Scotland is tantalizingly close to declaring independence from Great Britain and setting up as a sovereign nation. But there are so many implications! Like, say, this Business Insider post's suggestion that an independent Scotland could get invaded by Russians on submarines. Let's explore, shall we?

Now, I don't really have an opinion on Scottish independence, although I am a fan of such national innovations as the munchy box and the deep-fried Mars bar. And I'm known to give Russia's territorial aspirations the hairy eyeball, so if anyone should go for this theory, it ought to be me. And what a theory has been assembled by James Cook, BI "European technology" reporter and the man in charge of "@LedZepNews." He has brought all his geopolitical expertise to bear on this story.

The gist of Cook's hypothesis, you see, is that the U.K. has the bulk of its Trident nuclear missiles—based on submarines—stationed in Scotland. Should the highlanders opt out of Great Britain in a referendum on Sept. 16, military planners in England will simply take all their nuclear toys and go home, leaving Scotland defenseless against, well, whatever:

Put simply, the Russians sail their submarines into Scottish waters on a regular basis. Russian vessels approach Scottish waters about once or twice a year, close enough to require the Royal Navy to perform counter-maneuvers.

And Russia has a recent history of military adventurism, in the Ukraine.

Cook bases his post almost entirely on a report by the Royal United Services Institute, a hawkish U.K. think tank founded by the Duke of Wellington. He goes on to explain how hard it will be for Scots to fund their own Navy, and how easy it's been for Russians to get really close to Scotland, so obviously INVASION! Yer mawz bawz!

Unassailable as the logic of this strategic endgame seems, let me assail it anyway:

It assumes the mere presence of submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missiles is what deters a Russian invasion of Scotland.

Except, of course, most of those functional missiles aren't in Scotland at any given time, they're in submarines, on patrol, out in the briny deep somewhere. The homeport's location matters little for broader strategic purposes. (And anyway, if you were the Boris Badenov caricature of a Russian despot that Cook seems to believe in, wouldn't you rather invade Scotland and score some free nukes, rather than invade a nukeless Scotland and just score a couple rounds of golf with dudes in kilts?)

Also, Scotland can declare independence, but it can't physically detach itself from Great Britain, which would still have a big nuclear Navy and all, and might not take kindly to the Russian bear getting all intimate with Nessie like that.

Also also, Great Britain has this whole North Atlantic Treaty Organization thing, which an independent Scotland would likely join as a matter of course, that treats an attack on any member nation as an attack on all, so most of the Western military deterrent to Russian invasion—like, you know, America's arsenal of 5,000-plus nukes—is still in place.

In fairness, Cook salts his argument with a couple of subtle caveats. Caveats like:

  • The Rumsfeldian unknown unknown: "We don't know for sure what Russia is actually doing in the seas around Scotland (if anything)."


  • The Crazy Ivan: "Although there is absolutely no reason for Russia to invade Scotland, the departure of Trident from Northern waters could—in theory—let the Russians do whatever they like up there."

Yes, in theory. Other theories Cook could investigate next:

  • If Key West makes the independent Conch Republic a reality, Cuba could annex that shit in less time than it takes Castro to give a speech.
  • If Texas opts completely out of Obamacare, cut-rate Mexican family doctors could be greeted as liberators in Austin.
  • If the police pull their MRAPs and snipers out of Ferguson, Missouri, the communists will take over—and maybe KANSAS WILL BE NEXT.
  • If journalism doesn't work out, Cook could annex a desk in a defense contractor's communications office at any moment, and without warning.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]