The Fearful Shirreff of (Probably) Not-Gonna-Happen-Ham: Why You Shouldn't Buy an Ex-NATO Commander's Hype About Nuclear War with Russia

General Sir Alexander Richard David Shirreff KCB, CBE (born 1955) is a recently retired British Army officer and the author of 2017: The War with Russia, a much-hyped new book that's about exactly what the title says (or is it?).

Sub for more: | Charlie Cooper for the UK Independent reports, Nato risks a nuclear war with Russia within a year if it does not increase its defence capabilities in the Baltic states, one of the alliance's most senior retired generals has said.
NATO's former deputy military chief in Europe says his book, a fictional story which describes a nuclear war with Russia over the Baltic nations taking place in 2017, is based on an "entirely plausible" scenario. General Sir Richard Shirreff, from Britain, served at the second-highest NATO military office in Europe between 2011 and 2014.

Should We Believe Gen. Shirreff that War with Russia is Nearly Imminent?

According to Gen. Shirreff, Russia is very likely to invade first Ukraine and then one if not all of the Baltic States next year, thereby triggering a nuclear confrontation with NATO led by the United States. And all of this is due to both the naivete of (post)Western politicians and the British political establishment, which he blames for gutting the United Kingdom's once formidable military such that now even the previously defeated Argentines are making noises about the Falklands "Los Malvinas son Argentinas!" Islands again:

I believe that Russia is now our strategic adversary and has set itself on a collision course with the West.

The Kremlin has built up, and is enhancing, its military capability. It has thrown away the rulebook on which the post-Cold War security settlement of Europe was based.

Putin has started a dynamic that can only be halted if the West wakes up to the real possibility of war and takes urgent action.

My major concern is for the Baltic states — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — who are, of course, members of Nato. Any attack on them is considered, under the principle of collective defence enshrined in Article Five of the Washington Treaty, an attack on all Nato members.

The big questions, therefore, are these: Do the member states of Nato have the will to stand up to Putin? And, if so, do we have the military muscle to back it up?

In my book, I am afraid that I paint a very gloomy picture, in which our politicians, through complacency and a lack of backbone, fail to deter an expansionist and belligerent Russian president, and the Baltics end up being invaded.

The Logical Question of 'Why' and 'Why Now' Regarding All the War Hype

The questions as to WHY Vladimir Putin would risk a nuclear war over some discontented ethnic Russians in the Estonian border city of Narva, or WHY Russia will launch an all out invasion of Ukraine when after two years of fighting with the U.S.-installed Kiev government through Donbass proxies to a stalemate, Moscow has shown no desire or inclination to do not explained by Gen. Shirreff in interviews promoting his book. The closest thing to an answer to this question Shirreff can come up with is that the Russians will not risk a conventional assault on a NATO member state like Latvia, but they'll merely settle for subverting it through spetsnaz units engaging in guerrilla and cyber warfare. At which point, in Sir Alexander's narrative, Moscow will have miscalculated regarding NATO's resolve, and then stumble due to Putin's fear of losing face into a real big hot war with 'the most powerful military alliance in the world'.

Sub for more: | Sputnik news reports The North Atlantic Alliance does not intend to have a meaningful conversation with Russia to address Moscow's concerns over the bloc's increasing assertiveness at the next NATO-Russia Council (NRC) meeting, should it take place, defense analyst Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novosti.

NATO's Bad Faith from Breaking Promises Not to Expand to Bombing Serbia and Libya

One would almost think from reading Gen. Shirreff's gloomy prognostication that it was Russia and not NATO that had expanded ever closer to its erstwhile Cold War adversaries' border in the last twenty years. Or that Russian bombers and missiles were pouring into Cuba or Venezuela, while Moscow's tanks were back on the Fulda Gap set to overrun West Germany in a matter of days if not hours. 


The fact that Russia's biggest military exercises are now, unless one views the intervention in Syria as a live fire exercise of sorts, carried out on Russian rather than Central European soil along the now-defunct 'inner German border' is basically skipped over in Sir Alexander's analysis. As is the fact widely recognized by Pat Buchanan and other 'paleoconservatives' that the Soviets dismantled their empire and military bases and went home, whereas in spite of post-Cold War troop draw downs in Europe the Americans never really did. NATO's unprovoked attacks on two sovereign nations in the past seventeen years, one of them a historic Russian ally in Serbia, is also glossed over in Sir Alexander's presentation of an aggressive Russia menacing a peace-loving Western alliance.

A British soldier greets his counterparts from the German Bundeswehr during a recent training exercise (Photo taken from NATO's website)

A British soldier greets his counterparts from the German Bundeswehr during a recent training exercise (Photo taken from NATO's website)

Great Britain's Own 'Lost Limbs' of Empire Syndrome

However it's fairly clear from Shirreff's remarks as to who his real target is: not the Kremlin, but the defense bureaucrats of Whitehall and polticial hacks inside Number 10:

Today, through cyber-warfare and clandestine military backing to Moscow-sponsored separatists, the Russians are master practitioners of a new form of state-on-state war, in which gradually Putin ramps up the pressure on a target state, while remaining under the threshold of what would traditionally invoke Nato’s Article Five — that ‘an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all’.

The best way to stop such a crisis from getting out of control is to meet the Russians with strength. But even if we did have the will to do so, do we actually have the required strength?
Once again, the picture is gloomy, both in my book, and indeed in reality.

In his Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010, David Cameron made an appalling gamble assuming that the international scene would remain benign. Wars and conflicts that threatened the security of the United Kingdom were declared a thing of the past.

Britain’s national strategy proclaimed that there was no threat to this country’s existence. Having unilaterally decided that this was the way the world would be for the foreseeable future, the 2010 review then emasculated British military capability.

The consequences of this decision are far-reaching — and difficult, if not near impossible, to reverse.
— Ibid

Stepping Off the War Propaganda Train:
Nuclear Weapons Have Not Been De-invented for Either Side of Cold War 2.0

As Alexander Mercouris writes over at The Duran website, some of Sir Alexander's alarmism about the Russians is rooted in demonstrable improvements in Moscow's once moribund military. As with U.S. Naval (Twitter) War College Prof. Tom Nichols, who arrogantly declared in August 2013 that "The Russians won't do a damn thing" to prevent the U.S. from toppling Assad in Syria, now that the Russian Bear is no longer at the Anglo-American globalist Empire's feet, many so-called military experts assume it must be at NATO's throat. But as we'll discuss in an upcoming article here at RogueMoney, not even some hawks within the U.S. military establishment are ready to accept that the Russians really are preparing to invade their neighbors, or that they are in the words of a recent Politico article 'ten feet tall'.

A recent Politico story "The U.S. Army's War Over Russia" featured some push back against the warnings of alarmists like retired US Army Col. Douglas Macgregor or Army doctrine guru, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, that if the U.S. military fought the Russians in the Baltics next week or next month, it would get crushed. A 2015 RAND Corporation study which came to similarly gloomy conclusions about the indefensible nature of the Baltic states without dropping tactical nukes on a Russian invasion also skipped the same question that Macgregor, McMaster and Shirreff's critics have all asked: why with so much to lose including the risk of global thermonuclear war, and so little to gain from occupying the hostile populations of the Baltics would Russia start such a stupid war in the first place? Unless of course -- though no one among the brass either active duty or retired wants to say it, NATO (by which we mean Washington) starts a fight with the Russians first. This is a still-remote but frightening possibility the Russia Analyst will address in future posts.

The Real Purpose of NATO a Generation After the Soviet Empire Disappeared:
Anglo-American Economic and Cultural Domination of the European Continent

Here's what the former Swiss military analyst and Johns Hopkins national security studies student The Saker had to say on the subject of Washington and NATO's real objective:

...if all of the above are just clichés with no bearing on reality, why is the western corporate media so full of this nonsense? Mainly for two reasons: journalists are mostly “Jack of all trades, master of none” and they much prefer to pass on pre-packaged propaganda then to make the effort to try to understand something. As for the talking heads on TV, the various generals who speak as “experts” for CNN and the rest, they are also simply propagandists. The real pros are busy working for the various government agencies and they don’t go in live TV to speak about the “Russian threat”. But the most important reason for this nonsensical propaganda is that by constantly pretending to discuss a military issue the AngloZionist propagandist are thereby hiding the real nature of the very real conflict between Russia and the USA over Europe: a political struggle for the future of Europe: if Russia has no intention of invading anybody, she sure does have huge interest in trying to de-couple Europe from its current status of US colony/protectorate.

The Russians fully realize that while the current European elites are maniacally Russophobic, most Europeans (with the possible exception of the Baltic States and Poland) are not. In that sense the recent Eurovision vote where the popular vote was overturned by so-called “experts” is very symbolic.

The first Secretary General of NATO did very openly spell out its real purpose “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” The Russians want it exactly the other way around: the Russians in (economically, not militarily, of course), the Americans out and the Germans up (again, economically). That is the real reason behind all the tensions in Europe: the USA desperately wants a Cold War v.2 while Russia is trying as hard as she can to prevent this.

Suffice to say, in our highly informed opinion, having failed miserably in an attempt to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, the Empire isn't going to succeed in doing so via sending Turkish or Romanian cannon fodder at the Russians either. But it may try anyway with tragic results, which is why Russia is indeed, preparing for a war of some sort fought near its territory or in the greater Middle East.

Sub for more: | Russia has a number of advantages that can ensure the country's military forces will succeed in a hypothetical armed conflict, if it ever happens, American columnist Loren Thompson claims. Loren Thompson, a Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and a columnist, wrote for Forbes magazine.

Keep the Aspidistra -- and Those Alarming Fleet Street Headlines -- Flying

Turning back to Gen. Shirreff's British Isles, it's true that the United Kingdom is no longer keeping up some of its previous military pretensions to being anything more than what it is: a middling European power. Today's British military is above the post Cold War, allegedly pacifistic Germans in terms of capabilities, but slightly below the African post-empire maintaining French. Setting aside James Bond gadgets and fantasies, the future of the UK military is probably not much bigger than that of the Italians or Poles, but with a still-active nuclear deterrent and Royal Navy to maintain. That is unless (we're told by the British MSM) that crazy Communist Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister, in which case he will scrap the Trident ballistic missile program altogether out of spite -- and then Russian submarines will be roaming Scottish waters or the English Channel at will!

And Now a Message from Our Friends The Guerrilla, The Saker and Sting...

At any rate, the best, most calming response we've seen to the retired Gen. Shirreff's hype train -- also known as a book sales promotion tour -- comes from PolitRussia's Ruslan Otsashko.

Thanks to The Saker's volunteer translator Eugenia Gurevich and her YouTube channel, English-speaking RogueMoney readers can enjoy this reality check, which confirms the Guerrilla and the Russia Analyst's view that thermonuclear war is 'off the table'. Which is not to say that there aren't those in positions of power who see an endless Cold War 2 or starting some serious hot wars as lifelines for the dying King Dollar and his sickly younger brother, Der König Euro. But it's to say we can be fearful or we can be powerful in these challenging times, but we cannot be both.

Choose this day which path you will follow, dear RogueMoney reader. And take heart from the fact that, as Sting once sang in a similarly fearful time in the shadow of nuclear war, "there isn't a monopoly of common sense on either side of the political fence" (and don't forget to click CC for English subtitles):

Ruslan Ostashko - one of the creators of and the chief editor of this online journal. He also writes short remarks and records videos discussing important news under common heading "Five minutes of common sense".
Music video by Sting performing Russians. (C) 2005 A&M Records