Friday, February 21, 2020

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.  

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