Saturday, July 1, 2017

Let's Try Q & A And Whatever Else Sticky Post

Here is the post which I will try to keep sticky for people to ask questions and share their thoughts which are not on topic. This, I think is known as Open Thread. Fire away.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Don't Limit This To CNN Only-I

As you may know, CNN is done as "news" organization. This is not news, really. US media in general are some iterations of present day CNN--they are propaganda machine. But this could last only so long before CNN finally overdosed on the massive amount of BS, lies and fake news before it understood that it is in the sewer. 

                    CNN imposing new rules on Russia stories

CNN, known for its support for Islamic terrorists and for promoting suicidal social and cultural views, got burned on Russia. How symbolic. 
The new restrictions come after CNN on Friday retracted a story that connected Anthony Scaramucci, a prominent ally of President Trump, to a Russian investment fund managed by a Kremlin-controlled bank.
“On June 22, 2017, CNN.com published a story connecting Anthony Scaramucci with investigations into the Russian Direct Investment Fund,” the news organization said in a statement.
That story did not meet CNN's editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci.”
The retracted story had claimed that Senate investigators were looking at the activities of the $10 billion Russian investment fund in connection to Scaramucci, who served on the executive committee of Trump's transition team. 
A source close to CNN told BuzzFeed the incident was a "massive, massive f--k up and people will be disciplined."

But enough with Clinton News Network,  they are not alone in smearing people and whole countries (such as Russia) with lies--this is Modus Operandi of most of US main stream media. CNN simply got caught (again), while it has to be very clear that another "Russia" story actually far from not "meeting" CNN "editorial standards" is the standard and this standard is a lie. So the story meets CNN standard just fine. CNN, however, is not alone in its Russophobic hysteria, nor is it the first. Here we come to a wonderfully interesting question which Arctic Fox asked me in Open Thread:

Smoothie... You often mention the abysmal state of US higher levels of ex-Soviet/current Russ studies. As one who has read many of your posts over a couple of years, I can see your points... Obviously, US analysis, even at the "bleeding edge" level, gets many things wrong, if not very wrong. Thus, I'd be grateful if you could recommend a rough outline for a true "Russia" syllabus of university and/or self-study. I'm not asking for an encyclopedic review... But what would you say -- your "elevator pitch" -- to a smart high school student about what to follow in college/grad school; or what to say to an intelligent adult who wants to become better-able to address issues. Or, put another way, if you could talk to the curriculum committee at US West Point or Annapolis, or at various war colleges, etc... what would you say??

I would start with several points which are absolutely crucial for people who want to understand what Russia was and is: 

1. Russia studies in the West must be (this is not even a preference, this is imperative) de-ideologicized completely. Considering Russia's complexity, size and weight both geographically and historically it must be understood that drawing direct comparisons to popular "western" dogmas (most of them being false anyway) doesn't work and will not work. I am tempted, yet again, to repeat Sir  Bernard Pares' recipe for those who want to become knowledgeable on a subject:
"Irresponsible criticism is generally-self confident; but no one cares to be told:" I am holier than thou", especially by anyone who doesn't know his facts... And knowledge alone is not enough without understanding, which is much more hardly won. To no country does this apply more than to Russia....This gap has to be filled, or will it cost us dear."

Modern West doesn't understand modern Russia, not in a sense of Russia's very often justified grievances, but in a more fundamental sense--it doesn't understand what Russian people are. Even when a vast collection of facts on Russia and Russians is available, combined West fails time after time to come up with a whole picture. De Custinization of Russian history will help greatly those who are not overcome with acute symptoms of self-righteousness and exceptionalism, which, considering the modern state of West's academe suffering greatly from such affliction, is not easy to do. But simple things has to be understood: all this "democracy" (and its derivative ideological memes) propaganda is just that, especially against the facts of catastrophic European wars of 19th Century or US having official slave ownership mid-19th Century. These are hardly strong positions for pontification but that is precisely the way most of Western "Russia Studies" field operates. Against the background of today's "West's" rule of oligarchy, political corruption reaching the very top, not to speak about bloodshed exported all over the world--understanding of own, often critical, faults, is a good substitution for self-righteousness.  

2. That brings us to a second and, actually, legitimate West's discussion on Russia's civilizational orientation. It is known fact that Roger Scruton, whose definition of the West I use very often is a Russophobe, yet, his definition is correct and is worth repeating:
"The roots of Western civilization lie in the religion of Israel, the culture of Greece, and the law of Rome, and the resulting synthesis has flourished and decayed in a thousand ways during the two millennia which followed the death of Christ"
Culturally, Russia and Russians are Western people. Even the brief review of Russian contribution to Western culture--from magnificent literature, to science, to music, to technology--is distinctly Western. And even Russian communism, or what went under its name, is a distinctly western philosophy which inevitably was modified and Russified. Today's Russia's lack of desire to "integrate" with the West is not only understandable--it is completely justified and one of the major reasons for that is the fact of Russia being today more "western" than European West itself. A beaten to death "civilizational" cliche of Russia somehow missing on all those wonderful fruits of Enlightenment (which is false, btw) which somehow made Western societies so liberal and "western" is a complete baloney. It is especially true when one sees this very "liberal democracy" bringing Hitler to power, or seeing modern European societies being manipulated into the status of mindless imbeciles, especially when one sees French "elections"--I believe community of apes is more aware of its needs  and threats it faces than, supposedly, Enlightenment-struck population of the West, which already lives under totalitarian rule (US still tries to resist)--so much for some special effects of Enlightenment. Yet, non-Western Russia still remains one of the most educated nations in the world, not to speak of Russia's STEM elite which is one of the best, if not the best, in the world. How many people in the West really (I underscore it)  read (with full immersion) Tolstoy's War And Peace. But that brings us to the third point.

3. There is NO understanding of Russia without her 20th Century history and her communist period. None, period. Combined West has no idea of that history. Fact is, it would have been better if it would have been completely ignorant than have the caricature it has in a front of its eyes when speaking of Soviet/Russian period.  At this stage West is incapable of looking beyond the rigid ideological and propaganda limits it imposed on itself when viewing Russia's 20th Century history. E.g. even today West's WW II history is largely shaped by Wehrmacht generals--the fact underscored by well--known Glantz and House in their seminal works on Eastern Front. Nor were there "tens of millions" of victims of GULAG, "promoted" by Solzhenitsyn, as well as explanations for collectivization (and sometimes tragic price USSR paid for it) must be looked at not in Soviet, but Czarist history. The list of falsifications and of acts of demonetization (dehumanization) is colossal and many of those were and are of West's own making, done with intent and out of (geo)political and ideological expediency, truth be damned. But that is the whole issue here--the point I am trying to discuss constantly: truth is knowable and it is absolute and it must be pursued, even when it is inconvenient and it hurts, otherwise--this world is hopeless, but I don't share this point view. So, what this curriculum for Russia can start with? I think with one of the greatest books ever written in Russia on Civil War "Road To Calvary" by Alexey Tosltoy (and the 1977 TV series with superb actors' cast and two stunning women as protagonists) and movie adaptation of Bulgakov's seminal play Beg (Flight)--a movie which since early 1970 literally entered Russian language with a collection of the greatest one-liners. That could be a good start....

To Be Continued.......
    


Monday, June 26, 2017

Ike, Strategy Rant #2

You can read the start on Eisenhower's strategic mind here and here. Sadly, international events unfold with such speed that I sometimes can not ignore (as much as I want to) them and have to react in some form or fashion, instead of concentrating on a host of subjects which give me a degree of comfort and even joy while discussing them. Eisenhower, certainly, is part of it. So, I am ranting again:
-------------------------------

As was stated in the previous rant, Marshall and Ike were not alone in understanding a decisive importance of European Theater. As early as ABC-1 conference--American, British and Canadian strategy consultations early 1941--even before United States were officially involved in WW II, it was clear that British intent was to guard the Empire, not to face Nazi Germany on Continent. The issue of Singapore and Ducth Indies was extremely important for London, it surely was not for the US. As Marshall noted in his rather abrupt rejection of British plan during consultations at Singapore :

While the two summaries were under study by Staff officers, who saw in this final paragraph the extent to which ABD had soared beyond American desires, further pressure for American aid to Singapore was being applied. A paper prepared by Stanley K. Hornbeck of the State Department and forwarded to the War Department suggested that the United States further Singapore's security by keeping three-quarters of the fleet based in Hawaii, sending more planes and submarines to the Philippines, and equipment to China, the Netherlands East Indies, and Singapore. To these suggestions General Marshall announced his opposition. He found nothing new in the facts cited, and no satisfaction in the conclusions. His own view was that "Collapse in the Atlantic would be fatal; collapse in the Far East would be serious but not fatal." 
It is easy today, having a luxury of a hindsight, to review those documents and decisions--it was not easy to make them then. It is to the highest credit of American officers from Marshall, Eisenhower to Embick and Gerow that they recognized real strategic importance of European theater even before Operation Barbarossa unfolded. With Germany's invasion of USSR it became crystal clear what theater has become decisive and by far. It would take Cold War, of course, to completely obfuscate or, when impossible to obfuscate--dull, a massive scale of the events and the nature of that war which had nothing to do with "survival of democracy" and was the war of annihilation. In 1989 late Paul Fussell, himself a  veteran of WW II and literary critic of some standing, in his Wartime: Understanding And Behavior In The Second World War, paraded pervasive general Western ignorance and kindergarten self-righteousness when stated:

Even the relative impurity of the Allied ethical cause once Joseph Stalin joined in seemed easily accommodated to the general high-mindedness. 
This certainly was not the attitude of Ike, especially when the first reports of staggering losses and atrocities committed by Nazis in USSR started to pour in Allied Camp. But how truly "allied" was this camp is a matter for serious debate. As ABC and ABD conferences have initially shown abundantly--Churchill's objectives were not to fight Wehrmacht on Continent. Hence, while debatable from the point of view of practical realization, a vigorous Sledgehammer was buried at the  Second Washington Conference in 1942 and was replaced with Operation Torch whose dubious strategic worth was debated ever since and played not a small part in developing later serious Cold War suspicions. What preceded this decision, however was completely devoid of any finesse and actual allied spirit. 

As many American officers noted, British behavior at the conference was arrogant, officers of British General Staff looked down at their American counterparts, and their opinions, with contempt. After all, what could those Americans suggest to people who at that time fought Nazis for two years. Americans complained but to no avail. Churchill persevered and ensured a dispersal of Allied resources to the strategically secondary theaters of operations. Secondary to the main political objective of defeating Axis forces, which could have been done only in Europe in general, and in Germany in particular. Especially when agreement on unconditional surrender of Germany was worked out between Russians and Allies--due to mostly FDR's fear of USSR cutting a separate deal with Hitler, a possibility which was debunked by Allied intelligence in 1942 against the background of appalling losses on both sides and of German atrocities on occupied territories. But Churchill needed Allied forces to guard Imperial possessions, up to the point of discussing a possibility, a rather dubious one, of Germans making it to India from their bases in North Africa. As I already pointed out in previous rant--with the burial of Sledgehammer, and, by implication, of the  Roundup, another Ike's plan, Ike's reaction to it, his passionate thrust in trying to realize war plans which could have eased substantially immense pressures under which Red Army was fighting in 1942, had an enormous human dimension, which in Russia's/Soviet case could not have been ignored. It was, and still is, impossible not to sympathize with Eisenhower and his both human and professional position, especially when one considers a strategic situation in Soviet Union with Battle Of Stalingrad approaching and a rather vigorous reporting on the events on the Eastern Front and Soviet people waiting for the real Second Front by nationally syndicated Leland Stowe. Obviously, today Stowe's first rate war reporting would be construed a "collusion" with Stalin, NKVD and devil himself. Yet, this was not a rarity in US then:
 
Soviet Union fought for more than just freedom--for survival.
Allied general staffs were aware of the situation on the Eastern Front. In layman's lingo Allied strategic discussion looked like this:


1. FDR was ambiguous, his officers, apart from naturally Pacific firsters, wanted to go in (Europe) decisively ASAP;
2. Churchill's calculus was drastically different and was revolving around impossibility of landing in Europe in 1942 and in 1943. 

In what would become one of the most controversial (a euphemism for military crime) attempts to discredit the very idea of viability of European landing, a sacrifice of 5000 Canadians was made at Dieppe in August of 1942. In early 1990s, the CBC made a hour long documentary in which placed the blame for failure squarely on Churchill and Dudley Pound (not the first time Pound's name will appear in connection to "controversy"), Russians, understandably, were livid but so were many in American camp. As was reported by National Post at 70th anniversary of Dieppe Raid:
What remains to be answered is if there was another element at play shaping events. The late Brigadier General Forbes West of Toronto thought so, identifying a political reason for the raid’s launch. “I feel that from the day planning began, it was intended to be a failure,” he revealed to me in his home 23 years ago. “Perhaps not as costly a failure, but a failure nevertheless. The British were being pressed by the Russians and Americans to open a second front, so we were put in with the firm intention of being destroyed. Men at the Chiefs of Staff level would consider 4,000 casualties a small price to pay for convincing the Russians and Americans an invasion would be a disaster.”
Dieppe debacle took place when the Battle of Stalingrad began, Casablanca Conference was held in January 1943, when the fate of the Stalingrad was decided, with it the fate of Wehrmacht at the Eastern front was sealed and with it--the outcome of war in Europe. And it will be there, at Casablanca, where the "primrose path" memorandum by US General Stanley Embick of Marshall's OPD would openly accuse Churchill of sabotaging any real attempts at fighting Germany where it mattered most. Italian Campaign would prove this point unequivocally when all facts would be collected properly after Battle of Kursk, they would show Ike's foresight and will explain why Stalin wanted American general officer leading Overlord...  

To be continued.... 

Friday, June 23, 2017

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To.

Universal, transcending borders: 


Oh, France.

It is Friday, and it is throw back to 80s and this amazing sound in Baku, before the whole world went to hell. 


It did go there, to hell, but there was a moment.... Like we thought that Fantomas and Mylene DeMoungeot were the coolest objects in universe in 1960s and 70s.

 

Raiders?


Nothing is new under the sun. Installing weapons on merchant ship is as old as navigation itself. 


While history does not repeat itself, it certainly rhymes. I hate cliches, but this one works, sort of. Enter Israel's testing its LORA weapon system (basically land-attack missile) from the commercial vessel. 


Now recall this: 


or this and behold the immense power of a standard commercial container. Are we back in the time of commercial raiding? We very well could be. Indeed, the only thing you need in case of 3M54 stored in a regular container is a targeting data, which can be obtained either with own means (radar) or through outside "providers"--they give you either bearing and range or current coordinates. You can even add these rather attractive girls in assisting you with target acquisition  and entering the "flight plan". 

 
Standard 3M54 (3M14) "Package"
But on a more serious note, proliferation of the container-based anti-shipping missiles, not to speak of land-attack ones with the launch ranges in excess of 2000 kilometers, may throw this whole littoral and A2/AD business completely off the rails. The whole notion of some of yours everyday, prosaic, run of the mill, merchant container ship, such as this:

  
She is only 2000 tons of displacement. Calculate potential salvo yourself;)
being able to launch 4-8-12 or even 16 cruise missiles when is called upon--this is a scary thought. Suddenly, both high seas but especially littorals become a very dangerous place. At the dawn of a nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles US Navy dabbled with an idea to place SLBMs on one of its cruisers--the idea which never was realized--you can find info on that if you are interested. Today game changed completely. Virtually anything, in terms of strike weapon systems, can be placed on practically any commercial vessel thus transforming it to a modern day raider. Considering modern advancements in navigation and radio-communications, building the network of strike platforms suddenly doesn't seem that difficult, especially when one has a decent size commercial fleet. Scary. But even scarier is a proposition of getting a salvo of land-attack missiles from thousands kilometers away--go find who did it. In the end, innocent looking commercial vessel can always blame it on some lonely Russian Oscar-II sub which did the nasty from the same area where this vessel was peacefully navigating for a commercial purposes. Thus, the number of variables grows exponentially and military intelligence agencies will have their hands full trying to figure out which vessel and in what capacity is sailing God knows where during this proverbial threatening period.

At this stage, this problem hasn't been studied in depth it requires. There is no doubt that with further proliferation and improvement of the cruise missiles' technology, merchant fleet suddenly becomes not only a serious logistical consideration, it becomes a serious combat factor. Any ship capable of carrying containers potentially becomes a battery of deadly missiles, whose salvo may alter the best naval operational plans or even have a direct strategic impact by wrecking a havoc on Shipping Lanes Of Communications. Having 3M54 it is not that difficult to do and it will be done (hopefully not) should the opportunity present itself.    
   

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Goddamn You All: I Told You So. (Partially Personal)

H.G Wells' last words to this world seem most appropriate, when one considers the reason I started this blog--when events in Ukraine came to a bloody and tragic resolution, which started a global realignment of such a scale and speed that we can not still grasp all its ramifications. Enter last weekend and my family visiting our very close friends from... West Ukraine. Yes, yes, the ones who not only could be called Bandera's sympathizers but who welcomed, despite initial reservations, a chaotic coup in Ukraine in 2014 and till recently were repeating most (with some important, and, probably, personal relations with us driven, exceptions) of the tired talking points about Russia and Putin personally being the culprit of this all. It was a hard time in our relations. Yet, things eventually returned almost to normal. We love our friends because they are simply good people and we saw and, as the last weekend demonstrated again, what a difficult task it is to face a reality.

While chatting with their very close relative I was faced with what I feared and didn't want to talk about. This old man just asked me how could it have come down to this--Russians and Ukrainians--hating each-other. The question sounded almost desperate and was, in no small measure, inspired by the fact of our decades long very close friendship, which, for the lack of better word could have been compared to family relations. Of course, it is Putin, of course it was Russian side but still, compared to three years ago, those statements sounded almost pro-forma and unconvincing. And then he brought up Yuzmash. "Russia still depends on it", he said. He needed the positive response to this, one could sense it. I couldn't oblige, I do not lie--a lesson I learned in my life a hard way. A good man, good father, man with golden hands--I hated to see him suffer and I saw this coming in him, so, I, with the help of my wife, changed the subject and convinced him to go join the party. 

This, seemingly unimportant, anecdotal evidence of some turnaround, even in minds of people you would never expected to change their mind, suddenly found a much more public (and coincidental) continuation today with the interview of the second President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, formerly a General Director of this very Yuzhmash, to Ukrainian TV Network 112 (in Russian, no less). The title of the interview is grim and correct: Neither US, nor Europe Will Help Ukraine. We Are Alone.

It is very strange to hear this realization from a man who defined Ukrainian national identity in 1990s as "Not Russia".  He also was a man who supported a rabid Russophobe and Ukrainian chauvinist Victor Yushchenko in 2005 Ukraine's Presidential Elections. In other words, Kuchma was the man who is responsible to a very large degree of plotting the path of Ukraine to ruin. This lucidity is especially remarkable from a man who lied most of his political life. He also continues to lie even in this interview--you can't teach an old dog new tricks, I guess. Yet, today once mighty Yuzhmas barely exists as a viable entity and once mighty industrial and agricultural heart of the Soviet Union, after getting its independence, is being reduced to nothing more than a third world black hole right in the middle of Europe. Of course, these will be Russians, again, who are guilty of that, since refuse to depend on a highly unstable, hostile Russophobic puppet of foreign masters, next to their borders and decided to produce what Russia used to buy from Ukraine, thus supporting her high-tech industry. Those times are over. But then again, Russians are also guilty of Hurricane Katrina and Global Warming. 

Yet, Kuchma still found it in him to blare out a correct diagnosis:

Мы становимся сырьевым придатком. У нас металлургия осталась, химия, сельское хозяйство. Высоких технологических производств практически нет. Куда мы идем? Мы радуемся свободной торговле с Европой. Чем мы торгуем с Европой? Посмотрите статистику. Пшеница. Кроме сельского хозяйства практически более ничего нет. Квотирование идет жесткое. За первый квартал мы практически все квоты выбрали. А теперь вы смотрите, как европейцы ставят нас на колени – "давайте лес рубите и везите к нам". Где какая-то конкретная помощь Украине, чтобы мы становились на ноги?! Если мы будем бедными, как сегодня, мы никому не нужны!
Translation: 
  
We are becoming a raw materials appendix. What's left is metallurgy, chemical industry and agriculture. We practically do not have any high tech industries. Where are we going? We rejoice at the free trade with Europe. And what do we offer for this trade with Europe? Look at the statistics. Wheat. Other than agricultural products there is nothing more to offer. Quotes are rigid, we filled practically all of our quotes in first quarter of this year. And now observe how Europeans put us on our knees--"harvest your forests and bring timber to Europe". Where is any concrete help to Ukraine, to put her on her feet!? If we remain poor nobody will need us. 

Get it, boys and girls? Everyone owes it to Ukraine to "put her on her feet". Russia owes her gas transit, buying everything Ukraine (less and less) produces. And, of course, Ukraine's main idea about Europe, as even her former President still thinks so, is to get to EU, get a truck load of free money (aka investments) and start living as European upper middle class. I am not exaggerating. Of course, the fact that Ukraine became what it became by 1990 was largely thanks to the Soviet economic system somehow got lost on such people as Kuchma, not to speak of very many average Ukrainians. The scale of de-industrialization and of de-modernization Ukraine achieved in short 26 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union is nothing short of mind-boggling and unprecedented. The same as the scale of de-Sovietization, which is a euphemism for de-Russification. Yet, the more the scale of the failure to utilize even a small part of a remaining Soviet industrial, scientific, military and educational potential was becoming evident, the more hatred of everything Russian was growing. In the foundation of this hatred, coupled with a bizarre sense of entitlement and self-proclaimed Europeanness (after all, Ukrainians preceded ancient Greeks in developing... everything) were simple envy and jealousy of those dirty backward, dramatically not-European, Asiatic Russians. 

Ukraine wanted to be "independent", she got it. Obviously, nobody explained to Kuchma, let alone other "Europe-oriented" politicians that it is advisable to be careful with what you wish for, since some desires may come true and that there are no free lunches. Ukraine is needed for Europe (and US) merely as raw materials source and as a ram against Russia, through fomenting troubles at her borders, no matter how many Ukrainians may die from war or even starvation. And it is true that Ukraine doesn't have anything to offer to the world other than some raw materials and wheat. Nobody in Europe or US, or, for that matter elsewhere, needs anymore anything produced in Ukraine and many Ukrainians begin to understand this, especially when they begin to look at those backward Asiatic Russians and their Russia, where millions upon millions, including from this very Western Ukraine, Ukrainians travel to each year in hope to find a seasonal job to sent some Asiatic, dirty Russian money home. It is a sad end and it was predictable, too bad very few listened, including in the US who financed and, together with Germany, and others, unleashed a bloody coup in Kiev. Did they even know what they were getting themselves into? Did they read what I wrote almost three years ago?
it is not going to be "another fall" (c) of the Ukrainian Government. It is going to be the end of Ukraine, which, so far, exists mostly because the forces of Novorossya are being held back by Kremlin.
Today, Ukraine is finished as a modern industrialized country. Short of hundreds of billions of dollars (or euros) given to her, a scenario which can only be called ludicrous, and even then under the assumption that those funds will not be stolen, there is nothing Ukraine can do to return to the rank of even moderately developed nations. What is, probably, most disturbing for Ukrainians is the fact, that Russia doesn't care that much about Ukrainian feelings anymore. Eventually Nord Stream-2 will be built and Ukraine's blackmail of Europe by gas transit will be over. She will become even more grim and desolate place but surely free from those ghosts of Soviet and Russian past. It is a sad end, but in this cynical world of ours, real power is the only commodity which makes one a real player globally. I think every reader of this blog by now knows Correlli Barnett's superb definition of national power. Ukraine made her choices and it will not get any better. But it was predicted, it was this Wellsian "Goddamn You All: I Told You So" moment from the get go. 

Couple of years ago, Russian delegation to one of the world's large air shows (don't remember which) gave interview in which they talked about the embarrassment they felt for their former colleagues from once great, in fact, legendary Antonov's Design Bureau, which was purged of everything Soviet and Russian so thoroughly that, instead of continuing with manufacturing world's largest cargo planes, was reduced to producing trams and obsolete small aircraft such as AN-178. This contrasts dramatically with what today was presented by United Aircraft Company in Le Bourget, that is after MS-21 flew for the fifth time yesterday. 


I guess it is true as they say in Russia--Those born to crawl can not fly. Too bad it took so long and so many lives to figure that out.
   

If Anyone Wonders Why Putin's Approval Rating Is Above 80%.

Today is a tragic date in Soviet/Russian history. 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany together with the forces from the most of Western Europe unleashed its Barbarossa Operation and invaded Soviet Union. In 1418 days of that war European part of USSR was flattened, 27 millions of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews, Tatars, you name it, lost their lives--most of them civilians. Every single Russian family was touched by that war. 76 years later Russians forgave but never forgot. 

Today, as it was a tradition for decades before him, President Putin laid the wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Alexander's Garden near Kremlin. As if heaven was crying for dead, it was a downpour over Moscow today. Yet, Putin did what he did:


Anyone needs any explanations why this man has an overwhelming support of Russia? Does it tell the story of present day Russia herself? I think, most of it is understandable without any words. That is what national leaders do and not for media circus. People can spot phonies miles away, Putin is not the case.    

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ralph Peters Is At It Again.

If there is an embodiment of what is wrong with Russia "scholarship" in US military-intelligence circles, no better candidate for this role exists than "Fox News strategic analyst", a retired Lt.Colonel Ralph Peters . The guy passes in the US for some kind of "scholar" on Russia since served for some time in some military intelligence outfit in Germany during 1980s with specialization in Soviet "whatever". After US F-18 shooting down of Syrian SU-22 inside Syria and Russia breaking off de-confliction channel with US forces in the area, Peters gave birth to a "pearl" of a "strategic" thought, which, if it wouldn't be so hysterically warmongering  (considering the "level" of US military "strategists" in media), it would have been totally hilarious. In his piece titled "The Stakes In Syria Now Include US-Russia War", Peters is confused so much that he misses the point that US, unlike Russia forces, are invaders and aggressors in Syria and most US "allies" there are Islamic jihad terrorists. In the end, even US allying itself with Kurds is nothing more than US trying to partition Syria and do, not in a small part, Israel's bidding. This doesn't prevent him, however, from coming up with a hilarious stratagem: 

Were we to accept Russia’s ultimatum, we could not support our allies and we’d be shut out of the endgame battle with ISIS when, as Raqqa falls, the terrorists make a last stand at Deir ez-Zor (a city with a grim history: It was the end-station for Armenian genocide victims death-marched across the desert).

If Peters is not in the loop yet, he probably should update himself on some basic facts of who US "allies" in the region are. He may recall that among those "allies" are Saudi Arabia (and Qatar) who are main financiers of this very ISIS, which US supposedly fights, and other jihadist elements. In fact, US history of supporting Islamic jihad is stellar, including events in Syria. If Peters wants to get updated on this, he may try Senator John McCain--he will "educate" Peters on US "allies" in Syria. But then, in a proud tradition of "stolen valor" Peters, known mostly for his fictional military literature, drops a bombshell:

In reality, Bashar al-Assad and his backers cynically dumped the burden of wrecking ISIS on us and our local allies to concentrate on slaughtering civilians, exterminating freedom fighters and torturing thousands of prisoners to death. Now that we’ve done the anti-ISIS heavy lifting, they want to exclude us from the endgame and crush our Kurdish and Arab allies.  
Ahem, don't we know that these were the United States that defeated Wehrmacht? You know, with a small help from those Russkies? Well, now, as Peters states, it is the US who did "heavy lifting". Gee golly, the history repeats itself:



But history is of no importance to Peters, he comes up with another  pearl:

What’s wryly striking is that the Russians, who see themselves as master strategists, are blind to the way Iran has been manipulating them: Iran got us to fight ISIS and may get Putin to fight us. Guess who wins, either way?
And why Russians shouldn't see themselves as "master strategists"? If Peters didn't know, he also should update himself on the list of Russian military victories--it is damn impressive. In fact, come to think about it, from Teutonic Knights in 1242 to Napoleon, to the gates of Berlin, to nearing the end-game in Syria--not too shabby, I say, and without rivals. And that is where the secret of Peters' Russophobic hatefest lies: 

What happens now? Our military is war-gaming contingencies to ensure that, should the Russians fire on us, we’ll be prepared. We cannot let the Russians dictate where we fly and who we can protect. We’ve gone out of our way to avoid confrontations with Putin’s war criminals, but there’s a limit. And we may be about to reach it. 
Yep, surely Russians are "war criminals", they are also genetically inferior to people like Peters or Clapper, so, yes, light colonel, I can sense how your feelings are hurt. But the reason Russia can "dictate" is very simple, Russia doesn't fight wars in media, she does it on the ground and does achieve tangible military results (objectives), which lead to winning wars, that is achieving political objectives--the quality US "military strategists" somehow do not possess as recent history of US wars demonstrates so vividly. But I am sure, Peters knows this, after all, he is Fox News "strategist".  

But to top it all off, Peters comes up with this sheer lie:


Russia’s officer corps appears to be itching for a bout for the world championship, convinced we don’t have the guts to stand up to them.
No, Mr. Peters, you know shit about Russian military history and  the same goes to Russian military culture which is overwhelmingly built around defense of historic Russia, which, unlike US blessed with geography, fought off for a millennium all kinds of invaders. As Colonel Lang wrote yesterday in his blog:

There is a pernicious fever of Russophobia that is now wide spread among active and retired officers of the US armed forces.    Many officers, however intelligent and well educated are extremely rigid in their thinking.  This is a professional defect that was rewarded in the long process of competitive service leading to promotion.  It was thought to indicate reliability and firmness of character.  The Army's Russian studies graduate school at Germisch, Germany has, IMO, contributed to this Russophobia by inculcating an attitude of implacable hostility toward the USSR and now Russia.  The officer graduates of that institution have imparted this attitude to many others in the US Army.  Retired US Army officers are now heard on Foxnews saying that the Russians must be "pushed into submission."  This is crazy.  Russia is not a minor power.

Yes, Ralph Peters (and the kinds of people Colonel Lang writes about)  wet dream is to fight Russians. This desire has no rational impetus behind it:
This could spin out of control very, very fast. If it does, we have to win rapidly and decisively — and keep it within Syria.
Here Ralph Peters demonstrates a popular view among US military brass and it is irrational despite having a very rational explanation. The United States is an exceptional country in many positive respects, where it is absolutely is not exceptional is in winning wars against peers. Bar a magnificent performance by US Navy in WW II in Pacific, all US military victories were only within coalitions and even then with US joining the fight when the issue was settled. Apart from turkey shoot of incompetent Saddam's force during the First Gulf War, starting from Korea, US didn't win a single war. This can not stand, in view of many US exceptionalists, since US, as an exceptional nation, must be exceptional militarily. To be such, one has to have a record to back it up. US doesn't have such a record, despite an incessant propaganda of US Armed Forces being finest, the best there ever was etc. When one is being bombarded daily with such ignorant claims:


Many Americans look back proudly on the moments in the middle and latter half of the 20th century when the U.S. military provided the crucial margin of victory over Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Soviet Union.
It is not surprising that one gets to be brainwashed into complete ignorance on the fact that by D-Day Nazi Germany was merely counting last months before being utterly destroyed, Allied landing notwithstanding. How US military provided "margin" in defeat of the Soviet Union without ever encountering its Armed Forces on the battlefield is also beyond comprehension, but no worry--it is all perception management. What cannot be managed, however, is the fact that to realize oneself as an exceptional military power, one needs to fight and win the best. The only real "best", the only power which US cannot claim propaganda, forget real combat, victory over is Russia. Russian military history and tradition dwarfs that of the US and that is what doesn't allow people like Peters to sleep calmly at night. They need to realize themselves through fighting what is towering over them, still unconquered and the only power capable of defeating US conventionally, not to speak about being able of turning US into radioactive wasteland. What's left? Yes, Syria and a limited military Russian contingent there--this is the only chance for the US today to defeat anything Russian and then claim the victory. Ralph Peters is representative of such school of thought. His lies, hysterical Russophobia and downright "stealing of valor" attempts, not to mention, a bizarre view on strategy are, sadly, what very many in top US military-political brass profess. 

Apart from losing any human decency, let alone professional honor (was it ever there?), in calling for killing Russians, or naming them a genetically inferior creatures, or calling them war criminals--when US hands are covered in blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents--this all represents a complete and dangerous departure from any appropriate conduct of civilized and cultured people. But then again, it was my contention even before I started this blog that  American Republic, or rather what's left of it, is in grave danger and is under assault by people who, due to their narrow-mindedness, corruption and ignorance, are the ones who bring the world to the brink of catastrophe. Ralph Peters is a herald of such a catastrophe since uses throwing tantrums instead of understanding what real strategy is.      

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Double Plus LOL!!

US journos never disappoint. No, really, certain Nathan Hodge and Julian Barnes of Wall Street Journal rag fame just made my morning. Make no mistake, there always was a degree of melodrama in US when dealing with war, the same as lack of any grasp of issues of scales and proportions. Enough to remember grossly exaggerated, if not completely false, dichotomies, such as contrived "rivalry", which never materialized, of Patton and Rommel--both being merely episodes, and by far not the most important ones, of WW II. Certainly not even close to the scale of  Valilevsky, Rokossovsky, Manstein or Guderian. Not even in the same universe. Yet, there it was--a Hollywood version of something that even never existed. Today, above mentioned WSJ journos, while repeating this idiotic Patton-Rommel cliche, came up with another cringe-worthy melodramatic, totally contrived BS which they called: 



Really? No, I really mean, really? How trivial and shallow one has to be when coming up, for starters, with such sappy baloney as "nemesis". Nemesis, if to follow popular Greek Mythology derived definition, is something a person can not overcome. The immediate question is, then, this--in what sense Russia's Chief Of General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov is a "long-time nemesis" for US National Security Adviser General McMaster? How, in what inflamed fantasy, can Valery Gerasimov, who, throughout his career, commanded both 58th Army and then what would amount to several Army Groups, before becoming Chief Of General Staff, be a nemesis to a man, with all due respect to McMaster, whose "accomplishments" involve such things as, even if viewed briefly from Wiki:
In August 2008, McMaster assumed duties as Director, Concept Development and Experimentation (later renamed Concept Development and Learning), in the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) at Fort Monroe, Virginia, part of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. In this position McMaster was involved in preparing doctrine to guide the Army over the next ten to twenty years.   

Apart from obvious gross mismatch in rank, command, responsibilities and accomplishments--Gerasimov's level is a level of the Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff--one is forced to ask the question: and what are those "military thinking" accomplishments of McMaster per him being a Director, Concept Development and Experimentation? Almost ten years passed from the moment of McMaster's involvement with US doctrine. And what are the results? Results are in the open, for everyone to see and they are not pretty. But then, another question comes: does Gerasimov even know that he is McMaster's "nemesis"? Did troops commanded or guided through operational plans developed by Gerasimov and McMaster ever meet on a battlefield? Never heard of that. But then again, Gerasimov as Chief Of General Staff has at his disposal, a world-class and with pedigree to back it up, GOU (Главное Оперативное Управление--Main Operational Directorate) which for the last 15 years has shown a rather impressive track record. One is literally forced, then, to inevitably "compare the records" purely on merit and without preposterous references to "nemesis". 

I will abstain from elaborating on the records' comparison, albeit I did it not for once, such as here, but let Patrick Armstrong speak on that:

Spectacularly successful at raining death and destruction in the first few weeks, something goes wrong later. Obviously there is something wrong in the way the USA fights wars.

I can explain why USA loses its wars and what is a unbridgeable, irreconcilable difference not only between Gerasimov and McMaster but between Russian and American military thinking: US Armed Forces never fought in real defense of their homeland in the last two hundred plus years. Never. Russia does it for millennium. All US warfare is expeditionary in nature with US proper remaining completely oblivious to the realities of the wars it unleashes elsewhere. That it is the reason American soldier inevitably loses an interest and stake in fighting American wars since, in the end, his (her) family at home, his property, everything he (she) loves and treasures remains untouched by brutality of the warfare and other things which come in this terrifying package. Russia and her soldiers and generals (as well as the nation as a whole) think in a completely different plane, because know, on a genetic level, what war can bring to their homeland.

So, when these two WSJ hacks write this:
Their dynamic sheds light on the evolving military competition between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers at a time of rising diplomatic tension. Moscow has narrowed a yawning gap in the quality of its conventional forces, but the U.S. remains far more powerful in that category. It is this imbalance that has shaped the strategic thinking of the two generals. It’s American force and resolve against Russian cunning and diversion.   
They expose not only their utter ignorance on a whole spectrum of military issues (those two certainly never heard of Russia's Military Doctrine--explicitly defensive), they parade their incompetence by mentioning some non-existent dynamic between a man, who leads institution (Russia's General Staff) which goes back to the times of Peter The Great and has in its record victories over Charles XII, Napoleon, Wehrmacht, recently, over terrorist armies in Syria, and a guy whose "accomplishments", apart from being popular within US Army, are rather... not impressive. So, what dynamic? I can tell you what--none. As per studying somebody's combat experience--that is what military professional do, everywhere since earliest times and in this Sun Tzu's department of "Know Thyself And Know Thy Enemy" US "strategists" fail miserably time after time since the times of Korean War. McMaster will not be an exception, he will fail too. The only task now is to make sure that while failing, this will not bring the world to the edge of confrontation which will have catastrophic consequences. Gerasimov and McMaster, apart from not having any "dynamic" as WSJ hacks claim, are in different universes military strategic thinking and experience wise and both are not only not comparable, they are irreconcilable and will remain so. As per imbalance, currently no single or combination of Armed Forces, that includes US Army, can defeat Russia conventionally in her immediate geographic vicinity. I hope McMaster is smart enough not to try  testing this because it will not be Gerasimov who may then become his "nemesis" in reality but Russia as a whole herself, and her military track record speaks volumes. As per WSJ journos--nice try, double plus LOL, morons. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Bird Continues To Fly.

As Irkut Corporation informs (in Russian), MS-21 continues to fly and already has flown for the third time. The flight lasted 1.5 hours and included all diapason of speeds, including a cruising speed. That means that the landing gear was retracted and the aircraft flew high. This is rather very fast and intense test program and this tells a lot about air frame design. Comparison to Chinese COMAC C919 which, as far as I know, made her maiden and only flight on May 5 this year, is inevitable. Russia is pushing now for a full production cycle of MS-21 the moment it completes tests. 

As I already stated before, COMAC C919 is not a competition to Boeing's and Airbus' aircraft of the same class, MS-21 is. And here is a political twist. Russia, who is being sanctioned by US left and right, will most likely take a long awaited by many protectionist stance and will (granted that Irkut already has 175 firm prepaid orders and 110 more contracted) literally "replace", or, if one wishes, phase out B737s flying for Russian carriers. Chinese plan to do a similar thing with their C919, but, as I stated, it is not realistically a competitive aircraft. Initially, Russia will have issues--current Irkut facilities are capable of producing 20 aircraft a year, but the work has already started on expanding manufacturing to 70 aircraft a year. The conclusion? Sanctions are blessing for Russia and not in disguise. Considering successful tests of newest PD-14 engines, Russian commercial aviation didn't have it so good for itself since, probably, early 1980s. With regional IL-114 in plans for serial production in 2019, what happened with Russian commercial aviation can only be compared to the resurrection of Phoenix--it is an apt comparison. 
 


UPDATE: and the bird just can not stop flying, it seems. MS-21 flew on Sunday for the fourth time and, yes, with landing gear being "inside". 


  
This time, MS-21 was escorted by SU-30SM.  Irkut, obviously, is very confident in its aircraft.      

Thursday, June 15, 2017

US Ukraine Delu..., I Mean Policy.

By now, I usually avoid reading any "analytical" materials from US main stream "media" or any other "intelligence" organizations--some materials of Communist Party of the Soviet Union Congresses contained more substance and actual analysis. Nor am I of a very high opinion of many representatives and senators in US Congress--incompetence (corruption) and delusion are a defining characteristics of many of them. Yet, even if to discount a traditional spin on everything, US Secretary of the State Rex Tillerson's statement on Ukraine (that is Russia) and the so called Minsk Agreements yesterday was a remarkable one. As Bloomberg Reports, Tillerson stated that:

Obviously, as was expected, some of US congressmen disagreed.
   
Tillerson’s remarks generated immediate resistance from Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat.
“I hear what you’re saying, but I disagree because I believe that the only thing that Russia understands is tough talk, and if they think that we’re somehow willing to relax sanctions before they’ve complied with the Minsk framework and left Crimea, I think it will just encourage Putin to continue his bullying,” Engel said of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
I think Tillerson knows the game (at least part of it), Engel, on the other hand, doesn't, since exhibit all signs of mental disability which struck so many in US politics so hard. Two points immediately:

1. Engel doesn't know what "tough" is when applied to Russia. If he learns, which is not to be expected, his world would turn upside down.

2. Sanctions. Realistically, Russia doesn't care, whatever sanctions are. No doubt, there are many morons in Congress who would love to cut every single tie with Russia, including financial ties. Obviously, consequences will be disastrous for US-designed institutions first of all, but calculating outcomes is not legislators' forte.

I don't single US Congress out, there are many imbeciles in Russia's State Duma too, not to speak of European Parliament--man, that is where a density of idiocy is off the scale. But then again, "democracies" do tend to produce, at best, a mediocrity, at worst--sleazebags and down right stupid people.  Periodic emergence of truly great statesmen, such as Ike or FDR in American case, merely confirms the rule. Yet, Tillerson's statement is important one and this has everything to do with WHO will be paying for Ukraine minus Donbass (and eventually some areas of Eastern Ukraine). Anybody who is not struck with a severe case of Alzheimer or Dementia can easily recall that current regime in Kiev is flesh and blood of the EU and US, who organized and paid for events of early 2014 which brought to power in Ukraine a bunch of neonazis and oligarchs who got rid off a legitimate (yes, corrupt, but in Ukraine this is the only way) government. 

Things are not that peachy in Ukraine from any point of view. They do not work as planned--such as disastrous campaigns by Ukrainian Armed Forces. Russia also didn't get sucked in directly into this conflict and Armed Forces of LDNR are doing their job just fine. It is also obvious that Russia will not allow any military resolution in Donbass. But, here is the catch. What those "great" strategists from State Department and other neocon think-tanks (Vicki "Fuck The EU" Nuland, anyone?) didn't understand was the fact that Russia is not interested in the whole Ukraine. The wet dream of D.C. neocons was Russia involving herself in Ukraine's civil war and getting stuck in the quagmire didn't come to reality. Russia is not going to pay for Ukraine and the mayhem which is coming (in fact, it is there already) in the process of Ukraine's inevitable disintegration. That leaves EU and US with the necessity to deal with this festering hellhole right in the middle of Europe. What was conceived as a valuable bargaining chip in geopolitical game against Russia is suddenly reduced to a trash, penny stock for Russians and a huge pain in the ass for Europe. Let it deal with it. US, meanwhile, and Tillerson's statement is precisely about that, wants out.

Short of outright genocide of Russians in Ukraine--and there are many of those in EU and US who would love to see that--Russia is not going to intervene. Many loyal Ukrainians and Russo-phones moved to Russia already. Let Western Ukraine deal with her European neighbors such as Hungary and, of course, Poland--it is their business and eventually both Hungary and Poland will grow territory-wise. The rest? Who knows. Ukraine can not be singled out of a larger US geopolitical game which was (still is) designed to weaken and eventually destroy Russia. After Ukraine, overwhelming majority of Russians, including Russian political elites, have no doubts whatsoever about US intentions. In the end, empirical evidence is there, right in a front of Russia's nose. 

Here we have to look at a larger picture. Yes, President Trump was successful in "convincing" Saudi Arabia to "suddenly" develop a huge interest in "investing" in US. This money couldn't have come at a better time for US which, frankly, simply ran out of resources to meaningfully "rule" the world. Trump knows it, he is a smart man. So, in the absence of those resources, and US has way bigger fish to fry than Ukraine, strategic tasks of addressing US internal economic situation, not being thrown out of the Middle East and facing off with China will require immense resources and that leaves Ukraine in a position of a free loader who provides very little, if any, benefit to US' strategic plans. Sorry folks, nothing personal, just business. Now, US needs to extricate herself from Ukrainian quagmire through some acceptable arrangement and without losing her face. I think Russia can accommodate such a desire but only on conditions of EU getting Ukraine on their books. Also, sorry folks, nothing personal--just business. In the end, Rex Tillerson is also a shrewd, highly experienced businessman--he knows how the deals are made and what it takes to close them. Russians know this too. Today, during his Direct Link with Russia Putin was explicit about Russia's intentions in turning Syrian Army into modern force, the same is being done with LDNR forces, which, in case of unpleasant contingencies, may be upgraded really fast into world-class military force. A lot will depend on personal meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, I think they may like each-other, for the rest in D.C.--they better start taking blood thinners to avoid heart attacks or strokes. We'll see....