Once again, the Obama Administration has chosen a critical moment to launch new provocations against Russia.  On the very day that the Geneva talks were to begin, seeking a ceasefire and end to the five-year Syrian war, a prominent Obama Administration official publicly attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin.  On Jan. 25, BBC Panorama aired a documentary, accusing Putin of stealing billions from Russia and running a personal mafia.  The "star" attraction in the broadcast was Adam Szubin, a top US Treasury Department official, in charge of the implementation of US sanctions, including the sanctions against Russia.  Szubin retailed dubious claims about Putin, and, to make matters worse, two days after the show was broadcast, President Obama's press spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that Szubin was speaking for the Administration's view of Putin and Russia.

Needless to say, the Szubin stunt resonated in Moscow.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov immediately confronted Secretary of State John Kerry, demanding to know why the US Administration was out to sabotage the fragile efforts at Syrian peace with such a public display of diplomatic chicanery.  Kerry was clearly caught completely off guard and felt that he had been, once again, sandbagged by others in the Administration who clearly have a different agenda.

The US Administration's backing for Szubin's public outburst was seconded, just days later, by the latest rant from European Command head Gen. Philip Breedlove ("Strangelove?") who once again declared that Russia is America's most dangerous enemy.  The new Pentagon budget, unfurled by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, made clear that the gravest strategic threat to US interests is coming from Russia and China.  Carter is pushing for a $1 trillion budget line to modernize the US strategic triad.

Even some of Carter's closest colleagues are warning that these actions by the Obama Administration are putting the danger of strategic conflict back on the front burner–25 years after the end of the Cold War.  Former Defense Secretary William Perry has gone public, through a recently published memoir and through a series of high profile public appearances, warning that we are closer to a thermonuclear conflict with Russia–whether by "accident" or by pre-meditation–than at any time in his memory.  And he was a young nuclear weapons analyst on the team assessing the Soviet moves of nuclear weapons into Cuba back in 1962.

It is well-known that the point person for the Obama Administration on Ukraine is Victoria Nuland, a veteran of former Vice President Dick Cheney's Bush Administration war room.  Szubin comes from the same background.  A Justice Department official in the immediate post-9/11 era, he was tapped for the Treasury Department by Hank Paulson and put in charge of Bush Administration sanctions in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a post he held from 2006-2015, when he was promoted to Undersecretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (he is still Acting Undersecretary because his confirmation has been frozen since April 2015).


In this fragile and highly charged environment, words matter.

This entry was posted in Harper, Policy, Russia. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Old Microbiologist says:

    I have always thought there were three, often completely separated, governments in America. Why Kerry doesn’t resign baffles me. I have considered him a man of honor but apparently not one of fortitude. That or it is all orchestrated. The simplest word to define US Foreign policy is schizophrenic.

  2. LeaNder says:

    “frozen confirmation”?
    A Harvard’ian and Fulbright scholar, that should raise Babak’s esteem. In other words one of the “best and brightest”. What’s Harvard’s place on the list of best universities in the world? Somewhere around the top I would guess.

  3. Old Microbiologist says:

    I had an afterthought. A large part of the collapse of the Soviet Union was trying to keep up spending against the US in a wild goose chase for Star Wars technology. Wouldn’t it be ironic if this were to happen to the US now? Another trillion dollars for upgrading nuclear weapons is delusional, reckless, and insane thinking. More spending of money we don’t have and even if we had it we have huge problems inside the US that must be addressed but these are left unfunded so we can fight off imaginary enemies. However, these kinds of things have a habit of becoming self fulfilling prophesies. Obama has been a Neocon’s wet dream come true. Hillary will be exponentially worse.

  4. LondonBob says:

    President Putin is likely the richest guy in Russia, the St Pete gang and Siloviki have done well too, but the Russians largely expect that and he has done an outstanding job otherwise. As with most of the world corruption will die a slow and long death in Russia, if at all. Of course the sort of corruption that leads to one selling out your country’s national interest for say a book deal, or lucrative corporate positions post retirement, are as frowned upon in Russia as they are tolerated in the West.
    Amazing the way this whole conflict has been contrived, the best we can do is to keep on arguing against it, as well as pray they don’t get their guy or gal into the White House. What should worry you is that our current government in London looks even worse than the one you have in DC at the moment. Of course we too are about to spend an enormous sum of money we don’t have on renewing Trident, a weapon system of no real purpose in the post Cold War era.

  5. oofda says:

    And Rubio, Cruz et al will be disastrous as well. And remember Nuland is the sister-in-law of Fred Kagan, who wanted the United States to attack Palestine the day after 9/11.

  6. Lars says:

    I know that in Northern Europe this is a welcome development. In my native Sweden an increasing population, soon to become a majority according to polling trends, want NATO membership due to the military threat of Russia. They, the Russians, have largely driven this by increased and threatening military activity in the Baltic Sea in addition to their activities in Ukraina.
    Of course, Russia has been a military threat for centuries in that area and public opinion reflects that too.

  7. thepanzer says:

    Kind of a side question for PL and the community here. Would it be possible for you to broadly wargame a US/Russia conflict similar to the one you did a few months back? I know the scale and complexity are magnitudes larger, but even a “wild-ass guess” here is likely more accurate than what I’m finding on google. (which is mostly 80’s Fulda Gap and similar)
    Maybe work under the assumption that the nukes stay off the table and it’s conventional only.
    My assumption is neither can country can land anything like a knock-out blow to the other just due to the distances involved. Land invasions for either side are non-starters, plus the Russian’s are more defensive oriented anyway correct?
    So I’d assume a lot of naval, specifically sub engagements and air power skirmishes on the borders? This area isn’t my wheelhouse though, I’m curious what the community with a better background and wargaming experience think.
    Also what would China do? Sit out and pick up the pieces after US/Russia have their phyric victory/defeat? Would they risk losing Russia and standing along against the west? Again, no presumption on my part for which way they would jump.

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In your estimation, is Putin more or less corrupt than Jacque Chirac?

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    My guess is that US is doing this to reassure allies in Europe and keep NATO functioning.
    Not everyone who is scared of Russia and Putin in Europe are fools – some are quite intelligent (I know) – albeit misguided.

  10. turcopolier says:

    I would not feel competent to run such a game. It is not my part of the world. Perhaps someone else might do so. pl

  11. SmoothieX12 says:

    “In this fragile and highly charged environment, words matter.”
    “The change in words and values is no less important than the change in policy, because words are deeds and style is substance insofar as they influence men’s minds and behavior”(c)
    Senator J. William Fulbright.

  12. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    You might read “On the Beach” by Nevil Chute. It is not an exaggeration. Perhaps the “decision makers” of the Borg should be shown an actual thermonuclear explosion and then be required to write the expected result for a major population center. I am amazed by their complacency.
    Ishmael Zechariah
    P.s: Had the devices in Hiroshima and Nagasaki exploded at ground level, most of those areas would still be uninhabitable.

  13. LeaNder says:

    OM, lately for whatever reason, late Richard Feynman surfaced on my mind.
    In a similar dot connecting way you triggered questions between private and public plus administrative restrictions/(career control?) that, more arbitrarily in defense studies surfaced as question marks on my mind while watching closely a US case. … related to, if I am not mistaken, to our first encounter. And maybe, causing me to respond minus only watching before. Yes, there were earlier more arbitrarily collected dots that surprised me …
    Considering Hillary, while it may not be your best of all chosen sources politically, I went back after what feels a very, very long time to:
    Maybe you can answer my question that led me there: why there are there a multitude of candidates on the Republican side, while there are only three, if I get matters right, on the democrat’s side?

  14. LeaNder says:

    Lars, I am vaguely aware of the post “Ukraine confrontation” threat scenario in recent news.
    What would move beyond muscular games, considering a real threat scenario?

  15. SmoothieX12 says:

    You can go to the older “version” of such a conflict (with USSR) in famous war games conducted in 1970s and 1980s in Naval War College in Newport, RI. It is in publications known as Newport Papers. The one I am talking about is, if my Alzheimer doesn’t fail me;-) is NP #20. I could be wrong with the number, but it is easy to find. There is a lot of wishful thinking, including some major underestimation of Soviet capabilities, but it is the best one can find in the open.
    Per your question on China, it will stay out, should, God forbids, such a conflict break out. The moment even a single US carrier is sunk, all bets will be off. The level of casualties in such a conflict, should it remain conventional, will be something on the order of magnitude US Armed Forces encountered in post WW II era. These are givens, the rest–leave it to Mr. Friedman of infamous (and highly incompetent) STRATFOR to write Tom Clansinesque baloney on this issue. He wrote some fiction on this issue, I believe, in the end of 2014. If you want to have fun time reading operational fairy tales, you can find this Friedman’s opus on the internet, I am sure. But I would suggest Colonel Douglas Macgregor’s Time magazine article in which he defines some operational realities in possible peer-to-peer or peer-to-near peer conflict. God forbids.

  16. Jackrabbit says:

    The War is on. For now, its a war of influence fought by proxy, attrition (economic), and disinformation (propaganda).
    The objective in this war is not to capture territory (although that helps) but to corrode the foundation of the other side’s power causing confusion and turmoil that opens opportunities for regime change (Arab Spring, Maidan, etc.)
    Traditional “wargaming” is about force projection and territory. This war is about psychology and sociology.

  17. Old Microbiologist says:

    No doubt and the same for Rubio who has strong backing from Jewish donors. Carson is a joke as is Bush which only leaves Rand Paul as the minimally sane one in the bunch. Trump, IMHO, is a megalomaniac who is a genius at marketing. I have maintained that he is not in it for money, power, or sex. I believe he wishes to go down in history as the best President ever which would require a lot of head thumping in Congress and a huge set of brass balls. I think he is experienced at making deals usually st the other guy’s expense and doesn’t think twice about cutting losses. If he applies sound business strategy to everything it will be far better than what we have now. The clues will be in who he chooses as a running mate and who he chooses for the cabinet positions. The President is a position that governs a select few who govern everyone else. I also like that he says basically anything which is refreshing in a weird way. But, I have doubts about whether he is going to do what he says. There is still a possibility he is working for Clinton and will toss the race at the last minute.
    Sanders is a problem and I don’t think he has the ability to actually move anything along. I also don’t think he will survive a full term so his choice of VP is very critical. He looks bad these days and we are still early days.
    Her husband along with Kristol wrote the Neocon manifesto The Project For The New American Century (PNAC) which has been their game plan since. He is also on HRC’s campaign committee. Strange that an Ultra-Neocon would be helping elect a Democrat unless she is truly a Neocon in (thin) disguise. Equally baffling to me is how many Democrats love her despite her obvious Ultra-Conservative ideas. The Saker refers to these people as Anglo-Zionists which using his logic fits.

  18. burton50 says:

    “Of course, Russia has been a military threat for centuries in that area and public opinion reflects that too.”
    Funny, I don’t remember Sweden ever being invaded by the Russians. Conversely, I count fifteen invasions of Russia by the Swedes, beginning in 1142 and ending with the defeat of Karl XII at Poltava in 1709.

  19. jsn says:

    Obama is just trying to get out of office without pissing off anyone in the corporate worlds of health care, pharma or multinational finance. He expects in the Clinton mode to become fabulously wealthy in his retirement if he can just weather this year.
    He appears to have an understanding of some sort with Putin, who has repeatedly bailed him out in foreign policy, even while he indulges the NeoCon Strangeloves at State and in the Pentagon. The president seems to understand that his internal opposition is hapless and ineffectual at anything other than looting Pentagon and black budgets and seems to be content to pay them off to leave him alone in that way, pulling them back again and again from their own stupidity when reality threatens to intrude on their delusions.
    It’s either something like this or he (we) have just been astonishingly lucky to avoid a major nuclear showdown.

  20. Old Microbiologist says:

    I think it is easy. Attack Russia and you die.
    Russia will leave everyone alone if left alone itself. What most Americans fail to realize is that economic sanctions are acts of war and seen that way by Russia. Also, pissing in someones yard is not something you do with a friend. The recent bad faith comments from the US just amplify the Russophobia that seems to be running rampant.
    However, the game plans really haven’t changed much over the years. The force structure in Europe is very hollow. A rapid deployment force cannot deploy in less than 4 days. The war is over by then. Everyone knows this. Yet, Russia doesn’t attack and won’t unless attacked first. However, you have to be very clear in that this includes people of Russian ethnicity. The same is true if and when Americans are attacked anywhere in the world.
    I caveat all of this in that I am only married to a Russian and her extended family in Russia and elsewhere. I believe I have an bare inkling into the mindset of Russians. Yes, Putin is corrupt. What politician isn’t?

  21. Jackrabbit says:

    As I wrote above: the war is on. So provocations are to be expected.
    Our provocations are always depicted as reacting to THEIR provocations.

  22. LondonBob says:

    Who am I to judge, besides corruption could be measured quantitatively or qualitatively. Tony Blair did immeasurable harm to this country and his net worth is merely GBP70m or so, where as Putin has delivered enormous benefits to his country and his net worth far exceeds that.
    Anyway I take George F Kennan’s approach to Russia, their internal issues are theirs to solve, and will be solved quicker without our interference. I applaud his resurrection of order, stability, prosperity and standing to his country but corruption and property rights leave much to be desired.

  23. Stonevendor says:

    As this latest episode has unfolded I couldn’t help think of that classic movies from the ’60s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEWWRbn4zG0
    Our foreign policy with regard to the Russians is hard to fathom.

  24. Trey N says:

    Google “Pentagon wargames NATO vs Russia” and scan the list of stories.
    Bottom line: a think tank was hired to run the scenario of NATO taking on Russia in a land campaign, and the results made Napoleon and Hitler look like geniuses. Told to keep replaying until they got “the right results”, the analysts eventually ran 16 games — and each time NATO got obliterated.
    And this was before the recent display of awesome Russian military capabilities in Syria!
    Shades of the famous Millenium Challenge 2002, where Marine Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper played the Iran side and absolutely kicked the US ass in the Persian Gulf….
    The Japanese ran a wargame before the Midway operation. The Captain playing the American side did exactly what the US Navy did in the real battle, ambushing the Japanese carriers from a position NE of the island (he was not quite as successful as the Americans actually were — he only sank 3 carriers instead of all 4). The Japanese brass were so impressed that they stopped the game, escorted the captain out of the room and (figuratively) tossed him over overboard, and restarted the game. Of course, the new game worked out perfectly to expectations so they proceeded with the actual naval campaign. Oopsie….

  25. cynic says:

    Washington, Wailing Wall Street and the City of London are in no position to pose as mentors of morality. Too much chutzpah already!
    Because they are crooked they want everyone to believe that anyone whom they oppose must be worse.
    If we think in terms of performance related bonuses, Putin obviously deserves orders of magnitude more than any western political or business executive.
    If it went to a popular vote I think his electorate would happily award Putin quite a lot. He could be the best Czar they’ve had in a couple of centuries. Their publics would be much less happy with the performances of the western morally crippled political pygmy leadership.
    All this anti-Putin rhetoric is very like the ‘Putin killed Litvenenko’ story, a smear and a distraction.
    In any case, corruption is not incompatible with competence; nor is personal honesty any guarantee of political competence. Just think of the contrasting cases of Walpole and Corbyn!

  26. cynic says:

    Do the Swedes still remember Charles XII and Poltava? Considering the current influx of aggressive Muslims, might they launch a jihad against Russia in another couple of generations?

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I see; Western corruption does not carry the same metaphysical Evil as that of Russia’s – which, per Kennan – is Evil.

  28. cynic says:

    Maybe it’s not so hard to understand once one sees that it’s not ‘ours’. It’s not intended to benefit the people of the countries whose stooge leaders are used to promote it. It’s only intended to benefit certain malignant parasites at ‘our’ expense.
    Here’s a recent article by that shrewd Jew Gilad Atzmon, which casts light on that mentality.
    ‘I guess that within the Jewish political universe, the indigenous population is always an enemy, whether it is in Britain, Palestine or anywhere else.’

  29. jld says:

    Are you aware of Scott Adams “predictions” that the primaries are rigged for Rubio as the Borg candidate?

  30. Charles Michael says:

    to All about war gaming
    I suppose to play a war game with some credibility you must be awre of the military doctrine of your opponent.
    Russia just advertised its new milary doctrine some months ago (see the saker circa October ?).
    As their traditionnal use of depth and echelons is no advisable due to Nato new proximity (specially since the Ukraine turned borg), and their human ressources numbers have been cut by two in 1991, the doctrine has been modified.
    Still defensive, but it clearly specify that in case of successful Nato attack they will use tactical nuclear.
    It seems that their S-400 and coming soon S-500 can stop all air or ballistic retaliations.
    Sorry, these Ruskies are not such good sports.

  31. mbrenner says:

    Here is the latest from Stephen F. Cohen (Princeton) – the most knowledgeable and insightful analyst of Russia and Russo-US relations. This morning – 40 minutes.

  32. Lars:
    What is it that you fear the Russians may do, and what in your view would be the reasons they would have for doing it?

  33. Valissa says:

    OM, Hillary is indeed a neocon. Some time last year one of the Kagans proudly pointed out she was one of them. Also an old college friend of my husband’s who is a long time Democrat and works on Veteran homelessness at a fairly high level (has met Michelle since this is one of her issues) admitted last week to me that he was going to vote for her even though he knows she’s a neocon. I was amazed by this because in the past he’s had nothing good to say about neocons, and indeed voted for Obama over Hillary in the primaries of 2008 because of his antiwar stance and the fact that he was not a neocon. This guy is going to support Hillary, despite her being a neocon, because he’s a loyal democrat. In the US tribalism is alive and well in politics, though it’s not based on blood it is based on loyalty to the group.

  34. Charles Michael says:

    How to fathom ?
    but it is a constant, part of the DNA atavistic of global oil market.
    Think about Rockfeller, Standard Oil monopol, think about Bakou in mid XVIII th, and the Rotchild, think about Shell (where is the name coming from ?)
    Learn about Mr 5 % Gulbenkian.

  35. LeaNder,
    In relation to Harvard, and also a number of interesting issues – including George Kennan and the origins of American perceptions of the Soviet threat – you might be interested in a chapter from the memoirs of the Sovietologist Alfred Gustav Meyer which was put up on the web some years back.
    (See http://www.ritchieboys.com/DL/fish205.pdf .)
    Having made it out of Germany not long before the outbreak of war – his parents were both killed in the Holocaust – Meyer became one of the ‘Ritchie Boys’, young refugees who were trained at Camp Ritchie by the U.S. Army in preparation for the invasion of Europe. This led on to his being trained in Russian language, and ending up at Harvard as a graduate student.
    In the early Fifties, the U.S. State Department Soviet experts George Kennan and Charles Bohlen wanted the former long-serving ‘Legionsrat’ at the German Moscow Embassy, Gustav Hilger, to write his memoirs. So Hilger, who had no pretensions to be a writer, went to Harvard looking for a collaborator, and ended up choosing this German-Jewish refugee.
    The resulting study, published in English in 1953 under the title ‘Incompatible Allies’, and in German two years later under the more appropriate title ‘Wir und der Kreml’, is among other things the story of the long struggle of Friedrich Werner, Count von der Schulenberg, to prevent Hitler taking Germany down to destruction, quite unnecessarily.
    I would strongly recommend it to anyone, be they German or other, interested in making sense of inter-war European history, or indeed the early Cold War.
    It is a very easy, and gripping read, and makes all kinds of matters appear in a new light.

  36. Valissa says:

    Thanks for pointing that out and saving me the trouble of looking up all invasions of Russia by the Swedes.
    IMO.. anyone who writes that Russia is a military threat to Sweden has either drunk too much NATO koolaid, or works for a Swedish arms manufacturer.

  37. Charles Dekle says:

    I love Dilbert. When I was a cube rat, I used to post the cartons outside on the partition. My pointy haired bosses never got it. 🙂

  38. turcopolier says:

    If your husband’s pal dabbles in “veteran homelessness,” he should be very happy with President HC. She will expand the numbers of those upon whom he can shower his care. pl

  39. Valissa says:

    No doubt, pl. But despite my political criticism of him, my husband’s friend is a really caring person and has always worked hard to help the less fortunate in various capacities. Prior to his appointment to the national Veteran’s Homelessness program, he had a high level position here in MA gov working on homelessness. His big issue there was fighting the homeless shelters establishment who gets the big money when it was cheaper simply to provide apartments or housing (not only is it cheaper but improves morale enough to get lives trending more positive). Apparently within the do-gooder establishment there is lots of nasty politics about who gets the state/federal money for their program. In his own way, this guy tries to “do the right thing” and he is an honorable person. He has been working hard to get veterans off the street and into decent housing.

  40. Lars says:

    Russian military planes have been very aggressive in the Baltic and Swedish army forces have been relocated because of it. The air force is on heightened alert too.
    And popular opinion is moving towards ending 200 years of neutrality.

  41. Lars says:

    There are no buildings along the southeast coast of Sweden that are older than 1721, when the Russians were stopped just outside Stockholm. In the prior 2 years, everything had been burned by them, except one major one, which was spared due to kinship.
    It is true there were many military excursions by Sweden prior to that, but it does not come close to what they did in Germany in the 17th century.
    There were a lot of wars in European history and the framers of the US Constitution were very aware of that and took it into consideration when they drafted it.

  42. Lars says:

    Just about in every military exercise in Sweden the last two hundred years, the “enemy” always came from the east. I am sure Russia does not like having NATO on their border, as they do in the Baltic states. Now they face the possibility of Sweden and Finland joining too and thus creating limited Russian access through the Baltic.
    These developments are a reaction to historic belligerence from the Russians that now have been stepped up. In my opinion, they have only themselves to blame for this. Now too many people do not trust them, especially since they are now again moving towards a dictatorship, which has been their historic norm.

  43. VietnamVet says:

    I agree with Jackrabbit above; the war is on. It is being fought with sanctions, proxy armies, mercenaries and special operators. Our provocations are theirs: “Russian Aggression”.
    To date it is being fought for resources and dominance. It is escalating and unstable. The world powers are in combat in Syria and Muslim refugees are flooding into Europe. Western leadership is clearly schizophrenic, incompetent and has total contempt of the lower classes.
    We are closer to a World War today than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A European force of 6000 with American special operators is rumored to be on the way to protect the Libyan oil fields and halt the flow of refugees into Italy. R+6 is close to isolating Jihadi groups supported by Turkey and the Gulf Monarchies in North Eastern Syria. Humiliation, fear, and religious fervor are very human, irrational and dangerous. An errant artillery barrage or Russian bomber in a flash could impel Turkey to intervene in Syria starting a hot world war.

  44. SmoothieX12 says:

    You meant, of course, Baku in mid to late XIX century. Right? The times when Nobel was quite active there;-)

  45. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    And that’s if you don’t count the Vikings who plundered and enslaved their way down the river systems on the european east. Ah but those were happier times.

  46. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    re: ” . . which only leaves Rand Paul as the minimally sane one in the bunch.”
    Per CNN, Rand Paul pulled the plug today. So much for “sanity.”

  47. Harper says:

    To Babak M. Yes, of course there are relatively sane people from Poland, the Baltic states and elsewhere on the Russian periphery who are “scared” but I think is it important to reflect on how we got here, 25 years after the end of the Cold War. We broke the “gentlemen’s agreement” reached with Moscow around the time of the German reunification (inside NATO), that there would be no further eastward expansion of NATO and certainly no ABM systems deployed on the Russian periphery without full Russian participation. Beginning in the 1990s, we broke all the pledges and that was a decade before the Ukraine events which have been used as the pretext for blaming Russia for all the build up of tensions. Former Defense Secretary William Perry,in his recent memoir, described his priority on drawing Russia in as a full and equal partner in the Partnership for Peace. He opposed the NATO expansion eastward–at least until the relationship between the US and Russia had been developed for perhaps a generation into a deep trust. He cited the Nunn-Lugar program as a highpoint of US-Russian cooperation on a common global security concern, namely the prevention of a “loose nuke” proliferation of nuclear weapons and/or material. Then the “Color Revolution” crowd got into the act, bigtime, Cheney and Company demanded a total rethink of the Russia relationship, back to confrontation. If the Russians perhaps over-reacted to those events, it is understandable. Then you get the old paranoia creeping back in the Baltics and Eastern Europe about the “bad old days” of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet domination. It’s a bad downward spiral, and we’re deep into it. Perry warns that the danger of nuclear war is greater today than it was during the Cold War at its darkest moments. I fear he is right.

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.

  49. Jackrabbit says:

    It was 26 years ago when we gave our word. And so, 26 missiles were fired from the Caspian on Putin’s birthday.

  50. Fred says:

    “…he (Trump) is experienced at making deals usually st the other guy’s expense and doesn’t think twice about cutting losses.”
    Sounds like Andrew Jackson. Which is going why he scares the hell out of the inside the beltway crowd.

  51. Fred says:

    “Western corruption does not carry the same metaphysical Evil as that of Russia’s…”
    Which is why no mention is ever made of Carlos Slim and how he, a Mexican national, managed to get a hold of Telmex at it’s privatization and proceed to become the richest man on earth all while Mexico became a shining example of Western democracy and business ethics; unlike Russia.

  52. Fred says:

    as you pointed out in a prior comment, Lars,
    “…the framers of the US Constitution were very aware of that and took it into consideration when they drafted it.”
    Yes which is why we should follow their advice and avoid foreign entanglements – like defending Sweden at the risk of nuclear destruction of our own people. The Russians remember when American troops were actually in Russia in during their revolution. They’ve never stationed troops inside our country nor took sides in our own civil war. The cold war is over and we should not reignite it over “protecting” countries of little national interest to our own. I suggest you raise taxes to fund a bigger military and get those “soon to be a majority” citizens to enlist in it.

  53. cynic says:

    Here’s a witty but accurate parody in blunt Northern English language about what’s been happening to the ‘Alan’s Snackbar’ franchisees in Syria.

  54. Lars says:

    I do not find anything about “foreign entanglements” in the constitution, nor do I think many Russians remember their revolution at all.
    Just as it is important to contain China, it is equally important to contain Russia. Besides, nuclear weapons are not really military weapons. MAD still rules the day.
    No doubt the US has been involved in wars with countries that were not existential threats, but both China and Russia have the potential and that should be taken seriously. The US has vastly more military resources than both and making them spend a lot of money on their armed forces have a beneficial economic outcome.

  55. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Harvard isn’t what people think it is. The state of higher education in United States is rather low: academic performance is measured in terms of how well students can provide textbook answers coupled with the size of their grand ambitions of how to best remake the world (aka ego). A lot of Fulbright scholars are people with ideas about remaking the world, not understanding it.

  56. kao_hsien_chih says:

    The Swedish Army was fighting at Poltava to liberate Ukraine from the evil Russian overlords back then, too, I presume? Was Carolus Rex shot by the ungrateful Norwegians whom he was trying to liberate?

  57. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Oh, wait. Sorry. Been under the weather and much confused last 48 hours, obviously. Pls ignore the obvious unawareness of snark in the last post….

  58. Trey N says:

    US/NATO forces are overwhelmingly reliant on precision airpower and hi-tech force multipliers on the ground, all of which depend on a properly functioning GPS satellite system. Take out the satellites or interfere with/block their signals, and the US/NATO forces are in deep shit. Really, really deep.
    The Russians have considered artillery to be the “Queen of Battle” going back to the days of the tsars. In WWW II the Soviets even formed artillery divisions, the only army to do so (well, the Germans were so impressed that they briefly tried to do so as well — they managed to form one division in 1943, but disbanded it the next year).
    The Soviets and Germans were also the only armies to heavily employ rocket artillery in WW II, the famous Katyushas(aka “Stalin’s organs”) and the Nebelwerfer (or “screaming mimi/ meemie”).
    The Russians continue that tradition today with their (very)large inventory of artillery and rockets. If US/NATO airpower over the battlefield is negated by S-400 missiles and the GPS system is neutralized by ECW or other measures, the ground units are going to face a hard slog against their Russian counterparts (to say the least…).
    The good news for the world: I don’t believe the Russians would have to go nuclear at any level to completely destroy any US/NATO forces insane enough to actually invade their country.
    Which, sadly, doesn’t mean that such a course of action by the US/NATO is unthinkable. Just ask the Athenians of 415 BC what catastrophes hubris can lead to….

  59. Origin says:

    Jackrabbit probably has the goal nailed, “The objective in this war is not to capture territory (although that helps) but to corrode the foundation of the other side’s power causing confusion and turmoil that opens opportunities for regime change (Arab Spring, Maidan, etc.)”
    This seems to be the playing out of the effective and fundamental strategy of U.S foreign policy: “To destabilize the world and create chaos everywhere abroad.”
    The more the neocons can threaten Russia, the more it will exhibit its historically paranoid traits and put fear into its neighbors.
    Consider how well this strategy serves the U.S. As an example, the Swedes and other eastern European countries are asking to be more dependent upon the U.S. and raising the cost of defending their countries. Poland is asking for more military assistance. This just makes the U.S. more powerful and “indispensable”. In reality, everybody assumes that Russia is not so unwise as to try to invade Sweden or Poland. While the assumption may be accurate, it may not be and all but the U.S. are put into a meme of uncertainty and fear the just stimulates the increase in American power.
    On the whole, if the goal of American foreign policy is to increase power and not obtain peace, as long as the assumption that Russian will not have a breakdown and actually start active warring in Eastern Europe or Scandinavia holds, the destabilization-chaos creation strategy is a winner for the U.S.

  60. Will says:

    Well Folks, the Swedes have reason to fear the Russians. They did take half of their country away in the past.

  61. Fred says:

    I don’t find a damn thing about defending Europe in the Constitution but I can point out where two of my relatives are buried because they died liberating it. Sweden may face an existential threat from Russia or China but the US doesn’t. Spending American money on foreigners for one more generation is going to have a beneficial economic outcome? I’ll let the people drinking poisonous water in Flint, going broke putting their kids through college and those going bankrupt from medical bills know that. They’ll be happy knowing what a wonderful standard of living Sweden enjoys thanks to the US defending them rather than having to pay for defending yourselves. It’s sure doing wonders for Swedes.

  62. Fred says:

    “…tribalism is alive and well in politics, though…it is based on loyalty to the group.”
    I think that is a very apt description of far too many Americans.

  63. Charles Michael says:

    Yes, sorry I put the date the French way: e.g. we start the 18 th century on year first January 1800.
    and yes the Nobel bros were there and the whole petrole saga is a fascinating story quite the foundations of our era.

  64. Valissa says:

    OK, let’s play the war history dominoes… with Europe that’s so easy, as there was pretty much constant warfare in Europe for thousands of years. By that logic they should all fear each other (yeah, I know.. that’s why the existence of the EU is so important to many).
    Going by history only, then Sweden ought to be quite afraid of Denmark https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denmark%E2%80%93Sweden_relations There have been 27 Dano-Swedish wars between 1521 and 1814.
    I think the Brits ought to be concerned about the Danes as well, after all they once owned almost half of Britain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danelaw
    Then about 800 years later the Brits finally took their vengeance on those ancient Viking raids (/snark)
    The British Wars (1801-1814): Great Britain’s unprovoked assault on the neutral Danish-Norwegian kingdom http://www.navalhistory.dk/English/History/1801_1814/Englandskrigene.htm
    Of course I am creating a purposeful narrative by selecting only the facts that will support it. This is how pretty much all news narratives today in the MSM are constructed.
    On a more serious note… there seems to be no recent actual evidence of any interest in Russia’s part to invade any country in Europe. What’s in it for them? What possible benefit would it bring? There is no logic to it, no rational reasoning, and little historical reason (compared to the history intra-European warfare).
    This fear of Russia is based on propaganda, pure and simple, IMO. Laid on top of fears based on a changing world, that’s not changing for the positive in most people’s eyes. Fear needs an outlet.
    “In times of trouble some people find comfort in hate and fear.”
    – Odo (DS9, Season 7 #551)

  65. annamaria says:

    The unraveling of “Ukraina” should give Northern Europe some pose:
    “The occupation of Ukraine by the US and its allies enters its third year. The results are spectacular: collapse of economy and finance, collapse of industrial production, collapse of the social sphere, education and medical care, a massive exodus of several million people in two years, demographic collapses, depopulation of entire regions, bombing of major Ukrainian cities, biological warfare on the population, massive forest fires in the Chernobyl region, widepsread hunger and cold, spike in violent crimes, organ trafficking and tens of thousands of people including children missing.” The disastrous situation does not stop the Bidens family from buying gas reserves in Ukraine for pittance: http://www.oneworldofnations.com/2016/02/1602031.html
    And here is a sample of the Russian military planes being, as you wrote, “very aggressive in the Baltic”: “Swedish fighters intercepted four Russian planes flying in international air space over the Baltic sea.” Have not you noticed the words “international space?” More of the same, “NATO fighter jets intercepted nearly two dozen Russian aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea in the last two weeks of July, according to the Financial Times.” Again, have you noticed the words “nternational airspace over the Baltic Sea?” Here is an explanation: “The Russian aircraft that were intercepted were traveling in an air corridor regularly used to reach Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost district, located on the Baltic Sea. Kaliningrad is home to the Chernyakhovsk, Donskoye and Chkalovsk airbases as well as the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet.” (You know, same as Gibraltar situation, though the Gibraltar’s is much worse..) Here is a comment on your alarm over alleged aggressiveness of Russian military planes in the international airspace: “NATO officials have seized upon these Russian flights to portray Russia as carrying out an aggressive military escalation threatening Europe.”
    The following long quote should be read with a map of the RF borders in mind: “As well as the four British Typhoons in Estonia, fighter jets from Norway, Italy and Belgium are currently patrolling the skies over the Baltic. Norway is leading the mission with four of its F-16s flying out of Šiauliai airbase in Lithuania complemented by four Italian Eurofighter jets. Four Belgian F-16s stationed at Malbork airbase in Poland are also participating in the mission. … The air intercepts over the Baltic are just one part of the escalating military buildup by US and NATO forces throughout Eastern Europe aimed against Russia. Since the US- and German-backed coup in Kiev last year, the US and NATO have been engaged in an unprecedented string of military exercises involving tens of thousands of troops, heavy equipment and aircraft across the European continent from the Arctic Circle to the Black Sea. Military exercises involving the US and other NATO allies took place this month in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.”

  66. annamaria says:

    “…both China and Russia have the potential and that should be taken seriously. ”
    It seems that you are suggesting some “small” preventive wars against both Russian Federation and China. Why? Has China also “endangered” international airspace over the Baltic or you are simply trying to rationalize your quite open hostility towards Russia?

  67. Ulenspiegel says:

    “And that’s if you don’t count the Vikings who plundered and enslaved their way down the river systems on the european east.”
    Sorry, that is nonsense. The Russians actually invited the Vikings to rule them.
    You know that Rus comes from rower. :-)))
    BTW: The Warager Guard of the Byzanthines were Vikings from the Kiev Rus.

  68. Chris Chuba says:

    “And popular opinion is moving towards ending 200 years of neutrality. [in Sweden]”
    Lars, at the end of the day perception is reality, so I can tell you that you (pl.) are wrong but it doesn’t matter. I’m curious if Sweden has independent news sources or gets a lot of it’s news from other countries like the U.K. which I’d describe as hyper-partisan based on the links that I’d see.
    russia-insider.com/en – this website is run by Russian ex-pats which not only gives their perspective but does some excellent quality work. For example, here is a story they did on NATO expansion that I considered well thought out … http://russia-insider.com/en/russia-would-have-be-stupid-ever-trust-nato/ri12507 this is longer than a typical post of theirs.

  69. Could be wrong as always but believe the designs of Putin on the Mediterranean Littoral not east of the Urals and the following might be helpful to my understanding! First, as the Western World closes on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is there a link or links or open source discussion of NATO’s military performance post 1989? Second, given his formative time spent in East Germany and St. Petersberg, is there available any discussion in open sources of how much does Putin know or understand about China? IMO Putin has a complete understanding of the EU and NATO and also is expert on Islam.
    And is it accurate that the Mongols ruled Russia and the Ukraine from about 1240-1440 and how is that period reflected in the Russian and Ukrainian history texts?

  70. cynic says:

    Didn’t the Tsar send, or threaten to send, his fleet to America to deter the British and French from intervening to support the Confederacy?

  71. Lars says:

    No, it is widely believed that Karl XII was killed by one of his own men.

  72. Will says:

    Was just giving a counter-narrative to the Battle of Polotova (sp?). Finland at one time was an integral part of Sweden. Mannerheim, the leader of Finland during WW2, is an interesting figure. Though he led Finland, he spoke Swedish instead of Finnish. He was a major officer in the Czar’s Army and even traveled to China for him.
    All these countries have had wars with each other. The modern Russian Federation is not a threat to Europe and in fact they have been maddeningly restrained in taking back NovoRossiya. Why they still allow Donetsk to be shelled by the Banderistas escapes me?
    The irony is that the U.S. respected and got along better with the Atheist Communist Russia than we do with a Christian Russia. Go Figure!

  73. SmoothieX12 says:

    Lars, the only thing I may ask you is to rationally ask yourself one question–who is more clear and present danger for Sweden: Mona Sahlin and her ilk with their ideology or desperate for more Ikea and dreaming of possessing ABBA museum russkies who are just “about” to “attack” Sweden. Last couple hundred of years or so. What could the military rationale behind such a move be? Don’t answer me, try to answer it to yourself. And yes, stories of hordes of evil Russian subs swarming Sweden’s territorial waters are so redundant by now that it is time to, maybe, take a look at competence, or, rather, lack there of, of Sweden’s ASW forces?

  74. cynic says:

    Of course the Muscovites wouldn’t have been able to build an empire straddling two continents if they had lacked a very Roman attitude to self-defence. Also, big powers take a cavalier view of the rights and sensitivities of weaker neighbours. No need for recent examples.
    However,at the moment the Russians don’t seem to be much of a threat to Sweden. Muslims are far more of a threat. it’s losing contact with their Inner Viking which has led to this sort of thing, which is just a harbinger of things to come.

  75. Matthew says:

    Fred: In Mexico, you never know if a businessman has “shadow” partners.

  76. Will says:

    Hmm. Sputnik-news leads with the story of imminent Turkish invasion of Syria. Says more details to follow. Mine clearing by the Turks is cited as evidence. Would the Russians bomb the Turk advance? Stratfor says Russia would stand down and deconfliction is already in place?
    We live in interesting times.

  77. LondonBob says:

    But it hasn’t gone to popular vote and all my Russian friends aren’t happy to see their public funds siphoned off, nor do they appreciate having to live in constant fear that their business or livelihood could be taken just because some green eyed bureaucrat takes a liking to it and they don’t have the right ‘Krysha’ to protect themselves. Good reason so many Russians own property in London. Lets see how the new anti corruption campaign goes anyway, I wish them every success.
    Of course it takes two to tango and the Russians should be more careful not to respond to provocations. They shouldn’t over react, as the author of the article says below, it does feed the spiral. If NATO positions forces forward, ignore it, it is just for show. It is the war party who are over extending and discrediting themselves, never interrupt your opponent when they are making a mistake. The Kremlin has shown a great deal of patience, they just need to continue doing so.

  78. LeaNder says:

    You should try to reflect if the real enemy did not come at an earlier time from the South.

  79. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, it always puzzled me, this venom against Russia West of the Diocletian Line.
    I mean, I could understand why people in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Sweden and Poland could entertain a certain animus towards Russia due to historical reasons but not the Western people.
    As you are aware, what is now called Azerbaijan Republic was lost to Russia during Perso-Russian Wars; yet the animus in Iran against Russia in not at the levels demonstrated by Westerners.
    I wonder, is it a manifestation of Catholic vs. the Orthodox?

  80. LondonBob says:

    That is because only Russia provides a credible military threat, except for Germany. My mother was told to never trust the Russians when she was growing up, bit like the French and their perfidious Albion obsession. Anyway my Swedish relatives primary and overwhelming concern is the current immigration crisis, I don’t think they give much thought to the ‘Russian belligerence’. Of course the pro NATO party took a hammering in the last Finnish elections too, because they were pro NATO.

  81. oofda says:

    No, it was a Norwegian skarpskytter- he stuck his head over a parapet and got dinged. The Swedes just don’t want to give the Norwegians credit- although a lot of his men would have liked to have killed him. He was ‘war-mad’.

  82. Valissa says:

    Ironic indeed! But the military-industrial-thinktank complex has grown mightily since then. As has the business of public relations (aka propaganda). Follow the money!
    Also Sweden could simply sign a peace treaty with Russia, as could any of the fearful eastern European countries. I’m sure Russia would be happy to be signing peace treaties. Of course that would displease NATO and Pax Americana.
    And Russia has benefited from this perceived fear in some ways as well. After all they have their own military-industrial complex to consider.
    Peace is boring and we can’t have arms manufacturers go out of business… think of the cost to the economy (/snark).

  83. LeaNder says:

    that’s what I found odd too, am.
    On the other hand there is a rich historical lore with lots of twists and turns, plus the occasional encounter of the threatening “bear” and the “yellow threat” from the East, in history, not only as phantom. Not only in Western Europe, the threatening hordes from the East may well have left traces on the collective subconscious. 😉
    I had long forgotten about the “yellow threat” of my childhood, when I encountered it in US conspiracy circles: The Chinese were down on the Mexican border, the story went. Interesting blend of old and new, I thought.

  84. Castellio says:

    Thanks for this Annamaria – to the point.

  85. siljan says:

    “There are no buildings along the southeast coast of Sweden that are older than 1721, when the Russians were stopped just outside Stockholm. In the prior 2 years, everything had been burned by them, except one major one, which was spared due to kinship.”
    Could you please provide any evidence for that statement? Links, books, verified history accounts?
    The idea that Russia is a threat to Sweden is so far fetched,it’s laughable.
    Have there been some more Russian submarines spotted around Gotland perhaps…lol

  86. Origin says:

    As always, politics is always “local”. Erdogan’s local politics seems to be putting me at great risk. It seems crazy that the major NATO countries have put themselves into an obligation to defend peripheral countries like Turkey who have such diverse interests from US. Thus, the feature in the US strategy of making the whole world dependent may kill us all.
    After watching Erdogan for the last few years, a Turkish invasion of Syria under the guise of creating a “Safe Zone” is well within the realm of probability, while a sharp defense of Syrian sovereignty by Russia would also be probable. If the invasion starts, my guess is that the US will be surprised by the crumbling of its assumption Russia will blink first.
    It is as if the neocons think this is just a video game you can reset after you die.

  87. burton50 says:

    I have to agree here, especially with the last three paragraphs. I have been struck by the rapidly increasing degree to which falsehoods, half-truths and glaring omissions have completely taken over all communications directed by representatives of the American government toward its own citizens, not only in the field of foreign policy, but with respect to the U.S. economy, unemployment, national medical insurance, immigration, climate change, income inequality, etc. This is what is called “strategic communication”, or, as PL correctly noted not long ago, a sort of incessant “information operation” directed at the U.S. public. All the screaming and shouting about “Russian aggression” is of a piece with the rest of the IO. It’s just that its more immediately dangerous.

  88. Matthew says:

    Will: For the Russians to stand down, doesn’t that imply that the Turks are preparing for an influx of their proxies, not an invasion?
    If Putin “stands down” to a Turkish invasion, he would look like the world’s biggest coward.

  89. Valissa says:

    “losing contact with their Inner Viking”… ROTFL… I had the same thought recently. I think it’s time for the Swedish government to mandate attendance at Norse Shamanism workshops for all citizens of military age in order to reconnect with the power of their Viking ancestry.
    What wusses the Scandinavians have become 😉
    {I cry for my people’s lost virility… /snark}

  90. Fred says:

    In less than two generations Sweden has transformed itself from almost 100% Catholic to a high percentage purely secular and about 1/3 Muslim. That is probably influencing the projection of their own civil strife onto the old external threat rather than dealing with internal matters that are being exacerbated by the refugee policies of the left.

  91. cynic says:

    Come back Odin and Thor! All is forgiven.

  92. Cortes says:

    In a system dependent on the rule of law evidence is required to convict. Evidence gas been adduced about Hellary’s unorthodox approach to the safeguarding of sensitive material. Just what evidence do you rely on, real evidence, not bald assertion, that President Putin is “likely the richest man in Russia “.
    Respect for the rule of law means respect for the requirements of law. The rest is propaganda.

  93. Fred says:

    Like the President of the Republic.

  94. Fred says:

    Have you forgotten the Polish uprising against Russia that threaten to bring about war with Britain and France at the time?

  95. LeaNder says:

    “academic performance is measured in terms of how well students can provide textbook answers …”
    kao, the second advice I gave my niece, concerning her studies beyond mathematics was: in every other field stay only within the limits of the reading list. Don’t get too interested in a topic. … some profs don’t like extra work.
    You may be interested in the passages concerning Harold D. Lasswell in Meyer’s biographical reminiscences.
    Concerning my own reading list, his suggestion fits well.

  96. cynic says:

    Try the You Know Whos. Whose bankers prevented Russia raising loans to fight Japan in 1905? Whose bankers financed the Bolsheviks? Whose friends of the oligarchs whose wings were clipped by Putin create so much hysteria against Russia? Who are the in the background of the Litvenenko matter? Who are also in the background of the Neo-cons and zio-cons who exert so much influence and who program the mind of the Borg?
    Otherwise there’s been no particular animus against Russia in Western Europe. Allies in 2 world wars.Part of the normal jostlings of the international system. Catholic vs. Orthodox seems relevant only in Eastern Europe and in inter-church relations.

  97. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Ha, that would explain why my students absolutely hated me. I almost always went out of way to do that extra work, to see if the students are thinking beyond the formulas, doing thinking outside the predefined box, etc. This stems from my own education: my profs, when I was a student, had habit of assigning unsolved problems of mathematics as take home tests to see how the students approached them and dealt with them, not with expectation that they would be solved (although I am told that some of them were in fact solved!).

  98. kao_hsien_chih says:

    You mean Lutheran, right? That is itself a reminder of a previous transformation: during the Reformation, many European countries did transform from 100% Catholic to mostly Protestant overnight, with the few dissenters being variously punished or expelled. This was largely due to the “civic duty” side of religiosity, though: most people in countries with established religions belonged to a church because that was what was expected of good “citizens” as matter of course, not necessarily because they subscribed to the religious doctrine or of deep religious conviction. Even when an established church was lacking, there were codes of behavior that “respectable” people were expected to abide by and going to the “proper” church weekly was one of them.
    In this sense, I don’t think Sweden was ever really 100% Catholic or 100% Lutheran, but simply full of people among whom religious observance was considered “proper,” and somehow, this went out of fashion in the last couple of generations. This does beg the question: what makes for a good Swede if not Lutheranism? Russophobia? Fear of Muslims?

  99. IMO the “world’s greatest military” according to the political class in the USA is about to receive A BLOODY NOSE AT THE LEAST!

  100. YT says:

    Teutons!, resurrect the old legends of opera Wagner!
    Cease being the naïve peaceniks that you are.
    People (i.e. cretins) are NOT “all the same everywhere.”

  101. In the Republican debate last night [2/6/2016] some were asked if they would deploy US armed forces in Mexico and they answered YES!

Comments are closed.