Americans are fed routinely the fantasy that NATO is a defensive organization. Just a group of soldiers, sailors, Marines and air crews minding their own business until the Russians attack Europe. But you can see for yourself in the following videos that the annual SEA BREEZE exercise run by NATO and EUCOM (i.e., U.S. European Command) that the activities of the military units are not “defensive.”
NATO even admitted that it was providing training in “offensive” operations. Have you heard about Zhytomyr? Did you know that NATO carried out cybersecurity training for Ukraine at Zhytomyr in September 2018 and described Ukraine as a “NATO PARTNER.“
As part of the NATO Defence Education Enhancement Programme for Ukraine, experts from allied countries visited the Serhiy Korolylov Zhytomyr Military Institute (ZMI) from 24 to 28 September, 2018 to assist with the development of a new course on cybersecurity. Ukraine is one of the first NATO partners (together with Tunisia) to develop such a course.
The experts provided working examples of cybersecurity education in a military institute context (Canadian, Polish and Irish military academies), facilitated through the adaptation of the Generic Reference Curriculum on Cybersecurity. They also demonstrated a step-by-step process to develop a customized course for a specific national context. This included a walk through of syllabus development, and a presentation of detailed lesson plans and laboratory exercises. The exercise involved cyber operations, both defensive and offensive, in support of an overarching military mission scenario.https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_159840.htm
If you are the Russian General charged with defending Mother Russia and you see this kind of activity on your border would you tell Vladimir Putin, “Ahh, NATO’s just playing. They mean no harm.”
What would Americans think if Russia conducted an annual military exercise like this with Mexico? We would be outraged and worried. We would naturally wonder, “why is Russia landing its troops on Mexican beaches?” This would be a direct challenge to the Monroe Doctrine. Russia would argue it is just helping Mexico to be prepared to defend itself. The United States has invaded Mexico, albeit almost 200 years ago. And the United States claimed Mexican territory as its own. You know, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. U.S. umbrage at Russia taking the Crimea rings a little hollow in light of our taking land by force from Mexico (i.e., 1836 and 1846 Mexican War).
One other thing to keep in mind in watching the videos of these exercises–the Russians are the target. These troops are not practicing to repel Martians or Chinese. They are training to kill Russians. That the Russians might be a little paranoid from watching these exercise from their shores is not a psychological disorder. Russian alarm about western intentions is grounded in western actions.
Fantástico como siempre, mi estimado Larry.
Por cierto Cinthya Chung escribió te recientemente un artículo de 5 partes donde analiza al detalle estos asuntos.
Recomiendo su lectura.
Es una joya.
Échale un vistazo, Larry, te encantará.
Eol Awki says
Good article. Just one minor correction, however. Texas was not acquired from the Mexican War in 1846. Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836 and was an independent country until shortly before the Mexican-American War at which time it was admitted to the Union on Dec 29, 1845. The war with Mexico started in April 1846.
An ex-colonel on national tv yesterday: NATO has 3 tasks. 1) defending territory. 2) bomb foreign countries. 3) bomb foreign countries.
No I did not make a mistake.
Western leader are just hatefull, talking though now with Sweden and Finland joining. They are morrons first class. How stupid can a neutral nation be to have now nuclear weapons aimed just a 2 minutes away on your capital? Well if you see the bankrupt state of the west it’s not a real surprise.
The reason for a buffer zone is that Russia need 10 minutes to launch a counter attack. When placing weapons so close you don’t have time to think, just act. You now, not many would care if a bomb dropped on G7 or NATO…
If the BRICS+ can build a parallel world you just have to wait for the western economical collapse.
In principle, I agree. Then again, why would Russia limit herself to a nuclear exchange within Europe (a.k.a. the buffer zone)? No chance. First nuclear missiles would fly to the US.
Or, they could make an offer to the US; we shall nuke UK (and/or, perhaps, some selected countries in Europe). We do not expect US to retaliate. Should you try to do so, well, a full nuclear exchange follows…
Yes, it is a complete “game theory” thing, nevertheless your insight is welcome.
David Habakkuk says
I drafted this in response to your excellent comments on ‘denazification’ and ‘demilitarisation’, and he exchanges they provoked. But it seems sensible to post it here.
I see that, following ‘gman’, another Nazi apologist has surfaced on this thread. Again, we are provided with supposedly decisive evidence of Stalin’s intention to conquer Western Europe, without any link to the supposed ‘smoking gun.’
On an earlier thread, attempting to counter the evidence to which I had pointed, establishing that the claims by the British intelligence asset ‘Viktor Suvorov’, aka Vladimir Rezun, and the American historian Sean McMeekin, that the Second World War was ‘Stalin’s War’, were rubbish, ‘gman’ gave a comical example of the tricks these people use.
So, he informed me:
‘An interesting book “The Wolf of the Kremlin” is about Lazar Kagonovich, written by his nephew. According to that book Stalin was very surprised and upset about Barbarossa. Not because he had no plans to invade, but rather because Hitler had beaten him to the punch and caught him flat footed. But I agree nobody but Stalin know what his actual intentions were. But one can reasonably infer.’
From the ‘Wikipedia’ entry on Lazar Kaganovich – supposedly having read his biography, ‘gman’ can’t even get the spelling right:
‘In 1987, American journalist Stuart Kahan published a book entitled The Wolf of the Kremlin: The First Biography of L.M. Kaganovich, the Soviet Union’s Architect of Fear (William Morrow & Co). In the book, Kahan made a series of claims about Kaganovich’s working relationship with Stalin and his activities during the Ukrainian famine, and claimed to be Kaganovich’s long-lost nephew. He also claimed to have interviewed Kaganovich personally and stated that Kaganovich admitted to being partially responsible for the death of Stalin in 1953 (supposedly by poisoning). A number of other unusual claims were made as well, including that Stalin was married to a sister of Kaganovich (supposedly named “Rosa”) during the last year of his life and that Kaganovich (who was raised Jewish) was the architect of anti-Jewish pogroms.[non-primary source needed]’
As the discussion rather clearly demonstrates, the book is a fabrication, and Stuart Kahan no more the nephew of ‘Kaganovich’ than I am the great-grandson of Winston Churchill.
(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazar_Kaganovich .)
Another claim by ‘gman’ is, unfortunately, symptomatic of a much wider shoddiness, which appears to have become pervasive on both sides of the Atlantic. So, in his response to me, he said: ‘There is no real argument here. Just which sources you believe.’
Actually, serious investigation – be it carried out by the most hard-bitten of detectives, or the most rarefied of scholars – is commonly a matter to do with the critical analysis of evidence. Detectives or scholars, not to speak of intelligence analysts or journalists, who think it is simply about deciding which ‘sources you believe’ rather often end up being misled by people who tell them what they want to hear.
Regarding ‘Suvorov’ and McMeekin as appropriate ‘sources you believe’ has the effect of obscuring a whole range of issues of continuing relevance.
A crucial point is the fact that a country’s military planners, and their political masters, may believe that, in the event of war, the appropriate strategy is to initiate large-scale offensive operations at any early stage, in itself, tells you nothing about whether the intentions behind these strategies are offensive, defensive – or some mixture of the two.
Of course, the possible targets of these offensives may have quite legitimate grounds for concern, and for preparing counter-measures, even if critical analysis of evidence suggests that protestations that the intentions behind them are defensive are not simply to be dismissed as disingenuous propaganda.
I remember an unfortunately aborted class on Clausewitz when I was a student, more than half a century ago, taught by a philosopher who had five years wartime experience in the British Army behind him. He quoted a remark from the novelist D.H. Lawrence: ‘It takes two people to make a murder: a murderer and a murderee.’
It is certainly wise, in international relations, to try to avoid being a ‘murderee.’
However, to make sense of Russian policies, alike before, during, and after the Soviet period, it is useful to have at least some basic understanding of the arguments among strategists in that country about the proper role of ‘offence’ and ‘defence’, ‘attrition’ and ‘destruction’, in warfare, and how these have shaped ideas about ‘operational art.’
It is perhaps unsurprising that a civilian historian like McMeekin should be ignorant of the history of how an ‘operational art’ very heavily focused on ‘deep operations’ came to dominate Soviet planning in the ‘Twenties, and continued to do so until the ‘Eighties.
What is more baffling is the apparent inability of almost everyone in Washington and London to make sense of the complex ‘balancing’ of ‘offence’ and ‘defence’ which has characterised the ‘special military operation.’
It is particularly baffling in the case of military people, given that there is much first-class work by scholars associated with the U.S. Army about the relevant history – see for example a 2005 symposium published by the its ‘Center of Military History’ under the title ‘Historical Perspectives of the Operational Art.’
(See https://history.army.mil/html/books/070/70-89-1/cmhPub_70-89.pdf .)
An illuminating introductory essay by Bruce W. Menning explains both how the U.S. military, rather belatedly, following the Vietnam defeat, became interested in ideas relating to an ‘operational’ level of war, between the traditional ones of tactics and strategy, and the pioneering work of Soviet theorists in developing the concept, and its implications.
It may well have been as a result of this that what was originally the ‘Soviet Army Studies Office’, and is now the ‘Foreign Military Studies Office’ was founded at Fort Leavenworth in 1986, with Menning, already an established scholar of Russian military history, as its first director.
The symposium contains fascinating discussions of the Russian/Soviet history by him and two of his original colleagues who succeeded him in charge of the organisation, Colonel David Glantz and Jacob W. Kipp – which among other things bring out the complexity, and sophistication, of the development of ideas drawn originally from Clausewitz in Russia.
If one wants to understand what is happening in Ukraine, I think it helps to look back at a translation of the – much misunderstood – address given by General Gerasimov to the ‘Academy of Military Sciences’ back in 2013, which was published in the January-February edition of ‘Military Review’ – ‘The Professional Journal of the U.S. Army.’
It was entitled “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight: New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations.’
(See https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/January-February-2016/ .)
Also worth reading is the ‘recantation’ by the British scholar Mark Galeotti for the ‘gloss’ he put on the translation of this address he published on his blog in July 2014, to which it links.
(See https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/03/05/im-sorry-for-creating-the-gerasimov-doctrine/ .)
Picking up on Gerasimov’s discussion of way that ‘measures short of war’ have come to assume in Western strategy, Galeotti goes to great pains to demonstrate that what purport to be ‘defensive’ intentions on the Russian side mask covert ‘offensive’ ones.
A much better account, the FMSO analyst Major Charles K. Bartles, accompanies the translation in the ‘Military Review’ to which I have linked. However, no more than Galeotti, does its author pick up allusions in the 2013 piece to Georgii Isserson and Alexandr Svechin – two key figures in the development of ‘operational art.’ About both, there is a great deal of useful material in the 2005 symposium.
Also very useful – not least, I think, in making sense of Gerasimov – is the 2012 article by David R. Stone, now at the ‘Naval War College’, entitled ‘Misreading Svechin: Attrition, Annihilation, and Historicism.’
(See https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/10652862.pdf .)
Actually, the corrective it supplies to a common view of its subject as simply an advocate of ‘defence’ against ‘offence’, ‘attrition’ against ‘annihilation’, or ‘destruction’ develops a point which Menning makes, discussing arguments made by then Colonel Svechin before the First World War.
The same commitment to the offensive which ‘Suvorov’ and McMeekin want to suggest establishes Stalin’s offensive intentions, his discussion recalls, was common to all the combatants in 1914. The arguments for an initial offensive were, Menning notes, well understood by Svechin. However, while one might hope that initial conflicts would be decisive, it would be folly to gamble on confidence that they were necessarily going to be:
‘In the event that French and tsarist armies failed to deliver rapid decision in any future conflict, the two nations would be well served to seek a balance between offense and defense. Svechin did his calculations and concluded that combatants might plan for an early victory but must be prepared for protracted conflict. This was a theme to which he would return in the 1920s, with lamentable personal consequences.’
What Svechin would certainly have argued later, had he not been silenced by Tukhachevskii, was that the kind of ‘deep operations’ strategies that figure and Isserson – as Gerasimov recognises, one of the latter’s most brilliant associates – were indispensable, but that, in contrast to 1914, the initial posture should be ‘strategic defence.’
A point about Svechin’s ‘historicism’ is that it led to precisely the tension Gerasimov uses him to illuminate in his 2013 article – that between the need for pre-planning and the fact that how wars start and develop is unpredictable.
These are very relevant to arguments of the ‘Forties. They are equally relevant to the arguments of the ‘Eighties. At that point, some of those who revived Svechin, notably General-Mayor Valentin Larionov and Andrei Kokoshin, did so in the hope that liquidating ‘deep operations’ planning would destroy familiar Western images of the Soviet Union as being, as it were, an aspiring ‘murderer.’
Perhaps Svechin himelf, had he been alive, might have counselled that, while it was sensible to try to destroy the ‘enemy image’, one should be prepared for the possibility that people in the West would be reluctant to surrender it – and be cautious about becoming a ‘murderee.’
In making sense of current events, it is of central importance that Stalin, whatever his other crimes and follies, in the summer of 1941 was not an aspiring ‘murderer’, but someone in denial about his having been selected for the role of ‘murderee.’ It did not help, however, that contingency planning oriented to rapid ‘deep operations’ meant that he was, as it were, terrified of pulling his gun out of the holster, for fear of making an avoidable war inevitable.
If one sees Putin as determined to avoid repeating the mistakes Stalin made – rather than ones did he did not – much in what he has done in recent months makes sense.
As to Gerasimov’s planning, anyone familiar with the history might have realised that he has done essentially what Svechin said it was appropriate to do. Further, if it was judged that Isserson-style ‘offensives’ were appropriate at the outset, they would be accompanied by ‘maskirovka.’ As to the notion that the Russians were not prepared for a shift to ‘attrition’ – and were going to run out missiles in short order: such suicidal self-delusion is where listening to ‘sources you believe’ gets you.
Thanks David, an insightful comment.
“…suicidal self-delusion is where listening to ‘sources you believe’ gets you.”
Listening to Fed Chair Powell speaking to the ECB is leaving me wondering if he’s still suicidally self-delusional regarding the US economy (I’m sure Biden is). The economic war being waged against the Russian Federation is also leaving me wondering if we’ve run out of ‘missles’ (sanctions) or if they have simply had so much blow-back that the collateral damage to the European and US economies are actually worse than what they are doing to the Russians.
I love your posts on SST in the past. and this “gman” ID is an obvious troll who slip ini fake facts inside his posts once in a while spreading FUD and nonsense. Just like professonal paid astroturfer he never go full retard i mean full troll , he keep balanced posts between normal sounding posts and his troll posts woven inside seemingly normal post.
I remember back in the Obama administration, Secratary of State John Kerry lamenting how much easier it was when there was a cold war. I thought it was a really stupid remark which is why it stuck with me. Thus, it is not surprising that our relationship with Russia deteriorating significantly in the Obama years. I think Putin thwarting Obama’s stupid war in Syria played a huge role. Not to suggest, that Bush and Trump didn’t contribute to the deterioration of things.
Yet another excellent post. While I know that you know, unlike Kosovo where there was no referendum nor vote, 90+% of the Crimeans voted to join Russia – Russia did not “take” Crimea – they were already there and had paid for a long term treaty to remain there. The UkranoNazis are on record talking about nuking them. The Ukrainonazis cut off their water and land access to supplies and sales of their own goods.
Just trying to bring in some more details on what happened.
Crimea *was* annexed – by Ukraine in 1992. Why, if it was already part of Ukraine? Because it never was. (Ukrainian) Premier Khrushchev “gifted”, illegally, the oblast to his place of birth as a gesture of friendship in 1954. In 1994, Crimea legally declared itself an independent republic. Following the Fascist coup in 2014, it voted to return to Russia. So, Mr Putin didn’t annex the peninsula but simply welcomed it back home.
Chris Chuba says
And the talking point that ‘NATO poses no threat to Russia because it is a defensive alliance’ is so popular with the celebrity analysts on FOX / CNN / …
Bombing Serbia was not ‘defensive’, it was intervention based on R2P; ditto Libya. These two examples alone should put that talking point to bed.
I think this article will be of interest to all of you, although Mr. Johnson probably knows already about such russophobic pathology. The article shows how deranged Western governments (in this case German) have become in their determination to root out any dissenting information about the war in Ukraine:
Larry Johnson says
Another ironic act by a government that professes to support a free press but punished a journalist who does honest work. Shameful.
Eric Newhill says
An excellent and timely article, Larry, As always, thank you.
As for Sweden and Finland joining NATO, that is thin gruel pumped up by butt sore neocons who are desperate for something, anything, to show a triumph over Russia. My thought is that a bear is not worried if a hunter adds a Poodle and a Chihuahua to his dog team. UKR, on the other hand, was a big problem for Russia for the reasons you outline in this article.
another proof that both sweden and finnish people have no say on what their govt do .. lots of voice saying ordinary swedee and finn prefer neutrality but no real effort from the populace to force the issue.
so both nation and their passive people aka sheeps will reap the incoming pain
NATO is the new Third Reich? Biden is sporting a Hitler mustache? NATO is a bunch of coward wannabe Nazis, so they take a trillion$ out of the dumb Americans pockets every year to “play” war. That is what Lieutenant Colonel Edmund John Sieminski called it, little babies playing war for lack of any ability to be constructive. Pay a bunch of so called Turkish Muslim Jihadis to do the dirty work ’cause they are cowards. And the stupid Americans wonder why they ain’t makin’ any money on the stock market!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The United States is the new Nazi Germany; course the Germans were proxy to American businessmen toooooooooooooo; Henry Ford was a coward wannabe Nazi; at least they had the balls to fight their own battles! You suck USA
Get Oprah to invite Jill Biden on how to raise a crack head insatiable goon for a son; daddy?
this is not the kind of blog to post such trash
OK, look in everyone we have been ordered to “Pivot to Asia”.
What does that mean sir?
Well that means we are going to start a right rukus in China Johnson.
OK everyone, pivot, pivot, piiiiivooot, pivot a bit more and …..stop.
Right everyone, off to Poland.
But sir isn’t that the opposite way?
Nonsense Johnson its called the Biden Folly! we are going to outflank the Chinese!
You’re probably right….
European leadsrs so adamant in cutting itself from russia , at the behest of their masters in washington. They also follow US diktat in dealing with china. The illegal sanction and seizure of russian assets and the suicidal sanctions showed to china that europe will kill its own economy and people in order to follow US orders. It is an eye opening for china when they deal with european in the future. How can you deal with EU which dont care about its own economic well being?
Europe not only cutting itself from russia but also from future dealing with china and the rest of the world.
Keith Harbaugh says
Sundance at CTH says
America is preparing for war with Russia:
Deafening Drumbeats for War –
Biden Sends More U.S. Troops to Ukraine Border,
101st Airborne Deployed,
Six Destroyers to Mediterranean,
F-35 Squadrons to U.K.
“There is a slow-motion buildup to a hot war with Russia happening.
The question is rapidly moving from “if” to “when.” ”
Sundance gives some interesting quotes from leaders of the 101st Airborne Division concerning their reengagement with Europe.
OTOH, John Mearsheimer continually says the U.S. should be more concerned with protecting our allies in Asia from pressure from China.
A point that America’s political leaders and media are resolutely ignoring.