Can Russia sleep easy now that fallen Fallon is no longer banging the drum for war?
When it came to Russia, the newly resigned Michael Fallon was knee-grippingly hypocritical as Defence Secretary – constantly accusing Moscow of preparing for war while boasting of Britain’s own preparations for war.
In front of the Defence Select Committee in 2016, he took the spirit of democratic openness to new extremes, when he very kindly gave Moscow advance warning that Britain would be ready for a conflict in a couple of years’ time. No need to rush it!
If you've made any plans for 2018, cancel them. Britain's Defence Secretary is planning a war with Russia https://t.co/849HI2R8TH— Bryan MacDonald (@27khv) November 2, 2016
We can only assume the chapter on how to give advance warning to a perceived enemy, while letting them know you’re not quite ready at the moment, is in the extended edition of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
He told fellow MPs it would be “too extreme” to claim that “war with Russia is likely next year.” So he wasn’t ruling it out as such, just didn’t want to look silly in the event that two nuclear powers decided against annihilation, at least for now.
The squawking hawk also talked of how he was sure Russia must be jealous of Britain’s brand new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, calling Moscow’s flagship the Admiral Kuznetsov “dilapidated.”
So Britain is the one building big new battleships that Fallon couldn’t wait to boast about, but Russia is the aggressor?
Fallon was a big fan of NATO’s ‘tripwire’ strategy, which sees the permanent deployment of troops to the Baltics on the border with Russia. Around 800 British soldiers were sent to Estonia (clutching a guide to the local strip clubs no less, which seems about right, considering the defense secretary just resigned over sexual harassment allegations).
‘Tripwire’ seems like a nice, euphemistic way of describing ‘bait.’
In a Tom and Jerry cartoon, those troops would be a very large piece of cheese, wafting provocatively over the border.
Or, perhaps in the current climate, you could describe them as a tempting bit of leg on show, should Russia want to take a Westminster-style lunge.
“It’s partly reassurance” Fallon insisted. I’m sure the 800 troops felt reassured, too.
When Russia held its regular (as in pre-planned, always does it, no surprises here) military exercises just weeks before Fallon’s misdemeanors saw him set off a career tripwire of his own, he unleashed the following view in September: “Exercising thousands of Russian troops near NATO’s borders is an unnecessary provocation.”
Modern-day maps have been unable to keep up with Fallon, because a brief check indicates almost none of them show “NATO’s borders.” They’re probably near Russia’s borders.
It was never made clear where Fallon thought Russia should hold its military exercises if not in Russia. Moscow doesn’t have quite the level of recent practice that Britain does in launching actual wars.
And Fallon never really explained why he thought holding defensive exercises nearish to troops from a nation whose Defence Secretary had recently outlined its own preparations for an actual war was a bad idea.
We may never know now, however, as the Fallon has fallen.