor –  and by Breedlove’s successor, US Army General Scaparrotti.

Before anyone starts worrying that we have fallen into the world of Doctor Strangelove, I should say that General Shirreff is talking nonsense. World War III is not going to happen next year and Russia is not planning to attack Latvia next May. 

General Shirreff’s comments about Russia show that he is profoundly ignorant of the country and its people and has no understanding at all of the thinking of its leaders. If he did he would know that he was talking nonsense.

Do General Shirreff and NATO’s other military leaders however actually believe any of the nonsense they are saying?

General Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff

In General Shirreff’s case it is impossible to avoid the feeling that his book is intended to make him money so that he can provide financially for his retirement. Predicting war is it seems a good sell.

That however cannot be the whole story. It does not explain why someone like Stavridis would want to endorse General Shirreff’s book.

There is of course a strong element behind these warnings of the military lobbying aggressively for more money. 

In Shirreff’s case it is known that he frequently clashed with Britain’s political leaders over what he felt was their financial neglect of the military. Playing up the threat of war is the classic way to panic politicians and the public into opening their purse strings. 

There is no doubt much of the hysteria is about that, especially at a time when the US is lobbying furiously to get European members of NATO to increase their defence budgets.

Nonetheless I suspect that there is a core of genuine alarm buried deep inside these warnings.

Given that NATO spends so much more than Russia on defence the idea that Russia might attack NATO – the world’s most powerful military alliance – must appear absurd to most people. However that does not take into account how the world might seem to NATO’s senior military.

Until very recently these people inhabited a mental world where since the end of the Cold War their overwhelming military superiority over Russia was something they took for granted.  

Unsurprisingly this complacent assumption of overwhelming superiority in the end influenced their behaviour. 

With the USSR gone NATO military leaders felt free to do what they wanted without fear of Soviet intervention.  Given the USSR’s previous role of balancing NATO power in any armed conflict that might arise, that appeared to remove for NATO the risk of defeat.  Not surprisingly – especially given the West’s exceptionalist and universalist ideology – that meant that the temptation for the Western powers to throw their weight around became irresistible. 

The result was a series of wars launched almost casually with minimal public discussion against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

What has now hit the NATO leaders hard is the shocking realisation that their assumption of overwhelming superiority over Russia is wrong.   

In a string of military campaigns – in Chechnya in 1999, against Georgia in 2008, in Crimea in 2014 and, most spectacularly, in Syria in 2015 and since – the Russian military has gone from victory to victory, proving that it is not merely a force to be reckoned with but that in terms of sheer proficiency and technological competence it is a match for the best in NATO.

The Syrian operation has been the most alarming of all.  In that theatre both Russia and the US are militarily involved.  It is therefore possible to make direct comparisons between the militaries of the two countries.  The fact the Russian military in Syria appears in some respects to have actually outperformed the US military must for US and NATO leaders – brought up to believe in the myth of their own invincibility – be particularly alarming.

It does not help that over the same period that the Russian military has gone from victory to victory the US and NATO have experienced one setback after another. 

The NATO military that feels the most alarmed and humiliated is the British. 

Until about a decade ago the British military believed themselves to be the best in NATO and the strongest in NATO after the US.  As a British citizen I have had to listen to any number of lectures from proud British patriots telling me how much better their army is compared to that of the US.

In the event, over the last decade, the British military has experienced one defeat after another. 

It had to be rescued by the US military in Basra.  It was badly defeated in Helmand.  During the air campaign against Libya it found it could not sustain the bombing campaign against Gaddafi’s troops without US help.  In Syria – a theatre where both the US and the Russians are present – it has proved completely ineffective.

General Shirreff is a British general and it would not be surprising if he felt the British military’s humiliation especially keenly.

Given the profound shock NATO commanders have experienced as their core assumption of effortless superiority over the Russians collapses all around them, it is not surprising if they are now furiously lobbying for more troops and more bases in Europe so that they can return to the position of unchallengeable superiority they had grown accustomed to. 

That in my opinion is what is driving their warnings and their increasingly shrill demands for more money and more troops.

Though it is doubtful that anyone takes General Shirreff and his warnings very seriously, it would be unwise to be complacent about all this.

General Shirreff admits in his book that the Russians are becoming increasingly worried at the spread of NATO bases around their territory.  That is what he says is driving them towards war.

General Shirreff’s “solution” to this problem – shared with him by all the other top commanders of NATO – is however to deploy even more NATO troops and even more NATO bases even closer to Russia. 

The logical fallacy is obvious.  What General Shirreff proposes cannot make the situation better.  It can only make it worse.

If General Shirreff had the courage to accept his own logic he would see that the way to reduce tension in Europe and end forever the risk of war is to reduce the number of NATO troops close to Russia, not increase them.

As for seeking to gain the sort of military superiority over Russia that NATO once believed it had, a realistic assessment of the situation in Europe would recognise that that is impossible.  Russia  unlike every other European country is a continental sized Great Power.  By definition that makes it militarily more powerful than any other European country or combination of countries is or can ever be.  Amongst the NATO powers only the US can match it.

That does not make Russia aggressive or expansionist.  It does however make it dangerous to threaten.  

The way to secure peace in Europe is not through confrontation with Russia but through a rapprochement with it.  That however would mean accepting that Russia is a Great Power and is entitled to be treated as one. 

Instead by treating Russia as a mortal enemy General Sherriff and his NATO comrades risk making it one.

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

RT

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Via RT…


The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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