Is NATO A Paper Tiger?

Iran’s successful missile strikes, NATO’s equipment failures in Ukraine, and U.S. military setbacks raise the question: Is NATO a paper tiger, unable to maintain its perceived strength?

Is NATO A Paper Tiger? 1

On April 13, Iran struck back against Israel for an attack on its Syrian embassy by launching over 300 drones and missiles toward Israeli targets. Although most were intercepted by Israeli and U.S. defense systems, some of Iran’s hypersonic missiles penetrated their defenses, indicating that Western defense systems have limitations.

President Joe Biden’s response suggested that the U.S. military no longer wields the same influence it did in 1941 when it entered World War II. Mao Zedong and Osama bin Laden had both labeled the United States a “paper tiger,” and their assessment appears to be increasingly accurate. While it took some time, the signs now point to them being proven right.

In a post on X, Argentina’s Defense Minister, Luis Petri stated that Argentina wants to join NATO and has submitted a letter of intent, aligning with President Milei’s foreign policy goal of forging stronger ties with Western nations.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the U.S. demonstrated its ability to dominate in combat against adversaries with significantly less sophisticated technology. However, as U.S. global dominance has waned, other nations have progressed and, in certain areas, even surpassed the former world’s only superpower.

This is evident in the U.S.’s inability to lift the blockade by Yemen’s Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement on ships bound for Israeli ports and its failure to prevent Iran’s missile attacks on Israeli military sites.

The United States has tried to offer incentives to the Houthis to curb their attacks, but this approach has proven ineffective. However, the Iranian attack was more damaging to the perception of American dominance, as it publicly revealed the limitations of U.S. weaponry.

Although Israeli and U.S. air defense systems managed to intercept most of the drones sent by Iran, their real purpose was to deplete the defenses, allowing Iran’s hypersonic missiles to strike their intended targets, which, according to most reports, they did.

“The attack from Iran showed the world ‘that US defense capabilities’ are ‘not there,'” said retired senior security policy analyst Michael Maloof.

“The ability to have a strong missile defense is not there, and the Russians [also] have these hypersonic capabilities,” Maloof explained. “[Iran] did hit their targets, and they did it with hypersonics and there was no defense.”

In Ukraine, the situation is bleak, albeit with a touch of grim irony. As the Kiev regime promoted what became a failed counteroffensive last year, a parade of NATO equipment was hailed as the turning point that would force Russian forces into retreat.

First, it was the Bradley Fighting Vehicles, then the Leopard tanks, then the Challenger tanks, followed by a range of air defense systems and long-range artillery. Russia systematically dismantled these assets, demonstrating that NATO weaponry is not the epitome of modern combat technology and is often outdated, echoing the relics of 20th-century warfare that can become a burden for any army relying on them in the 21st century.

Another tank the U.S. provided to Ukraine last summer, the Abrams M1, was noticeably absent from the battlefield until recently. Despite Ukraine’s urgent need for armored support, these tanks only appeared in combat during the battle for Avdeyevka in February this year, contradicting the initial hype that surrounded them as a strategic game-changer.

In September, Popular Mechanics responded to an article detailing the flaws of the Abrams tank. The outlet asserted that the Abrams would represent a “huge leap in the capabilities” of Ukrainian armored units, suggesting that concerns about the tank’s vulnerabilities were exaggerated.

According to the article, Russian forces “will have to work very hard to kill an Abrams tank.” However, when it came, five tanks were immediately destroyed, and at least one was taken. Last week, US military officials revealed to US media that Ukraine had removed the Abrams tanks from the front lines, citing their vulnerability to Russian drone attacks.

The Abrams tank costs around $10 million for each piece.

“We saw, as with pretty much every type of tank we’ve seen in this combat that relatively cheap, $500, $1,000 a pop, Kamikaze drones can seriously damage a tank fairly easily,” security and international relations expert Mark Sleboda told on Monday.

Maloof claimed that destroying NATO’s facade of invincibility would have geopolitical consequences. “Are we going to … convince the Saudis now that we’re going to defend them, when they saw with their own eyes that whatever layering we performed for the Israelis didn’t work. Are they going to buy into that? No, they’re going to start going their own way, increasingly more so.”

On Tuesday, Iranian Economy Minister Ehsan Khandouzi described his talks with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning, Faisal F. Alibrahim, as “productive.”

“Faisal F. Alibrahim agreed with all [of] Iran’s [economic] proposals,” Khandouzi noted.

“The days of US dominance [are] over, and we’re seeing this now as some 40 countries want to join BRICS and get out from under the dollar,” Maloof explained. “So, all of this is interrelated. It’s all playing [out] in real-time, before our very eyes, and it’s happening very rapidly.”

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