This morning, the newspapers were hyping up the possibility of a Russian attack on NATO territory, and commentators at the weekend arguing for a No Fly Zone were pushing the idea that Ukraine could just be the beginning. This has its counterpart on the Left, where people argue that the Russian invasion is “just imperial expansion”.
People lose their heads in wars – sometimes deliberately – so its worth checking the reality and coming down to earth.
- We should never lose sight of the fact that a direct clash between NATO and Russia set up by a No Fly Zone would push us over the edge of mutual nuclear annihilation. Hundreds of millions would die. That vast number – too likely to be treated as a statistic that does not engage with our emotions and move us – nevertheless contains an almost infinite multitude of individual tragedies. You would die. So would I. So would everyone you know and love.
- NATO spends more than 18 times as much on its military as Russia does. That makes makes a direct Russian attack on NATO absurd. In fact, NATO arms spending is more than half of the global total. Projected increases in “defence” spending will make this proportion even greater. The “defence experts” projecting fantasies of Russian incursions into the Baltic States or Poland know this; but have either lost all grasp of reality, or don’t want their readers to have one.
Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are also bound to the US by non NATO military alliances. Add their 6.3% to NATO’s 55.8% and you get 62.1% of global military spending made by countries in US led military alliances. In addition, some of the other countries in the top 20 military spenders also tend to align with the US even without a treaty obligation to do so, like Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As the Brookings Institute candidly puts it, “America’s alliances in Asia and Europe have formed the backbone of what has become known as the “liberal international order.” Over the past 70 years, this order has helped protect American interests and values.”
That has also involved starting most of the world’s wars in that period.