NATO: A Dangerous Paper Tiger

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Patrick Armstrong via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Chinese have a genius for pithy expressions and few are more packed with meaning, while immediately understandable, than "paper tiger". NATO is one, but paper tigers that overestimate their powers can be dangerous.

Some Russians are concerned that there are today more hostile troops at the Russian border than at any time since 1941. While this is true, it is not, at the moment, very significant. The Germans invaded the USSR with nearly 150 divisions in 1941. Which, as it turned out, were not enough.

Today NATO has – or claims to have – a battle group in each of the three Baltic countries and one in Poland: pompously titled Enhanced Forward Presence. The USA has a brigade and talks of another. A certain amount of heavy weaponry has been moved to Europe. These constitute the bulk of the land forces at the border. They amount to, at the most optimistic assessment, assuming everything is there and ready to go, one division. Or, actually, one division equivalent (a very different thing) from 16 (!) countries with different languages, military practices and equipment sets and their soldiers ever rotating through. And, in a war, the three in the Baltics would be bypassed and become either a new Dunkirk or a new Cannae. All for the purpose, we are solemnly told, of sending "a clear message that an attack on one Ally would be met by troops from across the Alliance". But who's the "message" for? Moscow already has a copy of the NATO treaty and knows what Article V says.

In addition to the EFP are the national forces. But they are in a low state: "depleted armies" they've been called: under equipped and under manned; seldom exercised. The German parliamentary ombudsman charged with overseeing the Bundeswehr says "There are too many things missing". In 2008 the French Army was described as "falling apart". The British Army "can't find enough soldiers". The Italian army is ageing. Poland, one of the cheerleaders for the "Russian threat" meme, finds its army riven over accusations of politicisation. On paper, these five armies claim to have thirteen divisions and thirteen independent brigades. Call it, optimistically, a dozen divisions in all. The US Army (which has its own recruiting difficulties) adds another eleven or so to the list (although much of it is overseas entangled in the metastasising "war on terror"). Let's pretend all the other NATO countries can bring another five divisions to the fight.

So, altogether, bringing everything home from the wars NATO is fighting around the world, under the most optimistic assumptions, assuming that everything is there and working (fewer than half of France's tanks were operationalGerman painted broomsticksBritish recruiting shortfalls), crossing your fingers and hoping, NATO could possibly cobble together two and a half dozen divisions: or one-fifth of the number Germany thought it would need. But, in truth, that number is fantasy: undermanned, under equipped, seldom exercised, no logistics tail, no munitions production backup, no time for a long logistics build up. NATO's armies aren't capable of a major war against a first class enemy. And no better is the principal member: "only five of the US Army’s 15 armoured brigade combat teams are maintained at full readiness levels". A paper tiger.

This reality was on display – for those who could see – in the "Dragoon Ride" of 2015. Intended "to assure those allies that live closest to the Bear that we are here", it was a parade of light armoured vehicles armed with heavy machine guns. Although breathlessly covered in the US media ("Show the world some of the firepower the United States and its NATO partners have in Eastern Europe"), it is unlikely that any watcher who had served in a Warsaw Pact army was impressed by what was in effect a couple of dozen BTR-50s. And neither was the US Army when it thought about it: a rush program was put into effect to give the vehicles a bigger weapon. The first one was delivered a year later. So now the US Army has a few lightly armoured vehicles with cannons. Something like the Soviet BTR-80 of the 1980s. Meanwhile, the Russians have the Bumerang-BM turret. Years of kicking in doors and patrolling roads hoping there are no IEDs are poor preparation for a real war.

No wonder NATO prefers to bomb defenceless targets from 15,000 feet. But there too, the record is unimpressive. Consider NATO's last "successful" performance against Libya in 2011. No air defence, no opposition, complete freedom of movement and choice of action; and it took 226 days! Kosovo, a similar air action against a weak opponent, took 79 days. Meanwhile the years roll by in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Not, in short, a very efficient military alliance even when it is turned on against more-or-less helpless victims.

But there is one obvious question: does NATO take all its Russian threat rhetoric seriously, or is it just an advertising campaign? A campaign to bring in £240 million from the Baltics, an extra eighty billion for the US military-industrial complex, US$28 billion for PolandPatriot missiles for Swedenbillions for F-35s for Norway (but no hangars for them), spending increases in the UKGermanyFranceCanadaCzech Republic and so on. A Russian threat is good for business: there's poor money in a threat made of IEDs, bomb vests and small arms. Big profits require big threats. As I have written elsewhere, Russia was thought to be the right size of threat – big enough, but not too big. And they thought it was a safe target too – remember Obama in 2015 and his confidence that Russia didn't amount to much?

Or so they thought then. What is amusing is that NATO is starting to worry about what it has awoken: "aerial denial zones", British army wiped out in an afternoonNATO loses quickly in the Balticsunstoppable carrier-killer missile, "eye-watering" EW capabilities, "black hole" submarinesgenerational lead in tanks, "devastating" air defence system, "totally outmatched". Russian actions, both diplomatic and military, in Syria gave NATO a taste: the Russian military is far more capable than they imagined. And far better wielded. The phantom conjured up to justify arms sales and NATO expansion now frightens its creators. A particularly striking example comes from General Breedlove, former NATO Supreme Commander who did much to poke Russia: he now fears that a war "would leave Europe helpless, cut off from reinforcements, and at the mercy of the Russian Federation." Not as negligible as they thought.

To what should we compare this weak, incompetent but endlessly boastful and belligerent alliance? In the past I have suggested that NATO is a drunk that drinks to cure the effects of its last bender. Is it a child in an endless tantrum, frightening itself with the stories it tells itself? Like the Warsaw Pact it is frightened of contradicting information or opinion and insists they be blocked. Certainly it is an exemplar of complacent self delusion: "Projecting Stability Beyond Our Borders" boasts about the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. The unicorns roam free in NATOland.

There is no reason to bother to read anything that comes out of NATO Headquarters: it's only wind. There is one response. And that is Libya. When they say stability, respond Libya. When they say terrorism, respond Libya. When they say peace, respond Libya. When they say dialogue, respond Libya. When they say values, respond Libya. NATO is dangerous in the way that the stupid and deluded can be. But, when its principal member starts demanding its members "pay their share", and the people of five members see Washington a greater threat than Moscow, maybe its final days are upon us.

But incessant repetition becomes reality and that's where the danger lies. Hysteria has reached absurd proportions: 2014's "gas station masquerading as a country" decides who sits in the White House; directs referendums in Europe; rules men's minds through RT and Sputnik; dominates social media; every Russian exercise brings panic. This would all be amusing enough except for the fact that Moscow doesn't get the joke. While the NATO forces on their border may be insignificant at the moment, they can grow and all armies must prepare for the worst. The First Guards Tank Army is being re-created. I discuss the significance of that here. When it is ready – and Moscow moves much faster than NATO – it will be more than a match, offensively or defensively, for NATO's paper armies. And, if Moscow thinks it needs more, more will come. And there will be no cost-free bombing operations at 15,000 feet against Russia. NATO's naval strength, which is still real, is pretty irrelevant to operations against Russia. And still the paper tiger bares its paper teeth.

In other words – and I never tire of quoting him on this – "We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way". NATO has been kiting cheques for years. And rather than soberly examine its bank account, it writes another, listening to the applause in the echo chamber of its mind.

"Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." We can only hope that NATO's coming destruction does not destroy us too.

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shitshitshit's picture

the guy forgot to mention the great diversity of western armies vs traditional christian orthodox bearded warriors on the russian side. You don't fight an angry bear on his territory.

These LGBT and self mutilating idiots will be in for surprise.


Sonder's picture

The "leaders" in the West also fail to take into account just how many straight, white, men might not feel particularly inclined to fight for them. If I was given the choice between fighting alongside traditionalist white Russians, or a multicultural hellscape of barely trained lesbians more focused on diversity and open borders than combat readiness... well the choice wouldn't be hard to make. 

Rex Andrus's picture

They did factor that in. The main thesis of the divide and rule doctrine is to deter you from fighting for your community. They make your community appear alien to you and they win. Their illusion is not real. These aliens are not your community.

Sudden Debt's picture

well, most are American mercs so in the end it's only printed money and canon fodder

NuYawkFrankie's picture

Gee... that 90lb dweeb directing operations in the above photo REALLY inspires confidence!

Could it actually be that the REAL INTENT of those "Usual Suspects" pushing ZATO towards war is, in fact, to get The West wiped out... and, if that doesn't work, to get it wiped-out anyway via a mass 3rd-World forced immigration - aka "Invasion" - as a "fall-back" position?

WHO is the REAL ENEMY? WHO got those "unaccounted for" DoD/Pentagon $TRillions? Why the 9/11 Cover-Up? Will you still love me tomorrow...

wildbad's picture

correction...dweebette..i hope

Sparehead's picture

She's almost certainly a helicopter crewchief. She's an NCO wearing a flight helmet and Nomex flight gloves. I'd further speculate she's telling them to watch out for the low rotor at the front of a UH60 and to approach from the side. Either that or to watch out for the tail rotor if the aircraft is facing the other way. I'd also bet she has her low hand on her intercom switich which is on an extension cord which puts her just outside of the rotor system.

She does look pretty dweeby, unless you've been deployed for a while in which case she'd start to look pretty hot.

Escapedgoat's picture



" traditional christian orthodox bearded warriors on the russian side. "   


.........and one (Greece)  of them is in NATO.

I suppose they are going to fight against their compatriots from Crimea.

...and to support ze Germans, French, and ..............the Baltics.

BlindMonkey's picture

How many NATO body bags did they bother to ship to the Baltics?

land_of_the_few's picture

And as if on cue, today we get the plaintive cries of "help help the Russians are coming" from State Dept. Budget time, or they not happy about Europe suddenly taking responsibility?

SoDamnMad's picture

The Russians are not going to do shit. They are sitting back with a cup of tea and going to let Merkel's Muslims rip Europe apart. The soverign armies will run around after them in a frenzy.  Take "Day of Wrath" and download it on Europe and the armies will show how screwed up they are. Norway didn'thave a single helicopter available to go up to the island while the killed shot 60 kids to death.  About same in the Baltics.  

Idaho potato head's picture

"The next war will not be fought on Russian soil" VVP

WTFUD's picture

Now that the US-ZATO are reduced to airlifting the last remnants of their proxy army IS out of Syria & Iraq and into the Golan Heights & Jordan, it's time for Russia to send a message and level those Mother-Fucking Vichy DC redundant Command Posts in Syria. Offer them 24 hours to get the fuck out with a maximum of 23kg of luggage per man.

SoDamnMad's picture

This the same US_ZATO army that safeguarded 2,000 ISIS fighters out of their last major city they held.  Sure we are fighting ISIS. Like the LiveLeak photo of the convoy of Toyotqs bearing black flags with the US helicopter flyin gthe other direction.

mabuhay1's picture

The Russians used up their entire current stock of smart weapons the first week they were in Syria.  Since then, they have re-stocked, but who knows their current stocking levels.  Most Russian weapons are junk, and the Russian military is on life support, except for their nuclear forces.  I would not worry about Russia being such an overpowering threat to NATO, or much anyone else other than a 5th rate (or worse) power like Ukraine. Russia's biggest problem is that when China realizes just how weak Russia really is, all of the Far Eastern sections of Russia will be annexed by the Russians putative ally.  China believes it is ascending to the Pinnacle of World Domination, and is by far the greatest threat facing Russia today.

WTFUD's picture

Numbnuts, if that was the case the 'paper tiger' would be all over them. Remember when Russia threatened NATO that any attack on the Syrian Army would be dealt with severely and the Australians got the fuck out of dodge, pronto like, the next day? A good man knows his limitations.

Nexus789's picture

I think you are being soft. This twerp is beyond being a numbnut. 

BlindMonkey's picture

You might want to count the number of missions that the small air group  the Russians have deployed to Syria has run. They have averaged almost 2 missions a day from each planE and that is a blistering pace. The US Air fleet would be very hard pressed to keep up that pace for 2 years.  

OverTheHedge's picture

Russia's "smart weapons"?

I seem to remember the Europeans running out of EVERYTHING within the first few days when they started bombing Libya, not just the smart stuff.


Sandmann's picture

You really need to learn some history......


This guy was stunned by Russian manufacturing capacity and just how many tanks they had

sebmurray's picture

The Russians probably aren't equipped for an offensive into Europe. But then again, they're not the ones making the aggressive moves. The point is that they still have more than enough tricks up their sleeves to make anyone who messes with them pay very dearly

BarkingCat's picture

Simple fact is that if NATO attacks Russia, at the very first signs of trouble NATO will start to fracture. Even some of those nations that  are screaming loudly their anti-Russian hysteria today, will see internal upheaval when that happens.

There is no way of telling how NATO will break apart and what alliances form from its ashes.

One thing is certain.  WWI reshaped the map of Europe and saw the end of 2 great empires (Ottoman and Austria-Hungary). It also saw the end of monarchy  (tsarism) and take over by communism in Russia. 

NATO vs Russia would likely have the same effect in completely reshaping Europe again.

The final outcome?  I have no idea?

quadraspleen's picture

Got any links to back up those ridiculous assertions, especially the first one about running out of ordnance, or are you just blowing hot air?

War Machine's picture

Your first sentence is wrong, the claim about Russian weapons nonsense. They have excellent subs, tanks, missiles of all kinds, small arms wnd fighter jets - they simply don't have enough to take on NATO, and are unlikely to want to.

NATO lacks the armor to invade even E. Ukraine and would not own the skies - which is something their tactics absolutely demand.

The US/Israeli reluctance to engage Russia in Syria is very revealing.

Yes, us 'advisors' helped the SDF shell and kill a few Russian officers, but i return the Russians killed a large handful of CIA and Mossad operators.

All in all not bad for a single country against the US and its allies and terror proxies.

Milton Keynes's picture

Russia has good tanks, Decent subs, great missiles and small arms, okay Fighters.


However the subs are short on sailing time, the army is mostly aging, their surface navy is sad, and the fighters burn up engines fast.


I don't underestimate the russian forces but I don't over-estimate them. They are still damaged from a decade of war in Afghanistan and

two decades of depression. They barely could take on the George's or Azeri.  Their force projection to syria was an embarassment.


Neither military is running at 100%

Sparehead's picture

"Most Russian weapons are junk..."

What makes you say that? You could say their weapons/weapon systems are less sophisticated/complex and costly that the West's, but they also tend to be more plentiful and often more reliable under harsh field conditions.

ludwigvmises's picture

NATO and the UN need to be abolished! Enough with us wasting money on this non-sense with zero tangible results!

kralizec's picture

Let the Europeans have Europe, let Africans have Africa...

Ecclesia Militans's picture

I saw our NATO allies in Afghanistan - have to say (excluding Canada, the UK and the Austa-Ralians) it was the countries in the ISAF effort from the former Warsaw Pact who really impressed, while everyone from Germany westwards looked pretty unconvincing to me.... 

libfrog88's picture

The picture above looks more like a ''MASH'' episode than real soldiers. If that is the best NATO has to offer, they should all go home.


DeeZ_nutZ's picture

Russians, if they really wanted it, could roll through ukraine, poland and the rest of europe in about a week and reach the coast.  There is NOTHING that has the capability to oppose them meaningfully.  Those nato "divisions" don't count, as they are mostly stocked with losers, homosexuals, and lesbians - all trying to prove their worthiness and riding the political correctness ticket.  If real combat will start, they will be running faster than the glorious cunt - jessica lynch or crying on the side of the road as russian tanks will be rolling by.

There is only one problem - what the fuck will russian do with all these territories?  who is going to feed the niggers and the arabs and the welfare mommies in europe?  they will instantly start raping and killing each other and russians don't have a million troops to deploy at every cross road.  plus, a partisan movement will immediately start in poland, hungary, ukraine, not all over the place but even limited in numbers it will still be costly enough with all the petty bombings and back stabbing.  The russians don't have enough nkvd divisions to be deployed deep in the back this time.

so, no matter how you slice it, the lesbians in nato can feel comfortable because russians will never come and the lesbians will never be made to march east with heavy backpacks.  everybody will just continue sitting where they are barking at each other while the baltics and the rest will be made to pay for the defense.  

the article is spot on, but nobody has the balls or the logistics to make the Big Move anymore.  


pparalegal's picture

More unforeseen fallout from Hillary getting skunked.

sister tika's picture

NATO vs Liechtenstein: Too close to call.

A. Boaty's picture

Bomber gap:

The bomber gap was the Cold War unfounded belief that the Soviet Union's Long Range Aviation department had gained an advantage in deploying jet-powered strategic bombers. Widely accepted for several years, the gap was used as a political talking point in the United States to justify a great increase in defense spending.

One result was a massive buildup of the US Air Force bomber fleet, which peaked at over 2500 bombers to counter the perceived Soviet threat. Surveillance flights by the U-2 aircraft indicated that the bomber gap did not exist.

Realizing that the belief in the gap was an extremely effective funding source, the US military fabricated a series of similarly-nonexistent Soviet military advances. That tactic is now known as policy by press release. Some of the claims were a nuclear-powered bomber, supersonic VTOL flying saucers, and, only a few years later, the missile gap.

Missile gap:

The missile gap was the Cold War term used in the US for the perceived superiority of the number and power of the USSR's missiles in comparison with its own (a lack of military parity). The gap in the ballistic missile arsenals did not exist except in exaggerated estimates, made by the Gaither Committee in 1957 and in United States Air Force (USAF) figures. Even the contradictory CIA figures for the USSR's weaponry, which showed a clear advantage for the US, were far above the actual count. Like the bomber gap of only a few years earlier, it was soon demonstrated that the gap was entirely fictional.

andrej's picture

What is amusing is that NATO is starting to worry about what it has awoken:

Nothing was awoken. It's just propaganda.

"aerial denial zones", British army wiped out in an afternoon, NATO loses quickly in the Baltics, unstoppable carrier-killer missile, "eye-watering" EW capabilities, "black hole" submarines, generational lead in tanks, "devastating" air defence system, "totally outmatched".

IOW: Give military industrial complex more money!


Sonder's picture

I wonder if these Western generals and politicians ever stop and consider just how willing we are to go fight and die for the same people who opened our borders to economic leeches and rapists? The same people who are actively seeking to replace us with a pliable, low IQ, brown workforce. Sorry fuckers, I don't feel like killing other whites to keep your leftist asses safe and comfortable. 

viator's picture

But NATO's armed forces are very politically correct, what's more important than that?

quadraspleen's picture

Great article. Fuck NATO and their craven, warmongering leader, Stoltenburg.

Mike Masr's picture


NATO= North Atlantic Terrorist Organization

Davidduke2000's picture

Putin once said he can destroy the European part of NATO within 3 days, this tell us how much he fears NATO.

bankbob's picture

NATO Strategy - slow the Russians down until troops airlifted from America come and save us.

east of eden's picture

Those 'salvation' air flights would be shot down easily, and very likely over the North Sea where survival, even for a few minutes, is virtually zero.

Why don't you get your head straight.

Sparehead's picture

I hope not, our largest transport can carry all of two of our main battle tanks.

Lost in translation's picture

In the 1980’s, NATO had the Pershing II IRBM.

Today, NATO has Transgenders, and gender reassignment procedures.

So Russia had better WATCH OUT.

east of eden's picture

You don't want to fight Russia in a winter war and you definitely don't want to fight Russia in a summer war.

Honestly, after losing 20 million civilian and military dead in WWII, who can blame them. 

For over 3,000 years now the Siberians, Ukrainians and Russian's proper have been fighting the damned Germans who just never seem to get it through their thick skulls, that when it comes to sheer grit and determination, the Russians are mighty hard to defeat.


Sparehead's picture

I have no idea what you’re referring to with fighting Germans for 3000 years but I don’t want to fight Russia, period. Sure they oppose us often on the world stage, but often it’s with good reason. When you look at how corrupt the US/West has become, and the wake of destruction in all the areas we’ve meddled with in recent decades, I’m glad there are still powers able to resist the NWO/globalist push. Sure, there’s still plenty of problems with Russia, but they’re no longer the Soviet Union seeking to spread world communism. Now they’re just another sovereign nation looking out for their own interests. Besides all that we have larger concerns with China.

RationalExuberance's picture

Love it. More Russian shilling, please. 

Sparehead's picture

I found it more factual than shilling. The US has moved to lighter faster vehicles for two decades as this was a better match for their world policeman/nation-building/meddling missions. Our heavy armor was developed in the 1970s, that’s nearly a half a century ago. The US may have a relatively massive military, but it’s not geared towards a land war with a major adversary. Seems pretty odd that the politicians that moved us in this direction now want to rattle their sabers for conflicts we are poorly prepared for.

ali-ali-al-qomfri's picture

Putin has his hand on the


he can shut the energy supply down like MasterBlaster.

Who, run barter town?

and 'The Whether Man' is forecasting a cold winter.