Persistent Delusion Among the American and NATO Defense Establishment

by | Feb 11, 2023


There are three recent articles I want to make sure you have read because they reveal the delusion that continues to afflict US military leaders, pundits and the establishment media.

First up is US Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, who provided some surprising candor during a speech in late January to a Swedish defense conference but failed to comprehend what he was saying:

The heavy casualties and massive ammunition consumption seen during the war in Ukraine has top NATO commanders worried. . . .

“The scale of this war is out of proportion with all of our recent thinking,” said Cavoli, who is also head of US European Command. “But it is real and we must contend with it.”

One lesson is the importance of an adequate defense industrial base capable of providing the necessary equipment and supplies to satisfy the voracious appetite of large-scale, high-intensity warfare. The US, Russia, and Europe are already scrambling to ramp up production of artillery shells after letting their munitions stockpiles and factories run down after the Cold War.

Yes. Having an adequate defense industrial base is critical. The West no longer has one and, assuming it found the will and resources to recreate one, we are talking years. Does Cavoli not grasp this reality?

Even then, it became clear that NATO — which has expanded from 12 founding members to 30 members today — was dependent on US support. In Libya, for example, NATO air forces ran short of precision-guided bombs after the first month.

That Moscow is buying artillery shells from North Korea suggests that Russia’s military is no shape to fight NATO and Ukraine. However, NATO’s frantic attempts to scrounge up weapons and ammunition for Ukraine shows the alliance doesn’t have much depth to its arsenals.

If the Supreme US Commander in Europe does not understand that Russia is not running out of shells or missiles, is he ignorant or is his staff hiding battlefield facts from him? I do congratulate Cavoli on his No Shit Analysis moment when he admits that NATO has no strategic depth. But he is engaging in major hopium by repeating the nonsense that Russia is in no shape to fight NATO. Errors in judgment like that get people killed.

Next is a ridiculous piece by Andrew A. MichtaUkraine Can Achieve a Strategic Win over Russia. The West Must Step Up. Michta has quite a pedigree:

Andrew A. Michta is the dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and a new Contributing Editor for 1945. He is the former Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College and former Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewMichta. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, the US Department of Defense, or the US government.

Michta is one more piece of evidence supporting Andrei Martyanov’s trenchant criticism of the pseudo-intellectuals that pander to the Defense establishment. It is a pity that Sigmund Freud is not around to do some much needed psycho analysis on the Neo Con community. People like Michta display a form of schizophrenia in their articles. Consider the following:

In the wake of the mass destruction of Ukraine’s infrastructure and the flight of its citizens (an estimated 9 million Ukrainian refugees have passed through Poland alone), a fight with an enemy commanding approximately four times Ukraine’s population can only end one way.

So Ukraine needs forces to allow it to break out of the current stalemate, check the Russian advance, and maneuver to achieve a decisive victory on the battlefield. It needs to fight on its own terms. To do this it needs modern Western main battle tanks and long-range fires – in greater numbers than promised so far, and, most importantly, aircraft.

Yep. More Cowbell. Michta correctly notes that Ukraine is outnumbered and outgunned. So what is his wise recommendation for doing a turn around? Send in more battle tanks, long-range fires and combat aircraft that Russia has demonstrated the ability to destroy. Yeah, that makes sense.

Michta, a professional leech who guzzles at the tit of the Defense industry, offers a solution that is certain to warm the hearts of the corporate chiefs at General Dynamics, Lockheed, Raytheon and many others. Happy Days are here again. We need more billions to stop the Rooskies.

Unless the United States and its European allies make urgently needed decisions to invest in their defense industry, it may become impossible to supply Ukraine in the long run—even if the political will remains. Simply put, looking at the rates at which weapons and munitions are being consumed in this war, the West needs to move its defense industry away from the “just-in-time,” low-volume paradigm of the past thirty years to a “just-in-case” approach, whereby it amasses the quantities of weapons and munitions needed to sustain a protracted fight with a near-peer adversary. . . .

But the West should consider another possibility: Given the right equipment, the Ukrainian army could defeat the Russian military within the next six months, setting in motion forces in Russia that could implode Putin’s regime. In Russian history, military defeats have usually been accompanied by internal fracturing—including the 1905 revolution that followed Russia’s defeat by Japan, the February and Bolshevik revolutions in 1917 in the wake of Russia’s defeat by Germany, and the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union following its rout in Afghanistan. . . .

I could tolerate this nonsense if it was written by a 24 year old grad student with no memory of the Cold War and no understanding of Russia’s history of dealing with foreign invaders, but Michta is experienced. The Ukrainian Army has not defeated the Russians in a set piece battle since the start of Russia’s Special Military Operation. Urkaine, with the full help of NATO, was unable to mount an offensive to rescue its trapped forces in Mariupol. A similar catastrophe for Ukraine is unfolding right now in Donetsk along the defense line that stretches from Bakhmut to Seversk in the north.

I find it especially ironic that Michta cites the Soviet Union’s “rout” in Afghanistan without acknowledging the ass whipping the United States endured in August 2021 despite our extravagantly expensive military machine. Russia did not flee Afghanistan with desperate inhabitants clinging to departing air craft and plunging to their deaths. We did that. At least Russia executed a competent withdrawal. Look in the mirror Michta. People who live in glass houses should be cautious about tossing rocks.

I will give Michta credit for one moment of lucidity in the penultimate paragraph of his article:

This is a system-transforming war. Should Ukraine lose, not only would Russia and China be emboldened to press their advantage. Recriminations over the failure to adequately support Ukraine between countries on NATO’s eastern flank and their allies further West could also put a severe strain on the alliance—and possibly fracture it. The consequences of this war thus reach far beyond the question of who wins in Ukraine.

That is the core of the truth — the Ukraine war has exposed NATO as a toothless tiger that cannot sustain an industrial war against a first world military machine like Russia.

Delusional thinking is not limited to the US pundits. The Germans also have jumped on the crazy train. Writing in Der Spiegel, René Pfister, Ann-Dorit Boy und Matthias Gebauer offer their proposal for “How Might the Violence in Ukraine Come to an End?” They proceed by presenting false straw-men:

When Russian President Vladimir Putin marched into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, he clearly believed that he would be able to conquer Kyiv within just a few days and install a puppet government.

With the invasion, Putin was hoping to fulfill his dream of resurrecting the Soviet Union, but now, he finds himself not only fighting against a powerful Ukrainian army, but also for his own political survival.

If Putin is able to swallow up Ukraine, why would he shy away from doing the same to other republics that were once part of the Soviet Union – such as Moldova or the Baltic states?

If Putin were victorious in Ukraine, might not Beijing see that as an invitation to conquer Taiwan?

There you have it — the new Domino theory. I am old enough to remember when Commie dominoes were the raison d’etre for the US war in Vietnam, Central America and Afghanistan. The Soviets were hell bent on world domination and we had to stop them. Let us call this what it is — Domino 2.0.

The Der Spiegel writers repeat the delusional meme that has anchored the West during the last year:

More than a few Western military experts are cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a Ukrainian victory, not least because Moscow has repeatedly stumbled on the battlefield. The Ukrainian military, by contrast, has managed to win back half of the territory that Russia occupied immediately following the February 24 invasion. . . .

“The Russian proposition is, to me, straightforward,” says American military expert Michael Kofman. It hinges on grinding down the strong Ukrainian military with wave upon wave of Russian fighters even if they are poorly trained and equipped. For Ukraine to withstand the Russian onslaught, Kyiv badly needs more weapons and munitions.

They cannot leave that Cowbell alone. They want more. Much more! The authors grudgingly acknowledge that as the conflict drags on NATO’s unity is fraying:

The perceived foot-dragging by some members of the Western coalition has triggered frustration in Central European countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic countries as well as in Ukraine. Increasingly, that same frustration has been building among Biden’s supporters in Washington.

The Der Spiegel scribes offer a boorish assessment of what a Russian victory will look like and insist that Putin, even if he chalks up a victory, will still be on the ropes. They even mention he may have cancer.

These three articles encapsulate the juvenile, short sighted, daft strategic thinking that is the foundation of the NATO effort to destroy Russia. They ignore Russia’s unequaled natural resources (which gives it self-suffiency not enjoyed by any of the other major powers); its robust, technologically sophisticated industrial base (Russia produces viable space rockets, the United States does not); and its deeply rooted sense of national identity. They also do not grasp the devastating tactics the Russians are methodically executing on the battlefield — the Ukrainian Army and equipment are being mauled and the West has emptied its military stores and is in no condition to provide replacements any time soon.

Reprinted with permission from Sonar21.


  • Larry C. Johnson

    Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group).

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