Western Academics Do Not Understand Russia And Its Military — The Fabian Hoffmann Example

A friend flagged this X-Twitter thread by Fabian Hoffman to me the other day because it attracted a lot of neo-con attention and cheerleading. Prior to this I had never heard of Hoffmann. I can’t tell if Hoffmann is Dutch, English or Norwegian. Here’s his bio, you tell me:

Fabian Hoffmann is a PhD Research Fellow at the Oslo Nuclear Project. His PhD research focuses on the proliferation, deployment, and use of non-nuclear strategic weapons, in particular conventional precision-strike capabilities, and their implications on nuclear strategy and broader nuclear weapons policy (e.g., nuclear proliferation & disarmament). . . . Prior to joining the University of Oslo, Fabian Hoffmann worked as a research assistant at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). He holds an MA in War Studies from King’s College London, UK, and a BA in International Relations from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

I am taking the time to focus on Hoffmann’s “analysis” of Russia as a military threat because it illustrates the ignorance predominant among Western scholars. This man’s critical thinking skills are quite weak and his lack of any military experience adds to his failure to grasp the real issues. I am reprinting the entire thread for your ease of reading. Here goes:

In this thread, I will explain why we are much closer to war with Russia than most people realize and why our time window for rearmament is shorter than many believe. In my opinion, we have at best 2-3 years to re-establish deterrence vis-à-vis . Here’s why 1/20

One common mistake in analyzing the threat posed by Russia is falling into the trap of ‘mirror-imaging’. This means assuming that Russia views a potential conflict with us in the same way we view a potential conflict with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. 2/20

In addition, it is important to be cautious about extrapolating too many lessons from Ukraine & assuming that a war with Russia would unfold in a similar manner, albeit on a larger scale. In reality, a war between NATO & Russia would likely take on a different form altogether. 3/20

Russia does not plan for the type of large-scale conventional war with NATO that we are currently seeing in Ukraine & for which we are primarily preparing. Already before taking substantial losses on the Ukrainian battlefield, Russia knew that it would be inferior in such a scenario. 4/20

Russian thinking on a war with NATO revolves around the concept of escalation control and escalation management. Russia’s primary objective in a war with NATO is to effectively manage escalation and bring the war to an early end on terms that are favorable to Russia. 5/20

Terminating hostilities early is necessary, given that Russia must secure a victorous outcome before NATO’s conventional superiority comes to bear, most notably that of the United States. Two key concepts play a crucial role: de-escalation strikes and aggressive sanctuarization. 6/20

Rather than comprehensively defeating NATO in a prolonged ground war, similar to what we see in Ukraine, Russian doctrine suggests that Russia would attempt to coerce NATO into submission by signaling the ability to inflict progressively greater amounts of damage. 7/20

This would entail, in particular, long-range strikes against critical civilian infrastructure across European NATO countries early on. The message to NATO governments: Don’t come to the support of your Eastern European allies, unless you want to see your population suffer. 8/20

Simultaneously, Russia would extend its nuclear umbrella over any NATO territory it managed to capture in an initial assault. This sends a second message: Any endeavor to retake that territory, particularly by external NATO forces (USA), will result in nuclear escalation. 9/20

The psychological fear of escalation, which may ultimately result in unacceptable damage, is supposed to open the door for negotiations about the future of NATO and the security architecture in Europe – of course, on Russia’s terms. 10/20

This type of warfighting scenario is not a contest of forces, but primarily a risk-taking competition. The question becomes: Who will be the first to back down when confronted with the prospect of largescale war, including potential exchanges of strategic nuclear warheads? 11/20

As Cold War historians know, the balance of military power is not deterministic of outcomes in risk-taking competitions. Instead, they are often determined by the balance of resolve; i.e., the relative willingness to remain steadfast even as risks are increasing. 12/20

This is why Russia pursues this type of strategy. Russia does not need to match NATO’s conventional power. As long as NATO gives in first amid mounting psychological pressure due to a lack of resolve, Russia can walk away with a victory. 13/20

Here’s the thing: The ongoing war in Ukraine is teaching Russia a crucial lesson – that the West lacks resolve. Domestic disunity and endless discussions about escalation only reinforce Russia’s belief that NATO will back down when push comes to shove. 14/20

This means Russia does not have to wait until its conventional power is reconstituted. Scenarios where we have 5-10 years to rearm following the end of the war are way too optimistic, in my opinion. 15/20

I am with the Eastern European states that we have at best 2-3 years from today to re-establish a credible deterrence posture vis-à-vis Russia. Otherwise, we run the grave risk that Russia is going to challenge us, sooner rather than later. 16/20

NATO must credibly deny Russia the ability to seize any substantial part of NATO territory or to threaten strikes against NATO critical infrastructure. This is needed to escape the coercive conundrum that aggressive sancturization and de-escalation strikes pose. 17/20

We must also have a serious discussion not only about how to deter a war with Russia but also about how to fight one. Are we prepared to retaliate against Russian critical civilian infrastructure in case Russia strikes ours first? How do we react to Russian nuclear first use? 18/20

Our lack of preparedness, both in the physcial space but also in terms of our cognitive ability to think through these scenarios, is encouraging Russia. Since 2014, Russian intellectuals have debated extensively and publicly how to win a war against NATO. Where is our debate? 19/20

What we need, especially in Europe, is whole-of-society effort to get our affairs in order. There’s no denying that this will come with a significant cost, but I fail to see any other viable option. Considering worst-case scenarios, as we should, time has already run out. 20/20

Let me highlight some of the biggest flaws in Hoffmann’s analysis. Let’s start with Hoffmann’s claim that, “Russia does not plan for the type of large-scale conventional war with NATO . . . [because] Russia knew that it would be inferior in such a scenario.” This is ridiculous. Russia’s military already has demonstrated that it is three steps ahead of NATO planners. You know, the Western clowns who conjured up Ukraine’s sure-fire counter-offensive victory that ended up decimating the Ukrainian army?

Russia absolutely has planned for having to deal with a large-scale conventional war with NATO. It is NATO that has failed to properly plan for dealing with Russia. NATO leaders foolishly convinced themselves that Russia’s army is led by incompetent drunks and staffed by criminals snatched from prison. Big mistake.


Hoffmann’s next mistake is that he still believes NATO has a conventional force advantage over Russia. He insists that, “Terminating hostilities early is necessary, given that Russia must secure a victorious outcome before NATO’s conventional superiority comes to bear.”

Hoffmann has not been paying attention to what has unfolded on the ground in Ukraine since February 2022. Not a single NATO weapon system has proved to be superior to what Russia has fielded. Himars, Patriot batteries, Leopard and Challenger tanks, and Bradley fighting vehicles have been effectively neutered. NATO has no air defense system comparable to Russia’s 49 year old S-300. To add insult to injury Russia employs superior electronic warfare and has hyper-sonic missiles.

Apart from superior battlefield weapons, Russia has a manpower advantage. Russia is smaller in terms of population than the combined NATO countries, but it is providing standardized training to soldiers that share a common cause — i.e., defending the motherland. NATO? It is a hodgepodge of different nationalities who have no unifying cause other than a hatred of Russia, which is rooted in racism. On top of that, most of the major NATO countries are struggling to meet recruitment goals.

Almost forgot. The war in Ukraine has revealed that NATO countries no longer have the military industrial capability to produce the volumes of artillery shells and combat vehicles and air defense missiles needed to fight Russia. Russia’s industry is running on all cylinders and cranking out prodigious quantities of ammunition, tanks, aircraft, combat vehicles, missiles, rockets and drones.

Hoffman is not alone in believing that NATO represents a superior military force compared to Russia. He is a prime example of the delusion that pervades Western military leadership. The West is preoccupied with LGBTQ and pronouns. Russia is busy training and equipping warriors. Ask yourself, would you rather have a division of Chechen fighters or a unit cobbled together with Germans, Swedes, Finns, French and Spainards? I rest my case.

The post Western Academics Do Not Understand Russia And Its Military — The Fabian Hoffmann Example appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.

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