Monday, December 31, 2018

You Can Read Me Now In US Naval Institute Blog.

Russian Navy, Mission Found?

You may read my new piece on some doctrine-technology issues in today's USNI Blog post. Link is below. 

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.

You May Read Me on Unz Review Too.

1. I got my first piece published on Unz Review today, so you may check it out there

2. You can read my piece on some peculiarities of Russo-Chinese "alliance" at Unz Review. Here:

The Russo-Chinese "Alliance" Explained 

3. Here is the latest One. 

Russia's Stand-Off Capability: The 800 Pound Gorilla in Syria

4. On INF Treaty.   

 The Sand Castle INF Treaty

5. New piece on geopolitics and navalism.

The Russo-Chinese "Alliance" Revisited  

6. My new piece on Putin's speech came out today at Unz Review. 

The Implications of Russia's New Weapon Systems

Thursday, November 15, 2018

No, Macron, Seriously.

There are many negative qualities US President Donald Trump exhibits on a daily bases, but there are some silver linings even in POTUS being boorish--he periodically says things which describe the actual state of the affairs, such as the background to this Macron's complain.
The reason Macron's stance brings smile to my face is because the times of the Great Convention with its caveat of "the forms must obeyed" are over. I would suggest Mr. Macron acquaint himself, and learn it by heart, with Lord Ismay's raison d'etre (how' s my French?) for NATO. As you all may recall it was expressed in three short geopolitical truisms, NATO was created "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". Where is there anything about France? It has to be understood by Macron and any European still exercising sappy sentimental ideas of Atlantic solidarity and who try to still appeal to WW I which was dwarfed by a catastrophe and global consequences of WW II that Europe really matters--she does not. Only as a wealthy market for goods.

Speaking in broadsides, WW II outcome was about turning all European powerhouses, also responsible for unleashing WW I and laying down the groundwork for much bigger spectacle of WW II, into tamed, scared...ahem...vassals. The bigger boys came to rule--the Soviet Union by means of carrying the brunt of purely European invention of national-socialism's (and fascism) defeat in Europe, the US came on-board by defeating singlehandedly Imperial Japan (part of the Axis) and then allowing Great Britain to exhaust herself at the secondary theaters of operation before committing itself to a closing acts of WW II in Europe. At least Great Britain resisted, France...well, we know the story. As one Russian observers recently noted--WW I, which is much further removed from us in time than WW II, with this war many veterans still surviving, "was the last victory of the West". I happen to agree. Of course there could be many, and some of them will be totally legitimate both in political and military terms, justifications found for France's capitulation to Hitler but in the end it was still humiliating defeat which no amount of celebrations and remembrances of much smaller WW I can obscure the actual decline of both Great Britain (on the winning side) and France (sort of on the winning side). British didn't send British SS Divisions to Russia, France did. As did most of Western Europe, from Dutch to Spain. Tolstoy with his War and Peace comes to mind immediately, when Tolstoy described Napoleon's Grand Armee as "a force of a dozen European languages". 

So, let me play Trump and be rude here for a minute: Churchill was smart enough to understand and, in fact, demand Britain's alliance with USSR, despite being a fanatical anti-Communist (in reality a euphemism for Anglo-Saxon Imperialist). France wasn't. One lives with the consequences of such decisions. Hitler (or more generally Axis) was destroyed by the Soviet Union, United States and Great Britain (and her Imperial appendices--2.5 million Indian troops fought for the Crown in WW II). So, in all it was Soviet-Anglo-Saxon victory, with USSR playing by far the largest role against the most capable adversary in the history of the world. French, of course, through De Gaulle, who at some point complained that Anglo-American Allied press was promoting him as if conducting advertisement campaign in selling a soap, did partake but this couldn't obfuscate the fact of France departure from the status of superpower. Same went for the United kingdom and Suez Crisis merely formalized the world as the United States, distant second UK, and the rest on one side--USSR and its allies on the other. 

While the United States had people the scale of Ike, George Marshall or even JFK the forms and pretense that Europe mattered in global military-political setup were obeyed. Bundeswehr, as an example, was a pretty impressive force for an utterly defeated and separated Germany. Germans were even allowed to do some things on their own, such as tanks, not aviation, of course--for that, the NATO's only big honcho had its own plans and...well, you know the story with F-104, as one of very many other examples of Atlantic "solidarity" and values of freedom and equality. But France was American vassal since immediately after WW II and when De Gaulle, a person of a scale of several orders of magnitude larger and more courageous than Macron, decided that France still mattered he was "helped" along his way out of French and European political life. Since then, all those 1968 children-students of Paris and other French cities' riots were firmly restrained in the rigid framework of the US humanities "education" which guaranteed that the only ideas which would be allowed will be those of Egalité! Liberté! Sexualité! Largely the same set of values whose catastrophic consequences we all observe today. As a result, no political figure of true scale ever emerged in French political life again, as is the case with the Europe and the US as a whole, with her "leaders" being increasingly smaller and smaller both in human-political scale and statue. Napoleon, a man of a rather underwhelming appearance, is rotating today in his tomb at the Les Invalides. 

So, it is really funny today to hear from a practical zero in every single sense which defines great leaders and humans, complaining about France being treated as a vassal of the US. But Trump is correct--France is American vassal. France is disintegrating country in the process of fast Islamization, with elites whose roots are in the feel good "leftism" and expanded horizons of Sexualite of 1968 and still living in a delusion that French art, cinema, music and intellectuals matter--they don't. European cultural and economic policies of the last half-century are nothing short of a disaster, this is not to mention the fact that Europeans really always knew that neither Soviet Union, nor Russia wanted to invade Western Europe and they left the task of "defense" from the enemy which was thinking how to defend itself to the United States. Well, what do they expect today? 

European Army? LOL. WHO out of current European "elites" has real balls, competences and ability to create such a force? Who would equip it? France? Germany? Well, Germans, probably, given the time and space eventually would have come up with something but, calling on Lord Ismay--keep Germany down. So, seeing today all those European pathetic losers who would sell their soul to devil (together with their nations) for another term at the trough is really funny. A toy-boy asking for respect? If I would be Trump I wouldn't worry about European Armed Forces--not gonna happen, the last European human material which was capable to do something about pathetic debilitating state of Europe in general, and France in particular, was trashed out in 1968. A generation of gender-neutral tolerasts runs Europe today. Have you seen hippies and nihilists being real statesmen. I haven't and hopefully I will not have to--at least I hope so. In this sense, America, however in upheaval and declining, is still a much-much larger entity, militarily and economically, than France to take her seriously. It took uncultured Trump to merely state what everybody knew all along--vassals must behave like vassals. After all, "the forms must be obeyed".  

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Cutting Empire To Size, Or Yet Another "National Security" Crisis.

It becomes really redundant by now and, frankly, tiresome. 
Truth is, there is no "crisis of national security" in the US--nobody is intent on attacking the US or cut vital for the US Shipping Lanes Of Communications (SLOC), other than some terrorists, but FBI can handle that; US Navy, despite all of its very real problems, is still a very potent navy, especially its submarine component, to do the job of keeping SLOCs open. Neither Russia nor China are intent to interdict these SLOCs unless the United States decides to start a war on them, then, of course, if the US, say, tries to attack Russia, things change. Other than that--there is no crisis. Russia can obliterate the US today, she could do it yesterday, and she will be able to do it tomorrow, the same goes the other way--this is MAD, folks. But Russia explicitly doesn't want to attack the US. So, what's the fuss is all about? 

The fuss is about this (from the article):
But the authors worry that the department, as it is structured both strategically and financially right now, would not be able to successfully manage two conflicts at once – or be guaranteed victory in even one, should it come down to a fight with Russia or China.
Talk about folie de grandeur of unimaginable scale (see Report). One may ask the question on how those people in National Defense Strategy Commission really envision, say war against Russia alone. It is really a fascinating, for all the wrong reasons, scenario since, I am sure, these guys (such as former CNO Admiral Gary Roughead among other 11 members of this Commission) try to play this scenario strictly in conventional framework, because otherwise the United States as a state will cease to exist. 

I was thinking about this, not to mention getting tired of reading all kinds of alarmist, justified and not, as in this case, "reports" and here is my simple take. 

1. United States never fought against first-rate, well-trained, equipped and determined adversary which can match US capabilities across the whole spectrum of modern warfare. US fought in Vietnam where it lost to determined but largely peasant force with only some very few capabilities of a first world army, it fought in Korea where it ended with bloody stalemate and, of course, US had its turkey shoot against grossly incompetent Saddam's Army. US armed forces never fought in their modern history against the adversary capable to strike (conventionally) to the strategic depth. That means under no conditions were US troops, their rear services, bases, strategic command and control assets, ammunition stocks etc. subjected to a serious (and sustained) fire impact since one day Pearl Harbor affair.  Of course, we do not even talk about US proper.

2. United States doesn't have effective battle field air defense capable to prevent such a (stand-off) impact--no US AD complex is capable to reliably intercept most Russia's stand-off weapons thus exposing every single US combat asset on the theater of operations. 

3. A painful issue of US air assets--good luck dealing with the best air-defense in the world. A single regiment of S-300 PMU2 in Syria shut down Israeli Air Force (equipped with much vaunted F-35) operations over coastal Syria. 

4. Ground forces? Another wowser since nobody knows how US ground forces will fare against steady and fast attrition of its assets against arguably best anti-armor and area-impact weapons in the world. US simply has no historic experience with that under the conditions of very limited resources and manufacturing base being destroyed (conventionally) domestically. 

So, how this Commission envisions such a war is a really funny question. They do state, however: 
We recommend that DOD more clearly answer the question of how it intends to accomplish a core theme of the NDS—defeating major power rivals in competition and war. Without a credible approach to winning a war against China or Russia, DOD’s efforts will befor naught
Apart from fluffy (and expected) pseudo-military BS, I have question to this Commission--do they have any idea how it will feel, if they imagine a set-piece (totally unrealistic scenario) battle at Russia's borders in purely conventional way, to lose, say, 150,000 KIAs alone just within one-two months of "fighting"? You say impossible? I would say I am being way too cautious. After all, this is US Army Colonel speaking in 2012 BEFORE certain events unfolded:

This should be emblazoned on every wall of any US military-related "think-tank" or "commission" because reality will be even grimmer once one understands that in order for US (NATO) to fight Russia they will need to come into Russia's backyard (Russia is not going to occupy or attack anyone unless attacked first) and people way more capable strategically and tactically than those in Pentagon tried it, not for once, and ended losing not only wars but their armies and  states. US military "thinkers" evidently have no grasp of what even conventional war with Russia may bring to the American side--the scale of attrition which will make Vietnam an easy stroll in the park in comparison, albeit Americans who fought there were tough soldiers and good leaders on tactical level. This is not the case today. But General Van Riper's lessons still must be studied to avoid a catastrophe which expects any adversary deciding to fight Russia in her vicinity. 

But what is this "crisis" really about? It is actually about not willing to face reality and fight a real war (it is scary and is pregnant with major political consequences), as opposed to comfortable rolling over grossly inferior adversaries. It is about constantly diminishing military capability margin, which was grossly inflated to start with in the wake of the Soviet collapse, and which now is getting to be more proportional to the Empire which is being "cut to size" by geopolitical, economic, military, technological and human reality. So, no--United States is not capable to fight either Russia or China separately, let alone those two simultaneously--this delusional idea was born out of ignorance, hubris and, frankly, lack of knowledge of the real warfare with capable adversaries. Projecting (lack of) "lessons" from Iraq or Afghanistan occupations and (not)fighting there in what is a medium to low intensity conventional (COIN) conflicts onto modern 21st century warfare against nuclear superpowers--it is either, indeed, folie de grandeur or a sign of a mental disorder among those who have to face reality of American very real economic and, with it, military decline. United States either learns to live within its by far not limitless means and accepts the new geopolitical reality, thus preserving own status as one of the few true global superpowers, or it will destroy itself completely trying to retain which it thinks, wrongly, a providence-bestowed crown of hegemon. I feel it is time to address some issues of possible casualties in a conventional conflict. I will do it later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

It Begins To Sink, Finally, But Too Late.

No, really.
This situation, which passes as a surprise in the US only, augments well Ron Unz' yesterday's excellent summary of Trump Presidency.
Difficult to argue, because in terms of what really matters, that is tangible economic results, Trump has very little realistically to show for it. As Ron Unz continues:
For foreign policy reasons, I had strongly favored Trump both in the primary and in the general election, but I hardly regarded him as a thoughtful vessel for the positions he claimed to espouse. To put it bluntly, he struck me much like a highly-opinionated construction worker, angrily spouting off on politics in his local neighborhood bar, being right on some matters and wrong on others, but with none of his views based upon any deep understanding of the issues. I suspect that even many of Trump’s strongest supporters have gradually come around to a similar appraisal of their idol.
So did I, but hopes were dashed really fast and as Fred Reed in a moment of utter sheer brilliance observed about Trump he was First Transgender President, Trump Became Hillary. Trump simultaneously became also W and in terms of foreign policy, which in reality matters for the United States way more than it is traditionally credited with, Trump became a neocon in a sense of fanatically following an aggressive dogma and "weaponizing" US economy. So, the world learned fast that the economic war was declared on it and it started acting or, rather, counter-acting and most important strategic move was, inevitably, to slay a holy cow of America's economic "development" (or otherwise) of the last 70 years or so--the US Dollar. 

This is what Trump and people on the American "top" do not recognize, while the US still remains an economic powerhouse:

1. American Deindustrializtion hasn't been stopped while Reindustrialization requires a volume of the investment (money) which simply cannot be printed anymore nor could US treasuries be viewed anymore as a trusted instrument, because...

2. A main pillar of these treasuries--the US military power and ability to control the empire, apart from being grossly inflated to start with, diminished greatly in the last 20+ years and continue to decline because...

3. The actual size of the US economy is much smaller than those proverbial $22 trillion and China outproduces the United States by a great margin in many critical fields and catching up in others. As an example, one of many, the US commercial shipbuilding doesn't even register (0.35% of global tonnage) in this industry, never mind nauseating mantras about US being "largest economy" in the world--it is not, China is. One can review Chinese commercial shipbuilding here, or can review who is a real mover (a hint--they are a gas station) for satellite-constellations in space.

4. Removing, or bypassing, US Dollar as the only global reserve currency--the process which is ongoing and accelerating as I type this--inevitably will cut the US economy "to size" and will accelerate the process of "landing" greatly, hopefully not crash-landing which may force desperate US "elites" unleash a global conflict. 

Trump's trade wars are a good indicator of desperation and these wars only accelerate dedollarization and there is nothing the US can do about it short of unleashing a global military conflict, as I said earlier. Some people in D.C. think about it. Iran's SWIFT snafu is just the latest in a row of the geopolitical and economic prescriptions which do not work and, in reality, harm the United States itself. Well, Trump is correct in one thing for sure--if not for the United States China would have never become what she is today and for that, as the saying goes, United States has only itself to blame. In the end, if not for the way the US treated Russia in 1990s there would have been no fundamental rethinking of Russia's foreign and defense policies. But here we are. Trump merely, rephrasing Clausewitz, continues American aggression by other (economic) means and we are in the brave new world where nobody takes American words and promises seriously anymore. In related news, last week:

This Is Not Good.

WSJ reports:

Boeing Withheld Information on 737 Model, According to Safety Experts and Others 

This is more than just "not good", this is down right scary.
The automated stall-prevention system on Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 models -- intended to help cockpit crews avoid mistakenly raising a plane's nose dangerously high -- under unusual conditions can push it down unexpectedly and so strongly that flight crews can't pull it back up. Such a scenario, Boeing told airlines in a world-wide safety bulletin roughly a week after the accident, can result in a steep dive or crash -- even if pilots are manually flying the jetliner and don't expect flight-control computers to kick in. That warning came as a surprise to many pilots who fly the latest models for U.S carriers. Safety experts involved in and tracking the investigation said that at U.S. carriers, neither airline managers nor pilots had been told such a system had been added to the latest 737 variant -- and therefore aviators typically weren't prepared to cope with the possible risks."It's pretty asinine for them to put a system on an airplane and not tell the pilots who are operating the airplane, especially when it deals with flight controls," said Capt. Mike Michaelis, chairman of the safety committee for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents about 15,000 American Airlines pilots. "Why weren't they trained on it?"
Make no mistake--I am all for automation, where it is needed. But I am also, and primarily so, for high level of professional training of personnel which provides a set of fundamental skills allowing professional pilots, mariners, surgeons, what have you, to be independent of "technology" in critical situations while deciding when and how to engage it. We just saw another example of a loss of a situational awareness and of extremely low level of fundamental professional skills here:

At least in Norway no people got killed, in case of Indonesian Boeing every one on board died. Somebody at Boeing has to answer for this major FUBAR and higher-ups there at least may try to remind people who write all kinds of software for commercial aircraft that it is not a freaking video-game they are coding--people's safety is at stake. But that opens another can of worms altogether--technophilia taken to the extreme in a firm conviction, primarily among people who do not have required complex skills such as piloting, that machines can do everything for us. They can't, and they shouldn't. In the end, the Miracle on Hudson occurred primarily for the reasons of Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his crew's superb professional human skills under the conditions of almost complete failure of technology. In the end, I would be extremely apprehensive while being flown in the aircraft in which pilots are merely operators of the cockpit at the service of main on-board computer, or to be driven in pilot-less cars--another wet dream of office plankton who thinks that human lives can be described in Java or C++. 

Most of all, I  would be very, and I am, apprehensive of exclusion of a human professional from the decision loop in Combat Informational Control Systems (aka Battle Management) responsible for the use of sensors and weapons because in this case a Skynet scenario becomes not only possible but reasonably probable. In warfare, I am all for networks and AI but only under conditions of a human having his hand at the switch. I really hope that Boeing learns its (tragic) lesson because I like Boeing's aircraft but the idea that those could become simply uncontrollable pieces of metal with no ability to get them under control is, frankly, terrifying.