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China factor in Cold War II

Possibility of China-Russia military alliance

Here are my (I am far from he specialist in this field, so information should be taken with a grain of salt):

It would be premature to categorize current China-Russia relations as either a “partnership” or an “alliance,” but both are fuzzy concept because there are no permanent friends in world politics, only permanent interests. Somehow France and USA managed to co-exist in NATO, so why not China and Russia. But here much depends on push of the neocons in the US administration and especially in completely infested with necons State Department. with enough thrust pigs can fly and they drive those to countries tor the formal alliance (at least in a form of “nuclear attack on one is an attack on both”):

Both Rozman and Nye are, in fact, looking at different sides of the same coin. However, both have missed something. The future of a China-Russian relationship depends largely on relations these two countries have with the West, especially the United States. If Washington pushes too hard on oil prices, Ukraine, and NATO expansion toward Russia, and if the U.S. rebalances too far against China in the Pacific, China and Russia may indeed move towards a formal alliance, even if that may not have been what they originally wanted.

Obama “first/preemptive nuclear strike” doctrine ( https://www.districtsentinel.com/obama-stick-first-strike-nuclear-war-doctrine-claiming-deterrence-value/ ) was a highly destabilizing move and it made the integration of early warning system of strategic importance for both countries.

The fact that Russia sold China long range S-400 surface to air missile (SAM) system tells something. The S-400 is the longest range SAM system in the world. http://www.popsci.com/china-and-russia-sign-biggest-arms-deal-decade-buy-worlds-best-missile

The deal is significant to regional security as well as geopolitics. China’s improved air defense capabilities will greatly complicate any efforts to conduct aerial operations or missile attacks against the Chinese mainland, even with stealthy drones, longer-ranged cruise missiles, or new bombers, all part of the new US “third offset” plan. In wartime, the S-400 could even support Chinese airstrikes by knocking out enemy fighters flying above their own bases and cities. On the strategic level, the S-400 sale would facilitate Sino-Russian cooperation, as well as facilitate other sales and joint projects like submarines and space operations.

Ukrainian coup d’état of February 2014 moved Russia much closer to China and openly hostile to the USA. That was a dramatic change that US neocons wanted so much. They essentially unleashed “Cold War II”. That got what they wanted: they blocked EU-Russia cooperation. But it comes with a price.
http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-and-china-are-building-ties-against-the-west-2014-10

According to Missile Threat, a website operated by the George C. Marshall and Claremont Institutes, it would make sense for Russia to reach out to China for help with an early warning missile system. China has the technological capability to build a satellite system necessary for Russia’s early-warning systems, while Russia could provide China with the technology necessary to protect itself against medium-range ballistic missiles.

… … …

Ultimately, the crisis in Ukraine might benefit China more than any other country.

This trend is confirmed by Russians:

The expert spoke to Sputnik in an interview saying that, “The US solves tactical problems, but very seriously loses strategically, as a consequence of the placement of US missile defense system in South Korea, the result would be the rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing, in particular, in the sphere of missile defense.”

Yevseyev further said, “China has radar stations that can be deployed as an early warning system for any missile attack. Russia, of course, also has such stations of various types. Among the latest radar early warning systems is the Voronezh-M and Voronezh-DM.” © Flickr/ U.S. Missile Defense AgencyN Korea Instructs Embassies to Use THAAD in South to Pit China Against USThe analyst spoke about the future of the military relations between Russia and China saying that it may be possible that the two countries form a joint center for missile attack warnings. “As the next step it may be possible to conduct joint exercises in the Russian Ashuluk range. China, in turn, has combat lasers that are able to influence the objects in the near space. There was an incident when a Chinese laser made a Japanese satellite virtually unable to function. In Russia such lasers in combat methods have not been used yet,” Yevseyev said. The analyst further explained that China is currently creating an analogue of the Aegis system, which is a marine version of the missile defense systems. “Russia also has a missile defense system around Moscow, which has its own system, and it is not available in China so far. This system allows interception of destructive elements at altitudes of up to 60 kilometers. Thus, Russia and China have much to offer to each other.” “If such a decision is made, which would establish a joint missile defense system; it will be a logical response to the US deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea,” according to Yevseyev. The first joint Russian-Chinese anti-missile drills using computer modeling was held in Moscow in the spring of this year. The next step for Russia and China, according to Vladimir Yevseyev, can be real experience of intercepting ballistic targets at firing range in Ashuluk in the Astrakhan Region, if diplomacy and protests by the South Koreans are not able to stop the construction of the US missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/asia/201608161044335004-thaad-threat-china-russia/

My impression is that the sale of S400 means that some form of integration might already has been started.


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[Jan 30, 2020] The Fate of the China-Russia Alliance by Lyle J. Goldstein

Jan 30, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

The first alteration in the global balance of power enabled by Russia-China cooperation took place during the 1950s, of course. In that period, the PRC went from being a military "basket case," with no defense industry to speak of, to possessing a reasonably modern force within a span of just a decade. That super-energized process was inspired by the hard school of war against a vastly better-armed opponent in the bloody Korean conflict, as is well known. But the massive progress in Chinese military capabilities also could not have taken place without enormous Soviet assistance. With respect to naval-related arms transfers, Moscow had already given ten torpedo boats and eighty-three aircraft by the beginning of 1953, according to the scholarly journal. The process accelerated during 1953–55 with a total of eight-one additional vessels transferred (amounting to 27,234 tons) and 148 aircraft. Among these ships were four destroyers, four frigates, and thirteen submarines.

Additionally, the Russians provided the Chinese with more than five hundred torpedoes and over fifteen hundred sea mines, as well as coastal artillery pieces, radar and communications equipment. A third batch of naval transfers was comprised of sixty-three vessels and seventy-eight aircraft. Added to these very substantial allocations, five Chinese shipyards apparently produced another 116 naval vessels, relying heavily on advisors, designs and technology purchased from the USSR, during the period up until 1957. Finally, several transfers agreed to in early 1959 "caused China's Navy to enter into the missile age." Notably, these transfers included the R-11 , a primitive submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and also the P-15 , one of the earliest anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM). Yes, these are the earliest progenitors of today's JL-3 and YJ-12 missiles that now present quite credible threats.

In keeping with the presently jovial mood surrounding current Russia-China relations, very little is said in this Chinese article regarding the Sino-Soviet conflict that brought the two Eurasian giants to the brink of war in the late 1960s. The authors imply that the break was really between the two respective Communist parties, rather than between the two navies, but it is noted that the Kremlin's stated objective to form a "joint fleet" was viewed in China as an encroachment on Chinese sovereignty. Nevertheless, this substantial military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing during the 1950s is evaluated in this Chinese appraisal to have had "major historical impact [重要历史作用]." These authors contend that it "effectively decreased the threat of American imperialism [有效抵制美帝国主义的军事威胁]. They additionally conclude regarding this period: "The achievements of building up the Chinese Navy cannot be separated from the assistance of Soviet experts [中国海军建设的成绩是与苏联专家的帮助分不开的]."

For a long time, "Soviet revisionists" were not given such favorable treatment by Chinese scholars, but now evidently the "east wind" is blowing once more. If the USSR very substantially helped boost PRC military prospects during the 1950s, this paper by two Chinese naval analysts argues cogently that a similarly ambitious and fateful program of Russia-China military cooperation has had an analogous effect, starting in 1991. When seen in aggregate, the numbers are indeed quite impressive. Russia has sold China, according to this Chinese accounting, more than five hundred military aircraft, including Su-27, Su-30, Su-35, and Il-76 variants. Almost as significant, Russia provided China with more than two hundred Mi-171 helicopters. Just as these pivotal purchases launched China's air and land forces into a new era, so the Chinese acquisition of four Sovremeny destroyers, along with twelve Kilo -class submarines helped to provide the PLA Navy with the technological wherewithal to enter the twenty-first century on a robust footing. That shortlist here, moreover, does not even catalog other vital systems transferred, such as advanced air defense systems, which have formed a bedrock of Chinese purchases from Russia.

Citing a Russian source, these Chinese authors claim that China spent $13 billion on Russian weapons between 2000–05. That amounts to a decently hefty sum of cash, especially by rather penurious post-Soviet standards. In fact, this raft of deals was not only intended to rescue the PLA from obsolescence but simultaneously aimed to "resolve . . . the survival and development problems [解决 . . . 生存和发展问题]"of the post-Soviet Russian military-industrial complex too. Just as important as these technical transfers, however, have been the human capital investments in cooperation. Here, this study points out that two thousand intermediate and high-level Chinese officers have already graduated from Russian military academies. The upper ranks of the PLA Navy, in particular, are said to be full of these graduates, as reported in this study. Perhaps most critically for the future of the Chinese armed forces, cooperation with Russia has entailed "in particular, promoting the development of domestic weapons development levels and concepts. [尤其带动了国内武器研制水平和理念的提升]." Take, for example, the YJ-18 ASCM, which seems to be superior to any U.S. variants, is a derivative of the Russian SSN-27 missile and is now becoming pervasive throughout the Chinese fleet, with both surface and sub-launched variants.

For all the major results on the regional balance of power wrought by these two major periods of Russian-Chinese security collaboration, however, there are very real reasons to doubt that such a partnership will truly alter global politics. After all, the Chinese analysis points out that arms sales from Russia to China have declined substantially from the peak in 2005. Joint military exercises, moreover, are now quite regular, but they actually do not seem to exhibit a bellicose trend toward larger and larger demonstrations of military might. These tendencies may reflect new confidence in Beijing regarding its own abilities to produce advanced weapons, of course, but also might reflect a certain degree of restraint -- a realization that too close a Russia-China military alignment could provide ample fuel for a new Cold War that might be in the offing.

Still, American defense analysts must evaluate the possible results of a significantly closer Russia-China security relationship, whether it is formalized into an actual "alliance" or not. China and Russia currently have numerous joint development projects underway, including both a large commercial airliner, as well as a heavy-lift helicopter. In the future, will cooperative endeavors encompass frigates and VSTOL fighters, or nuclear submarines and stealth bombers, or even aircraft carriers? Will Moscow and Beijing begin to launch joint exercises of a large scale that have major strategic implications in highly sensitive areas? Are third countries, such as Iran, set for "junior associate" status in the so-called "quasi-alliance? And will China and Russia strive to coordinate strategic initiatives to bring about common favorable strategic circumstances in the coming decades?

Such a future is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. The combination of Russian weapons design genius with Chinese organizational and production prowess could be formidable, indeed. That will be another reason for states comprising the West to now exercise restraint, embrace multi-polarity, and seek to avoid a return to the 1950s "with Chinese characteristics."

Lyle J. Goldstein is Associate Professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI. The opinions expressed in this analysis are his own and do not represent the official assessments of the U.S. Navy or any other agency of the U.S. Government.

[Jan 27, 2020] Contrasting Views on How to Code a Nuclear Crisis - Texas National Security Review

Oct 03, 2019 | tnsr.org

Nuclear Strategy - Contrasting Views on How to Code a Nuclear Crisis Nuclear Strategy October 03, 2019

Brendan Rittenhouse Green , Austin Long , Mark S. Bell , Julia Macdonald

In this issue's correspondence section, Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long offer up an alternative way to code nuclear crises in response to Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald's article in the February 2019 issue of TNSR. Bell and Macdonald, in turn, offer a response to Green and Long's critique.
Facebook Share facebook facebook Linkedin Share linkedin linkedin Google Plus Share google-plus google-plus Twitter Share twitter twitter Mail Share mail mail In Response to "How to Think About Nuclear Crises"

Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long

In their article in the February 2019 issue of the Texas National Security Review , Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald make a cogent argument that all nuclear crises are not created equal. 1 We agree with their basic thesis: There really are different sorts of nuclear crises, which have different risk and signaling profiles. We also concur that the existence of a variety of political and military dynamics within nuclear crises implies that we should exercise caution when interpreting the results of cross-sectional statistical analysis. If crises are not in fact all the same, then quantitative estimates of variable effects have a murkier meaning. 2 We should not be surprised that, to date, multiple studies have produced different results.

Nevertheless, the article also highlights an alternate hypothesis for nuclear scholarship's inconsistent findings about crisis outcomes and dynamics: Nuclear crises are intrinsically hard to interpret. The balance of resolve between adversaries -- one of the most important variables in any crisis -- is influenced by many factors and is basically impossible to code ex ante . The two variables identified as critical by Bell and Macdonald for determining the shape of a crisis -- the nuclear balance and the controllability of escalation -- are only somewhat more tractable to interpretation. The consequence is that nuclear crises are prone to ambiguity, with coding challenges and case interpretations often resolved in favor of the analyst's pre-existing models of the world. In short, nuclear crises suffer from an especially pernicious interdependence between fact and theory. 3

To the extent that this problem can be ameliorated -- although it cannot be resolved entirely -- the solution is to employ the best possible conceptual and measurement standards for each key variable. Below we provide best practices for coding the nuclear balance, with particular focus on Bell and Macdonald's interpretation of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We argue that, following much of the extant literature, Bell and Macdonald make interpretive choices that unintentionally truncate the history that underlies their coding of the nuclear balance in this case. In our view, they incorrectly conclude that the United States had no military incentives to use nuclear weapons first in 1962.

Below, we analyze their interpretation of the Cuba crisis by examining two indicators that might be used to establish the nuclear balance: the operational capabilities of both sides and the perceptions of key U.S. policymakers. We conclude by drawing out some broader implications of the crisis for their conceptual framework, offering a friendly amendment.

What Were the Operational Capabilities on Both Sides in 1962?

Bell and Macdonald's characterization of the nuclear balance in the Cuban Missile Crisis is a central part of their argument, as it is their sole empirical example of a crisis that "was not characterized by incentives for deliberate first nuclear use." They base this assertion on a brief overview of the balance of U.S. and Soviet strategic forces in 1962, followed by a claim that "[t]he U.S. government did not know where all of the Soviet warheads were located, and there were concerns that U.S. forces were too inaccurate to successfully target the Soviet arsenal." 4

Yet, any calculation of the incentives for deliberate first use must be based on the full context of the military balance. This hinges on the operational capabilities of both sides in the crisis, which includes a concept of operations of a first strike as well as the ability of both sides to execute nuclear operations. The available evidence on operational capabilities suggests that a U.S. first strike would have been likely to eliminate much, if not all, of the Soviet nuclear forces capable of striking the United States, as we summarize briefly below.

Any concept of operations for a U.S. first strike would have been unlikely to rely solely, or even primarily, on relatively inaccurate ballistic missiles, as Bell and Macdonald imply. In a sketch of such an attack drafted by National Security Council staffer Carl Kaysen and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Harry Rowen during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the strike would have been delivered by a U.S. bomber force rather than with missiles. As Kaysen and Rowen describe, all Soviet nuclear forces of the time were "soft" targets, so U.S. nuclear bombers would have been more than accurate enough to destroy them. Moreover, a carefully planned bomber attack could have exploited the limitations of Soviet air defense in detecting low flying aircraft, enabling a successful surprise attack. 5 Kaysen would retrospectively note that U.S. missiles, which were inaccurate but armed with multi-megaton warheads, could also have been included in an attack, concluding, "we had a highly confident first strike." 6

Kaysen's confidence was based on his understanding of the relative ability of both sides to conduct nuclear operations. In terms of targeting intelligence, while the United States may not have known where all Soviet nuclear warheads were, it had detailed knowledge of the location of Soviet long-range delivery systems. This intelligence came from a host of sources, including satellite reconnaissance and human sources. U.S. intelligence also understood the low readiness of Soviet nuclear forces. 7 As Kaysen would later note, "By this time we knew that there were no goddamn missiles to speak of, we knew that there were only 6 or 7 operational ones and 3 or 4 more in the test sites and so on. As for the Soviet bombers, they were in a very low state of alert." 8

Of course, Kaysen's assessment of the balance of forces in 1961 might have been overly optimistic or no longer true a year later during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet, other contemporary analysts concurred. Andrew Marshall, who had access to the closely held targeting intelligence of this period, subsequently described the Soviet nuclear force, particularly its bombers, as "sitting ducks." 9 James Schlesinger, writing about four months before the crisis, noted, "During the next four or five years, because of nuclear dominance, the credibility of an American first-strike remains high." 10 The authors of the comprehensive History of the Strategic Arms Competition , drawing on a variety of highly classified U.S. sources, reach a similar conclusion:

[T]he Soviet strategic situation in 1962 might thus have been judged little short of desperate. A well-timed U.S. first strike, employing then-available ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] and SLBM [submarine-launched ballistic missile] forces as well as bombers, could have seemed threatening to the survival of most of the Soviet Union's own intercontinental strategic forces. Furthermore, there was the distinct, if small, probability that such an attack could have denied the Soviet Union the ability to inflict any significant retaliatory damage upon the United States. 11

The Soviet nuclear-armed submarines of 1962 were likewise vulnerable to U.S. anti-submarine warfare, as they would have had to approach within a few hundred miles of the U.S. coast to launch their missiles. As early as 1959, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Nathan Twining testified that while "one or two isolated submarines" might reach the U.S. coast, in general, the United States had high confidence in its anti-submarine warfare capabilities. 12 The performance of these capabilities during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when multiple Soviet submarines were detected and some forced to surface, confirms their efficacy, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge in their description of an attack on a Soviet submarine during the crisis. 13

How Was the Nuclear Balance Perceived in 1962?

Bell and Macdonald offer three data points for their argument that U.S. policymakers did not perceive meaningful American nuclear superiority during the Cuban Missile Crisis. First, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and other veterans of the Kennedy administration attested retrospectively that nuclear superiority did not play an important role in the Cuba crisis. 14 Second, President John F. Kennedy received a Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) -- the U.S plan for strategic nuclear weapons employment -- in 1961, which reported that Soviet retaliation should be expected under all circumstances, even after an American pre-emptive strike. 15 Third, the president expressed ambivalence about the nuclear balance on the first day of the Cuba crisis. 16

But this evidence is a combination of truncated, biased, and weak. The retrospective testimony of Kennedy administration alumni is highly dubious. McNamara, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and others were all highly motivated political actors, speaking two decades after the fact in the context of fierce nuclear policy debates on which they had taken highly public positions, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge in a footnote. 17 The problems with giving much weight to such statements are especially evident given the fact that, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge, 18 these very same advisers made remarks during the Cuba crisis that were much more favorably disposed to the idea of American nuclear superiority. 19

The Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing to Kennedy on SIOP-62 is evidence, contrary to Bell and Macdonald's interpretation, of American nuclear superiority in 1962. Bell and Macdonald make much of the briefing's caution that "Under any circumstances -- even a preemptive attack by the US -- it would be expected that some portion of the Soviet long-range nuclear force would strike the United States." 20 But interpreting this comment as evidence that the United States did not possess "politically meaningful damage limitation" capabilities makes sense only if one has already decided that the relevant standard for political meaning is a perfectly disarming strike. 21 Scott Sagan, in commenting on the briefing, underscores that "although the United States could expect to suffer some unspecified nuclear damage under any condition of war initiation, the Soviet Union would confront absolutely massive destruction regardless of whether it struck first or retaliated." 22

Crucially, the Joint Chiefs of Staff argued for maintaining a U.S. first-strike capability in a memorandum to McNamara commenting on his plans for strategic nuclear forces for fiscal years 1964­–68. This memorandum, sent shortly after the crisis, argues that the United States could not, in the future, entirely eliminate Soviet strategic forces. Yet, the memorandum continues: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that a first-strike capability is both feasible and desirable, although the degree or level of attainment is a matter of judgment and depends upon the US reaction to a changing Soviet capability." 23 In short, not only did the Joint Chiefs of Staff conclude the United States had a meaningful first-strike capability in 1962, they believed such a capability could and should be maintained in the future.

As for Kennedy's personal views, it is important not just to consider isolated quotes during the Cuban crisis -- after all, he made several comments that point in opposite directions. 24 One has to consider the political context of the Cuban affair writ large: the multi-year contest with the Soviets over the future of Berlin, and effectively, the NATO alliance. Moreover, Kennedy had deliberately built Western policy during the Berlin crisis on a foundation of nuclear superiority. NATO planning assumed that nuclear weapons would ultimately be used, and probably on a massive scale. 25

As Kennedy put it to French President Charles de Gaulle in June of 1961, "the advantage of striking first with nuclear weapons is so great that if [the] Soviets were to attack even without using such weapons, the U.S. could not afford to wait to use them." In July, he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that "he felt the critical point is to be able to use nuclear weapons at a crucial point before they use them." In January of 1962, expecting the Berlin Crisis to heat up in the near future, he stressed the importance of operational military planning, and of thinking "hard about the ways and means of making decisions that might lead to nuclear war." As he put it at that meeting, "the credibility of our nuclear deterrent is sufficient to hold our present positions throughout the world" even if American conventional military power "on the ground does not match what the communists can bring to bear." 26

But the president recognized that this military strength was a wasting asset: The development of Soviet nuclear forces meant that the window of American nuclear superiority was closing. For this reason, Kennedy thought it important to bring the Berlin Crisis to a head as soon as possible, while the United States still possessed an edge. "It might be better to let a confrontation to develop over Berlin now rather than later," he argued just two weeks before the Cuba crisis. After all, "the military balance was more favorable to us than it would be later on." 27 Two months after the crisis, his views were little different. Reporting on a presidential trip to Strategic Air Command during which Kennedy was advised that "the really neat and clean way to get around all these complexities [about the precise state of the nuclear balance] was to strike first," Bundy "said that of course the President had not reacted with any such comments, but Bundy's clear implication was that the President felt that way." 28

Broader Implications

Our argument about the nuclear balance during the Cuban Missile Crisis, if correct, requires some friendly amendments to Bell and Macdonald's framework for delineating types of nuclear crisis.

Our discussion of the operational capabilities and policymaker perceptions during the Cuba crisis underscores that Bell and Macdonald's first variable -- "the strength of incentives to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis" 29 -- probably ought to be unpacked into two separate variables: military incentives for a first strike, and political bargaining incentives for selective use. After all, whatever the exact nuclear balance was during 1962, the United States was certainly postured for asymmetric escalation. The salience of America's posture is thrown into especially bold relief once the political context of the crisis is recognized: The Cuban affair was basically the climax of the superpower confrontation over Berlin, in which American force structure and planning was built around nuclear escalation. Indeed, this is how policymakers saw the Cuba crisis, where the fear of Soviet countermoves in Berlin hung as an ever-present cloud over discussions within the Executive Committee of the National Security Council. 30

According to Bell and Macdonald, either kind of incentive is sufficient to put a case into the "high" risk category for deliberate use. But in truth, political incentives to use nuclear weapons selectively -- even if only against military targets -- are ever present. They are just seldom triggered until matters have gone seriously awry on the battlefield. In short, we believe Bell and Macdonald were right to expend extra effort looking for military first-strike incentives, which add genuinely different sorts of risk to a crisis. We argue that operational capabilities and policymaker perceptions in the Cuba crisis show that such incentives are more common than generally credited.

So, we would build on Bell and Macdonald's central insight that different types of nuclear crisis have different signaling and risk profiles by modestly amending their framework. We suggest that there are three types of nuclear crisis: those with political bargaining incentives for selective nuclear use (Type A); those with risks of both selective use and non-rational uncontrolled escalation (Type B); and those with political risks, non-rational risks, and military incentives for a nuclear first strike (Type C).

Type A crises essentially collapse Bell and Macdonald's "staircase" and "stability-instability" models, and are relatively low risk. 31 Any proposed nuclear escalation amounts to a "threat to launch a disastrous war coolly and deliberately in response to some enemy transgression." 32 Such threats are hard to make credible until military collapse has put a state's entire international position at stake. Outcomes of Type A crises will be decided solely by the balance of resolve. We disagree with Bell and Macdonald's argument that the conventional military balance can ever determine the outcome of a nuclear crisis, since any conventional victory stands only by dint of the losing side's unwillingness to escalate. But the lower risks of a Type A crisis mean that signals of resolve are harder to send, and must occur through large and not particularly selective or subtle means -- essentially, larger conventional and nuclear operations.

Type B crises are similar to Bell and Macdonald's "brinksmanship" model. 33 These have a significantly greater risk profile, since they also contain genuine risks of uncontrolled escalation in addition to political risks. Crisis outcomes remain dependent on the balance of resolve, but signaling is easier and can be much finer-grained than in Type A crises. The multiple opportunities for uncontrolled escalation mean that there are simply many more things a state can do at much lower levels of actual violence to manipulate the level of risk in a crisis. For instance, alerting nuclear forces will often not mean much in a Type A crisis (at least before the moment of conventional collapse), since there is no way things can get out of control. But alerting forces in a Type B crisis could set off a chain of events where states clash due to the interaction between each other's rules of nuclear engagement, incentivize forces inadvertently threatened by conventional operations to fire, or misperceive each other's actions. Any given military move will have more political meaning and will also be more dangerous.

Type C crises are similar to Bell and Macdonald's "firestorm" model. 34 These are the riskiest sorts of nuclear crisis, since there are military reasons for escalation as well as political and non-rational risks. Outcomes will be influenced both by the balance of resolve and the nuclear balance: either could give states incentives to manipulate risk. Such signals will be the easiest to send, and the finest-grained of any type of crisis. But because the risk level jumps so much with any given signal, the time in which states can bargain may be short. 35

In sum, Bell and Macdonald have made an important contribution to the study of nuclear escalation by delineating different types of crisis with different risk and signaling profiles. We believe they understate the importance of American nuclear superiority during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that these coding problems highlight some conceptual issues with their framework. In the end, though, our amendments appear to us relatively minor, further underscoring the importance of Bell and Macdonald's research. We hope that they, and other scholars, will continue to build on these findings.

Brendan R. Green, Cincinnati, Ohio

Austin Long, Arlington, Virginia

In Response to a Critique

Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald

We thank Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long for their positive assessment of our work and for engaging with our argument so constructively. 36 Their contribution represents exactly the sort of productive scholarly debate we were hoping to provoke. As we stated in our article, we intended our work to be only an initial effort to think through the heterogeneity of nuclear crises, and we are delighted that Green and Long have taken seriously our suggestion for scholars to continue to think in more detail about the ways in which nuclear crises differ from one another. Their arguments are characteristically insightful, offer a range of interesting and important arguments and suggestions, and have forced us to think harder about a number of aspects of our argument.

In this reply, we briefly lay out the argument we made in our article before responding to Green and Long's suggestion that we underestimate the incentives to launch a nuclear first-strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis and their proposal of an alternative typology for understanding nuclear crises.

Our Argument

In our article, we offer a framework for thinking through the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. 37 While the existing literature on such crises assumes that they all follow a certain logic (although there is disagreement on what that logic is), we identify factors that might lead nuclear crises to differ from one another in consequential ways. In particular, we argue that two factors -- whether incentives are present for nuclear first use and the extent to which escalation is controllable by the leaders involved -- lead to fundamentally different sorts of crises. These two variables generate four possible "ideal type" models of nuclear crises: "staircase" crises (characterized by high first-use incentives and high controllability), "brinkmanship" crises (low first-use incentives and low controllability), "stability-instability" crises (low first-use incentives and high controllability), and "firestorm" crises (high first-use incentives and low controllability).

Each of these ideal types exhibits distinctive dynamics and offers different answers to important questions, such as, how likely is nuclear escalation, and how might it occur? How feasible is signaling within a crisis? What factors determine success? For example, crises exhibiting high incentives for nuclear first use combined with low crisis controllability -- firestorm crises -- are particularly volatile, and the most dangerous of all four models in terms of likelihood of nuclear war. These are the crises that statesmen should avoid except under the direst circumstances or for the highest stakes. By contrast, where incentives for the first use of nuclear weapons are low and there is high crisis controllability -- the stability-instability model -- the risk of nuclear use is lowest. When incentives for nuclear first use are low and crisis controllability is also low -- brinkmanship crises -- or when incentives for first use are high and crisis controllability is also high -- the staircase model -- there is a moderate risk of nuclear use, although through two quite different processes. For the brinkmanship model, low levels of crisis controllability combined with few incentives for nuclear first use mean that escalation to the nuclear level would likely only happen inadvertently and through a process of uncontrolled, rather than deliberate, escalation. On the other hand, high levels of crisis controllability combined with high incentives for nuclear first use -- characteristic of the staircase model -- mean that escalation would more likely occur through a careful, deliberate process.

First-Use Incentives in the Cuban Missile Crisis

First, Green and Long address the extent of incentives for launching a nuclear first strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In short, they argue that there were substantial military incentives for America to strike first during the crisis and that these were understood and appreciated by American leaders. 38

While space constraints meant that our analysis of the nuclear balance in the Cuban Missile Crisis was briefer than we would have liked, we certainly agree that the United States possessed nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union during the crisis. 39 The debate between us and Green and Long is, therefore, primarily over whether the nuclear balance that we (more or less) agree existed in 1962 was sufficiently lopsided as to offer meaningful incentives for nuclear first use, and whether it was perceived as such by the leaders involved. In this, we do have somewhat different interpretations of how much weight to assign to particular pieces of evidence. For example, we believe that the retrospective assessment of key participants does have evidentiary value, although we acknowledge (as we did in our article) the biases of such assessments in this case. Given the rapidly shifting nuclear balance, we place less weight on President John F. Kennedy's statements in years prior to the crisis than on those he made during the crisis itself, 40 which were more consistently skeptical of the benefits associated with U.S. nuclear superiority at a time when the stakes were at their highest. 41 We also place somewhat less weight than Green and Long on the 1961 analysis of Carl Kaysen, given doubts about whether his report had much of an effect on operational planning. 42 And finally, we put less weight on the Joint Chiefs of Staff document from 1962 cited by Green and Long in support of their argument, given that it acknowledges the U.S. inability to eliminate Soviet strategic nuclear forces -- thus highlighting the dangers of a U.S. nuclear first strike -- as well as focuses on future force planning in the aftermath of the crisis.

We would also note that our assessment that U.S. nuclear superiority in the Cuban Missile Crisis did not obviously translate into politically meaningful incentives for first use is in line with standard interpretations of this case, including among scholars that Green and Long cite. For Marc Trachtenberg, for example, "[t]he American ability to 'limit damage' by destroying an enemy's strategic forces did not seem, in American eyes, to carry much political weight" during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 43 Similarly, the relative lack of incentives for rational first use in the crisis motivated Thomas Schelling's assessment that only an "unforeseeable and unpredictable" process could have led to nuclear use in the crisis. 44

Regardless of whether participants in the Cuban Missile Crisis understood the advantages (or lack thereof) associated with nuclear superiority, in some ways, our disagreement with Green and Long is more of a conceptual one: where to draw the threshold at which a state's level of nuclear superiority (and corresponding ability to limit retaliatory damage) should be deemed "politically meaningful," i.e., sufficiently lopsided to offer incentives for first use. This is a topic about which there is certainly room for legitimate disagreement. "Political relevance" is a tricky concept, which reinforces Green and Long's broader argument that "nuclear crises are intrinsically hard to interpret" -- a point with which we agree. 45 But Green and Long seem to view any ability to limit retaliatory damage as politically meaningful, since they argue that a nuclear balance that would have likely left a number of American cities destroyed (and potentially more), even in the aftermath of a U.S. first strike, nonetheless provided strong military incentives for first use. By contrast, our view is that the threshold should be somewhat higher than this, though lower than Green and Long's characterization of our position: We do not, in fact, think that the relevant standard for political meaning "is a perfectly disarming strike."

Part of our motivation in wanting a threshold higher than "any damage limitation capability" is that it increases the utility of the typology we offer by allowing us to draw the line in such a way that a substantial number of empirical cases exist on either side of that threshold. Green and Long, by contrast, seem more satisfied to draw the line in such a way that cases exhibiting very different incentives for first use -- a crisis with North Korea today compared to the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example -- would both be classified on the same side of the threshold. 46 Green and Long's approach would ignore the important differences between these cases by treating both crises as exhibiting strong incentives for nuclear first use. This would be akin to producing a meteorological map that rarely shows rain because the forecaster judges the relevant threshold to be "catastrophic flooding." There is nothing fundamentally incorrect about making such a choice, but it is not necessarily the most helpful approach to shedding light on the empirical variation we observe in the historical record.

An Alternative Typology of Nuclear Crises

Second, Green and Long offer an alternative typology for understanding the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. Green and Long argue that there are three types of crisis: "those with political bargaining incentives for selective nuclear use (Type A); those with risks of both selective use and non-rational uncontrolled escalation (Type B); and those with political risks, non-rational risks, and military incentives for a nuclear first strike (Type C)." This is an interesting proposal and we have no fundamental objections to their typology. 47 After all, one can categorize the same phenomenon in different ways, and different typologies may be useful for different purposes. Space constraints inevitably prevent Green and Long from offering a full justification for their typology, and we would certainly encourage them to offer a more fleshed out articulation of it and its merits. Their initial discussion of the different types of signals that states can send within different types of crises is especially productive and goes beyond the relatively simple discussion of the feasibility of signaling that we included in our article. We offer two critiques that might be helpful as they (and others) continue to consider the relative merits of these two typologies and build upon them.

First, it is not clear how different their proposed typology is from the one we offer. At times, for example, Green and Long suggest that their typology simply divides up the same conceptual space we identify using our two variables, but does so differently. For example, they argue that they are essentially collapsing two of our quadrants (stability-instability crises and staircase crises) into Type A crises, while Type B crises are similar to our brinkmanship crises and Type C crises are similar to our firestorm crises. If so, their typology does not really suggest a fundamentally different understanding of how nuclear crises vary, but merely of where the most interesting variation occurs within the conceptual space we identify. The key question, then, in determining the relative merits of the two typologies, is whether there is important variation between the two categories that Green and Long collapse. We continue to think the distinctions between stability-instability crises and staircase crises are important. Although both types of crises are relatively controllable and have limited risk of what Green and Long call "non-rational uncontrolled escalation," they have very different risks when it comes to nuclear use: lower in stability-instability crises and higher in staircase crises. The factors that determine success in stability-instability crises -- primarily the conventional military balance due to the very low risk of nuclear escalation -- do not necessarily determine success in staircase crises, in which the nuclear balance may matter. As a result, we think that collapsing these two categories is not necessarily a helpful analytical move.

Second, to the extent that their typology differs from our own, it does so in ways that are not necessarily helpful in shedding light on the variation across nuclear crises that we observe. In particular, separating incentives for first use into "political bargaining incentives" and "military incentives" is an intriguing proposal but we are not yet fully persuaded of its merits. Given that one of Green and Long's goals is to increase the clarity of the typology we offer, and given that they acknowledge the difficulties of coding the nuclear balance, demanding even more fine-grained assessments in order to divide incentives for first use into two separate (but conceptually highly connected) components may be a lot to ask of analysts. Moreover, given Green and Long's assertion that "political incentives to use nuclear weapons selectively are ever present," their argument in fact implies (as mentioned above) that political incentives for first use are not a source of interesting variation within nuclear crises. We disagree with this conclusion substantively, but it is worth noting that it also has important conceptual implications for Green and Long's typology: It means that their three types of crises all exhibit political incentives for nuclear first use. If this is the case, then political incentives for nuclear first use simply fall out of the analysis. In effect, crises without political incentives for nuclear first use are simply ruled out by definition. This analytic move renders portions of their argument tautologous. For example, they argue that the conventional balance cannot "ever determine the outcome of a nuclear crisis," but this is only because they assume that there are always political incentives to use nuclear weapons first, and thus, "any conventional victory stands only by dint of the losing side's unwillingness to escalate." More broadly, this approach seems to us at least somewhat epistemologically problematic. In our view, it is better to be conceptually open to the existence of certain types of crises and then discover that such crises do not occur empirically, than it is to rule them out by definition and risk discovering later that such crises have, in fact, taken place.

In sum, while we are not fully persuaded by Green and Long's critiques, we are extremely grateful for their insightful, thorough, and constructive engagement with our article and look forward to their future work on these issues. We hope that they, along with other scholars, will continue to explore the ways in which nuclear crises differ from one another, and the implications of such differences for crisis dynamics.

Mark S. Bell, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Julia Macdonald, Denver, Colorado

Endnotes 1 Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," Texas National Security Review 2, no. 2 (February 2019): 40–64, http://dx.doi.org/10.26153/tsw/1944 .

2 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 42, 63.

3 For an excellent treatment of this problem in the international relations context, see Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 154–72.

4 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55.

5 See Memorandum for General Maxwell Taylor from Carl Kaysen, "Strategic Air Planning and Berlin," Sept. 5, 1961, from National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB56/BerlinC1.pdf .

6 Marc Trachtenberg, David Rosenberg, and Stephen Van Evera, "An Interview with Carl Kaysen," MIT Security Studies Program (1988), 9, http://web.mit.edu/SSP/publications/working_papers/Kaysen%20working%20paper.pdf .

7 Austin Long and Brendan Rittenhouse Green, "Stalking the Secure Second Strike: Intelligence, Counterforce, and Nuclear Strategy," Journal of Strategic Studies 38, no. 1–2 (2015): 44–46, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2014.958150 .

8 "An Interview with Carl Kaysen," 9.

9 Quoted in Long and Green, "Stalking the Secure Second Strike," 46.

10 James R. Schlesinger, "Some Notes on Deterrence in Western Europe," (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, June 30, 1962), 8.

11 Ernest R. May, John D. Steinbruner, and Thomas M. Wolfe, History of the Strategic Arms Competition 1945–1972 , v.1 (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1981), 475.

12 Quoted in Scott Sagan, "SIOP-62: The Nuclear War Plan Briefing to President Kennedy," International Security 12, no. 1 (Summer 1987): 34, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2538916 .

13 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 56. See also, May, Steinbruner, and Wolfe, History of the Strategic Arms Competition , 475; and Owen Coté, The Third Battle: Innovation in the US Navy's Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines (Newport, RI: Naval War College, 2003), 42.

14 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55, 59.

15 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55.

16 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55.

17 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 59, fn 96. For more on Bundy, see, e.g., McGeorge Bundy et al., "Nuclear Weapons and the Atlantic Alliance," Foreign Affairs 60, no. 4 (Spring 1982): 753–68, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/1982-03-01/nuclear-weapons-and-atlantic-alliance .

18 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55.

19 Matthew Kroenig, The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 88.

20 Sagan, "SIOP-62," 50.

21 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55.

22 Sagan, "SIOP-62," 36, and esp. n. 49.

23 Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum 907-62 to McNamara, Nov. 20, 1962, in Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1961-1963 , Vol. 8, 387–89, quotation on 388, https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v08/d109 .

24 For example, consider his remark, just after the peak of the crisis, that "My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons," before strongly implying massive U.S. preemption would be preferable to tactical use. See ExComm Meeting, Oct. 29, 1962, in Ernest R. May and Philip Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 657.

25 For excellent accounts of Kennedy's Berlin policy and his views on nuclear superiority, which we draw upon heavily, see Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), chap. 8; Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), chaps. 2–3.

26 Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 292, 293, 294, 295.

27 Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 353, 351.

28 Legere memorandum for the record of the White House daily staff meeting, Dec. 10, 1962, National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Chairman's Staff Group December 1962-January 1963; quoted in FRUS 1961-1963 , Vol. 8, 436. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v08/d118 .

29 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 43.

30 See, e.g., Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 353, n. 3.

31 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 47–49.

32 Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966), 97.

33 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 49.

34 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 49–50.

35 Schelling, Arms and Influence , 102.

36 This work was supported by U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) award FA7000-19-2-0008. The opinions, findings, views, conclusions or recommendations contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of USAFA, DTRA or the U.S. Government.

37 Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," Texas National Security Review 2, no. 2 (February 2019): 40-64, http://dx.doi.org/10.26153/tsw/1944 . For additional applications of our framework, see Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "Toward Deterrence: The Upside of the Trump-Kim Summit," War on the Rocks , June 15, 2018, https://warontherocks.com/2018/06/toward-deterrence-the-upside-of-the-trump-kim-summit/ ; Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How Dangerous Was Kargil? Nuclear Crises in Comparative Perspective," Washington Quarterly 42, no. 2 (Summer 2019): 135–48, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2019.1626691 .

38 One minor correction to Green and Long's argument: The Cuban Missile Crisis is not the "sole empirical example" in our article of a crisis characterized by a lack of incentives for first use. In the article we also argue that the 2017 Doklam Crisis between India and China lacked strong incentives for first use, and we suspect there are plenty more crises of this sort in the historical record. Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 60–61.

39 Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55.

40 The quote from the crisis that Green and Long cite does not really support their argument. Green and Long state: "consider [Kennedy's] remark, just after the peak of the crisis, that 'My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons,' before strongly implying massive U.S. preemption would be preferable to tactical use." In fact, consider the full quote: "My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons. The decision to use any kind of a nuclear weapon, even the tactical ones, presents such a risk of it getting out of control so quickly." Kennedy then trails off but "appears to agree" with an unidentified participant who states, "But Cuba's so small compared to the world." This suggests that Kennedy was expressing deep skepticism of any sort of nuclear use remaining limited, as well as doubts about the merits of taking such risks over Cuba, rather than making any sort of clear comparison between the merits of tactical use and massive pre-emption as Green and Long suggest. Ernest R. May and Philip Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 657.

41 For a recent analysis of Kennedy's behavior during the Cuban Missile Crisis that concludes that he was deeply skeptical of the benefits of nuclear superiority during the crisis, see James Cameron, The Double Game: The Demise of America's First Missile Defense System and the Rise of Strategic Arms Limitation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 29–37.

42 For example, see Francis Gavin's assessment that "little was done with" Kaysen's plan, a claim which echoes Marc Trachtenberg's earlier assessment that "it is hard to tell, however, what effect [Kaysen's analysis] had, and in particular whether, by the end of the year, the Air Force was prepared in operational terms to launch an attack of this sort." Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), 38; Marc Trachtenberg, History and Strategy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 225.

43 Marc Trachtenberg, "The Influence of Nuclear Weapons in the Cuban Missile Crisis," International Security 10, no. 1 (Summer 1985), 162, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2538793 .

44 Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966), 97.

45 Indeed, at the risk of adding even more complexity, the relevant threshold likely varies with the stakes of the crisis: Leaders are likely to view lesser damage limitation capabilities as politically relevant when the stakes are higher than they are when the stakes involved are lower.

46 For discussion of the North Korean case, see Bell and Macdonald, "Toward Deterrence," and Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 61–62.

47 We do, however, suggest that our labels offer somewhat more joie de vivre than the alphabetic labels that Green and Long offer. Related Articles What Went Wrong? U.S.-China Relations from Tiananmen to Trump What Went Wrong? U.S.-China Relations from Tiananmen to Trump History Winter 2019 - 2020

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In Response to "How to Think About Nuclear Crises" Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long In their article in the February 2019 issue of the Texas National Security Review , Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald make a cogent argument that all nuclear crises are not created equal. [1] We agree with their basic thesis: There really are different sorts of nuclear crises, which have different risk and signaling profiles. We also concur that the existence of a variety of political and military dynamics within nuclear crises implies that we should exercise caution when interpreting the results of cross-sectional statistical analysis. If crises are not in fact all the same, then quantitative estimates of variable effects have a murkier meaning. [2] We should not be surprised that, to date, multiple studies have produced different results. Nevertheless, the article also highlights an alternate hypothesis for nuclear scholarship's inconsistent findings about crisis outcomes and dynamics: Nuclear crises are intrinsically hard to interpret. The balance of resolve between adversaries -- one of the most important variables in any crisis -- is influenced by many factors and is basically impossible to code ex ante . The two variables identified as critical by Bell and Macdonald for determining the shape of a crisis -- the nuclear balance and the controllability of escalation -- are only somewhat more tractable to interpretation. The consequence is that nuclear crises are prone to ambiguity, with coding challenges and case interpretations often resolved in favor of the analyst's pre-existing models of the world. In short, nuclear crises suffer from an especially pernicious interdependence between fact and theory. [3] To the extent that this problem can be ameliorated -- although it cannot be resolved entirely -- the solution is to employ the best possible conceptual and measurement standards for each key variable. Below we provide best practices for coding the nuclear balance, with particular focus on Bell and Macdonald's interpretation of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We argue that, following much of the extant literature, Bell and Macdonald make interpretive choices that unintentionally truncate the history that underlies their coding of the nuclear balance in this case. In our view, they incorrectly conclude that the United States had no military incentives to use nuclear weapons first in 1962. Below, we analyze their interpretation of the Cuba crisis by examining two indicators that might be used to establish the nuclear balance: the operational capabilities of both sides and the perceptions of key U.S. policymakers. We conclude by drawing out some broader implications of the crisis for their conceptual framework, offering a friendly amendment. What Were the Operational Capabilities on Both Sides in 1962? Bell and Macdonald's characterization of the nuclear balance in the Cuban Missile Crisis is a central part of their argument, as it is their sole empirical example of a crisis that "was not characterized by incentives for deliberate first nuclear use." They base this assertion on a brief overview of the balance of U.S. and Soviet strategic forces in 1962, followed by a claim that "[t]he U.S. government did not know where all of the Soviet warheads were located, and there were concerns that U.S. forces were too inaccurate to successfully target the Soviet arsenal." [4] Yet, any calculation of the incentives for deliberate first use must be based on the full context of the military balance. This hinges on the operational capabilities of both sides in the crisis, which includes a concept of operations of a first strike as well as the ability of both sides to execute nuclear operations. The available evidence on operational capabilities suggests that a U.S. first strike would have been likely to eliminate much, if not all, of the Soviet nuclear forces capable of striking the United States, as we summarize briefly below. Any concept of operations for a U.S. first strike would have been unlikely to rely solely, or even primarily, on relatively inaccurate ballistic missiles, as Bell and Macdonald imply. In a sketch of such an attack drafted by National Security Council staffer Carl Kaysen and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Harry Rowen during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the strike would have been delivered by a U.S. bomber force rather than with missiles. As Kaysen and Rowen describe, all Soviet nuclear forces of the time were "soft" targets, so U.S. nuclear bombers would have been more than accurate enough to destroy them. Moreover, a carefully planned bomber attack could have exploited the limitations of Soviet air defense in detecting low flying aircraft, enabling a successful surprise attack. [5] Kaysen would retrospectively note that U.S. missiles, which were inaccurate but armed with multi-megaton warheads, could also have been included in an attack, concluding, "we had a highly confident first strike." [6] Kaysen's confidence was based on his understanding of the relative ability of both sides to conduct nuclear operations. In terms of targeting intelligence, while the United States may not have known where all Soviet nuclear warheads were, it had detailed knowledge of the location of Soviet long-range delivery systems. This intelligence came from a host of sources, including satellite reconnaissance and human sources. U.S. intelligence also understood the low readiness of Soviet nuclear forces. [7] As Kaysen would later note, "By this time we knew that there were no goddamn missiles to speak of, we knew that there were only 6 or 7 operational ones and 3 or 4 more in the test sites and so on. As for the Soviet bombers, they were in a very low state of alert." [8] Of course, Kaysen's assessment of the balance of forces in 1961 might have been overly optimistic or no longer true a year later during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet, other contemporary analysts concurred. Andrew Marshall, who had access to the closely held targeting intelligence of this period, subsequently described the Soviet nuclear force, particularly its bombers, as "sitting ducks." [9] James Schlesinger, writing about four months before the crisis, noted, "During the next four or five years, because of nuclear dominance, the credibility of an American first-strike remains high." [10] The authors of the comprehensive History of the Strategic Arms Competition , drawing on a variety of highly classified U.S. sources, reach a similar conclusion:
[T]he Soviet strategic situation in 1962 might thus have been judged little short of desperate. A well-timed U.S. first strike, employing then-available ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] and SLBM [submarine-launched ballistic missile] forces as well as bombers, could have seemed threatening to the survival of most of the Soviet Union's own intercontinental strategic forces. Furthermore, there was the distinct, if small, probability that such an attack could have denied the Soviet Union the ability to inflict any significant retaliatory damage upon the United States. [11]
The Soviet nuclear-armed submarines of 1962 were likewise vulnerable to U.S. anti-submarine warfare, as they would have had to approach within a few hundred miles of the U.S. coast to launch their missiles. As early as 1959, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Nathan Twining testified that while "one or two isolated submarines" might reach the U.S. coast, in general, the United States had high confidence in its anti-submarine warfare capabilities. [12] The performance of these capabilities during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when multiple Soviet submarines were detected and some forced to surface, confirms their efficacy, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge in their description of an attack on a Soviet submarine during the crisis. [13] How Was the Nuclear Balance Perceived in 1962? Bell and Macdonald offer three data points for their argument that U.S. policymakers did not perceive meaningful American nuclear superiority during the Cuban Missile Crisis. First, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and other veterans of the Kennedy administration attested retrospectively that nuclear superiority did not play an important role in the Cuba crisis. [14] Second, President John F. Kennedy received a Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) -- the U.S plan for strategic nuclear weapons employment -- in 1961, which reported that Soviet retaliation should be expected under all circumstances, even after an American pre-emptive strike. [15] Third, the president expressed ambivalence about the nuclear balance on the first day of the Cuba crisis. [16] But this evidence is a combination of truncated, biased, and weak. The retrospective testimony of Kennedy administration alumni is highly dubious. McNamara, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and others were all highly motivated political actors, speaking two decades after the fact in the context of fierce nuclear policy debates on which they had taken highly public positions, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge in a footnote. [17] The problems with giving much weight to such statements are especially evident given the fact that, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge, [18] these very same advisers made remarks during the Cuba crisis that were much more favorably disposed to the idea of American nuclear superiority. [19] The Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing to Kennedy on SIOP-62 is evidence, contrary to Bell and Macdonald's interpretation, of American nuclear superiority in 1962. Bell and Macdonald make much of the briefing's caution that "Under any circumstances -- even a preemptive attack by the US -- it would be expected that some portion of the Soviet long-range nuclear force would strike the United States." [20] But interpreting this comment as evidence that the United States did not possess "politically meaningful damage limitation" capabilities makes sense only if one has already decided that the relevant standard for political meaning is a perfectly disarming strike. [21] Scott Sagan, in commenting on the briefing, underscores that "although the United States could expect to suffer some unspecified nuclear damage under any condition of war initiation, the Soviet Union would confront absolutely massive destruction regardless of whether it struck first or retaliated." [22] Crucially, the Joint Chiefs of Staff argued for maintaining a U.S. first-strike capability in a memorandum to McNamara commenting on his plans for strategic nuclear forces for fiscal years 1964­–68. This memorandum, sent shortly after the crisis, argues that the United States could not, in the future, entirely eliminate Soviet strategic forces. Yet, the memorandum continues: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that a first-strike capability is both feasible and desirable, although the degree or level of attainment is a matter of judgment and depends upon the US reaction to a changing Soviet capability." [23] In short, not only did the Joint Chiefs of Staff conclude the United States had a meaningful first-strike capability in 1962, they believed such a capability could and should be maintained in the future. As for Kennedy's personal views, it is important not just to consider isolated quotes during the Cuban crisis -- after all, he made several comments that point in opposite directions. [24] One has to consider the political context of the Cuban affair writ large: the multi-year contest with the Soviets over the future of Berlin, and effectively, the NATO alliance. Moreover, Kennedy had deliberately built Western policy during the Berlin crisis on a foundation of nuclear superiority. NATO planning assumed that nuclear weapons would ultimately be used, and probably on a massive scale. [25] As Kennedy put it to French President Charles de Gaulle in June of 1961, "the advantage of striking first with nuclear weapons is so great that if [the] Soviets were to attack even without using such weapons, the U.S. could not afford to wait to use them." In July, he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that "he felt the critical point is to be able to use nuclear weapons at a crucial point before they use them." In January of 1962, expecting the Berlin Crisis to heat up in the near future, he stressed the importance of operational military planning, and of thinking "hard about the ways and means of making decisions that might lead to nuclear war." As he put it at that meeting, "the credibility of our nuclear deterrent is sufficient to hold our present positions throughout the world" even if American conventional military power "on the ground does not match what the communists can bring to bear." [26] But the president recognized that this military strength was a wasting asset: The development of Soviet nuclear forces meant that the window of American nuclear superiority was closing. For this reason, Kennedy thought it important to bring the Berlin Crisis to a head as soon as possible, while the United States still possessed an edge. "It might be better to let a confrontation to develop over Berlin now rather than later," he argued just two weeks before the Cuba crisis. After all, "the military balance was more favorable to us than it would be later on." [27] Two months after the crisis, his views were little different. Reporting on a presidential trip to Strategic Air Command during which Kennedy was advised that "the really neat and clean way to get around all these complexities [about the precise state of the nuclear balance] was to strike first," Bundy "said that of course the President had not reacted with any such comments, but Bundy's clear implication was that the President felt that way." [28] Broader Implications Our argument about the nuclear balance during the Cuban Missile Crisis, if correct, requires some friendly amendments to Bell and Macdonald's framework for delineating types of nuclear crisis. Our discussion of the operational capabilities and policymaker perceptions during the Cuba crisis underscores that Bell and Macdonald's first variable -- "the strength of incentives to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis" [29] -- probably ought to be unpacked into two separate variables: military incentives for a first strike, and political bargaining incentives for selective use. After all, whatever the exact nuclear balance was during 1962, the United States was certainly postured for asymmetric escalation. The salience of America's posture is thrown into especially bold relief once the political context of the crisis is recognized: The Cuban affair was basically the climax of the superpower confrontation over Berlin, in which American force structure and planning was built around nuclear escalation. Indeed, this is how policymakers saw the Cuba crisis, where the fear of Soviet countermoves in Berlin hung as an ever-present cloud over discussions within the Executive Committee of the National Security Council. [30] According to Bell and Macdonald, either kind of incentive is sufficient to put a case into the "high" risk category for deliberate use. But in truth, political incentives to use nuclear weapons selectively -- even if only against military targets -- are ever present. They are just seldom triggered until matters have gone seriously awry on the battlefield. In short, we believe Bell and Macdonald were right to expend extra effort looking for military first-strike incentives, which add genuinely different sorts of risk to a crisis. We argue that operational capabilities and policymaker perceptions in the Cuba crisis show that such incentives are more common than generally credited. So, we would build on Bell and Macdonald's central insight that different types of nuclear crisis have different signaling and risk profiles by modestly amending their framework. We suggest that there are three types of nuclear crisis: those with political bargaining incentives for selective nuclear use (Type A); those with risks of both selective use and non-rational uncontrolled escalation (Type B); and those with political risks, non-rational risks, and military incentives for a nuclear first strike (Type C). Type A crises essentially collapse Bell and Macdonald's "staircase" and "stability-instability" models, and are relatively low risk. [31] Any proposed nuclear escalation amounts to a "threat to launch a disastrous war coolly and deliberately in response to some enemy transgression." [32] Such threats are hard to make credible until military collapse has put a state's entire international position at stake. Outcomes of Type A crises will be decided solely by the balance of resolve. We disagree with Bell and Macdonald's argument that the conventional military balance can ever determine the outcome of a nuclear crisis, since any conventional victory stands only by dint of the losing side's unwillingness to escalate. But the lower risks of a Type A crisis mean that signals of resolve are harder to send, and must occur through large and not particularly selective or subtle means -- essentially, larger conventional and nuclear operations. Type B crises are similar to Bell and Macdonald's "brinksmanship" model. [33] These have a significantly greater risk profile, since they also contain genuine risks of uncontrolled escalation in addition to political risks. Crisis outcomes remain dependent on the balance of resolve, but signaling is easier and can be much finer-grained than in Type A crises. The multiple opportunities for uncontrolled escalation mean that there are simply many more things a state can do at much lower levels of actual violence to manipulate the level of risk in a crisis. For instance, alerting nuclear forces will often not mean much in a Type A crisis (at least before the moment of conventional collapse), since there is no way things can get out of control. But alerting forces in a Type B crisis could set off a chain of events where states clash due to the interaction between each other's rules of nuclear engagement, incentivize forces inadvertently threatened by conventional operations to fire, or misperceive each other's actions. Any given military move will have more political meaning and will also be more dangerous. Type C crises are similar to Bell and Macdonald's "firestorm" model. [34] These are the riskiest sorts of nuclear crisis, since there are military reasons for escalation as well as political and non-rational risks. Outcomes will be influenced both by the balance of resolve and the nuclear balance: either could give states incentives to manipulate risk. Such signals will be the easiest to send, and the finest-grained of any type of crisis. But because the risk level jumps so much with any given signal, the time in which states can bargain may be short. [35] In sum, Bell and Macdonald have made an important contribution to the study of nuclear escalation by delineating different types of crisis with different risk and signaling profiles. We believe they understate the importance of American nuclear superiority during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that these coding problems highlight some conceptual issues with their framework. In the end, though, our amendments appear to us relatively minor, further underscoring the importance of Bell and Macdonald's research. We hope that they, and other scholars, will continue to build on these findings. Brendan R. Green, Cincinnati, Ohio Austin Long, Arlington, Virginia In Response to a Critique Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald We thank Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long for their positive assessment of our work and for engaging with our argument so constructively. [36] Their contribution represents exactly the sort of productive scholarly debate we were hoping to provoke. As we stated in our article, we intended our work to be only an initial effort to think through the heterogeneity of nuclear crises, and we are delighted that Green and Long have taken seriously our suggestion for scholars to continue to think in more detail about the ways in which nuclear crises differ from one another. Their arguments are characteristically insightful, offer a range of interesting and important arguments and suggestions, and have forced us to think harder about a number of aspects of our argument. In this reply, we briefly lay out the argument we made in our article before responding to Green and Long's suggestion that we underestimate the incentives to launch a nuclear first-strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis and their proposal of an alternative typology for understanding nuclear crises. Our Argument In our article, we offer a framework for thinking through the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. [37] While the existing literature on such crises assumes that they all follow a certain logic (although there is disagreement on what that logic is), we identify factors that might lead nuclear crises to differ from one another in consequential ways. In particular, we argue that two factors -- whether incentives are present for nuclear first use and the extent to which escalation is controllable by the leaders involved -- lead to fundamentally different sorts of crises. These two variables generate four possible "ideal type" models of nuclear crises: "staircase" crises (characterized by high first-use incentives and high controllability), "brinkmanship" crises (low first-use incentives and low controllability), "stability-instability" crises (low first-use incentives and high controllability), and "firestorm" crises (high first-use incentives and low controllability). Each of these ideal types exhibits distinctive dynamics and offers different answers to important questions, such as, how likely is nuclear escalation, and how might it occur? How feasible is signaling within a crisis? What factors determine success? For example, crises exhibiting high incentives for nuclear first use combined with low crisis controllability -- firestorm crises -- are particularly volatile, and the most dangerous of all four models in terms of likelihood of nuclear war. These are the crises that statesmen should avoid except under the direst circumstances or for the highest stakes. By contrast, where incentives for the first use of nuclear weapons are low and there is high crisis controllability -- the stability-instability model -- the risk of nuclear use is lowest. When incentives for nuclear first use are low and crisis controllability is also low -- brinkmanship crises -- or when incentives for first use are high and crisis controllability is also high -- the staircase model -- there is a moderate risk of nuclear use, although through two quite different processes. For the brinkmanship model, low levels of crisis controllability combined with few incentives for nuclear first use mean that escalation to the nuclear level would likely only happen inadvertently and through a process of uncontrolled, rather than deliberate, escalation. On the other hand, high levels of crisis controllability combined with high incentives for nuclear first use -- characteristic of the staircase model -- mean that escalation would more likely occur through a careful, deliberate process. First-Use Incentives in the Cuban Missile Crisis First, Green and Long address the extent of incentives for launching a nuclear first strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In short, they argue that there were substantial military incentives for America to strike first during the crisis and that these were understood and appreciated by American leaders. [38] While space constraints meant that our analysis of the nuclear balance in the Cuban Missile Crisis was briefer than we would have liked, we certainly agree that the United States possessed nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union during the crisis. [39] The debate between us and Green and Long is, therefore, primarily over whether the nuclear balance that we (more or less) agree existed in 1962 was sufficiently lopsided as to offer meaningful incentives for nuclear first use, and whether it was perceived as such by the leaders involved. In this, we do have somewhat different interpretations of how much weight to assign to particular pieces of evidence. For example, we believe that the retrospective assessment of key participants does have evidentiary value, although we acknowledge (as we did in our article) the biases of such assessments in this case. Given the rapidly shifting nuclear balance, we place less weight on President John F. Kennedy's statements in years prior to the crisis than on those he made during the crisis itself, [40] which were more consistently skeptical of the benefits associated with U.S. nuclear superiority at a time when the stakes were at their highest. [41] We also place somewhat less weight than Green and Long on the 1961 analysis of Carl Kaysen, given doubts about whether his report had much of an effect on operational planning. [42] And finally, we put less weight on the Joint Chiefs of Staff document from 1962 cited by Green and Long in support of their argument, given that it acknowledges the U.S. inability to eliminate Soviet strategic nuclear forces -- thus highlighting the dangers of a U.S. nuclear first strike -- as well as focuses on future force planning in the aftermath of the crisis. We would also note that our assessment that U.S. nuclear superiority in the Cuban Missile Crisis did not obviously translate into politically meaningful incentives for first use is in line with standard interpretations of this case, including among scholars that Green and Long cite. For Marc Trachtenberg, for example, "[t]he American ability to 'limit damage' by destroying an enemy's strategic forces did not seem, in American eyes, to carry much political weight" during the Cuban Missile Crisis. [43] Similarly, the relative lack of incentives for rational first use in the crisis motivated Thomas Schelling's assessment that only an "unforeseeable and unpredictable" process could have led to nuclear use in the crisis. [44] Regardless of whether participants in the Cuban Missile Crisis understood the advantages (or lack thereof) associated with nuclear superiority, in some ways, our disagreement with Green and Long is more of a conceptual one: where to draw the threshold at which a state's level of nuclear superiority (and corresponding ability to limit retaliatory damage) should be deemed "politically meaningful," i.e., sufficiently lopsided to offer incentives for first use. This is a topic about which there is certainly room for legitimate disagreement. "Political relevance" is a tricky concept, which reinforces Green and Long's broader argument that "nuclear crises are intrinsically hard to interpret" -- a point with which we agree. [45] But Green and Long seem to view any ability to limit retaliatory damage as politically meaningful, since they argue that a nuclear balance that would have likely left a number of American cities destroyed (and potentially more), even in the aftermath of a U.S. first strike, nonetheless provided strong military incentives for first use. By contrast, our view is that the threshold should be somewhat higher than this, though lower than Green and Long's characterization of our position: We do not, in fact, think that the relevant standard for political meaning "is a perfectly disarming strike." Part of our motivation in wanting a threshold higher than "any damage limitation capability" is that it increases the utility of the typology we offer by allowing us to draw the line in such a way that a substantial number of empirical cases exist on either side of that threshold. Green and Long, by contrast, seem more satisfied to draw the line in such a way that cases exhibiting very different incentives for first use -- a crisis with North Korea today compared to the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example -- would both be classified on the same side of the threshold. [46] Green and Long's approach would ignore the important differences between these cases by treating both crises as exhibiting strong incentives for nuclear first use. This would be akin to producing a meteorological map that rarely shows rain because the forecaster judges the relevant threshold to be "catastrophic flooding." There is nothing fundamentally incorrect about making such a choice, but it is not necessarily the most helpful approach to shedding light on the empirical variation we observe in the historical record. An Alternative Typology of Nuclear Crises Second, Green and Long offer an alternative typology for understanding the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. Green and Long argue that there are three types of crisis: "those with political bargaining incentives for selective nuclear use (Type A); those with risks of both selective use and non-rational uncontrolled escalation (Type B); and those with political risks, non-rational risks, and military incentives for a nuclear first strike (Type C)." This is an interesting proposal and we have no fundamental objections to their typology. [47] After all, one can categorize the same phenomenon in different ways, and different typologies may be useful for different purposes. Space constraints inevitably prevent Green and Long from offering a full justification for their typology, and we would certainly encourage them to offer a more fleshed out articulation of it and its merits. Their initial discussion of the different types of signals that states can send within different types of crises is especially productive and goes beyond the relatively simple discussion of the feasibility of signaling that we included in our article. We offer two critiques that might be helpful as they (and others) continue to consider the relative merits of these two typologies and build upon them. First, it is not clear how different their proposed typology is from the one we offer. At times, for example, Green and Long suggest that their typology simply divides up the same conceptual space we identify using our two variables, but does so differently. For example, they argue that they are essentially collapsing two of our quadrants (stability-instability crises and staircase crises) into Type A crises, while Type B crises are similar to our brinkmanship crises and Type C crises are similar to our firestorm crises. If so, their typology does not really suggest a fundamentally different understanding of how nuclear crises vary, but merely of where the most interesting variation occurs within the conceptual space we identify. The key question, then, in determining the relative merits of the two typologies, is whether there is important variation between the two categories that Green and Long collapse. We continue to think the distinctions between stability-instability crises and staircase crises are important. Although both types of crises are relatively controllable and have limited risk of what Green and Long call "non-rational uncontrolled escalation," they have very different risks when it comes to nuclear use: lower in stability-instability crises and higher in staircase crises. The factors that determine success in stability-instability crises -- primarily the conventional military balance due to the very low risk of nuclear escalation -- do not necessarily determine success in staircase crises, in which the nuclear balance may matter. As a result, we think that collapsing these two categories is not necessarily a helpful analytical move. Second, to the extent that their typology differs from our own, it does so in ways that are not necessarily helpful in shedding light on the variation across nuclear crises that we observe. In particular, separating incentives for first use into "political bargaining incentives" and "military incentives" is an intriguing proposal but we are not yet fully persuaded of its merits. Given that one of Green and Long's goals is to increase the clarity of the typology we offer, and given that they acknowledge the difficulties of coding the nuclear balance, demanding even more fine-grained assessments in order to divide incentives for first use into two separate (but conceptually highly connected) components may be a lot to ask of analysts. Moreover, given Green and Long's assertion that "political incentives to use nuclear weapons selectively are ever present," their argument in fact implies (as mentioned above) that political incentives for first use are not a source of interesting variation within nuclear crises. We disagree with this conclusion substantively, but it is worth noting that it also has important conceptual implications for Green and Long's typology: It means that their three types of crises all exhibit political incentives for nuclear first use. If this is the case, then political incentives for nuclear first use simply fall out of the analysis. In effect, crises without political incentives for nuclear first use are simply ruled out by definition. This analytic move renders portions of their argument tautologous. For example, they argue that the conventional balance cannot "ever determine the outcome of a nuclear crisis," but this is only because they assume that there are always political incentives to use nuclear weapons first, and thus, "any conventional victory stands only by dint of the losing side's unwillingness to escalate." More broadly, this approach seems to us at least somewhat epistemologically problematic. In our view, it is better to be conceptually open to the existence of certain types of crises and then discover that such crises do not occur empirically, than it is to rule them out by definition and risk discovering later that such crises have, in fact, taken place. In sum, while we are not fully persuaded by Green and Long's critiques, we are extremely grateful for their insightful, thorough, and constructive engagement with our article and look forward to their future work on these issues. We hope that they, along with other scholars, will continue to explore the ways in which nuclear crises differ from one another, and the implications of such differences for crisis dynamics. Mark S. Bell, Minneapolis, Minnesota Julia Macdonald, Denver, Colorado [post_title] => Contrasting Views on How to Code a Nuclear Crisis [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => contrasting-views-on-how-to-code-a-nuclear-crisis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-09 11:06:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-09 16:06:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://tnsr.org/?p=1948 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => In this issue's correspondence section, Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long offer up an alternative way to code nuclear crises in response to Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald's article in the February 2019 issue of TNSR. Bell and Macdonald, in turn, offer a response to Green and Long's critique. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 2, Iss 4 [quotes] => [style] => framing [type] => Framing [style_label] => The Foundation [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 2442 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 279 [1] => 138 [2] => 258 [3] => 259 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," Texas National Security Review 2, no. 2 (February 2019): 40–64, http://dx.doi.org/10.26153/tsw/1944 . [2] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 42, 63. [3] For an excellent treatment of this problem in the international relations context, see Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 154–72. [4] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [5] See Memorandum for General Maxwell Taylor from Carl Kaysen, "Strategic Air Planning and Berlin," Sept. 5, 1961, from National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB56/BerlinC1.pdf . [6] Marc Trachtenberg, David Rosenberg, and Stephen Van Evera, "An Interview with Carl Kaysen," MIT Security Studies Program (1988), 9, http://web.mit.edu/SSP/publications/working_papers/Kaysen%20working%20paper.pdf . [7] Austin Long and Brendan Rittenhouse Green, "Stalking the Secure Second Strike: Intelligence, Counterforce, and Nuclear Strategy," Journal of Strategic Studies 38, no. 1–2 (2015): 44–46, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2014.958150 . [8] "An Interview with Carl Kaysen," 9. [9] Quoted in Long and Green, "Stalking the Secure Second Strike," 46. [10] James R. Schlesinger, "Some Notes on Deterrence in Western Europe," (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, June 30, 1962), 8. [11] Ernest R. May, John D. Steinbruner, and Thomas M. Wolfe, History of the Strategic Arms Competition 1945–1972 , v.1 (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1981), 475. [12] Quoted in Scott Sagan, "SIOP-62: The Nuclear War Plan Briefing to President Kennedy," International Security 12, no. 1 (Summer 1987): 34, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2538916 . [13] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 56. See also, May, Steinbruner, and Wolfe, History of the Strategic Arms Competition , 475; and Owen Coté, The Third Battle: Innovation in the US Navy's Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines (Newport, RI: Naval War College, 2003), 42. [14] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55, 59. [15] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [16] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [17] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 59, fn 96. For more on Bundy, see, e.g., McGeorge Bundy et al., "Nuclear Weapons and the Atlantic Alliance," Foreign Affairs 60, no. 4 (Spring 1982): 753–68, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/1982-03-01/nuclear-weapons-and-atlantic-alliance . [18] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [19] Matthew Kroenig, The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 88. [20] Sagan, "SIOP-62," 50. [21] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [22] Sagan, "SIOP-62," 36, and esp. n. 49. [23] Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum 907-62 to McNamara, Nov. 20, 1962, in Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1961-1963 , Vol. 8, 387–89, quotation on 388, https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v08/d109 . [24] For example, consider his remark, just after the peak of the crisis, that "My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons," before strongly implying massive U.S. preemption would be preferable to tactical use. See ExComm Meeting, Oct. 29, 1962, in Ernest R. May and Philip Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 657. [25] For excellent accounts of Kennedy's Berlin policy and his views on nuclear superiority, which we draw upon heavily, see Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), chap. 8; Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), chaps. 2–3. [26] Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 292, 293, 294, 295. [27] Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 353, 351. [28] Legere memorandum for the record of the White House daily staff meeting, Dec. 10, 1962, National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Chairman's Staff Group December 1962-January 1963; quoted in FRUS 1961-1963 , Vol. 8, 436. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v08/d118 . [29] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 43. [30] See, e.g., Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 353, n. 3. [31] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 47–49. [32] Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966), 97. [33] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 49. [34] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 49–50. [35] Schelling, Arms and Influence , 102. [36] This work was supported by U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) award FA7000-19-2-0008. The opinions, findings, views, conclusions or recommendations contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of USAFA, DTRA or the U.S. Government. [37] Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," Texas National Security Review 2, no. 2 (February 2019): 40-64, http://dx.doi.org/10.26153/tsw/1944 . For additional applications of our framework, see Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "Toward Deterrence: The Upside of the Trump-Kim Summit," War on the Rocks , June 15, 2018, https://warontherocks.com/2018/06/toward-deterrence-the-upside-of-the-trump-kim-summit/ ; Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How Dangerous Was Kargil? Nuclear Crises in Comparative Perspective," Washington Quarterly 42, no. 2 (Summer 2019): 135–48, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2019.1626691 . [38] One minor correction to Green and Long's argument: The Cuban Missile Crisis is not the "sole empirical example" in our article of a crisis characterized by a lack of incentives for first use. In the article we also argue that the 2017 Doklam Crisis between India and China lacked strong incentives for first use, and we suspect there are plenty more crises of this sort in the historical record. Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 60–61. [39] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [40] The quote from the crisis that Green and Long cite does not really support their argument. Green and Long state: "consider [Kennedy's] remark, just after the peak of the crisis, that 'My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons,' before strongly implying massive U.S. preemption would be preferable to tactical use." In fact, consider the full quote: "My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons. The decision to use any kind of a nuclear weapon, even the tactical ones, presents such a risk of it getting out of control so quickly." Kennedy then trails off but "appears to agree" with an unidentified participant who states, "But Cuba's so small compared to the world." This suggests that Kennedy was expressing deep skepticism of any sort of nuclear use remaining limited, as well as doubts about the merits of taking such risks over Cuba, rather than making any sort of clear comparison between the merits of tactical use and massive pre-emption as Green and Long suggest. Ernest R. May and Philip Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 657. [41] For a recent analysis of Kennedy's behavior during the Cuban Missile Crisis that concludes that he was deeply skeptical of the benefits of nuclear superiority during the crisis, see James Cameron, The Double Game: The Demise of America's First Missile Defense System and the Rise of Strategic Arms Limitation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 29–37. [42] For example, see Francis Gavin's assessment that "little was done with" Kaysen's plan, a claim which echoes Marc Trachtenberg's earlier assessment that "it is hard to tell, however, what effect [Kaysen's analysis] had, and in particular whether, by the end of the year, the Air Force was prepared in operational terms to launch an attack of this sort." Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), 38; Marc Trachtenberg, History and Strategy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 225. [43] Marc Trachtenberg, "The Influence of Nuclear Weapons in the Cuban Missile Crisis," International Security 10, no. 1 (Summer 1985), 162, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2538793 . [44] Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966), 97. [45] Indeed, at the risk of adding even more complexity, the relevant threshold likely varies with the stakes of the crisis: Leaders are likely to view lesser damage limitation capabilities as politically relevant when the stakes are higher than they are when the stakes involved are lower. [46] For discussion of the North Korean case, see Bell and Macdonald, "Toward Deterrence," and Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 61–62. [47] We do, however, suggest that our labels offer somewhat more joie de vivre than the alphabetic labels that Green and Long offer. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [queried_object_id] => 1948 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND ( ( YEAR( wp_posts.post_date ) = 2019 AND MONTH( wp_posts.post_date ) = 10 ) ) AND wp_posts.post_name = 'contrasting-views-on-how-to-code-a-nuclear-crisis' AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1948 [post_author] => 279 [post_date] => 2019-10-03 05:00:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-03 09:00:03 [post_content] => In Response to "How to Think About Nuclear Crises" Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long In their article in the February 2019 issue of the Texas National Security Review , Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald make a cogent argument that all nuclear crises are not created equal. [1] We agree with their basic thesis: There really are different sorts of nuclear crises, which have different risk and signaling profiles. We also concur that the existence of a variety of political and military dynamics within nuclear crises implies that we should exercise caution when interpreting the results of cross-sectional statistical analysis. If crises are not in fact all the same, then quantitative estimates of variable effects have a murkier meaning. [2] We should not be surprised that, to date, multiple studies have produced different results. Nevertheless, the article also highlights an alternate hypothesis for nuclear scholarship's inconsistent findings about crisis outcomes and dynamics: Nuclear crises are intrinsically hard to interpret. The balance of resolve between adversaries -- one of the most important variables in any crisis -- is influenced by many factors and is basically impossible to code ex ante . The two variables identified as critical by Bell and Macdonald for determining the shape of a crisis -- the nuclear balance and the controllability of escalation -- are only somewhat more tractable to interpretation. The consequence is that nuclear crises are prone to ambiguity, with coding challenges and case interpretations often resolved in favor of the analyst's pre-existing models of the world. In short, nuclear crises suffer from an especially pernicious interdependence between fact and theory. [3] To the extent that this problem can be ameliorated -- although it cannot be resolved entirely -- the solution is to employ the best possible conceptual and measurement standards for each key variable. Below we provide best practices for coding the nuclear balance, with particular focus on Bell and Macdonald's interpretation of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We argue that, following much of the extant literature, Bell and Macdonald make interpretive choices that unintentionally truncate the history that underlies their coding of the nuclear balance in this case. In our view, they incorrectly conclude that the United States had no military incentives to use nuclear weapons first in 1962. Below, we analyze their interpretation of the Cuba crisis by examining two indicators that might be used to establish the nuclear balance: the operational capabilities of both sides and the perceptions of key U.S. policymakers. We conclude by drawing out some broader implications of the crisis for their conceptual framework, offering a friendly amendment. What Were the Operational Capabilities on Both Sides in 1962? Bell and Macdonald's characterization of the nuclear balance in the Cuban Missile Crisis is a central part of their argument, as it is their sole empirical example of a crisis that "was not characterized by incentives for deliberate first nuclear use." They base this assertion on a brief overview of the balance of U.S. and Soviet strategic forces in 1962, followed by a claim that "[t]he U.S. government did not know where all of the Soviet warheads were located, and there were concerns that U.S. forces were too inaccurate to successfully target the Soviet arsenal." [4] Yet, any calculation of the incentives for deliberate first use must be based on the full context of the military balance. This hinges on the operational capabilities of both sides in the crisis, which includes a concept of operations of a first strike as well as the ability of both sides to execute nuclear operations. The available evidence on operational capabilities suggests that a U.S. first strike would have been likely to eliminate much, if not all, of the Soviet nuclear forces capable of striking the United States, as we summarize briefly below. Any concept of operations for a U.S. first strike would have been unlikely to rely solely, or even primarily, on relatively inaccurate ballistic missiles, as Bell and Macdonald imply. In a sketch of such an attack drafted by National Security Council staffer Carl Kaysen and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Harry Rowen during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the strike would have been delivered by a U.S. bomber force rather than with missiles. As Kaysen and Rowen describe, all Soviet nuclear forces of the time were "soft" targets, so U.S. nuclear bombers would have been more than accurate enough to destroy them. Moreover, a carefully planned bomber attack could have exploited the limitations of Soviet air defense in detecting low flying aircraft, enabling a successful surprise attack. [5] Kaysen would retrospectively note that U.S. missiles, which were inaccurate but armed with multi-megaton warheads, could also have been included in an attack, concluding, "we had a highly confident first strike." [6] Kaysen's confidence was based on his understanding of the relative ability of both sides to conduct nuclear operations. In terms of targeting intelligence, while the United States may not have known where all Soviet nuclear warheads were, it had detailed knowledge of the location of Soviet long-range delivery systems. This intelligence came from a host of sources, including satellite reconnaissance and human sources. U.S. intelligence also understood the low readiness of Soviet nuclear forces. [7] As Kaysen would later note, "By this time we knew that there were no goddamn missiles to speak of, we knew that there were only 6 or 7 operational ones and 3 or 4 more in the test sites and so on. As for the Soviet bombers, they were in a very low state of alert." [8] Of course, Kaysen's assessment of the balance of forces in 1961 might have been overly optimistic or no longer true a year later during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet, other contemporary analysts concurred. Andrew Marshall, who had access to the closely held targeting intelligence of this period, subsequently described the Soviet nuclear force, particularly its bombers, as "sitting ducks." [9] James Schlesinger, writing about four months before the crisis, noted, "During the next four or five years, because of nuclear dominance, the credibility of an American first-strike remains high." [10] The authors of the comprehensive History of the Strategic Arms Competition , drawing on a variety of highly classified U.S. sources, reach a similar conclusion:
[T]he Soviet strategic situation in 1962 might thus have been judged little short of desperate. A well-timed U.S. first strike, employing then-available ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] and SLBM [submarine-launched ballistic missile] forces as well as bombers, could have seemed threatening to the survival of most of the Soviet Union's own intercontinental strategic forces. Furthermore, there was the distinct, if small, probability that such an attack could have denied the Soviet Union the ability to inflict any significant retaliatory damage upon the United States. [11]
The Soviet nuclear-armed submarines of 1962 were likewise vulnerable to U.S. anti-submarine warfare, as they would have had to approach within a few hundred miles of the U.S. coast to launch their missiles. As early as 1959, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Nathan Twining testified that while "one or two isolated submarines" might reach the U.S. coast, in general, the United States had high confidence in its anti-submarine warfare capabilities. [12] The performance of these capabilities during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when multiple Soviet submarines were detected and some forced to surface, confirms their efficacy, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge in their description of an attack on a Soviet submarine during the crisis. [13] How Was the Nuclear Balance Perceived in 1962? Bell and Macdonald offer three data points for their argument that U.S. policymakers did not perceive meaningful American nuclear superiority during the Cuban Missile Crisis. First, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and other veterans of the Kennedy administration attested retrospectively that nuclear superiority did not play an important role in the Cuba crisis. [14] Second, President John F. Kennedy received a Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) -- the U.S plan for strategic nuclear weapons employment -- in 1961, which reported that Soviet retaliation should be expected under all circumstances, even after an American pre-emptive strike. [15] Third, the president expressed ambivalence about the nuclear balance on the first day of the Cuba crisis. [16] But this evidence is a combination of truncated, biased, and weak. The retrospective testimony of Kennedy administration alumni is highly dubious. McNamara, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and others were all highly motivated political actors, speaking two decades after the fact in the context of fierce nuclear policy debates on which they had taken highly public positions, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge in a footnote. [17] The problems with giving much weight to such statements are especially evident given the fact that, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge, [18] these very same advisers made remarks during the Cuba crisis that were much more favorably disposed to the idea of American nuclear superiority. [19] The Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing to Kennedy on SIOP-62 is evidence, contrary to Bell and Macdonald's interpretation, of American nuclear superiority in 1962. Bell and Macdonald make much of the briefing's caution that "Under any circumstances -- even a preemptive attack by the US -- it would be expected that some portion of the Soviet long-range nuclear force would strike the United States." [20] But interpreting this comment as evidence that the United States did not possess "politically meaningful damage limitation" capabilities makes sense only if one has already decided that the relevant standard for political meaning is a perfectly disarming strike. [21] Scott Sagan, in commenting on the briefing, underscores that "although the United States could expect to suffer some unspecified nuclear damage under any condition of war initiation, the Soviet Union would confront absolutely massive destruction regardless of whether it struck first or retaliated." [22] Crucially, the Joint Chiefs of Staff argued for maintaining a U.S. first-strike capability in a memorandum to McNamara commenting on his plans for strategic nuclear forces for fiscal years 1964­–68. This memorandum, sent shortly after the crisis, argues that the United States could not, in the future, entirely eliminate Soviet strategic forces. Yet, the memorandum continues: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that a first-strike capability is both feasible and desirable, although the degree or level of attainment is a matter of judgment and depends upon the US reaction to a changing Soviet capability." [23] In short, not only did the Joint Chiefs of Staff conclude the United States had a meaningful first-strike capability in 1962, they believed such a capability could and should be maintained in the future. As for Kennedy's personal views, it is important not just to consider isolated quotes during the Cuban crisis -- after all, he made several comments that point in opposite directions. [24] One has to consider the political context of the Cuban affair writ large: the multi-year contest with the Soviets over the future of Berlin, and effectively, the NATO alliance. Moreover, Kennedy had deliberately built Western policy during the Berlin crisis on a foundation of nuclear superiority. NATO planning assumed that nuclear weapons would ultimately be used, and probably on a massive scale. [25] As Kennedy put it to French President Charles de Gaulle in June of 1961, "the advantage of striking first with nuclear weapons is so great that if [the] Soviets were to attack even without using such weapons, the U.S. could not afford to wait to use them." In July, he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that "he felt the critical point is to be able to use nuclear weapons at a crucial point before they use them." In January of 1962, expecting the Berlin Crisis to heat up in the near future, he stressed the importance of operational military planning, and of thinking "hard about the ways and means of making decisions that might lead to nuclear war." As he put it at that meeting, "the credibility of our nuclear deterrent is sufficient to hold our present positions throughout the world" even if American conventional military power "on the ground does not match what the communists can bring to bear." [26] But the president recognized that this military strength was a wasting asset: The development of Soviet nuclear forces meant that the window of American nuclear superiority was closing. For this reason, Kennedy thought it important to bring the Berlin Crisis to a head as soon as possible, while the United States still possessed an edge. "It might be better to let a confrontation to develop over Berlin now rather than later," he argued just two weeks before the Cuba crisis. After all, "the military balance was more favorable to us than it would be later on." [27] Two months after the crisis, his views were little different. Reporting on a presidential trip to Strategic Air Command during which Kennedy was advised that "the really neat and clean way to get around all these complexities [about the precise state of the nuclear balance] was to strike first," Bundy "said that of course the President had not reacted with any such comments, but Bundy's clear implication was that the President felt that way." [28] Broader Implications Our argument about the nuclear balance during the Cuban Missile Crisis, if correct, requires some friendly amendments to Bell and Macdonald's framework for delineating types of nuclear crisis. Our discussion of the operational capabilities and policymaker perceptions during the Cuba crisis underscores that Bell and Macdonald's first variable -- "the strength of incentives to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis" [29] -- probably ought to be unpacked into two separate variables: military incentives for a first strike, and political bargaining incentives for selective use. After all, whatever the exact nuclear balance was during 1962, the United States was certainly postured for asymmetric escalation. The salience of America's posture is thrown into especially bold relief once the political context of the crisis is recognized: The Cuban affair was basically the climax of the superpower confrontation over Berlin, in which American force structure and planning was built around nuclear escalation. Indeed, this is how policymakers saw the Cuba crisis, where the fear of Soviet countermoves in Berlin hung as an ever-present cloud over discussions within the Executive Committee of the National Security Council. [30] According to Bell and Macdonald, either kind of incentive is sufficient to put a case into the "high" risk category for deliberate use. But in truth, political incentives to use nuclear weapons selectively -- even if only against military targets -- are ever present. They are just seldom triggered until matters have gone seriously awry on the battlefield. In short, we believe Bell and Macdonald were right to expend extra effort looking for military first-strike incentives, which add genuinely different sorts of risk to a crisis. We argue that operational capabilities and policymaker perceptions in the Cuba crisis show that such incentives are more common than generally credited. So, we would build on Bell and Macdonald's central insight that different types of nuclear crisis have different signaling and risk profiles by modestly amending their framework. We suggest that there are three types of nuclear crisis: those with political bargaining incentives for selective nuclear use (Type A); those with risks of both selective use and non-rational uncontrolled escalation (Type B); and those with political risks, non-rational risks, and military incentives for a nuclear first strike (Type C). Type A crises essentially collapse Bell and Macdonald's "staircase" and "stability-instability" models, and are relatively low risk. [31] Any proposed nuclear escalation amounts to a "threat to launch a disastrous war coolly and deliberately in response to some enemy transgression." [32] Such threats are hard to make credible until military collapse has put a state's entire international position at stake. Outcomes of Type A crises will be decided solely by the balance of resolve. We disagree with Bell and Macdonald's argument that the conventional military balance can ever determine the outcome of a nuclear crisis, since any conventional victory stands only by dint of the losing side's unwillingness to escalate. But the lower risks of a Type A crisis mean that signals of resolve are harder to send, and must occur through large and not particularly selective or subtle means -- essentially, larger conventional and nuclear operations. Type B crises are similar to Bell and Macdonald's "brinksmanship" model. [33] These have a significantly greater risk profile, since they also contain genuine risks of uncontrolled escalation in addition to political risks. Crisis outcomes remain dependent on the balance of resolve, but signaling is easier and can be much finer-grained than in Type A crises. The multiple opportunities for uncontrolled escalation mean that there are simply many more things a state can do at much lower levels of actual violence to manipulate the level of risk in a crisis. For instance, alerting nuclear forces will often not mean much in a Type A crisis (at least before the moment of conventional collapse), since there is no way things can get out of control. But alerting forces in a Type B crisis could set off a chain of events where states clash due to the interaction between each other's rules of nuclear engagement, incentivize forces inadvertently threatened by conventional operations to fire, or misperceive each other's actions. Any given military move will have more political meaning and will also be more dangerous. Type C crises are similar to Bell and Macdonald's "firestorm" model. [34] These are the riskiest sorts of nuclear crisis, since there are military reasons for escalation as well as political and non-rational risks. Outcomes will be influenced both by the balance of resolve and the nuclear balance: either could give states incentives to manipulate risk. Such signals will be the easiest to send, and the finest-grained of any type of crisis. But because the risk level jumps so much with any given signal, the time in which states can bargain may be short. [35] In sum, Bell and Macdonald have made an important contribution to the study of nuclear escalation by delineating different types of crisis with different risk and signaling profiles. We believe they understate the importance of American nuclear superiority during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that these coding problems highlight some conceptual issues with their framework. In the end, though, our amendments appear to us relatively minor, further underscoring the importance of Bell and Macdonald's research. We hope that they, and other scholars, will continue to build on these findings. Brendan R. Green, Cincinnati, Ohio Austin Long, Arlington, Virginia In Response to a Critique Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald We thank Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long for their positive assessment of our work and for engaging with our argument so constructively. [36] Their contribution represents exactly the sort of productive scholarly debate we were hoping to provoke. As we stated in our article, we intended our work to be only an initial effort to think through the heterogeneity of nuclear crises, and we are delighted that Green and Long have taken seriously our suggestion for scholars to continue to think in more detail about the ways in which nuclear crises differ from one another. Their arguments are characteristically insightful, offer a range of interesting and important arguments and suggestions, and have forced us to think harder about a number of aspects of our argument. In this reply, we briefly lay out the argument we made in our article before responding to Green and Long's suggestion that we underestimate the incentives to launch a nuclear first-strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis and their proposal of an alternative typology for understanding nuclear crises. Our Argument In our article, we offer a framework for thinking through the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. [37] While the existing literature on such crises assumes that they all follow a certain logic (although there is disagreement on what that logic is), we identify factors that might lead nuclear crises to differ from one another in consequential ways. In particular, we argue that two factors -- whether incentives are present for nuclear first use and the extent to which escalation is controllable by the leaders involved -- lead to fundamentally different sorts of crises. These two variables generate four possible "ideal type" models of nuclear crises: "staircase" crises (characterized by high first-use incentives and high controllability), "brinkmanship" crises (low first-use incentives and low controllability), "stability-instability" crises (low first-use incentives and high controllability), and "firestorm" crises (high first-use incentives and low controllability). Each of these ideal types exhibits distinctive dynamics and offers different answers to important questions, such as, how likely is nuclear escalation, and how might it occur? How feasible is signaling within a crisis? What factors determine success? For example, crises exhibiting high incentives for nuclear first use combined with low crisis controllability -- firestorm crises -- are particularly volatile, and the most dangerous of all four models in terms of likelihood of nuclear war. These are the crises that statesmen should avoid except under the direst circumstances or for the highest stakes. By contrast, where incentives for the first use of nuclear weapons are low and there is high crisis controllability -- the stability-instability model -- the risk of nuclear use is lowest. When incentives for nuclear first use are low and crisis controllability is also low -- brinkmanship crises -- or when incentives for first use are high and crisis controllability is also high -- the staircase model -- there is a moderate risk of nuclear use, although through two quite different processes. For the brinkmanship model, low levels of crisis controllability combined with few incentives for nuclear first use mean that escalation to the nuclear level would likely only happen inadvertently and through a process of uncontrolled, rather than deliberate, escalation. On the other hand, high levels of crisis controllability combined with high incentives for nuclear first use -- characteristic of the staircase model -- mean that escalation would more likely occur through a careful, deliberate process. First-Use Incentives in the Cuban Missile Crisis First, Green and Long address the extent of incentives for launching a nuclear first strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In short, they argue that there were substantial military incentives for America to strike first during the crisis and that these were understood and appreciated by American leaders. [38] While space constraints meant that our analysis of the nuclear balance in the Cuban Missile Crisis was briefer than we would have liked, we certainly agree that the United States possessed nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union during the crisis. [39] The debate between us and Green and Long is, therefore, primarily over whether the nuclear balance that we (more or less) agree existed in 1962 was sufficiently lopsided as to offer meaningful incentives for nuclear first use, and whether it was perceived as such by the leaders involved. In this, we do have somewhat different interpretations of how much weight to assign to particular pieces of evidence. For example, we believe that the retrospective assessment of key participants does have evidentiary value, although we acknowledge (as we did in our article) the biases of such assessments in this case. Given the rapidly shifting nuclear balance, we place less weight on President John F. Kennedy's statements in years prior to the crisis than on those he made during the crisis itself, [40] which were more consistently skeptical of the benefits associated with U.S. nuclear superiority at a time when the stakes were at their highest. [41] We also place somewhat less weight than Green and Long on the 1961 analysis of Carl Kaysen, given doubts about whether his report had much of an effect on operational planning. [42] And finally, we put less weight on the Joint Chiefs of Staff document from 1962 cited by Green and Long in support of their argument, given that it acknowledges the U.S. inability to eliminate Soviet strategic nuclear forces -- thus highlighting the dangers of a U.S. nuclear first strike -- as well as focuses on future force planning in the aftermath of the crisis. We would also note that our assessment that U.S. nuclear superiority in the Cuban Missile Crisis did not obviously translate into politically meaningful incentives for first use is in line with standard interpretations of this case, including among scholars that Green and Long cite. For Marc Trachtenberg, for example, "[t]he American ability to 'limit damage' by destroying an enemy's strategic forces did not seem, in American eyes, to carry much political weight" during the Cuban Missile Crisis. [43] Similarly, the relative lack of incentives for rational first use in the crisis motivated Thomas Schelling's assessment that only an "unforeseeable and unpredictable" process could have led to nuclear use in the crisis. [44] Regardless of whether participants in the Cuban Missile Crisis understood the advantages (or lack thereof) associated with nuclear superiority, in some ways, our disagreement with Green and Long is more of a conceptual one: where to draw the threshold at which a state's level of nuclear superiority (and corresponding ability to limit retaliatory damage) should be deemed "politically meaningful," i.e., sufficiently lopsided to offer incentives for first use. This is a topic about which there is certainly room for legitimate disagreement. "Political relevance" is a tricky concept, which reinforces Green and Long's broader argument that "nuclear crises are intrinsically hard to interpret" -- a point with which we agree. [45] But Green and Long seem to view any ability to limit retaliatory damage as politically meaningful, since they argue that a nuclear balance that would have likely left a number of American cities destroyed (and potentially more), even in the aftermath of a U.S. first strike, nonetheless provided strong military incentives for first use. By contrast, our view is that the threshold should be somewhat higher than this, though lower than Green and Long's characterization of our position: We do not, in fact, think that the relevant standard for political meaning "is a perfectly disarming strike." Part of our motivation in wanting a threshold higher than "any damage limitation capability" is that it increases the utility of the typology we offer by allowing us to draw the line in such a way that a substantial number of empirical cases exist on either side of that threshold. Green and Long, by contrast, seem more satisfied to draw the line in such a way that cases exhibiting very different incentives for first use -- a crisis with North Korea today compared to the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example -- would both be classified on the same side of the threshold. [46] Green and Long's approach would ignore the important differences between these cases by treating both crises as exhibiting strong incentives for nuclear first use. This would be akin to producing a meteorological map that rarely shows rain because the forecaster judges the relevant threshold to be "catastrophic flooding." There is nothing fundamentally incorrect about making such a choice, but it is not necessarily the most helpful approach to shedding light on the empirical variation we observe in the historical record. An Alternative Typology of Nuclear Crises Second, Green and Long offer an alternative typology for understanding the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. Green and Long argue that there are three types of crisis: "those with political bargaining incentives for selective nuclear use (Type A); those with risks of both selective use and non-rational uncontrolled escalation (Type B); and those with political risks, non-rational risks, and military incentives for a nuclear first strike (Type C)." This is an interesting proposal and we have no fundamental objections to their typology. [47] After all, one can categorize the same phenomenon in different ways, and different typologies may be useful for different purposes. Space constraints inevitably prevent Green and Long from offering a full justification for their typology, and we would certainly encourage them to offer a more fleshed out articulation of it and its merits. Their initial discussion of the different types of signals that states can send within different types of crises is especially productive and goes beyond the relatively simple discussion of the feasibility of signaling that we included in our article. We offer two critiques that might be helpful as they (and others) continue to consider the relative merits of these two typologies and build upon them. First, it is not clear how different their proposed typology is from the one we offer. At times, for example, Green and Long suggest that their typology simply divides up the same conceptual space we identify using our two variables, but does so differently. For example, they argue that they are essentially collapsing two of our quadrants (stability-instability crises and staircase crises) into Type A crises, while Type B crises are similar to our brinkmanship crises and Type C crises are similar to our firestorm crises. If so, their typology does not really suggest a fundamentally different understanding of how nuclear crises vary, but merely of where the most interesting variation occurs within the conceptual space we identify. The key question, then, in determining the relative merits of the two typologies, is whether there is important variation between the two categories that Green and Long collapse. We continue to think the distinctions between stability-instability crises and staircase crises are important. Although both types of crises are relatively controllable and have limited risk of what Green and Long call "non-rational uncontrolled escalation," they have very different risks when it comes to nuclear use: lower in stability-instability crises and higher in staircase crises. The factors that determine success in stability-instability crises -- primarily the conventional military balance due to the very low risk of nuclear escalation -- do not necessarily determine success in staircase crises, in which the nuclear balance may matter. As a result, we think that collapsing these two categories is not necessarily a helpful analytical move. Second, to the extent that their typology differs from our own, it does so in ways that are not necessarily helpful in shedding light on the variation across nuclear crises that we observe. In particular, separating incentives for first use into "political bargaining incentives" and "military incentives" is an intriguing proposal but we are not yet fully persuaded of its merits. Given that one of Green and Long's goals is to increase the clarity of the typology we offer, and given that they acknowledge the difficulties of coding the nuclear balance, demanding even more fine-grained assessments in order to divide incentives for first use into two separate (but conceptually highly connected) components may be a lot to ask of analysts. Moreover, given Green and Long's assertion that "political incentives to use nuclear weapons selectively are ever present," their argument in fact implies (as mentioned above) that political incentives for first use are not a source of interesting variation within nuclear crises. We disagree with this conclusion substantively, but it is worth noting that it also has important conceptual implications for Green and Long's typology: It means that their three types of crises all exhibit political incentives for nuclear first use. If this is the case, then political incentives for nuclear first use simply fall out of the analysis. In effect, crises without political incentives for nuclear first use are simply ruled out by definition. This analytic move renders portions of their argument tautologous. For example, they argue that the conventional balance cannot "ever determine the outcome of a nuclear crisis," but this is only because they assume that there are always political incentives to use nuclear weapons first, and thus, "any conventional victory stands only by dint of the losing side's unwillingness to escalate." More broadly, this approach seems to us at least somewhat epistemologically problematic. In our view, it is better to be conceptually open to the existence of certain types of crises and then discover that such crises do not occur empirically, than it is to rule them out by definition and risk discovering later that such crises have, in fact, taken place. In sum, while we are not fully persuaded by Green and Long's critiques, we are extremely grateful for their insightful, thorough, and constructive engagement with our article and look forward to their future work on these issues. We hope that they, along with other scholars, will continue to explore the ways in which nuclear crises differ from one another, and the implications of such differences for crisis dynamics. Mark S. Bell, Minneapolis, Minnesota Julia Macdonald, Denver, Colorado [post_title] => Contrasting Views on How to Code a Nuclear Crisis [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => contrasting-views-on-how-to-code-a-nuclear-crisis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-09 11:06:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-09 16:06:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://tnsr.org/?p=1948 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => In this issue's correspondence section, Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long offer up an alternative way to code nuclear crises in response to Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald's article in the February 2019 issue of TNSR. Bell and Macdonald, in turn, offer a response to Green and Long's critique. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 2, Iss 4 [quotes] => [style] => framing [type] => Framing [style_label] => The Foundation [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 2442 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 279 [1] => 138 [2] => 258 [3] => 259 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," Texas National Security Review 2, no. 2 (February 2019): 40–64, http://dx.doi.org/10.26153/tsw/1944 . [2] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 42, 63. [3] For an excellent treatment of this problem in the international relations context, see Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 154–72. [4] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [5] See Memorandum for General Maxwell Taylor from Carl Kaysen, "Strategic Air Planning and Berlin," Sept. 5, 1961, from National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB56/BerlinC1.pdf . [6] Marc Trachtenberg, David Rosenberg, and Stephen Van Evera, "An Interview with Carl Kaysen," MIT Security Studies Program (1988), 9, http://web.mit.edu/SSP/publications/working_papers/Kaysen%20working%20paper.pdf . [7] Austin Long and Brendan Rittenhouse Green, "Stalking the Secure Second Strike: Intelligence, Counterforce, and Nuclear Strategy," Journal of Strategic Studies 38, no. 1–2 (2015): 44–46, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2014.958150 . [8] "An Interview with Carl Kaysen," 9. [9] Quoted in Long and Green, "Stalking the Secure Second Strike," 46. [10] James R. Schlesinger, "Some Notes on Deterrence in Western Europe," (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, June 30, 1962), 8. [11] Ernest R. May, John D. Steinbruner, and Thomas M. Wolfe, History of the Strategic Arms Competition 1945–1972 , v.1 (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1981), 475. [12] Quoted in Scott Sagan, "SIOP-62: The Nuclear War Plan Briefing to President Kennedy," International Security 12, no. 1 (Summer 1987): 34, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2538916 . [13] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 56. See also, May, Steinbruner, and Wolfe, History of the Strategic Arms Competition , 475; and Owen Coté, The Third Battle: Innovation in the US Navy's Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines (Newport, RI: Naval War College, 2003), 42. [14] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55, 59. [15] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [16] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [17] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 59, fn 96. For more on Bundy, see, e.g., McGeorge Bundy et al., "Nuclear Weapons and the Atlantic Alliance," Foreign Affairs 60, no. 4 (Spring 1982): 753–68, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/1982-03-01/nuclear-weapons-and-atlantic-alliance . [18] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [19] Matthew Kroenig, The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 88. [20] Sagan, "SIOP-62," 50. [21] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [22] Sagan, "SIOP-62," 36, and esp. n. 49. [23] Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum 907-62 to McNamara, Nov. 20, 1962, in Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1961-1963 , Vol. 8, 387–89, quotation on 388, https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v08/d109 . [24] For example, consider his remark, just after the peak of the crisis, that "My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons," before strongly implying massive U.S. preemption would be preferable to tactical use. See ExComm Meeting, Oct. 29, 1962, in Ernest R. May and Philip Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 657. [25] For excellent accounts of Kennedy's Berlin policy and his views on nuclear superiority, which we draw upon heavily, see Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), chap. 8; Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), chaps. 2–3. [26] Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 292, 293, 294, 295. [27] Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 353, 351. [28] Legere memorandum for the record of the White House daily staff meeting, Dec. 10, 1962, National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Chairman's Staff Group December 1962-January 1963; quoted in FRUS 1961-1963 , Vol. 8, 436. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v08/d118 . [29] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 43. [30] See, e.g., Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace , 353, n. 3. [31] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 47–49. [32] Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966), 97. [33] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 49. [34] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 46, 49–50. [35] Schelling, Arms and Influence , 102. [36] This work was supported by U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) award FA7000-19-2-0008. The opinions, findings, views, conclusions or recommendations contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of USAFA, DTRA or the U.S. Government. [37] Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," Texas National Security Review 2, no. 2 (February 2019): 40-64, http://dx.doi.org/10.26153/tsw/1944 . For additional applications of our framework, see Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "Toward Deterrence: The Upside of the Trump-Kim Summit," War on the Rocks , June 15, 2018, https://warontherocks.com/2018/06/toward-deterrence-the-upside-of-the-trump-kim-summit/ ; Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald, "How Dangerous Was Kargil? Nuclear Crises in Comparative Perspective," Washington Quarterly 42, no. 2 (Summer 2019): 135–48, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2019.1626691 . [38] One minor correction to Green and Long's argument: The Cuban Missile Crisis is not the "sole empirical example" in our article of a crisis characterized by a lack of incentives for first use. In the article we also argue that the 2017 Doklam Crisis between India and China lacked strong incentives for first use, and we suspect there are plenty more crises of this sort in the historical record. Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 60–61. [39] Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 55. [40] The quote from the crisis that Green and Long cite does not really support their argument. Green and Long state: "consider [Kennedy's] remark, just after the peak of the crisis, that 'My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons,' before strongly implying massive U.S. preemption would be preferable to tactical use." In fact, consider the full quote: "My guess is, well, everybody sort of figures that, in extremis, everybody would use nuclear weapons. The decision to use any kind of a nuclear weapon, even the tactical ones, presents such a risk of it getting out of control so quickly." Kennedy then trails off but "appears to agree" with an unidentified participant who states, "But Cuba's so small compared to the world." This suggests that Kennedy was expressing deep skepticism of any sort of nuclear use remaining limited, as well as doubts about the merits of taking such risks over Cuba, rather than making any sort of clear comparison between the merits of tactical use and massive pre-emption as Green and Long suggest. Ernest R. May and Philip Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 657. [41] For a recent analysis of Kennedy's behavior during the Cuban Missile Crisis that concludes that he was deeply skeptical of the benefits of nuclear superiority during the crisis, see James Cameron, The Double Game: The Demise of America's First Missile Defense System and the Rise of Strategic Arms Limitation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 29–37. [42] For example, see Francis Gavin's assessment that "little was done with" Kaysen's plan, a claim which echoes Marc Trachtenberg's earlier assessment that "it is hard to tell, however, what effect [Kaysen's analysis] had, and in particular whether, by the end of the year, the Air Force was prepared in operational terms to launch an attack of this sort." Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), 38; Marc Trachtenberg, History and Strategy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 225. [43] Marc Trachtenberg, "The Influence of Nuclear Weapons in the Cuban Missile Crisis," International Security 10, no. 1 (Summer 1985), 162, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2538793 . [44] Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966), 97. [45] Indeed, at the risk of adding even more complexity, the relevant threshold likely varies with the stakes of the crisis: Leaders are likely to view lesser damage limitation capabilities as politically relevant when the stakes are higher than they are when the stakes involved are lower. [46] For discussion of the North Korean case, see Bell and Macdonald, "Toward Deterrence," and Bell and Macdonald, "How to Think About Nuclear Crises," 61–62. [47] We do, however, suggest that our labels offer somewhat more joie de vivre than the alphabetic labels that Green and Long offer. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [post_count] => 1 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1948 [post_author] => 279 [post_date] => 2019-10-03 05:00:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-03 09:00:03 [post_content] => In Response to "How to Think About Nuclear Crises" Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long In their article in the February 2019 issue of the Texas National Security Review , Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald make a cogent argument that all nuclear crises are not created equal. [1] We agree with their basic thesis: There really are different sorts of nuclear crises, which have different risk and signaling profiles. We also concur that the existence of a variety of political and military dynamics within nuclear crises implies that we should exercise caution when interpreting the results of cross-sectional statistical analysis. If crises are not in fact all the same, then quantitative estimates of variable effects have a murkier meaning. [2] We should not be surprised that, to date, multiple studies have produced different results. Nevertheless, the article also highlights an alternate hypothesis for nuclear scholarship's inconsistent findings about crisis outcomes and dynamics: Nuclear crises are intrinsically hard to interpret. The balance of resolve between adversaries -- one of the most important variables in any crisis -- is influenced by many factors and is basically impossible to code ex ante . The two variables identified as critical by Bell and Macdonald for determining the shape of a crisis -- the nuclear balance and the controllability of escalation -- are only somewhat more tractable to interpretation. The consequence is that nuclear crises are prone to ambiguity, with coding challenges and case interpretations often resolved in favor of the analyst's pre-existing models of the world. In short, nuclear crises suffer from an especially pernicious interdependence between fact and theory. [3] To the extent that this problem can be ameliorated -- although it cannot be resolved entirely -- the solution is to employ the best possible conceptual and measurement standards for each key variable. Below we provide best practices for coding the nuclear balance, with particular focus on Bell and Macdonald's interpretation of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We argue that, following much of the extant literature, Bell and Macdonald make interpretive choices that unintentionally truncate the history that underlies their coding of the nuclear balance in this case. In our view, they incorrectly conclude that the United States had no military incentives to use nuclear weapons first in 1962. Below, we analyze their interpretation of the Cuba crisis by examining two indicators that might be used to establish the nuclear balance: the operational capabilities of both sides and the perceptions of key U.S. policymakers. We conclude by drawing out some broader implications of the crisis for their conceptual framework, offering a friendly amendment. What Were the Operational Capabilities on Both Sides in 1962? Bell and Macdonald's characterization of the nuclear balance in the Cuban Missile Crisis is a central part of their argument, as it is their sole empirical example of a crisis that "was not characterized by incentives for deliberate first nuclear use." They base this assertion on a brief overview of the balance of U.S. and Soviet strategic forces in 1962, followed by a claim that "[t]he U.S. government did not know where all of the Soviet warheads were located, and there were concerns that U.S. forces were too inaccurate to successfully target the Soviet arsenal." [4] Yet, any calculation of the incentives for deliberate first use must be based on the full context of the military balance. This hinges on the operational capabilities of both sides in the crisis, which includes a concept of operations of a first strike as well as the ability of both sides to execute nuclear operations. The available evidence on operational capabilities suggests that a U.S. first strike would have been likely to eliminate much, if not all, of the Soviet nuclear forces capable of striking the United States, as we summarize briefly below. Any concept of operations for a U.S. first strike would have been unlikely to rely solely, or even primarily, on relatively inaccurate ballistic missiles, as Bell and Macdonald imply. In a sketch of such an attack drafted by National Security Council staffer Carl Kaysen and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Harry Rowen during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the strike would have been delivered by a U.S. bomber force rather than with missiles. As Kaysen and Rowen describe, all Soviet nuclear forces of the time were "soft" targets, so U.S. nuclear bombers would have been more than accurate enough to destroy them. Moreover, a carefully planned bomber attack could have exploited the limitations of Soviet air defense in detecting low flying aircraft, enabling a successful surprise attack. [5] Kaysen would retrospectively note that U.S. missiles, which were inaccurate but armed with multi-megaton warheads, could also have been included in an attack, concluding, "we had a highly confident first strike." [6] Kaysen's confidence was based on his understanding of the relative ability of both sides to conduct nuclear operations. In terms of targeting intelligence, while the United States may not have known where all Soviet nuclear warheads were, it had detailed knowledge of the location of Soviet long-range delivery systems. This intelligence came from a host of sources, including satellite reconnaissance and human sources.

U.S. intelligence also understood the low readiness of Soviet nuclear forces. [7] As Kaysen would later note, "By this time we knew that there were no goddamn missiles to speak of, we knew that there were only 6 or 7 operational ones and 3 or 4 more in the test sites and so on.

As for the Soviet bombers, they were in a very low state of alert." [8]

Of course, Kaysen's assessment of the balance of forces in 1961 might have been overly optimistic or no longer true a year later during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet, other contemporary analysts concurred. Andrew Marshall, who had access to the closely held targeting intelligence of this period, subsequently described the Soviet nuclear force, particularly its bombers, as "sitting ducks." [9] James Schlesinger, writing about four months before the crisis, noted, "During the next four or five years, because of nuclear dominance, the credibility of an American first-strike remains high." [10]

The authors of the comprehensive History of the Strategic Arms Competition , drawing on a variety of highly classified U.S. sources, reach a similar conclusion:

[T]he Soviet strategic situation in 1962 might thus have been judged little short of desperate. A well-timed U.S. first strike, employing then-available ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] and SLBM [submarine-launched ballistic missile] forces as well as bombers, could have seemed threatening to the survival of most of the Soviet Union's own intercontinental strategic forces. Furthermore, there was the distinct, if small, probability that such an attack could have denied the Soviet Union the ability to inflict any significant retaliatory damage upon the United States. [11]
The Soviet nuclear-armed submarines of 1962 were likewise vulnerable to U.S. anti-submarine warfare, as they would have had to approach within a few hundred miles of the U.S. coast to launch their missiles. As early as 1959, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Nathan Twining testified that while "one or two isolated submarines" might reach the U.S. coast, in general, the United States had high confidence in its anti-submarine warfare capabilities. [12] The performance of these capabilities during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when multiple Soviet submarines were detected and some forced to surface, confirms their efficacy, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge in their description of an attack on a Soviet submarine during the crisis. [13]

How Was the Nuclear Balance Perceived in 1962?

Bell and Macdonald offer three data points for their argument that U.S. policymakers did not perceive meaningful American nuclear superiority during the Cuban Missile Crisis. First, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and other veterans of the Kennedy administration attested retrospectively that nuclear superiority did not play an important role in the Cuba crisis. [14] Second, President John F. Kennedy received a Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) -- the U.S plan for strategic nuclear weapons employment -- in 1961, which reported that Soviet retaliation should be expected under all circumstances, even after an American pre-emptive strike. [15] Third, the president expressed ambivalence about the nuclear balance on the first day of the Cuba crisis. [16] But this evidence is a combination of truncated, biased, and weak. The retrospective testimony of Kennedy administration alumni is highly dubious. McNamara, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and others were all highly motivated political actors, speaking two decades after the fact in the context of fierce nuclear policy debates on which they had taken highly public positions, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge in a footnote. [17] The problems with giving much weight to such statements are especially evident given the fact that, as Bell and Macdonald acknowledge, [18] these very same advisers made remarks during the Cuba crisis that were much more favorably disposed to the idea of American nuclear superiority. [19] The Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing to Kennedy on SIOP-62 is evidence, contrary to Bell and Macdonald's interpretation, of American nuclear superiority in 1962. Bell and Macdonald make much of the briefing's caution that "Under any circumstances -- even a preemptive attack by the US -- it would be expected that some portion of the Soviet long-range nuclear force would strike the United States." [20] But interpreting this comment as evidence that the United States did not possess "politically meaningful damage limitation" capabilities makes sense only if one has already decided that the relevant standard for political meaning is a perfectly disarming strike. [21] Scott Sagan, in commenting on the briefing, underscores that "although the United States could expect to suffer some unspecified nuclear damage under any condition of war initiation, the Soviet Union would confront absolutely massive destruction regardless of whether it struck first or retaliated." [22] Crucially, the Joint Chiefs of Staff argued for maintaining a U.S. first-strike capability in a memorandum to McNamara commenting on his plans for strategic nuclear forces for fiscal years 1964­–68. This memorandum, sent shortly after the crisis, argues that the United States could not, in the future, entirely eliminate Soviet strategic forces. Yet, the memorandum continues: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that a first-strike capability is both feasible and desirable, although the degree or level of attainment is a matter of judgment and depends upon the US reaction to a changing Soviet capability." [23] In short, not only did the Joint Chiefs of Staff conclude the United States had a meaningful first-strike capability in 1962, they believed such a capability could and should be maintained in the future. As for Kennedy's personal views, it is important not just to consider isolated quotes during the Cuban crisis -- after all, he made several comments that point in opposite directions. [24] One has to consider the political context of the Cuban affair writ large: the multi-year contest with the Soviets over the future of Berlin, and effectively, the NATO alliance. Moreover, Kennedy had deliberately built Western policy during the Berlin crisis on a foundation of nuclear superiority. NATO planning assumed that nuclear weapons would ultimately be used, and probably on a massive scale. [25] As Kennedy put it to French President Charles de Gaulle in June of 1961, "the advantage of striking first with nuclear weapons is so great that if [the] Soviets were to attack even without using such weapons, the U.S. could not afford to wait to use them." In July, he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that "he felt the critical point is to be able to use nuclear weapons at a crucial point before they use them." In January of 1962, expecting the Berlin Crisis to heat up in the near future, he stressed the importance of operational military planning, and of thinking "hard about the ways and means of making decisions that might lead to nuclear war." As he put it at that meeting, "the credibility of our nuclear deterrent is sufficient to hold our present positions throughout the world" even if American conventional military power "on the ground does not match what the communists can bring to bear." [26] But the president recognized that this military strength was a wasting asset: The development of Soviet nuclear forces meant that the window of American nuclear superiority was closing. For this reason, Kennedy thought it important to bring the Berlin Crisis to a head as soon as possible, while the United States still possessed an edge. "It might be better to let a confrontation to develop over Berlin now rather than later," he argued just two weeks before the Cuba crisis. After all, "the military balance was more favorable to us than it would be later on." [27] Two months after the crisis, his views were little different. Reporting on a presidential trip to Strategic Air Command during which Kennedy was advised that "the really neat and clean way to get around all these complexities [about the precise state of the nuclear balance] was to strike first," Bundy "said that of course the President had not reacted with any such comments, but Bundy's clear implication was that the President felt that way." [28]

Broader Implications

Our argument about the nuclear balance during the Cuban Missile Crisis, if correct, requires some friendly amendments to Bell and Macdonald's framework for delineating types of nuclear crisis. Our discussion of the operational capabilities and policymaker perceptions during the Cuba crisis underscores that Bell and Macdonald's first variable -- "the strength of incentives to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis" [29] -- probably ought to be unpacked into two separate variables: military incentives for a first strike, and political bargaining incentives for selective use. After all, whatever the exact nuclear balance was during 1962, the United States was certainly postured for asymmetric escalation. The salience of America's posture is thrown into especially bold relief once the political context of the crisis is recognized: The Cuban affair was basically the climax of the superpower confrontation over Berlin, in which American force structure and planning was built around nuclear escalation. Indeed, this is how policymakers saw the Cuba crisis, where the fear of Soviet countermoves in Berlin hung as an ever-present cloud over discussions within the Executive Committee of the National Security Council. [30] According to Bell and Macdonald, either kind of incentive is sufficient to put a case into the "high" risk category for deliberate use. But in truth, political incentives to use nuclear weapons selectively -- even if only against military targets -- are ever present. They are just seldom triggered until matters have gone seriously awry on the battlefield. In short, we believe Bell and Macdonald were right to expend extra effort looking for military first-strike incentives, which add genuinely different sorts of risk to a crisis. We argue that operational capabilities and policymaker perceptions in the Cuba crisis show that such incentives are more common than generally credited. So, we would build on Bell and Macdonald's central insight that different types of nuclear crisis have different signaling and risk profiles by modestly amending their framework. We suggest that there are three types of nuclear crisis: those with political bargaining incentives for selective nuclear use (Type A); those with risks of both selective use and non-rational uncontrolled escalation (Type B); and those with political risks, non-rational risks, and military incentives for a nuclear first strike (Type C). Type A crises essentially collapse Bell and Macdonald's "staircase" and "stability-instability" models, and are relatively low risk. [31] Any proposed nuclear escalation amounts to a "threat to launch a disastrous war coolly and deliberately in response to some enemy transgression." [32] Such threats are hard to make credible until military collapse has put a state's entire international position at stake. Outcomes of Type A crises will be decided solely by the balance of resolve. We disagree with Bell and Macdonald's argument that the conventional military balance can ever determine the outcome of a nuclear crisis, since any conventional victory stands only by dint of the losing side's unwillingness to escalate. But the lower risks of a Type A crisis mean that signals of resolve are harder to send, and must occur through large and not particularly selective or subtle means -- essentially, larger conventional and nuclear operations. Type B crises are similar to Bell and Macdonald's "brinksmanship" model. [33] These have a significantly greater risk profile, since they also contain genuine risks of uncontrolled escalation in addition to political risks. Crisis outcomes remain dependent on the balance of resolve, but signaling is easier and can be much finer-grained than in Type A crises. The multiple opportunities for uncontrolled escalation mean that there are simply many more things a state can do at much lower levels of actual violence to manipulate the level of risk in a crisis. For instance, alerting nuclear forces will often not mean much in a Type A crisis (at least before the moment of conventional collapse), since there is no way things can get out of control. But alerting forces in a Type B crisis could set off a chain of events where states clash due to the interaction between each other's rules of nuclear engagement, incentivize forces inadvertently threatened by conventional operations to fire, or misperceive each other's actions. Any given military move will have more political meaning and will also be more dangerous. Type C crises are similar to Bell and Macdonald's "firestorm" model. [34] These are the riskiest sorts of nuclear crisis, since there are military reasons for escalation as well as political and non-rational risks. Outcomes will be influenced both by the balance of resolve and the nuclear balance: either could give states incentives to manipulate risk. Such signals will be the easiest to send, and the finest-grained of any type of crisis. But because the risk level jumps so much with any given signal, the time in which states can bargain may be short. [35] In sum, Bell and Macdonald have made an important contribution to the study of nuclear escalation by delineating different types of crisis with different risk and signaling profiles. We believe they understate the importance of American nuclear superiority during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that these coding problems highlight some conceptual issues with their framework. In the end, though, our amendments appear to us relatively minor, further underscoring the importance of Bell and Macdonald's research. We hope that they, and other scholars, will continue to build on these findings. Brendan R. Green, Cincinnati, Ohio Austin Long, Arlington, Virginia

In Response to a Critique Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald We thank Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long for their positive assessment of our work and for engaging with our argument so constructively. [36] Their contribution represents exactly the sort of productive scholarly debate we were hoping to provoke. As we stated in our article, we intended our work to be only an initial effort to think through the heterogeneity of nuclear crises, and we are delighted that Green and Long have taken seriously our suggestion for scholars to continue to think in more detail about the ways in which nuclear crises differ from one another. Their arguments are characteristically insightful, offer a range of interesting and important arguments and suggestions, and have forced us to think harder about a number of aspects of our argument. In this reply, we briefly lay out the argument we made in our article before responding to Green and Long's suggestion that we underestimate the incentives to launch a nuclear first-strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis and their proposal of an alternative typology for understanding nuclear crises.

Our Argument

In our article, we offer a framework for thinking through the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. [37] While the existing literature on such crises assumes that they all follow a certain logic (although there is disagreement on what that logic is), we identify factors that might lead nuclear crises to differ from one another in consequential ways. In particular, we argue that two factors -- whether incentives are present for nuclear first use and the extent to which escalation is controllable by the leaders involved -- lead to fundamentally different sorts of crises. These two variables generate four possible "ideal type" models of nuclear crises: "staircase" crises (characterized by high first-use incentives and high controllability), "brinkmanship" crises (low first-use incentives and low controllability), "stability-instability" crises (low first-use incentives and high controllability), and "firestorm" crises (high first-use incentives and low controllability). Each of these ideal types exhibits distinctive dynamics and offers different answers to important questions, such as, how likely is nuclear escalation, and how might it occur? How feasible is signaling within a crisis? What factors determine success? For example, crises exhibiting high incentives for nuclear first use combined with low crisis controllability -- firestorm crises -- are particularly volatile, and the most dangerous of all four models in terms of likelihood of nuclear war. These are the crises that statesmen should avoid except under the direst circumstances or for the highest stakes. By contrast, where incentives for the first use of nuclear weapons are low and there is high crisis controllability -- the stability-instability model -- the risk of nuclear use is lowest. When incentives for nuclear first use are low and crisis controllability is also low -- brinkmanship crises -- or when incentives for first use are high and crisis controllability is also high -- the staircase model -- there is a moderate risk of nuclear use, although through two quite different processes. For the brinkmanship model, low levels of crisis controllability combined with few incentives for nuclear first use mean that escalation to the nuclear level would likely only happen inadvertently and through a process of uncontrolled, rather than deliberate, escalation. On the other hand, high levels of crisis controllability combined with high incentives for nuclear first use -- characteristic of the staircase model -- mean that escalation would more likely occur through a careful, deliberate process.

First-Use Incentives in the Cuban Missile Crisis

First, Green and Long address the extent of incentives for launching a nuclear first strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In short, they argue that there were substantial military incentives for America to strike first during the crisis and that these were understood and appreciated by American leaders. [38] While space constraints meant that our analysis of the nuclear balance in the Cuban Missile Crisis was briefer than we would have liked, we certainly agree that the United States possessed nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union during the crisis. [39] The debate between us and Green and Long is, therefore, primarily over whether the nuclear balance that we (more or less) agree existed in 1962 was sufficiently lopsided as to offer meaningful incentives for nuclear first use, and whether it was perceived as such by the leaders involved. In this, we do have somewhat different interpretations of how much weight to assign to particular pieces of evidence. For example, we believe that the retrospective assessment of key participants does have evidentiary value, although we acknowledge (as we did in our article) the biases of such assessments in this case. Given the rapidly shifting nuclear balance, we place less weight on President John F. Kennedy's statements in years prior to the crisis than on those he made during the crisis itself, [40] which were more consistently skeptical of the benefits associated with U.S. nuclear superiority at a time when the stakes were at their highest. [41] We also place somewhat less weight than Green and Long on the 1961 analysis of Carl Kaysen, given doubts about whether his report had much of an effect on operational planning. [42] And finally, we put less weight on the Joint Chiefs of Staff document from 1962 cited by Green and Long in support of their argument, given that it acknowledges the U.S. inability to eliminate Soviet strategic nuclear forces -- thus highlighting the dangers of a U.S. nuclear first strike -- as well as focuses on future force planning in the aftermath of the crisis. We would also note that our assessment that U.S. nuclear superiority in the Cuban Missile Crisis did not obviously translate into politically meaningful incentives for first use is in line with standard interpretations of this case, including among scholars that Green and Long cite. For Marc Trachtenberg, for example, "[t]he American ability to 'limit damage' by destroying an enemy's strategic forces did not seem, in American eyes, to carry much political weight" during the Cuban Missile Crisis. [43] Similarly, the relative lack of incentives for rational first use in the crisis motivated Thomas Schelling's assessment that only an "unforeseeable and unpredictable" process could have led to nuclear use in the crisis. [44] Regardless of whether participants in the Cuban Missile Crisis understood the advantages (or lack thereof) associated with nuclear superiority, in some ways, our disagreement with Green and Long is more of a conceptual one: where to draw the threshold at which a state's level of nuclear superiority (and corresponding ability to limit retaliatory damage) should be deemed "politically meaningful," i.e., sufficiently lopsided to offer incentives for first use. This is a topic about which there is certainly room for legitimate disagreement. "Political relevance" is a tricky concept, which reinforces Green and Long's broader argument that "nuclear crises are intrinsically hard to interpret" -- a point with which we agree. [45] But Green and Long seem to view any ability to limit retaliatory damage as politically meaningful, since they argue that a nuclear balance that would have likely left a number of American cities destroyed (and potentially more), even in the aftermath of a U.S. first strike, nonetheless provided strong military incentives for first use. By contrast, our view is that the threshold should be somewhat higher than this, though lower than Green and Long's characterization of our position: We do not, in fact, think that the relevant standard for political meaning "is a perfectly disarming strike." Part of our motivation in wanting a threshold higher than "any damage limitation capability" is that it increases the utility of the typology we offer by allowing us to draw the line in such a way that a substantial number of empirical cases exist on either side of that threshold. Green and Long, by contrast, seem more satisfied to draw the line in such a way that cases exhibiting very different incentives for first use -- a crisis with North Korea today compared to the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example -- would both be classified on the same side of the threshold. [46] Green and Long's approach would ignore the important differences between these cases by treating both crises as exhibiting strong incentives for nuclear first use. This would be akin to producing a meteorological map that rarely shows rain because the forecaster judges the relevant threshold to be "catastrophic flooding." There is nothing fundamentally incorrect about making such a choice, but it is not necessarily the most helpful approach to shedding light on the empirical variation we observe in the historical record. An Alternative Typology of Nuclear Crises Second, Green and Long offer an alternative typology for understanding the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. Green and Long argue that there are three types of crisis: "those with political bargaining incentives for selective nuclear use (Type A); those with risks of both selective use and non-rational uncontrolled escalation (Type B); and those with political risks, non-rational risks, and military incentives for a nuclear first strike (Type C)." This is an interesting proposal and we have no fundamental objections to their typology. [47] After all, one can categorize the same phenomenon in different ways, and different typologies may be useful for different purposes. Space constraints inevitably prevent Green and Long from offering a full justification for their typology, and we would certainly encourage them to offer a more fleshed out articulation of it and its merits. Their initial discussion of the different types of signals that states can send within different types of crises is especially productive and goes beyond the relatively simple discussion of the feasibility of signaling that we included in our article. We offer two critiques that might be helpful as they (and others) continue to consider the relative merits of these two typologies and build upon them. First, it is not clear how different their proposed typology is from the one we offer. At times, for example, Green and Long suggest that their typology simply divides up the same conceptual space we identify using our two variables, but does so differently. For example, they argue that they are essentially collapsing two of our quadrants (stability-instability crises and staircase crises) into Type A crises, while Type B crises are similar to our brinkmanship crises and Type C crises are similar to our firestorm crises. If so, their typology does not really suggest a fundamentally different understanding of how nuclear crises vary, but merely of where the most interesting variation occurs within the conceptual space we identify. The key question, then, in determining the relative merits of the two typologies, is whether there is important variation between the two categories that Green and Long collapse. We continue to think the distinctions between stability-instability crises and staircase crises are important. Although both types of crises are relatively controllable and have limited risk of what Green and Long call "non-rational uncontrolled escalation," they have very different risks when it comes to nuclear use: lower in stability-instability crises and higher in staircase crises. The factors that determine success in stability-instability crises -- primarily the conventional military balance due to the very low risk of nuclear escalation -- do not necessarily determine success in staircase crises, in which the nuclear balance may matter. As a result, we think that collapsing these two categories is not necessarily a helpful analytical move. Second, to the extent that their typology differs from our own, it does so in ways that are not necessarily helpful in shedding light on the variation across nuclear crises that we observe. In particular, separating incentives for first use into "political bargaining incentives" and "military incentives" is an intriguing proposal but we are not yet fully persuaded of its merits. Given that one of Green and Long's goals is to increase the clarity of the typology we offer, and given that they acknowledge the difficulties of coding the nuclear balance, demanding even more fine-grained assessments in order to divide incentives for first use into two separate (but conceptually highly connected) components may be a lot to ask of analysts. Moreover, given Green and Long's assertion that "political incentives to use nuclear weapons selectively are ever present," their argument in fact implies (as mentioned above) that political incentives for first use are not a source of interesting variation within nuclear crises. We disagree with this conclusion substantively, but it is worth noting that it also has important conceptual implications for Green and Long's typology: It means that their three types of crises all exhibit political incentives for nuclear first use. If this is the case, then political incentives for nuclear first use simply fall out of the analysis. In effect, crises without political incentives for nuclear first use are simply ruled out by definition. This analytic move renders portions of their argument tautologous. For example, they argue that the conventional balance cannot "ever determine the outcome of a nuclear crisis," but this is only because they assume that there are always political incentives to use nuclear weapons first, and thus, "any conventional victory stands only by dint of the losing side's unwillingness to escalate." More broadly, this approach seems to us at least somewhat epistemologically problematic. In our view, it is better to be conceptually open to the existence of certain types of crises and then discover that such crises do not occur empirically, than it is to rule them out by definition and risk discovering later that such crises have, in fact, taken place. In sum, while we are not fully persuaded by Green and Long's critiques, we are extremely grateful for their insightful, thorough, and constructive engagement with our article and look forward to their future work on these issues. We hope that they, along with other scholars, will continue to explore the ways in which nuclear crises differ from one another, and the implications of such differences for crisis dynamics.

[Jan 25, 2020] 25 years ago: the Fright of a Norwegian rocket launch almost caused a nuclear war

Jan 25, 2020 | www.wsws.org

This week in history

January 25, 2020

Black Brant XII rocket

On January 25, 1995, the Russian military mistook a Black Brant XII missile launched by a group of scientists from Norway and the United States to study the Northern lights over Svalbard for a nuclear attack by the US Navy with a Trident ballistic missile. It was the first case when the Russian leader brought the nuclear suitcase in a state of combat readiness.

The rocket, which was equipped to study the Northern lights, was launched from the island's Andøya Rocket Range, located off the North-West coast of Norway. It was moving along the same trajectory that US Intercontinental nuclear missiles could fly towards Moscow. Alarm sirens sounded in the Russian radar center, where technical specialists recorded the flight of the missile, and where the message about the us missile attack came from.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin summoned the generals and military advisers, and a "nuclear suitcase" "Cheget"was delivered to him. He had less than ten minutes to decide whether the Russian military would strike back. "I really used my" little black box "with a button for the first time yesterday, which is always with me," Yeltsin told the press the next day, after narrowly avoiding a nuclear disaster. -- I immediately contacted the Ministry of defense and all the military commanders I needed, and we tracked the movement of this missile from start to finish."

A few years later, Spiegel Online noted that Yeltsin left Russian nuclear missiles in his mines at the time, probably "because relations between Russia and the United States in 1995 were relatively trusting."

The scientists who conducted the study, starting in 1962, launched more than 600 missiles, but the Black Brant XII rocket was larger than the previous ones and more like an American ballistic missile. A month before this launch, a team of researchers instructed the Norwegian foreign Ministry to notify neighboring countries of their experiment. Russian officials received such a notification from Oslo three weeks before the launch, but it was apparently ignored by them. The radar crews of the Russian missile warning system (SPRn) were also not informed and reported that it was a potentially nuclear missile moving towards Russia.

Peter Pry, a former CIA officer, wrote that although there were other false alarms in the nuclear age, none of them went as far as the Norwegian missile incident, "the single most dangerous moment of the nuclear missile era."

[Jan 22, 2020] The End Of US Military Dominance Unintended Consequences Forge A Multipolar World Order

Notable quotes:
"... The decision to invade Afghanistan following the events of September 11, 2001, while declaring an "axis of evil" to be confronted that included nuclear-armed North Korea and budding regional hegemon Iran, can be said to be the reason for many of the most significant strategic problems besetting the U.S.. ..."
"... The U.S. often prefers to disguise its medium- to long-term objectives by focusing on supposedly more immediate and short-term threats. Thus, the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and its deployment of the Aegis Combat System (both sea- and land-based) as part of the NATO missile defense system, was explained as being for the purposes of defending European allies from the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles. ..."
"... As was immediately clear to most independent analysts as well as to President Putin , the deployment of such offensive systems are only for the purposes of nullifying the Russian Federation's nuclear-deterrence capability . Obama and Trump faithfully followed in the steps of George W. Bush in placing ABM systems on Russia's borders, including in Romania and Poland. ..."
"... There is no defense against such Russian systems as the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which serves to restore the deterrence doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which in turn serves to ensure that nuclear weapons can never be employed so long as this "balance of terror" exists. Moscow is thus able to ensure peace through strength by showing that it is capable of inflicting a devastating second strike with regard regard for Washington's vaunted ABM systems. ..."
"... In addition to the continued economic and military pressure placed on Iran, one of the most immediate consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, better known as the Iran nuclear deal) has been Tehran being forced to examine all options. Although the country's leaders and political figures have always claimed that they do not want to develop a nuclear weapon, stating that it is prohibited by Islamic law, I should think that their best course of action would be to follow Pyongyang's example and acquire a nuclear deterrent to protect themselves from U.S. aggression. ..."
"... Once again, Washington has ended up shooting itself in the foot by inadvertently encouraging one of its geopolitical opponents to behave in the opposite manner intended. Instead of stopping nuclear proliferation in the region, the U.S., by scuppering of the JCPOA, has only encouraged the prospect of nuclear proliferation. ..."
"... Trump's short-sightedness in withdrawing from the JCPOA is reminiscent of George W. Bush's withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. By triggering necessary responses from Moscow and Tehran, Washington's actions have only ended up leaving it at a disadvantage in certain critical areas relative to its competitors. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Starting from the presidency of George W. Bush to that of Trump, the U.S. has made some missteps that not only reduce its influence in strategic regions of the world but also its ability to project power and thus impose its will on those unwilling to genuflect appropriately .

Some examples from the recent past will suffice to show how a series of strategic errors have only accelerated the U.S.'s hegemonic decline.

ABM + INF = Hypersonic Supremacy

The decision to invade Afghanistan following the events of September 11, 2001, while declaring an "axis of evil" to be confronted that included nuclear-armed North Korea and budding regional hegemon Iran, can be said to be the reason for many of the most significant strategic problems besetting the U.S..

The U.S. often prefers to disguise its medium- to long-term objectives by focusing on supposedly more immediate and short-term threats. Thus, the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and its deployment of the Aegis Combat System (both sea- and land-based) as part of the NATO missile defense system, was explained as being for the purposes of defending European allies from the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles. This argument held little water as the Iranians had neither the capability nor intent to launch such missiles.

As was immediately clear to most independent analysts as well as to President Putin , the deployment of such offensive systems are only for the purposes of nullifying the Russian Federation's nuclear-deterrence capability . Obama and Trump faithfully followed in the steps of George W. Bush in placing ABM systems on Russia's borders, including in Romania and Poland.

Following from Trump's momentous decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), it is also likely that the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) will also be abandoned, creating more global insecurity with regard to nuclear proliferation.

Moscow was forced to pull out all stops to develop new weapons that would restore the strategic balance, Putin revealing to the world in a speech in 2018 the introduction of hypersonic weapons and other technological breakthroughs that would serve to disabuse Washington of its first-strike fantasies.

Even as Washington's propaganda refuses to acknowledge the tectonic shifts on the global chessboard occasioned by these technological breakthroughs, sober military assessments acknowledge that the game has fundamentally changed.

There is no defense against such Russian systems as the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which serves to restore the deterrence doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which in turn serves to ensure that nuclear weapons can never be employed so long as this "balance of terror" exists. Moscow is thus able to ensure peace through strength by showing that it is capable of inflicting a devastating second strike with regard regard for Washington's vaunted ABM systems.

In addition to ensuring its nuclear second-strike capability, Russia has been forced to develop the most advanced ABM system in the world to fend off Washington's aggression. This ABM system is integrated into a defensive network that includes the Pantsir, Tor, Buk, S-400 and shortly the devastating S-500 and A-235 missile systems. This combined system is designed to intercept ICBMs as well as any future U.S. hypersonic weapons

The wars of aggression prosecuted by George W. Bush, Obama and Trump have only ended up leaving the U.S. in a position of nuclear inferiority vis-a-vis Russia and China. Moscow has obviously shared some of its technological innovations with its strategic partner, allowing Beijing to also have hypersonic weapons together with ABM systems like the Russian S-400.

No JCPOA? Here Comes Nuclear Iran

In addition to the continued economic and military pressure placed on Iran, one of the most immediate consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, better known as the Iran nuclear deal) has been Tehran being forced to examine all options. Although the country's leaders and political figures have always claimed that they do not want to develop a nuclear weapon, stating that it is prohibited by Islamic law, I should think that their best course of action would be to follow Pyongyang's example and acquire a nuclear deterrent to protect themselves from U.S. aggression.

While this suggestion of mine may not correspond with the intentions of leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the protection North Korea enjoys from U.S. aggression as a result of its deterrence capacity may oblige the Iranian leadership to carefully consider the pros and cons of following suit, perhaps choosing to adopt the Israeli stance of nuclear ambiguity or nuclear opacity, where the possession of nuclear weapons is neither confirmed nor denied. While a world free of nuclear weapons would be ideal, their deterrence value cannot be denied, as North Korea's experience attests.

While Iran does not want war, any pursuit of a nuclear arsenal may guarantee a conflagration in the Middle East. But I have long maintained that the risk of a nuclear war (once nuclear weapons have been acquired) does not exist , with them having a stabilizing rather than destabilizing effect, particularly in a multipolar environment.

Once again, Washington has ended up shooting itself in the foot by inadvertently encouraging one of its geopolitical opponents to behave in the opposite manner intended. Instead of stopping nuclear proliferation in the region, the U.S., by scuppering of the JCPOA, has only encouraged the prospect of nuclear proliferation.

Trump's short-sightedness in withdrawing from the JCPOA is reminiscent of George W. Bush's withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. By triggering necessary responses from Moscow and Tehran, Washington's actions have only ended up leaving it at a disadvantage in certain critical areas relative to its competitors.

The death of Soleimani punctures the myth of the U.S. invincibility

I wrote a couple of articles in the wake of General Soleimani's death that examined the incident and then considered the profound ramifications of the event in the region.

What seems evident is that Washington appears incapable of appreciating the consequences of its reckless actions. Killing Soleimani was bound to invite an Iranian response; and even if we assume that Trump was not looking for war (I explained why some months ago), it was obvious to any observer that there would be a response from Iran to the U.S.'s terrorist actions.

The response came a few nights later where, for the first time since the Second World War, a U.S. military base was subjected to a rain of missiles (22 missiles each with a 700kg payload). Tehran thereby showed that it possessed the necessary technical, operational and strategic means to obliterate thousands of U.S. and allied personnel within the space of a few minutes if it so wished, with the U.S. would be powerless to stop it.

U.S. Patriot air-defense systems yet again failed to do their job, reprising their failure to defend Saudi oil and gas facilities against a missile attack conducted by Houthis a few months ago.

We thus have confirmation, within the space of a few months, of the inability of the U.S. to protect its troops or allies from Houthi, Hezbollah and Iranian missiles. Trump and his generals would have been reluctant to respond to the Iranian missile attack knowing that any Iranian response would bring about uncontrollable regional conflagration that would devastate U.S. bases as well as oil infrastructure and such cities of U.S. allies as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Dubai.

After demonstrating to the world that U.S. allies in the region are defenseless against missile attacks from even the likes of the Houthis, Iran drove home the point by conducting surgical strikes on two U.S. bases that only highlights the disconnect between the perception of U.S. military invincibility and the reality that would come in the form of a multilayered missile conflict.

Conclusion

Washington's diplomatic and military decisions in recent years have only brought about a world world that is more hostile to Washington and less inclined to accept its diktats, often being driven instead to acquire the military means to counter Washington's bullying. Even as the U.S. remains the paramount military power, its ineptitude has resulted in Russia and China surpassing it in some critical areas, such that the U.S. has no chance of defending itself against a nuclear second strike, with even Iran having the means to successfully retaliate against the U.S. in the region.

As I continue to say, Washington's power largely rests on perception management helped by the make-believe world of Hollywood. The recent missile attacks by Houthis on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities and the Iranian missile attack a few days ago on U.S. military bases in Iraq (none of which were intercepted) are like Toto drawing back the curtain to reveal Washington's military vulnerability. No amount of entreaties by Washington to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain will help.

The more aggressive the U.S. becomes, the more it reveals its tactical, operational and strategic limits, which in turn only serves to accelerate its loss of hegemony.

If the U.S. could deliver a nuclear first strike without having to worry about a retaliatory second strike thanks to its ABM systems, then its quest for perpetual unipolarity could possibly be realistic. But Washington's peer competitors have shown that they have the means to defend themselves against a nuclear first strike by being able to deliver an unstoppable second strike, thereby communicating that the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) is here to stay. With that, Washington's efforts to maintain its status as uncontested global hegemon are futile.

In a region vital to U.S. interests , Washington does not have the operational capacity to stand in the way of Syria's liberation. When it has attempted to directly impose its will militarily, it has seen as many as 80% of its cruise missiles knocked down or deflected , once again highlighting the divergence between Washington's Hollywood propaganda and the harsh military reality.

The actions of George W. Bush, Obama and Trump have only served to inadvertently accelerate the world's transition away from a unipolar world to a multipolar one. As Trump follows in the steps of his predecessors by being aggressive towards Iran, he only serves to weaken the U.S. global position and strengthen that of his opponents.


Big Sky Country , 1 hour ago link

Up to the election of our current President, I agree that we were bullying for the personal gain of a few and our military was being used as a mercenary force. The current administration is working on getting us out of long term conflicts. What do you think "drain the swamp" means? It is a huge undertaking and need to understand what the "deep state" is all about and their goals.

The death of Soleimani was needed and made the world a safer place. Dr. Janda / Freedom Operation has had several very intriguing presentations on this issue. It is my firm belief that there is a worldwide coalition to make the world a better and safer place. If you want to know about the "deep state" try watching: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cYZ8dUgPuU

Roacheforque , 2 hours ago link

All mostly true, but the constant drone of this type of article gets old, as the comments below attest. We really don't need more forensic analysis by the SCF, what we need is an answer to America's dollar Imperialism problem. But we'll never get it, just as England never got an answer to it's pound Imperialism problem.

I like Tulsi Gabbard, but she can never truly reveal the magnitude of the dollar Imperialism behind her "stop these endless wars" sloganism. Besides, she doesn't have the billions required to mount any real successful campaign. Only billionaires like Bloomberg need apply these days.

The Truth is that NO ONE will stand up to Wall Street and it's system of global dollar corporatism (from which Bloomberg acquired his billions, and to which the USG is bound). It's suicide to speak the truth to the masses. The dollar must die of its own disease.

Trump is America's Chemo. The cure nearly as bad as the cancer, but the makers of it have a vested interest in its acceptance.

messystateofaffairs , 3 hours ago link

General Bonespur murders a genuine military man from the comfort of his golf course. America is still dangerous, Pinky might be tired but the (((Brain))) is working feverishly on solutions for the jaded .

msamour , 2 hours ago link

There has been a perception in the last 25 years that the US could win a nuclear war. This perception is extremely dangerous as it invites the US armed forces to commit atrocities and think they can get away with it (they are for now). The world opinion has turned, but the citizens of the United States of America are not listening.

If the US keeps going down the path they are currently on, they are ensuring that war will eventually reach its coast.

Jazzman , 4 hours ago link

To challenge the US Empire the new Multipolar World is focused on a two-pronged strategy:

1. Nullifying the US nuclear first strike (at will) as part of the current US military doctrine - accomplished (for a decade maybe).
2. Outmaneuvering the US petrodollar in trade, the tool to control the global fossil fuel resources on the planet - in progress.

What makes 2.) decisive is that the petrodollar as reserve currency is the key to recycle the US federal budget deficit via foreign investment in U.S. Treasury Bonds (IOUs) by the central banks, thus enabling the global military presence and power projection of the US military empire.

rtb61 , 4 hours ago link

All their little plots and schemes failed, as corrupt arsehole after corrupt arsehole stole the funding from those plots and schemes to fill their own pockets. They also put the most corrupt individuals they could find into power, so as much as possible could be stolen and voila, everywhere they went, everything collapsed, every single time.

Totally and utterly ludicrous decades, of not punishing failure after failure has resulted in nothing but more failure, like, surprise, surprise, surprise.

Routine failures have forced other nation to go multipolar or just rush straight to global economic collapse as a result of out of control US corruption. Russia and China did not outsmart the USA, the USA did it entirely to itself by not prosecuting corruption at high levels, even when it failed time and time again, focusing more on how much they could steal, then on bringing what ever plot or scheme to a successful conclusion.

Falcon49 , 4 hours ago link

The use of the terms "Unintended Consequences", shortsightedness, mistakes, stupidity, or ignorance provides the avenue to transfer or divert the blame. It excuses it away as bad decisions so that the truth and those responsible are never really exposed and held accountable. The fact is, these actions were not mistakes or acts of shortsightedness...they were deliberate and planned and the so-called "unintended consequences" were actually intended and part of their plan. Looking back and linking the elites favorite process to drive change (problem, reaction, solution)...one can quickly make the connection to many of the so-called "unintended consequences" as they are very predictable results their actions. It becomes very clear that much of what has occurred over the last few decades has been deliberate with planned/intended outcomes.

mike_1010 , 6 hours ago link

I think the biggest advantage USA used to have was that they claimed to stand for Freedom and Democracy. And for a time, many people believed them. That's partly why the USSR fell apart, and for a time USA had a lot of goodwill among ordinary Russians.

But US political leaders squandered this goodwill when they used NATO to attack Yugoslavia against Russia's objections and expanded NATO towards Russia's borders. This has been long forgotten in USA. But many ordinary Russians still seethe about these events. This was the turning point for them that motivated them to support Putin and his rebuilding of Russia's military.

When you have goodwill among your potential competitors, then they don't have much motivation to increase their capabilities against you. This was the situation USA was in after the USSR fell apart. But USA squandered all of this goodwill and motivated the Russians to do what they did.

And now, USA under Trump has done something like this with China. USA used to have a lot of goodwill among the ordinary Chinese. But now this is gone as a result of US tariffs, sanctions, and its support for separatism in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Now, the Chinese will be as motivated as the Russians to do their best at promoting their interests at the expense of USA. And together with Russia, they have enough people and enough natural resources to do more than well against USA and its allies.

I think USA could've maintained a lot more influence around the world through goodwill with ordinary people, than through sanctions, threats, and military attacks. If USA had left Iraq under Saddam Hussein alone, then Iran wouldn't have had much influence in there. And if USA had left Iran alone, then the young people there might've already rebelled against their strict Islamic rule and made their government more friendly with USA.

Doing nothing, except business and trade, would've left USA in a much better position, than the one USA is in now.

Now USA is bankrupting itself with unsustainable military spending and still falling behind its competitors. USA might still have the biggest economy in the world in US Dollar terms. But this doesn't take into account the cost of living and purchasing parity. With purchasing parity taken into account, China now has a bigger economy than that of USA. Because internally, they can manufacture and buy a lot more for the same amount of money than USA can. A lot of US military spending is on salaries, pensions, and healthcare of its personnel. While such costs in Russia and China are comparatively small. They are spending most of their money on improving and building their military technology. That's why in the long run, USA will probably fall behind even more.

abodasho , 4 hours ago link

The Anglos in the U.S. are not from there and are imposters who are claiming characteristics and a culture that doesn't belong to them. They're using it as a way to hide from scrutiny, so you blame "Americans", when its really them. That's why there's such a huge disconnect between stated values and actions. The values belong to another group of people, TRUE Americans, while the actions belong to Anglos, who have a history of aggressive and forced, irrational violence upon innocents.

mike_1010 , 3 hours ago link

It's true that ordinary people are often different from their government, including in Russia, in China, in Iran, in USA, and even in Nazi Germany in the past.

But the people in such a situation are usually powerless and unable to influence their government. So, their difference is irrelevant in the way their government behaves and alienates people around the world.

USA is nominally a democracy, where the government is controlled by the people. But in reality, the people are only a ceremonial figurehead, and the real power is a small minority of rich companies and individuals, who fund election campaigns of politicians.

That's why for example most Americans want to have universal healthcare, just like all other developed countries have. But most elected politicians from both major parties won't even consider this idea, because their financial donors are against it. And if the people are powerless even within their own country, then outside with foreigners, they have even less influence.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/28/most-americans-now-support-medicare-for-all-and-free-college-tuition.html

MalteseFalcon , 2 hours ago link

The USA completely squandered their "soft" power.

nuerocaster , 7 hours ago link

Anyone interested in the real story?

1. Nation Building? It worked with Germany and Japan, rinse and repeat. So what if it's comparing apples to antimatter?

2. US won the Cold War? So make the same types of moves made during Reagan adm? The real reason the Soviet Empire collapsed was because it was a money losing empire while the US was a money making empire. Just review the money pits they invested in.

3. Corruption? That was your grandfather's time. The US has been restructured. Crime Syndicate and Feudal templates are the closest. Stagnation and decline economically and technologically are inevitable.

4. Evaluating the competition is problematic. However perhaps the most backward and regressive elements in this society are branding themselves as progressive and getting away with it. That can't work.

[Jan 22, 2020] The plans to nuke USSR were being drawn prior to the Trinity test. Levine's essay buttresses this quite well, though essentially in background

Jan 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Jan 22 2020 14:30 utc | 100

William Gruff | Jan 22 2020 13:48 utc | 98

That's right. I used to know the guys at Gannet in a major US city. Nice people, but not technically aware, and politically-philosophically innocent. Naifs. Put on nice parties where they chatted about their pasts in foreign places entirely unaware of the objective and obvious exploitation going on right before their eyes.

I might add that the engineering students dread, as a rule, English 1-A, and do, generally, quite poorly. (My wife used to teach that class)

The result is a nice antipodal bar-bell shaped arrangement whereby neither group sees reality, but only a simulacrum of one part or another.

In this regard, Yasha Levine > " Weaponizing Fascism for Democracy: The Beginning " Begins in the DP camps...

I've said before that the plans to nuke USSR were being drawn prior to the Trinity test. Levine's essay buttresses this quite well, though essentially in background...he says nothing about the bomb. He doen't have to...

[Jan 12, 2020] Nobody, not even Russia and china, can afford to stay in the sidelines in a nuclear war in the 2020s.

Notable quotes:
"... What i find truly amazing is that American Zionists still believe crushing Iran is easy enough. Israel, with 8 million jews stuffed in a small country, is nothing more than a carrier battle group marooned on land ..."
Jan 12, 2020 | smoothiex12.blogspot.com

Axiosromano 2 days ago

The tramp & nutNyahoo machismo show continues to be fun to watch. Both show off their penis worms as they arrogantly claim they can crush iran. Both the usa and israel keep banging on the doors and walls of their pissed-off neighbors' houses. That eventually gets you murdered whether in baltimore or baghdad.

A crushable iran is true if and only if they can mount a full-on nuclear war on Iran. But such horrendous cheating means all bets are off, and iran's allies will provide the nukes required to melt down the American homeland too. Nobody, not even Russia and china, can afford to stay in the sidelines in a nuclear war in the 2020s.

What i find truly amazing is that American Zionists still believe crushing Iran is easy enough. Israel, with 8 million jews stuffed in a small country, is nothing more than a carrier battle group marooned on land. Sitting ducks, with nice armor, nukes and all, are ... still sitting ducks. nutNyahoo should ask his technical crew just how few megatons are needed, or just a few thousand modern missiles are required to transform sitting ducks into nicely roasted peking ducks.

So a conventional war it is. The usa and israel has exactly zero, zilch and nada chances of winning a war with iran. The usa keeps forgetting that it is a dying empire with dying funding value and mental resources. Just like israel which oddly thinks dozens of f-35s will give it immunity through air superiority. Proof of this fact that iran will win comes from simply asking american and israeli war experts to go on cnn or the washington post on how they intend to win a war with iran.

Im sure these expert bloviators will say that it is as easy as winning a naval war against china, which is capable of launching only 3 new warships in a week. Or an even easier time against russia, which can launch only a few thousand hypersonic nuke missiles because its GDP is no bigger than that of texas.

Rob Naardin 2 days ago

The Pentagon is super slow to adapt and learn. If you understand that bureaucracy is an ancient organizational structure and that the organizational culture of the Pentagon is pathologically dysfunctional you could have predicted the moral and financial bankruptcy of America 15-20 years ago. The "Why?", finally made sense when I discovered what a sociopath was.

It's about time the US practices what it preachs and start behaving like a normal country instead of a spoiled narcissistic brat. see more

tic_Fox Rob Naardin2 days ago • edited

US military & strategic thought became lazy during the late days of the Cold War. It mirrored the decline & fall of the foundations of its opponent, USSR. Post-Cold War, US military & strategic thinking flushed into the sewer. It was all about maintaining the military as some sort of a social policy jobs program, operating legacy tech as the mission. And then came the "world-improvers" -- beginning w the Clinton Admin -- who worked to turn the world into a global "urban renewal" project; meaning to mirror the success US Big Govt showed in the slums of American cities from sea to sea. The past 30 yrs of US strategic thinking and related governance truly disgusts me. see more

Vasya Pypkin Arctic_Fox2 days ago

Soviet union fall had very different reasons and Soviet military thought was doing quite well then along with military. Current russian military wonders is completion of what was started then and not finished earlier because of the disintegration of the Soviet state.
The soviet fall however is extremely regrettable because there was a new way how things can be done that Soviet union was showing to the world. USA fall long term is a very good thing because USA is a paragon of how things should be done the old way and basically a huge parasite. Many negative trends that are afflicting the world were started by USA. Unlimited individualism and consumerism would be a couple of those. see more

Drapetomania Vasya Pypkin17 hours ago
Why does almost every person on Earth feel the need to force others to bend the knee to their beliefs?

Religious beliefs are what one thinks should be done to promote survival in an afterlife, political beliefs are what one thinks should be done to promote survival in this world.

The world would be a far better, more civilized, of world if such beliefs were only shared on a voluntary basis.

As for individualism, I would rather be free than live in a modern day egalitarian hunter-gatherer tribe run by modern day psychopathic alpha-males.

That is certainly not a recipe for success. see more

AriusArmenian Arctic_Fox2 days ago

It also mirrors the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. It was Emperor Augustus that decided the costs to further expand the Empire were too great after losing one (or two?) legions against the Germanic tribes.

The US has reached its greatest extent. We are living through it. The US didn't go forward into war with Iran twice. The odds of humanity surviving this immense turn of history is looking better. see more

Vasya Pypkin AriusArmenian2 days ago • edited

Frankly, nothing in common. I read this comparison all the time. Yes, Augustus decided not to continue along with expansion into Germany after losing 3 Varus legions due to ambush.

But he famously noted that it does not worth to go fishing with golden hook. Basically speaking, Germany was not worth fighting for. Poor and remote it had nothing to offer. Just a drain on resources. As long as conquest was moving smoothly it was ok, but after losses were inflicted Augustus decided it was not worth it.

Roman expansion under augustus was carried mostly to consolidate previous conquests and create strategical debth along core and strategical provinces also creating linkage.

When enemy far stronger than germans posed resources which made the whole conquest worthy no amount of resistance saved Dacians and Parthia also almost died under Trajan attack.

Roman policies were adequate and wise. Treaties were respected, allies supported and benefited. Empire was build around Mediterranean creating good communication and routes considering obviously limits of that day technology.

Rome did not behave like crazy and did not deliver threats that she could not follow through. When war was decided upon thorough preparations were taken. Political goals were achieved. Wars were won. When Adrian considered that empire was overextended in Parthis, he simply abandoned all conquered territories. Just like that.

Logical calm thinking USA,is not capable of. Rome truly based upon superior military and diplomacy dominance lasted many centuries. USA few decades. One hit wonder, lucky fool I would call it. see more

Arctic_Fox Vasya Pypkin17 hours ago

Interesting account of Roman strategic concept of forward presence, versus administering the internal lines of communication... see more

WHAT2 days ago

They left equipment in the open on that base and ran away. No AA fire whatsoever. This is how much they are ready to take a punch. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod WHAT2 days ago

Yes, this is somewhat puzzling. As I said, let's wait and see where it all develops to, but as Twisted Genius succinctly observed -- Iran now controls tempo because she has conventional superiority. Anyone who has precision-guided, stand off weaponry in good numbers will be on top. see more

Arctic_Fox smoothieX12 .2 days ago

The old submarine saying is, "There are two kinds of ships; submarines, and targets."
.
The new version for land ops is, "There are two kinds of land-based military assets; precision-guided missiles, and targets." (And per the photos, those Iranian missiles were quite precise; bulls-eyes.)
.
Iran and its missiles demonstrated that the entire strategic foundation for US mil presence in the Middle East is now obsolete. Everything the US would ever want to do there is now subject to Iran's version of "steel rain." Every runway, hangar, aircraft parking area; every supply depot or warehouse; every loading pier, fuel site, naval pier. Everything... is a target. And really... there's no amount of US "airpower" and "tech" than can mitigate the Iran missile threat.
.
Meanwhile, related thinking... Iran's true strategic interest is NOT fighting a near-term war w/ USA. Iran wants US to exit Middle East; and Iran wants to be able to pursue its nuclear program. Soleimani or no, Iran appears to have its eyeballs fixed on the long-term goals. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod Arctic_Fox2 days ago • edited
The new version for land ops is, "There are two kinds of land-based military assets; precision-guided missiles, and targets."

Exactly, and Iran has long-range TLAMs in who knows what numbers, That, in its turn, brings about the next issue of range for Iranian indigenous anti-ship missiles. Not, of course, to mention the fact of only select people knowing if Russia transferred P-800 Onyx to Iran She certainly did it for Syria. If that weapon is there--the Persian Gulf and Hormuz Strait will be shut completely closed and will push out CBGs far into the Indian Ocean. see more

Vasya Pypkin smoothieX12 .a day ago

It is simply pathetic after decades of talking non stop about developments of anti missiles and huge amounts wasted and nobody is responsible. This is the way capitalism works.profits is everything and outcomes secondary. Thankfully russia has got soviet foundation and things so far are working well. I come to think that in our times no serious industrial processes should be allowed to stay in private hands. Only services and so.e other simpler stuff under heavy state control to ensure quality. Otherwise profit orientation will eventually destroy everything like with Boeing.

Drapetomania Vasya Pypkin16 hours ago observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

I know, i already wrote a full scale war scenario in one of the comments. Iran can destroy all US bases in 2000 km range. But this does not mean that it can not be bombed back to the stone age, if the US really wishes so. The problem for the US is the high cost as well as the high debt levels, but it does have the technical capability to do that after 2 - 3 years of bombing.

Also low yield tactical nukes are designed to lower the treshold of the use of nukes in otherwise conventional war, producing less international outrage than the megaton city buster bombs. Why do you think the US is developing them again? Because they would want to use them in conventional conflicts.

Here btw is Yurasumy, he also says that the US can technically bomb Iran back to the stone age, but the cost will be too high.

Play Hide

https://cdn.embedly.com/

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago • edited
if the US really wishes so.

Again--what's the plan and what's the price? Iran HAS Russia's ISR on her side in case of such SEAD.

Does the United States want to risk lives of thousands of its personnel (not to speak of expensive equipment) in Qatar, KSA, Iraq. Does Israel want to "get it"?

There are numbers which describe such an operation (it was. most likely, already planned as contingency). Immediate question: when was the last time USAF operated in REAL dense ECM and ECCM environment? I do not count some brushes with minimal EW in Syria.

Russia there uses only minimally required option, for now. Iran has a truck load EW systems, including some funny Russian toys which allowed Iran to take control of US UAVs, as an example. As I say, this is not Iraq and by a gigantic margin. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

I already said that debt levels do not allow it and the price would be too high, but yes, the US does have the military capability to destroy Iran. By conventional means. It is another question that it is not in good fiscal shape. Anyway, US ballistic missiles (non nuclear armed) will be hard to stop by EW. Even if Iran gets rid of 50 % of incoming TLAMs, the US will keep sending more and more until most infrastructure, bridges, oil refineries, power plants, factories, ports etc. are destroyed. This is why i said it would take 2 - 3 years. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago
but yes, the US does have the military capability to destroy Iran. By conventional means

That is the whole point: NO, it doesn't. Unless US goes into full mobilization mode and addresses ALL (plus a million more not listed) requirements for such a war which I listed in the post. Well, that or nukes. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago

Yurasumy is a pretty good analist and he thinks that they can. I do not see it for the US being too hard to produce more TLAMS, ICBMs and IRBMs (conventional) to sustain the effort for 2 years, by that time most iranian infrastructure will be destroyed. If the fiscal situation allowes it. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago

I don't know who Yarasumy is and what is his background, but unlike him I actually write books, including on modern warfare. This is not to show off, but I am sure I can make basic calculations. This is not to mention the fact that even Sivkov agrees with my points and Sivkov, unlike Yarsumy, graduated Popov's VVMURE, served at subs, then graduated Kuznetsov Academy, then Academy of the General Staff and served in Main Operational Directorate (GOU) until retiring in the rank of Captain 1st Rank from the billet of Combat Planning group. So, I would rather stick to my opinion. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago

Why do you think that the US can not destroy Iran with IRBMs? Actually this is their strategy vs China. If they think its viable vs China, then it should be viable vs Iran too. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago • edited

Because unlike the US, Russia's Air Defenses have a rather very impressive history of shifting the balance in wars in favor of those who have them, when used properly. But then I can quote for you a high ranking intelligence officer:

A friend of mine who has expertise in these matters wrote me:

Any air defense engineer with a securityclearance that isn't lying through his teeth will admit that Russia'sair defense technology surpassed us in the 1950's and we've never been able to catch up. The systems thy have in place surrounding Moscow make our Patriot 3's look like fucking nerf guns.

Read the whole thing here:

https://turcopolier.typepad...

Mathematics is NOT there for the United States for a real combined operations war of scale with Iran. Unless US political class really wants to see people with pitch-forks. see more

Arctic_Fox smoothieX12 .17 hours ago

"Mathematics is not there..."
.
Neither is the industrial base, including supply lines. Not the mines, mills, factories to produce any significant levels of warfighting materiel such as we're talking about here. Not the workforce, either. Meanwhile, where are the basic designs for these weps? The years of lab work, bench tests, pilot specimens & prototypes, the development pipeline? The contractors to build them? the Tier 2, 3, 4 suppliers? Where are the universities that train such people as are needed? Where is the political will? Where is the government coordination? Where is the money? Indeed, every Democrat and probably half the Republicans who run for office campaign on controlling military spending; not that USA gets all that much benefit from the current $800 billion per year. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

That would require S-500 - ballistic missile defense. Maybe 15 - 20 S-500 in Iran will be needed. And it is not yet in the army. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago

You see, here is the difference--I can calculate approximate required force for that but I don't want to. It is Friday. You can get some basic intro into operational theory (and even into Salvo Equations) in my latest book. Granted, my publisher fought me tooth and nail to remove as much match as possible. But I'll give you a hint--appearance of S-500 on any theater of operations effectively closes it off effectively for any missile or aircraft operations when deployed in echeloned (multi-layer) AD. see more

[Dec 25, 2019] Escobar You Say You Want A (Russian) Revolution by Pepe Escobar

Dec 24, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Pepe Escobar via ConsortiumNews.com,

O nce in a blue moon an indispensable book comes out making a clear case for sanity in what is now a post-MAD world. That's the responsibility carried by " The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs ," by Andrei Martyanov (Clarity Press), arguably the most important book of 2019.

Martyanov is the total package -- and he comes with extra special attributes as a top-flight Russian military analyst, born in Baku in those Back in the U.S.S.R. days, living and working in the U.S., and writing and blogging in English.

Right from the start, Martyanov wastes no time destroying not only Fukuyama's and Huntington's ravings but especially Graham Allison's childish and meaningless Thucydides Trap argument -- as if the power equation between the U.S. and China in the 21stcentury could be easily interpreted in parallel to Athens and Sparta slouching towards the Peloponnesian War over 2,400 years ago. What next? Xi Jinping as the new Genghis Khan?

(By the way, the best current essay on Thucydides is in Italian, by Luciano Canfora (" Tucidide: La Menzogna, La Colpa, L'Esilio" ). No Trap. Martyanov visibly relishes defining the Trap as a "figment of the imagination" of people who "have a very vague understanding of real warfare in the 21st century." No wonder Xi explicitly said the Trap does not exist.)

Martyanov had already detailed in his splendid, previous book, "Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning," how "American lack of historic experience with continental warfare" ended up "planting the seeds of the ultimate destruction of the American military mythology of the 20thand 21stcenturies which is foundational to the American decline, due to hubris and detachment of reality." Throughout the book, he unceasingly provides solid evidence about the kind of lethality waiting for U.S. forces in a possible, future war against real armies (not the Taliban or Saddam Hussein's), air forces, air defenses and naval power.

Do the Math

One of the key takeaways is the failure of U.S. mathematical models: and readers of the book do need to digest quite a few mathematical equations. The key point is that this failure led the U.S. "on a continuous downward spiral of diminishing military capabilities against the nation [Russia] she thought she defeated in the Cold War."

In the U.S., Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) was introduced by the late Andrew Marshall, a.k.a. Yoda, the former head of Net Assessment at the Pentagon and the de facto inventor of the "pivot to Asia" concept. Yet Martyanov tells us that RMA actually started as MTR (Military-Technological Revolution), introduced by Soviet military theoreticians back in the 1970s.

One of the staples of RMA concerns nations capable of producing land-attack cruise missiles, a.k.a. TLAMs. As it stands, only the U.S., Russia, China and France can do it. And there are only two global systems providing satellite guidance to cruise missiles: the American GPS and the Russian GLONASS. Neither China's BeiDou nor the European Galileo qualify – yet – as global GPS systems.

Then there's Net-Centric Warfare (NCW). The term itself was coined by the late Admiral Arthur Cebrowski in 1998 in an article he co-wrote with John Garstka's titled, "Network-Centric Warfare – Its Origin and Future."

Deploying his mathematical equations, Martyanov soon tells us that "the era of subsonic anti-shipping missiles is over." NATO, that brain-dead organism (copyright Emmanuel Macron) now has to face the supersonic Russian P-800 Onyx and the Kalibr-class M54 in a "highly hostile Electronic Warfare environment." Every developed modern military today applies Net-Centric Warfare (NCW), developed by the Pentagon in the 1990s.

Rendering of a future combat systems network. (soldiersmediacenter/Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Martyanov mentions in his new book something that I learned on my visit to Donbass in March 2015: how NCW principles, "based on Russia's C4ISR capabilities made available by the Russian military to numerically inferior armed forces of the Donbass Republics (LDNR), were used to devastating effect both at the battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo, when attacking the cumbersome Soviet-era Ukrainian Armed Forces military."

No Escape From the Kinzhal

Martyanov provides ample information on Russia's latest missile – the hypersonic Mach-10 aero-ballistic Kinzhal, recently tested in the Arctic.

Crucially, as he explains, "no existing anti-missile defense in the U.S. Navy is capable of shooting [it] down even in the case of the detection of this missile." Kinzhal has a range of 2,000 km, which leaves its carriers, MiG-31K and TU-22M3M, "invulnerable to the only defense a U.S. Carrier Battle Group, a main pillar of U.S. naval power, can mount – carrier fighter aircraft." These fighters simply don't have the range.

The Kinzhal was one of the weapons announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin's game-changing March 1, 2018 speech at the Federal Assembly. That's the day, Martyanov stresses, when the real RMA arrived, and "changed completely the face of peer-peer warfare, competition and global power balance dramatically."

Top Pentagon officials such as General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have admitted on the record there are "no existing countermeasures" against, for instance, the hypersonic, Mach 27 glide vehicle Avangard (which renders anti-ballistic missile systems useless), telling the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee the only way out would be "a nuclear deterrent." There are also no existing counter-measures against anti-shipping missiles such as the Zircon and Kinzhal.

Any military analyst knows very well how the Kinzhal destroyed a land target the size of a Toyota Corolla in Syria after being launched 1,000 km away in adverse weather conditions. The corollary is the stuff of NATO nightmares: NATO's command and control installations in Europe are de facto indefensible.

Martyanov gets straight to the point: "The introduction of hypersonic weapons surely pours some serious cold water on the American obsession with securing the North American continent from retaliatory strikes."

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal; 2018 Moscow Victory Day Parade. (Kremilin via Wikimedia Commons)

Martyanov is thus unforgiving on U.S. policymakers who "lack the necessary tool-kit for grasping the unfolding geostrategic reality in which the real revolution in military affairs had dramatically downgraded the always inflated American military capabilities and continues to redefine U.S. geopolitical status away from its self-declared hegemony."

And it gets worse: "Such weapons ensure a guaranteed retaliation [Martyanov's italics] on the U.S. proper." Even the existing Russian nuclear deterrents – and to a lesser degree Chinese, as paraded recently -- "are capable of overcoming the existing U.S. anti-ballistic systems and destroying the United States," no matter what crude propaganda the Pentagon is peddling.

In February 2019, Moscow announced the completion of tests of a nuclear-powered engine for the Petrel cruise missile. This is a subsonic cruise missile with nuclear propulsion that can remain in air for quite a long time, covering intercontinental distances, and able to attack from the most unexpected directions. Martyanov mischievously characterizes the Petrel as "a vengeance weapon in case some among American decision-makers who may help precipitate a new world war might try to hide from the effects of what they have unleashed in the relative safety of the Southern Hemisphere."

Hybrid War Gone Berserk

A section of the book expands on China's military progress, and the fruits of the Russia-China strategic partnership, such as Beijing buying $3 billion-worth of S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missiles -- "ideally suited to deal with the exact type of strike assets the United States would use in case of a conventional conflict with China."

Beijing parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic, October 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

Because of the timing, the analysis does not even take into consideration the arsenal presented in early October at the Beijing parade celebrating the 70thanniversary of the People's Republic.

That includes, among other things, the "carrier-killer" DF-21D, designed to hit warships at sea at a range of up to 1,500 km; the intermediate range "Guam Killer" DF-26; the DF-17 hypersonic missile; and the long-range submarine-launched and ship-launched YJ-18A anti-ship cruise missiles. Not to mention the DF-41 ICBM – the backbone of China's nuclear deterrent, capable of reaching the U.S. mainland carrying multiple warheads.

Martyanov could not escape addressing the RAND Corporation, whose reason to exist is to relentlessly push for more money for the Pentagon – blaming Russia for "hybrid war" (an American invention) even as it moans about the U.S.'s incapacity of defeating Russia in each and every war game. RAND's war games pitting the U.S. and allies against Russia and China invariably ended in a "catastrophe" for the "finest fighting force in the world."

Martyanov also addresses the S-500s, capable of reaching AWACS planes and possibly even capable of intercepting hypersonic non-ballistic targets. The S-500 and its latest middle-range state of the art air-defense system S-350 Vityaz will be operational in 2020.

His key takeway: "There is no parity between Russia and the United States in such fields as air-defense, hypersonic weapons and, in general, missile development, to name just a few fields – the United States lags behind in these fields, not just in years but in generations [italics mine]."

All across the Global South, scores of nations are very much aware that the U.S. economic "order" – rather disorder – is on the brink of collapse. In contrast, a cooperative, connected, rule-based, foreign relations between sovereign nations model is being advanced in Eurasia – symbolized by the merging of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the NDB (the BRICS bank).

The key guarantors of the new model are Russia and China. And Beijing and Moscow harbor no illusion whatsoever about the toxic dynamics in Washington. My recent conversations with top analysts in Kazakhstan last month and in Moscow last week once again stressed the futility of negotiating with people described – with overlapping shades of sarcasm – as exceptionalist fanatics. Russia, China and many corners of Eurasia have figured out there are no possible, meaningful deals with a nation bent on breaking every deal.

Indispensable? No: Vulnerable

Martyanov cannot but evoke Putin's speech to the Federal Assembly in February 2019, after the unilateral Washington abandonment of the INF treaty, clearing the way for U.S. deployment of intermediate and close range missiles stationed in Europe and pointed at Russia:

"Russia will be forced to create and deploy those types of weapons against those regions from where we will face a direct threat, but also against those regions hosting the centers where decisions are taken on using those missile systems threatening us."

Translation: American Invulnerability is over – for good.

In the short term, things can always get worse. At his traditional, year-end presser in Moscow, lasting almost four and a half hours, Putin stated that Russia is more than ready to "simply renew the existing New START agreement", which is bound to expire in early 2021: "They [the U.S.] can send us the agreement tomorrow, or we can sign and send it to Washington." And yet, "so far our proposals have been left unanswered. If the New START ceases to exist, nothing in the world will hold back an arms race. I believe this is bad."

"Bad" is quite the euphemism. Martyanov prefers to stress how "most of the American elites, at least for now, still reside in a state of Orwellian cognitive dissonance" even as the real RMA "blew the myth of American conventional invincibility out of the water."

Martyanov is one of the very few analysts – always from different parts of Eurasia -- who have warned about the danger of the U.S. "accidentally stumbling" into a war against Russia, China, or both which is impossible to be won conventionally, "let alone through the nightmare of a global nuclear catastrophe."

Is that enough to instill at least a modicum of sense into those who lord over that massive cash cow, the industrial-military-security complex? Don't count on it.

* * *

Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times . His latest book is " 2030 ." Follow him on Facebook .

[Dec 24, 2019] Russia intends to protest itself from the USA/NATO first strike

Dec 24, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

CitizenOne , December 22, 2019 at 20:43

The Congress been on a MIC spending spree for anti ballistic missile defense since Reagan wanted Star Wars. Today Trump wants Space Force. One and the same. Perhaps MOSGA. Make Outer Space Great Again? So what is Russia to do? It is the oldest of military equations we have not been using at all. That equation states that an offensive or defensive weapon system will ultimately fail if there is a cheaper counter measure that neutralizes it. ABM technology is hard and expensive. Making missiles faster is cheap and also effective.

But our military has never given a crap about making sense about anything it spends trillions of dollars on. Most of these massive programs are white elephants and will never deliver the promises they make. Especially the ABM systems. Russia could have saved the fast missiles since our systems only are able to shoot down slow ones about 25% of the time under tightly controlled test parameters that are designed to provide the optimal conditions that enable a successful intercept.

I really think everyone in the military knows this is a fools errand but we just have to keep paying it forward to future budgets with bigger allocations for nonsense.

The scariest part is our Congress and President are getting stupider by the day. They really may actually feel they can rely on this "protection" and remain safe. If that really takes hold then the likelihood of a first strike grows by leaps and bounds. That is why Russia has to launch all the new scary weapons. It is because our brain dead government is not afraid of mere ten megaton thermonuclear bombs any more.

Walter , December 22, 2019 at 19:32

The statement> "One of the staples of RMA concerns nations capable of producing land-attack cruise missiles, a.k.a. TLAMs. As it stands, only the U.S., Russia, China and France can do it"

May not be true. Use searchterm "the 5000 dollar cruise missile" or "New Zealand man 'building cruise missile in garage'

Withal, anybody can build a fairly good cruise missile, with a range near 500 miles. The gizmo to make it effective is another matter. And it is a stupid thing to build. Do it and get caught – you won't need a retirement plan. It's still easy.

Drew Hunkins , December 22, 2019 at 16:38

Martyanov's "Losing Military Supremacy" was spectacular. I have it on my bookshelf with vast passages highlighted and underlined.

Cat , December 22, 2019 at 15:58

The world will eventually witness WW3 as Russia, China and U.S. (which is currently working on at least six different hypersonic programs/projects) are developing hypersonic weapons and the supremely capable USAF being already fully primed to use dial-a-yield B61 tactical nukes supposedly safe to civilians on the other two (Russia and China).

ttshasta , December 22, 2019 at 15:25

That the US outspends others does not directly connote superiority.
Was it not apx. $200M
in overcharges by Halliburton for meals not delivered and fuel overcharges in Iraq?
How many false test results and double billings are there, we may never know.
And what of the F35, it was designed by Congress to have parts sourced from 50 states guaranteeing passage. The result; so many bells and whistles it needs constant maintanence, and its anti radar coating may melt at top speed.
As well in hurricane Michael in Florida 22 of 55 F22s were not flown to safety in Ohio and endured the hurricane. Apparently the F22 also spends 49% of it's time in maintenance.
Of course we. need defense, but with accountability. Look up Catherine Austin Fitts and missing money, the Pentagon's black hole of a budget is staggering.

John Drake , December 22, 2019 at 14:21

Very interesting!!!
I look at the Pentagon budget as a warped economic stimulus plan considering how many of their exotic weapons are lemons: the F-35, the USS Gerald Ford which six years after launching is still not fully ready to deploy, etc. etc. This organization can't even complete a complete audit-or is it they don't dare.
They make sure their vendors are in all 50 states so any time a congress critter votes against a defense budget, he/she votes against jobs in that state.

jo6pac , December 22, 2019 at 11:06

Thanks PE as you are an interesting read for sure. Thanks for the link to Andrei Martyanov site.

William , December 22, 2019 at 10:27

This is capitalism at its best. Selling the world a delusional reality. What if I told you these weapons are already obsolete? The real issue being who has more highly advanced technology that's being held from public knowledge and what they're going to use it towards.

Anna , December 22, 2019 at 19:41

Genuine capitalism demands expertise, technical, scientific, et cet., as well as an adherence to the unforgiving rules of responsibility. Instead, the US "deciders" are mired in incompetence and sycophancy.
The stunning story of the Boeing 737 MAX plane tells it all, including the total lack of responsibility in the highest echelons of the "deciders."

SteveK9 , December 22, 2019 at 08:25

If China and Russia want to fight the American Empire, missiles are not going to be the way. I suppose they have to keep building up conventional forces, but the idea that there could be a long-term conventional war between the US and either Russia or China, seems fanciful nuclear weapons. America's main weapon now is the control of international finance through the dollar and the use of the dollar in sanctions, arming proxies, paying fifth columnists. Those are the avenues that Russia and China have to block, if they want to loosen America's hold on the World. Trump is helping quite a bit.

Rob , December 23, 2019 at 11:13

Nailed it. Both Russia and China have pursued advanced weaponry as a deterrent against U.S. aggression, not for the sake of fighting a conventional war. The message being sent to the U.S. and its allies is that there will be a heavy price to pay both at home and abroad for hostile military threats or actual attacks.

Skip Scott , December 22, 2019 at 08:09

For pennies on the dollar, Russia and China have military superiority over us. It is the end of Empire, but there is no getting through to our thickheaded emperors. We have no choice but to quit insisting on our "exceptionalism", and wage peace. All the money and manpower wasted on our 800+ military bases and bloated weapons programs could feed the world, educate our children, and transform our infrastructure into a new model of sustainability. Hubris and entrenched power structures must be overcome if we are to survive as a species.

It is time for the latte sippers to wake up and insist on real change or their last view of the world will be mushroom clouds out the window from their stools in Starbucks. Corporate sponsored warmonger from column B will not suffice.

Walter , December 22, 2019 at 07:17

Speaking from History Walter observed that "all war originates from Domestic interests".

Mikhail Alexandrov (expert) says> " One can break through air defenses only as a result of a massive attack operation. This can be done by concentrating aviation into massive fire support." (Pravda)

"As soon as we can see the concentration of American aircraft on airfields in Europe – they cannot reach us in any other way – we will simply destroy those airfields by launching our medium-range ballistic missiles at those targets. Afterwards, our troops will go on offensive in the Baltic direction and take control of the entire Baltic territory within 48 hours. NATO won't even have time to come to its senses – they will see a very powerful military buildup on the borders with Poland. Then they will have to think whether they should continue the war. As a result, all this will end with NATO losing the Baltic States,"

Not exactly a watered-down view, eh? See also >" According to The National Interest, a B-52 bomber of the US Air Force practiced an attack on the Kaliningrad region in March of this year ."

This is an explicit statement by Russia – fire on opposing forces prior in time – an error Stalin made was to not trust the intel. Russia, it seems, designs to avoid that mistake the next time the nazis concentrate force.

Donald Duck , December 22, 2019 at 04:51

There was an old song British soldiers used to sing in the trenches of Flanders and France during WW1.

It went something like this:

'Hush, here comes a whizzbang (German artillery)
Hush, here comes a whizzbang
Come on you solider boys
Get down those stairs
Into your dug out
And say your prayers
Hush here comes a whizzbang
And its headed straight for you
And you'l see all the wonders of no-man's land
When that whizzbang hits you.

Now with my amendments:

Hush here comes a Zircon
Hush here comes a Zircon
Come on you neo-cons
And get down those stairss
Into your fall-out shelters
And say your prayers
Hush here comes a Zircon
And its headed straight for you
And you'll see all the wonders
Of a post nuclear apoclypse
When the Zircon hits you.

A

curious , December 22, 2019 at 00:05

@Jeff
"The Culture of Defeat by Wolfgang Scheivelbusch, posits that in the future wars will be won when the opposing entity's economy is destroyed or at least seriously damaged"
China has the capability and the will to play the long game in not capitulating to the demands of the US. The current trade wars initiated and used by the US to threaten China's independently minded progress is only party due to the trade deficit between the two countries. The real reason the US is so belligerent is that China successfully developing socialist based political system which is exposing the deep failures and lack of people oriented capitalistic system. Once the US population wakes up the this fact it will spell doom for those wealthy oligarchs ruling the US who want to keep their "gravy" train rolling. They know their time is running out.

Jeff Harrison , December 22, 2019 at 21:32

Oh, I agree completely that the US is still fighting the socialism vs capitalism wars of the early 20th century. A form of socialism is the only sensible approach. But, as Nicolas Van Rijn (see Poul Anderson's Trader to the Stars) puts it: Oh, Governments they come and they go but greed goes on forever. But as for your thought that everybody will rise up and hang the oligarchs by the heels from the nearest light pole? Better hope not. We know what that looks like. It was the great communist wave before and after WWII. The reason it was so effective in Cuba is that Castro had all the oligarchs still in the country shot.

CitizenOne , December 21, 2019 at 23:55

Cruise missiles deployed by the US do not depend on GPS information to find their targets. They fly by internal guidance that cannot be blocked or jammed or interfered with in any way. There is nothing else I can say other than destroying satellites or radars or even obliterating land targets such that they are unrecognizable will have no (zero) effect on a US counter strike by nuclear cruise missiles that will be highly lethal to the Russians. The triad of US defenses is based on an unstoppable and completely independent model based on unalterable and insurmountable attack strategies. If the Russians or the Chinese try to wage a preemptive strike they will need to defeat so many invincible technologies that the task becomes impossible. The US is also playing catch up with intermediate range nukes which the Russians long ago abandoned the treaty prohibiting these weapons. Intermediate Nukes pose the greatest danger for the human race since the time from launch to impact is short. That is what this article announces as an unstoppable threat but it it is not a post MAD World we live in. We live in a current MAD world where Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is still healthy and a world where the US can still inflict extinction on any nation that chooses to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the US. Just because the Russians chose to abandon the anti nuclear treaties does not mean they have an edge. The US has followed suit and has nullified the various treaties banning intermediate nuclear armaments and has begun testing.

There can be little doubt that the nuclear armaments of the USA arrayed across multiple weapons platforms that use technology immune to interference by any known or unknown technology are prepared to launch a counter strike which will effectively annihilate the nation or nations that choose to use a first strike option no matter what the technology they employ to use for their advantage.

Hyper sonic nuclear weapons developed by various nations may be a threat but there are enough missiles left in place to defeat this threat. The US will also develop the same weapons.

If North Korea were ever to launch nuclear tipped missiles it would be obliterated. If Russia were ever to do the same it would be obliterated. If China were ever to do the same it would be obliterated.

So what is the point of the author threatening that the US will be obliterated by new technology when the defenses the US uses rely on old tech and unstoppable means to retaliate? Who cares about whether we can survive a first strike?

What matters is that we can mount a credible deterrence by a counter strike that will obliterate the enemy. That has not changed in the present power balance. The United States maintains the ability to mount a lethal blow to any nation that tries to attack it with nuclear weapons. Hyper sonic weapons and Russians loud announcements that they have the upper hand just amount to nothing. The facts are that even if the US was obliterated we would still have the means to obliterate Russia.

That will keep the balance of MAD in place and also renders the article useless and devoid of any useful information.

Nobody wants nuclear war. But if there is nuclear war then we must and will win. That is the proposition of the US government and it is also a vision that we Americans need to support.

Lawrence Magnuson , December 23, 2019 at 13:16

"But if there is nuclear war then we must and will win." I thought you, elsewhere in your panegyric, conceded Mutual Assured Destruction?

Donald Duck , December 23, 2019 at 14:01

"Nobody wants nuclear war. But if there is nuclear war then we must and will win. That is the proposition of the US government and it is also a vision that we Americans need to support."

"Nobody wants nuclear war."

Really, so who moved NATO right up to Russia's western frontiers and parked there military hardware there? Who revoked the INF treaty? Who is using Ukraine and Georgia as battering rams and forward attack bases – The same goes for Poland and Romania where the US has stationed or is stationing Intermediate Range Missiles. How would you like the Russians doing likewise in Mexico and Canada. This is the Cuban crisis in reverse.

Nobody wants nuclear war! You called have fooled me. Your neo-con lunatics seem to be gagging for one. And BTW you won't win such a war, nobody will. And that my friend is the cold logic of the age, accept for your demented neo-cons.

TimN , December 23, 2019 at 15:09

So, supporting the destruction of all life is something "we" need to support? A nuclear war can't be won, sonny, and insisting "we" to support total destruction . There's something wrong with you.

NoOneYouKnow , December 23, 2019 at 15:51

Sure, except Obama embarked on a $1.5 trillion plan to modernize the US's nuclear arsenal to make it "more usable." So if anyone is looking to start a nuclear war, it's the US.

LJ , December 23, 2019 at 18:11

@ CitizenOne

It seems to me that what this essay and the Russian advertising their new technology is to ensure that MAD is still in place, as US has been 'updating' its nuclear arms in an attempt to promote a nuclear war that is survivable.

You make the classic US mistake of assuming that North Korea, Russia, China etc are interested in and possibly planning nuclear pre-emptive strikes against the USA. In my opinion, it is much more likely to be the US that initiates nuclear war, and these weapons are developed to ensure that US policy makers realise that, as you say, "The facts are that even if the US was obliterated we would still have the means to obliterate Russia." – if Russia/China/etc are obliterated, they still have the means to obliterate the USA.

I hope you are right that o one wants nuclear war, because it is doubtful many of us in any country would survive it!

Dick , December 21, 2019 at 22:39

The problem with the US is the military, Congress, and the President, perhaps even most Americans, believe their own propaganda. Belief in one's exceptionalism leads to hubris, which leads to arrogance leading one to overestimate their capabilities and underestimating the capabilities of one's adversary; this is always fatal.

"The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself" – Jane Addams

Jeff Harrison , December 21, 2019 at 18:44

Ah, Pepe, you are always a fascinating read. The United States has been foolishly chasing diminishing returns in military hardware that have a cost that is looking asymptotic. The actual military hardware may well become, like the medieval castle, irrelevant. One of the more fascinating books I've read recently, The Culture of Defeat by Wolfgang Scheivelbusch, posits that in the future wars will be won when the opposing entity's economy is destroyed or at least seriously damaged. The cold war ended when the old SovU had their economy collapse when they tried to keep up with the US's profligate war spending capability. Actual defense has, historically and traditionally, been cheaper than offense. Both Russia and China have an advantage – they are really only interested in defense; they are no longer interested in conquering the world, unlike the US which still seeks global hegemonic status. Indeed, a relatively small investment by Russia and China is causing the US to spend huge sums of money in response.

Of late the US has been using its economic power in the form of the status of our currency and the need for countries and companies to keep assets on deposit in the US where the US can readily steal them based on illegitimate legalities. When the petro-dollar finally dies, the US will be substantially poorer. People have to borrow US $s to trade oil even if the buyer is India and the seller Iran and the US makes interest on every one of those loans. And it wasn't even our oil! I predict that this latest cold war will end when enough countries are buying and selling oil in national currencies and not the US $, when countries start to hold fewer and fewer US$s for national reserves, and when international businesses shun American products for fear that they won't be able to export them. Either that or, given our existing $23T in debt with the rest of our military spending will leave us trying to borrow more money than the world has.

Moi , December 22, 2019 at 01:46

Conventional warfare seems to depend on which nation has the greatest industrial output. On that premise the US has already lost to China.

Perhaps that's why the US is taking warfare to space. The new frontier is hi-tech and, because no one else is really doing it yet, it is asymmetrical not conventional.

Anna , December 22, 2019 at 12:39

The first shoots of global spring: "Russia, China Sign Deal To Settle All Trade In Respective Currencies And Drop Bilateral Use Of US Dollars" See: russia-briefing.com/news/russia-china-sign-deal-settle-trade-respective-currencies-drop-bilateral-use-us-dollars.html/

John Drake , December 22, 2019 at 14:05

Good analysis, however the Soviet economy never collapsed though it was weak. Gorbachev ended it trying to transition to a Scandinavian style socialism. Then he got ousted and Yeltsin allowed a hundred mostly American neo-liberal economic advisers in to supervise his selling off of state assets along with "liberalization". It was the neo-liberal reforms and predatory raiding that wiped out the Russian economy, twice, ushering in the economic and social malaise of the early '90's.
Who was behind that: Bill Clinton. He can take credit for not only wrecking the US economy with his banking deregulation, but the Russian economy as well. And his wife is even worse.

Bob Van Noy , December 23, 2019 at 10:47

(In response to John Drake) Yes, John Drake and Clinton's program is well described in F. William Engdahl's book "Manifest Destiny".

www(dot)globalresearch(dot)ca/manifest-destiny-and-orwells-doublethink-democracy-as-cognitive-dissonance/5648111

Skip Edwards , December 21, 2019 at 17:44

AMERICA
Don't look o'er here
where our Empire is falling down.

Just keep looking over there
where the fog of Trump abounds.

What to do when there's no place to run
just anti up for a few more guns.

[Dec 10, 2019] Those geriatric crazies like Pelosi, or Hillary, or completly corrupt, bought by lobbies politicos like Schumer or Schiff, and their stooges like "linguist" Ciaramella, "politruk", master of arts in Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian studies Vindman, or Soros-connected rabid neocon Fiona Hill do not know what seven minutes on launch means

They poisoned with the USA with Russophobia for decades to come, and that really increases the risk of nuclear confrontation, which would wipe out all this jerks, but also mass of innocent people.
Notable quotes:
"... The only way to prevent it, IMHO, is having a Western public shifting just 5 % of their "breads and circuses" paradigm to that issue. Just 5. Not holding my breath I am afraid. ..."
"... Which proves the main point of mine: access to information means shit in the real world of power play. Sheeple didn't care then; they care even less now (better distractions). ..."
Dec 10, 2019 | www.unz.com

peterAUS , says: December 10, 2019 at 8:07 pm GMT

O.K.

I was, actually, thinking about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pershing_II#Protests Or, just follow this trend of "who has a bigger dick" as it is.

Sooner or later you'll have this, IMHO: Reaction time 7 minutes . You know, decision-making time to say "launch" or not. The decision-maker in the White House, Downing Street and Elysees Palace either a geriatric or one of this new multiracial breed. Just think about those people

Add to that the level of overall expertise by the crews manning those systems, its maintenance etc. Add increased automation of some parts of the launch process with hardware/software as it's produced now (you know, quality control etc.).

It will take a miracle not to have that launch sooner or later. Not big, say .80 KT. What happens after that is anybody's guess. Mine, taking the second point from the fourth paragraph .a big bang.

The only way to prevent it, IMHO, is having a Western public shifting just 5 % of their "breads and circuses" paradigm to that issue. Just 5.
Not holding my breath I am afraid.

My 2 cents, anyway.

Anon [138] Disclaimer , says: December 10, 2019 at 9:30 pm GMT
@peterAUS The rational actor false supposition has it that the biologics can't be used because they don't recognize friend from foe.

Rational actors? Where? Anthrax via the US mail.

One rational actor point of view is that you have to be able to respond to anything. Anything. In a measured or escalating response. Of course biologics are being actively pursued to the hilt. Just like you point out about Marburg.

But, the view from above is that general panic in the population cannot be allowed, and so all biologics have to be down played. "of course we would never do anything like that, it would be insane to endanger all of humanity". Just like nukes. So professors pontificate misdirection, and pundits punt.

So don't expect real disclosure, or honest analysis. "We only want the fear that results in more appropriations. Not the fear that sinks programs." Don't generate new Church commissions. Hence the fine line. some fear yes, other fears, no.

peterAUS , says: December 10, 2019 at 10:23 pm GMT
@Anon

Rational actors? Where?

Well Washington D.C.
Hahahahaha sorry, couldn't resist.

So don't expect real disclosure, or honest analysis.

I don't.

But I also probably forgot more about nuclear war than most of readers here will ever know. And chemical, when you think about it; had a kit with atropine on me all the time in all exercises. We didn't practice much that "biologics" stuff, though. We knew why, then. Same reason for today. Call it a "stoic option" to own inevitable demise.

Now, there is a big difference between the age of those protests I mentioned and today. The Internet. The access to information people, then, simply didn't have.

Which proves the main point of mine: access to information means shit in the real world of power play. Sheeple didn't care then; they care even less now (better distractions).

Well, they will care, I am sure. For about ..say in the USA ..several hours, on average.

We here where I am typing from will care for "how to survive the aftermath" .. for two months.Tops.

[Dec 08, 2019] Jim Christian

Dec 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

says: December 6, 2019 at 2:48 am GMT 600 Words @Andrei Martyanov

but if you take away still viable American aerospace, automotive and pharmaceutical industries among very few others, you will find a wasteland of financial speculations and selling the snake oil

Lovely takes, Andrei. The people that need to read you see your name and immediately retort, "Agent for Putin", Washington Post-style. Gets them off the hook from thinking because after all, college deliberately taught them NOT to think. Most of the kids, they're hopeless. They're hopeless idiots, they know nothing of the Constitution, they think all is normal. And they were fleeced by the academics that dumbed them down. Meanwhile, we have in effect, been selling each other hamburgers (services) for the past 50 years. Also, they've been selling the oil and gas right out from under our feet overseas and putting THAT in their pockets even as we pay a world price for gasoline and finished product. Every other country that produces crude gets a discount. Not us. To steal a quote from a movie I watched once, they struck oil under our garden and all we get is dead tomatoes. Our society is hollowed out, depraved, the women becoming more and more hideous, all the institutions that held us together, deliberately broken. decay everywhere.

As for the military? A reflection of our society. When I went into the Navy in 1975, it was Stars and Stripes and we served in large part for Mom, Apple Pie and Chevrolet.

Today it is clear that the Stars and Stripes should be dollar signs over a defense contractor logo. The rest? From where I sit today, for most kids, Mom is a divorced slut, Apple Pie is a turd in a wax paper wrapper and Chevrolet is a bent shit can from China. This isn't a society I'd defend as a nation worth defending. The feminists sit on their fat, comfortable asses, made such on the labors of us White guys and they declare their hatred. Only a moron or a kid that needs a shot at a job or trade or gets a kick out of airplanes or such joins. Our women in general aren't worth defending on the streets or the world. Not in the Blue cities, they are hideous. Take care of your own wman and kids and community and hell with the rest. There's no draft, the society mostly hates Vets, so it isn't for country most serve. It's to grab something, from a trade, to a pilot's license. A military based on that has no staying power. And our corruptions and waste and outright theft in military procurement for shitty weapons makes us ripe for the taking. And our talent is wasted building shitty weapons and the second level builds shitty airliners. Can't fly into space? We cannot fly, literally, to anywhere in the newest build out, the Maxx. And we're depending on the Theranos of Aerospace, Spacex/Musk to get us to space? Right! Except for the nukes, we're ripe, man.

Andrei, speaking of Musk, how the Hell does he smoke big fat doobies and keep his security clearance when everyone else in Washington gets fired for getting near the stuff? Queer privilege? I'm convinced the whole thing with Musk is a shell game. You?

Thanks for your work. Very good stuff, but we can't get those who need it to even look. Our people are incapable of marching in the streets or even seeing why they should. Kudos to those who did it to us. They did a fine job. Read More Agree: Andrei Martyanov Replies: @Arioch , @Andrei Martyanov Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Jim Christian , says: December 6, 2019 at 2:55 am GMT

@Frederick V. Reed It has a dangerous set of nukes. The tripwires are and have always been easy-sinkers like our surface ships. The psychos that run our policy have subs and silos with missiles with lots of nukes.

It's a dangerous game to consider a dopey thought like that Fred. Bet your ass Russia sees plenty of military here to defend against. Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, to them it was impossible, we killed millions. There's enough military here that Israel wants and has harnessed it. In what universe do you reside Fred? Ah yes, the moon name of Tequila. Fred? Go drink something. Jesus.

[Dec 02, 2019] According to its chief designer Mikhail Petrov, the the new Russian radar is detecting and tracking F-35 jets up to 3000 km away

Dec 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

S , Dec 1 2019 21:47 utc | 10

After six years of trials, Russia's 29B6 Konteyner over-the-horizon-radar has finally become fully operational. According to its chief designer Mikhail Petrov, the radar is detecting and tracking F-35 jets up to 3000 km away . The radar, located in Mordovia (receiver) and Nizhny Novgorod Oblast (transmitter), is oriented westwards; Russia plans to build three more 29B6 Konteyners for the east, north-west, and south directions.

[Nov 28, 2019] A nuclear war between India and Pakistan -- which share a long history of conflicts -- would not only result in 50 to 125 million direct fatalities but could jeopardize the entire planet, causing sharp drops in global temperatures and precipitation that could devastate the world's food supply

Nov 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

michaelj72 , Nov 28 2019 21:31 utc | 49

I hardly ever hear any discussion or outrage about nukes and nuclear war on the site/boards that I see or visit from time to time, and yet it seems to me to be by far the most pressing existential threat to all humankind, as well as to the planet

I went searching again for one or two of the scientific studies that I'd seen within the past few years about global effects of a 'small' nuclear war, and came across a new study. Surprisingly enough, there have been but a handful of studies in the past 30-40 years!! Yes, it's true. The appetites of sharks and shark attacks on humans are more studied than nuclear war and the Fate of the Earth.

In this recent case, a mere 100 nukes exchanged between India and Pakistan would bring devastation

here's a few for everyone's info. And a new one which I just became aware of, from Fox of all places:


https://www.foxnews.com/science/nuclear-war-between-india-pakistan-unleash-global-climate-catastrophe
Nuclear war between India and Pakistan would unleash 'global climate catastrophe', scientists warn

A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would place the entire planet in jeopardy by unleashing a "climate catastrophe," according to new research published in Science Advances, a journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science...

"A nuclear war between India and Pakistan -- which share a long history of conflicts -- would not only result in 50 to 125 million direct fatalities but could jeopardize the entire planet, causing sharp drops in global temperatures and precipitation that could devastate the world's food supply," writes AAAS...

..."They find that if Pakistan attacks urban targets in 2025 with 150-kiloton nuclear weapons and if India responds with 100-kiloton nuclear weapons, smoke from burning cities would release 16 to 36 teragrams of black carbon into the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight and cooling the global surface by 2 to 5°C (3.6 to 9°F).".....global average precipitation would drop by 15 percent to 30 percent. Additionally, the rate at which plants store energy as biomass would decline by 15 percent to 30 percent on land and by 5 percent to 15 percent in oceans, a scenario that would threaten mass starvation.

"Russia and the United States still possess by far the most nuclear warheads, at 6,850 and 6,550, respectively.....


Duncan Idaho , Nov 28 2019 21:39 utc | 50

If the birthrate is trending down, it is not a crisis for capitalism, but for the economy.
Actually, Earth added 83 million people to the planet last year.
We are in massive overshoot, in a collapsing ecosystem.
Not a problem, a predicament.
michaelj72 , Nov 28 2019 21:43 utc | 51
some of the science about nuclear war is presented here at this link, from a 2008 study.

Computer models are much more advanced now, and it would appear that environmental consequences of even a small nuclear war would be more severe than previously thought


http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/ToonRobockTurcoPhysicsToday.pdf


Environmental consequences of nuclear war - Owen B. Toon, Alan Robock, and Richard P. Turco

A regional war involving 100 Hiroshima-sized weapons would pose a worldwide threat due to ozone destruction and climate change. A superpower confrontation with a few thousand weapons would be catastrophic

More than 25 years ago, three independent research groups made valuable contributions to elaborating the consequences of nuclear warfare.1 Paul Crutzen and John Birks proposed that massive fires and smoke emissions in the lower atmosphere after a global nuclear exchange would create severe short-term environmental aftereffects. Extending their work,two of us (Toon and Turco) and colleagues discovered "nuclear winter," which posited that worldwide climatic cooling from stratospheric smoke would cause agricultural collapse that threatened the majority of the human population with starvation.

.....Neither the US Department of Homeland Security nor any other governmental agency in the world currently has an unclassified program to evaluate the impact of nuclear conflict.Neither the US National Academy of Sciences, nor any other scientific body in the world, has conducted a study of the issue IN THE PART 20 YEARS (my emphasis)...

[Nov 01, 2019] RAY McGOVERN Thanks to a Soviet Navy Captain -- We Survived 1962 – Consortiumnews

Nov 01, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Consortiumnews Volume 25, Number 304–Friday, November 1, 2019

Column , Cuba , Foreign Policy , Russia , U.S. , Until This Day--Historical Perspectives on the News RAY McGOVERN: Thanks to a Soviet Navy Captain -- We Survived 1962 October 28, 2019 • 26 Comments

Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov spared humanity from extinction on what has been called "the most dangerous moment in human history."

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

O ct. 27, 1962, is the date on which we humans were spared extinction thanks to Soviet Navy submarine Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov.

Arkhipov insisted on following the book on using nuclear weapons. He overruled his colleagues on Soviet submarine B-59, who were readying a 10-kiloton nuclear torpedo to fire at the USS Randolph task force near Cuba without the required authorization from Moscow.

Soviet naval officer Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov. (Wikimedia Commons)

Communications links with naval headquarters were down, and Arkhipov's colleagues were convinced WWIII had already begun. After hours of battering by depth charges from U.S. warships, the captain of B-59, Valentin Grigorievich Savitsky, screamed, "We're going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all -- we will not disgrace our Navy!" But Captain Arkipov's permission was also required. He countermanded Savitsky and B-59 came to the surface.

Much of this account of what happened on submarine B-59 is drawn from Daniel Ellsberg's masterful book, "The Doomsday Machine" -- one of the most gripping and important books I have ever read. Dan explains, inter alia, on pages 216-217 the curious circumstance whereby the approval of Arkhipov, chief of staff of the submarine brigade at the time, was also required.

Ellsberg adds that had Arkhipov been stationed on one of the other submarines (for example, B-4, which was never located by the Americans), there is every reason to believe that the carrier USS Randolph and several, perhaps all, of its accompanying destroyers would have been destroyed by a nuclear explosion.

Equally chilling, says Dan:

"The source of this explosion would have been mysterious to other commanders in the Navy and officials on the ExComm, since no submarines known to be in the region were believed to carry nuclear warheads. The clear implication on the cause of the nuclear destruction of this antisubmarine hunter-killer group would have been a medium-range missile from Cuba whose launch had not been detected. That is the event that President Kennedy had announced on October 22 would lead to a full-scale nuclear attack on the Soviet Union."

'The Most Dangerous Moment in Human History'

Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a close adviser to President John F. Kennedy, later described Oct. 27, 1962, as Black Saturday, calling it "the most dangerous moment in human history." On that same day, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended an all-out invasion of Cuba to destroy the newly emplaced Soviet missile bases there. Kennedy, who insisted that former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Llewelyn Thompson attend the meetings of the crisis planning group, rejected the advice of the military and, with the help of his brother Robert, Ambassador Thompson, and other sane minds, was able to work out a compromise with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

As for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president had already concluded that the top military were unhinged Russophobes, and that they deserved the kind of sobriquet used by Under Secretary of State George Ball applied to them -- a "sewer of deceit." As Ellsberg writes (in his Prologue, p. 3): "The total death toll as calculated by the Joint Chiefs, from a U.S. first strike aimed at the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact satellites, and China, would be roughly six hundred million dead. A hundred Holocausts." And yet the fools pressed on, as in trying to cross "The Big Muddy."

Intelligence Not So Good

The pre-Cuban-missile crisis performance of the intelligence community, including Pentagon intelligence, turned out to hugely inept. The U.S. military, for example, was blissfully unaware that the Soviet submarines loitering in the Caribbean were equipped with nuclear-armed torpedoes. Nor did U.S. intelligence know that the Russians had already mounted nuclear warheads on some of the missiles installed in Cuba and aimed at the U.S. (The U.S. assumption on Oct. 27 was that the warheads had not been mounted.)

It was not until 40 years later, at a Cuban crisis "anniversary" conference in Havana, that former U.S. officials like Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy learned that some of their key assumptions were dead and dangerously wrong. (Ellsberg p. 215ff)

Today the Establishment media has inculcated into American brains that it is a calumny to criticize the "intelligence community." This is despite the relatively recent example of the concocting of outright fraudulent "intelligence" to "justify" the attack on Iraq in 2003, followed even more recently, sans evidence, falsely accusing Putin himself of ordering Russian intelligence to "hack" the computers of the Democratic National Committee. True, the U.S. intelligence performance on Russia and Cuba in 1962 came close to getting us all killed in 1962, but back then in my view it was more a case of ineptitude and arrogance than outright dishonesty.

As for Cuba, one of the most consequential CIA failures was the formal Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) of Sept. 19, 1962, which advised President Kennedy that Russia would not risk trying to put nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba. To a large extent this judgment was a consequence of one of the cardinal sins of intelligence analysis -- "mirror imaging." That is, we had warned the Russians strongly against putting missiles in Cuba; they knew the U.S., in those years would not take that kind of risk; ergo, they would take us at our word and avoid blowing up the world over Cuba. Or so the esteemed NIE estimators thought.

The Russians, too, were mirror imaging. Khrushchev and his advisers regarded U.S. nuclear war planners as rational actors acutely aware of the risks of escalation, who would shy away from ending life immediately for hundreds of millions of human beings. Their intelligence was not very good on the degree of Russophobia infecting Air Force General Curtis LeMay and others on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were prepared to countenance hundreds of millions of deaths in order "to end the Soviet threat." (Ellsberg was there; he provides a first-hand account of the craziness in "The Doomsday Machine.")

Where Did the Grenade Launchers Go?

I reported for active duty at Infantry Officers School at Fort Benning, Georgia, on Nov. 3, 1962, six days after the incident. Most of us new lieutenants had heard about a new weapon, the grenade launcher, and were eager to try it out. There were none to be found. Lots of other weapons normally used for training were also missing.

After we made numerous inquiries, the brass admitted that virtually all the grenade launchers and much of the other missing arms and vehicles had been swept up and carried south by a division coming through Georgia a week or so before. All of it was still down in the Key West area, we were told. Tangible signs as to how ready the JCS and Army brass were to attack Cuba, were President Kennedy to have acceded to their wishes.

Had that happened, it is likely that neither you nor I would be reading this. Yet, down at Benning, there were moans and groans complaining that we let the Commies off too easy.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer from 1962-64 and later served as Chief of CIA's Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and morning briefer of the President's Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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Tags: Cuban Missile Crisis denuclearization nuclear arms race Ray McGovern

Post navigation ← WikiLeaks Coverage: Another Good Reason to Support Consortium News PATRICK LAWRENCE: A Sudden-Seeming Power Shift in the Middle East → 26 comments for "RAY McGOVERN: Thanks to a Soviet Navy Captain -- We Survived 1962"

Walter , October 31, 2019 at 10:18

Ray (and others) may also wish to know the name of the man on Okinawa who stopped the MACE B launches, at gunpoint, which took place at the same time.

"If he tries to launch, shoot him."

See Japan Times : japantimes.co.jp/life/2012/07/08/general/okinawas-first-nuclear-missile-men-break-silence/

The MACE B targets were Chinese, no Ruski

What I want to know is WHO gave the order to fire that they got on Okinawa

Walter , October 31, 2019 at 10:38

stripes.com/news/special-reports/features/cold-war-missileers-refute-okinawa-near-launch-1.385439

has the story

"airmen were holding an Air Force nuclear missile crew at gunpoint deep in a top-secret bunker on Okinawa.

The crew had just been ordered to launch the island's missiles at targets in the Soviet Union and Asia, just as the Cuban Missile Crisis was reaching a harrowing climax in October 1962. But an Air Force launch officer was opposing the order.

The officer sent "two men over there with .45's and [they were] told to shoot anybody who tried to launch until the situation was resolved so those two men kept that whole crew at bay while we made a decision of what to do," said John Bordne, a nuclear missile mechanic for the Okinawa-based 873rd Tactical Missile Squadron who was on duty Oct. 28, 1962."

Coleen Rowley , October 30, 2019 at 21:44

Arkhipov was not the only Russian to save the world from nuclear Armageddon.

See this article: vox.com/2018/9/26/17905796/nuclear-war-1983-stanislav-petrov-soviet-union?fbclid=IwAR3XZREPaiekG2ncpUOUGkzppOqs9102z4pityZtIjvi19tWsHD4CLf3h4s

for a few other cases of Russians who kept their cool during mistaken perceptions when the protocol would have been to launch nuclear war.

Ray McGovern , October 30, 2019 at 16:59

A huge thank you for the many informative comments. Ray

Herman , October 30, 2019 at 15:58

Remembering the time and remembering it was like watching children playing chicken. Remember to0 the country was ingrained with the belief that mankind could be destroyed. Movies like On the Beach and Dr. Strangelove(that may not have been the title) made America conscious of the real threat of extinction out there and equally serious that there might be a Doctor Strangelove near the trigger. So as I and others watched and read we were torn between fear and the sense that it was unreal. The former Lieutenant Ray McGovern reminds us it was. And yes, a Russian of all things saved our behinds. Back to game seven of the World Series.

Lone Wolf , October 30, 2019 at 09:55

Mr. Ray McGovern, your article is a ray of light, no pun intended, shining brightly on the heart of darkness we live in. A MAD rule keeps the clock ticking two minutes to midnight, and there is no hope in sight of moving it backwards. All for what? Greed and possessiveness. What is the winner going to inherit after a nuclear war? A nuclear winter? How can they market that? Summer in Venus? Retirement on the moon? Tanning rooms galore? Just FYI, survivors might not have a skin to tan. The empire is reaching sunset, and it is threatening to take humanity with it into a long nuclear night mare. We can't let them.

Lone Wolf

PS: A new abnormal: It is still two minutes to midnight – See: thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/current-time/

David Evans , October 30, 2019 at 07:49

A Tribute to Vasily Arkhipov (Who Saved the World in October of 1962)
(b. 30 January 1926 d. 19 August 1998)
Vice Admiral, Russian Navy
By Dave Evans

Today, as I sense the earth awakening
Under an umbrella of dueling pear trees,
I inhale the sweet esters of spring
Assuaging all my mortal fears.

So much beauty in a simple flower
Cast away those jaded eyes!
To see the art of a higher power
In the tears the racing clouds cry.

The universe has for many eons labored
To produce a blushing plum,
As the mountains were skillfully chiseled
With the rays of the rising sun.

Ours is a blue green gem hanging in the sky
Home to so many great aspirations,
Of generations gone by and by
Rising above our pitiful lamentations.

And what of our tumultuous history
Frozen in amber teardrop,
We are the offspring of a great mystery
Whose outcome we know not.

The world goes round and round
On this the eve of destruction,
As we are oblivion bound
Unknown actors in a tragic production.

Once before in history we were on the brink
Verily, verily, verily!
We have but one man to thank
Vasily, Vasily, Vasily!
Thank you for preserving Sophia's dream
Beyond the Warmongers' guile,
As the angry Generals screamed
With a blood-lust most vile.

Vasily, you have saved all mankind
We owe you a great debt of gratitude,
As we part the mists of time
And pay homage to your infinitude.

Bless the wake of your fair heart
That gave us our world back,
With the rays of a brand new start
Stopping the final attack!

I wish I could thank you to your face
Vasily my dear friend,
For saving the human race
And to our noble destiny defend!

To say the proper words to thank you
They are indeed hard to find,
As we were trapped in annihilation's queue
You saved all mankind!

elmerfudzie , October 29, 2019 at 22:49

Ray, thank you for rewriting the old propaganda story that claimed humanity was saved by JFK s diplomatic negotiations and unique skills during the Cuban missile crisis. Here's a cut n paste reprint of a few comments I made a few years ago, regarding the heroism of one, Vice Admiral Vasili Arkhipov and it is paraphrased here. I wish to pause, take a moment to extend the warmest thanks to Soviet Naval officer, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov and his extended family. He, who single handed-ly prevented WW III during the crisis by refusing to launch a nuclear tipped torpedo into one of our U.S. battle cruisers.

Vice Admiral Arkhipov, if you can hear us from the grave, we award you the real "Nobel Peace Prize" not a piece of paper, not a figurine, not a check for one million dollars but a peace prize from our hearts, from those of us who truly understand, what is meant by military leadership and just how lonely, unrewarding, that place of authority and decision was for you! The world will NEVER be so lucky again!

Coleen Rowley , October 30, 2019 at 21:31

A FB friend filled me in on the following "rest of the story" re Arkhipov who was also on the the Soviet submarine K-19:

(From Wikipedia) "In July 1961, Arkhipov was appointed deputy commander and therefore executive officer of the new Hotel-class ballistic missile submarine K-19.[3] After a few days of conducting exercises off the south-east coast of Greenland, the submarine developed an extreme leak in its reactor coolant system. This leak led to failure of the cooling system. Radio communications were also affected, and the crew was unable to make contact with Moscow. With no backup systems, Commander Zateyev ordered the seven members of the engineer crew to come up with a solution to avoid nuclear meltdown. This required the men to work in high radiation levels for extended periods. They eventually came up with a secondary coolant system and were able to keep the reactor from a meltdown. Although they were able to save themselves from a nuclear meltdown, the entire crew, including Arkhipov, were irradiated. All members of the engineer crew and their divisional officer died within a month due to the high levels of radiation they were exposed to. Over the course of two years, fifteen more sailors died from the after-effects."

Tony , October 31, 2019 at 09:44

Yes, but Kennedy was also a big factor.

He was able to resist pressure to invade Cuba and so the Luna tactical nuclear missiles in Cuba were not used. We owe both Kennedy and Arkhipov a great deal.

Hans Janetzke , October 29, 2019 at 21:43

now wth the dumbest is president of the usa
remember the usa is only on of 35 independent countries
i worry more than i did in from 1950 to 1963
but i realise it is hard to open any pressure cooker under full pressure
also the now totally useless un is degraded to an puppy of the usa
all the hope we had with the un is not lost i hope they wake and rise up

Stan W. , October 29, 2019 at 15:33

I remember those days well as I was on a temporary assignment in Washington, D.C. Nerve-wracking period in history!

Tony , October 29, 2019 at 12:09

It is truly frightening to think of what would have happened if Lyndon Johnson had been president at the time.
He bombed Hanoi at around the time that Soviet premier Kosygin was there!

We need to eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us. That is the very clear message coming from Ellsberg's book.

Incidentally, the Bay of Pigs was deliberately set up by the CIA to fail. It was in order to force JFK to invade Cuba.

John Drake , October 29, 2019 at 18:55

Good point, it is even more frightening to contemplate if Richard Nixon had defeated Kennedy and was President then.
Let us not forget that Kennedy refused to follow up war in Laos and Cambodia and had ordered the withdrawal of 1000 US troops(stymied by the Pentagon) from Vietnam; a precursor to complete withdrawal.
LBJ immediately reversed the order after JFK's death and then sent in combat troops after an election in which he promised "I'll not send Amurican(sic) boys to do what Asian boys ought to do for themselves".

jerry olek , October 29, 2019 at 10:53

I remember working on National Estimates in the late 1970s when the Pentagon was still pushing the idea that we could fight and win a nuclear war with the Soviets. Then CIA director, Stansfield Turner strongly disagreed with the analysis and successfully convinced people in power not to entertain such an idea. I believe military and civilian leaders, especially after Chernobyl, have come to realize that nuclear war would be catastrophic for all participants. But, I am concerned that President Trump does not fully understand the consequences of using nuclear weapons He supposedly asked in a Pentagon briefing why we had nuclear weapons if we don't use them.

M Le Docteur Ralph , October 29, 2019 at 08:40

Words mean everything.
We always call it the Cuban missile crisis, not the Turkish missile crisis and that betrays our prejudice.
Meaning that it was perfectly okay for the U.S. Air Force to handover nuclear capable Jupiter missiles that could reach Moscow to the Italian and Turkish air force to be installed at Bari and Izmir, but when Khrushchev reacted and installed Soviet missiles in Cuba this created the crisis.
The real origins of this crisis lie in the fact that the real enemy of the U.S. Army was never the Red Army it was always the U.S. Navy and the US Air Force. The U.S. Army developed the Jupiter missile so that it would possess its own nuclear deterrent but then lost control of it to the U.S. Air Force.
The U.S. Air Force and its preferred contractors were not missile friendly at the time as they wanted to build as many bombers as possible and had invented the "bomber gap" to enable this. So given the U.S. Army's Jupiter program was an anathema to the U.S. Air Force as they represented a potential threat to the bomber budget, the missiles were parked on Italian and Turkish air force bases with the local air force being responsible for the missiles (to ensure there would be problems with the Army developed missiles) and the U.S. Air Force controlling the nuclear warheads.
A brilliant plan, sure to win victory in the war of inter-service rivalry but which failed to take into account the fact that what the Soviet leadership saw were missiles that could reach Moscow being placed into the hands of the Italians who had participated in Operation Barbarossa and their traditional enemies the Turks with whom Russia had fought an endless series of wars and who had so recently facilitated the Nazi invasion of the USSR by allowing access through the Dardanelles.
In April 1959, the Secretary of the Air Force issued instructions to deploy two Jupiter squadrons to Italy to be operated by Italian Air Force crews with USAF personnel controlling the arming of the nuclear warheads. In October 1959, a government-to-government agreement was signed with Turkey and resulted in a third Jupiter squadron being deployed in and around ?zmir, Turkey. In October 1962 a first flight of three Jupiter missiles was handed over to control of the Turkish Air Force again with USAF personnel supposedly controlling the arming of the nuclear warheads.
How are the Soviets to know that the USAF personnel were really in control and an Italian or Turkish equivalent of General Ripper did not have access to the keys? You cannot overfly with a U2 to find that out.
Real equivalence in the so-called Cuban missile crisis would be if the Soviet Union had installed medium-range missiles that could hit Los Angeles, Chicago and New York at a base in Sinaloa Mexico, then handed over the keys to the missiles to the Mexicans while insisting that everything was hunky-dory because a Soviet officer with known drug problems had the keys to the nuclear warhead.

Todd Pierce , October 29, 2019 at 08:24

Great article Ray! And absolutely necessary for the American people, meaning all of us in this hemisphere, to know how close millions of us came to being incinerated by the criminality of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and their allies in government who saw the Cuban Crisis as an "opportunity" to launch our own "preemptive" nuclear attack on the USSR, and the JCS willingness to accept a reciprocal attack in retaliation which would predictably kill at least 20 million people in this hemisphere, as a "fair exchange" for the hundreds of millions of human beings the US nuclear attack would incinerate in the USSR. That's how "Mad" the US military was then, and is today, if one reads current doctrine. William R. Polk was there in the White House as McGeorge Bundy's advisor, and has written of this and told me details in a lengthy oral history. He tells of how angry at Kennedy the JCS were, so much that he feared a military coup, as did Kennedy, as explained in this video:
`JFK wanted movie "Seven Days in May" made' [youtube.com/watch?v=fRiZtqVPJ9U]

But Americans have this placid confidence, similar to the "What, me worry" attitude of the Holstein cows I once dealt with in my youth, even as we would be preparing them for a ride to the stockyards, that the threat or possibility of nuclear war/accident is a thing of the past, even while we, the US, under three administrations now, has been hard at work to increase the possibility of some sort of nuclear conflagration in our lifetimes.

Noah Way , October 28, 2019 at 20:09

The Soviets also had atomic artillery which could have been used to repel a US invasion, which would also have started WW3. The bullet was dodged twice – first by JFK NOT invading, then by Arkhipov by not allowing the launch of a nuclear torpedo.

As Ray has said, now there are no adults in the room.

SteveK9 , October 28, 2019 at 17:46

Our military is no less crazy today. Subtext of Putin's March 1, 2018 address on new strategic nuclear weapons 'nuclear war is unthinkable, so kindly stop thinking about it'.

geeyp , October 28, 2019 at 16:27

Those moans and groans weren't just happening in Georgia, Ray.

robert e williamson jr , October 28, 2019 at 16:02

Hats off again to Mr. McGovern for calling balls and strikes with uncanny precision .

I'm sure of that moaning and groaning at Ft. Benning seeing as how those folks had no clue to what had really happened and would have moaned and groaned even had they known. After all Ray it was OCS.

Ray I'm recommending that everyone listen to the interview of Edward Snowden by Joe Rogan. In fact get a hold of Bill Binney, Tom Drake, J. Kurt Wiebe and Ed Loomis and let them know about it. Some fascinating stuff for me and it could be a major eye opener for those naive individuals who believe cell phones in their current configuration are great tools. I'm betting 90% of those who would watch this would want that, "I own my data not ( the cell phone company name goes here), "button" Snowden talked about.

I'm I wrong here or can everyone who agrees that the "Orange Apocalypse" could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and be above prosecution be tried on conspiring to give the " fake potus" dictatorial powers and removed from office?

Thanks again Ray for your great work

Tennegon , October 29, 2019 at 17:50

As for Mr. Snowden, I happened to watch the video, 'Citizenfour', last night on Roku. If you're not aware of it, it's certainly worth trying to view: citizenfourfilm.com

incontinent reader , October 28, 2019 at 14:34

Ray- Great article. I hope those in the Administration and Congress read it- and read Ellsberg's book.

Drew Hunkins , October 28, 2019 at 14:05

Now the lines of communication between the Kremlin and Washington are all but severed. Any current or future U.S. president who merely wants to sit down for two minutes and discuss Russian hockey with Lavrov will be immediately branded a Putin puppet or Moscow stooge. If we experience a Cuban missile crisis type scenario today we could all be pulverized into dust thanks to Maddow, Clapper, Brennan, Podesta, NPR, Fred Hiatt and the other establishment Russophobes in our midst.

This madness must stop.

Hank , October 28, 2019 at 19:07

I feel that the unspoken consensus among high CIA officials and warmongering US military brass was that the Bay of Pigs was a win-win for them, regardless of how it played out. The CIA had to know Castro's immense popularity among the Cuban population, so long impoverished by American corporations under Batista. To think that a man like Castro would have to face a "Cuban uprising" when a beachhead was secured by a small contingent of about 1300 anti-Castro mercenaries(trained by the CIA) is laughable when looking back. JFK was between a rock and a hard place and he NEVER promised any air support should this small brigade come under attack by Castro small Cuban air force of a few planes! He even had to deal with a lying Adlai Stevenson at the UN, who stated that the USA was NOT involved in the Bay of Pigs attack. That ammunition ship off shore that blew up could easily have been a CIA op expediting what it really wanted- a crushing and embarrassing defeat for the new President(who wasn't supposed to be President in the first place- sound familiar?) JFK quickly accepted responsibility for this defeat but was now intent on paying back those in the CIA who had set him up. Much of what we think we know about wars is just the "smoke" that comes out of the fire, while the fire generally gets swept under the rug of "history". Kennedy stood up to the Deep State in the early 60's much like Trump advertised his intention to during his campaign, but it was certainly easier to convince a gullible public that "Oswald did it" in 1963 than it would be to set someone up for Trump's assassination nowadays! Hence, we have the CONSTANT media/Deep State CHARACTER assassination of Trump 24/7.

countykerry , October 28, 2019 at 19:58

I completely agree with you DH . Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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[Oct 25, 2019] Slavic Studies Becomes a Mandatory Course for All Americans The National Interest

Oct 25, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

Sean.McGivens 2 days ago ,

Russia and Ukraine are topics on all Americans' minds only because the Obama Administration made the collossal mistake of trying to turn Ukraine into a de facto American base. Under Obama, the US sponsored a coup which put Ukraine under the control of anti-Russian nationalists. The ultimate goal for the US and the Ukrainian nationalists was to turn Ukraine into a NATO member.

Clearly, the Obama Administration attacked Russia on a geopolitical and geostrategic level. Unsurprisingly, Russia fought back ferociously, just as the Russian have always done when their existential needs and vital national security interests are threatened.

Consequently, the Ukrainian nationalists have been defeated in war and at the polls in Ukraine. America must now make its exit from Ukraine in as graceful and organized a way as possible. Nobody wants to see US helicopters fleeing the rooftops of Kiev.

Trump has the right idea about pulling America out of Ukraine. The US should never have been in that country in the first place. Ukraine is part of Russia's zone of influence. Nothing will ever change that.

mal 3 days ago ,

"when an experimental nuclear-powered cruise missile exploded during testing along the shores of the White Sea."

Except it wasn't. A damaged nuclear reactor with highly enriched uranium for fuel would still be glowing to this day. Also, while tragic, seven people dead is less than a pipeline explosion, if that's the worst that can happen, it's pretty safe technology.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

Russia reported radioisotopes for power source (radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs), which makes more sense. RTGs are used for long term power needs (such as batteries on Voyager spacecraft that are still going strong). That makes them ideal for robotic sleeper drones (Poseidon/Status 6 types) that will go undetected to the ocean floor and then get activated in the event of nuclear war.

""The American television channel CNBC recently reported that the test of the Petrel missile near Arkhangelsk was the fifth in a row, and all five were unsuccessful. Is this an acceptable number of failures for a new project?""

Yes. That's how you learn - by building and testing. Also, I strongly doubt Russian military invites CNBC to every classified weapons test. Five tests may have been unsuccessful, but there could have been more tests that CNBC doesn't know about.

"but this record illustrates an "emergency situation" and indeed a "failed development process.""

It doesn't. Nuclear powered propulsion is a difficult subject and very few countries can do it successfully. Especially at small size.

"So, "this missile is only necessary in the circumstance that we and America depart from all arms agreements and beat each other with missiles until we are blue"

United States is indeed leaving all arms agreements and is preparing for nuclear war.

"The best explanation Gorbachevsky can find for this weapon is "domestic consumption.""

If that's the case, then Gorbachevsky is not well informed.

slawunt 4 days ago ,

The reason that Russia will continue to invest in nuclear weapons and their modernization regardless of the cost is that it is still cheaper than the alternative.

Having a western Army murder and slaughter its way to your capital as it did in 1941 is the one thing you definitely avoid if you have a viable nuclear deterrance.

For Russia it is the ultimate insurance policy and the threat of a preemptive nuclear strike is the one effective guarantee against any western power once again launching another invasion against Russia.And is relatively cheap at the price!

J Urie slawunt 3 days ago ,

They have sufficient numbers of existing nuclear weapons to protect themselves from some imaginary western Army. Where they need to worry is in their far east that is where the real threat will come from. Spending additional monies on nuclear weapons is overkill and the money is better spent diversifying the economy.

Sean.McGivens J Urie 2 days ago • edited ,

You overlook that the real issue isn't war or nuclear war, but the stationing of US military assets all along Russia's borders. If that happens, America will have established coercive influence over Russia. That's because Russia will have to spend untold billions countering the fleets of American F-35's that are parked only minutes away from the RF's cities and defensive bastions. That's the kind of stress that the US is trying to impose on Russia. That's why Russia wants the US and NATO out of the former Soviet Union, and for good reason.

Your remark about Russia's far east comes across as Sinophobia, BTW.

J Urie Sean.McGivens 2 days ago ,

Russian Federation: 146 million, China: 1.4 billion a 10 to 1 advantage in population in a country with little to no natural resources and little usable open space. Lebensraum has been used many times in the past as a reason to start a war.

As I pointed in another post the irony is that NATO was pretty timid up until 2008 and Putin's first little go at a mini war in Georgia then invade and annex Crimea followed by fostering war in Donbas. Of course NATO responded to those Russian aggressions and low and behold we now have Putin pouting about NATO an the US surrounding Russia.

You have missiles in Kaliningrad aimed at Europe same in Sevastopol. The basic problem is that no one trusts Russia and no one really likes Russia. Putin started this and now he will need to change his tack if he wants the "stress" to start to be relieved. NATO is a defensive organization and they are deploying in a defensive manner in other NATO countries.

mal J Urie 3 days ago ,

Nuclear propulsion research is by definition diversifying the economy. It is far more high tech than "like" button on Facebook or whatever passes for "high tech" in Silicon Valley.

J Urie mal 3 days ago • edited ,

Considering the Soviet Union was working on this in the 1970's it really doesn't count as "diversification" in the traditional economic sense. Why not work with the US, UK, Canada, France on nuclear fusion? That would truly take man kind a lot further than nuclear powered cruise missiles.

Sean.McGivens J Urie 2 days ago ,

NATO will have to stop expanding into the former USSR before Russia can realistically be expected to work the US, UK, Canada, and France on nuclear fusion.

Western aggression against Russia must stop. That's step number one towards solving the West vs East problem.

mal J Urie 3 days ago ,

Russia is a part of the ITER project, so it does work with the West in fusion research. As far as Burevestnik goes, i view it in the same venue as NASA Kilopower type small reactors (or Soviet TOPAZ line). If it is light enough to power a cruise missile, it is light enough to provide power to spacecraft. This will be very economically important in the near future.

J Urie mal 3 days ago ,

Fair enough regarding the joint study on Fusion. However the nuclear powered cruise missile is for domestic consumption and to incite the western MSM. It makes little sense to pile more nuclear weapons on top of the existing ones. As the article mentions there are a lot nuclear reactors that need maintenance in Russia old Soviet era designs that pose a safety risk.

Sean.McGivens J Urie 2 days ago ,

As long as the US is setting up bases in the Baltics and ramping up mililtary aid to Ukraine, and as long as the West is trying to turn Ukraine into a NATO member, then Russia has no option except to fight back. That means Russia must develop new missiles and even more destructive WMD's.

American and the Ukrainian nationalists have suffered a humiliating defeat in Donbass. It looks like peace will be made there on Russian terms, and that the US and its allies will pull out of Ukraine. Upon completion of that retreat, the relationship between Russia and the West can be reassessed. But not until then.

J Urie Sean.McGivens 2 days ago ,

It is rather ironic that there were no NATO forces in the Baltic states until Putin invaded and annexed Crimea and tried the same in Donbas. Naturally the countries such as the Baltic states who have experienced Russian/Soviet occupation tend too get nervous when Putin decides to play war in the neighborhood.
As far as Ukraine the amount of military aid provided by the US, Canada, Poland is relatively small with regard to major arms systems. The only major arms system is Javelin which is a defensive weapon.
You obviously have little or no knowledge of nuclear weapons and MAD. Russia has plenty of nuclear warheads in fact the most of any nation on planet Earth.
There are no NATO forces anywhere near the line of contact in Donbas. Any peace accord/deal has nothing to do with the US or NATO it is between Ukraine and Russia with the pawns being the poor saps called separatists.

Sean.McGivens J Urie 2 days ago ,

The only major arms system is Javelin which is a defensive weapon.

Javelins can be used to support offensive operations. They can serve to neutralize the enemy's ability to use tanks on the defensive, or to squelch the enemy's counteroffensive.

It's a very thin line that differentiates offense from defense.

J Urie Sean.McGivens 2 days ago ,

True but all weapons have a certain amount of offensive capability. Javelin is designed for infantrymen to take out advancing armor. Artillery and tanks are offensive.

Sean.McGivens J Urie 2 days ago ,

Artillery and tanks are also used for counter-offensives, so the defender can repulse the aggressor.

There are hawks in the West who are hoping that Ukraine launches one more major military offensive against Donbass. In that case, the Ukrainians will attack with superior numbers of tanks and troops. If the Ukrainians capture ground (which is unlikely), they will use their Javelins to try to prevent the Russians and rebels from using tanks to recapture that ground.

That's the real significance of the Javelin missile. That's why American warmongers are sending this weapon to Kiev.

J Urie Sean.McGivens 2 days ago ,

What Hawks in the West? We are sending the Javelins to help Ukraine keep Russia on their side of the border.

Sean.McGivens J Urie 2 days ago ,

It is rather ironic that there were no NATO forces in the Baltic states until Putin invaded and annexed Crimea...

You are in denial of the facts again. The reality is that the Baltics joined NATO in 2004. That means, since that year, the US could put any weapons systems it so desires in the Baltics, and there's nothing Russia can do about it short of war.

If that's not a threatening situation for Russia, then I don't know what is.

J Urie Sean.McGivens 2 days ago ,

There was nothing in the Baltic's until after Putin's venture into Crimea and Ukraine proper. He miscalculated as to the push back regarding both operations and now you are complaining. Those nations are tiny and have almost no defensive capability hence the deployment of US, UK, Canadian and the NATO troops.

mal J Urie 3 days ago ,

Well, nuclear weapons get obsolete like anything else. ICBMs travel in predictable trajectories and silos are vulnerable to first strikes. Hence the need for technology evolution.

And sure, old Soviet reactors are getting up there in age. Rosatom is replacing them with modern VVER-1200 designs, not just in Russia, but all over the world. Rosatom is like the largest and most productive nuclear corporation in the world. in general though, i would argue that fears of nuclear power are vastly overblown, and it is one of the safest, most reliable forms of power available.

J Urie mal 3 days ago ,

I'm not anti nuclear power however like everything mechanical it has a safe life time. Weapons of course need modernizing and that can be done without designing an entirely new weapons system.
MAD is still relevant today as it was during the Cold War. Ultimately I would like to see a reduction in the number of war heads that the US, Russia have as China, France, UK, India, Pakistan and Israel have far fewer.

Vladdy 4 days ago • edited ,

I think, US people have enough of their own internal problems. Isn't it better to concentrate on them? Slavics will deal with their problems themselves. US already piled fantastic bunch of sh@t in Ukraine. As well as in the Middle East.

Emidio Borg 4 days ago ,

Current trends of immigration and birthrates in the west mean that by 2070 Russia will be the last homogeneous all white conservative christian democracy left on earth.

Mephisto Emidio Borg 4 days ago ,

what rubbish. Russia, even today, has 25 milion muslims, and is dying out even faster than Europe

Sean.McGivens Mephisto 2 days ago ,

Russia has 9,400,000 Moslems citizens as of the latest census.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... .

It's possible that there are actually 11,400,000 Moslems in Russia, but nobody knows for certain. Either way, it's rubbish to claim that there are "25 million Moslems" in the RF.

Volodimir 4 days ago ,

as famous Russian classics once meticulously observed - Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys' house [Всё смешалось в доме Облонских]

Same is this article - first they "scare" you with this "Vergeltungswaffe" of the Soviet designed ca 1970, and, consequently, abandoned around same time for multiple reasons.

Then they praise the wisdom of not helping Ukraine with real weapons - because Russia was not able achieve much in the current status quo, so it was wise not to arm Ukraine.

The only thing one can learn from this article (or, more accurately, despite) is that to get a degree in Slavic Studies, ability to use colloquial phrases in Russian only will not cut it. Even superficially, one should drop Polish or Czech, or, god forbid, Ukrainian words of wisdom - [Кохайтеся, чорнобриві,. Та не з москалями]

Begemot Volodimir 4 days ago ,

God forbid.

[Oct 15, 2019] Everything -- even astrophysics -- is subordinated to Mao's warped ideology.

Notable quotes:
"... Hitler's Third Reich was obliterated by massive military force in 1945. It lasted just 12 years. Stalin's Soviet Union bore the brunt of beating Hitler, but later succumbed to economic sclerosis. It fell apart in 1991, after 68 years. The mystery of the People's Republic of China is that it is still with us. ..."
Oct 15, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs , October 13, 2019 at 06:28 AM

(It's Niall.)

China's three-body problem
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/10/07/china-three-body-problem/p5xK2i5zBWdkkor0JRyjwM/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Niall Ferguson - October 7

The 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China was not a birthday I felt like celebrating. As Dutch historian Frank Dikötter has shown in his searing three-volume history of the Mao Zedong era, the Communist regime claimed the lives of tens of millions of people: 2 million in the revolution between 1949 and 1951, another 3 million by the end of the 1950s, up to 45 million in the man-made famine known as the "Great Leap Forward," and yet more in the mayhem of the Cultural Revolution, Mao's campaign against the intelligentsia, which escalated into a civil war.

Hitler's Third Reich was obliterated by massive military force in 1945. It lasted just 12 years. Stalin's Soviet Union bore the brunt of beating Hitler, but later succumbed to economic sclerosis. It fell apart in 1991, after 68 years. The mystery of the People's Republic of China is that it is still with us.

Now, I could give you a rather boring explanation of why I think China's bid to "catch up and surpass" (ganchao) the United States will fail. But maybe a more interesting answer can be found in Liu Cixin's astonishing 2008 novel, "The Three-Body Problem," which I read for the first time last week.

The problem of the title is introduced to the reader -- and to the nanotechnology scientist Wang Miao, one of the central characters -- as a virtual reality game, set in a strange, distant world with three suns rather than the familiar one. The mutually perturbing gravitational attractions of the three suns prevent this planet from ever settling into a predictable orbit with regular days, nights, and seasons. It has occasional "stable eras," during which civilization can advance, but with minimal warning, these give way to "chaotic eras" of intense heat or cold that render the planet uninhabitable The central conceit of Liu's novel is that China's history has the same pattern as the three-body problem: periods of stability always end with periods of chaos -- what the Chinese call dong luan. The other key character in the book is Ye Wenjie, who sees her father, a professor at Tsinghua University, beaten to death by a gang of teenage Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.

Banished from Beijing to a labor camp in benighted rural backwater, Ye is rescued when she is given a lowly job in a mysterious observatory known as Red Coast. But nothing can undo the emotional damage of witnessing her father's murder. Nor can she escape the chaos of Communism. She watches in horror as the entire area around the observatory is deforested. Everything -- even astrophysics -- is subordinated to Mao's warped ideology.

Disillusioned completely by the madness of mankind -- a sentiment reinforced by a chance meeting with an American environmentalist -- Ye stumbles on a way of beaming a message from Earth deep into space by bouncing it off the sun. When, after years of empty noise, a clear message is received in reply, she does not hesitate. Even though the message is a warning not to communicate with Trisolaris -- the name of a real planet with three suns -- Ye sends another message, ensuring that the Trisolarians can locate Earth, and initiate their long-planned relocation.

Rehabilitated in the political thaw that follows Mao's death, Ye Wenjie returns to Beijing, following in her father's footsteps as a physics professor. But she leads a double life, for she also becomes the Commander of the Earth-Trisolaris Movement, a radically misanthropic organization dedicated to helping the Trisolarians conquer earth. Acute readers will notice that this group's ideology is a subtle parody of Maoism.

"Start a global rebellion!" they shout. "Long live the spirit of Trisolaris! We shall persevere like the stubborn grass that resprouts after every wildfire! ... Eliminate human tyranny!"

Little do they know that the Trisolarians are even worse than humans. As one of the aliens points out to their leader, because of their world's utter unpredictability, "Everything is devoted to survival. To permit the survival of the civilization as a whole, there is almost no respect for the individual. Someone who can no longer work is put to death. Trisolarian society exists under a state of extreme authoritarianism." Life for the individual consists of "monotony and desiccation." That sounds a lot like Mao's China.

There is one scene in "The Three-Body Problem" that sticks in the mind. An adult and a child stand looking at the grave of a Red Guard killed during the factional battles that raged during the Cultural Revolution. "Are they heroes?" asks the child. The adult says no. "Are they enemies?" The adult again says no. "Then who are they?" The adult replies: "History."

True, the hero of the story is the foul-mouthed, chain-smoking Beijing cop Shi Qiang. Chinese readers doubtless relish the scene when he lectures a pompous American general about how best to save the world.

But the deeper meaning of the book is surely that Trisolaris is China. The three bodies in contention are not suns but classes: rulers, intellectuals, masses. Right now, China is in one of its stable phases. But, as the contending forces shift, chaos will sooner or later return. Perhaps it already has, in Hong Kong.

If it spreads, I -- and history -- will win that bet.

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , October 13, 2019 at 06:41 AM
The Three-Body Problem is a hard science fiction novel by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin. It is the first novel of the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, but Chinese readers generally refer to the whole series by the title of this first novel. The second and third novels in the trilogy are titled The Dark Forest and Death's End. The title of the first novel refers to the three-body problem in orbital mechanics. ...

The English translation by Ken Liu was published by Tor Books in 2014. It was the first Asian novel ever to win a Hugo Award for Best Novel, in 2015 and was nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel.

(An amazing trilogy. Inspired by Arthur Clarke (*). Looks like Niall has read the first book.)

* 'The Songs of Distant Earth' is a 1986 science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, based upon his 1958 short story of the same title. He stated that it was his favourite of all his novels. ... The novel tells of a utopian human colony in the far future that is visited by travellers from a doomed Earth, as the Sun has gone nova. The Songs of Distant Earth explores apocalyptic, atheistic, and utopian ideas, as well as the effects of long-term interstellar travel and extra-terrestrial life. (Wikipedia)

('Songs' is optimistic; 'Remembrance of
Earth's Past is not.)

[Oct 08, 2019] Did China Just Announce the End of U.S. Primacy in the Pacific

Oct 08, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

For China, the three principle points of potential military friction with the U.S. are Taiwan, South Korea-Japan, and the South China Sea. Apart from South Korea and Japan, where the U.S. has significant ground and air forces already forward deployed, the main threat to China is maritime power projected by American aircraft carrier battlegroups and amphibious assault ships. The Chinese response was to develop a range of anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities designed to target American naval forces before they arrived in any potential contested waters.

Military Readiness Sidelined For Ships the Navy Doesn't Want Face It, The Mighty U.S. Aircraft Carrier is Finished

Traditionally, the U.S. Navy has relied on a combination of surface warships armed with sophisticated air defense systems, submarines, and the aircraft carrier's considerable contingent of combat aircraft to defend against hostile threats in time of war. China's response came in the form of the DF-21D medium-range missile , dubbed the "carrier killer." With a range of between 1,450 and 1,550 kilometers, the DF-21D employs a maneuverable warhead that can deliver a conventional high-explosive warhead with a circular error of probability (CEP) of 10 meters -- more than enough to strike a carrier-sized target.

To compliment the DF-21D, China has also deployed the DF-26 intermediate-range missile , which it has dubbed the "Guam killer," named after the American territory home to major U.S. military installations. Like the DF-21, the DF-26 has a conventionally armed variant, which is intended to be used against ships. Both missiles were featured in the 2015 military parade commemorating the founding of the PRC.

The U.S. responded to the DF-21/DF-26 threat by upgrading its anti-missile destroyers and cruisers , and forward deploying the advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) surface-to-air missile system to Guam . A second THAAD system was also deployed to South Korea . From America's perspective, these upgrades offset the Chinese advances in ballistic missile technology, restoring the maritime power projection capability that has served as the backbone of the U.S. military posture in the Pacific.

As capable as they were, however, the DF-21D and DF-26 were not the shashoujian weapons envisioned by Chinese military planners, representing as they did reciprocal capability, as opposed to a game-changing technology. The unveiling of the true shashoujian was reserved for last week's parade, and it came in the form of the DF-100 and DF-17 missiles.

The DF-100 is a vehicle-mounted supersonic cruise missile "characterized by a long range, high precision and quick responsiveness," according to the Chinese press . When combined with the DF-21/DF-26 threat, the DF-100 is intended to overwhelm any existing U.S. missile defense capability, turning the Navy into a virtual sitting duck. As impressive as the DF-100 is, however, it was overshadowed by the DF-17 , a long-range cruise missile equipped with a hypersonic glide warhead, which maneuvers at over seven times the speed of sound -- faster than any of the missiles the U.S. possesses to intercept it. Nothing in the current U.S. arsenal can defeat the DF-17 -- not the upgraded anti-missile ships, THAAD, or even the Ground Based Interceptors (GBI) currently based in Alaska.

In short, in the event of a naval clash between China and the U.S., the likelihood of America's fleet being sent to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean is very high.

The potential loss of the Pacific Fleet cannot be taken lightly: it could serve as a trigger for the release of nuclear weapons in response. The threat of an American nuclear attack has always been the ace in the hole for the U.S. regarding China, given that nation's weak strategic nuclear capability.

Since the 1980s, China has possessed a small number of obsolete liquid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles as their strategic deterrent. These missiles have a slow response time and could easily be destroyed by any concerted pre-emptive attack. China sought to upgrade its ICBM force in the late 1990s with a new road-mobile solid fuel missile, the DF-31 . Over the course of the next two decades, China has upgraded the DF-31, improving its accuracy and mobility while increasing the number of warheads it carries from one to three. But even with the improved DF-31, China remained at a distinct disadvantage with the U.S. when it came to overall strategic nuclear capability.

While the likelihood that a few DF-31 missiles could be launched and their warheads reach their targets in the U.S., the DF-31 was not a "nation killing" system. In short, any strategic nuclear exchange between China and the U.S. would end with America intact and China annihilated. As such, any escalation of military force by China that could have potentially ended in an all-out nuclear war was suicidal, in effect nullifying any advantage China had gained by deploying the DF-100 and DF-17 missiles.

Enter the DF-41 , China's ultimate shashoujian weapon. A three-stage, road-mobile ICBM equipped with between six and 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads, the DF-41 provides China with a nuclear deterrent capable of surviving an American nuclear first strike and delivering a nation-killing blow to the United States in retaliation. The DF-41 is a strategic game changer, allowing China to embrace the mutual assured destruction (MAD) nuclear deterrence posture previously the sole purview of the United States and Russia.

In doing so, China has gained the strategic advantage over the U.S. when it comes to competing power projection in the Pacific. Possessing a virtually unstoppable A2/AD capability, Beijing is well positioned to push back aggressively against U.S. maritime power projection in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits .

Most who watched the Chinese military parade on October 1 saw what looked to be some interesting missiles. For the informed observer, however, they were witnessing the end of an era. Previously, the United States could count on its strategic nuclear deterrence to serve as a restraint against any decisive Chinese reaction to aggressive American military maneuvers in the Pacific. Thanks to the DF-41, this capability no longer exists. Now the U.S. will be compelled to calculate how much risk it is willing to take when it comes to enforcing its sacrosanct "freedom of navigation."

While the U.S. commitment to Taiwan's independence remains steadfast, its willingness to go to war with China over the South China Sea may not be as firm. The bottom line is that China, with a defense budget of some $250 billion, has successfully combined "Western technology with Eastern wisdom," for which the U.S. has no response.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of several books, most recently, Deal of the Century: How Iran Blocked the West's Road to War (2018).

[Sep 08, 2019] Pray for peace, and no mistakes! Neocon warmonger Nicholas Kristof speculates in NYT How a War With China Could Begin

Sep 08, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 07, 2019 at 12:06 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/opinion/china-taiwan-war.html

September 4, 2019

This Is How a War With China Could Begin
First, the lights in Taiwan go out.
By Nicholas Kristof

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- If the United States gets embroiled in a war with China, it may begin with the lights going out here in Taipei.

Tensions are rising across the Taiwan Strait, and there's a growing concern among some security experts that Chinese President Xi Jinping might act recklessly toward Taiwan in the next few years, drawing the United States into a conflict....

[ Nuttier and nuttier but there we are, and as Les Gelb explained, the foreign policy community at such times have become incapable of independent thought. ]

anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 12:06 PM
https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1167904600604590081

May 12, 2009

Mission Unaccomplished: Meet the press -- and see why it failed at several crucial points during the Iraq War
By Leslie H. Gelb with Jeanne-Paloma Zelmati - Council on Foreign Relations

My initial support for the war was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility. We "experts" have a lot to fix about ourselves, even as we "perfect" the media. We must redouble our commitment to independent thought, and embrace, rather than cast aside, opinions and facts that blow the common -- often wrong -- wisdom apart. Our democracy requires nothing less.

anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 12:17 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/opinion/china-taiwan-war.html

September 4, 2019

This Is How a War With China Could Begin
First, the lights in Taiwan go out.
By Nicholas Kristof

[ Though this essay is nutty, the implications are really frightening to me. We have reached a point where New York Times columnists are imagining the bombing of China. This, to my imagination, was precisely what was imagined during the height of the supposedly won Cold War. ]

ilsm -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 06:55 PM
Sad!

The atomic scientists should move their clock half the distance to mid night.

A side benefit of the US finding an excuse to terminate Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987 is to ring China with INF banned weapon systems!

The new, made up, cold war has two major fronts, Europe and the Pac Rim, whereas the Soviet based [my] cold war only had Russia ringed from Germany Belgium UK and Spain.....

Pray for peace, and no mistakes!

[Sep 03, 2019] Wallerstein on China

Notable quotes:
"... Can China then depend on widening internal demand to maintain its global edge? There are two reasons why not. The present authorities worry that a widening middle stratum could jeopardize their political control and seek to limit it.[a] ..."
"... The second reason, more important, is that much of the internal demand is the result of reckless borrowing by regional banks, which are facing an inability to sustain their investments. If they collapse, even partially, this could end the entire economic edge[b] of China. ..."
Sep 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

From Wallerstein's site, " What About China? " (2017):

A structural crisis is chaotic. This means that instead of the normal standard set of combinations or alliances that were previously used to maintain the stability of the system, they constantly shift these alliances in search of short-term gains. This only makes the situation worse. We notice here a paradox – the certainty of the end of the existing system and the intrinsic uncertainty of what will eventually replace it and create thereby a new system (or new systems) to stabilize realities .

Now, let us look at China's role in what is going on. In terms of the present system, China seems to be gaining much advantage. To argue that this means the continuing functioning of capitalism as a system is basically to (re)assert the invalid point that systems are eternal and that China is replacing the United States in the same way as the United States replaced Great Britain as the hegemonic power. Were this true, in another 20-30 years China (or perhaps northeast Asia) would be able to set its rules for the capitalist world-system.

But is this really happening? First of all, China's economic edge, while still greater than that of the North, has been declining significantly. And this decline may well amplify soon, as political resistance to China's attempts to control neighboring countries and entice (that is, buy) the support of faraway countries grows, which seems to be occurring.

Can China then depend on widening internal demand to maintain its global edge? There are two reasons why not. The present authorities worry that a widening middle stratum could jeopardize their political control and seek to limit it.[a]

The second reason, more important, is that much of the internal demand is the result of reckless borrowing by regional banks, which are facing an inability to sustain their investments. If they collapse, even partially, this could end the entire economic edge[b] of China.

In addition, there have been, and will continue to be, wild swings in geopolitical alliances. In a sense, the key zones are not in the North, but in areas such as Russia, India, Iran, Turkey, and southeastern Europe, all of them pursuing their own roles by a game of swiftly and repeatedly changing sides. The bottom line is that, though China plays a very big role in the short run, it is not as big a role as China would wish and that some in the rest of the world-system fear. It is not possible for China to stop the disintegration of the capitalist system. It can only try to secure its place in a future world-system.

As far as Wallerstein's bottom line: The proof is in the pudding. That said, there seems to be a tendency to regard Xi as all-powerful. IMNSHO, that's by no means the case, not only because of China's middle class, but because of whatever China's equivalent of deplorables is. The "wild swings in geopolitical alliances" might play a role, too; oil, Africa's minerals.

NOTES [a] I haven't seen this point made elsewhere. [b] Crisis, certainly. "Ending the entire economic edge"? I'm not so sure.

[Aug 28, 2019] Putin is now explicity making the point that Russia will have to consider these BMD facilities as a direct threat to Russia and will respond symmetrically

Aug 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Perimetr , Aug 26 2019 20:38 utc | 134

The US launched a land based Tomahawk nuclear-capable intermediate range cruise missile less than 3 weeks after the US withdrew from the INF Treaty. Clearly, the missile was under development for some time prior to the test; the sea-based variant launched by naval vessels armed with the Aegis systems can carry a W80 variable yield warhead (5-150 kilotons).

The land-based Tomahawk was also launched by the multipurpose Mark 41 launch system, which is deployed at the Aegis Ashore facility in Romania and soon-to-be-opened Aegis Ashore facility in Poland. This clearly demonstrates the the Ballistic Missile "Defense" systems deployed in Romania and Poland by the US/NATO can also be used to launch offensive nuclear weapons. Because the missiles are deployed in closed cannisters, it is impossible for observers to verify if the cannisters contain interceptor missiles or cruise missiles.

Putin specifically warned about this possibility in 2016.

Several days ago, Putin told his security council that the BMD deployments are/were "a direct and material breach of the INF Treaty." The Russians believe the US was planning all along to use the BMD facilities to target Russia with both offensive and defensive weapons (defensive in the sense that US/NATO BMD can be used as a mop-up system to take out remaining Russian nuclear forces after a US first strike). US Neocons may believe that this will give them leverage in any confrontation with Russia. I think they are wrong, I think it will simply tempt the Russians to take out these facilities early on in the event of any direct military conflict with the US/NATO.

Putin is now explicity making the point that Russia will have to consider these BMD facilities as a direct threat to Russia and will respond symmetrically, with at "tit-for-tat" response. This may also include Russian missiles in Cuba and Venezuela.

[Aug 24, 2019] "U.S. Signals the Beginning of a New Arms Race" SF

Notable quotes:
"... The 'hyper-aggressive nuts' don't even have new or original ideas. Even the hyper-aggressiveness isn't exactly new but simply an expression of megalomania. ..."
"... That aside, that land based Tomahawks are an idea from the height of the cold war, iirc in response to the russian SS-20 (which, thanks to the INF, is gone now). ..."
"... In light of that, and the recent US tests, Russian concerns that US land based missile defense in Romania and Poland with Mk.41 & Mk.57 type vertical launchers (or the old trucks) could use to fire US GLCM is exactly rather rational. ..."
"... US cruisers and destroyers with VLS can use the same launcher systems to launch an ESSM, SM-2/3, VL ASROCK or a Tomahawk. Why just from there? ..."
"... It's GLCM again, just vertically launched this time, and with by now more accurate GPS. ..."
"... The problem for the anti-china and neocon nuts IMO is hat China legally allowed has plenty medium range missiles and was not in the INF treaty. Thus the INF treaty was an obstacle for 'hyper-aggressive nuts' when going after China with medium range missiles of which China has plenty. ..."
"... As the by now severely demented Rudy Giuliani put is so clearly (if there is a political interest) the ' reality is now not truth '. ..."
"... Likely Boltonists see any treaty as an unacceptable limitation of the freedom to handle at whits, as an ' indispensable nation ', or to rule by arbitrary tweets or other solo acts like presidential decrees as far as Trump is concerned. ..."
"... The 'hyper-aggressive nuts' are focused but are geographically disoriented. To hit China they kicked Russia. ..."
Aug 24, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"The Associated Press ran a brief article asserting that:

"The U.S. military has conducted a flight test of a type of missile banned for more than 30 years by a treaty that both the United States and Russia abandoned this month, the Pentagon said.

The Trump administration has said it remains interested in useful arms control but questions Moscow's willingness to adhere to its treaty commitments."

This was stated within the first paragraph. The author failed to mention that it was the United States that unilaterally abandoned the treaty. Russia only abandoned the treaty after the U.S. did, despite numerous Russian efforts to keep the treaty alive. Russia only abandoned the INF treaty when it became the only party to it, and treaties are quite pointless when they do not actually have more than one party as a signatory. Russia had in fact adhered to the restrictions imposed by the treaty, vague and unproven Pentagon leveled accusations aside.

Let's be honest, both Russia and the United States have had the technology and the guided missile systems in service to field the intermediate range land-based missiles prohibited by the INF treaty. Both field such systems on their naval warships. The only thing that kept them from fielding such weapons was the INF treaty itself. Now that formal framework of prohibition is gone.

Now that we can acknowledge the fact that the INF Treaty no longer exists because the United States unilaterally abandoned it, let's take a look at the missile that the U.S. military tested." SF

---------------

OK, pilgrims, first we bailed out of the JCPOA, an agreement that was accomplishing what it was intended to do in impeding Iranian progress toward their supposed goal of a deliverable nuclear weapon. Our claim, resoundingly approved by Israel, is that the JCPOA nuclear deal did not restrict Iran to a role as a "hermit kingdom" producer of pistachio nuts and carpets. This policy of the US is ridiculously servile to the Zionist interest.

Now, WE (the US) have walked away from the INF Treaty, an agreement that had been in place since the dark days of the Cold War. Its purpose was to prevent the deployment of land based intermediate range nuclear tipped missiles and it served that purpose well.

But, pilgrims, in the era of the triumph of the Trumpian neocon view of the world, we must prepare for war. WAR! Any advantage that can be pursued against possible enemies must be pursued. Pompeo, Bolton and the other hyper-aggressive nuts want total world dominance. Sooo, we canceled the INF and now have tested a land based version of the navy's Tomahawk which has a range of over 300 miles.

For shame! Shame! We are unmasked as liars. pl

confusedponderer , 24 August 2019 at 07:29 AM

Mr. Lang,

as for " a land based version of the navy's Tomahawk " ...

The 'hyper-aggressive nuts' don't even have new or original ideas. Even the hyper-aggressiveness isn't exactly new but simply an expression of megalomania.

That aside, that land based Tomahawks are an idea from the height of the cold war, iirc in response to the russian SS-20 (which, thanks to the INF, is gone now).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BGM-109G_Ground_Launched_Cruise_Missile

To re-vive that dead old program can use developed technology and is thus rather cheap, as far as the volume of US military budget goes.

In light of that, and the recent US tests, Russian concerns that US land based missile defense in Romania and Poland with Mk.41 & Mk.57 type vertical launchers (or the old trucks) could use to fire US GLCM is exactly rather rational.

US cruisers and destroyers with VLS can use the same launcher systems to launch an ESSM, SM-2/3, VL ASROCK or a Tomahawk. Why just from there?

It's GLCM again, just vertically launched this time, and with by now more accurate GPS.

IMO the only reason why the 'hyper-aggressive nuts' killed the INF was not that Russia had good missiles (which they had also before INF) or missiles violating the INF.

The problem for the anti-china and neocon nuts IMO is hat China legally allowed has plenty medium range missiles and was not in the INF treaty. Thus the INF treaty was an obstacle for 'hyper-aggressive nuts' when going after China with medium range missiles of which China has plenty.

Now, thanks to not being in INF the US can have their own.

That the US could perhaps lie here to get that is sadly rather plausible, considering the BS story about Iraqi WMD used as an excuse to attack the country.

As the by now severely demented Rudy Giuliani put is so clearly (if there is a political interest) the ' reality is now not truth '.

Indeed! And Trump is a 'stable genius' (and not the opposite) and earned the millions he had at 8 years by extremely successfully distributing newspapers.

The US, being in the INF, were not allowed to have the desired medium range missiles, thus ... they perhaps arbitrily accused Russia of violating the INF to have an excuse to kill the treaty and, now legally, get for themselves the medium range missiles they wanted.

Absurdly they did about exactly what they accused Russia of - violate the INF practically (and not just in spirit). Alas ...

Likely Boltonists see any treaty as an unacceptable limitation of the freedom to handle at whits, as an ' indispensable nation ', or to rule by arbitrary tweets or other solo acts like presidential decrees as far as Trump is concerned.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/23/trump-hereby-order-response-president-mocked-decree

The 'hyper-aggressive nuts' are focused but are geographically disoriented. To hit China they kicked Russia.

Who knows, maybe in a year the US will have an orange Whitehouse and a president for life with a crown - or - from folks still living in the cold war - a revived Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a US Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) and perhaps Pershing III?

[Aug 24, 2019] Putin says US missile test raises new threats to Russia

Aug 24, 2019 | apnews.com

... ... ...

Speaking after talks Wednesday with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Putin argued that the quick test indicated the U.S. had begun work on the missile long before declaring its intention to withdraw from the pact.

"The Americans have tested this missile too quickly after having withdrawn from the treaty," Putin said. "That gives us strong reason to believe that they had started work to adapt the sea-launched missile long before they began looking for excuses to opt out of the treaty."

... ... ...

He said that for Russia that means "the emergence of new threats, to which we will react accordingly."

[Aug 04, 2019] US Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China

Aug 04, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , August 03, 2019 at 03:43 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/world/asia/inf-missile-treaty.html

August 1, 2019

U.S. Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China
Trump administration officials say that the treaty tied their hands on China and that Russia was not complying with it, but its demise raised fears of a new arms race.
By David E. Sanger and Edward Wong

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Friday terminated a major treaty of the Cold War, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, and it is already planning to start testing a new class of missiles later this summer.

But the new missiles are unlikely to be deployed to counter the treaty's other nuclear power, Russia, which the United States has said for years was in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be intended to counter China, which has amassed an imposing missile arsenal and is now seen as a much more formidable long-term strategic rival than Russia....

anne -> anne... , August 03, 2019 at 03:45 PM
Breaking the Intermediate Nuclear Forces is United States madness, complete madness.
Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to anne... , August 03, 2019 at 05:56 PM
After the INF Treaty: US Plans First Tests
of New Short and Intermediate-Range Missiles
http://thediplomat.com/2019/03/after-the-inf-treaty-us-plans-first-tests-of-new-short-and-intermediate-range-missiles/

March 14, 2019 - Following U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty later this year, the U.S. Department of Defense will begin testing new systems that would previously have been prohibited.

According to comments by U.S. officials to the Associated Press, the United States will begin testing two weapons -- both armed solely with a conventional payload. The tests are expected to take place at or after August.

One project was described by the Associated Press, which spoke to Pentagon officials, as a "low-flying cruise missile with a potential range of about 1,000 kilometers." The second missile would be a "a ballistic missile with a range of roughly 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers." ...

[Aug 03, 2019] ENOUGH AND NOT TOO MUCH By Patrick Armstrong - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Aug 03, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

ENOUGH AND NOT TOO MUCH By Patrick Armstrong

Russianbear

(First published at Strategic Culture Foundation, I put it here to see what the Committee thinks about it )

Moscow will not engage in an exhausting arms race, and the country's military spending will gradually decrease as Russia does not seek a role as the "world gendarme," President Vladimir Putin said. Moscow is not seeking to get involved in a "pointless" new arms race, and will stick to "smart decisions" to strengthen its defensive capabilities, Putin said on Friday during an annual extended meeting of the Defense Ministry board. "Intelligence, brains, discipline and organization" must be the cornerstones of the country's military doctrine, the Russian leader said. The last thing that Russia needs is an arms race that would "drain" its economy, and Moscow sure does not want that "in any scenario," Putin pointed out.

RT, 22 December 2017

It's easy to forget it today, but the USSR was, in its time, an "exceptionalist" country. It was the world's first socialist country – the " bright future "; it set an example for all to follow, it was destined by History. It had a mission and was required by History to assist any country that called itself "socialist". The USSR had bases and interests all over the world. As the 1977 USSR Constitution said :

the Soviet state, a new type of state, the basic instrument for defending the gains of the revolution and for building socialism and communism. Humanity thereby began the epoch-making turn from capitalist to socialism.

A novus ordo seclorum indeed.

Russia, however, is just Russia. There is no feeling in Moscow that Russia must take the lead any place but Russia itself. One of the reasons, indeed, why Putin is always talking about the primacy of the UN, the independence of nation states, the impermissibility to interfere in internal activities – the so-called " Westphalian " position – is that he remembers the exceptionalist past and knows that it led to a dead end . Moscow has no interest in going abroad in search of internationalist causes.

Internationalism/exceptionalism and nationalism: the two have completely different approaches to constructing a military. The first is obsessed with " power projection ", " full spectrum superiority ", it imagines that its hypertrophied interests are challenged all over the planet. Its wants are expensive, indeterminate, unbounded. The other is only concerned with dealing with enemies in its neighbourhood. Its wants are affordable, exact, finite. The exceptionalist/interventionist has everything to defend everywhere; the nationalist has one thing to defend in one place. It is much easier and much cheaper to be a nationalist: the exceptionalist/interventionist USA spends much more than anyone else but always needs more ; nationalist Russia can cut its expenditure .

The USSR's desire to match or exceed the USA in all military areas was a contributing factor to the collapse of its alliance system and the USSR itself. Estimates are always a matter for debate, especially in a command economy that hid its numbers (even when they were calculable), but a common estimate is a minimum of 15% of the USSR's production went to the military. But the true effort was probably higher. The USSR was involved all over the world shoring up socialism's "bright future" and that cost it at home.

Putin & Co's "bright future" is for Russia only and the world may do as it wants about any example or counterexample it may imagine there. While Putin may occasionally indulge himself by offering opinions about liberalism and oped writers gas on about the Putin/Trump populism threat , Putin & Co are just trying to do what they think best for Russia with, as their trust ratings suggest (in contrast with those of the rulers of the "liberal" West), the support and agreement of most Russians.

The military stance of the former exceptionalist country is all gone. As the USSR has faded away, so have its overseas bases and commitments: the Warsaw Pact is gone together with the forward deployment of Soviet armies; there are no advisors in Vietnam or Mozambique; Moscow awaits with bemusement the day next January when the surviving exceptionalist power and its minions will have been in Afghanistan twice as long as the USSR was. The United States, still exceptionalist, still imagining it is spreading freedom and democracy, preventing war and creating stability , has bases everywhere and thinks that it must protect "freedom of navigation" to and from China in the South China Sea. It has yet to learn the futility of seeing oneself as The World's Example.

Putin & Co have learned: Russia has no World-Historical purpose and its military is just for Russia. They understand what this means for Russia's Armed Forces:

Moscow doesn't have to match the US military; it just has to checkmate it.

And it doesn't have to checkmate it everywhere, only at home. The US Air Force can rampage anywhere but not in Russia's airspace; the US Navy can go anywhere but not in Russia's waters. It's a much simpler job and it costs much less than what Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev were attempting; it's much easier to achieve; it's easier to plan and carry out. The exceptionalist/interventionist has to plan for Everything; the nationalist for One Thing.

Study the enemy, learn what he takes for granted and block it. And the two must haves of American conventional military power as it affects Russia are 1) air superiority and 2) assured, reliable communications; counter those and it's checkmated: Russia doesn't have to equal or surpass the US military across the board, just counter its must haves .

Russia's comprehensive and interlocking air defence weaponry is well known and well respected: it covers the spectrum from defences against ballistic missiles to small RPVs, from complex missile/radar sets to MANPADS; all of it coordinated, interlocking with many redundancies. We hear US generals complaining about air defence bubbles and studies referring to Russia's " anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) exclusion zones ". Russian air defence has not been put to the full-scale test but we have two good indications of its effectiveness. The first was the coordinated RPV attack on Russian bases in Syria last year in which seven were shot down and six taken over , three of them landed intact . Then, in the FUKUS attack of April 2018, the Russians say the Syrian AD system (most of which is old but has benefited from Russian coordination) shot down a large number of the cruise missiles. ( FUKUS' claims are not believable ).

The other area, about which even less is known are Russian electronic warfare capabilities: " eye-watering " says a US general; " Right now in Syria we are operating in the most aggressive EW environment on the planet from our adversaries. They are testing us everyday, knocking our communications down, disabling our EC-130s, etcetera ." Of course, what the Americans know is only what Russia wants them to know. There is speculation about an ability to spoof GPS signals . AEGIS-equipped warships seem to have trouble locating themselves ( HNoMS Helge Ingstad ) or avoiding being run into ( USS Lake Champlain , USS John McCain , USS Fitzgerald ). Bad seamanship may, of course, be the cause and that's what the US investigations claim . So more rumour than fact but a lot of rumour.

In the past two or three decades US air power has operated with impunity; it has assumed that all GPS-based systems (and there are many) will operate as planned and that communications will be free and clear. Not against Russia. With those certainties removed, the American war fighting doctrine will be left scrabbling.

But AD and EW are not the only Russian counters. When President Bush pulled the USA out of the ABM Treaty in 2001 , Putin warned that Russia would have to respond. Mutual Assured Destruction may sound crazy but there's a stability to it: neither side, under any circumstance, can get away with a first strike; therefore neither will try it. Last year we met the response : a new ICBM, a hypersonic re-entry vehicle, a nuclear-powered cruise missile with enormous flight time and a similar underwater cruise missile. No defence will stop them and so MAD returns. A hypersonic anti-shipping missile will keep the US Navy out of Russian waters. And, to deal with the US Army's risible ground forces in Europe , with or without NATO's other feeble forces , Russia has re-created the First Guards Tank Army . Checkmate again.

No free pass for US air power, strained and uncertain communications, a defeated ground attack and no defence against Russian nuclear weapons. That's all and that's enough.

And that is how Moscow does it while spending much less money than Washington. It studies Washington's strengths and counters them: "smart decisions". Washington is starting to realise Russia's military power but it is blinded and can only see its reflection in the mirror: the so-called " rising threat from Russia " would be no threat to a Washington that stayed at home.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

- Sun Tzu


ted richard , 02 August 2019 at 04:19 PM

he is of course correct in his over all views. russian missile and EW technology is already, today, at least a generation ahead of what the pentagon fields for combat. rendering effective pentagon military power projection neutered against both russia and china as well as any ally they choose to support (think syria for sure, iran?, venezuela?)

the problem washington faces is they sold out the federal government decades ago to banking and corporate interest which as time has proven repeatedly are NOT aligned with the best interests of the american citizenry, and like anyone who sups with the devil a bargain is a bargain, once taken there is no going back.

the problem for washington is that banking and corporate interests require plunder to operate properly as currently structured. maximize short term gain for private ownership while either put off long terms costs (pollution etc) well into the future or like in 2008 socialize the losses across the entire tax payer (a euphemism for serf) base while handily keeping all those fed vomited bailouts private.

as russia, china, iran, venezuela erect signs backed up by force saying.."this is a plunder free zone" and, what with unencumbered assets becoming ever harder to locate for anglo american capitalism a crisis is emerging as forward motion (real growth) slows to a crawl or goes below zero which renders all the debt entangled corporations, especially governments and citizens susceptible to gravity once the trigger of ''no confidence''' hits the public consciousness. increasing debt is directly correlated to decreasing growth need to sustain the debt load. like unsuccessfully dieting a vicious circle.

all russia and china have to do to prevail over washington and its empire at this point is WAIT.... while keeping their swords bright and their domestic intentions true (by taking care of their own).

gravity once widespread public no confidence emerges will do all heavy lifting.

The Twisted Genius , 02 August 2019 at 04:25 PM
Excellent analysis, Patrick. It shows what can be accomplished when you don't blow your whole wad on force projection and seeking full spectrum dominance at the same time. Seeking dominant capability at our borders and territorial waters is doable, but projecting that all over the world is a losing proposition. The Russian strategy reminds me of the Swiss defensive model.

BTW, while the Russian bears and our Grizzlies are both brown bears, they are different species.

Patrick Armstrong -> The Twisted Genius ... , 02 August 2019 at 06:07 PM
I've always been intrigued by Switzerland -- more guns than anywhere but pretty peaceful; really understands neutrality (which is actually a pretty cold-blooded position). I remember reading some time ago that Switzerland General Guisan (hah! name just came to me, ultimate senility is at least a week away!) told the Germans that, if they invaded, the Swiss would blow the tunnels thereby rendering Switzerland useless to an invader.

Never seen so many measelshafts as there. (You old Cold Warriors might recognise the term from Germany back in The Day (not entirely sure of the spelling).

But definitely a country that minds its own business but makes sure its more expensive to conquer than it's worth. Finland is (or was) another example. (Which is why it's so disappointing to see the current rulers in Helsinki sucking up to NATO.)

Faugh Sir! Wikipedia says a clades not a species.

Patrick Armstrong -> MP98... , 02 August 2019 at 06:11 PM
Well, many of us will live to see whether that's correct or not. My assumption is that China is so arrogant (Middle Kingdom means between Heaven and Earth) that they really don't care what the rest of us do as long as business happens.

But ya gotta admit that the USA/UK/West/Whatever-you-want-to-call-it rule has been pretty disastrous.
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=jihadists+us+embassy+poll+tripoli&t=ffnt&iax=images&ia=images&iai=http%3A%2F%2Fa.abcnews.go.com%2Fimages%2FInternational%2Fatm_libya_140901_16x9_992.jpg

MP98 said in reply to Patrick Armstrong ... , 02 August 2019 at 10:58 PM
Got me there.
The western alliance - since the fall of the USSR - has been pretty useless if not downright dangerous.
As for China, they may have gone too far in that "inscrutable oriental" act and begun to believe their own BS.
Dao Gen said in reply to MP98... , 02 August 2019 at 10:57 PM
Throughout its long history China has never tried to dominate foreign countries. It never tried to conquer Japan, for example, which had some very productive silver and gold mines. On the other hand, the Mongols tried twice (unsuccessfully) to invade Japan during their short period of dominance. China did try meddle in Korean politics and use Korea as a buffer zone, though a few times the Koreans threw them out. China also tried to secure buffer zones in the west and south. Even now, though, they seem to feel that they are destined to be the world's middle country, and they don't seem to have a hankering to invade or directly control foreign areas to gain Lebensraum, even though they have a huge population. And they have no tradition of global colonialism. It is not in the culture or the economic history.

As for the New Silk Road, it does not seem to be as self-serving and manipulative as the DoS and Pompeo are constantly claiming. China has an ancient continuous culture, and the Chinese seem to know full well by now that lasting prosperity only happens when all parties prosper. Mutual dependence and mutual recognition are a deep part of Chinese and all east Asian cultures, though the Japanese samurai ethic briefly went berserk and disregarded that wisdom back in the 1930s! The Chinese spirit of innovation-within-tradition and dynamic business management (including state management) is also likely to keep them confident in their own ability to be creative and cutting edge, so they will probably be less likely to try to suppress other economies the way Trump is trying to do. I imagine Chinese leaders are hoping that mutual prosperity and interdependence will make ideologies like "full spectrum dominance" risible relics of the past. Culture is long, turbulence happens.

Linda , 02 August 2019 at 05:36 PM
I really learned a lot from this article. Thank you for posting
Tom Wonacott , 02 August 2019 at 06:01 PM
Moscow will not engage in an exhausting arms race, and the country's military spending will gradually decrease as Russia does not seek a role as the "world gendarme," President Vladimir Putin said

While Vladimir Putin is one of the most astute observers of foreign policy in the world (running circles around Obama and Trump), he is also a politician. I sincerely doubt that Russia gradually plans on decreasing spending on their military in any meaningful way. That is for home consumption because about 35-40 percent of Russians live on $300 per month or less. Putin's popularity is also dropping even though it remains quite high (Paul Goble: Window on Eurasia -- New Series: Nearly 40 Percent of Russians Subsist on Less than... https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/02/nearly-40-percent-of-russians-subsist.html?spref=tw):

Thirty-seven percent of Russians life on 19,000 rubles or less a month, Rosstat says, a figure that works out to a subsistence of ten US dollars or a less a day, 23.2 percent live on less than 15,000 rubles a month (under seven dollars a day); and 12 percent have incomes under 10,000 rubles a month (five dollars a day).
Patrick Armstrong -> Tom Wonacott... , 02 August 2019 at 06:17 PM
I'm coming to think that you are that rare species of a POLITE troll. Russians like VVP, they trust him and buy the package. And they get it that Russia is under attack (they aren't living in a news bubble. They see Western stuff.)

Nobody in the West comes anywhere close to his numbers.

PS Paul Goble just prints anti-Putin stuff and is mostly entertainment.

PPS. check my link to SIPRI on reductions.

rkka said in reply to Tom Wonacott... , 02 August 2019 at 07:26 PM
After 8 years of the governance of Boris Yeltsin & the Free Market Reformers, 30% of Russians were living on $1.50/day or less as their country unstoppably descended into social catastrophe & strategic irrelevance.

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/302220/

The place has since transformed, much for the better.

LA Sox Fan , 02 August 2019 at 07:44 PM
What happened to the USSR and it's empire should serve as a warning to the USA. We have two huge oceans defending us, yet we spend more to maintain our far flung empire than the USSR ever did. One day, the taxpayers of this country are no longer going to pay for an empire that they don't profit from.
ISL , 02 August 2019 at 10:05 PM
thanks for the analysis - a shame the general did not expand on what Russian capabilities iN EW were eye watering.

Interesting "The first was the coordinated RPV attack on Russian bases in Syria last year in which seven were shot down and six taken over, three of them landed intact." According to the article, the drones were controlled from 100 km distant. This really doesnt sound like jihadi technology. So very interesting that Russia was able to take over the RPVs which were either US or Israeli...

ISL said in reply to ISL... , 03 August 2019 at 11:17 AM
should have added the citation from your piece:

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801081060595102-russia-drone-attack-hmeimim/

John Minehan , 03 August 2019 at 07:31 AM
The US (with those two oceans as its eastern and western boundaries) is a maritime power.

We are also still a sufficiently important maritime power that we have some level of responsibility for maintaining freedom of the seas (as with the issues with the pirates operating out of Puntland in southern Somalia in the late 2000s), a situation that has existed (in some form) since the Roman Republic made the Med "Mare Nostrum."

Russia has always been (mostly) a land power.

Given this, the US (even if it does not "seek to fight monsters" in Nietzsche's terms) has the Force Projection task thrust upon it in a way Russia doesn't.

Even if we sought to be non-interventionist (as I think we should), we still have more on our plate than Russia. (The PRC has the same inherent problem.)

Since we have a force projection mission thrust upon us as a maritime power, full spectrum dominance (in at least the areas where our ships operate) is an implied task.

So, I think the two thoughts I have about this article are:

1) we have broader defense needs than the Russians, based on being a maritime power; and

2) since our plate is already full, it makes little sense to add to that burden.

Bill H -> John Minehan... , 03 August 2019 at 10:21 AM
Britain is an island. Australia, while designated a continent, is also an island. Please compare their "maritime power" status to ours, their defense spending as a percentage of gdp to ours, and their number of foreign bases to ours, and explain.
John Minehan said in reply to Bill H ... , 03 August 2019 at 11:00 AM
Please compare those things to similar sized maritime nations and evaluate this in the context of the former preeminence of the Royal Navy and its adjunct forces.

For extra credit consider the likelihood that the Royal Navy is to some degree an adjunct of the US Navy,

John Minehan , 03 August 2019 at 10:18 AM
This is interesting: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/08/03/russia-separatism-vladimir-putin-227498

As, for example, the history of the Western Roman Empire indicates (with the possible exception of the Five Good Emperors and the early Tetrarchy during and immediately following the reign of Diocletian), authoritarian states have some problems with succession.

Putin seems to have more of a "read" than any other world leader on the global stage right now, but the answer to who follows him is likely be: "To the strongest."

Patrick Armstrong -> John Minehan... , 03 August 2019 at 11:01 AM
Not very interesting. Russia was "finished" 2 decades ago and the same stuff is endlessly recycled.
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/05/russia-is-finished/302220/
John Minehan said in reply to Patrick Armstrong ... , 03 August 2019 at 02:22 PM
Russia is interesting, in a lot of ways.

Putin has been a smarter, more discerning leader than most presently on the world stage and that has lent credibility. He has an advantage, as a retired LTC in the old KGB of having some level of training and experience in both geo-politics and reading people and assessing strengths and weaknesses.

On the other hand, the demographics may actually be worse than the US or the EU (See, e.g., https://www.rand.org/pubs/issue_papers/IP162/index2.html.)

Even given that, Russia has a decided advantage over many places in terms of natural resources and in controlling what may be thought of as "global key terrain" (Mackinder's "Heartland").

They have a kind of lasting Jominian advantage. With BRI/OBOR, they are somewhat in the position of the guy in the Western who owns the land the Railroad is going to come through (or, possibly, not).

Given its size, position and history, it is questionable if Russia is ever "finished," but while it has come back from its dire position 20 years ago, it still is notably weaker than it was in the 1980s. As Mr. Armstrong's article indicates that may matter less than fact it appears strong enough to advance its own interests.

[Jun 30, 2019] The Saker interviews A.B. Abrams about the geostrategic developments in Asia by The Saker

Notable quotes:
"... " China by contrast has historically conducted statecraft based on the concept of a civilization state – under which its strength is not measured by the weakness and subjugation of others but by its internal achievements. " ..."
"... In my view the Usa had an excellent opportunity to enact in a positive way after WW2 but blew it. The main reason was the failure to live up to the above quoted characterisation of the Chinese. To encourage potential achievers in the best sense of the word. ..."
"... Instead the Us oligarchy held back independent and creative thinking and brainwashed the population, in a way that weakened them. Jfk tried to encourage his countrymen but other forces prevailed. ..."
Jun 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

A.B. Abrams: In the introduction to this work I highlight that a fundamental shift in world order was facilitated by the modernization and industrialization of two Eastern nations – Japan under the Meiji Restoration and the USSR under the Stalinist industrialization program. Before these two events the West had retained an effective monopoly on the modern industrial economy and on modern military force. Russia's image is still affected by the legacy of the Soviet Union – in particular the way Soviet proliferation of both modern industries and modern weapons across much of the region was key to containing Western ambitions in the Cold War. Post-Soviet Russia has a somewhat unique position – with a cultural heritage influenced by Mongolia and Central Asia as well as by Europe. Politically Russia remains distinct from the Western Bloc, and perceptions of the country in East Asia have been heavily influenced by this. Perhaps today one the greatest distinctions is Russia's eschewing of the principle of sovereignty under international law and its adherence to a non-interventionist foreign policy. Where for example the U.S., Europe and Canada will attempt to intervene in the internal affairs of other parties – whether by cutting off parts for armaments , imposing economic sanctions or even launching military interventions under humanitarian pretexts – Russia lacks a history of such behavior which has made it a welcome presence even for traditionally Western aligned nations such as the Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea.

While the Western Bloc attempted to isolate the USSR from East and Southeast Asia by supporting the spread of anticommunist thought, this pretext for shunning Russia collapsed in 1991. Today the West has had to resort to other means to attempt to contain and demonize the country – whether labelling it a human rights abuser or threatening its economic and defense partners with sanctions and other repercussions. The success of these measures in the Asia-Pacific has varied – but as regional economies have come to rely less on the West for trade and grown increasingly interdependent Western leverage over them and their foreign policies has diminished.

Even when considered as a Western nation, the type of conservative Western civilization which Russia may be seen to represent today differs starkly from that of Western Europe and North America. Regarding a Russia Pivot to Asia, support for such a plan appears to have increased from 2014 when relations with the Western Bloc effectively broke down. Indeed, the Russia's future as a pacific power could be a very bright one – and as part of the up and coming northeast Asian region it borders many of the economies which appear set to dominate in the 21 st century – namely China, Japan and the Koreas. Peter the Great is known to have issued in a new era of Russian prosperity by recognizing the importance of Europe's rise and redefining Russia as a European power – moving the capital to St Petersburg. Today a similar though perhaps less extreme pivot Eastwards towards friendlier and more prosperous nations may be key to Russia's future.

The Saker: We hear many observers speak of an informal but very profound and even game-changing partnership between Putin's Russia and Xi's China. The Chinese even speak of a " strategic comprehensive partnership of coordination for the new era ". How would you characterize the current relationship between these two countries and what prospects do you see for a future Russian-Chinese partnership?

A.B. Abrams: A Sino-Russian alliance has long been seen in both the U.S. and in Europe as one of the greatest threats to the West's global primacy and to Western-led world order. As early as 1951 U.S. negotiators meeting with Chinese delegations to end the Korean War were instructed to focus on the differences in the positions of Moscow and Beijing in an attempt to form a rift between the two. Close Sino-Soviet cooperation seriously stifled Western designs for the Korean Peninsula and the wider region during that period, and it was repeatedly emphasized that the key to a Western victory was to bring about a Sino-Soviet split. Achieving this goal by the early 1960s and bringing the two powers very near to a total conflict significantly increased prospects for a Western victory in the Cold War, with the end of the previously united front seriously undermining nationalist and leftist movements opposing Western designs from Africa and the Middle East to Vietnam and Korea. Both states learned the true consequences of this in the late 1980s and early 1990s when there was a real risk of total collapse under Western pressure. Attempts to bring an end to China's national revolution through destabilization failed in 1989, although the USSR was less fortunate and the results for the Russian population in the following decade were grave indeed.

Today the Sino-Russian partnership has become truly comprehensive, and while Western experts from Henry Kissinger to the late Zbigniew Brzezinski among others have emphasized the importance of bringing about a new split in this partnership this strategy remains unlikely to work a second time. Both Beijing and Moscow learned from the dark period of the post-Cold War years that the closer they are together the safer they will be, and that any rift between them will only provide their adversaries with the key to bringing about their downfall. It is difficult to comprehend the importance of the Sino-Russian partnership for the security of both states without understanding the enormity of the Western threat – with maximum pressure being exerted on multiple fronts from finance and information to military and cyberspace. Where in the early 1950s it was only the Soviet nuclear deterrent which kept both states safe from very real Western plans for massive nuclear attacks, so too today is the synergy in the respective strengths of China and Russia key to protecting the sovereignty and security of the two nations from a very real and imminent threat. A few examples of the nature of this threat include growing investments in social engineering through social media – the results of have been seen in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Ukraine, a lowering threshold for nuclear weapons use by the United States – which it currently trains Western allies outside the NPT to deploy, and even reports from Russian and Korean sources of investments in biological warfare – reportedly being tested in Georgia, Eastern Europe and South Korea .

The partnership between Russia and China has become truly comprehensive, and is perhaps best exemplified by their military relations. From 2016 joint military exercises have involved the sharing of extremely sensitive information on missile and early warning systems – one of the most well kept defense secrets of any nuclear power which even NATO powers do not share with one another. Russia's defense sector has played a key role in the modernization of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, while Chinese investment has been essential to allowing Russia to continue research and development on next generation systems needed to retain parity with the United States. There is reportedly cooperation between the two in developing next generation weapons technologies for systems such as hypersonic cruise and anti aircraft missiles and new strategic bombers and fighter jets which both states plan to field by the mid-2020s. With the combined defense spending of both states a small fraction of that of the Western powers, which themselves cooperate closely in next generation defense projects, it is logical that the two should pool their resources and research and development efforts to most efficiently advance their own security.

Cooperation in political affairs has also been considerable, and the two parties have effectively presented a united front against the designs of the Western Bloc. In 2017 both issued strong warnings to the United States and its allies that they would not tolerate an invasion of North Korea – which was followed by the deployment of advanced air defense systems by both states near the Korean border with coverage of much of the peninsula's airspace. Following Pyongyang's testing of its first nuclear delivery system capable of reaching the United States , and renewed American threats against the East Asian country, China and Russia staged near simultaneous exercises near the peninsula using naval and marine units in a clear warning to the U.S. against military intervention. China's Navy has on several occasions deployed to the Mediterranean for joint drills with Russian forces – each time following a period of high tension with the Western Bloc over Syria.

In April 2018, a period of particularly high tensions between Russia and the Western Bloc over Western threats both to take military action against the Syrian government and to retaliate for an alleged but unproven Russian chemical weapons attack on British soil, the Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe traveled to Russia and more explicitly stated that the Sino-Russian partnership was aimed at countering Western designs. Referring to the Sino-Russian defense partnership as "as stable as Mount Tai" he stated : "the Chinese side has come to show Americans the close ties between the Armed Forces of China and Russia, especially in this situation. We have come to support you." A week later China announced large-scale live fire naval drills in the Taiwan Strait – which according to several analysts were scheduled to coincide with a buildup of Western forces near Syria. Presenting a potential second front was key to deterring the Western powers from taking further action against Russia or its ally Syria. These are but a few examples Sino-Russian cooperation, which is set to grow only closer with time.

The Saker: The US remains the most formidable military power in Asia, but this military power is being eroded as a result of severe miscalculations of the US political leadership. How serious a crisis do you think the US is now facing in Asia and how do you assess the risks of a military confrontation between the US and the various Asian powers (China, the Philippines, the DPRK, etc,).

A.B. Abrams: Firstly I would dispute that the United States is the most formidable military power in the region, as while it does retain a massive arsenal there are several indicators that it lost this position to China during the 2010s. Looking at combat readiness levels, the average age of weapons in their inventories, morale both publicly and in the armed forces, and most importantly the correlation of their forces, China appears to have an advantage should war break out in the Asia-Pacific. It is important to remember that the for the Untied States and its European allies in particular wars aren't fought on a chessboard. Only a small fraction of their military might can be deployed to the Asia-Pacific within a month of a conflict breaking out, while over 95% of Chinese forces are already on the region and are trained and armed almost exclusively for war in the conditions of the Asia-Pacific. In real terms the balance of military power regionally is in China's favor, and although the U.S. has tried to counter this with a military 'Pivot to Asia' initiative from 2011 this has ultimately failed due to both the drag from defense commitments elsewhere and the unexpected and pace at which China has expanded and modernized its armed forces.

For the time being the risk of direct military confrontation remains low, and while there was a risk in 2017 of American and allied action against the DPRK Pyongyang has effectively taken this option off the table with the development of a viable and growing arsenal of thermonuclear weapons and associated delivery systems alongside the modernization of its conventional capabilities. While the U.S. may have attempted to call a Chinese and Russian bluff by launching a limited strike – which seriously risked spiraling into something much larger – it is for the benefit of all regional parties including South Korea that the DPRK now has the ability to deter the United States without relying on external support. This was a historically unprecedented event, and as military technology has evolved it has allowed a small power for the first time to deter a superpower without relying on allied intervention. Changes in military technology such as the proliferation of the nuclear tipped ICBM make a shooting war less likely, but also alters the nature of warfare to place greater emphasis on information war, economic war and other new fields which will increasingly decide the global balance of power. Where America's answer to the resistance of China and North Korea in the 1950s to douse them with napalm, today winning over their populations through soft power, promoting internal dissent, placing pressure on their living standards and ensuring continued Western dominance of key technologies has become the new means of fighting.

That being said, there is a major threat of conflict in the Asia-Pacific of a different nature. Several organizations including the United Nations and the defense ministries of Russia, Singapore and Indonesia among others have warned of the dangers posed by Islamic terrorism to stability in the region. Radical Islamism, as most recently attested to by Saudi Arabia's crown prince , played a key role in allowing the Western Bloc to cement its dominance over the Middle East and North Africa – undermining Russian and Soviet aligned governments including Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Syria – in most cases with direct Western support. CIA Deputy Director Graham Fuller in this respect referred to the agency's "policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries." Several officials, from the higher brass of the Russian, Syrian and Iranian militaries to the former President of Afghanistan and the President of Turkey , have all alleged Western support for radical terror groups including the Islamic State for the sake of destabilizing their adversaries. As the Asia-Pacific has increasingly slipped out of the Western sphere of influence, it is likely that this asset will increasingly be put into play. The consequences of the spread of jihadism from the Middle East have been relatively limited until now, but growing signs of danger can be seen in Xinjiang, Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia. It is this less direct means of waging war which arguably poses the greatest threat.

The Saker: Do you think that we will see the day when US forces will have to leave South Korean, Japan or Taiwan?

A.B. Abrams: Other than a limited contingent of Marines recently deployed to guard the American Institute , U.S. forces are not currently stationed in Taiwan. The massive force deployed there in the 1950s was scaled down and American nuclear weapons removed in 1974 in response to China's acceptance of an alliance with the United States against the Soviet Union. Taiwan's military situation is highly precarious and the disparity in its strength relative to the Chinese mainland grows considerably by the year. Even a large American military presence is unlikely to change this – and just 130km from the Chinese mainland they would be extremely vulnerable and could be quickly isolated from external support in the event of a cross straits war. We could, however, see a small American contingent deployed as a 'trigger wire' – which will effectively send a signal to Beijing that the territory is under American protection and that an attempt to recapture Taiwan will involve the United States. Given trends in public opinion in Taiwan, and the very considerable pro-Western sentiments among the younger generations in particular, it is likely that Taipei will look to a greater rather than a lesser Western military presence on its soil in future.

Japan and particularly South Korea see more nuanced public opinion towards the U.S., and negative perceptions of an American military presence may well grow in future – though for different reasons in each country. Elected officials alone, however, are insufficient to move the American presence – as best demonstrated by the short tenure of Prime Minister Hatoyama in Japan and the frustration of President Moon's efforts to restrict American deployments of THAAD missile systems in his first year. It would take a massive mobilization of public opinion – backed by business interests and perhaps the military – to force such a change. This remains possible however, particularly as both economies grow increasingly reliant on China for trade and as the U.S. is seen to have acted increasingly erratically in response to challenges from Beijing and Pyongyang which has undermined its credibility. As to a voluntary withdrawal by the United States, this remains extremely unlikely. President Donald Trump ran as one of the most non-interventionist candidates in recent history, but even under him and with considerable public support prospects for a significant reduction in the American presence, much less a complete withdrawal, have remained slim.

The Saker: Some circles in Russia are trying very hard to frighten the Russian public opinion against China alleging things like "China want to loot (or even conquer!) Siberia", "China will built up its military and attack Russia" or "China with its huge economy will simply absorb small Russia". In your opinion are any of these fears founded and, if yes, which ones and why?

A.B. Abrams: A growth in Sinophobic sentiment in Russia only serves to weaken the nation and empower its adversaries by potentially threatening its relations with its most critical strategic partner. The same is applicable vice-versa regarding Russophobia in China. Given the somewhat Europhilic nature of the Russian state in a number of periods, including in the 1990s, and the considerable European soft influences in modern Russia, there are grounds for building up of such sentiment. Indeed Radio Free Europe, a U.S. government funded nonprofit broadcasting corporation with the stated purpose of "advancing the goals of U.S. foreign policy," notably published sinophobic content aimed at depicting the Russian people as victims of Chinese business interests to coincide with the Putin-XI summit in June 2019. However, an understanding of the modern Chinese state and its interests indicates that it does not pose a threat to Russia – and to the contrary is vital to Russia's national security interests. While Russia historically has cultural ties to the Western nations, the West has shown Russian considerable hostility throughout its recent history – as perhaps is most evident in the 1990s when Russia briefly submitted itself and sought to become part of the Western led order with terrible consequences. China by contrast has historically conducted statecraft based on the concept of a civilization state – under which its strength is not measured by the weakness and subjugation of others but by its internal achievements. A powerful and independent Russia capable of protecting a genuine rules based world order and holding lawless actors in check is strongly in the Chinese interest. It is clear that in Russia such an understanding exists on a state level, although there is no doubt that there will be efforts by external parties to turn public opinion against China to the detriment of the interests of both states.

The idea that China would seek to economically subjugate Russia, much less invade it, is ludicrous. It was from Europe were the major invasions of Russian territory came – vast European coalitions led by France and Germany respectively with a third American led attack planned and prepared for but stalled by the Soviet acquisition of a nuclear deterrent. More recently from the West came sanctions, the austerity program of the 1990s, the militarization of Eastern Europe, and the demonization of the Russian nation – all intended to subjugate and if possible shatter it. Even at the height of its power, China did not colonize the Koreans, Vietnamese or Japanese nor did it seek to conquer Central Asia. Assuming China will have the same goals and interests as a Western state would if they were in a similar position of strength is to ignore the lessons of history, and the nature of the Chinese national character and national interest.

The Saker: The Russian military is currently vastly more capable (even if numerically much smaller) than the Chinese. Does anybody in China see a military threat from Russia?

A.B. Abrams: There may be marginalized extreme nationalists in China who see a national security from almost everybody, but in mainstream discourse there are no such perceptions. To the contrary, Russia's immense contribution to Chinese security is widely recognized – not only in terms of technological transfers but also in terms of the value of the joint front the two powers have formed. Russia not only lacks a history of annexing East Asian countries or projecting force against them, but it is also heavily reliant on China in particular both to keep its defense sector active and to undermine Western attempts to isolate it. Russian aggression against China is unthinkable for Moscow – even if China did not possess its current military strength and nuclear deterrence capabilities. This is something widely understood in China and elsewhere.

I would dispute that Russia's military is vastly more capable than China's own, as other than nuclear weapons there is a similar level of capabilities in most sectors in both countries. While Russia has a lead in many key technologies such as hypersonic missiles, air defenses and submarines to name a few prominent examples, China has been able to purchase and integrate many of these into its own armed forces alongside the products of its own defense sector. Russia's most prominent fighter jet for example, the Flanker (in all derivatives from Su-27 to J-11D), is in fact fielded in larger numbers by China than by Russia itself – and those in Chinese service have access to both indigenous as well as Russian munitions and subsystems. Furthermore, there are some less critical but still significant sectors where China does appear to retain a lead – for example it deployed combat jets equipped with a new generation of active electronically scanned array radars and air to air missiles from 2017 (J-20 and in 2018 J-10C ) – while Russia has only done so this in July 2019 with the induction of the MiG-35. Whether this is due to a Chinese technological advantage, or to a greater availability of funds to deploy its new technologies faster, remains uncertain. Russia's ability to provide China with its most vital technologies, and China's willingness to rely so heavily on Russian technology to comprise so much of its inventory, demonstrates the level of trust between the two countries

The Saker: Do you think that China could become a military threat to other countries in the region (especially Taiwan, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, etc.)?

A.B. Abrams: I would direct you to a quote by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamed from March this year. He stated: "we always say, we have had China as a neighbor for 2,000 years, we were never conquered by them. But the Europeans came in 1509, in two years, they conquered Malaysia." This coming from a nationalist leader considered one of the most sinophobic in Southeast Asia, whose country has an ongoing territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, bears testament to the nature of claims of a Chinese threat. It is critical not to make the mistake of imposing Western norms when trying to understand Chinese statecraft. Unlike the European states, China is not and has never been dependent on conquering others to enrich itself – but rather was a civilization state which measured its wealth by what it could its own people could produce. A harmonious relationship with India, Vietnam, the Philippines and others in which all states' sovereign and territorial integrity is respected is in the Chinese interest.

A second aspect which must be considered, and which bears testament to China's intentions, is the orientation of the country's armed forces. While the militaries of the United States and European powers such as Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and France among others are heavily skewed to prioritize power projection overseas, China's military has made disproportionately small investments in power projection and is overwhelmingly tailored to territorial defense. While the United States has over 300 tanker aircraft deigned to refuel its combat jets midair and attack faraway lands, China has just three purpose-built tankers – less than Malaysia, Chile or Pakistan. The ratio of logistical to combat units further indicates that China's armed forces, in stark contrast to the Western powers, are heavily oriented towards defense and fighting near their borders.

This all being said, China does pose an imminent threat to the government in Taipei – although I would disagree with your categorization of Taiwan as a country. Officially the Republic of China (ROC- as opposed to the Beijing based People's Republic of China), Taipei has not declared itself a separate country but rather the rightful government of the entire Chinese nation. Taipei remains technically at war with the mainland, a conflict would have ended in 1950 if the U.S. had not placed the ROC under its protection. The fast growing strength of the mainland has shifted the balance of power dramatically should the conflict again break out into open hostilities. China has only to gain from playing the long game with Taiwan however – providing scholarships and jobs for its people to live on the mainland and thus undermining the demonization of the country and hostility towards a peaceful reunification. Taiwan's economic reliance on the mainland has also grown considerably, and these softer methods of bridging the gaps between the ROC and the mainland are key to facilitating unification. Meanwhile the military balance in the Taiwan Strait only grows more favorable for Beijing by the year – meaning there is no urgency to take military action. While China will insist on unification, it will seek to avoid doing so violently unless provoked.

The Saker: In conclusion: where in Asia do you see the next major conflict take place and why?

A.B. Abrams: The conflict in the Asia-Pacific is ongoing, but the nature of conflict has changed. We see an ongoing and so far highly successful de-radicalization effort in Xinjiang – which was taken in direct response to Western attempts to turn the province into 'China's Syria or China's Libya,' in the words of Chinese state media, using similar means. We see a harsh Western response to the Made in China 2025 initiative under which the country has sought to compete in key technological fields formerly monopolized by the Western Bloc and Japan – and the result of this will have a considerable impact on the balance of economic power in the coming years. We see direct economic warfare and technological competition between China and the United States – although the latter has so far refrained from escalating too far due to the potentially devastating impact reprisals could have. We further see an information war in full swing, with Sinophobic stories often citing 'anonymous sources' being propagated by Western media to target not only their own populations – but also to influence public opinion in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Influence over third parties remains vital to isolating China and cementing the Western sphere of influence. Use of social media and social engineering, as the events of the past decade have demonstrated from the Middle East in 2011 to Hong Kong today, remains key and will only grow in its potency in the coming years. We also see a major arms race, with the Western Bloc investing heavily in an all new generation of weapons designed to leave existing Chinese and allied defenses obsolete – from laser air defenses to neutralize China's nuclear deterrent to sixth generation stealth fighters, new heavy bombers, new applications of artificial intelligence technologies and new hypersonic missiles.

All these are fronts of the major conflict currently underway, and the Obama and Trump administrations have stepped up their offensives to bring about a new 'end of history' much like that of the 1990s – only this time it is likely to be permanent. To prevail, China and Russia will need to cooperate at least as closely if not more so as the Western powers do among themselves.

The Saker: thank you very much for your time and answers!


anonymous [290] Disclaimer , says: June 27, 2019 at 2:18 pm GMT

That being said, there is a major threat of conflict in the Asia-Pacific of a different nature. Several organizations including the United Nations and the defense ministries of Russia, Singapore and Indonesia among others have warned of the dangers posed by Islamic terrorism to stability in the region. Radical Islamism, as most recently attested to by Saudi Arabia's crown prince, played a key role in allowing the Western Bloc to cement its dominance over the Middle East and North Africa – undermining Russian and Soviet aligned governments including Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Syria – in most cases with direct Western support. CIA Deputy Director Graham Fuller in this respect referred to the agency's "policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries." Several officials, from the higher brass of the Russian, Syrian and Iranian militaries to the former President of Afghanistan and the President of Turkey, have all alleged Western support for radical terror groups including the Islamic State for the sake of destabilizing their adversaries. As the Asia-Pacific has increasingly slipped out of the Western sphere of influence, it is likely that this asset will increasingly be put into play. The consequences of the spread of jihadism from the Middle East have been relatively limited until now, but growing signs of danger can be seen in Xinjiang, Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia. It is this less direct means of waging war which arguably poses the greatest threat.

There is hardly such a thing called "Islamic Terrorism." In most egregious cases, such as IS, etc., it can be shown that those lowlifes have been the mercenaries of the evil West and their accursed implant in the ME (and nowadays the hindutvars too), collectively the avowed enemies of true monotheism, Islam. I am including the recent Colombo attacks here.

How can any so-called "muslim" who is a tool-of-evil of the enemies of Islam, be a true muslim? How then can it be termed "Islamic Terror"? Perhaps "Islamic Apostate Terror" would be more suitable.

Of course, there are many other non-IS muslims who are called "terrorists." The Palestinians, the Kashmiris, etc. For us muslims, they are simply freedom fighters.

Finally, there are a few muslims who do kill in the name Islam the Charlie Hebdo killers, Bombay\Dhaka attackers, etc. Some of them are justified (due to intense provocations) and others not at all. I will leave it for others to judge which falls under which category. Perhaps the listed order will help decipher that.

It must be conceded, when it comes to setting the narrative of pure deceit, the West (and its minions, the Jooscum and their lickspittle, the hindutvars), like in all things bad, can be satanically good. We muslims are being decimated in the propaganda war.

We still got our True Monotheism though. The pagan/godless enemies of the Almighty One are doomed to fail against it. God willing.

Sean , says: June 27, 2019 at 6:19 pm GMT
The American system ran on immigration that kept discontent about massive inequality under control because a substantial proportion of the lowest SES were immigrants just glad to be in the US. The tAmerican ruling class decided they could make more money by offshoring everything that could be offshored and mass immigration to keep wags from going up in the non offshorable parts of the economy.

China and America's venal globalising elite had converging agendas, but could not fool the common people of America and their tribune . Even the military had began to get alarmed about the economic growth and technological progress of China, which had been benefiting from officially sanctioned preferential treatment by the US since Carter.

Free ride is over for China, we will see China's economic and military strength progressively tested. What America built it can break.

Russia will be secretly pleased

Cyrano , says: June 27, 2019 at 9:18 pm GMT
China was made an economic superpower by the US elites. Not because they felt sorry for China and wanted to speed up conversion to democracy by switching them to capitalist way of doing business first.

They made them an economic superpower, because the US elites have lost their marbles. They simply didn't see it coming. They wanted to turn China into one giant cheap sweatshop in order to exploit their population with a low paying manufacturing jobs, which were never supposed to make China reach.

But they did, because no matter how much the lost generation of the western elites were foaming at their mouths about knowledge based economy, value added economy, high tech jobs and the other crap, it is obvious that manufacturing remains a basis for any strong economy. That doesn't look like it's going to change even when you add robots to the mixture.

I think that Napoleon was right when he warned the world about waking up the sleeping dragon. First they made them an economic superpower, and now they want to contain them militarily. Good luck with that.

There is a reason why China wants to build the silk road. Silk road implies land. The US military has never been any good at land warfare. Neither where their predecessors – the British. China, on the other hand, showed in Korea that even then, with a backward army, equipped with handouts from the Soviet Union, they can pretty much trash the US army.

With the silk road initiative, China will seize the control of the entire Euro-Asian land mass – the most populous and economically productive region of the world and will be more than happy to let the US play pirates on the seas.

Priss Factor , says: Website June 29, 2019 at 12:04 am GMT
Abrams is giving the West too much credit for the Sino-Soviet rift of the late 5os and 60s.

That was NOT the doing of the CIA or Western Europe. It was 90% the fault of Mao who tried to shove Khrushchev aside as the head of world communism. Because Stalin had treated Mao badly, Krushchev wanted to make amends and treated Mao with respect. But Mao turned out to be a total a-hole. There are two kinds of people: Those who appreciate friendly gestures and those who seek kindness as 'weakness'.

It's like Hitler saw Chamberlain's offer as weakness and pushed ahead. Being kind is nice, but one should never be kind to psychopaths, and Khrushchev was nice to the wrong person.

Mao only understood power. He sensed Khrushchev as 'weak' and acted as if he wanted to be the new Stalin. He also made international statements that made the US-USSR relations much worse. He berated Khrushchev for seeking co-existence with the West and pressed on for more World Revolution.

He also ignored Soviet advice not to attempt radical economic policies (that were soon to bring China to economic ruin -- at least Stalin's collectivization led to rise of industry; in contrast, Mao managed to destroy both agriculture and heavy industry).

When Stalin was alive, he didn't treat Mao with any respect, and Mao disliked Stalin but still respected him because Mao understood Power. With Stalin gone, Khrushchev showed Mao some respect, but Mao felt no respect for Khrushchev who was regarded as a weakling and sucker.

It was all so stupid. China and Russia could have gotten along well if not for Mao's impetuosity. Of course, Khrushchev could be reckless, contradictory, and erratic, and his mixed signals to the West also heightened tensions. Also, he was caught between a rock and a hard place where the Eastern Bloc was concerned. He wanted to de-Stalinize, but this could lead to events like the Hungarian Uprising.

Anyway, Putin and Xi, perhaps having grown up in less turbulent times, are more stable and mature in character and temperament than Mao and Khrushchev. They don't see the Russo-China relations as a zero sum game of ego but a way for which both sides can come to the table halfway, which is all one can hope for.

Peter Grafström , says: June 29, 2019 at 10:21 am GMT
@Priss Factor You are probably right about Hitler seeing (Neville) Chamberlain as weak. But Hitler was a dupe for Britains much smarter and devious elites, who successfully played him to do their bidding. Hitler, along with the major members of the nazis, had been significantly influenced by Neville's elder cousin who spurred the nazis towards 'the ultimate solution'.

Instead of being weak in the manner Hitler may have thought, Neville saved Hitler from his own generals.

In historical turns , when Britain has appeared weak, it mostly is a deliberate faint.

Be it in Gallipoli, St Petersburg in 1919, Norway or Singapore in WW2.

Peter Grafström , says: June 29, 2019 at 10:38 am GMT
Commendable contribution by Mr Abrams to enlighten the confused western establishment.

" China by contrast has historically conducted statecraft based on the concept of a civilization state – under which its strength is not measured by the weakness and subjugation of others but by its internal achievements. "

In my view the Usa had an excellent opportunity to enact in a positive way after WW2 but blew it. The main reason was the failure to live up to the above quoted characterisation of the Chinese. To encourage potential achievers in the best sense of the word.

Instead the Us oligarchy held back independent and creative thinking and brainwashed the population, in a way that weakened them.
Jfk tried to encourage his countrymen but other forces prevailed.

Carlton Meyer , says: Website June 30, 2019 at 4:16 am GMT
Americans cannot understand our relations with China by looking at events just the past 75 years. During the century before, European imperial powers and the United States treated China as a open borders business opportunity backed by foreign military force. China was infested by mini-colonies to profit from China's riches. The "Opium Wars" shock decent Americans.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/sKgrb0oggfE?feature=oembed

[Jun 27, 2019] Containment Plan How Trump Can Challenge China s Rising Power

This is just think tank swamp vapor. No real analysis, no real recommendation on adaption of the USA to the collapse of global neoliberal system (aka the USA empire)
Jun 27, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

At the heart of the alignment between China and Russia is their shared interest in undermining U.S. influence globally. The two countries are united in their mutual displeasure with the United States and the U.S.-dominated international order that they feel disadvantages them. But while Russia and China may have initially banded together in discontent, their repeated engagement on areas of mutual interest is fostering a deeper and enduring partnership.

It is clear that China will pose the greatest challenge to U.S. interests for the foreseeable future, but Beijing's increasing collaboration with Moscow will amplify that challenge.

... ... ...

Washington must come to terms with this China-Russia alignment and work to address and manage it. To contain the depth of alignment, Washington must look for opportunities to strain the seams in the Russia-China relationship. Russia and China may be drawing closer, but their interests -- and especially their approaches -- are not identical. Russia and China compete in the Middle East, for example, for military sales and nuclear energy deals. And their very different approaches to Europe could be a source of strain. In communicating with Beijing, Washington should underscore how Russian interference in these countries could generate instability that threatens China's growing economic interests.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is focused on combating China's unfair economic practices, a worthy undertaking. But any trade war "victory" will be incomplete if Washington does not address Beijing's challenge, in collaboration with Moscow, to the very fabric of the rules-based order that underpins continued U.S. global leadership and prosperity. Washington will be ineffective if it seeks to go it alone. Pushing back against the illiberal influence of an aligned Russia and China will require the collective heft of Allies and partners. The time is ripe to tackle this issue with America's European Allies. Europe has grown more attuned to -- and concerned about -- the threat that China poses and shares the U.S. imperative to compete with Russia and China.

Andrea Kendall-Taylor is a senior fellow and director of the Center for New American Security's Transatlantic Security Center.


Gerald Newton an hour ago • edited ,

The US has got to stop engaging in undeclared wars. Russia and China sit by as the US squanders trillions fighting undeclared wars.

jrmagtago an hour ago ,

just divide russia and china which is a solution to your problem.

jrmagtago an hour ago ,

just divide russia and china which is a solution to your problem.

rippled 7 hours ago ,

Contents of the article correlate extremely poorly with the title... I don't see even a semblance of a "containment plan" other than a vague outline that US should ask EU countries something as of yet unspecified...

The usual think tank vapour...

GUSSIE91 9 hours ago ,

Putin and Xi will unite in addition of its allies NK, Iran etc due to the US supremacy ....

[Jun 26, 2019] Video 200 Israeli Nuclear Weapons Targeted against Iran - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalizatio

Jun 26, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

The evidence that Israel produces nuclear weapons was revealed more than thirty years ago by Mordechai Vanunu , who had worked in the Dimona plant: published by The Sunday Times on October 5, 1986, after being screened by leading nuclear weapons experts. Vanunu, kidnapped by the Mossad in Rome and transported to Israel, was sentenced to 18 years of hard jail time and, after being released in 2004, subject to severe restrictions.

Israel has today (though without admitting it) an arsenal estimated at 100-400 nuclear weapons, including new generation mini-nukes and neutron bombs, and produces plutonium and tritium in such quantities as to build hundreds more.

The Israeli nuclear warheads are ready to launch on ballistic missiles, such as the Jericho 3, and on F-15 and F-16 fighter bombers supplied by the USA, to which the F-35 are now added.

As confirmed by the numerous IAEA inspections, Iran has no nuclear weapons and commits not to produce them, according to the agreement under strict international control.

However – writes former US Secretary of State Colin Powell on March 3, 2015 in an email that has come to light –

"the boys in Tehran know Israel has 200 nuclear weapons, all targeted on Tehran, and we have thousands".

The US European allies, which formally continue to support the agreement with Iran, are basically aligned with Israel. Germany supplied Israel with six Dolphin submarines, modified so as to launch nuclear cruise missiles, and approved the supply of three more.

Germany, France, Italy, Greece and Poland participated, with the USA, in the Blue Flag 2017, the largest international aerial warfare exercise in Israel's history. Italy, linked to Israel by a military cooperation agreement (Law No. 94, 2005), participated in the exercise with Tornado fighters of the 6th Wing of Ghedi, assigned to carry US B-61 nuclear bombs (which will soon be replaced by B61-12). The US participated with F-16 fighters of the 31st Fighter Wing of Aviano, assigned to the same function.

The Israeli nuclear forces are integrated into the NATO electronic system, within the framework of the "Individual Cooperation Program" with Israel, a country which, although not a member of the Alliance, has a permanent mission to NATO headquarters in Brussels.

According to the plan tested in the US-Israel Juniper Cobra 2018 exercise, US and NATO forces would come from Europe (especially from the bases in Italy) to support Israel in a war against Iran. It could start with an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, like the one carried out in 1981 on Osiraq nuclear reactor in Iraq. In the event of Iranian retaliation, Israel could use a nuclear weapon by starting a chain reaction with unpredictable outcomes.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Rh6OBut_bHk

Source: PandoraTV

*

This article was originally published by Il Manifesto.

Manlio Dinucci is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.


[Jun 23, 2019] The idiots in DC are literally talking about nuclear war with Russia right now in a defense spending/policy hearing on CSPAN. Sickening

Notable quotes:
"... So are we at that point in Idiocracy, where we believe our propaganda has some effect on our enemy? Is it 1950? FFS ..."
Jun 23, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

sejomoje , Jun 12, 2019 5:10:09 PM | 36

The idiots in DC are literally talking about nuclear war with Russia right now in a defense spending/policy hearing on CSPAN. Sickening. I'm not sure why I even turned on the TV.

The "premise" is that Russia launches a "tactical" low yield weapon, and the consensus is that we would not "measure" it and respond in kind, but start an all out nuclear war.

Everyone knows that actual discussions regarding policy are done in closed door meetings (and several reps have referred to this happening at a later time).

So are we at that point in Idiocracy, where we believe our propaganda has some effect on our enemy? Is it 1950? FFS

[Jun 20, 2019] Scary Fast How hypersonic missiles are touching off a new global arms race

Jun 20, 2019 | publicintegrity.org

Last year, the nation was confronted with a brief reminder of how Cold War-era nuclear panic played out, after a state employee in Hawaii mistakenly sent out an emergency alert declaring that a "ballistic missile threat" was "inbound." The message didn't specify what kind of missile -- and, in fact, the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command at two sites in Alaska and California may have some capability to shoot down a few incoming ballistic missiles -- but panicked Hawaii residents didn't feel protected. They reacted by careening cars into one another on highways, pushing their children into storm drains for protection and phoning their loved ones to say goodbye -- until a second message, 38 minutes later, acknowledged it was an error.

Hypersonics pose a different threat from ballistic missiles, according to those who have studied and worked on them, because they could be maneuvered in ways that confound existing methods of defense and detection. Not to mention, unlike most ballistic missiles, they would arrive in under 15 minutes -- less time than anyone in Hawaii or elsewhere would need to meaningfully react. How fast is that, really? An object moving through the air produces an audible shock wave -- a sonic boom -- when it reaches about 760 miles per hour. This speed of sound is also called Mach 1, after the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach. When a projectile flies faster than Mach's number, it travels at supersonic speed -- a speed faster than sound. Mach 2 is twice the speed of sound; Mach 3 is three times the speed of sound, and so on. When a projectile reaches a speed faster than Mach 5, it's said to travel at hypersonic speed.

One of the two main hypersonic prototypes now under development in the United States is meant to fly at speeds between Mach 15 and Mach 20, or more than 11,400 miles per hour. This means that when fired by the U.S. submarines or bombers stationed at Guam, they could in theory hit China's important inland missile bases, like Delingha, in less than 15 minutes. President Vladimir Putin has likewise claimed that one of Russia's new hypersonic missiles will travel at Mach 10, while the other will travel at Mach 20. If true, that would mean a Russian aircraft or ship firing one of them near Bermuda could strike the Pentagon, some 800 miles away, in five minutes. China, meanwhile, has flight-tested its own hypersonic missiles at speeds fast enough to reach Guam from the Chinese coastline within minutes.

One concept now being pursued by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses a conventional missile launched from air platforms to loft a smaller, hypersonic glider on its journey, even before the missile reaches its apex. The glider then flies unpowered toward its target. The deadly projectile might ricochet downward, nose tilted up, on layers of atmosphere -- the mesosphere, then the stratosphere and troposphere -- like an oblate stone on water, in smaller and shallower skips, or it might be directed to pass smoothly through these layers. In either instance, the friction of the lower atmosphere would finally slow it enough to allow a steering system to maneuver it precisely toward its target. The weapon, known as Tactical Boost Glide, is scheduled to be dropped from military planes during testing next year. Under an alternative approach, a hypersonic missile would fly mostly horizontally under the power of a "scramjet," a highly advanced, fanless engine that uses shock waves created by its speed to compress incoming air in a short funnel and ignite it while passing by (in roughly one two-thousandths of a second, according to some accounts). With its skin heated by friction to as much as 5,400 degrees, its engine walls would be protected from burning up by routing the fuel through them, an idea pioneered by the German designers of the V-2 rocket.

The unusual trajectories of these missiles would allow them to approach their targets at roughly 12 to 50 miles above the earth's surface, in an attacker's sweet spot. That's below the altitude at which ballistic missile interceptors -- such as the costly American Aegis ship-based system and the Thaad ground-based system -- are now designed to typically operate, yet above the altitude that simpler air defense missiles, like the Patriot system, can reach. They would zoom along in the defensive void, maneuvering unpredictably, and then, in just a few final seconds of blindingly fast, mile-per-second flight, dive and strike a target such as an aircraft carrier from an altitude of 100,000 feet.

Officials will have trouble, moreover, predicting exactly where any strike would land. Although the missiles' launch would probably be picked up by infrared-sensing satellites in its first few moments of flight, Griffin says they would be roughly 10 to 20 times harder to detect than incoming ballistic missiles as they near their targets. And during their flight, due to their maneuverability, the perimeter of their potential landing zone could be about as big as Rhode Island. Officials might sound a general alarm, but they'd be clueless about exactly where the missiles were headed. "We don't have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us," Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of United States Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2018. The Pentagon is just now studying what a hypersonic attack might look like and imagining how a defensive system might be created; it has no settled architecture for it, and no firm sense of the costs.

Developing these new weapons hasn't been easy. A 2012 test was terminated when the skin peeled off a hypersonic prototype, and another self-destructed when it lost control. A third hypersonic test vehicle was deliberately destroyed when its boosting missile failed in 2014. Officials at Darpa acknowledge they are still struggling with the composite ceramics they need to protect the missiles' electronics from intense heating; the Pentagon decided last July to ladle an extra $ 34.5 million into this effort this year.

The task of conducting realistic flight tests also poses a challenge. The military's principal land-based site for open-air prototype flights -- a 3,200-acre site stretching across multiple counties in New Mexico -- isn't big enough to accommodate hypersonic weapons. So fresh testing corridors are being negotiated in Utah that will require a new regional political agreement about the noise of trailing sonic booms. Scientists still aren't sure how to accumulate all the data they need, given the speed of the flights. The open-air flight tests can cost up to $100 million.

The Air Force's portion of this effort is being managed from its largest base, Eglin, located in the Florida panhandle, under the direction of the 96 th Test Wing, whose official slogan is "Make It Happen." But the most recent open-air hypersonic-weapon test was completed by the Army and the Navy in October 2017, using a 36,000-pound missile to launch a glider from a rocky beach on the western shores of Kauai, Hawaii, toward Kwajalein Atoll, 2,300 miles to the southwest. The 9 p.m. flight created a trailing sonic boom over the Pacific, which was expected to top out at an estimated 175 decibels, well above the threshold at which noise causes physical pain. The effort cost $160 million, comparable to 6 percent of the total hypersonics budget proposed for 2020.

[Jun 15, 2019] Is The US Preparing For War With Russia

Jun 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Leonid Salvin via Oriental Review,

The RAND Corporation recently published a document entitled Overextending and Unbalancing Russia. Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options . The study is the collective effort of experienced diplomats, including former Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and US Ambassador to the European Union James Dobbins; a professor (Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, National Defence University) and military intelligence branched lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, Raphael Cohen; and seven other RAND researchers who specialise in international relations, the military industry, intelligence, politics, and technology.

It is a practical recommendation for how the US can use Russia's weakness and vulnerability to further limit its political and economic potential.

It is also a kind of summary of a much more extensive monograph of some 300-odd pages entitled Extending Russia. Competing from Advantageous Ground by the same authors.

So what, exactly, are these influential political analysts suggesting to the American establishment?

Their full spectrum of operations is divided into four sections – economic, geopolitical, ideological and informational, and military measures. It is clear that the experts approached the development of their strategy rationally by measuring the potential costs for the US itself.

The economic section consists of four options that Russia has already been directly affected by in previous years. The first of these is expanding the production and export of US energy resources, which would affect global prices and therefore limit Russia's profits. The second is strengthening sanctions, where the involvement of other countries in such a process is seen as essential. Next is helping Europe find new gas suppliers, including for LNG supplies. And, finally, encouraging migration from Russia to other countries, especially with regard to skilled workers and educated young people. It is assumed that the first three options would be the most beneficial to the US, although imposing deeper sanctions could bring certain risks.

In the section on geopolitical measures, the US experts propose six geopolitical scenarios aimed at weakening Russia. They don't just involve the Russian Federation, either, but neighbouring countries as well. Each scenario has certain risks, costs, and an expected impact.

According to the Americans, helping Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons would exploit Russia's greatest vulnerability . But any increase in the supply of US weapons and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated in order to increase the costs to Russia of supporting its existing commitments without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages.

Syrian Democratic Forces trainees, representing an equal number of Arab and Kurdish volunteers, stand in formation at their graduation ceremony in northern Syria, August 9, 2017.

This is the first option. The RAND experts believe that this will be the most beneficial, but that its possible realisation will also involve high risks.

The second option is to increase support to the Syrian rebels. This could jeopardise other US policy priorities, however, such as combating radical Islamic terrorism, and could destabilise the entire region even further. It might not even be possible, given the radicalisation, fragmentation, and decline of the Syrian opposition.

The RAND experts obviously understand all the possible dangers involved in this scenario, but, reading between the lines, it is easy to see that this option is basically implying the use of terrorist groups in the geopolitical interests of the US. There is nothing new about this method in and of itself, but it can be rather costly to implement and comes with considerable risks, and, in the best case scenario, the likelihood of success is moderate. It could also upset America's traditional allies, as happened during the Iraq invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The third option is promoting liberalisation in Belarus. The authors admit that this is unlikely to succeed, however, and could provoke a strong response from Russia, which would lead to a general worsening of the security situation in Europe and be a setback for US policy. As with the first option, it comes with high risk, but the benefits could also be considerable. Needless to say that what is really being referred to here is a colour revolution in the Republic of Belarus. The country's leadership should pay attention to this recommendation by the RAND Corporation and ask the US diplomats in Minsk for comment.

Expanding ties in the South Caucasus, which competes economically with Russia, is the fourth option, but it would be difficult to implement because of geography and history.

The fifth scenario is reducing Russia's influence in Central Asia, which could also prove difficult and disproportionately expensive for the US.

And the sixth, and final, scenario is organising an uprising in Transnistria and expelling Russian troops, which would be a blow to Russia's prestige. This could also have the opposite effect, however, since Moscow would save money, but it could well lead to additional costs for the US and its allies.

Muscovites protesting the war in Ukraine and Russia's support of separatism in the Crimea on the Circular Boulevards in Moscow on March 15, 2014

It should be noted that all six scenarios are aimed at Russia's neighbours. They are a kind of re-working of the old Anaconda strategy unleashed on Russia's borders.

The section on ideological and informational measures is aimed at the Russian Federation's domestic policies and is essentially interfering in the country's affairs. There are just four scenarios, but they speak for themselves: undermining faith in the electoral system; creating the idea that the political elite does not serve the interests of society; instigating protests and non-violent resistance; and undermining Russia's image abroad.

Tellingly, the proposed military measures against Russia have the largest number of options and are separated into three strategic areas – air, sea, and land.

It states that repositioning bombers to within striking distance of key Russian strategic targets would have a high likelihood of success and would undoubtedly attract Moscow's attention and cause unease. The costs and risks associated with this option would be fairly low, as long as the bombers are based out of range of most of Russia's ballistic and ground-based cruise missiles.

Marines assigned to the Thunderbolts of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251 remove a training AGM-88 HARM from an F/A-18C Hornet on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

Reposturing fighter jets so that they are closer to their targets than bombers. Although the RAND experts believe that such actions could worry Moscow more than the option with the bombers, the probability of success is low but the risks are high. Since each aircraft would have to fly several sorties during a conventional conflict because of low payload, there is a risk that they could be destroyed on the ground and their deployment airfields could be shut down early on.

Deploying additional tactical nuclear weapons to parts of Europe and Asia could increase Russia's worry, which could lead to a significant increase in investment in its air defences. In combination with the 'bomber' option, it has a high probability of success, but deploying a large number of these weapons could make Moscow react in ways that go against the interests of the US and its allies.

Repositioning US and allied ballistic missile defence systems to better deter Russian ballistic missiles would also make Moscow uneasy, but it would probably be the least effective option since Russia has plenty of missiles that could be used for any upgrades. US and allied targets would also remain at risk.

A U.S. sailor aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) fires a torpedo at a simulated target during Valiant Shield 2014 in the Pacific Ocean September 18, 2014.

The report also suggests developing new low-observable, long-range bombers or significantly increasing the number of those types that are already causing unease in Moscow. There is also mention of high numbers of autonomous or remotely piloted strike aircraft.

As the RAND experts point out, the key risk of these options is an arms race, which could lead to cost-imposing strategies directed against the United States. For example, investing in ballistic missile defence systems and space-based weapons would alarm Moscow, but Russia could defend itself against such developments by taking measures that would probably be considerably cheaper than the cost of these systems to the United States.

With regard to a maritime confrontation, RAND suggests increasing the presence of US and allied navies in those zones considered potentially dangerous because of Russia. It is probably safe to assume that this is referring to the Baltic Sea, the Arctic, and the Black Sea/Mediterranean Basin. The report also mentions increasing investment in research and developing new types of weapons that could strike Russian nuclear submarines. At the same time, it would be a good idea for the US itself to increase the fleet of submarines in its nuclear triad. And, finally, with regard to the Black Sea, the report suggests using NATO to develop an access denial strategy – probably through the deployment of long-range, anti-ship missiles – in order to increase Russia's defence spending in Crimea.

On land, the report's authors believe that there should be an increase in the number of European NATO troops deployed directly on the Russian border. They also emphasise the importance of increasing the size and scale of NATO exercises in Europe, which would send a clear signal to Russia. Another option is to develop intermediate-range missiles but not deploy them, which would force Russia to upgrade its missile programme (an additional cost). And, finally, the report suggests investing in new technologies (weapons based on new physical principles such as lasers) aimed at countering Russian air defence systems.

Exercise Artemis Strike was a German-led tactical live-fire exercise with live Patriot and Stinger missiles at the NATO Missile Firing Installation in Chania, Greece, from October 31 to November 9, 2017

As can be seen, all four sections are complementary in their diversity. The Pentagon has already been working on some innovations in the last few years as part of the Third Offset Strategy , while the current and new budget suggests that, one way or another, the US will continue to build up its military power.

Together with other advisory documents for high-level decision makers in the US, this report by RAND experts is evidence of a large-scale campaign being carried out against Russia. It is surprising, however, that all of the recommendations, especially those included in the military section, are virtually pointing to the preparation of a war with Russia. It calmly talks about what the US can do about existing arms limitation treaties, how to use NATO, and how to use Ukraine in the war with Russia, especially on land and in the Black Sea theatre of operations. There is no doubt that the recommendations themselves were passed on to US decision-making centres a long time before April 2019, when the monograph was published. All that remains is to monitor the implementation of these scenarios and take the appropriate countermeasures.

* * *

Full RAND brief below:

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/411164498/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=false&access_key=key-W6qKRgl7gft0hGsjMjjG

[Jun 09, 2019] The looming 100-year US-China conflict by Martin Wolf

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Across-the-board rivalry with China is becoming an organising principle of US economic, foreign and security policies. ..."
"... An effort to halt China's economic and technological rise is almost certain to fail. Worse, it will foment deep hostility in the Chinese people. In the long run, the demands of an increasingly prosperous and well-educated people for control over their lives might still win out. But that is far less likely if China's natural rise is threatened. ..."
"... The tragedy in what is now happening is that the administration is simultaneously launching a conflict between the two powers, attacking its allies and destroying the institutions of the postwar US-led order. ..."
Jun 04, 2019 | archive.fo
The disappearance of the Soviet Union left a big hole. The "war on terror" was an inadequate replacement. But China ticks all boxes. For the US, it can be the ideological, military and economic enemy many need. Here at last is a worthwhile opponent. That was the main conclusion I drew from this year's Bilderberg meetings.

Across-the-board rivalry with China is becoming an organising principle of US economic, foreign and security policies.

Whether it is Donald Trump's organizing principle is less important. The US president has the gut instincts of a nationalist and protectionist. Others provide both framework and details. The aim is US domination. The means is control over China, or separation from China.

Anybody who believes a rules-based multilateral order, our globalised economy, or even harmonious international relations, are likely to survive this conflict is deluded. The astonishing white paper on the trade conflict , published on Sunday by China, is proof. The -- to me, depressing -- fact is that on many points Chinese positions are right.

The US focus on bilateral imbalances is economically illiterate. The view that theft of intellectual property has caused huge damage to the US is questionable . The proposition that China has grossly violated its commitments under its 2001 accession agreement to the World Trade Organization is hugely exaggerated.

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

Accusing China of cheating is hypocritical when almost all trade policy actions taken by the Trump administration are in breach of WTO rules, a fact implicitly conceded by its determination to destroy the dispute settlement system .

The US negotiating position vis-à-vis China is that "might makes right". This is particularly true of insisting that the Chinese accept the US role as judge, jury and executioner of the agreement .

A dispute over the terms of market opening or protection of intellectual property might be settled with careful negotiation. Such a settlement might even help China, since it would lighten the heavy hand of the state and promote market-oriented reform.

But the issues are now too vexed for such a resolution. This is partly because of the bitter breakdown in negotiation. It is still more because the US debate is increasingly over whether integration with China's state-led economy is desirable. The fear over Huawei focuses on national security and technological autonomy.

[Neo]liberal commerce is increasingly seen as "trading with the enemy".

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

A framing of relations with China as one of zero-sum conflict is emerging. Recent remarks by Kiron Skinner, the US state department's policy planning director (a job once held by cold war strategist George Kennan) are revealing. Rivalry with Beijing, she suggested at a forum organised by New America , is "a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology, and the United States hasn't had that before".

She added that this would be "the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian". The war with Japan is forgotten.

But the big point is her framing of this as a civilizational and racial war and so as an insoluble conflict. This cannot be accidental. She is also still in her job. Others present the conflict as one over ideology and power.

Those emphasising the former point to President Xi Jinping's Marxist rhetoric and the reinforced role of the Communist party . Those emphasising the latter point to China's rising economic might. Both perspectives suggest perpetual conflict.

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

This is the most important geopolitical development of our era. Not least, it will increasingly force everybody else to take sides or fight hard for neutrality. But it is not only important. It is dangerous. It risks turning a manageable, albeit vexed, relationship into all-embracing conflict, for no good reason. China's ideology is not a threat to liberal democracy in the way the Soviet Union's was. Rightwing demagogues are far more dangerous.

An effort to halt China's economic and technological rise is almost certain to fail. Worse, it will foment deep hostility in the Chinese people. In the long run, the demands of an increasingly prosperous and well-educated people for control over their lives might still win out. But that is far less likely if China's natural rise is threatened.

Moreover, the rise of China is not an important cause of western malaise. That reflects far more the indifference and incompetence of domestic elites. What is seen as theft of intellectual property reflects, in large part, the inevitable attempt of a rising economy to master the technologies of the day. Above all, an attempt to preserve the domination of 4 per cent of humanity over the rest is illegitimate.

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

This certainly does not mean accepting everything China does or says. On the contrary, the best way for the west to deal with China is to insist on the abiding values of freedom, democracy, rules-based multilateralism and global co-operation. These ideas made many around the globe supporters of the US in the past.

They still captivate many Chinese people today. It is quite possible to uphold these ideas, indeed insist upon them far more strongly, while co-operating with a rising China where that is essential, as over protecting the natural environment, commerce and peace.

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

A blend of competition with co-operation is the right way forward. Such an approach to managing China's rise must include co-operating closely with like-minded allies and treating China with respect.

The tragedy in what is now happening is that the administration is simultaneously launching a conflict between the two powers, attacking its allies and destroying the institutions of the postwar US-led order.

Today's attack on China is the wrong war, fought in the wrong way, on the wrong terrain. Alas, this is where we now are.

martin.wolf@ft.com

[May 23, 2019] Why Trump s Huawei Ban Is Unlikely To Persist

Notable quotes:
"... However, nothing in the actual piece talks about security concerns. (I point this out because I perceive a trend towards such misleading summaries and headlines which contradict what the actual reporting says.) ..."
"... These companies do not have security concerns over Huawei. But the casual reader, who does not dive down into the actual piece, is left with a false impression that such concerns are valid and shared. ..."
"... South China Morning Post ..."
"... This move by Google-USG is mostly a propaganda warfare move. Huawei doesn't depend on smartphone sales to survive. It's American market was already small, while China's domestic market is huge. China is not Japan. ..."
"... Trump's heavy handed move against Huawei will backfire. The optic is unsettling; the US looks to be destroying a foreign competitor because it is winning. ..."
"... Until the reserve currency issue favoring the "exceptional" nation changes, the economic terrorism will continue.. ..."
"... What is funny in all these stories, is that there is little to no Huawei equipment (not the end-user smart phone, home router and stuff, but backbone routers, access equipment,..) anywhere in the US -- they are forbidden to compete. Most telcos are quite happy to sell in the US, as the absence of these Chinese competitors allows for healthy margins, which is no longer true in other markets. ..."
"... The US is trying desperately to quash tech success / innovation introduced by others who are not controlled by (or in partnership with) the US, via economic war, for now just politely called a trade war - China no 1 adversary. ..."
"... Attacking / dissing / scotching trade between one Co. (e.g. Huawei) and the world is disruptive of the usual, conventional, accepted, exchange functioning, and throws a pesky spanner in the works of the system. Revanchard motives, petty targetting, random pot-shots, lead to what? ..."
"... The war against Huawei is only one small aspect within the overall Trade War, which is based on the false premise of US economic strength. Most of the world wants to purchase material things, not financial services which is the Outlaw US Empire's forte and most of the world can easily forego. Trump's Trade War isn't going as planned which will cause him to double-down in a move that will destroy his 2020 hopes. ..."
May 23, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

However, nothing in the actual piece talks about security concerns. (I point this out because I perceive a trend towards such misleading summaries and headlines which contradict what the actual reporting says.)

The British processor company ARM, which licenses its design to Huawei, cites U.S. export controls as the reason to stop cooperation with Huawei:

The conflict is putting companies and governments around the world in a tough spot, forcing them to choose between alienating the United States or China .

Arm Holdings issued its statement after the BBC reported the firm had told staff to suspend dealings with Huawei.

An Arm spokesman said some of the company's intellectual property is designed in the United States and is therefore " subject to U.S. export controls ."

Additionally two British telecom providers quote U.S. restrictions as reason for no longer buying Huawei smartphones:

BT Group's EE division, which is preparing to launch 5G service in six British cities later this month, said Wednesday it would no longer offer a new Huawei smartphone as part of that service. Vodafone also said it would drop a Huawei smartphone from its lineup. Both companies appeared to tie that decision to Google's move to withhold licenses for its Android operating software from future Huawei phones.

These companies do not have security concerns over Huawei. But the casual reader, who does not dive down into the actual piece, is left with a false impression that such concerns are valid and shared.

That the Trump administration says it has security reasons for its Huawei ban does not mean that the claim is true. Huawei equipment is as good or bad as any other telecommunication equipment, be it from Cisco or Apple. The National Security Agency and other secret services will try to infiltrate all types of such equipment.

After the sudden ban on U.S. entities to export to Huawei, chipmakers like Qualcomm temporarily stopped their relations with Huawei. Google said that it would no longer allow access to the Google Play store for new Huawei smartphones. That will diminish their utility for many users.

The public reaction in China to this move was quite negative. There were many calls for counter boycotts of Apple's i-phones on social media and a general anti-American sentiment.

The founder and CEO of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, tried to counter that. He gave a two hour interview (vid, 3 min excerpt with subtitles) directed at the Chinese public. Ren sounds very conciliatory and relaxed. The Global Times and the South China Morning Post only have short excerpts of what he said. They empathize that Huawei is well prepared and can master the challenge:


Andreas , May 23, 2019 10:00:52 AM | 1

It's really huge, that Huawei may no longer use ARM processors.

Huawei is thus forced to develop it's own processor design and push it into the market.

p , May 23, 2019 10:04:34 AM | 2

@1

I do not believe this is precisely what will happen. Huawei already has its licenses purchased. In addition they could decide to disrespect the IP if this was the case.

Arioch , May 23, 2019 10:05:39 AM | 3
Huaweis's suppliers in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (ROC), and Britain are examining if they can continue to make business with Huawei, while some have already declared a suspension in cooperation.

The issue is that these non-American companies nonetheless use some American components of technology, and if they proceed they will be sanctioned by the US themselves.

It is the same reason why Russia's Sukhoi did not in the end sell its SSJ-100 airliners to Iran -- East Asian tech companies can hardly be expected to be more gung-ho on defying the US than Russia's leading defense plant......

http://www.checkpointasia.net/big-blow-for-huawei-as-japanese-korean-british-firms-reconsider-or-suspend-cooperation-as-well/

Arioch , May 23, 2019 10:10:32 AM | 4
> the Trump administration has created discord where unity is urgently needed

IOW Trump keeps sabotaging USA global integration and keeps steering it into isolation as he long said it should be

Arioch , May 23, 2019 10:14:28 AM | 5
@p #2 - Huawei surely has their processors *as of now*.

That - if USA would not ban Huawei (HiSilicon) processors, because of using that ARM technology. Thing is, Huawei would be isolated from next-generation ARM processors. They are locked now in their current generation.

Even Qualcomm today, for what I know, bases their processors on ARM's "default" schemes, instead of doing their development "from scratch", in a totally independent way. It would push for slow but steady decline as "top" smartphone vendor into "el cheapo" niche.

Arioch , May 23, 2019 10:16:54 AM | 6
At the same time Qualcomm would probably be forced to slash prices down for their non-Huawei customers. https://www.zdnet.com/article/qualcomms-licensing-practices-violated-us-antitrust-laws-judge-rules/
Red Ryder , May 23, 2019 10:17:21 AM | 7
Boeing is the counter-part in the contest to destroy Huawei. China has great leverage over Boeing's future. It is the nation with the biggest market now and downstream for 10-20 years. China need planes, thousands of them.

As for Huawei's chief doubting the prowess of the Chinese students, he only needs to look at the rapidity of the conversion of his nations' economy to a 98% digital economy. All that conversion was done by local, entrepreneurial innovators in the software and hardware tech sector. It happened only in China and completely by Chinese young people who had phones and saw the future and made it happen.

It has been Chinese minds building Chinese AI on Chinese Big Data.

Yes, they need Russian technologists and scientists. Those Russian minds in Russia, in Israel, in South Korea are proven difference makers.

The need China now has will meet the solution rapidly. For five years, the Double Helix of Russia-China has been coming closer in education and R&D institutes in both nations. China investors and Chinese sci-tech personnel are in the sci-tech parks of Russia, and Russians are in similar facilities in China. More will happen now that the Economic War against China threatens.

Huawei will have solutions to replace all US components by the end of the year. It will lose some markets. but it will gain hugely in the BRI markets yet to be developed.

In the long run, the US makers will rue the day Trump and his gang of Sinophobes and hegemonists took aim at Huawei and China's tech sector.

oglalla , May 23, 2019 10:40:03 AM | 8
Let's all boycott Most Violent, Biggest Brother tech. Don't buy shit.
vk , May 23, 2019 10:46:37 AM | 9
This move by Google-USG is mostly a propaganda warfare move. Huawei doesn't depend on smartphone sales to survive. It's American market was already small, while China's domestic market is huge. China is not Japan.

Besides, it's not like Europe is prospering either. Those post-war days are long gone.

And there's no contradiction between what the CEO said and the Government line: both are approaching the same problem from different points of view, attacking it from different fronts at the same time. "Patriotism" is needed insofar as the Chinese people must be prepared to suffer some hardships without giving up long term prosperity. "Nationalism" ("politics") is toxic insofar as, as a teleological tool, it is a dead end (see Bannon's insane antics): the Chinese, after all, are communists, and communists, by nature, are internationalists and think beyond the artificial division of humanity in Nation-States.

Ptb , May 23, 2019 11:09:35 AM | 0

Ren Zhengfei's attitude is remarkable, considering his daughter ia currently held hostage.
ken , May 23, 2019 11:15:25 AM | 1
Talking Digital and security in the same sentence is laughable.... NOTHING Digital is 'secure',,, never has,,, never will.

Digital destroys everything it touches. At present, excepting for now the low wage States, it is destroying economies ever so slowly one sector at a time. This has nothing to do with security and everything to do with the dying West, especially the USA which is trying desperately to save what's left of its production whether it be 5G, Steel plants or Nord Stream. The West created China when it happily allowed and assisted Western corporations to move the production there in order to hide the inflation that was being created for wars and welfare and now has to deal with the fallout which eventually will be their undoing.

Jackrabbit , May 23, 2019 11:22:20 AM | 2
A full-blown trade war was probably inevitable, driven by geopolitical concerns as much or more than economics.

One wonders what each of China and US has been doing to prepare. It seems like the answer is "very little" but since it's USA that is driving this bus, I would think that USA would've done more to prepare (than China has).

PS It's not just Boeing. China also supplies the vast majority of rare earth minerals.

Red Ryder , May 23, 2019 11:24:39 AM | 3
@10,

Her captivity and probable imprisonment in the US explain his attitude. She is a high profile pawn. The US must convict her in order to justify what they have done to her so far. She may not serve time, in the US prisons, but she will be branded a guilty person, guilty of violating the Empire's rules (laws).

Imagine Ivanka in the same situation. Her daughter singing in Mandarin would be little help. The Trump Family will be a number one target for equal treatment long after "45" leaves office.

The US Empire is wild with Power. All of that Power is destructive. And all the globe is the battlefield, except USA. But History teaches that this in-equilibrium will not last long.

Jackrabbit , May 23, 2019 11:26:33 AM | 4
We've seen how Europe caved to US pressure to stop trading with Iran. Now Japan and others are caving to pressure to stop trading with China. There is already pressure and negotiation to stop Nordstream. And all of the above leads to questions about Erdogan's resolve.
alaric , May 23, 2019 11:38:11 AM | 5
Trump's heavy handed move against Huawei will backfire. The optic is unsettling; the US looks to be destroying a foreign competitor because it is winning.

The ramifications of trade war with China (where the supply and manufacturing chain of most consumer electronics is these days) is disruptive. Trump has created uncertainty for many manufacturers since there is Chinese part content is just about everything these days. Some manufacturers might relocate production to the US but most will try to simply decouple from the US entirely.

Exposure to the US is really the problem not exposure to China.

Jackrabbit , May 23, 2019 11:53:44 AM | 8
b: Why Trump's Huawei Ban Is Unlikely To Persist

The trade war with Iran was also unlikely to persist. But it has persisted, and deepened as European poodles pretended to resist and then pretended not to notice that they didn't.

A new Bloomberg opinion piece agrees with that view

No, it doesn't b. You say USA trade war will fail because it lacks international support. Bloomberg says USA should get international support to make it more effective. The difference is that it is highly likely that USA will get international support. It already has support from Japan.

USA has proven that it can effectively manipulate it's poodle allies. Another example is Venezuela where more than two dozen countries recognized Guido only because USA wanted them to.

<> <> <> <> <> <> <>

It's not Trump but the US Deep State that causes US allies to fall in line. Any analysis that relies on Trump as President is bound to fail as his public persona is manipulated to keep Deep State adversaries (including the US public) off-balance.

Like President's before him, Trump will take the blame (and the credit) until another team member is chosen to replace him in what we call "free and fair elections".

ben , May 23, 2019 11:54:24 AM | 9
Until the reserve currency issue favoring the "exceptional" nation changes, the economic terrorism will continue..
Jeff , May 23, 2019 12:00:34 PM | 0
What is funny in all these stories, is that there is little to no Huawei equipment (not the end-user smart phone, home router and stuff, but backbone routers, access equipment,..) anywhere in the US -- they are forbidden to compete. Most telcos are quite happy to sell in the US, as the absence of these Chinese competitors allows for healthy margins, which is no longer true in other markets.

So the Huawei ban hits first and foremost the US' partners.

bjd , May 23, 2019 12:00:38 PM | 1
@ben (19)

China can only undo the US-exceptionalsim if and when it can visibly project military power. The only way to achieve that is tt has to make great haste in building a few fleets of aircraft carriers, fregats and destroyers, etc. It must build a grand, visibly magnificent Chinese Navy.

ben , May 23, 2019 12:02:59 PM | 2
big time OT alert;

Modi wins in India, another victory for the world oligarchs. Exactly mimicking conditions in the U$A. Media and governmental capture by the uber wealthy...

Noirette , May 23, 2019 12:04:16 PM | 3
(Ignorant of tech aspects.)

The US is trying desperately to quash tech success / innovation introduced by others who are not controlled by (or in partnership with) the US, via economic war, for now just politely called a trade war - China no 1 adversary.

Afaik, the entire smart-phone industry is 'integrated' and 'regulated' by FTAs, the WTO, the patent circuit, the Corps. and Gvmts. who collaborate amongst themselves.

Corps. can't afford to compete viciously because infrastructure, aka more encompassing systems or networks (sic) are a pre-requisite for biz, thus, Gvmts. cooperate with the Corps, and sign various 'partnerships,' etc.

sidebar. Not to mention the essential metals / components provenance, other topic. see

https://bit.ly/2K1pj3d - PDF about minerals in smarphones

Attacking / dissing / scotching trade between one Co. (e.g. Huawei) and the world is disruptive of the usual, conventional, accepted, exchange functioning, and throws a pesky spanner in the works of the system. Revanchard motives, petty targetting, random pot-shots, lead to what?

karlof1 , May 23, 2019 12:05:01 PM | 4
As I wrote in the Venezuela thread, major US corps are already belt tightening by permanently laying off managers, not already cut-to-the-bone production staff, and another major clothing retailer is closing its 650+ stores. And the full impact of Trump's Trade War has yet to be felt by consumers. As Wolff, Hudson and other like-minded economists note, there never was a genuine recovery from 2008, while statistical manipulation hides the real state of the US economy. One thing that cannot be hidden is the waning of revenues collected via taxes which drives the budget deficit--and the shortfall isn't just due to the GOP Congress's tax cuts.

The war against Huawei is only one small aspect within the overall Trade War, which is based on the false premise of US economic strength. Most of the world wants to purchase material things, not financial services which is the Outlaw US Empire's forte and most of the world can easily forego. Trump's Trade War isn't going as planned which will cause him to double-down in a move that will destroy his 2020 hopes.

Arioch , May 23, 2019 12:05:34 PM | 5
@vk #9

> Huawei's phones American market was already small, while China's domestic market is huge

Here is that data, for 2017, outside the paywall: https://imgur.com/a/8bvvX9B

Data for 2019 is probably slightly different, but the trends should keep on. That data also does not separate Android-based phones from non-Android phones. So, segmenting Android into Google and China infrastructures would mean

1) Huawei retains a $152B market - China
2) Huawei retains an unknown share in $87B market - APAC
3) Huawei loses a $163,9B market - all non-China world.

At best Huawei looses 40,7% of world market. That if all APAC population would voluntarily and uniformly drop out of Google services into Huawei/China services (which they would not). At worst Huawei retains 37,7% of the marker (if APAC population would uniformly follow Google, which they would not either).

[May 19, 2019] RF has been falsely accused in Salisbury; RF and Syria have been falsely accused in Douma, Khan Seikhoun and over MH17 tragedy. That means that NATO stages the war on RF by other means. RF should eventually respond. Gob bless President Putin, the RF military leaders and brave soldiers!

May 19, 2019 | russia-insider.com

VeeNarian (Yerevan) a year ago ,

Presumably, RF has been falsely accused in Salisbury. Presumably, RF and Syria have been falsely accused in Douma. Presumably, Russia and Syria have been falsely accused over Khan Seikhoun. Presumably, RF has been falsely accused and PUNISHED over the athletes drug doping. Presumably, RF has been falsely accused over MH17 tragedy. Presumably, the US/EU/NATO/GCC know all this, and still they carry on?

There can be only ONE reaction from President Putin.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
NO MORE MR NICE GUY.

How this translates into action is up to him and the Russian people. Godspeed to the mighty Russian Federation, who have become MORE Christian than the US. (I observe this as a British Indian Hindu).

This reminds me of the moment when the Gita is revealed to Arjuna by Lord Krishna, on the verge of a war he had done everything to avoid. Lord Krishna revealed how Arjuna had to do his duty, his dharma, no matter what his attachment. Godspeed President Putin and the RF military leaders and brave soldiers!

[May 18, 2019] If Washington were able to control everything, including "Big Prize" Iran, it would be able to dominate all Asian economies, especially China. Trump even said were that to happen, "decisions on the GNP of China will be made in Washington."

May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , May 18, 2019 2:15:40 AM | link

Without the oil, Trump has lost. Pepe Escobar is starting to get the picture

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/05/17/the-dead-dont-die-they-march-to-war/

"If President Trump had ever read Mackinder -- and there's no evidence he did -- one might assume that he's aiming at a new anti-Eurasia integration pivot centered on the Persian Gulf. And energy would be at the heart of the pivot.

If Washington were able to control everything, including "Big Prize" Iran, it would be able to dominate all Asian economies, especially China. Trump even said were that to happen, "decisions on the GNP of China will be made in Washington."...

...Arguably the key (invisible) takeaway of the meetings this week between Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi, and then between Lavrov and Pompeo, is that Moscow made it quite clear that Iran will be protected by Russia in the event of an American showdown. Pompeo's body language showed how rattled he was.

What rattled Pomp: "Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, be it small-scale, medium-scale or any other scale, will be treated as a nuclear attack on our country. The response will be instant and with all the relevant consequences,"

Trump may not have read Mackinder but Kissinger sure would have.

[Apr 28, 2019] I don't know for a fact that the new Russian weapon systems are real, but the technological breakthroughs behind them are very believable

Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

steven t johnson , Apr 28, 2019 11:37:43 AM | link

< Rhisiart Gwilym@30 seems to think that Putin boasting means it's real. This is incorrect. There is a great deal of historical experience with new weapons. About the only one that was unanswerable was the chariot and heavy cavalry (with armored rider.) But that was because of the difficulty in finding large enough horses. The bow spread rapidly. Iron weapons spread more slowly, although it is easier to transport iron ore than to raise cavalry horses. But not even iron weapons made the Hittites invincible. They beat the Egyptians, but their empire still fell, and Egypt's didn't. >

In more recent times, again, the usual experience of new weapons is that they always take much time to incorporate successfully. And they never make the old armies obsolete. The modern weapon that came closest to actually winning the war was, as near as I can tell, the submarine, at least against island nations needing large imports. (Submarine warfare against Japanese shipping is unsung, but was quite important as I understand it.) The machine gun, the hydraulic recoil artillery, the flamethrower, the grenade, the barbed wire, the tank, the plan...none of them compensated for weakness. In the end, however much the new weapons changed, skilled leadership and determined soldiers who kept their morale could compensate. And none of these weapons ever compensated for the caste arrogance of incompetent officers or the demoralization of conscripts used as cannon fodder.

Now that is reality. This reality will crush a Putin press conference.


c1ue , Apr 28, 2019 12:14:26 PM | link

@steven t johnson #1
I don't know for a fact that the new Russian weapon systems are real, but the technological breakthroughs behind them are very believable.
Instead of a "magic" stealth capability via ginormous spending as the F-35 is supposed to be able to do - on top of which it can do via jump jet, carrier based, air superiority, ground attack, etc etc all at once, the Russian systems are based on a single nuclear engine plus some civilian grade autonomous guidance capability.

The tidal torpedo is this engine, running underwater, and autonomously guided. The Russian military has always had very interesting underwater tech including the fastest sub ever actually built plus the hyperspeed underwater missile/torpedo - which actually creates an underwater air bubble and travels in it, a tech which the US, I believe, has no idea how to replicate.

The hyperspeed missile, the same nuclear engine at max power.

The world-spanning cruise missile, the same nuclear engine at long duration plus autonomous vehicle tech including GLONASS and terrain following - which existing Russian anti-ship and cruise missile systems must already have.

We do know that Russian tech is very advanced in terms of rocketry; Russian nuclear systems have also been progressing for decades - unlike in the US where 3 Mile Island stopped pretty much all nuclear tech development, outside of bombs, for 4 decades.

From my view, it is very possible that this engine exists.

I'd also note that the new systems are primarily deterrence. Yes, a hyperspeed nuclear missile could be used for first strike, but none of these systems are really useful for colonialist domination or beating down of "terrorists" with AK47s and sandals.

c1ue , Apr 28, 2019 12:34:04 PM | link
@steven t johnson #39

The new systems aren't for land control - which all of your examples are used for. They're intended for deterrence/defense.

Land control weapons are different because they require enormous scale.

The theory of air superiority as demonstrated by WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq1, Iraq2, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya etc is a good example where the theory is that the ability to destroy the enemy's industry and "will to fight" would be able to replace the need to actually field soldiers and armies.

American hagiography falsely believes it is the strategic bombing in WW2 that defeated the Germans; the reality was clearly 20 million dead Russians, millions of live ones in tanks which eventually took down the Wehrmacht at its peak.

Vietnam was an outright failure - ginormous amounts of bombs, napalm and Agent Orange failed to break the Vietnamese people's will to fight.

Korea - it worked until it didn't. The US bombed the crap out of the entire country but ultimately the Chinese manpower turned the tide (note many of these Chinese "volunteers" were ex-Nationalists sent out to die).

Iraq1 worked - a quick demonstration strike against a 3rd rate military that thought it was 2nd rate, but Iraq2 showed that just taking down the official military isn't enough to actually win on the ground.

Afghanistan - ditto. Bombs everywhere for 17+ years, and the Taliban is stronger than ever before.

Libya - I suspect Gaddafi never thought he'd get stabbed in the back like he did, and was woefully unprepared, but again US and French/British bombers were used to take down strongpoints so that the various tribes could roll into town.

Lastly Syria: the presence of Russian military tech stopped the one-sided use of airpower, and a literal handful of Russian attack jets turned the tide for the entire conflict despite hundreds of millions of dollars in weaponry poured into Syria by the UAE, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

It seems the lessons you are trying to teach are simply the wrong ones: Japanese shipping/American submarines - the reality was that Japan didn't have the manpower or the oil. Japan had 73 million people in 1940 vs. the US @132M (Germany had 90M). Japan was significantly behind industrially, economically and technologically. Yes, the US was participating in Europe - but Japan was also attacking China (population 825M).

For that matter, it is very clear that Japan had significant provocation prior to Pearl Harbor in the form of an oil embargo imposed by the US US State Dept web site documenting embargo on Japan (sound familiar? US sanctions aren't anything new)

[Apr 27, 2019] Beijing and Moscow share one very big objective: resist US dominance

Notable quotes:
"... The real test for having an “unprecedentedly high level” relationship would be to coordinate diplomatic campaigns against U.S. policies. Working together they are more likely to split off American allies and friends from unpopular initiatives, such as unilateral sanction campaigns. ..."
"... Lets all mindlessly repeat the platitudes of Thinktankistan entities like CATO... Russian economy is smaller than new York... Russian relies on oil sales and doesn't make anything.... These sock puppets must think we are imbeciles. ..."
"... He's an Atlantacist fool. Senior fellow at the CATO institute, pretty much says it all. His style is to drop the odd truth-bomb (like criticizing the ill-advised NATO expansion and US geopolitical belligerence) but he still sticks to the main planks of Euro-Atlantic narratives. ..."
Apr 27, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

...Beijing and Moscow share one very big objective: resist U.S. dominance. Washington expanded NATO up to Russia's borders; America's navy patrols the Asia-Pacific and treats those waters as an American lake. Elsewhere there is no issue upon which Washington fails to sanctimoniously pronounce its opinion and piously attempt to enforce its judgment.

Unfortunately, for quite some time Washington has seemed determined to give both China and Russia good cause for discontent. Instead, in response, Washington should do its best to eliminate behaviors which bring its two most important competitors together. Then the United States wouldn't need to worry what Presidents Putin and Xi were saying to one another .

Thus, Washington has done much to bring its two leading adversaries together. However, hostility is a limited basis for agreement. There is no military alliance, despite Chinese participation in a Russian military exercise last fall. Neither government is interested in going to war with America and certainly not over the other’s grievances. A shared sense of threat could change that, but extraordinarily sustained and maladroit U.S. policies would be required to create that atmosphere.

When the two countries otherwise act for similar purposes, it usually is independently, even competitively, rather than cooperatively. For instance, both are active in Cuba, contra Washington’s long-failed policy of starving the regime into submission. Beijing and Moscow also are both supporting Venezuela’s beleaguered Maduro government. However, China and Russia appear to be focused on advancing their own government’s influence, even against that of the other.

Both nations have a United Nations Security Council veto, though the PRC traditionally has preferred to abstain, achieving little, rather than cast a veto. However, working together they could more effectively reshape allied proposals for UN action. They could do much the same in other multilateral organizations, though usually without having a veto.

The real test for having an “unprecedentedly high level” relationship would be to coordinate diplomatic campaigns against U.S. policies. Working together they are more likely to split off American allies and friends from unpopular initiatives, such as unilateral sanction campaigns. Europe is more likely to cooperate if the PRC, valued for its economic connections, joined Russia, still distrusted for its confrontation with Ukraine and interference in domestic European politics. So far this former communist “axis” has been mostly an inconvenience for the United States, rather than a significant hindrance,

Still, that could change if the Trump administration makes ever more extraordinary assertions of unilateral power. Washington officials appear to sense the possibilities, having periodically whined about cooperation between China and Russia, apparently ill-prepared for any organized opposition to U.S. policies.

... ... ...

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .


Gary Sellars an hour ago ,

"China appears poised to absorb Russia’s sparsely populated east."

Good Lord, but when does this endless BS end? Seriously, no-one really believes this yet these clowns and fools keep trotting out these absurd canards.

"In a sense, the Putin-Xi meeting was much ado about nothing. The relationship revolves around what they are against, which mostly is the United States. They would have little to talk about other than the latest grievance about America to express or American activity to counter."

Yeah sure... no reason why Putin and Xi wouldn't want to talk about economic links given that Russia-China trade is now over $100B per year equivalent.... a figure reached more than 5 years earlier than Western "experts" had predicted, and which is growing very strongly.

Lets all mindlessly repeat the platitudes of Thinktankistan entities like CATO... Russian economy is smaller than new York... Russian relies on oil sales and doesn't make anything.... These sock puppets must think we are imbeciles.

Yuki 4 hours ago ,

Orwell predicted "It is a warfare of limited aims between combatants who are unable to destroy one another, have no material cause for fighting and are not divided by any genuine ideological difference."

Gary Sellars TPForbes an hour ago ,

He's an Atlantacist fool. Senior fellow at the CATO institute, pretty much says it all. His style is to drop the odd truth-bomb (like criticizing the ill-advised NATO expansion and US geopolitical belligerence) but he still sticks to the main planks of Euro-Atlantic narratives.

[Apr 20, 2019] April 19, 2019 at 1:16 pm

Notable quotes:
"... A lot of money not only in the USA but from the vassal states is and was at stake thus when Trump came along with his anti-imperial rhetoric ..."
"... Whatever Candidate Trump may or may not thought about a militaristic foreign policy, once in office he was properly tutored in the realities of the game. He now realizes that the MIC exists purely through the sufferance of external "enemies"; that "Full-Spectrum Dominance" means what it says; that America Numba One is non-negotiable; that Israel sets ME policy for the US; and that there is no limit to the DoD budget. Any policy changes outside of those parameters is tolerated and here we are plus ça change, etc., etc. ..."
Apr 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Cohen states:

President Bush withdrew the United States unilaterally from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, correct? Now, this treaty was related, because it forbid the deployment of so-called missile defense in a way that either side, American or Russian, could think that it had such great missile defense, it had a first strike capability. And everybody agreed nobody should think that. Mutually assured destruction had kept us safe in the nuclear age. But if Russia or the United States gets a first strike capability, then you don't have assured mutual destruction, and some crazy person might be tempted to risk it. So how did the Russians react to that? They began to develop–as I said before, when we began to deploy missile defense–a new generation of weapons. In other words, you're getting this classic action, reaction, action, reaction that drove the previous nuclear arms race, and now it's happening again.

Here is Putin's reaction to U.S. suspension of and withdrawal from the INF Treaty
Putin: Do The Math! Our Mach 9 Missiles Are 200 Miles Off US East Coast; How Fast They Can Reach It?

Decisions on whether to go to nuclear war are down to less than 5 minutes. That's the reason the Doomsday clock is closer to midnight than ever before. And Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton will be making the decisions.

Chris Cosmos , April 19, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Since the decline and fall of the Soviet Empire Washington has been worried that its existence as an imperial capital was in danger due to the rise of the small government right.

A lot of money not only in the USA but from the vassal states is and was at stake thus when Trump came along with his anti-imperial rhetoric the entire Washington Establishment rose as one and screamed "off with his head" so Trump had to mollify everyone by more warlike rhetoric and allying himself with the Saudis and the neo-fascists in Israel and it looks like he will finish out his term.

Detente will never come no matter who wins next year and no one wants nuclear war but we could step into it as Cohen warns.

But I believe today that military leaders have shown how adept they were in avoiding conflict in Syria so I'm more hopeful than Cohen.

barrisj , April 19, 2019 at 7:17 pm

Whatever Candidate Trump may or may not thought about a militaristic foreign policy, once in office he was properly tutored in the realities of the game. He now realizes that the MIC exists purely through the sufferance of external "enemies"; that "Full-Spectrum Dominance" means what it says; that America Numba One is non-negotiable; that Israel sets ME policy for the US; and that there is no limit to the DoD budget. Any policy changes outside of those parameters is tolerated and here we are plus ça change, etc., etc.

[Apr 19, 2019] Yesterday's Country by Fred Reed

Apr 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

China has risen explosively, from being clearly a "Third World" country forty years ago to become a very serious and rapidly advancing competitor to America. Anyone who has seen today's China (I recently spent two weeks there, traveling muchly) will have been astonished by the ubiquitous construction, the quality of planning, the roads and airports and high-speed rail, the sense of confidence and modernity. Compare this with America's rotting and dangerous cities, swarms of homeless people, deteriorating education, antique rail, deindustrialized midlands, loony government, and ahe military sucking blood from the economy like some vast leech, and America will seem yesterday's country. The phrase "national suicide" comes to mind.

A common response to these observations from thunder-thump patriots is the assertion that the Chinese can't invent anything, just copy and steal. What one actually sees is a combination of rapid and successful adoption of foreign technology (see Shanghai maglev below) and, increasingly, cutting edge science and technology. More attention might be in order.

... ... ...

"More Than 510,000 Overseas Students Return to China"

This year. A couple of decades ago, Chinese students in the US often refused to return to a backward and repressive country. It now appears that Asia is where the action is and they want to be part of it.


Anon [372] Disclaimer , says: Website April 18, 2019 at 5:35 pm GMT

Compare this with America's rotting and dangerous cities

Certain parts of the cities are doing better than ever.

The problem of crime and danger is all about blacks.

Anon [372] Disclaimer , says: Website April 18, 2019 at 5:44 pm GMT
All those things you mentioned are micro-innovations, not macro ones.

China hasn't come up with a game-changer like the internet.

But we must keep in mind that most of the West hasn't been all that innovative either. Rather, there have been spurts and sudden explosions followed by little activity.

Look at the Greeks. So creative long long ago but what happened to that fire during Byzantine yrs? And what are Greeks today? And Italians? And Renaissance was mostly about few parts of Northern Italy. Italy made some great films in the 20th century but hasn't been a key player in much of anything.

And most European peoples haven't been all that innovative. It was only pockets of places in UK, France, and Germany mostly in the modern era. What big thing came out of Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and etc? There are surely exceptions, but they weren't major players.

Innovations are about sparks. Sparks of inspiration, ingenuity. But for sparks to catch fire, there has to be dry wood. The problem for East Asia was it tended to suppress spark-mentality and, besides, the wood was wet with tradition and customs.

But then, a nation that defines itself by genius and innovation alone will fail too. Why? Because only a tiny number of people are genius or innovative. Most people are 'lame'. If a nation comes to define itself mainly by wealth, smarts, and genius, then most people will have no value. Also, the top smarties will identify mainly with smarties in other parts of the world than with their own 'lame' folks. This is why Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore are going the wrong path. They've emphasized excellence so much that only elites have value, and these elites feel closer to Western elites than with their own 'lame' masses who are to be replaced like white folks in US and EU.

Anon [372] Disclaimer , says: Website April 18, 2019 at 5:45 pm GMT
@WorkingClass The U.S. is in decline.

US is both going up and down.

Certain sectors are doing better than ever. Also, US continues to be the top magnet of talent around the world.
But in other ways, it is falling apart.

Much of US will end up worse but much of it will get richer.

US will be like a hyper Latin American nation with great riches and great poverty.

Citizen of a Silly Country , says: April 18, 2019 at 6:17 pm GMT

A common response to these observations from thunder-thump patriots is the assertion that the Chinese can't invent anything, just copy and steal.

Well, let's do a thought exercise and simply assume that this is 100% true, that the Chinese can't invent anything, just copy, steal and maintain what whites invent. Does that change your opinion that China will overtake the West? It shouldn't.

The West is slowly (at least for now) imploding. We are importing the 3rd world, while we demonize whites. The West has managed to avoid dramatic decline because whites were still a large majority of the citizens. That is changing. Whites are less than 50% of births in the United States. Non-whites account for 1 in 3 births in England. Muslims account for at least 20% of births in France with Sub-Saharan Africans making up between 5% and 10% of the births.

We'll reach a tipping point at some point where things start to noticeably decline. China doesn't need to outdo the West. It just has to avoid declining with the West. If China simply maintains the technology and societal organization of the West while the West falls into tribal warfare – hot or cold – China will become the dominate power.

Citizen of a Silly Country , says: April 18, 2019 at 6:20 pm GMT
@Anon I'd agree with that. But under that scenario, China will still become the dominant world power. We're on our way to be a sort-of Brazil of the North. Well, Brazil doesn't do much on the world stage.

We simply won't have the money or talent to maintain a global military and cultural presence. Then again, we'll probably still be run by Jews, so we'll like remain a presence in the Middle East.

[Mar 20, 2019] What will happen if no energy source can cover the decline rate

Notable quotes:
"... "If that was to happen and no energy source can cover the decline rate, wouldn't the world be pretty fucked economically thereafter? Hence one can assume or take a wild ass guess that the decline after peak would resemble something like Venezuela. So not a smooth short % decline rate." ..."
"... Realistically the global economy is already in a tight spot. It started back in 2000 when Oil prices started climbing from about $10/bbl in 1998 to about $30/bbl in 2000. Then the World Major Central banks dropped interest which ended triggering the Housing Boom\Bust and carried Oil prices to $147/bbl. Since then Interest rates have remained extremely low while World Debt has soared (expected to top $250T in 2019). ..."
"... Probably the biggest concern for me is the risking risks for another World war: The US has been targeting all of the major Oil exporters. The two remaining independent targets are Venezuela & Iran. I suspect Venzuela will be the next US take over since it will be a push over compared to Iran. ..."
Mar 16, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ignored says: 03/16/2019 at 12:42 am

Iron Mike Asked:

"If that was to happen and no energy source can cover the decline rate, wouldn't the world be pretty fucked economically thereafter? Hence one can assume or take a wild ass guess that the decline after peak would resemble something like Venezuela. So not a smooth short % decline rate."

Energy is the economy, The economy cannot function without energy. Thus its logical that a decline in energy supply will reduce the economy. The only way for this not to apply is if there are efficiency gains that offset the decline. But at this point the majority of cost effective efficiency gains are already in place. At this point gains become increasing expensive with much smaller gains (law of diminishing returns). Major infrastructure changes like modernizing rail lines take many decades to implement and also require lots of capital. Real capital needed will be difficult to obtain do to population demographics (ie boomers dependent on massive unfunded entitlement & pensions).

Realistically the global economy is already in a tight spot. It started back in 2000 when Oil prices started climbing from about $10/bbl in 1998 to about $30/bbl in 2000. Then the World Major Central banks dropped interest which ended triggering the Housing Boom\Bust and carried Oil prices to $147/bbl. Since then Interest rates have remained extremely low while World Debt has soared (expected to top $250T in 2019).

My guess is that global economy will wipe saw in the future as demographics, resource depletion (including Oil) and Debt all merge into another crisis. Gov't will act with more cheap and easy credit (since there is no alterative TINA) as well as QE\Asset buying to avoid a global depression. This creating a wipesaw effect that has already been happening since 2000 with Boom Bust cycles. This current cycle has lasted longer because the Major central banks kept interest rates low, When The Fed started QT and raising rate it ended up triggering a major stock market correction In Dec 2018. I believe at this point the Fed will no longer seek any further credit tightening that will trip the economy back into recession. However its likely they the global economy will fall into another recession as consumers & business even without further credit tighting by CB (Central Banks) Because they've been loading up on cheap debt, which will eventually run into issues servicing their debt. For instance there are about 7M auto loans in delinquency in March of 2019. Stock valuations are largely driven by stock buybacks, which is funded by debt. I presume companies are close to debt limit which is likely going to prevent them from purchase more stock back.

Probably the biggest concern for me is the risking risks for another World war: The US has been targeting all of the major Oil exporters. The two remaining independent targets are Venezuela & Iran. I suspect Venzuela will be the next US take over since it will be a push over compared to Iran. I think once all of remaining independent Oil Exports are seized that is when the major powers start fighting each other. However is possible that some of the proxy nations (Pakastan\India),(Israel\Iran), etc trigger direct war between the US, China, and Russia at any time.

Notice that the US is now withdrawing from all its major arms treaties, and the US\China\Russia are now locked into a Arms race. Nuclear powers are now rebuilding their nuclear capacity (more Nukes) and modernizing their deployment systems (Hypersonic, Very large MIRV ICBMS, Undersea drones, Subs, Bombers, etc.

My guess is that nations like the US & China will duke it out before collapsing into the next Venezuela. If my assessment is correct, The current state of Venezuela will look like the garden of Eden compared to the aftermath of a full scale nuclear war.

Currently the Doomsday clock (2019) is tied with 1953 at 2 minutes:

https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/past-announcements/

1953 was the height of the cold war. I presume soon the Doomsday clock will be reduced to less than 2 Minutes later this year, due to recent events in the past few weeks.

https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/current-time/

"the world's nuclear nations proceeded with programs of "nuclear modernization" that are all but indistinguishable from a worldwide arms race, and the military doctrines of Russia and the United States have increasingly eroded the long-held taboo against the use of nuclear weapons."

" The current international security situation -- what we call the "new abnormal" -- has extended over two years now. It's a state as worrisome as the most dangerous times of the Cold War, a state that features an unpredictable and shifting landscape of simmering disputes that multiply the chances for major military conflict to erupt."

[Mar 08, 2019] The Map That Shows Why Russia Fears War With US

Mar 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

Agent76 , says: March 7, 2019 at 11:25 pm GMT

February 26, 2019 The Empire: Now or Never

Many people I talk to seem to think American foreign policy has something to do with democracy, human rights, national security, or maybe terrorism or freedom, or niceness, or something. It is a curious belief, Washington being interested in all of them. Other people are simply puzzled, seeing no pattern in America's international behavior. Really, the explanation is simple.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51174.htm

Nov 29, 2016 The Map That Shows Why Russia Fears War With US

https://youtu.be/L6hIlfHWaGU

[Mar 04, 2019] T>he detonation of a hundred Hiroshima-scale nuclear weapons in an Indo-Pakistani war would, due to the destruction of large cities, inject so much smoke and ash into the upper atmosphere as to trigger a global agricultural collapse. This, they predicted, would lead to a billion deaths in the months that followed South Asia's "limited" nuclear war."

Mar 04, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star March 2, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Ahhh..yes..nothing like the handiwork of the shitstains,morons ,leprechauns, cnts and cckskkers in the USA State Department over the last few decades that COUL:D have fostered fundamental sanity in international relations but did not do so:

"A nuclear catastrophe in the making?
No one should underestimate the danger of what would be the first-ever war between nuclear-armed states. Since the 2001-2002 war crisis, which saw a million Indian troops deployed on the Pakistan border for nine months, both countries have developed hair-trigger strategies, with a dynamic impelling rapid escalation. In response to India's Cold Start strategy, which calls for the rapid mobilization of Indian forces for a multi-front invasion of Pakistan, Islamabad has deployed tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons. India has, in return, signaled that any use by Pakistan of tactical nuclear weapons will break the "strategic threshold," freeing India from its "no first use" nuclear-weapon pledge, and be met with strategic nuclear retaliation.

All this would play out in a relatively small, densely populated area. The center of Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city with a population in excess of 11 million, lies little more than 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from the Indian border. The distance from New Delhi to Islamabad is significantly less than that between Berlin and Paris or New York and Detroit and would be travelled by a nuclear-armed missile in a matter of minutes.

A nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would not only kill tens of millions in South Asia. A 2008 simulation conducted by scientists who in the 1980s alerted the world to the threat of "nuclear winter" determined that the detonation of a hundred Hiroshima-scale nuclear weapons in an Indo-Pakistani war would, due to the destruction of large cities, inject so much smoke and ash into the upper atmosphere as to trigger a global agricultural collapse. This, they predicted, would lead to a billion deaths in the months that followed South Asia's "limited" nuclear war."

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/genocide-us-cant-remember-bangladesh-cant-forget-180961490/

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/03/02/iper-m02.html

[Feb 21, 2019] The Empire Now or Never by Fred Reed

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... When the Soviet Empire collapsed, America appeared poised to establish the first truly world empire. The developed countries were American vassals in effect if not in name, many of them occupied by American troops: Among others, Europe, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Latin America, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. The US had by far the dominant economy and the biggest military, controlled the IMF, NATO, the dollar, SWIFT, and enjoyed technological superiority.. Russia was in chaos, China a distant smudge on the horizon. ..."
"... Current foreign policy openly focuses on dominating the planet. The astonishing thing is that some people don't notice. ..."
"... A major purpose of the destruction of Iraq was to get control of its oil and put American forces on the border of Iran, another oil power. The current attempt to starve the Iranians aims at installing a American puppet government. The ongoing coup in Venezuela seeks control of another vast oil reserve. It will also serve to intimidate the rest of Latin America by showing what can happen to any country that defies Washington. Why are American troops in Nigeria? Guess what Nigeria has. ..."
"... America cannot compete with China commercially ..."
"... Beijing's advantages are too great: A huge and growing domestic market, a far larger population of very bright people, a for-profit economy that allows heavy investment both internally and abroad, a stable government that can plan well into the future. ..."
"... Increasingly America's commercial power is as a consumer, not a producer. Washington tells other countries, "If you don't do as we say, we won't buy your stuff." ..."
"... As America's competitiveness declines, Washington resorts to strong-arm tactics. It has no choice. A prime example is the 5G internet, a Very Big Deal, in which Huawei holds the lead. Unable to provide a better product at a better price, Washington forbids the vassals to deal with Huawei–on pain of not buying their stuff. In what appears to be desperation, the Exceptional Nation has actually made a servile Canada arrest the daughter of Huawei's founder. ..."
Feb 21, 2019 | www.unz.com

... ... ...

When the Soviet Empire collapsed, America appeared poised to establish the first truly world empire. The developed countries were American vassals in effect if not in name, many of them occupied by American troops: Among others, Europe, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Latin America, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. The US had by far the dominant economy and the biggest military, controlled the IMF, NATO, the dollar, SWIFT, and enjoyed technological superiority.. Russia was in chaos, China a distant smudge on the horizon.

Powerful groups in Washington, such as PNAC, began angling towed aggrandizement, but the real lunge came with the attack on Iraq. Current foreign policy openly focuses on dominating the planet. The astonishing thing is that some people don't notice.

The world runs on oil. Controlling the supply conveys almost absolute power over those countries that do not have their own. (For example, the Japanese would soon be eating each other if their oil were cut off.) Saudi Arabia is an American protectorate,and, having seen what happened to Iraq, knows that it can be conquered in short order if it gets out of line. The U. S. Navy could easily block tanker traffic from Hormuz to any or all countries.

A major purpose of the destruction of Iraq was to get control of its oil and put American forces on the border of Iran, another oil power. The current attempt to starve the Iranians aims at installing a American puppet government. The ongoing coup in Venezuela seeks control of another vast oil reserve. It will also serve to intimidate the rest of Latin America by showing what can happen to any country that defies Washington. Why are American troops in Nigeria? Guess what Nigeria has.

Note that Iraq and Iran, in addition to their oil, are geostrategically vital to a world empire. Further, the immensely powerful Jewish presence in the US supports the Mid-East wars for its own purposes. So, of course, does the arms industry. All God's chillun love the Empire.

For the Greater Empire to prevail, Russia and China, the latter a surprise contender, must be neutralized. Thus the campaign to crush Russia by economic sanctions. At the same time Washington pushes NATO, its sepoy militia, ever eastward, wants to station US forces in Poland, plans a Space Command whose only purpose is to intimidate or bankrupt Russia, drops out of the INF Treaty for the same reasons, and seeks to prevent commercial relations between Russia and the European vassals (e.g., Nordstream II).

China of course is the key obstacle to expanding the Empire. Ergo the trade war. America has to stop China's economic and technological progress, and stop it now, as it will not get another chance.

The present moment is an Imperial crunch point. America cannot compete with China commercially or, increasingly, in technology. Washington knows it. Beijing's advantages are too great: A huge and growing domestic market, a far larger population of very bright people, a for-profit economy that allows heavy investment both internally and abroad, a stable government that can plan well into the future.

America? It's power is more fragile than it may seem. The United States once dominated economically by making better products at better prices, ran a large trade surplus, and barely had competitors. Today it has deindustrialized, runs a trade deficit with almost everybody, carries an astronomical and uncontrolled national debt, and makes few things that the world can't get elsewhere, often at lower cost.

Increasingly America's commercial power is as a consumer, not a producer. Washington tells other countries, "If you don't do as we say, we won't buy your stuff." The indispensable country is an indispensable market. With few and diminishing (though important) exceptions, if it stopped selling things to China, China would barely notice, but if it stopped buying, the Chinese economy would wither. Tariffs, note, are just a way of not buying China's stuff.

Since the profligate American market is vital to other countries, they often do as ordered. But Asian markets grow. So do Asian industries.

As America's competitiveness declines, Washington resorts to strong-arm tactics. It has no choice. A prime example is the 5G internet, a Very Big Deal, in which Huawei holds the lead. Unable to provide a better product at a better price, Washington forbids the vassals to deal with Huawei–on pain of not buying their stuff. In what appears to be desperation, the Exceptional Nation has actually made a servile Canada arrest the daughter of Huawei's founder.

The tide runs against the Empire. A couple of decades ago, the idea that China could compete technologically with America would have seemed preposterous. Today China advances at startling speed. It is neck and neck with the US in supercomputers, launches moonlanders, leads in 5G internet, does leading work in genetics, designs world-class chipsets (e.g., the Kirin 980 and 920) and smartphones. Another decade or two of this and America will be at the trailing edge.

The American decline is largely self-inflicted. The US chooses its government by popularity contests among provincial lawyers rather than by competence. American education deteriorates under assault by social-justice faddists. Washington spends on the military instead of infrastructure and the economy. It is politically chaotic, its policies changing with every new administration.

The first rule of empire is, "Don't let your enemies unite." Instead, Washington has pushed Russia, China, and Iran into a coalition against the Empire. It might have been brighter to have integrated Iran tightly into the Euro-American econosphere, but Israel would not have let America do this. The same approach would have worked with Russia, racially closer to Europe than China and acutely aware of having vast empty Siberia bordering an overpopulated China. By imposing sanctions of adversaries and allies alike, Washington promotes dedollarization and recognition that America is not an ally but a master.

It is now or never. If America's great but declining power does not subjugate the rest of the world quickly, the rising powers of Asia will swamp it. Even India grows. Either sanctions subdue the world, or Washington starts a world war. Or America becomes just another country.

To paraphrase a great political thinker, "It's the Empire, Stupid."


WorkingClass , says: February 20, 2019 at 7:56 pm GMT

The U.S. is broke. And stupid. Soon she will be forced to repatriate her legions.
Carlton Meyer , says: Website February 20, 2019 at 8:04 pm GMT
Great summary!

"Washington has pushed Russia, China, and Iran into a coalition against the Empire."

Turkey may soon join them, then Iraq might revolt. South Korea has tired of the warmongering and may join too, which is why Washington is giving them the lead in dealing with North Korea. But a united Korea identifes more with China than the USA, so the USA wants to block that idea. The Germans are unhappy too, with all the warmongering, immigration, and American arrogance.

Isabella , says: February 20, 2019 at 8:05 pm GMT
Sorry Fred, but you're too late. It's all over. Just that your maniacal rulers, i.e. Pompeo, Bolton et al can't see it. Or, Cognitive Dissonance being painful, refuse to.

Warsaw recently was a case in point. The two biggest European countries, Germany and France refused to even send a senior representative. All people did was listen in an embarrassed silence while Pompeo tried to make like a latter day Julius Cesear. At the same time, Russia, Turkey and Iran met in Sochi, and worked out how they were going to take the next solving the mess in Syria, the way they want it.

Incidentally, you could also go onto YouTube and watch RT's subtitled [also horrible voice over, but you can't have everything I guess] of President Putin's "Address to Parliament and the Nation". It runs for close to 1.5 hours. You will hear the problems Russia has, how Putin addresses the concerns of the people, their complaints re poor access in country areas to medicine, and his orders on how this is to be fixed.

But you will also hear the moves forward, that Russia now has a trade surplus [remember those?] and can afford all the programs it needs. It's the world leading exporter of Wheat, and other commodities are catching up.

Then he will tell you and show videos of the latest 2 defense weapons – and they are things America cannot defend against. He also in light of the US withdrawing from the INF treaty made a very clear statement, should the US be so stupid as to think it can use Europe as it's war ground, and have Europeans get killed instead of Americans. "Put Intermediate sites in Europe and use just one, and not only will we fire on the European site that sent it, but we will also take out the "decision making centre", wherever this is".

Ponder that for a while. There is nothing US can do. The dollar is slowly being rejected and dumped. The heartland is reamed out after billions took the productive facilities and put them in China [so kind]. The homeless and desperate are growing in numbers.

It's all over, Fred. Time to start planning what to do when the mud really hits the fan.

foolisholdman , says: February 20, 2019 at 8:56 pm GMT
Can't argue with that! Usually, I read Fred for amusement, but this is all spot on. I particularly liked:

The American decline is largely self-inflicted. The US chooses its government by popularity contests among provincial lawyers rather than by competence. American education deteriorates under assault by social-justice faddists. Washington spends on the military instead of infrastructure and the economy.

Asagirian , says: Website February 20, 2019 at 9:15 pm GMT
Incredible. US government cooks up lies to invade and wreck Iraq, destroy Libya, and subvert Syria. It pulled off a coup in Ukraine with Neo-Nazis. US and its allies Saudis and Israel gave aid, direct and indirect, to ISIS and Al-Qaida to bring down Assad or turn Syria upside down.

But, scum like Pompeo puts forth hard-line stance against terrorists. What a bunch of vile phonies and hypocrites.

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website February 20, 2019 at 9:41 pm GMT

It might have been brighter to have integrated Iran tightly into the Euro-American econosphere, but Israel would not have let America do this. The same approach would have worked with Russia, racially closer to Europe than China and acutely aware of having vast empty Siberia bordering an overpopulated China.

Russia is more than racially closer, Russia is culturally much closer and by culturally I don't mean this cesspool of new "culture". But, as you brilliantly noted:

The US chooses its government by popularity contests among provincial lawyers rather than by competence.

Philip Owen , says: February 20, 2019 at 10:22 pm GMT
Britain's time of full spectrum dominance (well trade, industry and navy really) did not emerge fully formed from isolation as did America. England and the UK played balance of power politics. The US can still do that for a very long time, given some basic diplomatic sense.

India, China & Pakistan present an interesting triangle. Indonesia and Vietnam are no friends of China. Nigeria is heading for 400m people and will want to exert its own power, not take instructions from Peking, etc, etc. Balance of power requires more fluidity than the US has shown to date. Seeing Russia as an hereditary enemy illustrates this failure.

Can the US make the changes necessary to play balance of power politics?

Si1ver1ock , says: February 20, 2019 at 10:24 pm GMT
I for one do not wish the Chinese any ill. They have worked hard to get where they are, whereas our leaders have betrayed us.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?103023-1/the-great-betrayal

Philip Owen , says: February 21, 2019 at 12:46 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Something wrong here. Government spending in either country is far more than 2%.
atlantis_dweller , says: February 21, 2019 at 2:19 am GMT

The astonishing thing is that some people don't notice.

.

Not to notice (or rather, not to notice one's own noticing) what the majority doesn't notice (OK: they don't notice that they notice, actually) is part of humankind's cerebral package too.
You once called it the law of the pack. It can be given innumerable names -- just it doesn't change.

The American decline is largely self-inflicted.

.
It's what follows ripe democracy, invariably -- meanjng that it can arguably not be helped.

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website February 21, 2019 at 2:23 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Finally a bright spot in an otherwise depressingly-fairly-truthful article. Less Government spending is a GOOD thing, I mean, unless you are a flat-out Communist, of course ohhhhh .

And yes, the scale is WAY off. How could those 0.8 to 2.05% numbers seem even close to reality to anyone who has a clue. I can't vouch for China, but the US number is off by a factor of 20 to 25 . Come on, Godfree, you're (a tad bit) better than that!

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website February 21, 2019 at 2:36 am GMT
That's not a bad article in general, but, as usual, Mr. Reed doesn't really have that analytical mind to know what's really been, and is, going on.

1) There were PLENTY of Americans, many of them even politicians who wanted a "peace dividend" after the Cold War was won. G.H.W Bush and the neocons put the kibosh on that. The current version of empire-building didn't have to be. The Israeli-influenced neocons are most of the reason for the post-Cold-War empire building.

2) It's not ALL about oil anymore – it seems to be a diminishing factor, what with the US producing more oil than it imports, at this point. Mr. Reed could use a dose of Zerohedge.com, as, along with their gloom-and-doom, they have opened my eyes to the American meddling around the world to keep support of the Reserve Currency, the US dollar. Lots of the countries in which the US causes trouble were trying to get out of the dollar world with their trade.

3) Related to (2) here, China and Russia both want to eliminate the use of the dollar in trade, including with each other. That bothers a lot of people who understand how bad the outlook for the US economy really is, and what it would mean for the dollar to no longer be used around the world for trade.

4) American government has handed China a completely one-sided deal (FOR China) in trade since the mid-1990's and Bill Clinton. It's time to end that, which is what the trade war is about. I don't dispute that American could be in a whole lot more pain over it than the Chinese, but it's like medicine – take it now, or suffer even more later.

America? It's power is more fragile than it may seem. The United States once dominated economically by making better products at better prices, ran a large trade surplus, and barely had competitors. Today it has deindustrialized, runs a trade deficit with almost everybody, carries an astronomical and uncontrolled national debt, and makes few things that the world can't get elsewhere, often at lower cost.

AGREED wholeheartedly!

Bruce County , says: February 21, 2019 at 3:33 am GMT
@peterAUS I agree .. Canada is "not" under America's boot. As a Canadian I respect the security America provides Canada on the world stage but it would be a cold day in hell when i would submit to an America with a gun in his hand. And im pretty sure our best buddies in jolly ol England might have something to say. This isnt a pissing match. Empire is a fickle bitch.
peterAUS , says: February 21, 2019 at 4:16 am GMT
@Bruce County Pretty much.
As far as Australia and New Zealand are concerned it's crystal clear. Somebody has to provide security for our way of life here; before it was United Kingdom, now it's USA.
Hehe definitely preferable to China.
Or Japan.
Or anyone here in Pacific.

If Americans want to deploy a full corps, whatever, no prob. Again, as far as "fair skinned" English speaking citizens here are concerned. I'd even say it applies to Polynesians around.
Now, can't say it applies to our Mohammedan citizens, and definitely not to Chinese.

It's amusing to see Westerners around here keen on replacing USA empire with Chinese. Hehe talking about self-hate.
Granted, there are people among them who really believe in all that propaganda coming from Beijing. Well better than taking Prozac or similar, I guess, so all good.

swamped , says: February 21, 2019 at 5:09 am GMT
"Current foreign policy openly focuses on dominating the planet. The astonishing thing is that some people don't notice." That is pretty astonishing, given that most of the columns on sites like this & even in more MSM-style publications rehash this theme ad infinitum. It may, in fact, be more a matter of people simply getting tired of hearing it over and over that leads them to shrug and turn to something different. It's not news anymore. How many columns can anyone squeeze out of the same threadbare topic. Many years ago, during first Cold War, it was still somewhat daring to expose this partially hidden truth; but now it's old hat on both the left & right.No one really needs someone to tell them again what everyone already knows, that's easy – but what to do about it, that's the hard part!
Godfree Roberts , says: February 21, 2019 at 5:25 am GMT
@Simply Simon I'm not an economist either, but it looks like the Chinese have outspent us 2:1 in R&D since 2012.

That, plus their better educated youngsters, gives them an awesome advantage going forward.

Godfree Roberts , says: February 21, 2019 at 5:27 am GMT
@Philip Owen This is a subset of government spending and only covers R&D.

It doesn't cover corporate R&D spending, though I'm guessing that in that regard, the two countries are even. If anyone has the numbers I'd be grateful if they'd share them.

Godfree Roberts , says: February 21, 2019 at 5:29 am GMT
@Achmed E. Newman Can you provide sources and figures for your claim that the US number is off by a factor of 20 to 25?

That would imply that the USG is spending $9 trillion–50% of GDP–on R&D alone.

chris , says: February 21, 2019 at 5:35 am GMT
@Isabella Excellent comment, Isabella!
Stevelancs , says: February 21, 2019 at 5:47 am GMT
@Simply Simon Godfrees graph should be entitled "USA v China in Gov't R&D Spending".
It's here..

https://www.quora.com/There-are-predictions-about-Chinas-economy-surpassing-the-USs-economy-in-the-future-but-are-there-predictions-of-China-surpassing-the-US-in-science-and-innovation-in-the-future

[Feb 10, 2019] One Step Closer To Nuclear Oblivion US Sabotages The INF Treaty by Federico Pieraccini

Notable quotes:
"... The Trump administration announced on February 1 that the country was suspending its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF treaty) for 180 days pending a final withdrawal. Vladimir Putin, in a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu, announced on Saturday that the Russian Federation is also suspending its participation in the treaty in a mirror response to Washington's unilateral decision. ..."
"... "Two years before making public unfounded accusations against Russia of alleged INF Treaty violations, Washington not only took a decision, but also started preparations to production of missiles of intermediate and shorter range banned by the Treaty. Starting already June 2017, the program of expansion and upgrade of production facilities with the aims of developing intermediate and shorter range missiles banned by the Treaty was launched at Raytheon's plant in the city of Tucson, Arizona. The plant is a major diversified enterprise of the US aerospace industry that produces almost all types of missile weapons. Over the past two years the space of the plant has increased by 44% – from 55,000 to 79,000 square meters, while the number of employees is going to rise by almost 2,000 people, according to official statements. Almost at the same time as production facilities expanded, on November 2017, Congress provided the first tranche amounting to $58 mln to Pentagon, directly pointing at the development of a land-based missile of intermediate range. Consequently, the nature and time of the works demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the US administration decided to withdraw from the INF Treaty several years before unfounded accusations against Russia of violating the Treaty were made public." ..."
"... "The (US) has announced research and development works, and we will do the same. I agree with the Defense Ministry's proposals to start the work on 'landing' Kalibr missiles and developing a new area to create a land-based hypersonic missile with intermediate range." ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | theduran.com
Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation

The Trump administration announced on February 1 that the country was suspending its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF treaty) for 180 days pending a final withdrawal. Vladimir Putin, in a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu, announced on Saturday that the Russian Federation is also suspending its participation in the treaty in a mirror response to Washington's unilateral decision.

The INF treaty was signed by the US and the USSR in 1987 at the height of negotiations that had begun years earlier and directly involved the leaders of the two countries. The treaty entered into force in 1988, eliminating missiles with a range of 500-1,000 kilometers (short to medium range) and 1,000-5,500 km (intermediate range). The treaty has always concerned land-based launchers and never sea- or air-launched missiles, a legacy of a bygone era where most nuclear warheads were positioned on missiles launched from the mainland. In subsequent years, thanks to technological advances, solutions like submarines, stealth bombers and the possibility of miniaturizing nuclear warheads became increasingly important in the military doctrines of both the US and Russia, nullifying the basis on which the INF treaty was initially signed, which was to avert a direct confrontation between Washington and Moscow on the European continent.

The INF treaty, together with the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks/Treaty (SALT treaty), signed by Washington and Moscow on the issue of long-range missiles, aimed to create a safer global environment by seeking to avoid the prospect of a nuclear exchange. It was also aimed at reducing the number of nuclear warheads owned by the US and the USSR, as well as generally reducing proliferation in line with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In particular, the INF treaty guaranteed a lasting peace on the European continent through Washington not deploying nuclear weapons in Europe aimed at the USSR and Moscow in turn not deploying systems capable of eliminating these European-based US missiles. The initial promoters of an INF agreement were obviously the European countries, who would have found themselves in the middle of a nuclear apocalypse in the event of war between Moscow and Washington.

With 1970s technology, the time between the launch and impact of a missile with a range of 500-5500 km was about 10-12 minutes; that was the amount of time Moscow and Washington's leaders had during the Cold War to decide whether to retaliate and thereby launch WWIII. With today's technology, the time to decide would probably be reduced to less than 5 minutes, making it all the more difficult to avert a nuclear exchange in the event of an accident or miscalculation. The INF treaty was thus a life-insurance policy for humanity that decreased the statistical probability of nuclear provocation or of an accident.

During the Cold War, the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) was central to the nuclear doctrines of the two great powers. The INF treaty served the purpose of taking concrete steps towards greatly reducing the possibility of mutually assured destruction.

With the unilateral withdrawal from the treaty by the US, all these safeguards and guarantees are lost, with all the consequences that ensue from such a reckless as dangerous act.

The American and European mainstream media have applauded the withdrawal from the INF, in the same way that they have applauded Trump whenever he has been pro-war. Former CIA and military personnel, as well as the former CEO's of major arms manufacturers, have been eager to share their views as "experts", literally invading television programs and thereby showing why they are paid lots of money to lobby for the military-industrial complex. They praised Trump's move, blaming Moscow for the ending of the treaty, but in the end revealing the covert geopolitical reason why Washington decided to end the deal, namely, the fact that China is not bound by the same treaty.

These vaunted experts on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News alluded to the danger of Washington being bound by such a treaty while Beijing was not, thereby limiting Washington's options in the Asia-Pacific. Trump and his staff view the INF treaty as an intolerable imposition that ties America's hands in its efforts to contain China.

US foreign policy, especially under this administration, sees every kind of agreement, past or future, as a concession, and therefore a sign of weakness. Trump and his generals drafted the National Defense Posture, stating that the time of great-power competition is back and that Washington's peer competitors were Moscow and Beijing. The return of great-power competition is an excuse to "strengthen the military", as Trumps loves to say, and his decision is in line with the new defense posture review Trump approved, seeking to confront every adversary in any domain by all means. The newly announced Space Force is a reflection of this, seeking to put weapons in space in violation of all existing treaties. At the same time, the development of tactical nuclear weapons also expands the use of nuclear weapons in certain circumstances, pushing the envelope on the prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons. These new programs will end up draining even more money from taxpayers to fill the coffers of shareholders, CEOs and lobbyists for the big arms manufacturers.

To justify the withdrawal from the INF, the military-industrial complex, which drives US foreign policy, needed a suitable justification. Of course in a time of anti-Russia hysteria, the choice was obvious. Since 2014, the attention of so-called US experts has been focused on the 9M729 missile in particular, an evolution of the 9M728, used by the Iskander-K weapons system, a Russian technological gem with few equals.

NPO Novator, the company that produces the 9M729, reassures that the missile does not violate the INF treaty and has a range shorter than the 500 km limit (470 km). Moscow even organized an exhibition open to the public, with the missile on display along with its main features, inviting Washington to officially send its experts to view the characteristics of the 9M729. Washington refused, knowing full well that the missile does not violate the the INF, preferring instead to use the 9M729 as an excuse to abandonment the treaty.

Washington will suspend its participation in the treaty within 180 days, and Moscow has responded with an identical measure. With hysteria surrounding Russia (Russiagate) and the impossibility of Trump and Putin engaging in dialogue following the complete sabotaging of relations between Moscow and Washington, it is almost impossible that a fruitful dialogue can be created to seal a new agreement in the remaining 180 days. This, however, is not even the basic objective of the Trump administration. Unofficially, Trump says that he would rather include Beijing in the agreement with Moscow. But knowing that this goal is impossible to achieve, he is pursuing his broader objective of withdrawing the US from all major treaties, including the INF treaty.

In the specific case of withdrawing from the INF, there is little need to raise a big hue and cry as was the case with the Paris Agreement, as the media-intelligence-military apparatus has a lot to gain from this. This just goes to show how the MSM and their rolled-out "experts" thrive on war and the money that is to be made from it. There is a major psyop going on to convince the American public that the withdrawal from the INF treaty, and the resulting arms race with major nuclear-armed countries, is apparently the best way to keep America safe!

The withdrawal from the INF treaty opens the gates for a new nuclear-arms race that will bring great advantages to arms industries, with great returns for shareholders, executives and CEOs, all paid for by the American taxpayer. It is more than probable that the official defense budget in 2020, having to cover for the development of weapons previously prohibited by the INF treaty, could be more than 800 billion dollars, seeing an increase of tens of billions of dollars in the space of 12 months.

Moscow has for several years been accusing the US of malfeasance regarding various aspects of nuclear-weapons agreements. Russia's defence minister stated to Tass News Agency:

"Two years before making public unfounded accusations against Russia of alleged INF Treaty violations, Washington not only took a decision, but also started preparations to production of missiles of intermediate and shorter range banned by the Treaty. Starting already June 2017, the program of expansion and upgrade of production facilities with the aims of developing intermediate and shorter range missiles banned by the Treaty was launched at Raytheon's plant in the city of Tucson, Arizona. The plant is a major diversified enterprise of the US aerospace industry that produces almost all types of missile weapons. Over the past two years the space of the plant has increased by 44% – from 55,000 to 79,000 square meters, while the number of employees is going to rise by almost 2,000 people, according to official statements. Almost at the same time as production facilities expanded, on November 2017, Congress provided the first tranche amounting to $58 mln to Pentagon, directly pointing at the development of a land-based missile of intermediate range. Consequently, the nature and time of the works demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the US administration decided to withdraw from the INF Treaty several years before unfounded accusations against Russia of violating the Treaty were made public."

The unilateral withdrawal by George W. Bush from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) in 2002, citing the need for the US to protect itself from countries belonging to the Axis of Evil (Iran, Iraq, North Korea), was an excuse to deploy the Aegis system (land- or sea-based) in strategic areas around the Russian Federation, so as to diminish Moscow's deterrent capacity for a nuclear second strike.

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD) is designed to be able to theoretically intercept Russian missiles in their initial boost phase, the period when they are the most vulnerable. Moscow has been openly questioning the rationale for the Aegis system deployed in Romania. According to Russian military experts, the possibility of reprogramming the system from defensive to offensive, replacing the conventional warheads used for intercepting missiles with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, could be undertaken within an hour, without the Russian Federation possibly being aware of it. Putin has cited this specific case and its technical possibility more than once when pointing out that the US is already in violation of the INF treaty by deploying such systems in Romania.

The US unilaterally withdrew from the ABM treaty in 2002 in order to be able to disguise the deployment of an offensive system under the guise of an ABM system for the purported purposes of defending against Iran, thereby de facto violating the INF treaty, an excess of arrogance and presumption. Such perfidy caused Putin to make his famous 2007 Munich speech, where he warned the US and her allies of the consequences of reneging on such treaties and agreements. Deploying defensive systems close to the Russian border that can easily be converted into offensive ones with a nuclear capacity was a red line that could not be crossed.

At the time the West ignored Putin's warnings, dismissive of the Russian leader. But only a few months ago, the Russian Federation finally showed the world that the warnings issued in 2007 were not empty bluster. Hypersonic weapons, a submarine drone and other cutting-edge systems were presented by Putin in March 2018, shocking Western military planners and analysts who had not taken Putin seriously back in 2007. These new technological breakthroughs provide Russia with the ability to eliminate targets by kinetic, conventional or nuclear means. Such offensive deployments near the Russian border as the ABM systems in Romania can now be eliminated within the space of a few minutes, with no possibility of being intercepted.

Putin recently said:

"The (US) has announced research and development works, and we will do the same. I agree with the Defense Ministry's proposals to start the work on 'landing' Kalibr missiles and developing a new area to create a land-based hypersonic missile with intermediate range."

Putin has already put his military cards on the table, warning 10 years ago what would happen if Washington continued in its duplicitous direction. As Putin said in March 2018: "They did not listen to us in 2007. They will listen to us now".

The consequences of withdrawing from the INF treaty fall most heavily on the shoulders of the Europeans. Federica Mogherini indicated deep concern over Washington's decision, as well as the new super-weapons that were either being tested or were already operational in Russia, causing consternation amongst the Western military establishment that had thought that Putin was bluffing in March 2018 when he spoke about hypersonic weapons.

The US military-industrial complex is rejoicing at the prospect of money rained down as a result of this withdrawal from the INF treaty. But in Europe (with the exception of Romania and Poland), nobody is too keen to welcome US missiles that have no defense against Russian hypersonic weapons. NATO's trans-Atlantic arms lobby will try to push as many European countries as possible towards a new Cold War, with US weapons deployed and aimed at Moscow. It will be fun to see the reactions of European citizens facing the prospect of being annihilated by Russian missiles simply to please the CEOs and shareholders of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. No doubt there will be some European politicians in countries like Poland keen to scream about the "Russian threat", ready to throw tens of billions worth of Polish taxpayers' money into useless and ineffective projects for the purposes of pleasing their American friends.

Are US generals even aware of how idiotic it is for the US to withdraw from the INF for Washington? Moscow is already ahead in the development of such systems, both land-based but above all sea- and air-launched, without forgetting the hypersonic variants of its conventional or nuclear missiles. Washington has a huge gap to close, exacerbated by the fact that in spite of heavy spending over many years, there is little to show for it as a result of massive corruption in the research-and-development process. This is not to mention the fact that there are few European countries willing to host offensive missile systems aimed at Russia. In reality, there is little real advantage for Washington in withdrawing from the INF treaty, other than to enrich arms manufacturers. It diminishes US military options strategically while expanding those of Beijing and Moscow, even as the latter oppose Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty.

The hope of expanding the INF treaty to include the US, Russia, China and the EU appears slim due to Washington's intransigence. Washington only aims to increase expenditure for the development of weapons prohibited by the treaty, and in strategic terms, improbably hopes to find some Asian and European countries willing to host these systems aimed against China and Russia.

The world is certainly more dangerous following Washington's decision, heading in a direction where there are less and less rules while there are more nuclear powers. For decades, the United States has been trying to achieve nuclear supremacy by overcoming the limitations of MAD, whereby Washington would be able to carry out a decapitating nuclear first strike without worrying about an opponent's ability to launch a retaliatory second strike. It is precisely this type of thinking that is bringing humanity closer to the brink of destruction from a nuclear accident or miscalculation. The miniaturization of nuclear warheads and the apparently limited nature of "tactical nukes" further encourages the justification for using such weapons.

Moscow's decision in 2007 to develop state-of-the-art weapons and focus on new technologies like hypersonic missiles guarantees that Russia and her allies have an effective deterrent against the attempts of the US to alter the nuclear balance of power, which otherwise threatens the future of humanity.

The withdrawal from the INF treaty is another worrying sign of the willingness of the US to push the world to the brink of catastrophe, simply for the purposes of enriching the CEOs and shareholders of it arms manufacturers through a nuclear arms race.

[Feb 09, 2019] The US scraps the INF treaty Another step toward nuclear war by Andre Damon

Notable quotes:
"... New York Times ..."
"... "Constrained by the treaty's provisions, the United States has been prevented from deploying new weapons to counter China's efforts to cement a dominant position in the Western Pacific and keep American aircraft carriers at bay. China was still a small and unsophisticated military power when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of a rapidly-weakening Soviet Union, negotiated the INF agreement." ..."
"... Over the past two years, the American military establishment has grown increasingly alarmed at the rapidity of China's technological development, which the United States sees as a threat not only to the profitability of its corporations, but the dominance of its military. ..."
"... As the latest US Worldwide Threat Assessment warns, "For 2019 and beyond, the innovations that drive military and economic competitiveness will increasingly originate outside the United States, as the overall US lead in science and technology shrinks" and "the capability gap between commercial and military technologies evaporates." ..."
"... The United States hopes that, by leveraging its military, it will be able to contain the economic rise of China and shore up US preeminence on the world stage. ..."
"... Nearly 75 years ago, the United States, after having "scorched and boiled and baked to death," in the words of General Curtis Lemay, hundreds of thousands of civilians in a genocidal "strategic bombing" campaign over Japan, murdered hundreds of thousands more with the use of two nuclear weapons: an action whose primary aim was to threaten the USSR. ..."
"... But ultimately, the continued existence of the Soviet Union served as a check on the genocidal impulses of US imperialism. ..."
"... Despite the triumphalist claims that the dissolution of the Soviet Union would bring about a new era of peace, democracy and the "end of history," it has brought only a quarter-century of neocolonial wars. ..."
"... the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria have not achieved their intended purpose. Having spent trillions of dollars and killed millions of people, the global position of US imperialism is no better than when it launched the "war on terror" in 2001. ..."
"... Now, the United States is upping the ante: setting "great-power conflict" with Russia and China on the order of the day. In its existential struggle for global hegemony, US imperialism is going for broke, willing to employ the most reckless and desperate means, up to and including the launching of nuclear war. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.wsws.org

In an article that fully backs the White House's accusations against Russia, the New York Times ' David Sanger, a conduit for the Pentagon, spells out with perfect lucidity the real reasons why the United States is leaving the INF treaty:

"Constrained by the treaty's provisions, the United States has been prevented from deploying new weapons to counter China's efforts to cement a dominant position in the Western Pacific and keep American aircraft carriers at bay. China was still a small and unsophisticated military power when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of a rapidly-weakening Soviet Union, negotiated the INF agreement."

Sanger's own words make perfectly clear why the United States wants to leave the treaty, which has nothing to do with Russia's alleged violations: Washington is seeking to ring the island chain surrounding the Chinese mainland with a hedge of nuclear missiles. But Sanger somehow expects, without so much as a transition paragraph, his readers to believe the hot air spewed by Pompeo about Russia's "bad behavior."

Over the past two years, the American military establishment has grown increasingly alarmed at the rapidity of China's technological development, which the United States sees as a threat not only to the profitability of its corporations, but the dominance of its military.

Two decades ago, at the height of the dotcom bubble, China was little more than a cheap labor platform, assembling the consumer electronics driving a revolution in communications, while American companies pocketed the vast bulk of the profits. But today, the economic balance of power is shifting.

Chinese companies like Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo are capturing an ever-greater portion of the global smartphone market, even as their rivals Samsung and Apple see their market share slip. The Shenzhen-based DJI is the uncontested global leader in the consumer drone market. Huawei, meanwhile, leads its competitors by over a year in the next-generation mobile infrastructure that will power not only driverless cars and "smart" appliances, but the "autonomous" weapons of the future.

As the latest US Worldwide Threat Assessment warns, "For 2019 and beyond, the innovations that drive military and economic competitiveness will increasingly originate outside the United States, as the overall US lead in science and technology shrinks" and "the capability gap between commercial and military technologies evaporates."

It is the economic decline of the United States relative to its global rivals that is ultimately driving the intensification of US nuclear war plans. The United States hopes that, by leveraging its military, it will be able to contain the economic rise of China and shore up US preeminence on the world stage.

But a consensus is emerging within the US military that Washington cannot bring its rivals to heel merely with the threat of totally obliterating them with its massive arsenal of strategic missiles. Given the fleet of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines possessed by both Russia and China, this option, even ignoring the effects of nuclear winter, would result in the destruction of the largest cities in the United States.

Rather, the US is working to construct a "usable," low-yield, "tactical" nuclear arsenal, including the construction of a new nuclear-capable cruise missile. This week, a new low-yield US nuclear warhead went into production, with a yield between half and one third of the "little boy" weapon that leveled the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and hundreds of times smaller than the United States' other nuclear weapons systems.

The Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review, released last year, envisions using such weapons to turn the tide in conflicts that begin with conventional weapons, under the pretense (whether the Pentagon believes it or not) that such wars will stop short of full-scale nuclear exchanges.

Nearly 75 years ago, the United States, after having "scorched and boiled and baked to death," in the words of General Curtis Lemay, hundreds of thousands of civilians in a genocidal "strategic bombing" campaign over Japan, murdered hundreds of thousands more with the use of two nuclear weapons: an action whose primary aim was to threaten the USSR.

But ultimately, the continued existence of the Soviet Union served as a check on the genocidal impulses of US imperialism.

Despite the triumphalist claims that the dissolution of the Soviet Union would bring about a new era of peace, democracy and the "end of history," it has brought only a quarter-century of neocolonial wars.

But the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria have not achieved their intended purpose. Having spent trillions of dollars and killed millions of people, the global position of US imperialism is no better than when it launched the "war on terror" in 2001.

Now, the United States is upping the ante: setting "great-power conflict" with Russia and China on the order of the day. In its existential struggle for global hegemony, US imperialism is going for broke, willing to employ the most reckless and desperate means, up to and including the launching of nuclear war.

... ... ...

[Feb 08, 2019] The End Of The End Of The Cold War

Feb 08, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

ilsm , February 7, 2019 5:09 pm

Trump's comment about missile defense "improvements" in the SOTU; following the attention the war media gave to the missile defense agency (MDA) report recently released imply some mixing of theory around missile defense with offensive weapons. A concept that is misguided if not frightening!

In Europe MDA is deploying two aegis ashore weapon systems, one operating in Rumania and one to be built (2020) in Poland the sensors are SPY-1 for foreign sales (not the latest greatest as upgraded SPY 1 on US Navy ships to be replaced by SPY-6 on new Arleigh Burke destroyers). The interceptors are SM-2 vertical launch again not the greatest as US Navy going SM 3 and later SM 6.

With Patriot for close in and EU systems not sure I would call ABM in Europe not worthy of defeating much more complex threats than Saddam SCUDs.

No rapid pentagon move to design new Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles.

https://thehill.com/policy/defense/428845-pentagon-official-no-plans-to-develop-new-missile-system-amid-end-of-russian?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ebb%2007.01.19&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

Pershing II was dismantled in 1989, no similar missile is readily available and given the botch job on MX I doubt one will be forth coming in the mid range future.

However, late versions of Tomahawk could be adapted to ground launchers and motivators already carrying US Army Tactical Ballistic systems. That was the deployments in England and Belgium that caught the most protests prior to INF treaty.

The main claim of Russian violation is a cruise missile that could be modified like the US could modify Tomahawk .

INF is Asia need to think about that!

likbez , February 8, 2019 12:14 am

First of all, INF was tremendously beneficial for the USA, as the USSR has to destroy more missiles then the USA: 654 SS-20 missiles were build by the USSR. These and the 499 associated mobile launchers were destroyed by May 1991.

Gorbachov was a very weak negotiator (and an extremely mediocre politician) who tried too much to please the USA. There were even some speculations in Russia now that he was a British agent ( http://aanirfan.blogspot.com/2015/10/gorbachev-is-british-agent.html 😉

Now the problem for the USA is that other countries who did not sign this treaty are developing such systems. First of all China. So this is probably the main consideration as for the USA.

But the devil is always in detail: the USA re-opens its forces in Europe and Japan to direct attack by this type of ground-based missiles from Russian territory. Which now will be more sophisticated and difficult to intercept then famous SS-20 (Saber or Invisible) with its unprecedented for its time accuracy of 450 meters.

So the shadow of SS-20 is again all over Western Europe. From military point of view the chances of surviving WWIII of any European country with the USA bases in case WWIII starts dropped significantly

On Russia part, the fact that the USA unilaterally withdraw from the treaty that cost Russia so much is like a slap in the face. That why Russia already demanded from the USA the destruction of all attack drones and all Tomahawks-compatible silos, which means all negotiations ended.

Russian MIC is less well fed then the USA MIC and as such is definitely more happy then the USA MIC. They also probably has some nasty asymmetrical surprise already on the drawing boards to compensate for the humiliation.

Most probably this response will became a huge headache for future US presidents. As if Putin is replaced by a hard-core nationalist of Trump-style and temperament that will increase dangers of WWIII.

So, in a way, history repeats and Trump now is taking measures that are clearly in Russia favor (as one would expect from the "Russia stooge" ;-) : Kaliningrad to Berlin distance is 328 miles. Distance from Kamchatka to Okinawa is 630 miles. The INF Treaty prohibits ranges 310–620 mi and 620–3,420 miles and did not cover air- or sea-launched missiles which are the USA forte. And mobile ground-based intermediate missiles are Russian forte: they already have the technology and variety of mobile launchers including railcar based. .

So all huge advantages negotiated by Reagan team went into dumpster.

[Feb 08, 2019] One Step Closer To Nuclear Oblivion US Sabotages The INF Treaty

Feb 08, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

... ... ...

The US military-industrial complex is rejoicing at the prospect of money rained down as a result of this withdrawal from the INF treaty. But in Europe (with the exception of Romania and Poland), nobody is too keen to welcome US missiles that have no defense against Russian hypersonic weapons. NATO's trans-Atlantic arms lobby will try to push as many European countries as possible towards a new Cold War, with US weapons deployed and aimed at Moscow. It will be fun to see the reactions of European citizens facing the prospect of being annihilated by Russian missiles simply to please the CEOs and shareholders of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. No doubt there will be some European politicians in countries like Poland keen to scream about the "Russian threat", ready to throw tens of billions worth of Polish taxpayers' money into useless and ineffective projects for the purposes of pleasing their American friends.

Are US generals even aware of how idiotic it is for the US to withdraw from the INF for Washington? Moscow is already ahead in the development of such systems, both land-based but above all sea- and air-launched, without forgetting the hypersonic variants of its conventional or nuclear missiles. Washington has a huge gap to close, exacerbated by the fact that in spite of heavy spending over many years, there is little to show for it as a result of massive corruption in the research-and-development process. This is not to mention the fact that there are few European countries willing to host offensive missile systems aimed at Russia. In reality, there is little real advantage for Washington in withdrawing from the INF treaty, other than to enrich arms manufacturers. It diminishes US military options strategically while expanding those of Beijing and Moscow, even as the latter oppose Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty.

The hope of expanding the INF treaty to include the US, Russia, China and the EU appears slim due to Washington's intransigence. Washington only aims to increase expenditure for the development of weapons prohibited by the treaty, and in strategic terms, improbably hopes to find some Asian and European countries willing to host these systems aimed against China and Russia.

The world is certainly more dangerous following Washington's decision, heading in a direction where there are less and less rules while there are more nuclear powers. For decades, the United States has been trying to achieve nuclear supremacy by overcoming the limitations of MAD, whereby Washington would be able to carry out a decapitating nuclear first strike without worrying about an opponent's ability to launch a retaliatory second strike. It is precisely this type of thinking that is bringing humanity closer to the brink of destruction from a nuclear accident or miscalculation. The miniaturization of nuclear warheads and the apparently limited nature of "tactical nukes" further encourages the justification for using such weapons.

Moscow's decision in 2007 to develop state-of-the-art weapons and focus on new technologies like hypersonic missiles guarantees that Russia and her allies have an effective deterrent against the attempts of the US to alter the nuclear balance of power, which otherwise threatens the future of humanity.

The withdrawal from the INF treaty is another worrying sign of the willingness of the US to push the world to the brink of catastrophe, simply for the purposes of enriching the CEOs and shareholders of it arms manufacturers through a nuclear arms race.

DFGTC , 11 minutes ago link

Empires don't voluntarily give up power ...

They collapse in a soft-way: like the USSR in the 1990's.

OR

They collapse in a HARD-WAY: like the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Russian Empire before and during WW1.

Hard or soft imperial collapse - those are our choices.

But empires, invariably, eventually, collapse.

[Feb 08, 2019] A slide to nuclear war ? Bluffing is quite a dangerous game... Trump in his narcissistic self probably does not know that

Notable quotes:
"... This seems entirely in line with the wishes of the antirussianitic mainstream establishment. Part of the reason is to re-establish the social mass-brain controls against American society believed to have obtained during the coldest Cold War. The establishment wants to re-impose social discipline to contain or suppress discontent during our upcoming Revolution of Falling Expectations. ..."
"... Does anyone know what the real impetus for this withdrawal is? Who gains and how? ..."
"... In general, however, the main reason is US economy whose main two pillars are US Dollar and perceived, largely inflated, US military omnipotence, and US fading as a "hegemon" is not taken lightly by increasingly irrational D.C. It needs some kind of "triumph", so we are entering the period of geopolitical volatility until US "elites", in full accordance to Kubler-Ross Grief Model, transition from Anger to Depression (in process) and eventually to Bargaining and Acceptance ..."
"... How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?Only one. But the light bulb has to want to change. ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

smoothieX12 . , 9 hours ago

Russia does not have military bases near US territory, where a large number of intermediate and shorter range missiles could be deployed

This phrase alone discredits the whole piece by South Front which increasingly begins to remind sites similar to Russia-Insider, hell bent on fund raising instead of sound analysis.

Russia DOES have bases near the United States within (West) coastal range--those "bases" are called Kamchatka Peninsula. Of course, Russia can recall 1980s experience of planning to position her RSD-10 Pioneer (one example is currently in the US in Smithsonian) at Chuckotka, thus covering all of Canada and most North West and parts of mid-West of the US. One of the arguments which convinced the American side to negotiate.

So, the article is a complete click-bait pseudo-analysis. This is not to mention the fact that national security is built and exists across all platforms and forces.

O rly -> smoothieX12 . , 4 hours ago
Having a single piece of territory technically in range is not the same thing as surrounding a country's borders with missile emplacements. And the very best scenario for intercepting a missile is when its fired from a single known location, rather than a flurry from all sides.

Literally if you take the two closest points the tip of Washington state to the coast of Kamchatka you are the very limit of the treaty ranges.

Julius HK , 8 hours ago
Bluffing is quite a dangerous game...
Mad_Max22 , 5 hours ago
How is it possible that the Russian nation renounced the most death dealing ideology in human history and fear and loathing for all things Russian in the Brit and American deep states and on the American political left increased exponentially?

Trump was elected, in part, for trying to bring accountability to those responsible for that development, but that's all gone, along with any prospect for a near term exit into normalcy.

It looks like Cold War as far as the eye can see. Trump himself put this in evidence by the gaping hole in his SOTU he left with the omission of exactly how the American future is going to pay for the welfare - warfare state that continues to burgeon on his watch.

TTG , 6 hours ago
Just from a technological point of view, the INF treaty and probably similar treaties are becoming obsolete. So many nations are now developing effective missiles including hypersonic cruise missiles and launching capabilities that are bound to be in violation of this treaty.

The improvement in air defense capabilities are bound to violate the ABM treaty at some point.

We all surely have the desire to keep developing these technologies. That desire is obviously stronger than our desire to negotiate new treaties to address this increase in lethality.

Eugene Owens , 7 hours ago
Amazing to me that a GOP senator would cheer about the breakup of a treaty signed by and pushed for by President Reagan:

"Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., cheered the president's decision to withdraw from the treaty, saying out that the Russians have violated the treaty for years and China has stockpiled "thousands of missiles.""

different clue , 7 hours ago
This sure feels like it goes against the spirit of Trump's sometime-voiced wistful wish that " wouldn't it be nice if we had good relations with Russia?"

This seems entirely in line with the wishes of the antirussianitic mainstream establishment. Part of the reason is to re-establish the social mass-brain controls against American society believed to have obtained during the coldest Cold War. The establishment wants to re-impose social discipline to contain or suppress discontent during our upcoming Revolution of Falling Expectations.

Has the RussiaGov been testing and bending what is permitted under the INF treaty? Can anyone offer a fact-based well-argued answer offered in a spirit of truth? And if the RussiaGov has been doing that, would it be in response to NATO expansion and hostility right up to Russia's border?

Could this be Russo-American kabuki so they both can set eachother free to both address IMF missilization by a rising China which never did sign that treaty?

One thing for sure, there is no missile defense against a hypersonic missile. Or a fleet of hypersonic missiles.

If any wannabe-officeseeker considers Cold War 2.0 a bad thing to get started and a bad thing to stay in, such officeseeker(s) will have to run on discussions with Russia to stand down the violations-if-any on both sides and then re-instate the IMF. Because any officeseeker elected withOUT that stated intention will have trouble seeking to intend it after getting elected. Whereas any officeseeker overtly running ON that intention is free to pursue it and advance it if elected in whole or in part because of it.

blue peacock , 8 hours ago
Does anyone know what the real impetus for this withdrawal is? Who gains and how?
smoothieX12 . -> blue peacock , 7 hours ago
1. China and her primarily intermediate-range missiles in the region -- in a futile attempt to "re-negotiate" -- China may fold, but...

2. Russia will not, in fact, Russia already called the bluff, but the US also needs to threaten Russia from Europe while simultaneously putting Europe under the thumb.

3. In general, however, the main reason is US economy whose main two pillars are US Dollar and perceived, largely inflated, US military omnipotence, and US fading as a "hegemon" is not taken lightly by increasingly irrational D.C. It needs some kind of "triumph", so we are entering the period of geopolitical volatility until US "elites", in full accordance to Kubler-Ross Grief Model, transition from Anger to Depression (in process) and eventually to Bargaining and Acceptance. Granted US economy functions. US will have to learn to live as ONE OF the great power and maybe (just maybe) become a normal country dealing with own serious problems--there are many of those for sure.

different clue -> smoothieX12 . , 3 hours ago
EUrope has more overall people and more overall economic activity than the US has. EUrope does not have to be under any thumb which the current Lords of EUrope do not exactly want EUrope to be under.

EUrope is legally free to dissolve NATO from its end any time it likes. If they want to have their own "after-NATO" defense organization, they can set it up just for their side of the Atlantic, which is the Eastern Side. They could call it NEATO . . . for North East Atlantic Treaty Organization. NEATO . . . get it?

As to America becoming a normal country among normal countries . . . that would require a change of hearts and minds. It could be done, but only from within America its own self. And as the joke goes . . . How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?Only one. But the light bulb has to want to change.

What would be a step toward the light bulb wanting to change? Setting aside the psycho-cultural need to be Great. No more Greatness. Let's just make America an okay place for the Americans.
MAOkayFA. Make America Okay For Americans. We will be partway there when a majority of American people become comfortable saying to themselves . . . ." I am not an American Greatness Exceptionalist.
I! am an American Okayness Ordinarian. And I'm okay with that."

Time to lay this burden down..

Stumpy , 9 hours ago
Trump likes to rip up any old deal just for the sake of raising his profile, methinks. Whatever happens to INF, it's the NPT that would be the bigger priority. Not a big Al Haig fan, but he wrote a book about WW3 wherein his theory put the rogue Arab terrorist state in the lead role as the nuke attacker that destroyed the world. I threw my copy away a long time ago, but it resonates in my mind that the more likely scenario is the Nuke of Jihad is employed against Tel Aviv. Would this not have an attenuating effect if the US had to retaliate against say, Tehran, rather than a clear Russian or Chinese attacker?
James Thomas , 9 hours ago
I am old enough to remember when there was a lot of anti-nuclear demonstrations in Europe (especially in Germany). One might argue that the INF treaty was a stroke of genius in terms of taking the wind out of the sails of the lefty peaceniks.

Since Russia wishes to cultivate allies in the anti-war left, perhaps an end to the INF treaty will help in those efforts. I do wonder how long the Borg can accuse both Trump and Tulsi Gabbard of being Russian stooges before people start to think "hey, maybe the Russians are not as bad as our own news media".

smoothieX12 . -> James Thomas , 7 hours ago
Since Russia wishes to cultivate allies in the anti-war left, perhaps an end to the INF treaty will help in those efforts.

I am not sure there is anti-war Left left as it was circa 1980s. Russia is really apprehensive towards all kinds of Euro-left which is a totalitarian LGBTQC4ISR sect which has nothing in common with Old Left. In fact, all of this left are globalist shills. Russia has much better chances addressing real European conservative and nationalist circles. But I am 100% positive that this is viewed, correctly, as a routine foreign policy activity and maintenance of contacts as it was previous years.

[Feb 05, 2019] Washington Plays 'Russian Roulette' With EU Lives By Trashing INF Treaty

Feb 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Washington Plays 'Russian Roulette' With EU Lives By Trashing INF Treaty

by Tyler Durden Tue, 02/05/2019 - 05:00 55 SHARES Authored by Robert Bridge,

In a flash, the US has scrapped the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which safeguarded Europe and the world from a deadly US-Russia arms race. This is particularly bad news for Europeans.

Russia must be feeling a lot like the Native Indians these days with regards to treaties signed with the duplicitous Americans. For the second time in as many decades, the US has gone back on its word, removing another pillar from the global arms reduction architecture.

The Trump administration, in its infinite wisdom, announced on the weekend it would freeze US participation in the INF " for 180 days ," which, from a military perspective, must be interpreted to mean forever. In the spirit of reciprocity, Vladimir Putin, expressing regret that Russia " could not save " the Cold War treaty, said he would be forced to follow suit.

The Russian leader emphasized, however, that Moscow would not deploy intermediate or smaller range weapons " until the same type of American weapons " were placed in Europe or elsewhere in the world.

This latest ratcheting up of tensions between Moscow and Washington was wholly avoidable – that is, if avoiding confrontation is a goal of the US. Clearly, it is not. The unpredictable hotheads now dictating foreign policy in the Trump administration, particularly National Security Advisor John Bolton, a veteran hawk who the Washington Post recently called a " serial arms control killer, " have somehow concluded that playing a game of nuclear chicken on the European continent with Russia is the best way to resolve bilateral issues.

The White House appears to be incensed over Russia's upgrade of a cruise missile, the '9M729', which it claims exceeds the 500-km flight threshold set down by the treaty. The INF treaty specifically banned the development, deployment, and testing of ground-based missiles with a range between 500km and 5,500km (310-3,400 miles).

In fact, the development of this weapon has so irked the Trump administration that last year the US Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, warned Russia that if it did not halt its development NATO would be forced to " take out " the missile. Although Hutchison later backtracked on the hyperbole, saying she did not mean to suggest a preemptive strike on Russia, the remark nevertheless underscored the gravity of the situation.

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The obvious question is: does the US have legitimate grounds to be concerned over this cruise missile, one of the latest in a series of new weapon systems to be rolled out by the Russian military? Well, if they did have real cause for concern, they deliberately missed several opportunities to examine the weapon firsthand. In fact, Moscow invited US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to attend a public presentation where Russian military brass were on hand to field queries about the missile. Yet the Americans snubbed the event, which could have persuaded them to think twice before dumping a landmark arms control treaty.

On this point, it would have been refreshing to hear some impartial European voices weighing in on the matter. After all, in the event of another arms race between the US and Russia, the European continent will once again be forced to wear a large crosshairs on its back. Instead, EU leaders predictably approached the issue from the American stance, parroting the narrative that Russia, the perennial bogeyman, is in violation of the INF.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, without providing a shred of evidence, said ,

"It is clear to us that Russia has violated this treaty the important thing is to keep the window for dialogue open."

Immediately assuming Russia's guilt seems to be a non-starter for any sort of productive negotiations.

What's behind America's madness?

In order to get a clearer picture of what exactly is motivating Washington's reckless behavior, it is essential to remember that the Trump administration's withdrawal from the INF is just the latest in a long string of aggressive moves against Russia . Indeed, this is not the first time Washington has torn up an arms agreement with Moscow.

In 2002, the Bush administration terminated the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty), which maintained something of a suicide pact between the Cold War nuclear rivals known as 'mutually assured destruction'. From there it has been all downhill for bilateral relations.

With the ABM Treaty swept away, the Bush and subsequent Obama administration proceeded to unilaterally build – despite repeated offers from Moscow to cooperate on the system – a US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, just a stone's throw from the Russian border. In May 2016, NATO announced its missile defense base in Romania was fully operational. Following the announcement, Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for arms control issues, warned that not only did the US missile defense system threaten the strategic balance between nuclear powers, the launchers in Romania could easily be re-fitted with offensive cruise missiles, thereby turning a shield into a sword at a moment's notice.

In other words, Washington is now accusing Moscow of violating an arms control treaty that it itself had most likely violated almost three years ago.

Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann, a geopolitics analyst from Paris 8 University, told RT this is the desired outcome Washington was looking for, which already decided " beforehand to get out of the treaty " irrespective of possible concessions from Moscow.

" The US already destabilized the nuclear balance when they decided to get out of the ABM treaty in 2002, and when you look at a map the United States [is] putting missile defense bases all around Eurasia, creating a feeling of encirclement in Russia and China ," Thomann said.

This leads us to another possible reason why the Trump administration made the rash decision to kill the INF treaty, and that is due to the huge strides made by the Chinese military of late. Last year, as just one example, a Chinese firm reportedly completed the successful launch of a supersonic missile, which the Chinese government said could compete on international markets.

China, which is not bound by the conditions set down by the INF, has undergone breakneck militarization ever since. Yes, the United States became an existential threat to Beijing when the Obama administration announced the so-called ' pivot to Asia '. This disastrous doctrine saw a large chunk of US naval forces enter the Pacific theater. Thus, Washington may be trying to bring the Chinese and Russians into some sort of new three-way arms control treaty, but if that were true, it seems to be going about it in the worst possible way.

Whatever the ultimate cause may be, the United States and its quest for global supremacy, in cooperation with the European Union, which behaves like a powerless vassal state inside of the 'American empire', must assume a heavy part of the blame for the increasingly perilous state of global relations today.

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russia's parliament, adequately summed up the fate of the world following the latest US withdrawal from yet another arms reduction pact.

" I 'congratulate' the whole world ," Kosachev told the Russian Senate.

" The United States has taken another step toward its destruction today. "

[Feb 02, 2019] In Tit-For-Tat, Russia Suspends INF Treaty; Putin Slams US Demolishing Global Security

Notable quotes:
"... This included "unprecedented steps going far beyond our obligations," Lavrov said, and noted that part of Washington's "systematic" attempts to undermine the treaty included "testing drones that matched the characteristics" of ground-based cruise missiles banned in the treaty, as well as installing "MK 41 launching systems for the defense shield in Europe that can be used to fire mid-range Tomahawk cruise missiles without any modification." ..."
"... Putin noted further in the midst of Lavrov's remarks, "This is a direct a violation of the INF." And Lavrov also added, "Such launchers have already been completed in Romania, more are scheduled to be put into service in Poland and Japan." ..."
"... Alarmingly, Putin concluded his remarks by saying Washington could be imperiling in the long term the landmark New START treaty, set to expire in 2021. ..."
Feb 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has effectively collapsed following the US announcing Friday that it's suspending all obligations under the treaty. Predictably Moscow's response has been swift, with President Vladimir Putin saying in a meeting with his foreign and defense ministers that Russia will now pursue missile development previously banned under its terms .

Putin said "ours will be a mirror response" in a tit-for-tat move that the Russian president ultimately blames on Washington's years-long "systematic" undermining of the agreement. "Our US partners say that they are ceasing their participation in the treaty, and we are doing the same," the Russian president said . "They say that they are doing research and testing [on new weapons] and we will do the same thing."

Crucially, however, he noted that there were no plans to deploy short and mid-range missiles to Europe unless the US does it first -- a worst nightmare scenario that has rattled European leaders ever since talk began from Trump that the 1987 treaty could be scrapped.

Putin still seemed to allow some degree space for last minute concessions as "still on the table" possibly in line with the Trump administration's desire to modernize and update a new treaty taking into account new technological and geopolitical realities, such as China's ballistic missile capabilities.

"Let's wait until our partners mature sufficiently to hold a level, meaningful conversation on this topic, which is extremely important for us, them, and the entire world," Putin said. But also lashing out during the press conference that followed the meeting with top officials Putin described :

Over many years, we have repeatedly suggested staging new disarmament talks, on all types of weapons. Over the last few years, we have seen our initiatives not supported. On the contrary, pretexts are constantly sought to demolish the existing system of international security .

Specifically he and FM Sergei Lavrov referenced not only Trump's threats to quit the agreement, which heightened in December, but accusations leveled from Washington that the Kremlin was in violation. The White House has now affirmed the bilateral historic agreement signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan will be suspended for 180 days. Lavrov insisted that Moscow "attempted to do everything we could to rescue the treaty."

This included "unprecedented steps going far beyond our obligations," Lavrov said, and noted that part of Washington's "systematic" attempts to undermine the treaty included "testing drones that matched the characteristics" of ground-based cruise missiles banned in the treaty, as well as installing "MK 41 launching systems for the defense shield in Europe that can be used to fire mid-range Tomahawk cruise missiles without any modification."

Putin noted further in the midst of Lavrov's remarks, "This is a direct a violation of the INF." And Lavrov also added, "Such launchers have already been completed in Romania, more are scheduled to be put into service in Poland and Japan."

Alarmingly, Putin concluded his remarks by saying Washington could be imperiling in the long term the landmark New START treaty, set to expire in 2021.


brane pilot , 17 minutes ago link

Putin is an island of calm in a sea of political insanity.

He knows Trump is being gamed into absurd positions by mad dog Democrat politicians seeking a geopolitical scapegoat.

I would call him a Statesman.

SpanishGoop , 40 minutes ago link

" as well as installing "MK 41 launching systems for the defense shield in Europe that can be used to fire mid-range Tomahawk cruise missiles without any modification."

US trying to get from Russia top position first-response list and get Europe on that position.

Putin is much to smart to fall for that.

needtoshit , 44 minutes ago link

Neocons should be remembered as oldcons because their bag of tricks is so well known that they don't fool anyone. Think about this Reagan era fossil who tries to arrange his little coup in Venezuela and will fall flat on his face. Think also about these Pompeo and Bolton who are so desperate that they didn't even spend the necessary time to learn the checkers rules before trying to take on Putin in his favorite chess play. No really, the level of mediocrity and the lack of strategy or even sheer preparedness of these dudes is so low that they may even be hung by their own subordinates who can't even stand that stench of fool play. Trump should be ashamed he hired these clowns to ride their one trick ponies while the titanic goes down. History will not be kind with him.

Totally_Disillusioned , 49 minutes ago link

Putin reads our CIA better than we do!

Totally_Disillusioned , 49 minutes ago link

Putin reads our CIA better than we do!

Son of Captain Nemo , 1 hour ago link

Everything you wanted to know about scuttling an INF Treaty but were afraid to ask ( https://www.rt.com/business/450123-nord-stream-2-ready/ )

Cause when it gets completed without sabotage along the way... Those LNG delivery projects will see lots and lots of $USD heading home "FOR GOOD"!...

Which means "other arrangements" will be necessary in order to make certain that another "hostage" crisis ( https://southfront.org/u-s-opted-to-leave-inf-few-years-ago-spent-this-time-developing-forbidden-missiles/ ) "doesn't go to waste"!!!

Savvy , 1 hour ago link

Yup.

Shemp 4 Victory , 29 minutes ago link

Additionally, just last week the Russian Ministry of Defense invited foreign military attachés and journalists to inspect the new Iskander 9M729 cruise missile. This is the one that the US claims is in violation of the INF treaty. Representatives of the US and NATO were invited and expected to be there, but they never showed up.

Interestingly, the 9M729 has a heavier warhead, and thus shorter range, than the older 9M728, which the US has not claimed violates the INF treaty. See it for yourself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyH-I3rukPU (3 min. 12 sec. - English subtitles)

Savvy , 14 minutes ago link

This is the one that the US claims is in violation of the INF treaty. Representatives of the US and NATO were invited and expected to be there, but they never showed up .

About standard to ignore what doesn't fit the agenda.

Son of Captain Nemo , 1 hour ago link

Everything you wanted to know about scuttling an INF Treaty but were afraid to ask ( https://www.rt.com/business/450123-nord-stream-2-ready/ )

Cause when it gets completed without sabotage along the way... Those LNG delivery projects will see lots and lots of $USD heading home "FOR GOOD"!...

Which means "other arrangements" will be necessary in order to make certain that another "hostage" crisis ( https://southfront.org/u-s-opted-to-leave-inf-few-years-ago-spent-this-time-developing-forbidden-missiles/ ) "doesn't go to waste"!!!

Savvy , 1 hour ago link

Yup.

Shemp 4 Victory , 29 minutes ago link

Additionally, just last week the Russian Ministry of Defense invited foreign military attachés and journalists to inspect the new Iskander 9M729 cruise missile. This is the one that the US claims is in violation of the INF treaty. Representatives of the US and NATO were invited and expected to be there, but they never showed up.

Interestingly, the 9M729 has a heavier warhead, and thus shorter range, than the older 9M728, which the US has not claimed violates the INF treaty. See it for yourself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyH-I3rukPU (3 min. 12 sec. - English subtitles)

Savvy , 14 minutes ago link

This is the one that the US claims is in violation of the INF treaty. Representatives of the US and NATO were invited and expected to be there, but they never showed up .

About standard to ignore what doesn't fit the agenda.

yerfej , 1 hour ago link

Instead of useless diatribe explain why you're all bent today about the INF?

Gen. Ripper , 28 minutes ago link

The INF Treaty allowed the inferior Soviet weapons to remain par to the USA, like how we've been giving the chinks $1T a year.

Now no treaty allows the USA to naturally dominate CCCP and their chinky ching Chong CCP.

[Jan 30, 2019] The US is needing a war to rally its people around the flag and to attempt to keep its hand on the Rudder of the world.

Is Trump a possible "War president?"
Jan 30, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Pestercorn , Jan 29, 2019 10:21:08 PM | link

It's not hard to see the parallels of how the US is treating China today compared with Japan in 1939. The US sanctioned Japan and stopped them from importing Iron and Oil and today China is being technologically sanctioned throughout the West with Huawei.

The US is bludgeoning every Govt throughout the world to get its own way both allied and contested. This attitude can only lead to War eventually. Venezuela today, Iran tomorrow which will continue to box in China and Russia.

The US is needing a war to rally its people around the flag and to attempt to keep its hand on the Rudder of the world.

China will be forced to sink an American ship or shoot down an American Jet to save face re Taiwan and their Islands in the China Sea.
The West is begging for war and the parallels now and before WW11 is scary.

[Dec 31, 2018] Trump s Trade Czar, The Latest Architect of Imperial Disaster by Alfred McCoy

Notable quotes:
"... San Diego Confidential, ..."
"... now, playing catch-up, the US is employing the crudest of methods: tariffs & military bullying (& God help us all, kidnapping). ..."
"... Copley implies that cohesive societies that seek victory over all other societies can't have it, because a cohesive society must have enemies, invented or carefully preserved if necessary. Perhaps that's what the Russia affair is about. If so, its not working. ..."
"... Poor General Kelly, one of the generals who let 911 happen, is probably going to be promoted to Bechtel. I say poor because he's only worth about $5 Million, which is a low figure for the super rich who own the military industrial complex. ..."
"... my take is that we are in the end game of imperialism. the western empire is in terminal decline and there will be more empires. from the evidence Russia and China, having learned the lessons of a few thousand years of experience are not seeking for empires. ..."
"... War is Good for Business and Organized Crime. Afghanistan's Multibillion Dollar Opium Trade. Rising Heroin Addiction in the US Afghanistan's opium economy is a multibillion dollar operation which has a direct impact on the surge of heroin addiction in the US. ..."
"... Place this against the U.S. – NSA – on record for what seems to be global surveillance having tapped the phones of U.S. European allies heads of states like Angela Merkel -among other things- with it's budget of $80 billion per year. Similar amount to the total Russian defense budget. Then there is the CIA and other "three letter organizations" in the U.S. and similar operations in the U.K. I think this is David against Goliath struggle and the latter is doing most of the beating. ..."
"... This madness is driving Russia into coalition with China and creating all sorts of totally unnecessary tensions. Forcing them to avoid the US dollar and so forth. How any of this supports western interests, or the interests of U.S. or U.K. citizens is a great misery. One thing is certain – this is self-destruction policy for the U.S. in the long run. This is what happens when the lunatics take over the asylum. ..."
"... Thankfully Vladimir Putin seems to be extremely capable and stable person – not likely to fall into temptation of hitting back with horrible consequences for world peace. ..."
"... Navarro appears to have the full support of Silicon Valley, Boeing and our other high tech exporters. On the other side is Wall Street and possibly British interests. For all of the hullabaloo about Trump violating the law against private citizens conducting foreign diplomacy when he was President-elect, the Wall Street crowd appears to have transgressed much further: ..."
Dec 31, 2018 | www.unz.com

The Geopolitics of Trump's Trade War

Most recently, a dissident economist and failed California politician named Peter Navarro has parlayed his hostility toward China into the role of key architect of Donald Trump's "trade war" against Beijing. Like his Russian counterpart Alexander Dugin, Navarro is another in a long line of intellectuals whose embrace of geopolitics changed the trajectory of his career.

Raised by a single mom who worked secretarial jobs to rent one-bedroomapartments where he slept on the couch, Navarro went to college at Tufts on a scholarship and earned a doctorate in economics from Harvard. Despite that Ivy League degree, he remained an angry outsider, denouncing the special interests "stealing America" in his first book and later, as a business professor at the University of California-Irvine, branding San Diego developers "punks in pinstripes." A passionate environmentalist, in 1992 Navarro plunged into politics as a Democratic candidate for the mayor of San Diego, denouncing his opponent's husband as a convicted drug-money launderer and losing when he smirked as she wept during their televised debate.

For the next 10 years, Navarro fought losing campaigns for everything from city council to Congress. He detailed his crushing defeat for a seat in the House of Representatives in a tell-all book , San Diego Confidential, that dished out disdain for that duplicitous "sell out" Bill Clinton, dumb "blue-collar detritus" voters, and just about everybody else as well.

Following his last losing campaign for city council, Navarro spent a decade churning out books attacking a new enemy: China. His first "shock and awe" jeremiad in 2006 told horror stories about that country's foreign trade; five years later, Death By China was filled with torrid tales of "bone-crushing, cancer-causing, flammable, poisonous, and otherwise lethal products" from that land. In 2015, a third book turned to geopolitics, complete with carefully drawn maps and respectful references to Captain Mahan, to offer an analysis of how China's military was pursuing a relentless strategy of "anti-access, area denial" to challenge the U.S. Navy's control over the Western Pacific.

To check China, the Pentagon then had two competing strategies -- "Air-Sea Battle," in which China's satellites were to be blinded, knocking out its missiles, and "Offshore Control," in which China's entire coastline was to be blockaded by mining six maritime choke points from Japan to Singapore. Both, Navarro claimed, were fatally flawed. Given that, Navarro's third book and a companion film ( endorsed by one Donald Trump) asked: What should the United States do to check Beijing's aggression and its rise as a global power? Since all U.S. imports from China, Navarro suggested, were "helping to finance a Chinese military buildup," the only realistic solution was "the imposition of countervailing tariffs to offset China's unfair trade practices."

Just a year after reaching that controversial conclusion, Navarro joined the Trump election campaign as a policy adviser and then, after the November victory, became a junior member of the White House economic team. As a protectionist in an administration initially dominated by globalists, he would be excluded from high-level meetings and, according to Time Magazine , "required to copy chief economic adviser Gary Cohn on all his emails." By February 2018, however, Cohn was on his way out and Navarro had become assistant to the president, with his new trade office now the co-equal of the National Economic Council.

As the chief defender of Trump's belief that "trade wars are good and easy to win," Navarro has finally realized his own geopolitical dream of attempting to check China with tariffs. In March, the president slapped heavy ones on Chinese steel imports and, just a few weeks later, promised to impose more of them on $50 billion of imports. When those started in July, China's leaders retaliated against what they called "typical trade bullying," imposing similar duties on American goods. Despite a warning from the Federal Reserve chairman that "trade tensions could pose serious risks to the U.S. and global economy," with Navarro at his elbow, Trump escalated in September, adding tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods and threatening another $267 billion worth if China dared retaliate. Nonetheless, Beijing hit back, this time on just $60 billion in goods since 95% of all U.S. imports had already been covered.

Then something truly surprising happened. In September, the U.S. trade deficit with China ballooned to $305 billion for the year, driven by an 8% surge in Chinese imports -- a clear sign that Navarro's bold geopolitical vision of beating Beijing into submission with tariffs had collided big time with the complexities of world trade. Whether this tariff dispute will fizzle out inconsequentially or escalate into a full-blown trade war, wreaking havoc on global supply chains and the world economy, none of us can yet know, particularly that would-be geopolitical grandmaster Peter Navarro.

The Desire to be Grandmaster of the Universe

Though such experts usually dazzle the public and the powerful alike with erudition and boldness of vision, their geopolitical moves often have troubling long-term consequences. Mahan's plans for Pacific dominion through offshore bases created a strategic conundrum that plagued American defense policy for a half-century. Brzezinski's geopolitical lunge at the Soviet Union's soft Central Asian underbelly helped unleash radical Islam. Today, Alexander Dugin's use of geopolitics to revive Russia's dominion over Eurasia has placed Moscow on a volatile collision course with Europe and the United States. Simultaneously, Peter Navarro's bold gambit to contain China's military and economic push into the Pacific with a trade war could, if it persists, produce untold complications for our globalized economy.

No matter how deeply flawed such geopolitical visions may ultimately prove to be, their brief moments as official policy have regularly shaped the destiny of nations and of empires in unpredictable, unplanned, and often dangerous ways. And no matter how this current round of geopolitical gambits plays out, we can be reasonably certain that, in the not-too-distant future, another would-be grandmaster will embrace this seductive concept to guide his bold bid for global power.

Alfred W. McCoy, a TomDispatch regular , is the Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade , the now-classic book which probed the conjuncture of illicit narcotics and covert operations over 50 years, and the recently published In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power ( Dispatch Books).


joun , says: December 3, 2018 at 1:56 am GMT

Dugin, regardless of what minor success he had ten years ago, is not influential in the Kremlin. He did not orchestrate Russia's absorption of Crimea. Simple strategic needs demanded that Crimea be absorbed, and a flawless Russian execution of an ambitious plan won the day.

Peter Navarro is correct w/r/t China. Our trading relationship with China has been a disaster for our economy (to which I mean our ability to have an economy absent financial shenanigans) and USG has effectively funded China's rise. There is no strategic benefit to offshoring productive capacity. I don't really care if Navarro has failed at other tasks in his life. He is correct on this one.

Si1ver1ock , says: December 3, 2018 at 2:03 am GMT

we can be reasonably certain that, in the not-too-distant future, another would-be grandmaster will embrace this seductive concept to guide his bold bid for global power.

Damn! Sounds just like me. Anyway, the US has made a lot of mistakes. It transferred much of its manufacturing base to China and much of its technol