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    One of the sentiments expressed by President-elect Trump during his campaign was a scepticism of NATO. Many immediately criticised this as isolationist madness, but did Trump have a point and is it time for the UK to quit the post-war alliance?

    NATO once had a clear defined purpose, protect Western Europe from Soviet communist aggression. It worked and a balance of power was maintained which kept West Germany and other countries bordering the Warsaw Pact free.

    But since the end of the Cold War what has NATO done to preserve peace and stability on the continent? One could argue NATO's expansion Eastwards towards Russian borders have antagonised the Russians and precipitated the Russian invasions in Georgia and Ukraine, leading us into a dangerous confrontation with a nuclear super-state.

    And for what? To supposedly defend a few tiny countries on the East of Europe who hold little economic or strategic relevance to the wellbeing of Western Europe. It is true these countries made a free choice to join NATO but NATO was never under any obligation to accept them.

    NATO promised the USSR in its dying days it wouldn't expand Eastwards and yet broke that promise in the 90s and early 2000s. Why should Eastern expansion of NATO concern Russia? It is after all sovereign states minding their own business. Well, tell that to the US if the Russians made a military alliance with Mexico and tried to move military hardware there close to US borders.

    Looking at Russian history, Russia has been invaded because of vulnerable borders to its West so understandeably they want neighbouring states which are at least neutral. This explains the current conflict in Ukraine. It may be immoral but it is realpolitik.

    And what is NATO doing internationally? Fighting ISIS? No. Successful in Afghanistan? Not really given that the Taliban continue to enact periodic suicide attacks.

    The truth is NATO membership exposes the UK to a potentially dangerous conflict with Russia which is not in our national interest given the fact that Russia is not actually a direct threat to the UK. The UK is one of the few countries in NATO which actually spends 2% of its GDP on defence. The old principle of NATO's Article 5 is an historic relic which no longer applies in the 21st century.

    We must pick our battles carefully. If NATO fails to reform to have only a defensive non-expansionist agenda which does not seek to integrate Ukraine or Georgia into the alliance then the UK should leave it altogether.
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    (Original post by Trinculo)
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    From the sarcasm you're implying I'm some sort of Russian-stooge-propagandist but I'm not. I don't like the Russian regime, I'm not a fan of the way Putin runs Russia and I do not approve of him using military force to attack other sovereign states neighbouring him. HOWEVER, it is not a black and white situation. Putin didn't decide to attack the Ukraine for the fun of it, he felt Ukraine was going to be absorbed into NATO after the Maidan protests and so he intervened. Why exactly would he feel that? Because NATO actually has been expanding eastwards against the promise made to the last leaders of the USSR. Furthermore I wonder if you grasp the possible ramifications of a war with the Russians in the 21st century? The possible casualties? The irreversible disaster that could occur if nuclear weapons were used?

    Also I didn't advocate the UK should leave NATO asap, I said we should give NATO a chance to reform its agenda and not focus on the Russians so much unless the Russians actually made a move against a NATO member. So please instead of sarcastic pretentious dismissal, offer an alternative argument or do sod off.
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    As for Afghanistan, the Taliban were the government prior to 2001 and held most of the country. Now they are limited to guerilla warfareand hit and run and suicide attacks. That alone is a success. So I'd definitely consider the Afghan intervention to be at least partially successful.
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    call me weird, but I don't really think there's much point in NATO
    tiny members of NATO are not going to risk their security for the sake of the USA, for instance, compared to the reverse.
    it also dampens the notion of national sovereignty as well - and I'm one of those people who really cares about that principle
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    Should the U.K. Leave the U.K.?
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    So OP, if Russia invaded Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania would you support the UK coming to defend these nations or not?
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    (Original post by Tempest II)
    So OP, if Russia invaded Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania would you support the UK coming to defend these nations or not?
    No. These countries should have never been let into NATO in the first place, that's why we're in this mess of poor relations with Russia. What on earth does the UK achieve by sending soldiers to fight and die only to defend countries whom most Brits had never heard of and holds no real strategic relevance to our national security? The irony is because of NATO's eastward expansion these countries are now at greater risk of attack, perhaps not militarily but through cyber warfare or energy warfare via Russian gas pipelines. It is not in our national interest to risk nuclear war and obliteration just to defend those states.
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    The simple answer to the OP is that i would consider leaving NATO one of the most foolish acts the UK government could commit. For the only nations capable of offensive action to leave NATO would represent the west bending over for Russia in complete submission.

    As for war with Russia, it won't come. At worst, we'll see a proxy war.

    (Original post by sleepysnooze)
    call me weird, but I don't really think there's much point in NATO
    tiny members of NATO are not going to risk their security for the sake of the USA, for instance, compared to the reverse.
    it also dampens the notion of national sovereignty as well - and I'm one of those people who really cares about that principle
    The point is to keep Russia in check because we don't trust them.

    This was a bad decision in the 90's when we should have made friends with Russia and helped them through their difficulties like Japan and Germany but in todays world, it makes perfect sense.

    (Original post by Tempest II)
    So OP, if Russia invaded Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania would you support the UK coming to defend these nations or not?
    Ironically OP's opinion comes from a position of fear of Russia and a bullied mentality (if we yield Latvia, they won't hurt us). OP is probably not aware of how pitiful the Russian navy and air force is, nor that Putin would not really nuke anybody (if he was that nutty, there are bigger prizes than a bit of eastern Ukraine).
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    (Original post by RF_PineMarten)
    As for Afghanistan, the Taliban were the government prior to 2001 and held most of the country. Now they are limited to guerilla warfareand hit and run and suicide attacks. That alone is a success. So I'd definitely consider the Afghan intervention to be at least partially successful.
    The Taliban now hold more ground in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001.

    Great success.
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    (Original post by Rakas21)
    The simple answer to the OP is that i would consider leaving NATO one of the most foolish acts the UK government could commit. For the only nations capable of offensive action to leave NATO would represent the west bending over for Russia in complete submission.

    As for war with Russia, it won't come. At worst, we'll see a proxy war.



    The point is to keep Russia in check because we don't trust them.

    This was a bad decision in the 90's when we should have made friends with Russia and helped them through their difficulties like Japan and Germany but in todays world, it makes perfect sense.



    Ironically OP's opinion comes from a position of fear of Russia and a bullied mentality (if we yield Latvia, they won't hurt us). OP is probably not aware of how pitiful the Russian navy and air force is, nor that Putin would not really nuke anybody (if he was that nutty, there are bigger prizes than a bit of eastern Ukraine).
    Who predicted WW1? Who predicted WW2? Who predicted the Cuban Missile Crisis or the fall of the USSR? Virtually nobody could see those conflicts and events coming at the time. International relations is wrought with uncertainty. There is absolutely nothing to say that something can't happen tomorrow morning which sparks a war between NATO and Russia. I don't think we can write that off as a possibility. We shouldn't laugh at the condition of the Russian armed forces, our armed forces are in shocking condition itself after years of cuts to defence. With the balance of military power in the East right now, Russia could invade the Baltic states in hours. We have to practice realpolitik and at least acknowledge Russian interests in Ukraine and Georgia as trying to negotiate the position of the Baltic states is simply theoretical wish wash. Before Ukraine 2014, the confrontation between NATO and Russia was just healthy competition but now I truly fear it's morphed into something dangerous. We have no choice but to soften our position on Ukraine, it's not in the Western alliance and quite frankly with the sorry domestic state it's in right now it will probably never be able to join the Western alliance.
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    (Original post by Rakas21)
    TOP is probably not aware of how pitiful the Russian navy and air force is.
    With the exception of its submarines, I agree that the Russian Navy is in a pitiful state; however, I'd love to hear your reasoning behind your assertion that the Russian Air Force is in a pitiful state considering it is more capable than the RAF, which, I assume, you regard as being in great shape.
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    (Original post by Stalin)
    With the exception of its submarines, I agree that the Russian Navy is in a pitiful state; however, I'd love to hear your reasoning behind your assertion that the Russian Air Force is in a pitiful state considering it is more capable than the RAF, which, I assume, you regard as being in great shape.
    What is your view of the state of their ground and air forces?
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    (Original post by Stalin)
    With the exception of its submarines, I agree that the Russian Navy is in a pitiful state; however, I'd love to hear your reasoning behind your assertion that the Russian Air Force is in a pitiful state considering it is more capable than the RAF, which, I assume, you regard as being in great shape.
    The Russian air force is more powerful than the UK's but not more powerful than a combination of the UK and France. If Latvia is invaded it would be the UK, France and Poland which would commit. I don't regard ours as massively good or anything at the moment.
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    (Original post by Rakas21)
    The Russian air force is more powerful than the UK's but not more powerful than a combination of the UK and France. If Latvia is invaded it would be the UK, France and Poland which would commit. I don't regard ours as massively good or anything at the moment.
    I agree that the combination of the RAF and l'Armée de l'Air is more capable than the Russian Air Force, however, your point was that the latter is in a pitiful state, thus am I to believe that you regard the RAF as being in a worse state than its counterpart in Russia?
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    (Original post by Aj12)
    What is your view of the state of their ground and air forces?
    The Russian Ground Forces and Air Force are the most capable of their kind on the European continent.

    I agree with Rakas that the French/UK air combination is more capable than their Russian counterpart, however, their armies are no match for the sheer numbers of Russian soldiers and equipment. I would even go so far as to say that, if we were to exclude air and naval power, the combined armies of the European Union would be required to prevent the Russian Ground Force from recapturing Berlin - France, the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland alone wouldn't cut it.

    Regarding the future, and depending on how the F-35, T-50 and MiG-41's fare in their development, I still don't foresee an air force in Europe capable of challenging the Russian Air Force, unless, of course, we witness the birth of the United States of Europe.

    A few major concerns for the Russian Armed Forces are demographics and low oil prices. Russia faces a demographic nightmare because Russians simply aren't having enough children, and their aren't enough immigrants, hence why, among other reasons, Russia has annexed parts of Georgia and Ukraine, and is handing out as many Russian passports as possible.



    I don't think I need to explain why low oil prices are problematic to the Russian economy, and thus the Russian Armed Forces.
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    Never, never, never. The military of Russia is far stronger than the military of the UK. We need allies in Europe and the US to tip the balance.
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    (Original post by Faheemcg9)
    Should the U.K. Leave the U.K.?
    That wold be a dissolution of the union so the answer is no.
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    (Original post by Stalin)
    I agree that the combination of the RAF and l'Armée de l'Air is more capable than the Russian Air Force, however, your point was that the latter is in a pitiful state, thus am I to believe that you regard the RAF as being in a worse state than its counterpart in Russia?
    Well the RAF is waiting on the F-35's to replace the older model and fill the aircraft carriers among other things while although most of Russia's air force is old and crap, it still has enough modern stuff that you need the UK-France combination to match it so yeah, i'd say that today its in worse shape due to complacency from the state (they don't expect conflict rightly or wrongly - that does tell Russia that they can do what they like though).

    I also agree that Russia's main strength is on the ground albeit i don't think you'd need quite as much as an entire European army to stop it.

    I think the main crux of my point though is that Russia is not something to be feared. It is only seen as conventionally dangerous because European governments don't spend enough by choice, not because Russia is overpowering. As i point out, the air and naval advantage of a co-ordinated UK-French force would have air and naval superiority within months.

    I should also say that personally i would strongly support the UK alone investing in a third carrier (fully stocked with the F-35C variant), another 3 helicopter/drone carriers, several more destroyers and subs and a doubling of our strike craft capability in the air. Given the tax revenues available to both countries i see no reason why the UK should be incapable of matching Russian investment in the sea and air.

    One should never wish conflict upon her people but if one believes in the integrity of the European border then one should be prepared to smack the bully in the face and defend her interests.

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    (Original post by Stalin)
    The Russian Ground Forces and Air Force are the most capable of their kind on the European continent.

    I agree with Rakas that the French/UK air combination is more capable than their Russian counterpart, however, their armies are no match for the sheer numbers of Russian soldiers and equipment. I would even go so far as to say that, if we were to exclude air and naval power, the combined armies of the European Union would be required to prevent the Russian Ground Force from recapturing Berlin - France, the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland alone wouldn't cut it.

    Regarding the future, and depending on how the F-35, T-50 and MiG-41's fare in their development, I still don't foresee an air force in Europe capable of challenging the Russian Air Force, unless, of course, we witness the birth of the United States of Europe.

    A few major concerns for the Russian Armed Forces are demographics and low oil prices. Russia faces a demographic nightmare because Russians simply aren't having enough children, and their aren't enough immigrants, hence why, among other reasons, Russia has annexed parts of Georgia and Ukraine, and is handing out as many Russian passports as possible.



    I don't think I need to explain why low oil prices are problematic to the Russian economy, and thus the Russian Armed Forces.
    It's worth mentioning that fighter pilot training/flying hours has a massive impact on an air force's effectiveness.
    It's fair to say that the Russian air force has increased its flying hours by a large amount in the least 5 years but their pilots are still quite far behind the NATO recommended standard (180hrs annually).

    Russian combat pilots at most get 120 flying hours annually & Russian aircraft generally aren't well maintained (although they are generally easier to maintain than NATO jets).
    RAF fast jet pilots actually get some of the highest flying hours in NATO - over 200 hours annually. The French air force isn't far behind either. Both the Typhoon & Rafale fighters are among the most reliable twin-engine jet fighters ever produced & it's widely regarded that they'd have an advantage in BVR combat against anything other than VLO fighters such as the F-22 & potentially the T-50.

    The reality is that neither a Typhoon or Su-35 would survive a WVR merge with both carrying advanced IR missiles such as the ASRAAM & Archer but in a BVR scenario then the consensus is that the EF2000 would have a clear advantage.

    In terms of Close Air Support, altougth the Tornado GR4 is an aging airframe, its avonics & weapon systems are among the most advanced in the world. The latest Brimstone missiles are combat proven over Libya, Iraq & Syria; the Russian CAS aircraft don't have anything in the same league. The Su-25 Frogfoot has primarily stuck to using unguided weaponry.

    Of course, Russia would have advantages in several key areas - geography being by far the largest. It's clear that Russia could take Latvia, Estonia & Lithuania before NATO could respond effectively. Russian focus on cyber attacks & area denial weapons, such as the S-300 & S-400 SAM systems, would certainly also cause issues.
 
 
 
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