Unacceptable behaviour


So there's a country which 

  • has nuclear weapons,
  • practically by government policy discriminates against its minorities,
  • is known for committing war crimes,
  • has way too often attacked its neighbours,
  • eludes sanctions by the United Nations Security Council,
  • kept territories of neighbours illegally occupied for a long time,
  • is known for extensive hacking and illegal eavesdropping on private communications,
  • wants more "strategic depth" at the expense of neighbours,
  • is known for economic espionage and generally disproportionate intelligence service aggressiveness,
  • is known for corruption of top politicians,
  • has a censored news media,
  • for a long time already pursued a grand strategy that involves conquest,
  • is destabilising neighbours, 
  • is known for assassinations abroad,
  • calls everyone "nazis" who says something against its actions and
  • once again decided to become an aggressor against a weaker neighbour that does not enjoy alliance protection.

We should find ways to do something decisive about it, maybe a total communications & travel & transportation embargo and blockade, with exceptions only for food and medical goods imports.


THIS is unacceptable behaviour.





My bad


The invasion of Ukraine shows that I mistook a few things. This includes that Putin would indeed use a lengthy preparation for war - both in terms of military logistics and political mobilisation at home. I believed he'd rather be a strategic surprise attack guy. Such a move would still be on the table for him, but I evidently supposed he'd use it on Ukraine if he really wanted to invade, and he didn't (use it).

Why did I get this wrong?

For one, I constructed a standard scenario for Baltic invasion that on the one hand showed what needs to be done for better deterrence and defence IMO, and on the other hand it was constructed to give a plausible raison d'être for the (approximate) size of Western armed forces at all. A Russia that  attacks only after months of crisis would be much less demanding for NATO or EU members regarding deterrence and defence.

Second, I didn't connect an insight that I had for a very long time: Specifically, the insight that even seemingly absolutely powerful dictators are actually very concerned about garnering and sustaining support. They bribe key people, they hand out gifts - and the particularly evil kind like Mao works with terror waves to scare people into supporting them. Seemingly powerful dictators like Hitler, Mussolini, Ceausescu, Louis XIV., the dictators of decolonialised Africa - all of them were actually quite weak and busy managing the necessary amount of support for their own survival.

Putin is a de facto dictator because the legislative branch obeys him AND the Russians cannot vote him out of office in practice. His leading political challengers get jailed by a corrupt judicial branch. He still needs to garner sufficient popular support and toleration for any big move, and thus he engineered the crisis and launched a propaganda campaign of jingoism, lies and deceptions prior to daring an overt war of aggression against Ukraine. He would likely need this kind of preparation prior to a Baltic invasion as well, which is a very good-to-have news/insight for NATO and EU.





A messed-up international disorder


So, looking at the mess in Ukraine, what's my take?

The upside: Putin is apparently not the type for strategic surprise attacks. This calms my fears for NATO, as Russia could only hope to succeed with an aggression in the Baltic if it attacks by surprise. I am very pleasantly surprised about this.

Why did Western policy fail in Ukraine? In short; it was half-assed. No great power signed and ratified a bilateral alliance treaty with Ukraine to cover it until a much longer (and more overt from the beginning) NATO accession process could be concluded. Either draw Ukraine into the West or don't, half-assed measures are prone to disappoint.

So what did Russia do? The Russian Federation with Putin as de facto dictator (voting him out of office is not really an option for Russians) violated international law (Charter of the United Nations and more) by becoming aggressive against Ukraine in 2014 and occupying parts of its territory. It's thus an aggressor and occupier comparable to Iraq 90/91, Israel since 1967, Turkey since 1974 (a NATO member and I don't see any sanctions), Morocco since 1975, the U.S., UK and Poland in 2003 for a difficult to determine duration.

As you might have spotted, only one country on that list was beaten up (repeatedly) for the offence. All others officially got away, typically due to protection courtesy by the UNSC veto feature.

This is the problem: The West routinely expects non-Western countries (especially governments it doesn't like) to adhere to international law and paints them as evil when they don't (and often does so even only because there are expectations such as Iran never having violated the NPT, but still being assailed constantly). Yet International Law doesn't seem to feel all that binding and imperative to Western great power policy, or even only to its proxies.

Do as I say, not as I do.

A great attempt was made to build a world based on international law and order in 1944 with the founding of the United Nations. The 1991 war to hand back Kuwait to its kleptocrat-tyrant was widely perceived as a most promising effort to enforce such a rule of international law in the post-Cold War era. 

Yet the Americans did not scale back their (since the trigger-happiness of Reagan in the 1980's) habitual aggressions; they bombed Afghanistan, Bosnian Serbs (with Brits and Frenchmen), Sudan and Iraq (repeatedly, but with little munitions) in the short 1992-1998 time frame. None of this was legal under international law, and there wasn't even the slightest hint of fig leaf legality in the bombing of the Bosnian Serbs around Sarajevo.

Meanwhile, the NATO bureaucrats and allied politicians worked hard to keep NATO "relevant" after its original purpose became obsolete; a defensive alliance was re-worked into an intervention/war adventure club.

Then came the 1999 Kosovo Air War, preceded by a multinational campaign of lies. There was no genocide, period. The Kosovars' intent to become independent was legitimate, but the Serbs-run governments' police, paramilitary and military actions against the violent independence movement were legal under international law and an ordinary response. The conflict happened in the context of the earlier genocidal massacre committed by Serbs at Srebrenica in Bosnia and thus the Western public was fairly easily convinced and swayed by the lie of an alleged ethnic cleansing/genocide in Kosovo (I was fooled back then as well, and never again since).

Almost all Western powers of note participated in this aggression against Yugoslavia, which was blatantly against international law. The recognition of Kosovo's independence years later and ongoing Western troops presence to keep it that way provided blueprints that were later used by Russia.

West Germany/Reunited Germany had its original sin with this Kosovo affair and our federal constitutional court threw officers under the bus who had correctly and valiantly refused orders to participate in this aggression.

Afghanistan was invaded in 2001. It was no a clean self-defence by a long shot, as the Taleban were never killing anyone outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but most if not all countries kinda understood and tolerated the American rage.

Once more, NATO was brought into the conflict for absolutely no need, and very contrary to the North Atlantic Treaty, but by this point nobody seemed to care about the treaty any more. The idea of what NATO is or should be had been warped beyond recognition. The craze about the Taleban who had merely granted hospitality to UBL who helped them in their civil war lasted for two decades and very recently the U.S. government stole billions of dollars owned by the Afghan government. It appears as if they are bound to multi-generational anger about Afghanistan comparable to how they still hate Iran's government for the 1979 embassy crisis.

The Kosovo Air War blueprint of massive campaign of lies, deception and vilification was replayed by the Neocons to lie the U.S. (and the UK under the fool Blair, plus Poland) into a completely unjustified war of aggression against Iraq in 2003 (this time I didn't fall for it at all). Again, they got away with it in the UNSC, but this time the Iraqis made it very expensive for them. The American wars in the Mid East including Afghanistan total exceeds USD 6.5 trillion expenses including long-term costs.

The lying moron did "cruise missile diplomacy" (an aggression) against Syria, and most Americans seem to think he was a peacenik who abstained from aggressions. That's how badly their perception of what constitutes aggression was warped.

Now let's skip the South Ossetia War of 2008 (the Russian Federation was and is an aggressor in both South Ossetia and Abchasia, similar to what the West did in Kosovo), and look at the Russia-Ukraine conflict:

By international law, Ukraine is a sovereign country, including Donezk, Lugansk, Crimea. Its government is legal and legitimate, but that's not even of importance. Even dictatorships are sovereign countries and shall not be attacked under international law.

By international law, Russia is waging a (most of the time limited, as for example no air power was used until 2022) war of aggression against Ukraine.

The outrage is huge in the West.

How could Russia do this? Russia is evil! 


Sure, it's evil, but so are we Westerners.  

The problem is that the West did not only fail to bolster International law, it systematically disregarded it and preferred "might makes right" for itself.

The U.S. and UK are just as evil as Russia.*

Other European countries stood by, supported or tolerated or sometimes called for the aggressions of the U.S. and UK. Most of "the West" is guilty by association, as much as Germany was involved in starting the First World War by giving the aggressive Austria-Hungary a "blank cheque" that it'll support it in the summer 1914 crisis. Austria-Hungary's behaviour in summer of 1914 was accurately replayed by the Neocons in 2002/2003. All those politicians who like to give speeches about learning from history are cherry pickers.

Now we live in a world where Westerners understand that they aren't the only ones who can exploit such international lawlessness and play "might makes right".

This is a failure of Western foreign policy, and a well-deserved disgrace on the Western world. Putin would have had much more to fear if he ruled Russia in a world that had become accustomed to international law being followed by great powers for three decades. Now instead, he can rest assured that Western hypocrisy has dulled the blade of international law and his aggression will be tolerated by most of the world just as were Western aggressions.

Maybe we can push back the warmongers and launch another push for international law (for real), but it will be too late for Ukraine. Russia will at the very least (in my opinion) keep parts of Ukraine occupied and an open wound that very much prevents its accession into NATO, similar to what it does to Georgia.

It's much more likely that the warmongers who in large part got us into this messy, lawless world will feel an updraft and there will be more interventions and more military spending.

I hate warmongers and defense with an "s" hawks.




*: France is a trickier case, and I dismiss Poland's participation in the war of aggression against Iraq as a one-off.


Holy cows: NATO and Interoperability

Interoperability is a big topic in NATO, and I'll take some shots at it.

On land

The way allies cooperated in ages long gone was that they simply exchanged liaison officers to headquarters who had their means for secure communications with their own folks. Allied armies also preferred to fight alongside each other rather than mixed. The British Empire and the French Republic's armies fought side-by-side in the First World War in France (and a small strip of Belgium), with only one point where French and British Empire positions were neighbours. Neighbouring formations have to keep in contact (knowing what the other intends, does and where it is), and this is not terribly much more complicated across language and doctrine barriers than within an army. In worst case you keep some extra reserves to secure such a joint against trouble.

There was no chaotic British corps-French corps-Canadian Corps-French corps sequence or similar along the front line. It took thousands of years of military history until finally NATO mobilised the amount of stupid required for such a chaos,* based on end of WW2 occupation sectors.

(about mid-late Cold War)

Nowadays we have multinational battalion battlegroups, one each in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These are for show only. These battlegroups are composite battlegroups of multiple nations with different doctrines and languages each. Such battlegroups shouldn't manoeuvre in battle as a whole, but rather with company-size taskforces. So the mixing actually happens at the company level at least in the Latvia and Lithuania battlegroups, which is insane!

I'm generally not a friend of tripwire forces (rather of actual quick reaction forces a.k.a. reserves),  but if you must have a tripwire formation you better rotate full national battalion battlegroups in. A mix of Dutch/Belgian or especially British/Canadian troops might be sensible as well within a battalion battlegroup.

Interoperability on land is a way for NATO to try make its nonsense work. It would not be a huge topic if NATO and its members (hat tip to the Franco-German brigade!) weren't behaving so stupidly in how they organise for war.

In the air

Interoperability in the air is a different topic, and this extends somewhat to battlefield air defence. The absolute minimum requirement is to have compatible cooperative IFF (identification friend or foe, a directed radio signal requesting an identifying answer with a code, and the radio signal answer has to have the correct reply code to be identified as friendly). 

Compatible datalinks (Link 16) and voice radio comms are also things that I readily agree are indispensable in modern air war unless we can separate the theatres of war very well (such as Turkey/Caucasus front and Norway would be well-separated and could use completely different norms).

Compatibility with midair refuelling tech (there are two different systems in NATO) is not a must-have, as midair refuelling seems more like a nice-to-have, particularly for offensive actions. NATO is too lazy and too reliant on regular air force bases far away from the action.

At sea

Interoperability at sea is -other than refuelling at sea- primarily about the air war, so the previous remarks apply. 

The USN sometimes incorporates non-U.S. escorts into its convoys, and to integrate these foreign escorts into the AAW (anti air warfare) coordination requires technical compatibility (or else that foreign ship could get the undesirable job of a non-essential picket ship). ASW (anti submarine warfare) coordination can be improvised a bit better because ASW actions are much slower. We should remember that it's absolutely not necessary to add such foreign ships to USN convoys. The Dutch, Norwegians, Spanish, Germans, British, Italians and French can run their own convoys each. Navies too small to run a full convoy escort group (ASW+AAW) should be reformed into paramilitary coast guards and abstain from buying anything bigger than patrol boats anyway.

The doctrine argument

Warfare has many examples of things not working as intended, misunderstandings, distrust, ignorance. Some historically relatively well-functioning armies benefited from standardised training that enabled officers to anticipate what fellow officers of another unit or formation would do, for they both had the same training for the situation. Likewise, NCOs and enlisted personnel was to some degree exchangeable becuase of standardised drills. You could take a gunner from one tank crew to replace a sick gunner in another tank crew and the tank crew would still be very effective because the tank commander's verbal commands and the processes inside the tank are standardised by training. The British Empire benefited from this kind of doctrinal similarity between British, Canadian, Australian and Indian troops, for example.

It's a futile and risky dream to expect such homogeneity from NATO armed forces, or only from some imaginary "EU army". I call it risky because an agreement on one doctrine could petrify us and be a vastly inferior path compared to having diverse doctrines with pursuit of different ideas and experimentation.


NATO is exaggerating the importance of interoperability. Interoperability is largely only required as a fix for voluntarily created problems.

Yes, NATO members should not operate Cold War era air defences and aircraft without compatible IFF and communications, but they shouldn't do so because it's a waste of budget to use useless equipment. Interoperability requirements are a superfluous argument here post-2010.

It could be a lot easier and lower-risk to keep diverse forces with arrangements for working side by side, rather than to expect much cross-national cooperation. 

It is in the NATO bureaucracy's self-interest to claim that interoperability and standardization efforts are super-important, for this makes itself super-important.



P.S.: This is obviously a superficial view and despite the presence of a conclusion (thesis) not comprehensive at all. Read it as a push to think about it.

*: The English-speaking Brits were adjacent no English-speaking allies, despite Americans being there as well. The French- and Dutch-speaking Belgians were adjacent to neither of both. The West Germans were split into three sectors with two very different landscape types (North German flatlands, South German hilly). The two American corps being neighbours and the Dutch (who knew German by television) being adjacent to Germans were the only non-idiotic parts of this setup.



Newbold deconstruction


This is a deconstruction of the following article:



The U.S. military has two main purposes — to deter our enemies from engaging us in warfare, and if that fails, to defeat them in combat.

Wow, delusion (or lies?) full speed ahead right at the beginning, without any warm-up. No, the purposes of the U.S. military are not those. These legitimate purposes have become an afterthought. The main purposes of the U.S. military are to bully if not take over Third World countries and to deter Russia from breaking out of its restrictive influence sphere and to deter China from setting up any kind of influence sphere in the first place. The latter two points can be interpreted as deterrence and defence to the benefit of certain foreign (not always allied) countries if one wants to be particularly nice.

[George Washington quote]

That's an appeal to authority - not a good smell

(...) the traits that deter a potential enemy and win the wars that must be fought: Conformity, discipline, unity. 

Either I don't get the translation completely right or the "conformity" part is total nonsense. More about that later.

“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to do violence on those who would harm us.”

I had my own version of this, so I won't criticise it much. It still leaves a bad taste behind when I see such talk / writing elsewhere because this kind of talk (wolf/sheep et cetera) is all-too often linked to a Fascist-leaning demographic.

There is only one overriding standard for military capability: lethality.

No, that's bullshit. I understand he writes for civilians, but the statement is wrong (albeit it fits with usual American military-industrial talk on the topic).

These previous blog posts hint at what's most important in peer battles:





In blunt terms; it's how scary you are. It sounds silly, I know. The era of armies just killing a third of each other in a day of battle are over. Nowadays (and especially during WW2) two peer armies facing each other respect the other's firepower so much that the various ways of scaring the opponent are dominant, and actual lethal action the exception. But as I mentioned before, the U.S. military is largely about bullying vastly inferior opponents, and against those you want great lethality in battle. It's too bad for Americans that too much inferior opponents understand this and minimise their exposure in long guerilla campaigns where lethality ifs again totally subordinated to reconnaissance & intelligence and the most promising path to victory is political, not military.

Combat is the harshest meritocracy

And we're on bullshit mountain again. The cowards tend to survive much longer in warfare than the high performers. His view only applies to wartime officer promotions in the field. I suppose what he's really trying to do here is to paint the military as somewhat noble.

A military force’s greatest strengths are cohesion and discipline. Individuality or group identity is corrosive and a centrifugal force.

That's kinda true, but on the other hand it's the particularly individualistic people who devise new tactics instead of simply following doctrine or blundering. German WW2 fighter and CAS strike fighter groups were astonishing examples of how extremely important - and often extremely effective - the unusual individuals were. Those pilots were also more drunk than disciplined, and NCOs didn't shy away from shouting at officers when the latter had fucked up on the previous sortie. It's very important to make good use of smart individuals despite their corrosive and centrifugal force nature. This retired Marine 3-star sounds very First World War-ish here.

Then again, I kinda wrote something similar without ever retracting it (for all I know the concerns I wrote about proved to be overblown).

(...) how conformity creates efficiency and superior group results (...)

And we're back to delusional. No, efficiency stems from letting the top performers do their thing and find for others something suitable and useful to do.

Taliban radio intercept after engaging U.S. forces.

This reminds me of how Americans told each other that the F4U fighter was called "Whistling death" by the Japanese. The Japanese were quite interested to learn about this after the war. My bullshitmeter broke.

because it’s service to others

Let's face it; enlisting in the U.S. military is nothing but a path to affordable college for a huge share of the recruits. Hardly anyone has thoughts of sacrificing himself herself or itself when enlisting.

- - - - -

The U.S. military personnel systems are known for forcing service members to attend courses on all kinds of non-military stuff, including sensitivity stuff, anti-rape, anti-STD, whatever. There were also powerful efforts to open up more jobs to women, including combat specialisations. Opposition to this is widespread. The German Bundeswehr had decades of resistance and complaining about similar issues since the introduction of "Innere Führung". In the end, soldiers are too old to submit easily to efforts of educating them.

His basic concern is understandable, and I suppose he gets his message conveyed, but he used a typical amount of bullshit, delusion and pathos along the way.

For a similar takedown, have a look at /2018/04/a-deconstruction-of-micc-propaganda.html





"How do we strengthen NATO?"

Think Defence asked that question on Twitter and I counted what the (many) replies were (at that time):

  • 13 variations of 'spend more' (not counting proposals to add members)
  • 5 variations of 'determine its purpose'
  • other replies were not proper answers or I could not group them

Well, in reality even European NATO (not counting U.S. and Canada, but counting Turkey for once) very much outspends the Russian federation + Belarus on military power (also in PPP). Our troops outnumber them almost 2:1. Europe only has to defend to the East, while Russia has security challenges in the Caucasus region, Central Asia and East Asia as well.

The quantity of spending cannot really be the problem, so the most numerous response was an expression of ignorance, or worse.



(These links are dated, but the overall picture didn't change much except that the UK isn't part of the EU any more.)

This is not specific to TDs twitter followers; it's a widespread misconception.

I wrote for years that readiness and especially the readiness to deploy suitable ground forces quickly (in days) is the biggest issue, with vulnerability of European air power and other high value targets to a strategic surprise attack a close second.

The Americans are very, very close to worthless in regard to timely providing useful land power, but they're providing a deep air power reserve much of which could be deployed within weeks. The Battle of France 1940 has proven the limited usefulness of such deep air power reserves in face of a quick invasion, though. It's more of a reinforcement for the old NATO than for the newer members of Eastern Europe in case of a strategic surprise attack.

So we basically need land forces suitable for fighting mechanised Russian forces in Eastern Europe that can deploy 500...1,000 km a day on roads, that can bridge rivers (Oder, Vistula, Duna) to bypass busted bridges and that possess sufficient battlefield air defences against combat aircraft and drones. These land forces better keep the location of their high value targets (such as big radars) unknown to Russian agents and satellites in peacetime.

This doesn't require more spending at all. I am certain that European NATO could cut military spending substantially and still get much more deterrence and defence power out of it.


So why do we have armed forces that are inefficient and poorly oriented?

I blame naivete. A critical mass of naive military fanbois (from voters to politicians) tolerate or support military spending the way it is because 

  • they fell for the attraction of stupid small wars in the past three decades and/or
  • they fell for the attraction of inefficient prestigious toys and/or
  • they were and are naive enough to believe that senior officers pursue national defence interests when in reality their decision-making is biased in favour of organisational and individual self-interest. A general or admiral wanting something is a worthless information and should simply be ignored by politicians and voters. The only way to more efficient spending is to ignore the biased advice given by insiders and to think for yourself.


some (not all) related blog posts:






















 S O



P.S.: The main purpose of NATO is clear to me.



Addendum to "Ukraine crisis and obligations"


It has come to my attention that some readers mistook a blog post of mine as a defence of German foreign policy.

I understand that I was socialised as a German, and reading German literature gives a different perspective than reading French literature and so on. Still, it baffles me how one would project one's own nationalism onto me. I've spent more than a decade bashing German policies, so why would I  turn simplistic nationalist on this topic? This should have failed every kind of plausibility check.

My intent with that blog post wasn't to defend German foreign policy - right now I'm not even sure what our foreign policy is on the matter. I suppose there's a lot more going on than what newspapers report.


I've been around for a while. I remember very well the run-up to the 1991 Gulf War, the 1990's bullying of Iraq over a supposed nuclear weapons program, the 1999 Kosovo Air War, the lies and propaganda that paved the way for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and so on.

What I saw in the past weeks reminds me of what happened in 2002: Suddenly, only one specific -and not exactly dovish- policy is considered the only sensible policy. Suddenly, all deviations from said policy are considered to be a display of weakness, display of lack of resolve, display of being a poor ally, display of disunity - and then an army of useful idiots on the internet begin the bullying and bashing against the dissenters.

Freedom fries!

This is one of the very, very few (by my count: two) English language mil blogs that are not prone to fall over when some hawkish campaign sets the army of useful idiots in motion for its cause. This time it may not be about going to war outright, but here in Europe delivering weapons and stuff into a warzone is not considered neutral behaviour.


"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

For else, you might turn into a part of a useful idiots mob.


It's OK to believe that delivering weapons and munitions into a warzone makes the world a better place. It might be true. But keep in mind the opposite view is very legitimate and also well-grounded in history.





Link drop February 2022

This still seems to be impractical, but an overflight attack by drones along the lines of this with downwards-firing shaped charge weapons might become a thing.

The submarine contract wasn't a one-off. Australia is now officially paying Saudi Arabia-level (100+% higher than normal) prices for military goods & services imports. This is as close as irrefutable evidence for severe corruption as it gets.

Selbstverständlich. So läuft das immer. Besser man schafft gar nicht erst das Missbrauchspotential. Solche Überwachungstechnik einzuführen in Anwesenheit von BKA, LKA, VS, BND ist wie Jungenschöre von katholischen Priestern leiten zu lassen.