Thursday, December 18, 2014

The NATO paper tiger |

Regnum commentator Alexander Zapolskis looks at how strong the North Atlantic alliance really is

The Chinese term "paper tiger" means something that seems strong but is actually weak. I was reminded of it when I read about the comparative analysis of NATO and Russian military capabilities done by the Polish network TVN24. On paper, NATO compared to Russia is like an elephant to a pug. Take, for example, military budgets: the alliance spends $950 bn a year, while Russia spends less than $90 bn.

Or the overall numerical strength of the armed forces: 3.5 mln NATO personnel to Russia’s 766,000. The North Atlantic alliance looks superior to Russia on all counts. But is this really the case? After all, on paper, as of February 2014, Ukraine’s army was the sixth largest in the world in manpower and equipment.

And yet it was routed by the Donetsk self-defense forces, commanded by musicians, blue collar workers and even a historical reenactment fan.

But if you take all the key indicators of NATO armies and list them in a chart, the picture will look somewhat different. At first glance, looks fine. There are 28 countries in the bloc with a total population of 888 mln people. They have 3.9 mln troops between them, over 6,000 warplanes, around 3,600 helicopters, 17,800 tanks, 62,600 armored fighting vehicles, 15,000 artillery pieces, 16,000 mortars, 2,600 multiple launch systems and 302 warships (all major classes, including submarines). The trick, however, is that it includes more than just NATO. There’s some deceptive accounting.

Complete story at - The NATO paper tiger |

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3. Manufacturing Consent - Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky
4. Gladio - NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe - Richard Cottrell
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