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War worry in Europe

Foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Nov. 29, 2023. Source: U.S. Department of State via Wikimedia Commons.

One of my sources of information is Apple News, which includes subscriptions to a good many newspapers that are otherwise behind paywalls. During the past few weeks, I have been seeing a lot of stories with scary headlines in the Times of London in which military leaders express their worry about the risk of war with Russia and their concern that NATO is dangerously unprepared. I’ve seen very little on this subject in American newspapers. What should we make of this?

An example of one of these scary headlines was today: “Nato should ‘prepare for Russian missile strikes in Europe.'” The article is a long interview with Lieutenant General Alexander Sollfrank, who is commander of NATO’s military logistics center in southwest Germany.

For an overview of this war worry that is not behind a paywall, I recommend this piece in the Guardian from January 26: “Why are European defence leaders talking about war?” The Guardian brings up one of my concerns: “Planning for warfare, a remote contingency, is what militaries do and there is always pressure from generals and defence ministries to spend more.”

Plus I’m always concerned that the Times of London may have agendas and a point of view that would not align well with my own. But there also are some obvious points of real concern:

“A wave of anxiety has gripped European defence ministers and armed forces as politicians and military leaders believe that Nato-sceptic Donald Trump could be elected as the next president of the US — and that Russia may not be forced out or defeated in Ukraine. This febrile mood has prompted growing warnings that Europe could find itself involved in a war in Russia, even though at present Russia is embroiled in Ukraine.”

I don’t know what to make of this. But I do think it’s something that needs to be on our radar screens. Americans are distracted, and the American media can’t be counted on to understand what’s important and what’s not.

Here are a few more links:

CBS News: U.K. army chief says citizens should be ready to fight in possible land war.

NATO: Setting the record straight. Why is Sweden telling its citizens to prepare for war?

The Hill: NATO admiral warns of potential all-out war with Russia.

The American media are reporting, however, on how happy Russia is about Western division over military aid to Ukraine and Israel-Gaza issues: Russia projects confidence as it pursues alliances to undermine West.

Update 1:

Today (January 29), the Times of London has another one of these scary headlines: “Zelensky warns Germany it risks being sucked into World War Three.” Zelensky made this warning on a German talk show, in which he also asked Germany to give him long-range Taurus missiles. Zelensky also said, according to the Times, that “Putin could turn his attention to Germany, Poland or the Baltic states after Ukraine.”

This coordinated talk about World War III in Europe has all the marks of a coordinated media campaign. That does not necessarily mean that someone is trying to deceive us. But what worries me personally is that there are several new hot spots right now (Jordan, Yemen, and the Red Sea, in addition to Gaza), and those (such as Iran and Russia) who think they can profit from chaos see new opportunities. Right-wingers in the U.S. Congress are begging for some kind of retaliation against Iran.

Update 2:

Today (Jan. 30), the New York Times is writing about this: “For Europe and NATO, a Russian Invasion Is No Longer Unthinkable: Amid crumbling U.S. support for Ukraine and Donald Trump’s rising candidacy, European nations and NATO are making plans to take on Russia by themselves.”


  1. Chenda wrote:

    Hi David, Yes I very much lean towards the view this is largely scaremongering by militaries who want more cash. That’s not to say there aren’t legitimate security threats and some European nations (notably Germany) shouldn’t invest more in defence. Indeed I would like to see the creation of some sort of European army. But Russia isn’t going to risk a direct confrontation with NATO, which would still be nuclear armed even if the US left. The joining of Finland and Sweden has also significantly increased the strength of the alliance. Moreover the Russian military is clearly in no position to start another war, is a nation in terminal demographic decline and faces much bigger long term threats on its eastern borders with China (and maybe even Japan) I suspect over the next decade a post-Putin Russia will cut their losses and seek some kind of rapprochement with Paris and Berlin.

    Monday, January 29, 2024 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Chenda: Thank you … I was hoping that you would comment on this. I do think it’s a coordinated program of, shall I say, persuasion, and it seems to be targeting Europeans and not Americans. The question of the United States’ ongoing commitment to NATO is of course of great concern in Europe, and it’s a frightening example of how Trump and the Republican Party are serving Putin’s interests by intentionally working to create instability. I hope that the November election will buy us four years of American sanity.

    Monday, January 29, 2024 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

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