Friday, March 31, 2017

Second Yasen Afloat.

A big event. Today Sevmash launched second Graney-class SSGN of the project 885M, Kazan. These are powerful ships, capable of carrying 32 cruise missiles and, eventually, hyper-sonic 3M22 Zircon. Once all seven of these subs will be operational, Russian Navy will have a theoretical salvo of 224 cruise missiles of all classes from these subs alone. Adding here potentially other 372 cruise missiles which will be deployed at modernized Oscar-II and Akula-class subs, one can clearly see how a strategic non-nuclear containment will be implemented around Russia's approaches from the sea. 
Photo: Alexander Ryumin/TASS
Here is what The Diplomat writes about these subs. Anyway, there will be parties today and not in Severodvinsk only, vodka, whiskey, champagne will flow and the reason for that is sound and heavy--13,800 tons of pure national security, a real one.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

This Is Rather Interesting.

A trials of a new modification of a venerable Tor, Tor-M2MKM,  air defense system by means of placing a ground based system...on board of Admiral Grigorovich. Ship's speed: 7 knots, sea state 1-2. Two targets: one "aircraft" at 1000 meters, another sea-skimmer with Harpoon's properties. You can see this rather interesting operation here:

The navalized version of Tor is Kinzhal (a dagger), so, as media sources state, this whole thing with "navalization" is means to an end of a complete cross-service unification of such air defense systems. I can only speculate how this could be done but I don't want to. Make your own conclusions. It is a very effective short-range (12 kilometers) system which handles over-the-surface targets quite well. Upgrading Kinzhal on project 1155 (Udaloy-class) Large ASW Ships also seems only natural. Plus there are some other, smaller, ships coming which may use this rather robust air defense capability. 


Monday, March 27, 2017

Lavrov's Missed Message?

On March 23rd, Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, spoke to  "students" (in Russian they are slushateli--listeners, a title of officers attending such institutions as General Staff Academy), officers of Russian Armed Forces, who continue their study in the Academy Of The General Staff (VAGSH). Lavrov's speech was grand in a tradition of Russian diplomacy of the past two centuries. There was a lot of Count Gorchakov in it.  It was also a very Russian speech. 

Lavrov's definition of (real) power was sharp and, without unnecessary humbleness on my part, the one I wrote about since the start of this blog (in reality much-much earlier):

Of course, it takes more than just the size of a country’s territory for it to be considered “big and strong” in today’s world. There is also the economy, culture, traditions, public ethics and, of course, the ability to ensure one’s own security and the security of the citizens under any circumstances. Recently, the term “soft power” has gained currency. However, this is power as well. In other words, the power factor in its broad sense is still important in international relations. Its role has even increased amid aggravated political, social, and economic contradictions and greater instability in the international political and economic system. We take full account of this fact in our foreign policy planning.

Remember Correlli Barnett's definition? Definitions which real, not self-proclaimed, realists operate with. 

But, within Russia's grand vision of a new global order, which Lavrov so calmly and firmly articulated, was one point which I find to be one of the main pillars on which Russian vision is based and which concisely defines the main global trend. Here it is:

The world is really changing fast. Another “industrial revolution” is unfolding, and a new, more technologically advanced way of life is taking shape.  Uneven development, a wider gap in the wealth of states and nations, and the battle for resources, access to markets, and control over transport arteries are exacerbating differences. Competition is acquiring civilisational dimensions and becoming a rivalry of values and development models.

How many times have we heard before from US "elites" that we all live in a post-industrial society? Well, we don't. We never did, in fact such a preposterous construct, courtesy of all those faux-scholars in economy, does not exist. We live in a full blown industrial world where the only currency which matters are not some balance sheets of some investment bank or brokerage firm, much of them being virtual money, but a sequence of enclosed technological cycles which spreads from extraction of resources to R&D and manufacturing of a final, often very complex, product. But this is not what was an American view of economy for the last decades. Today, we all can observe some of those, rather dramatically bad, results of living in make-believe world. Lavrov, of course, is being too... diplomatic when speaking of "becoming", there is no becoming--the rivalry simply exists and always existed. Today, in the age of internet, it is simply impossible to block and sabotage easily the values which still appeal to a majority of decent people of the "West". We saw which values deindustrialization brings, the values of an office plankton--from a mindless consumerism, lousy work ethics to a totalitarian ideologies of SJWs, ranging from promotion of sexual perversion to a destruction of a family, to mobs of tattooed pot-heads and drug junkies who are good for nothing. We also see what happens to public education in US (and Europe) which is dominated by social indoctrination at the expense of valuable social, scientific and aesthetic skills. We have too many young kids who are ready to talk about global "problems" and can not solve a simple quadratic equation or basic mechanics problem in Physics course. Wait, they do not teach Physics as a separate subject in most public schools in US. These are not "values" which work, they never did, those are "values" of decay and eventual death.

Restoration of an industrial base of any nation can not happen on the foundation, or lack thereof, of a financial capital and "values" it, together with Wall Street, promotes. Yes, one needs money to jump-start re-industrialization but at this stage it is yet to be seen if President Trump will be able to convince nominally American, in reality supranational and not bound by any interests other than own, capital to start to invests in the US. This investing may provide, now desperately needed, arresting impulse to an unfolding American catastrophe whose features, sadly, are becoming clearer and clearer with each passing day. New industrialization is not a panacea but an ultimately necessary condition under which any kind of workable new deal, a new social contract, may be worked out. This contract's pivot will be jobs, normal ones, in manufacturing, with decent pay, with decent safety net. Present system can not provide this. It is obvious that the system doesn't work anymore and it may resort, albeit Trump's presidency so far makes it less likely, to an insane last ditch attempt on "saving" itself--unleashing a major war. I can not see how it can reform. So, the choice for this system is not even a Boolean: it is to die and let new (in reality old) productive forces take its place. If not, US is doomed for steady decline and eventual disintegration--what it means in a nuclear superpower with her citizens armed to the hilt? I do not even want to contemplate. Lavrov, however, offers Russia's vision, and a hopeful one:

It is clear that there simply isn’t any other way except painstaking daily work to achieve the compromises necessary to peacefully overcome the numerous problems in the world. History shows that betting on hegemony and one’s own exceptionalism leads to greater instability and chaos.        

In general, listen to the speech. it is a great one.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Fighter-Writer.

I remember when Jeff Ethell died. My heart wasn't in the right place all day long. He was this real American--curious, sharp, charming and...well, what Americans must be. He was first to break through to Russian Air Force in its worst decade of rot and under-funding and he did a famous PBS show Top Gun Over Moscow. It was 20 years ago. It was then that Jeff stated this seemingly obvious thing (at 2:54), things changed dramatically since then:

I still love Blue Angels, I saw them doing flybys about 100 feet from my 32nd floor office in Columbia Tower in 1993. It was magnificent (and loud, even through thick glass). Today, they will be sued for doing this since... you know, too many people will feel uncomfortable, especially those metrosexuals. But, it is always a magnificent Eddie Van Halen's solo which gets you is flying. Here are some Russian Knights on their brand new SU-30SMs in Malaysia several days ago:

But, of course, nothing beats the original;-) And yes, this damn guitar solo!!!


Russia Supplies Taliban With... Whatever.

OK, let's speak in broadsides, especially since I am not going to say anything what most of us don't know already: US (and NATO) lost the war in Afghanistan. Not a single political objective was attained there and the country (Afghanistan) remains what it was for the last 37 years--a war zone. Enter NATO's Supreme Allied Commander General Scaparrotti with yet another, completely loony, allegations that Russia is "supplying" Taliban. The immediate question is: supplying with what? Obviously, NATO's big honcho ended up not receiving the memo that Taliban is considered a terrorist organization in Russia and, unlike the United States, Russia has a superb record in fighting terrorism not playing with it. But the key to this stupefying lie is, probably, in this phrase: 

In a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Scaparrotti said Moscow was "perhaps" supplying the Taliban. In February General John Nicholson, the US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, testified that Russia is encouraging the Taliban and providing them with diplomatic cover in a bid to undermine US influence and defeat NATO.

By now, anything coming from the top echelons of power in US and NATO, especially with such clarifications as "perhaps", "possibly" or "likely",  regarding Russia should be treated only as a case of total paranoia which makes McCarthyism tamed in comparison. But I have to return to the same question: supplying with what?  What is "encouraging", what does it describe, how is Russia "encouraging" Taliban? To do what? 

Don't expect an answer. like a Russian "Hacking", or Russians' finally disposing, in a most brutal manner, of Bambi and Minnie Mouse, there is none. US and NATO have been defeated in Afghanistan already and it will fall to Russia, who anticipated the loss of a "coalition" there as early as 2012, when discussing this scenario, to defend her own borders and clean up the mess which NATO (US) left in Afghanistan. Obviously Scaparrotti forgets how Russia helped "coalition" to fight this very Taliban. But really, who needs to remember this--US and NATO are so wonderful and great that anyone who provided a strategic help to them has to feel privileged to do so and keep their mouth shut. I think Scaparrotti and others need to take a really good course in this area's history and learn how, first, Tsarist Russia, then Bolsheviks, then Soviet Union and now modern Russia fought and continue to fight this scourge (greatly facilitated by the US) for centuries. When Commander of the Soviet 40th Army speaks openly in NYT that: 

He means it and, then again, Russia does not negotiate with terrorists but she, when needed, will contact them--to convey a message or else... But there is one very important message in all this little "presentation" by Scaparrotti to the Senate Armed Services Committee--inability to deal with reality together with a very short memory. But we knew this all along, didn't we? 

P.S. Per Russian influence growing in Afghanistan, hell, USSR has built half of Afghanistan's infrastructure, from hydroelectric dams to Kabul's Polytechnic University.      

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A "Mighty" State Of Israel.

Israel, who supports ISIS (which makes Israel a terrorist state) thinks that she can set the rules in Syria. A defining characteristic of likudniks is their delusional belief in their own superiority in... everything (reminds of anything?), even despite the fact that, realistically, Israel's renome was made by fighting grossly inadequate Arab militaries. Her both legitimate and not so much security concerns and strategies revolve around her big daddy US, whose entire foreign policy is utterly subverted by Zionist lobby and, putting it in a more down to earth language, US being this proverbial Israel's bitch. This, plus being in the pockets of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf satrapies' pockets. A dramatic change of the situation in Syria in the last two years in favor of Assad and final destruction of ISIS presents Israel with a serious challenge. So much so that she thinks, which is their MO for decades, she is smarter than everybody else and she can continue to fly missions in support of ISIS, who for Israel is a much more preferred option than secular Arab society. Especially if this society may build a competent army and start asking questions, say, about Golan Heights. 

Now Israel threatens to destroy Syria's Air Defense. The issue here, however, is this: does Netanyahu still think that Putin (Russia) is so sublime that he can continue to BS him or does he understand that Putin knows pretty much most of what Israel wants and does? As silly as it may sound, but the former is more likely than the latter. Israel's arrogance and bluster, the same as a complete lack of sense of scale and proportion, are legendary, which is a defining characteristic of culture in that area.  And here is the situation, unlike the US which does what Israel wants, Russia doesn't. What may happen, if Israel continues to do stupid things, forget if her vaunted Air Force kills accidentally (??) Russia's servicemen in Syria, is to abruptly and unexpectedly reveal to Israel (and the world) a brand new Syrian Air Defense and Air Force (wink, wink) which will operate not outdated and obsolete S-200s but something more capable which will make the "weather" over Syria very rough for flying and at this stage the only "ace" in Israel's sleeve left is her Air Force. The myth of Israel's superiority in technology and combined arms operations was completely dispelled in 2006. Obviously, one may expect the subsidiary of Israel's Knesset, US Congress, to start going apoplectic almost immediately but it wouldn't matter--Russia doesn't have AIPAC and neocon mafia and Russia's military and political history dwarfs that of Israel who, at some point of time, will have to face geopolitical realities of the 21st century and, maybe, stop BSing the nation which lost tens of millions of own citizens (including very many Soviet Jews who fought valiantly in the Red Army) in stopping, among many other atrocities, a Holocaust. Not that it wasn't known that it was BS from the get go in Syria.  Is it the time to start distributing yarmulkes at the Capitol Hill? 


Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day, A Fine... Russian Tradition;-)

I am not a church-going man but I surely could appreciate Russian Orthodox Church adding St.Patrick to the list of Russia's Saints, which seems only natural, since Russians celebrated St. Patrick's Day anyway--who would miss such an excuse for a good bloody pint. Now it is official. Moreover, because of the difference in Julian and Gregorian calendars, Russians will celebrate a glorious day.... twice. The same as Christmas. I personally find it pretty cool to celebrate Christmas twice (no presents on the second celebration, hell no!) and so goes to Saint Paddy

The Guinness (and know--things) will flow, the cabbage will be in place (after all, Russians are cabbage people too), corned beef is possible--I am sure Irish and Russians are somehow related. So, it will be fun. To everyone, Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick's Day in Moscow. Photo courtesy RT.
Ah, time for a good cigar and a shot or.... five of good bourbon, ahem, I mean whiskey;-) 

UPDATE: yes, looks like Russians and Irish do share some things;-)

 Girls from Russia (Amur district--oblast) dancing Russian dances.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Those Are Not Ravioli. Those Are...

The evilness of Russia has now reached truly cosmic proportions. As intrepid Cassini probe just reported to Earth, Russians launched to the Saturn's orbit a deep space pelmen', like this:


Or like this: 

Do not believe NASA's rumors about that...thing being reminiscent of ravioli, it certainly is not. NASA just tries to give you a false sense of security. It is definitely Russian deep-space pelmen' being hidden at Saturn's orbit in its preparation to a sneak attack on Earth with vodka, mayonnaise, sour cream and, what is most terrifying with those absolutely deadly.... pickled cucumbers. We all are doomed! Now that Putin's evil plans have been brought to the light of day.

As Was Expected. Not Really A News.

As I reminded here, Russia proceeds with the modernization of at least some Project 949A  (Oscar II-class) SSGNs and Project 971 (Akula-class) SS(G)Ns by upgrading those with Kalibr missile complex, apart from other upgrades including new navigational complex and signal processing suite. In all, 10 subs of both classes were planned for upgrade. Probably one of the Project 945 (Sierra-class) SSNs will make the list too. So far it is known for sure that 2 Oscars are being upgraded. Plans may change, of course. But this is not the point--the point is in the practical arrival to a common sense decision both financially and operationally. 

Apart from the tragedy with sinking of K-141 Kursk  in August of 2000 and the loss of all hands, Oscars (Russian: Anteys) have a good reputation in the fleet, despite some harsh words towards this design from some experienced Russian submariners, such as Vice-Admiral Ryazantsev, who wrote (in Russian) a scathing review of Northern Fleet's combat training practices and procedures in the wake of Kursk disaster. Ryazantsev, who commanded several nuclear subs and eventually a division of those, not without justification, points out to Oscars' major drawback--these are colossal submarines, displacing 24 000 tons. Size in ASW does matter and it's always a compromise between the size of sub and its combat capabilities. 

Yet, Oscars are very silent subs and, I would assume, after undergoing deep modernization will reduce their physical fields even further. With maturing of Kalibr complex what used to be considered  Oscars' weakness becomes a serious advantage. In accordance to different sources, after modernization Oscars will be able to carry 72 missiles. This is 3 times the load when compared to Oscars' traditional 24 P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) missiles.  While P-700's conventional warhead of 750 kilogram of "sea mix" is larger than about 450 kilogram warhead of anti-shipping 3M54, the difference, however, between the two is startling. Oscars will be able to carry a thoroughly modern Kalibrs in different configurations, still providing for a massive anti-shipping salvo, while carrying also a conventional (or secondary nuclear) deterrent of dozens of land-attack 3M14. This is a massive and deadly firepower. With 3M14 range of (officially) up 2500 kilometers, conventional strategic containment or, in layman's lingo--the ability to blow the shit at enemy's coast and deep inland is simply unrivaled in platform-to-platform comparison. Strategic implications of this are enormous. With upgraded Akulas getting presumably 12-14 Kalibrs each,  Russian Navy gets not only massive fire-power but a great deal of flexibility, which was delayed due to a catastrophe which befell Russia in 1990s. 

Obviously, the program of modernization of submarines of these types pursues the objective of a conventional strategic containment. Combined with a very long range cruise missiles' capabilities of Russia's Air Space Forces, these become a stabilizing factor in Russia's defense against  any kind of "democratization" or "humanitarian bombing". But behind that, what emerges or, rather, reemerges is a traditional Soviet/Russian post-WW II view on sea-denial. Russia's evolving submarine force is the same old tool from Sergei Gorshkov's tool box. In some sense it is his vision updated to the realities of the early 21st Century. Gorshkov, certainly, wanted a "balanced Navy"--a force capable of both Sea Denial and, regionally, Sea Control (Blagopriyatny Operativnyi Regime--Favorable Operational Regime). Sea Control idea at that time required a massive investment in the surface fleet with aircraft carriers being a pinnacle of such a fleet building effort. Yet, throughout this effort in 1970s and 1980s, Gorshkov never relented on a massive, in fact, highly prioritized development of submarines, long range naval aviation and cruise missile complexes they carried. Today, under new geopolitical and technological realities it becomes obvious that this was a correct accent. 

1. Aircraft carriers will inevitably devolve or, rather, transform  into a  smaller and less expensive "stability" platforms capable both of limited power projection and, most importantly, ASW. They also will work with a surface fleet in support of its SSGNs.

2. All submarines, of all major types, with the exception of SSBNs, will become cruise-anti-shipping and land-attack missile carrying platforms. They also will become (if not already) fleet's main conventional striking force both against enemy's fleet and land targets.

3. We can only try to imagine what will become of fleet once weapons such as Zircon and even faster and deadlier missiles will get on-line and this reality is not coming--it is already here. It also remains to be seen what would happen with carrier aviation with navalized versions of air-missile-defense complexes S-400, let alone S-500, being deployed to sea

As Commanders Joseph A. Gattuzo  and Lori Tanner, both carrier aviators with an immense experience, noted more than a decade and a half ago:

They saw it coming. Russian Navy knew it all along, despite ever emotional clash between submarine and carrier lobbies--yes, Russian Navy does have its own "trade unions", if to quote Elmo Zumwalt. That is what limited and precious resources do to one--give birth to a new fighting doctrines.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How America Lost Faith in Expertise. (Appropriate Formatting)

Yet another piece about things going wrong with an expertise in the US, this time from (yet another) Professor Of National Security Studies from US Naval War College, Tom Nichols. It is very symptomatic that the latest stream of thoughts on expertise originated in the US military community, be it already many times mentioned here Nicholas Gvosdev or Harlan Ullman. Any developed military knows about surrounding world more, even when it is not aware of it, than most so called civilian institutions claiming to be the seat of the expertise. Why it is so--is a separate matter, but there are serious, in the case of US "elites",  reasons to state, as it was stated here many times before--US "elite expertise" is reminiscent of Lieutenant Frank Drebin who returns home and does the routine against imaginary bogeys:

This is the visual representation of current US "expertise" in the modern world. Nichols complains:     

It’s not just that people don’t know a lot about science or politics or geography. They don’t, but that’s an old problem. The bigger concern today is that Americans have reached a point where ignorance—at least regarding what is generally considered established knowledge in public policy—is seen as an actual virtue. To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to demonstrate their independence from nefarious elites—and insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong. This isn’t the same thing as the traditional American distaste for intellectuals and know-it-alls. I’m a professor, and I get it: most people don’t like professors. And I’m used to people disagreeing with me on lots of things. Principled, informed arguments are a sign of intellectual health and vitality in a democracy. I’m worried because we no longer have those kinds of arguments, just angry shouting matches.  

While I may or may not agree with the starting point of this argument by Nichols, he answers himself well why current US "expertise" is not in demand:

1. So called US "experts" ARE "elites", or at least they try to sell themselves as such, and Nichols gives a correct definition to those "elites"--nefarious. There is an overwhelming empirical evidence to support such a claim. If I would end up in the chair of some dentist who promised me a good anesthesia during root canal procedure on one of my teeth and, instead, would have my root canal cleaned as is, without any anesthetic, would I trust such a dentist? What if he did this to me on several occasions? How such an "expert" in dentistry could be characterized? Of course, as nefarious or, in layman's lingo, a complete ass-hole worthy of, at best, declaring independence from his services, at worst (or vice-versa)--beating the shit out of him for acts which are not only in full violation of Hippocratic Oath but are completely inhumane. How else can one describe what those US "elites" and "experts" who serve them have done both to the world at large and to the United States herself? Nefarious is a good, however not the most powerful, term, which fits the description of the results of those "elites'" activities; this plus "an unmitigated disaster". There is no surprise then that very many Americans, both under and well-educated, refuse to take this shit anymore. Why would anyone continue to visit a dentist who consistently puts one into excruciating pain for no reason? It is akin to Frank Drebin's excessive acrobatics--useless, however funny under the circumstances of a spoof comedy. People react to pain and so do societies which are still alive. Otherwise the approval rating, as an example, of US Congress, among many other "elite" American institutions, wouldn't have been slightly higher than the approval rating of Al Qaeda.  

2. As per second underlined thesis, it has to be understood that claiming "democracy" for the country which basically is run by oligarchy, or, rather, several oligarchic groups, you know, those same nefarious "elites", is really redundant, not to say tasteless. It is yet to be seen, even despite democratic victory by Donald Trump, where the society which is being constantly spied on and brainwashed by US media, who make Goebbels' propaganda machine tamed in comparison, will evolve. Nothing is settled yet in the fate of a dying Republic, hopefully it will be settled soon with US media and their "expert community" being completely rejected by the majority of Americans. For political "elites" the process could be protracted. There are NO "principled, informed arguments" in the US anymore, a thin veneer of civility and pretense of "expertise" has been torn away and what has been revealed is not exactly a pretty picture. In geopolitics, in economy, in warfare--the outcomes are in the open for everyone to see and judge for themselves. Those disasters are a direct result of a complete lack of those very "principled, informed arguments" which have no place in the country which till recently lived in the state of a perpetual Chalabi Moment and coming to own senses is not an easy task. People do lose a nerve, they do get aggressive and get into the shouting matches (better that than shooting ones) when things do not go as planned and they certainly do not go as planned. The pressure is mounting and the time is running out--hardly a good condition for learning lessons. It seems that Nichols fails to learn his, despite an honest (??) attempt.     

Experts are often wrong, and the good ones among them are the first to admit it—because their own professional disciplines are based not on some ideal of perfect knowledge and competence but on a constant process of identifying errors and correcting them, which ultimately drives intellectual progress. Yet these days, members of the public search for expert errors and revel in finding them—not to improve understanding but rather to give themselves license to disregard all expert advice they don’t like.  
Part of the problem is that some people think they’re experts when in fact they’re not. We’ve all been trapped at a party where one of the least informed people in the room holds court, confidently lecturing the other guests with a cascade of banalities and misinformation. This sort of experience isn’t just in your imagination. It’s real, and it’s called “the Dunning-Kruger effect,” after the research psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger. The essence of the effect is that the less skilled or competent you are, the more confident you are that you’re actually very good at what you do. The psychologists’ central finding: “Not only do [such people] reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.” 

I have to go with Clausewitz yet again--the outcome is "the soundest criterion". There is no escape from this criterion in the real world. From business to medicine, to war--results matter. Cristiano Ronaldo or Michael Jordan are or were paid astronomical sums of money for a single reason--both could deliver a result through their talent, skills, determination. It is what you can actually deliver, not just promise, which matters in life. You are judged by the results and so are nations. Unless, of course, it is this very US "expert community" which is not simply "often wrong" but, for a number of  reasons, is wrong most of the time on the key global issues, no more important of them a foreign policy, which is an unmitigated geopolitical disaster.  I omit here Europe--those are more than just wrong, most of Europe's "expertdom" is completely delusional as is Europe's political class. Since I am Russian, it is only natural to review an utter collapse of the American Russia "expertdom", which couldn't understand what and how hit them. This whole blog, from the inception, is dedicated to this complete academic and a professional failure. It is my academic position today that it is not part of the problem but IS the essence of the problem "that some people think they are experts when they are not". The problem is with the American scholarship. It is also a cultural problem and it is also a problem of "democracy" which sees no difference whatsoever between consumer opinion on diapers and consumer opinion on complex military-political issues. Well educated and truly cultured person will not offer his or her opinion on the issue he or she do not understand or know--and that is the meaning of being genuinely cultured, not some humanities degree from US Ivy League madrassas, which are the embodiment of an academic failure. It is also why cultured people "lose" in the shouting matches with, in our particular case, Russia "experts" who, basically, know shit about the subject and very often go for direct falsifications when presenting their "arguments". Moreover, in scholarly debates it became more important to be more "sophisticated", "know" more facts, many of which often are irrelevant to the case to be made, to be more "informed", than actually know the subject or, what is more important, to know the TRUTH. 

Late Father Robert Tobias stated:

But what is truth. In the West, truth has tended to be identified with the accumulation of non-contradictory data, or verifiable, repeatable, compatible correspondences between appearances, events, data, and concepts. Is it true (a Western mind asking) that in Orthodoxy Truth is not a collection of logical propositions and conceptual conclusions that by virtue of their noncontraditction are correct, i.e. "true", but that Truth is a matter of unbroken relationship, in particular with God...

It is a profound observation, even for me--a man who can hardly be called religious. For some people it is God of scriptures, for others--it is an order of universe, a justice, for others--it is a beauty, morality and ethics but there is always a unifying super-factor of these relations which make the world so complex. As of lately (decades), in the US the whole notion of the Truth as knowable was rejected completely. Truth became the matter of expedient "interpretations" instead of  the objective to be attained through study and learning. But not only through academic endeavors; without culture, without understanding it and applying it to otherwise purely scientific method of study it all goes to waste. Not the "culture" of a refined living where  the more expensive is the Scotch the more "cultured" one is considered, but the culture of a behavior, shaped by factors way more significant than the value of real estate one possesses or the car one drives. Understanding this culture is sorely missing today. Nowhere it manifests itself more than in the field of the so called humanities where causality is sacrificed on the altar of a desirable result which is always dictated by the political and ideological agenda. The very notion of intellectualism as a state of understanding phenomena and making correct conclusions about them, that is stating the TRUTH, is being substituted with the  sophistry and outright demagoguery, which passes for a scholarly work, as long as it makes "sophisticated", not correct, truthful conclusions. 

Enough to review American field of geopolitics (or whatever passes for it today) in the last 70 years. No serious academic work of a global significance, with partial exception of  Huntington's seminal work, which can be judged as truthful in any meaningful way, came out of the United States. From Fukuyama, to Brzezinski, to Kissinger to altogether a delirious propaganda trash such as Dinesh Sousa's or Fareed Zacharia's "works"--American "intellectual" or "elite" class has paraded itself as at best "under-performing" and intellectually bland, at worst--intellectually impotent. Nowhere it manifests itself more than in this class'  failure to understand the nature and application of the military power, especially in the real historic context. It remains simply beyond the grasp of these "intellectuals" and "experts". Since we are talking about Russia here, the inability of all those "experts" to have any foresight of what may come out of US (and EU's) instigating a neo-nazi coup in Ukraine was stupefying, nor could they interpret properly, all in the open, Russia's steps in economy, military and other fields after aggression against Serbia and then, after "democratically" (again, coup) elected Saakashvili's military adventurism in South Ossetia. The real wowser here, however, is not even a dangerous inability to see the world for what it is, that is to see it in realistic, true light--the real wowser will be the real history of the Cold War 1.0 which only now is beginning to have an impact with the world reaching the era of a fast and global information (and knowledge) exchange with the ascendance of the broadband internet. When real history, not ever changing "ranges of interpretations", of the Cold War will be presented, with all correct accents, the picture which will emerge (and it is emerging as I type it) will not be commendable to the most (not all, I underscore it) American Cold War "experts", to put it mildly. It will be an indictment.   

Nichols makes an important, however generalized, point:

As a result, unable to see their own biases, most people simply drive one another crazy arguing rather than accept answers that contradict what they already think about the subject—and shoot the messenger, to boot. 

What he describes here (granted that we all are biased to some degree) when applied to most modern American "expertdom" is more than just a bias--it is a failure of a scholarship. Yes, real experts ARE experts not just because they understand a lot (that is a requirement), but because they are able to control their biases. This IS NOT the case with American "experts"; overwhelming majority of these so called experts operate on the premise of an American exceptionalism, if not outright narcissism. This IS NOT a mindset which leads to Truth, quite to the contrary--it is the path to academic ruin which does have very serious consequences. We observe those dangerous consequences today all around us: from unprecedented creeping coup against democratically elected American President to an unmitigated geopolitical disaster--all of that bearing the seal of "approval" or being instigated by the so called US "expertdom" with all of its numerous think-tanks and media. Here, Nichols delivers the most potent segment in his piece:

Other forms of expert failure are more worrisome. Experts can go wrong, for example, when they try to stretch their expertise from one area to another. This is less a failure of expertise than a sort of minor fraud—somebody claiming the general mantle of authority even though he or she is not a real expert in the specific area under discussion—and it is frequent and pernicious and can undermine the credibility of an entire field. (I recognize that I myself risk that transgression. But my observations and conclusions are informed not only by my experience of being an expert in my own area but also by the work of scholars who study the role of expertise in society and by discussions I have had with many other experts in a variety of fields.) And finally, there is the rarest but most dangerous category: outright deception and malfeasance, in which experts intentionally falsify their results or rent out their professional authority to the highest bidder.   

Why "can undermine the credibility"? It WAS already undermined. I don't know if Mr. Nichols is aware of it but when dealing with US "expertise" in geopolitical or military fields very little credibility is given not only to US geopolitical doctrine-mongering but to the very process of academic training of all those "experts" is put in doubt by (periodically) idle amateurs like me to a serious professionals, i.e. real experts. "Western" system of public education, starting from the high school and well into the undergraduate and graduate degrees' programs is simply not that good, especially when it deals with vague faux-applied "sciences" such as Political pseudo Science, Economy, Russian or any other "studies", History, including military one--fields where deception, falsification, biases, lies dominate. Of course, the case could be made that very many of those "experts" or "academics" do know the Truth but ignore or hide it for a larger political ends. True, this often was the case during Cold War, it is most likely not the case today--very many of those "experts" did buy their own narrative and that is dangerous. But then again, I warned about it from the very first days of this blog. One can live in the make-believe world for only so long. 

My personal experience with communication with a number of Ph.Ds from these fields left me often speechless. No more so when I had a discussion with one of the College History Professor with Ph.D from Princeton in no less than... Russian/Soviet-American Relations. He was convinced that Western Allies could drive Red Army back to the Soviet border (Patton's wet dream, anyone?)  in 1945 based on a single myth that Allied Air Forces were simply superior. He was stunned, however, when I had to point to a simple historic fact that Red Air Force by 1945 was the largest and most experienced tactical-operational air force in the world. I suggested him to read Von Hardesty's good book as a primer. Needless to say, that the guy didn't know the Russian language that well--a good summary of the most American (that is not "Russian", mostly Jewish, emigre "scholars") "experts" in USSR/Russia. Yet, today, as never before, cross-discipline expertise is a must not just desirable. It is preposterous when some humanities or "political science" "educated" expert, who didn't spend a day in uniform, passes judgements on a host of a complex tactical, operational or technological issues. I also had a personal experience with such "experts" and not in US only, I spent some good chunk of time exposing outright lies of one... Russian "naval expert", who graduated the Institute of Culture with degree, if my memory doesn't fail me, in screenwriting or something like that. But then again, in US late Tom Clancy--a major in English and an insurance agent--is still hailed as an "expert". Reading his "literature" or even watching The Hunt For Red October, despite two of my favorite actors in it, Sean Connery and Sam Neil, are a cringe-worthy experiences, because most of it, in layman's lingo, is a BS.  

Nichols concludes his piece with this:

Meanwhile, Americans have developed increasingly unrealistic expectations of what their political and economic systems can provide, and this sense of entitlement fuels continual disappointment and anger. When people are told that ending poverty or preventing terrorism or stimulating economic growth is a lot harder than it looks, they roll their eyes. Unable to comprehend all the complexity around them, they choose instead to comprehend almost none of it and then sullenly blame elites for seizing control of their lives.   

I have other news for Nichols, many Americans developed those unrealistic expectations not just by themselves. Those expectations, compounded with traditional American exceptionalism, were greatly encouraged by the American "expert" community which found it to be very expedient to further the cause of an American exceptionalism by means of fraud, incompetence, lies and manipulation. Doing so, this very "experdom" itself became the prisoner of own illusions and  a false narrative. Americans are correct in blaming their so called "elites" for a decades of criminal wars, instability, deindustrialization of the country, economic collapse and almost getting into the hot war with Russia--these were "elites" and "experts" who made those decisions. It is an American "expertdom" and "elites" who are unable to "comprehend all the complexity around them" and for that they bear a lion share of responsibility and blame for what is happening now both globally and domestically. I mentioned not for once, that the so called American "elites" betrayed Americans. The only way of the United States out of present day pitiful state will be only with removal of most of current "elites" and "experts" who served them for so long. Thus America's losing the faith in this kind of expertise is a good thing. The removal may happen only with Donald Trump claiming the victory in his epic battle with these "elites" in order to finally tell them what he was elected for: "You Are Fired!"