Thursday, February 27, 2020

Related Directly.

To the news below about Zircon. As RT reports:
The US has declined an invitation to hold a formal meeting to discuss the legal details of extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is due to expire in a year, a senior Russian diplomat has said.Washington has decided to ditch important talks on the bilateral treaty's fate, the Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry's Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department, Vladimir Leontyev, told a strategic arms-themed event in the Russian parliament on Thursday.
Two things must be considered here: 

1. Trump and his Administration are trying the only trick they know--to bully and apply max pressure (threats) to get whatever they seek (such as China joining, why?) and then, in the last minute, extend START Treaty. It is obvious that this so called "policy", if it is indeed A policy, doesn't work and will not work with Russia, not to speak of China whose nuclear arsenal is much smaller than that of US or Russia's;

2. Trump, actually wants START to expire--the point of view which I hold so far--which will untie America's hands in building up the only real power tool she has left, nuclear weapons. It is because the United States lost a conventional "arms race", albeit I don't like this term and prefer "being late" for the Real Revolution in Military Affairs. 

As was stated many times, the field in which the United States currently may have some extremely narrow lead or barely parity with Russia is in SOME, I underscore, only SOME, enablers in terms of American developed computational abilities, which derive from still impressive semi-conductor (microchip) industry. Sure, but, as I also repeat ad nauseam, no matter how good your enablers are, if they do not command state-of-the-art weaponry, their value drops dramatically. E.g. LRASM may be everything it is stated to be, long-range, stealthy, smart anti-ship cruise missile, but it is still sub-sonic weapon whose parameters allow modern AD systems develop firing solution, in the worst case scenario, within very few seconds (implying LRASM being detected already within radio-horizon). Consider this simple fact, Russia readies Pantsir SM with hyper-sonic (that is M=5+) missiles which will have no problems dealing with high super-sonic or even low hype-sonic targets at ranges of 40 kilometers, not to speak of a slow subsonic targets even in salvo, since hyper-sonic interceptor missiles shorten the "busy" time of a missile-control channel of AD system dramatically, thus allowing to switch to dealing with other incoming threats much faster.  

This is just a simple example, there are plenty of those, not to mention open admission by leading Russian specialists in early-warning and radar technologies, such as NPO Vympel's own Sergei Boev, about ROFAR (or Radio-photonics) systems getting ready soon to be deployed. Go to minute 31:00 in the video (in Russian). So, no matter how productive one's computer is, if it cannot control weapons capable to reliably, with good level probability, say Pk=0.7 and higher, kill the target it doesn't matter how sophisticated your microchip is, let alone how much your enabler costs--in real war with the peer it will be reduced to a passive expensive equipment. No American weapon in existence can intercept any modern Russian missile systems such as already fully deployed strategic Avangard or anti-shipping (or land-attack, depending on the task) M=9+ Kinzhal or just successfully tested 3M22 Zircon. So, let's drop any pretense of politeness here and admit that in a strategic sense the United States currently is in a very unenviable position, to put it mildly. The nation which US "elite", at least its largest part, and we can state this confidently, hates viscerally, Russia that is, not only called US strategic bluff, but doing so revealed a very real "missile gap" which for the United States will be very difficult, if possible at all, to narrow, forget about closing it. 

So, what's left then for the United States under these conditions? Right, bluff again--because it is the only thing which is left for an enormously expensive and highly ineffective American military machine. One of this bluffs is actual expiration of the START and then attempts to nuclearize US "posture" to the utmost, including manufacturing whatever the strategic and mid-range nuclear missiles the United States will be able to afford and hoping that Russians will buckle and submit to the American demands. Right. It is all from the same opera as current NATO exercise Defender 2020, which is built around "Kaliningrad" scenario and Russians already voiced their concern with this NATO "defending". The essence of the concern is not that some 40, 000 NATO troops can "capture" Kaliningrad exclave--they can't, unless they want to sustain catastrophic casualties--but in the fact that desperate bunch of losers in NATO who cannot win a single war in generations and are clamoring for showing NATO's (that is US presence in Europe) "relevance" may accidentally cross the line and force Russia to, indeed, rearrange stones both at NATO's front lines and in a deep rear. That, of course, reeks of a possibility of a nuclear exchange because the United States (other NATO members are military dwarfs) is inherently nuclear-biased nation because it knows, at least some in Pentagon do, that it cannot fight and win conventional conflict against Russia in her geographic vicinity in a classic combined arms warfare scenario. 

Thus, the United States will continue on a path towards complete nuclearization of its foreign policy, because at this stage the Empire has very little in terms of what can actually fight and win a conventional war with real opponent. Such a posture requires all strategic nuclear weapons limitations treaties to be disposed of. Plain and simple, but that goes far into the American history as a nation which didn't realize itself as a continental military power. Without this realization, even considering American glorious and rich naval history and global naval supremacy in the late XIX and good part of the XX century, we should always remember geopolitical strategic truism: the seat of the government is always on land--just ask Russians, they know.     

And It Flies.

Frigate Admiral Gorshkov successfully launched hyper-sonic 3M22 Zircon missile from Barents Sea at the target at North Ural range. The missile flew over 500 kilometers (in Russian from TASS). I wrote so much about it that no matter what I write now--it all will be redundant. As was already stated, this year Zircon also will be launched from Kazan SSGN

Gorshkov. Courtesy of TASS.
I know there will be now very many incidents of a severe butt-hurt but we all have been warned in 2018 and in related news:
Translation: Krasnoyarsk (Kansk) air regiment will be fully equipped by Kinzhal hyper-sonic missiles by 2024. 

As you may have guessed already, those Kansk's MiG-31Ks (currently there are MiG-31BMs serving there) with Kinzhals could easily be deployed to forward Russia's Pacific Coast airfields (there is only 2,000 miles, as crow flies, between Krasnoyarsk and Vladivostok) and you know what that means. As I already stated many times--naval warfare as we know it is over. It was for some time already, but this time it is official.    

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

All That Jazz.

You may ask: why am I not writing about stock market. Well, now I am. The "market" got slaughtered in the last 2 days by losing 1,800, or whatever the number, points. So what? We have to accept two major truths about stock market:

1. US stock market is not just "overvalued", no, this is not the term--it is grossly and criminally overvalued;
2. US stock market has a very remote, if any, relation to actual real economy of the United States--it long ago became a place where financial speculations and fraud became Modus Operandi; 

Yet, there is a degree a practical purpose in this, allegedly Corona virus-inspired,  spiraling down because one can trade all kinds of shitty financial derivatives for only so long before the actual house of cards comes down. 
It really doesn't matter how the stock market behaves itself--in the economy where General Electric, granted financialized into the ground, is replaced by Walgreens at Dow, anything can happen. Economics based ONLY on bottom line or profit-only ideology is fragile by definition. Is coronavirus as dangerous as it is claimed to be? One cannot fail to notice that majority of people who died from it are of Chinese ethnic (genetic) origin. Some people go as far as state that it was a some kind biological weapon unleashed on China, well, I don't know about that. Now, what are the real chances that this thing becomes a pandemic? Let's relive those wonderful times of SARS panic. Origin--China again and, yet again, bat-related. Anyhow, this was expected by many and as one observer puts it:
One doesn't have to be a stock-broker to understand this.  

David Porter Of FBI Got One Thing Semi-Right.

I don't know what FBI does nowadays, I guess it defends US "democracy" against evil doers but here is the news story: 
I think that Mr. Porter doesn't understand the zest, so to speak, of this historic moment because he is correct that Russia is "watching" how America "tears itself apart", but he avoids, for some reason, mentioning of the fact that in this case ALL FBI counter-intelligence resources should be concentrated on investigating Democratic National Committee (DNC), which, together with Democratic Party's many rank and file DO "tear" America apart and thus, by definition by Mr. Porter, must be considered Russian operatives. If Mr. Porter doesn't believe me, he surely should listen to his very own direct big boss, POTUS: 
But while repeating delusional BS about Russia "wanting to watch" and "conducting brazen operations" Mr. Porter, accidentally, gets one thing semi-right:
“To put it simply, in this space, Russia wants to watch us tear ourselves apart, while it seems that China would rather manage our gradual economic decline over the course of generations," Porter said.
Semi-right Porter is because he thinks that only China wants to manage "gradual economic decline over the course of generations", because Russia not only wants but already DOES manage this decline in a number of different military-political ways, some of which are beyond the grasp of even China. But it is good that Mr. Porter at least acknowledges that there is some "decline" (granted a very speedy one on a historic time scale--within single generation) of the United States and this one is primarily due to a roughly 30 year-long very acute (End of History) delusion about America's real place in history and greed and utter incompetence and malice of US "elites" who, not Russia or China, screwed their own country royally and continue to do so non-stop. But then again, me writing this, could be construed as Russian "interference" or, Tucker Carlson could easily be accused and charged with being a Russia's asset because Tucker is exploiting "lines of division".  And, in fact, "exploited" those even more maliciously by publishing NYT's #1 gigantic bestseller precisely about how America tears itself apart. 
Did Mr. Porter and FBI ever try to investigate, as an example, some US neocons for warmup? Hm, I don't think so they will--otherwise Mr. Porter's career will go down really fast. So, back to fighting Wind Mills with all  Quixotic zeal and looking for the lost key in the dark alley under the lamp post merely because it is well lit there. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

FYI.

Just for you to know, I opened not exactly the mirror but same vector blog in Russian as Russmoothiex12. You can find it here. It is, of course, Reminiscence of the Future (in Russian). Same topics, same ol', same ol' with a slightly bigger emphasis on Russia's affairs, e.g. I long ago wanted to express my opinion on Russia's liberda in my own, very specific way, including, possibly, quantification of their imbecility and depravity--now I will be able to do so. I don't think that for the majority of my international non-Russian speaking audience those issues will be of any significant interests but, as always, you, guys, are all welcome to partake in my Russian writing using Google Translate and I think that Disqus engine is now working there too. Without going there first, guess what my first post there is about;))     

Friday, February 21, 2020

Oh Boy, Do I Feel Vindicated!

Not that I really enjoy my vindication--I am not as self-centered as many US "scholars" because I am used to living in real world, but still, how funny is this:

I wrote two books about US "ruling class" incompetence and now am getting ready to write the third one, but hey--I always liked Tucker. 

Friday.

I remember us driving through Napa Valley tasting all kinds of wines, after smelling and experiencing San-Francisco (not good) in 2014 (I believe) and seeing Huey Lewis' posters--concerts in Napa. Duh, all sold out. But he is still around and he, getting deaf, still rocks. 

What a delight his music always was. Especially in 1980s. 


Speaking of 1980s in 2020. Another truly great one!

And then memory rewinds you back:
 

 Somehow this touches you

There Is Still Humanity Out There.

I couldn't miss this. Each morning on my way to work I drive over the bridge from which a 9th grade girl threw herself to the death 60 feet down because she couldn't take humiliation and bullying by some "man", her class-mate, who was upset with this girl not putting out. I wish I was there with this kiddo to hug her and not let go the moment she decided to end it all. I would then beat the smug a-hole (minor as he is) into bloody pulp and would make him crawl and eat dirt at the feet of this girl. Now this: 
The only feeling you have the moment you see this is of helplessness from inability to hug the kid over distance of many thousand of miles. But this time, his mom was absolutely right to post this on FB (a rare occasion when it was useful) and the world exploded--just read it here. Read also comments from YouTube video. I hope it is not a scam--yes, sadly this happens too--because reaction of people around the globe was overwhelming. And that gives hope, people on different continents have this normal instinct to protect a child and defend weak--this is what defines humanity. This is also what gives hope. I hate bullying, I always hated it precisely because I never was bullied but I saw others subjected to it. And on number of occasions I fought for those kids. I hope this particular story is true, because now with half-the-world behind him, this kid has a future. Maybe it does take a village. 

Addendum To Two "No Shit" Moments In A Row.

It occurred to me that some explanations regarding US Treasuries and main holders of those financial "instruments" must be explored in a separate addendum. This will help understand the dynamics of Russian-American relations. The main question is WHY buy US treasuries or US Treasury Bonds? Let's give those a clear definition from financial "wizards" from Fidelity
So, as you can see, the United States treasury sells US debt to, actually, finance US economy. Foreign entities buy this debt because they think they can earn low yield but reliable buck on those. Buying US treasuries is also a good indicator of trust, or otherwise, in US not only economically, but even more so geopolitically. I repeat ad nauseam that Pax Americana's financial pyramid rests primarily with American military power mythology, not with US real economy. US real economy cannot generate enough growth to even scratch the surface of US debt obligations. Prior to roughly 2014 foreign governments' buying of US treasuries was based on US economic data which was, to put it mildly, not exactly connected to the reality and risk expectations were allayed primarily by the ideas that the United States, having enough military wherewithal, would be able to coerce a whole host of countries to "offer" their resources to the United States, thus providing enough fuel for continuation of the racket for a little bit longer. Then something got broken. Exactly around 2014. 

The US military "primacy" was called into a serious question. You all know what happened then. Then there was 2015, and then March of 2018, and on and on, and on. The only country in the world who can both wipe the United States off the map and defeat in conventionally in Europe simply stated that she doesn't really give a shit. Recall this:
Russia is continuing to diversify state reserves away from US debt. The latest data from the US Treasury shows that Russia's share hit an 11-year minimum and totaled only $14.9 billion.The share of US sovereign debt bonds in Russia's portfolio has been reduced dramatically in recent months. Russia held $96.1 billion in US Treasuries in March before selling half its holdings in April, dropping to 22nd place among major foreign holders of American treasury securities at $48.7 billion.In 2010, Russia was among the top 10 holders of US Treasuries at $176.3 billion. With its holdings falling to $14.9 billion in May, the country is now below the $30 billion threshold for inclusion on the Treasury Department’s monthly report of major holders. On Tuesday, the Treasury released a list of 33 countries which includes the biggest holder China to the smallest Chile. Russia is no longer on the list. 
Pay attention to the date of this report: 18 July 2018. About 100 days after Putin's address to Federal Assembly on March 1, 2018.  The dates are not accidental. As anyone can see, US treasuries are a bit more than just financial instruments (any government issues those) but they have more sacral meaning as world's admission, and a sign of belonging, to what was considered the global elite club based in Washington D.C. Now take a look at this graph:
Can you find Russia in it? Don't even try. Russia is not going to be financing the economy of a country which declared Russia an absolute evil. You just don't help people who viscerally hate and ready to kill you. So, as reputable Vesti reports (in Russian), Russia's "investment" in the US treasuries on December 2019 was exactly $9.974 Billion. In other words, Russia has 7 times fewer US treasuries than Bermuda, and 25 times less than mighty Luxembourg. You see, at issue here is what drives the American "elites" completely mad and desperate. Here is simple answer, unlike even China, not to speak of occupied Japan, Russia has an official receipt of being fully sovereign country. Even economically mighty China cannot have as much freedom as Russia does in China's economically symbiotic relations with the United States. 
Russia does have those freedoms not just because she has one of the most, if not THE MOST, undervalued economy in the world--a courtesy of swindlers from all kinds of Western ratings and economic "analysis" institutions--but because this grossly undervalued economy produces weapons which allow Russia to insulate herself from any kind of blackmail and be her own thing. One of those major things is Russia's refusal to get US financial "debt" as a sign of submission to the rules of self-proclaimed hegemon. Moreover, Russia, considering her global status, is leading the way in dumping US treasuries, and that is a deadly threat to existing regime in the West. As many observers within the Empire are noting, something really strange is happening to the symbol of the financial reign by the United States:
Under the impact of a stupendous spending binge peppered with juicy tax cuts, the Treasury Department has had to issue a flood of Treasury securities to fund the cash outflow. So, over the past 12 months, the US gross national debt has ballooned by $1.5 trillion to $22 trillion as of January 30, according to Treasury Department data. And these are the good times when the economy is hopping. At the next recession, this is going to get cute.But who the heck is buying all this debt? That question will grow increasingly important and worrisome as we move forward with this gigantic ballooning debt, fueled by deficits that Fed chairman Jerome Powell calls “unsustainable” at every chance he gets  
The answer is simple: 
American banks (very large holders), hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds, and other institutions along with individual investors in their brokerage accounts or at their accounts with the US Treasury were huge net buyers, while nearly everyone else was selling, increasing their holdings by $1.36 trillion over the 12-month period. These American entities combined owned the remainder of the US gross national debt, $7.5 trillion, or 34.4% of the total!
The United States literally turns itself into the self-licking ice-cream cone and, eventually, she will lick herself into the empty cone, with no ice-cream left. Moreover, the United States has been denied her post WW II myth of military omnipotence thus showing very clear signs of weakness, like recent events with Iran, which indicate to many foreign US treasuries' holders that at some point of time they may submit those obligations for cashing without serious consequences for themselves and that is the big game and plan for them--big players, such as China, already doing this, however slowly (but then again, China holds more than a trillion worth of US treasuries) and the whole thing is already in progress and pass the point of no return. 

American "elites" know who drives this process--Russia. And China. And desperation shows: 
Speaking today at London's Royal United Services Institute, Esper said the political and economic leverage wielded by the Chinese is already eroding the sovereignty of some nations. And Russian invasion of Georgia, annexation of Crimea and violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as it continued to build up its inventory of strategic arms, shows that Russia is unwilling to be a responsible international actor, he said. "[We] cannot stand idly by while authoritarian nations attempt to reshape the global security environment to their favor at the expense of others," Esper said. "Doing so would invite continued aggression and diminish our ability to deter future conflicts. As such, America's National Defense Strategy makes it clear that great power competition is once again the primary concern of U.S. national security."
Mark Esper and many people in Pentagon are not stupid, they can calculate and do operational planning, they know that the US military today is capable to fight only third world militaries, and even there success is not guaranteed. And yes, in Esper's definition of Russia "not willing to be a responsible international actor" is correct, precisely because she knows what kind of rogue state she is dealing with and that is why she was in a separation mode non-stop since 2014. But Russia is still in business with the US, as she should be, because Russians finally learned a good ol' capitalist truism--money doesn't smell, only business--nothing personal. Only hard cold cash--no treasuries. What a funny world we all live in. 

Two "No Shit" Moments In A Row.

The first "no shit" moment is when Erdogan figured it out that there is a war in Syria, namely in Idlib (in Russian). What do ya know, and I thought that Idlib was fully engaged in civilian construction of sports arenas, 5 star hotels and autobahns, instead of housing Al-Qaeda related and other terrorist outlets supported by none other than Turkey. Now that SAA got to Idlib and started clearing this Syrian territory from this jihadist filth, Erdo-dude suddenly felt the pain. Of course, he did--his Neo-Ottoman aspirations tell him that removing Assad and biting off a substantial piece of Syria's territory are imperatives, if not, of course, for those nasty Russkies and those Kurds, who those Russkies may suddenly find very instrumental in containing Turkey's expansionist agenda. 

Is Erdogan bluffing preparing for a full blown war in Idlib? Possible, but as a former military I need to consider worst case scenario that he does not and that he will decide to go in full force. Russian VKS already sent the message couple days ago when bombed the shit out of Turkey-supported "freedom fighters" who, accidentally, are now armed with manpads and it will be now a matter of time before some civilian aircraft will be brought down, who knows where. But Erdo, as vocal as ever, understands that he stands to lose a lot if Russia will get involved, and she will get involved, fully on Syria's side in Idlib, because the list of those losses is really large and it is large namely for Turkey--so, some kind of ad hoc arrangement might be worked out, possibly with Friday evening's call between Putin and Erdogan, but it doesn't change the strategic outlook in which jihadists of all colors must be annihilated. This is not negotiable. 

The second "no shit" moment is a piece the Vice President of US National Foreign Trade Council Richard Sawaya penned for The Hill in which he concludes that:
While repeating same tropes about US "democracy" and Russian "aggression" in Ukraine, Sawaya, nevertheless, arrives to this sad (for the US) assessment:
Another (DASKA provision) would prohibit U.S. companies from engaging in transactions of Russian sovereign debt denominated in rubles, which would effectively stymie any U.S. company operations in Russia.  Though presumably intended to hurt the Russian economy, in fact, the measure would sanction U.S. companies to the benefit of their non-U.S. (read Chinese) competitors. Nearly 3,000 U.S. companies that operate in joint ventures with Russian firms could be forced to exit or shutter operations. More broadly, in the global economy with its complex network of multi-country supply chains, ever increasing U.S. sanctions cause U.S. companies to be regarded as unreliable partners.   
As many Russians repeat ad nauseam: yes, we are culpable in "meddling" in your (US elections), yes, we are dreaming about capturing Ukraine, yes, we are the ones who are responsible for every evil on Earth, please, keep the sanctions on. Russia already reduced her holdings in US Treasuries to a minuscule $9 Billion (as of today). It is obviously clear that Russia doesn't see the United States as any type of partner nor is interested in broader economic relations with it. While many, including Russia's own liberals, made fun of Import Substitution program and predicted its failure in 2014, they are not laughing anymore in 2020 and some are panicking. Enough to recall Siemens turbines affair. It is nearly impossible to explain to political "scientist", stock broker or banker that the nation which produces state-of-the-art weaponry or energy technology will have little trouble developing and producing own high pressure pumps for pipe-lines, liquification equipment or high-power turbines, among many other things. We can see results already today and that means only one thing--continuous shrinkage of imports from the combined West. So when Sawaya says this:
U.S. sanctions, as pressure tactics, demonstrably fail to achieve their intended objectives. To date, Russia’s conduct in Ukraine has not changed. As one observer put it, the sanctions were meant for Moscow but hit Houston. DASKA’s energy provisions would take collateral damage to new heights.
He needs to understand that Russia doesn't care about Houston, nor about "collateral damage" to US economy. Why should Russia care? Russians are keenly aware of the simple fact that there is NOBODY in D.C. to have sensible and productive discussions with. Zero, zilch, nada. Under any circumstances it will be a waste of time and effort. Such an outcome was totally predictable and US political class understood this too late. They really should improve their understanding of the surrounding world. I doubt they will. In fact, opposite is true--as Fred Reed defines it, enstupidation hit an overdrive. 
The lights go out in America and this is not a "no shit" moment.  

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Larison Is Furious, I Am Not.

Daniel Larison, correctly, emphasizes Trump new Director's of National Intelligence lack of any qualifications. 
Grenell made a "name" for himself as US Ambassador to Germany--a position he also is utterly unqualified for, which is expected from someone with "degree" in government and "experience" in media sphere.  I absolutely do not understand Larison's argument:

1. Who said that personal loyalty IS NOT a decisive factor in promotions for high government posts in D.C.? Since when it is not so? I believe it is a long and proud tradition to form Administrations based primarily on loyalty, not professional qualities. Should I remind all the "professional" level of appointees in the Obama's Admin? Especially so, as represented by people utterly unqualified for diplomatic or intelligence positions? Come on, economist Susan Rice as National Security Advisor? What could possibly go wrong with that, not to mention two sanctimonious a-holes and seditious coupsters such as Brennan or Clapper. Not to mention an exemplary US "diplomat" such as Vicki Nuland. Hey, what were Paul Wolfowitz' qualifications for "serving" at Pentagon? In the end, Hillary Clinton was as good a Secretary of the State as I am an impersonator of Kathy Perry (Hint: I suck at impersonating Kathy Perry, I think, I never tried).  

2. This point derives from the point above: read my syllables--the United States blew, in the last 30 years, EVERY single geopolitical, economic, military, diplomatic and ideological advantage it seemed to enjoy in the wake of the Soviet collapse. THIS IS this overwhelming empirical evidence of utter incompetence and corruption of the American elites in which appointment of some gay dude with zero qualifications for anything other than "public affairs" is but another logical continuation of the practices which not only destabilized the world but are fast turning the United States into the Third World country. Not quite there yet, but give it some time. 

As I note:
So, using my favorite Russian classic fable author Ivan Andreevich Krylov, his fable Quartet describes situation extremely well. 
A Rascal-Monkey
             Donkey
             Billy Goat
      And klunky Bear
      Set out to play a string Quartet.
 They found some scores, viola, bass, two violins
     And sat down in a lea beneath a linden tree
     To charm the world with art.
 They struck their strings, and sawed with all their heart.
 No luck. "Arrete, my fellows, stop!" shouts Monkey, 
                                      "Wait!"
 How can the music play when you're not sitting straight?
 You, Bearie, opposite viola move your bass,
       As primo, I'll sit opposite secundo's face
       And then some music will take place.
       We'll make the hills and forests dance!"
       They took their seats and started the Quartet,
       And once again it came to nyet.
       "Hold on! I know the secret!"
       Shouts Donkey, "It is bound to come out fine
              If everyone sits in a line."
 They followed Donkey's plan and settled in a row;
    But even so, the music would not go. 
 More fiercely than before they argued then
                     About
        Who should be sitting where.
A nightingale, in passing, chanced the noise to hear. 
At once, they turned to her to solve their problem.
The pleaded, "Please, spare us some time
To make of our quartet a paradigm:
We have our instruments and scores,
                    Just tell us how to sit!"
 "For making music, you must have the knack
        And ears more musical than yours,"
        The nightingale comes back,
        "And you, my friends, no matter your positions, 
        Will never be musicians!"
Nothing more to say here. 

Why Russia Is A Clear And Present Danger To The US (or West)-IV.

Judge for yourself, no parents #1 and #2, only Mom and Dad. Atrocious. What a freaking backward country--just two genders. 
Marriage is only between a man and a woman--what a medieval satrapy this Russia is. Damn. And woman bears a child--what a strange concept, albeit this photo somehow is the best photo, in my mind, I saw in years and it speaks volumes. 
Now can you imagine what those damn Russkies are planning!? They dare to...keep capital in Russia and use it for developing country's resources and infrastructure.  Absolutely atrocious. 

What a dangerous country this Russia is. Meanwhile, after this monthly doze of Russia's increasing danger to the West, here is an excellent piece by Pepe Escobar from Saker's blog.
Few postmodern political pantomimes have been more revealing than the hundreds of so-called “international decision-makers,” mostly Western, waxing lyrical, disgusted or nostalgic over “Westlessness” at the Munich Security Conference. “Westlessness” sounds like one of those constipated concepts issued from a post-party bad hangover at the Rive Gauche during the 1970s. In theory (but not French Theory) Westlessness in the age of Whatsapp should mean a deficit of multiparty action to address the most pressing threats to the “international order” – or (dis)order – as nationalism, derided as a narrow-minded populist wave, prevails. Yet what Munich actually unveiled was some deep – Western – longing for those effervescent days of humanitarian imperialism, with nationalism in all its strands being cast as the villain impeding the relentless advance of profitable, neocolonial Forever Wars.
I like Pepe's (proper) use of the term constipated--succinct. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Being A Devil's Advocate. In Defense Of US Military.

Yes, yes, you didn't misread that. As promised, I bought Kindle edition of Tim Bakken's much anticipated The Cost of Loyalty: Dishonesty, Hubris, and Failure in the U.S. Military and gave it a first "browsing" go. I immediately found myself in a "hot water" of sorts since, while very readable, the book completely blew my views out of the water--the book's major premise is that of a lack of civilian control over US Military and I couldn't agree with this at all, because it is simply not true. While being correct in many crucial details of US Military existence, Bakken, obviously, makes a very grave mistake when thinking that there is no "civilian control" over US Military. There is plenty of this "control" to go around, because American civilian political elites, with some minor exceptions, are the most militaristic, aggressive war-mongers in history and it is they NOT US Military who the "buck stops with", because US Military establishment, while undeniably having its own share of mindless, incompetent and even evil careerists, is not the one who makes final decisions on unleashing America's, one after another, disastrous wars. Those decisions are made in the civilian corridors of power. Let's recall where and how it all started in the immediate wake of WW II and continued in the post-Soviet collapse times of 1990s.
I guess, we shouldn't lose the sight of this simple fact that it is US Congress which the power to declare war lies with. And POTUS--if these purely civilian institutions cannot figure it out, granted often manipulated by the so called (lack of) intelligence and military community, what good they are for then? Most active and most enthusiastic addicts to American (often completely primitive and distasteful) military porn are precisely American civilian government officials overwhelming majority of who never served a day in the uniform, let alone in operational zones and are, in fact, major enablers of primitive American militarism, since lacking appropriate human (and real men) qualities, overcompensate by associating themselves with a military power, thus creating an echo chamber, or a feedback loop, if one wishes, to a non-stop US military pornography being re-amplified with each election cycle. So, I emphatically disagree with Bakken on this particular issue--US Military carries out the orders which civilian US men (and women) in suites from political parties, to media (propaganda, that is) to corporations issue to it. 

It does not absolve US military from atrocities it commits in its wars, but those who give (or help to push for) those orders are the most culpable in this unmitigated disaster which US failed wars in the last 75 years are. Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, John Bolton, Bill Clinton, Lindsey Graham, his late buddy John McCain (granted former officer), Robert Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney are just a few examples of war-mongers, if not outright sociopaths and war criminals, who played and continue to play a crucial role in spreading a bloodshed and misery around the globe and use US military as merely their own personal tool for promoting most delusional geopolitical agenda, which, in the end also destroys the United States from within.  I cannot accept, in this case, this Bakken's argument as valid. I quote myself (pardon me for this):
In March 2018 an influential American magazine, The Diplomat, published a short piece by Francis P. Sempa on the Thucydides Trap. In this piece Sempa, citing a collection of articles and essays by U.S. senior military officers titled Avoiding the Trap: U.S. Strategy and Policy for Competing in the Asia-Pacific Beyond the Rebalance, noted in amusement that:
The most remarkable aspect of this study is the lack of “hawkishness” among the contributors, most of whom are high-level military officers. Only one article asserts that China intends to become the Asia-Pacific’s regional hegemon and is following a step-by-step expansionist strategy to displace the United States in the region. Two of the contributors emphasize the need to strengthen and improve U.S. defense ties to Japan and India in order to counterbalance China’s military growth.
It is, sadly, not surprising that Sempa, an attorney by education and a political “scientist” by occupation,  is surprised by the fact of military professionals being reluctant to take political science whiteboard theories to heart. But military professionals are absolutely correct in their reluctance and they have ample reasons to be suspicious of international relations concepts cooked up in the deep recesses of Western in general, and American in particular, political science kitchens populated by people who, for the most part, have zero military backgrounds and experiences. 
Far from exhibiting military "corporatism" I merely point out the fact that these are primarily American civilian institutions which allowed and, in fact, incited militarism which now reached grotesque forms and ignores completely the reality of the United States losing (or not winning) all her wars since the end of WW II. I have another major disagreement with Bakken in regards to military education and engineering courses modern officer should take, but that will require a separate post. I'll do it later, including some review of principles of Combat Training and military bureaucracy. Now, about what Bakken's gets with precision and does it well. 

Bakken goes for the jugular and, correctly, starts with deconstructing one of the darlings of American WW II military mythology General Douglas MacArthur whose myth of a great military leader was pretty much destroyed in Korea when MacArthur's arrogance and a complete detachment from military reality when grossly underestimating Chinese intentions and military capability did cost the US a war. Bakken is correct when starting from WW II and it seems I and he very much on the same page when stating the obvious fact that the US Military learned all the wrong lessons in WW II. In my case, I reviewed George Patton, whose actual military merits were exceeded by far by his ability for self-promotion and manipulating US press. As I wrote in my first book:
...there was a real downside to the famous 1970 Hollywood flick and genius acting of George C. Scott which contributed not only to the Patton myth but to an always foggy, very skewed American understanding of World War II and warfare. While the movie was a cinematographic triumph in the United States, those who knew war first hand—the Germans—had a different opinion. Ladislas Farago was blunt in stating the obvious:
German interest in Patton was still so spotty many years later that the famous motion picture with George C. Scott, a smash hit everywhere else, flopped dismally in Germany. After a week or two playing to empty houses, its showing had to be cancelled. Rommel, yes. Zhukov, surely.  Montgomery, maybe. But the vast majority of the Germans simply didn’t know why General Patton rated a film.
Nor did Russians, who, after the liberalization of the 1980s and the spread of VHS culture, were not amused by the movie which glorified, in Paul Fussell’s words about Patton, “a master of chickenshit”. For Russians, who had a pretty good idea of the scale of WWII and were used to its imagery, the film raised the inevitable question of why so much pathos would be generated about a general who commanded a single army at the Western Front in the last year of WWII
This could have been as well written not by me but Bakken himself, because, as I continue to state non-stop, problems with the US Military started with the failure to learn the actual history of WW II, which, through its "interpretations" in the US steadily removed the Red Army as the main contributor to a defeat of Nazi Germany and substituted it with a narrative of the United States, with some help from Great Britain and USSR securing European Continent for "democracy" and "liberty". There is no surprise that famous revisionist work of Earl Ziemke, in which he states that these were Anglo-American Allies who defeated Hitler and makes such a statement, is till being referred to:
This hardly qualifies as a real military history, yet, it is precisely what was laid in the foundation of the American view of WW II and lead to what Atkinson, when describing Patton, defined as: the creeping arrogance, the hubris, which would cost the American Army so dearly in Vietnam. It is of no surprise then, but sadly ironic, when former Soviet military professional (me, that is) is forced to explain to American posters on all kinds of forums, that Operation "Cobra", a breakout from Normandy, was a plan conceived and, essentially, executed by Omar Bradley, not Patton, that the victory in Ardennes was won well before Patton's 3rd Army ever got there and it was Hodges' 1st Army which stood firm against Dietrich on the Norther Face of the Bulge and that is what determined the outcome. That Patton, far from being the "genius for war" was just another army commander whose record is simply not that impressive and is inapplicable to even comparison with anything tank warfare wise on the Eastern Front.  Bakken is correct--arrogance, ignorance and, often, lack of professional military adequacy is what to a large degree defined US Military which was forced to believe in own invincibility against the background of overwhelming empirical evidence which testifies that self-proclaimed "finest fighting force in history" is not, actually, that good when facing an enemy which decides to fight for real, but about this later. This is just a warm-up, a primer of sorts, on Bakken's undeniably controversial but, in my mind, very important book which provides some very necessary insights into how the US Military views itself....

To Be Continued....   

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ghosts Of Vietnam?

It is the longest American war. It is also one of the most futile ones. 
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and Taliban will sign a peace deal at the end of February, more than a year after negotiations started, paving the way for broader talks between the Afghan government and the militant group on the country’s post-war future. The peace agreement will be signed during a ceremony in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office, according to the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed, as well as deputy head of its political office Abdul Salam Hanafi. Mujahed was reached via Whatsapp on Monday. The treaty to end America’s longest war follows an agreement with the Taliban on Friday for them to reduce hostilities for a seven-day period. One of the conditions for a broader peace deal, that would allow the U.S. to start withdrawing troops, has been for the partial cease-fire to hold.
There are some secret addenda to this deal, which include arrangements for some "anti-terrorist forces" to remain and, not least, some hefty declarations such as "requirement" for Taliban to denounce terrorism and extremism. Sure, make bees hate honey, this is so easy, after all. I don't know, this whole things reeks of Paris Peace Accords. Truth is, we knew it was coming. Only completely delusional people believed that some kind of "victory" can be attained in Afghanistan. A face saving arrangement is desperately needed for the United States, but the US leaving Afghanistan will not be the end of it, it will be the start of what Russians (General Gromov and  Dmitri Rogozin) warned about in 2010. 
That was exactly 10 years ago. As experience has shown, not only Talibanization was not prevented, but Taliban gained legitimacy and will enjoy now a status of a force which defeated the Great Satan of America. Russians knew already then, that nothing good was coming out of this US (and NATO) war:
That is the Russian position. We are ready to help NATO implement its U.N. Security Council mandate in Afghanistan. We are utterly dissatisfied with the mood of capitulation at NATO headquarters, be it under the cover of “humanistic pacifism” or pragmatism. We insist that NATO troops stay in the country until the necessary conditions are provided to establish stable local authorities capable of independently deterring radical forces and controlling the country. That is why we are helping NATO by providing transit for goods and training personnel for Afghanistan, including anti-narcotics officers.
I am also not sure that NATO really studied Soviet war in Afghanistan, certainly not on a purely political level, and no one in their own mind believes that Ashraf Ghani's government in Kabul will last longer than Taliban will allow it to exist. The jury is already in on this issue, especially after Washington Post releasing a trove of documents on 20 year long insanity that the War in Afghanistan has become for the United States. As one observer noted:
Anyone with eyes can see quite clearly that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is an unmitigated failure.The war in Afghanistan, now in its 19th year, is about as protracted and bloody as it has ever been. Throughout the entire conflict, hawks have told skeptical voters to sit down, be quiet, and leave it up to the professionals. For years they’ve said victory is supposedly just around the corner and that we’re making progress. And yet all the while, the situation on the ground tells a vastly different story. Still, those of us on the outside have never truly been able to witness the full gravity of Washington’s extravagantly expensive misadventure in Afghanistan — because the national security bureaucracy has a knack of keeping bad information hidden away in a vault. No longer. After a three-year court battle, the Washington Post was able to get its hands on classified government documents that demonstrate the catastrophic nature of the war. The paper reports that "senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable." Based on 2,000 pages and 428 interviews with American officials, the documents expose two disturbing key themes: For one, the United States had no clue what it was doing in Afghanistan, and even worse, government officials lied to voters every step of the way. The picture that emerges is one of three successive administrations stubbornly resistant to confronting the depth of their mistakes, all too proud or scared to admit their failure. As Gen. Douglas Lute, the Afghanistan war czar in the Bush and Obama White Houses, summarized: “If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction ... 2,400 lives lost ... Who will say this was in vain?”
This is a familiar pattern, which repeats itself time after time in the United States which refuses to face a reality until it is too late and nothing could be done about it. Obviously there is plenty of a denial to go around, especially among US military:
“I’ve been to Afghanistan 10 times in the last four years in this job and I feel that we’ve never been lied to and we are continuing to move forward,” he said, adding that he served as the senior enlisted adviser to the International Security Assistance Force in 2011 and, “I firmly thought the strategy we had in place was working.” Troxell was joined Monday by Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, a career special operations pararescueman, who also weighed in on his experiences deployed to Afghanistan. “The men and women that have been going back to since 2002 to perform this mission have been pouring their heart and soul into its success,” he said. And, he added, he never questioned his superior officers’ orders during the many capture-or-kill missions he completed in the country. “We were there with a purpose," he said. "And up to today, from 2002, I will tell you that there’s a lot more safety and security because of the actions taken ― not only by myself, personally, but by my peers.”
I am ready to give the guys the benefit of a doubt, after all, these were they, not me, who did tours in Afghanistan but "continuing to move forward" doesn't sound to me as a viable strategy or operational concept in a country in which in 20 years the United States controls only few very limited areas. Even British BS corporation couldn't deny facts on the ground:
Taliban fighters, whom US-led forces spent billions of dollars trying to defeat, are now openly active in 70% of Afghanistan, a BBC study has found. Months of research across the country shows that the Taliban now control or threaten much more territory than when foreign combat troops left in 2014. The Afghan government played down the report, saying it controls most areas. But recent attacks claimed by Taliban and Islamic State group militants have killed scores in Kabul and elsewhere.Afghan officials and US President Donald Trump have responded by ruling out any talks with the Taliban. Last year Mr Trump announced the US military would stay in the country indefinitely. The BBC research also suggests that IS is more active in Afghanistan than ever before, although it remains far less powerful than the Taliban.
If this is how the moving forward is defined, then it looks like it is Taliban which is moving forward, not the US military. It is clear that Vietnam moment has come and that after 20 years the United States has nothing to show for blood and treasure spent in this war-torn country. In the end, Afghanistan also factors in the US election cycle and Trump cannot afford being called out for his failure to deliver on his 2016 campaign promise to end America's wars. Afghanistan, though, is the easiest (relatively) war to end since Afghanistan is not high on Israeli Lobby's agenda and American public is tired and is ready for this withdrawal. 

In a bizarre twist of historic fate and with a great deal of a dark historic irony, it was Soviet aid to Vietnam which played a crucial role in US loss there. It was also Vietnam War which influenced one Polish pseudo-"scholar" afflicted by a fanatic Russophobia to help destabilize Afghanistan in 1970s, which started this deadly, spanning 4 decades, spiral of violence. It is, indeed, darkly ironic that the United States faces her Vietnam Moment in the land in which it helped to create all conditions for gestation of the most extreme Islamic fanaticism, which, in the end, resulted in a tragedy of 9/11 and de facto defeat of the United States. It will be left to Russians and Middle Asian former Soviet States to eventually, at least, contain the utter mess the US leaves in Afghanistan. Hopefully, this time the United States will abstain from arming fanatic jihadists. US had the chance to fix it, it blew it. What's left to do today is to declare a victory and leave. Because, quoting Ronald Reagan from 1982:        
 It cannot get any more bitterly ironic than this.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Depth.

Of sorts. I am residing in the state of puzzlement in regards to European military-political thought, or, rather, lack thereof, non-stop as of lately. Once I begin to find a semblance of balance in my lazy geopolitical "analysis", Europeans (this time French) throw a bizarre curved ball and it completely messes my feeble mind. Behold, Paris University's own Nicole Vilboux, who specializes in "European-American Relations" concludes that:
Le Pentagone fait sa revue des troupes en Afrique. Le Département de la défense a annoncé, mercredi, que près de 800 soldats seraient remplacés par des "instructeurs" chargés de former des forces africaines locales au combat. Selon Nicole Vilboux, chercheuse spécialiste des États-Unis, cet échange illustre le changement de stratégie militaire américaine, désormais centrée sur la menace chinoise et russe.... Les Américains ont donc décidé de se concentrer sur ce qu’ils considèrent comme une menace de Moscou et de Pékin envers leurs suprématie militaire dans le monde. Un rapport récent indique que le commandement militaire américain pour l'Afrique (Africom) a changé de stratégie vis-à-vis des groupes extrémistes. Il s'agit désormais de les "contenir" et non plus de les "affaiblir".  Autrement dit, les États-Unis réduisent leurs opérations anti-jihadistes afin de mieux concurrencer la Chine et la Russie dans le monde. 
Translation: The Pentagon reviews troops in Africa. The Defense Department announced on Wednesday that nearly 800 soldiers will be replaced by "instructors" responsible for training local African forces in combat. According to Nicole Vilboux, a researcher specializing in the United States, this exchange illustrates the change in American military strategy, now centered on the Chinese and Russian threat.... The Americans have therefore decided to focus on what they see as a threat from Moscow and Beijing to their military supremacy in the world. A recent report indicates that the US military command for Africa (Africom) has changed its strategy towards extremist groups. It is now a question of "containing" them and no longer of "weakening" them. In other words, the United States is reducing its anti-jihadist operations in order to better compete with China and Russia in the world.

My, inevitable question, after reading this machine-translated interview by Vilboux is this: if to consider her own admission that, and I quote:
But anyway, the United States cannot withdraw much more. Admittedly, they regularly come to American bases in Africa, but that does not mean that many American soldiers are permanently present in Africa.
Exactly. I am sure Russian General Staff is scared shitless (wink, wink) by the whole battalion and a half of US troops being withdrawn from Africa to do exactly what? Prepare for a large-scale conflict with Russia? Good luck with that. Even upcoming NATO exercise Defender Europe 20 with around 40, 000 NATO troops taking part in it are just a pathetic pale shadow of Zapad 2017 exercises, not to mention monstrous Vostok 2018 maneuvers which created a lot of intolerable butt-hurt in European capitals, especially in Stockholm. But the fact that United States is trying to show some efforts at getting back to large combined arms operations cannot hide the fact that it still cannot fight and win it even if there will be not 40, 000 but 140, 000 NATO troops present. The problem with the United States fighting a serious conventional war in Europe is in the fact of increasing obsolescence of its conventional arsenal against near peer, not to mention against peer such as Russia and some serious issues with re-supplying those forces once SLOCs will be cut and main ports' infrastructure demolished

NATO's  European forces are not even serious threat for Russia and here we come to the point of why this professor from Paris waxes "strategic".
This exchange is above all a political signal: it is a question of showing that Africa is no longer a priority. For the moment, this adjustment does not announce anything serious but in the long term, the Americans could reduce their forces in Africa. The consequences could be quite significant, in particular vis-à-vis France which is engaged in the Sahel. The French government also requests that the American forces remain in Africa because even if France makes a very significant effort in the Sahel, its military capacities are limited. If the United States continues to downsize, French forces could end up with less air supply and less intelligence on the terrorists.
Now, that's warmer! So, it is not about US willing to fight Russia (or China)--only a complete nutjob in D.C. (not that US capital doesn't have a good supply of those) can think that US can fight and win the war in Europe against some imaginary Russian "aggression". The issue is simple: if France cannot sustain her operations in Sahel, trying to still play the role of great colonial power (recall the speed with which both UK and France ran out of high-precision stand-off weapons while gang-raping Libya and then begged the United States to interfere), what's the point then of talking about the United States "changing strategy", when physical annihilation of Russia remains American goal since post WW II and, especially, after 2008. Let good ol' Henry speak:
"Kissinger: If we treat Russia seriously as a great power, we need at an early stage to determine whether their concerns can be reconciled with our necessities. We should explore the possibilities of a status of nonmilitary grouping on the territory between Russia and the existing frontiers of NATO. The West hesitates to take on the economic recovery of Greece; it’s surely not going to take on Ukraine as a unilateral project. So one should at least examine the possibility of some cooperation between the West and Russia in a militarily nonaligned Ukraine. The Ukraine crisis is turning into a tragedy because it is confusing the long-range interests of global order with the immediate need of restoring Ukrainian identity. I favor an independent Ukraine in its existing borders. I have advocated it from the start of the post-Soviet period. When you read now that Muslim units are fighting on behalf of Ukraine, then the sense of proportion has been lost.




But here are some news for Vilboux--to fight REAL conventional war in Europe and win it against Russia in her geographic vicinity requires resources and military depth United States simply doesn't possess, as doesn't Vilboux' thesis, in terms of common sense, and "change of strategy" in D.C. has very little to do with strategy but with pretending that one can actually be formulated. This is not a case in the US for decades. I am sure 800, or even 8,000 GIs do not change the balance of power in any way other than presenting a fat juicy target once deployed in Europe. In this respect, the United States and France are identical in a sense of two being ageing dames who still think that putting a bright lipstick on crepey lips, or powdering over crows' feet eye corners will stop the process of withering away. For the United States this withering away takes palce in the global arena, for France--it is facing the reality in Africa. So, no amount of "strategic" mambo-jumbo and pseudo-geopolitical psychobable can hide the fact that militarily (and economically) modern France is nothing but the US lap-dog and is trying to be a prince, while being a pauper.  It is both comical and sad, especially when one looks at "intellectual" level of European "elites".