“Ukraine Crisis: Six Reasons Why U.S. Use Of Military Forces Is Unthinkable” Loren Thompson

"Russia has the ability to utterly destroy America. Local conflicts have a way of getting out of control when foreign powers intervene. In any military confrontation between U.S. and Russian forces, there is a danger of escalation not only to conventional combat, but beyond — in other words, to the use of nuclear weapons. That may sound like an improbable scenario, but it’s no more outlandish than an assassination attempt by Serbian nationalists leading to a World War, and yet that actually happened — in the same region. Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads, and the only defense America has against such weapons is retaliation in kind. Think of the possibilities."  Loren Thompson in Forbes


Let's keep all this in mind, folks.  Stay calm and don't listen to people like McCain.  pl  


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88 Responses to “Ukraine Crisis: Six Reasons Why U.S. Use Of Military Forces Is Unthinkable” Loren Thompson

  1. ALL: Just noting for the record the official US strategic doctrine is MAD [Mutual Assured Destruction]! If Putin were to announce a NO FIRST STRIKE doctrine IMO he would vault even higher in the world standing of current leaders.

  2. b says:

    Not that he is wrong, he isn’t, but …
    Loren Thompson is the chief public lobbyist for the F-35. The way he will have come to his conclusion here will likely have been something like this:
    – a new war would cost lots of money
    – when they spend a lot on a war with Russia they would likely buy more Boeing birds (F-18) and surely cancel the F-35 (as the faulty much too expensive plane that it is)
    – I need to argue against war to keep the loot coming to my door
    – what is the biggest threat I can rise to frighten the public and thereby lower the risk of war
    – let’s write that down

  3. Declassified a decade ago see official federal civil defense viewpoint of Soviet Strike on continental USA:
    •Nuclear Attack Planning Base – 1990, FEMA, April 1987
    Found at:

  4. Haralambos says:

    Here is a post from Germany pointing to some of the possible options for Russia.
    It includes this: ‘”The US is most exposed when it comes to what we call the NDN, which is the Northern distribution network,” Chivvis said. “This is the supply system that was set up to supply our forces in Afghanistan.”
    ‘All 38,000 US troops are scheduled to use the NDN, which runs from the Baltic States across Russia and central Asia to Afghanistan. During the war in Afghanistan, about 40 percent of all US military goods were transported via this route, and Washington paid Moscow about $1 billion (720 million euros) annually for use of its roads.’
    This brings to mind several posts by Col. Lang regarding the supply lines into Afghanistan early on in that campaign.

  5. charly says:

    Russia has a doctrine that they will use tactical nukes when they loose. IMHO a very sensible one if your enemy is so much stronger like what is the case with the USA and Russia

  6. shepherd says:

    Has anyone found a good explanation of what we could do to them economically? It would seem to me that that’s their vulnerability, not any military confrontation. Its economy is 1/8th the size of the US, only slightly larger than Italy’s and smaller than Brazil’s.

  7. nick b says:

    Interesting, especially in light of what was said by Italian Defense Minister Pinotti this week.

  8. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Reminds me of what platoon sergeant Rowan said during the CBN warfare unit in basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood in 1964 after we had covered the C and B stuff. “What you do when there’s a nuclear attack is bend over at the waist, put your head down between your legs and kiss your a** goodbye.”

  9. crf says:

    Russia is a threat to the US. So if most of the US public thinks this, it is good. Maybe the media is actually doing it’s job. That it is a threat is why the US should take keen notice of Russia’s interests, and not threaten them for no good reason whatsoever.
    The US public ought to begin to question why Obama thinks bringing the world to brink of a nuclear war is good. It is over Crimea. A place America has no strategic interest in. A place that is steeped in Russian blood and war-mythology, a fact which the US refuses to acknowledge. And it is over a referendum. And not just a referendum: but one that’s illegal according the Ukrainian constitution! (Or does that require double exclamation points? The stakes are so high!)
    I am not an American. I’m not “right wing”. Obama has my Prime Minister’s approval for his current stance. But I’m never going to forgive Obama or America for taking things even this far. He is certifiably insane. More insane than Khrushchev‎.
    What’s worse, that the Democrats lose the White House and the Senate because Obama was such a wimpy wimp and didn’t stand up to Putin? Or that Obama stands up for a few lines in the UN constitution already not horribly shredded by Clinton or Bush, and thereby still gives his party a 50-50 shot a retaining the White House?
    When you think about it that way, it’s absolutely no contest which way Obama will take. I suggest we prepare for the great nothingness that will arrive sooner than we think.

  10. FkDahl says:

    With ABM in Poland, and perhaps in Ukraine in the future – is DC thinking they can pull off a first strike against USSR sorry Russia?
    I don’t think that is achievable but if I was Russian I would think that is the plan!

  11. walrus says:

    The very title of the article sums up the error in strategic thinking that was responsible for Two world wars: :Six Reasons Why……unthinkable”.
    Folks, this is a “list” article written as a rational response to apeal to logical, numerate, thinkers. Similar magazine cover teasers: “Forty ways to lose weight fast”,”Twenty Seven things you didn’t know about Miley Cyrus” and the rest.
    Unfortunately this issue is not amenable to the point accumulation method of business decision making. Nor is it amenable to the false argument that “trade” considerations trump national sovereignty.
    What we are seeing is a naked grab for power as world hegemon by the Washington elite.
    To put that in popular terms; Obama = Gollum.
    The consequences for Russia if Putin backs down are obvious. Equally so China which has its own problems for example, Tibet. I do not foresee a Russian backdown.
    The consequences for the NeoCons are also stark. If this grab for world domination fails, as I hope it will, a prudent American President would be wise to emasculate the armed forces to ensure that such behaviour is in future not an option.
    It now appears obvious why so many defence projects have legs. The NSA global intelligence capture via the internet, drones and hypersonic aircraft programs – “find, fix and finish” any opponent to the will of Washington on the globe.
    And Washingtons answer to Dostoevskys question? “Liberty will crown the edefice”.

  12. Fred says:

    Russia is a threat? So’s China. So is Europe for that matter.
    The issue is not a referrendum on Crimea. Where have you been these past few months. The US spent $5 billion fostering this latest Ukrainian ‘revolution’; and did so less than 6 months after Russia called Obamas bluff over intervention in Syria.

  13. Fred says:

    Polish based ABMs will not shoot down submarine launched ICBMs nor cruise missles.

  14. different clue says:

    Are we sure it is the armed forces driving this? Isn’t JCS General Dempsey (and perhaps others) trying to slow it down and hold it back within the Constitutional limits of his authority?
    Perhaps a prudent American President should focus on emasculating the non-prudent Americans in or near any position of power and authority . . the NeoConservatives, the NeoWilsonians, the AreTooPee-ers, the NeoLiberals etc. ?

  15. Mark Logan says:

    Anybody else thinking how wonderful a re-ignition of Russo-phobia would be to the defense budget and how wonderful it would be for AIPAC if the US and Russia could no longer find any common interests?
    Check out Obama’s resume. I judge him, despite his status, as likely to be as utterly dependent on experts in the field of foreign policy as any of his generation. As easily manipulated as GW Bush was should not be a surprise. I am of that generation, and I can attest that in the US history and especially the rest of the worlds history was given extremely low priority. His Ivy league education was one-subject focused.

  16. VietnamVet says:

    Today’s problem is that Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is in play. Russia’s doctrine dictates use of tactical nuclear weapons if loosing. Russia policy is to have one SSBN at sea at all time. I expect that any Russian vessel that can submerge safely and fire missiles is at sea or is being prepared to sail.
    A nuclear first strike is a huge gamble that bets mankind’s survival on Russia not having survivable nuclear ballistic missiles. A conventional war always escalates and at some time in the carnage if available a tactical nuclear weapon will be ignited which will result in a strategic response.
    The problem is ideology. President Obama has stated that he wants to negotiate the destruction of all nuclear weapons; a position that clearly shows that he doesn’t know anything about what he is talking about. The Neo-cons believed that the USA could win a nuclear war with USSR outright. They believe this even more so today.
    Invading Ukraine is even more crazy than invading Iraq yet from the President on down, they are intent on baiting the Russian bear. It doesn’t matter to them that the destruction of mankind will be the consequence of their mad rush to war with Russia.

  17. Haralambos says:

    I saw this up today: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-intercepted-us-drone-over-crimea-2014-3
    I have no idea in regard to the accuracy of this claim.
    This is what I can find on Rostec: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rostec
    I was in 6th grade when the American U-2 piloted by Gary Powers was shot down. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Gary_Powers
    I found this bit interesting: ‘When the U.S. government learned of Powers’ disappearance over the Soviet Union, they issued a cover statement claiming a “weather plane” had strayed off course after its pilot had “difficulties with his oxygen equipment.” What CIA officials did not realize was that the plane crashed almost fully intact, and the Soviets recovered its equipment. Powers was interrogated extensively by the KGB for months before he made a confession and a public apology for his part in espionage.[5] The incident set back talks between Khrushchev and Eisenhower. On August 17, 1960, Powers was convicted of espionage against the Soviet Union and was sentenced to a total of ten years, three years in imprisonment followed by seven years of hard labor. He was held in Vladimir Central Prison, 100 miles east of Moscow. The prison contains a small museum with an exhibit on Powers, who allegedly developed a good rapport with Russian prisoners there. Some pieces of the plane and Gary Powers’ uniform are on display at the Monino Airbase museum near Moscow.[citation needed]
    ‘On February 10, 1962, Powers was exchanged, along with American student Frederic Pryor, in a well-publicized spy swap at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, Germany. The exchange was for Soviet KGB Colonel Vilyam Fisher, known as “Rudolf Abel”, who had been caught by the FBI and tried and jailed for espionage.[citation needed]
    ‘In 2010, CIA documents were released indicating that American officials did not believe Powers’ account of the incident at the time, because it was contradicted by a classified National Security Agency report. However, the newly-released declassified CIA documents confirm the accuracy of Powers’ report. The NSA report remains classified.'[6]
    I imagine there er more than several here who more than I do of these events, but I do recall it was frightening times for many of us young folks due to the air-raid drills in school, and the advice on building fallout shelters and having a store of food and water. I would appreciate any thoughts from those who lived through this period.

  18. Bandolero says:

    German state media ARD reports that forces in Crimea just downed a MQ-5B UAV belonging to US forces stationed in Germany, which invaded Crimean airspace.

  19. Ex-PFC Chuck! I was taught during basic in fall ’67 at Ft. Leonard Wood to dig a slit trench and use my poncho to cover me!
    A deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan Administration advised civilians to do the same if nuclear attack possible.

  20. Fred! Agree and US doctrine of launch on warning never contemplated close in shore enemy subs with launch warning 10 minutes or less. But not sure of Russian deployment currently!

  21. charly says:

    Retrofitting ABMs to carry nukes is “easy”. The fear is not ABMs that shoot down the retaliation but a first strike that is so quick that the enemy can’t order a first strike. Poland is so close to Moscow that the flight time is to quick to order a retaliation.

  22. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Sorry off topic:
    Russia reported on many sites that they have shot down an US drone over Crimea – similar fashion to the famous Iranian success via electronic control measures.

  23. different clue says:

    And purge out the “crackpot realists” as well, like Zbigniew Brzezhinski, the notorious Anti-Russianite, who wants to see Russia divided into several helpless easily-colonized “regions”. He is arguing for this war as hard as/ harder than anybody.

  24. crf says:

    Hmm … I didn’t know if I was being that sarcastically obtuse.

  25. William Herschel says:

    Check out John Kerry testifying in front of his former colleagues in the Senate.
    Here is a man who possesses no expertise in any field. I am tempted to say, in other words, he is a lawyer. He is.
    And he is accustomed to being treated with deference. He is “The Great John Kerry”.
    Unfortunately, the Russians have no respect for him whatsoever and are not deferring to him.
    Obama is in the same boat. And that is the problem. To what lengths will these men go to be treated with deference and respect? Because, make no mistake, that is what this is about. What it is not about is Ukraine. Yes, Nuland and her fellow world conquistadors have spent their 5 billion dollars, etc., and want a particular outcome. But Nuland doesn’t order troops into Ukraine.
    Sacrificing civilization so that a few horribly insecure narcissists can save face. That’s the problem.

  26. walrus says:

    To Different Clue:
    I agree with you. Gen.Dempsey is a national treasure.

  27. Jane says:

    If President Obama were as easily lead as G.W.Bush we would have been at war with Iran and Syria long ago.
    How long did it take President Obama to decide to send more troops to Afghanistan? Short of an attack on a NATO country, how long do you think it would take President Obama to decide to take military action in Europe?
    Obama will do what he has said he will do: exact an economic price from Russia for violating the territorial integrity of a neighbor in Europe without justification deemed adequate by our side. The effect will be like a slow leak from a balloon. Undramatic but ultimately devastating.
    The gap between the world views of the West and of Putin is interesting and concerning. Putin puts much more importance on order than we do. He looks at Egypt and sees us disrupting the established order and allowing dangerous elements linked to Sunni fundamentalists to assume power via elections. Putin has had it with Sunni fundamentalists… they are linked to the jihadis who have been attacking and causing chaos in Russia and environs. Then when Morsi oversteps and is rejected by about half of the Egyptian population we do not back Morsi. In Syria, we play footsie with rebel groups who are even worse in his view than Morsi but Putin stops us. So in the Ukraine, the established and elected government attempts to cooperate with Russia, and rebellion breaks out. Again with bad actors who have openly called for help from the jihadis. He’s not having any.
    He thinks we are complete hypocrites. But he misunderstand why we value democracy. We value democracy because it results in a government responsive to the will of the people and respects their rights. So an elected individual can lose legitimacy when his government does not respond to the will of the people, when such a government attacks its own people and/or when such a government deprives a portion of their population of basic rights. The response from the West to such lapses is erratic and may or may not be effective but such lapses do destroy our sense that a ruler is legitimate whether elected or not. Hence our complete lack of interest in re-installing the previously elected leader of Ukraine. And Putin’s utter determination that we are not going to install a nest of bad actors right on his border.

  28. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    The fundamental thought processes in this post seem to me to be pretty sound:
    President Putin is a hard ass, and he is taking no prisoners even in his own country, so it is hardly surprising that he is beginning to shut down websites run by political dissidents – usually West-leaning – in Russia.
    What I think our friends at the EFF don’t seem to understand is something about which President Putin and his inner circle of counselors seem to have no doubts: that NGOs and West-leaning dissenters are used as cat’s paws to stir up trouble in nations that are not compliant with the NeoCon/NeoLib establishment’s designs, and consequently these groups and individuals are perceived as daggers pointed at the heart of their national security. And are they incorrect? They have seen this danger starkly illustrated in the years-long, $5 billion destabilization effort run against the government of Ukraine about which Ms Nuland was recently publicly bragging.
    President Putin is ruggin’ up for heavy weather, and the last thing he wants is for there to be what he perceives as a fifth column freely operating in Russia at this time. To my mind, this action, undoubtedly to be seized upon for its propaganda value by the Western media, is an another indication of just how very serious Russian policy makers have become.

  29. skuppers says:

    Even assuming that the US could annihilate Russia in a first strike, and suffer “not-too-significant damage” in return, I’m convinced that the resulting nuclear winter would finish us off. I read recently of a study of what would happen if India and Pakistan had an exchange of only 50 warheads each. The result was that the northern hemisphere would not have a frost free day for years. I can’t remember where I read that and maybe my memory of it is a bit off, but I do remember Jonathan Schell’s chapter “A Republic of Insects and Grass;” Their is no winner in a nuclear war. Hoping Obama blinks.

  30. ALL: Apparently Russia pulled its holdings out of the US Bond Market the last ten days.
    I guess it is good an Israeli is the Federal Reserves Vice Chairman since criminal elements in Israel, Russia, and the US coordinate their money laundering and bond buying and selling to ensure the kleptocracy and IOC [International Organized Crime] continue to benefit from globalization of finance. The US Treasury continues to sleep except for training former and future financial titans.
    BTW did you know the Chinese are the biggest help to the USA on IOCs? Why? Most of the 1% in China want their children to grow up in Canada or the USA!

  31. Alba Etie says:

    Different clue
    I wonder if we are not giving the neocons et al too much credit in how they influence this administration. BHO did not bomb Syria – IMO President Obama got some bad advice about ousting Assad , and went to Congress for the AUMF knowing he would not get it passed. I also think for all the bluster regarding sanctions against Russia , revoking passport etc – this bluster is kabuki theater due to American local politics ; and Obama will also find away off this Crimea neocon ledge. Moreover as evidence for my opinion we have not sortied with the IDF against Natanz yet – two years ago many of us here at SST thought we would be at war with Iran by now – And , finally , we have to remember that the neocons et al had eight years under President Bush & “Prime Minister ” Cheney to worm their collective way into our federal foreign policy structure . Or before that in the Clinton Years – we went to Kosovo under the neocon et al banner.
    I am trying to evaluate the evidence of what the BHO administration has actually done , and so far its ended the Iraq occupation , is shutting down the Afghanistan war , – without any additional direct large scale military intervention besides Libya .
    We shall see..

  32. rkka says:

    Very little. We buy a little oil, aluminum, and a few other raw materials from Russia.
    Russia buys commercial aircraft, meat, and GM’s Russia division is the most profitable one they have. In the event of a US-Russia economic war, Russia would easily find eager alternative customers for the products the US would no longer buy.
    That is not true of the US products Russia would no longer buy.
    Since 1991, US Russophobes have succeeded in preventing a large-scale US-Russia economic relationship. Therefore, there are few economic hostages the US could take.

  33. nick b says:

    ‘Apparently Russia pulled its holdings out of the US Bond Market the last ten days.’
    That’s not exactly what it sounds like. Someone, probably Russia, withdrew $105b in treasury bonds away from the Federal Reserve. These bonds weren’t sold on the open market.
    Among other things, the Federal Reserve serves as a custodial bank. The owner of these bonds withdrew them from the Federal Reserve bank and likely deposited them in a different bank. Probably a bank where the risk of an asset seizure is not an issue. US treasury bonds rallied all week. A sale of that kind would have been noticeable. But to keep it in perspective in terms of scale, remember that during QE the Fed was buying $85b in bonds per week. $105b, while it sounds like a lot, would probably only cause a small and short lasting market disruption.

  34. nick b says:

    The markets are already at work doing the damage. The Ruble has fallen precipitously and the RCB has intervened to prop it up to the tune of $32b so far, not including the $3b they spent just yesterday. Russian foreign reserves are still high, but a long term run of billion dollar days is unsustainable. Net capital outflows from Russia by investors are estimated by some to be in the $55b range, just for the first quarter of this year. That’s 3% of GDP. There’s way more to this than just trade.

  35. Fred says:

    It was a nice rant.

  36. Jane,
    ‘Putin puts much more importance on order than we do.’
    Of course he does. He and his fellow-countrymen have bitter experience of anarchy. Very few contemporary Americans do, and among the vast majority who have never seen what anarchy looks like, not many are capable of making the effort of imagination required to grasp how terrible it almost invariably is.
    For some reflections by Putin which bear on these issues, see the pre-election article on ‘Democracy and the Quality of Government’ he published in February 2012, which is available at

  37. Fred says:

    “So in the Ukraine, the established and elected government attempts to cooperate with Russia, and rebellion breaks out.” Looks like we could have saved $5 billion and a few cookies if we would have just kept Victoria Nuland at home. Or did you forget the funding of said ‘rebellion breaks out’?
    “We value democracy because it results in a government responsive to the will of the people and respects their rights.”
    I agree we sure talk about democracy being responsive to the will of the people. Where have you seen the responsiveness out of this administration? Did you see any public debate in the House of Representatives about funding $5 billion for Ukrainian democracy or any other action of the National Endowment for Democracy? For that matter where can we get an audit of their spending?

  38. Bill H says:

    “We value democracy because it results in a government responsive to the will of the people and respects their rights”
    Nice thought. Hold on to it as long as you can.

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The disturbing fact is that so many in the United States are so eager to escalate so quickly against a country that could destroy US.

  40. kyooshtik says:

    Curtis LeMay is sporting wood and salivating like a rabid dog six feet under. He will have his day…even if it was a day or two late.
    Let’s speculate that this does escalate into the use of nuclear weapons. Who fires first? Can we set up an office pool and call it the REAL March Madness? Will there be anyone left to collect their winnings?

  41. William Herschel says:

    The testosterone pit link is must read. Absolute must read. Thanks.

  42. ISL says:

    All: If you want a flash point, here is one:
    I think the discussion is too much on Obama and what he in his narcissism or in his all powerful omniscience will do. WWI was not started by any of the prime ministers, it was an agent of a third party, and major powers who had postured themselves into corners they felt they could not back out of or lose face. So millions died in the mud (but they were little people to the aristocracy).
    Absent a clear we will leave Ukraine alone (ha ha), Ukraine, and Russians in Ukraine, and Tartars in Crimea all are potential players. Will Svoboda (aka, our friend the Nazis), not attempt to provoke a response? My history of WWII is not great, but I do know how the Nazis rose to power and Nuland and her ahistorical ilk exhibit a mindboggling ignorance.
    Clearly history is rhyming. I hate how Twain was so right Wish he lived today.

  43. FB Ali says:

    This is an excellent piece on the underlying problem between the US and Russia over Ukraine:
    Lord Salisbury’s Lessons for Great Powers

  44. John says:

    I heard an interesting way of slowing the Russians economically.
    Have a required shift of fuel for the US truck fleet to natural gas instead of building $$$facilities to export the stuff, this will depress the world price of oil thru demand reduction and slow the Russian and for a bonus the Saudi oil export economies.
    Of course this will never happen because our predatory capitalists make $$$ exporting the gas and importing the expensive oil. Plus they are looking for another hot $$$ war.

  45. Thomas says:

    “…when such a government attacks its own people and/or when such a government deprives a portion of their population of basic rights”
    What makes you believe Yanukovich, after signing a transitional plan, ordered those snipers to fire on the crowd? And why were the police targeted too?

  46. VietnamVet says:

    Are these strange coincidences?
    The satellite map of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight northern track starts on the Laos, Vietnam border and arcs across China towards the Central Asia stans and Ukraine though the 777 couldn’t quite fly that far.
    I can’t think of a reason the flight crew or hijackers would fly the plane to middle of nowhere in the South Indian Ocean. But, an undetected over flight of China with 153 kidnapped Chinese. This is kicking sand in the bully’s face.
    $5 billion spent in Ukraine to spark a revolt. Chinese government documented to be incompetent. It sure seems like someone wants to start a Eurasian War.

  47. Haralambos says:

    http://www.cast.ru/eng/comments/?id=508. This is a rather detailed analysis of the current state of relations between Russia, Europe, the US, and NATO. I have no real sense of the accuracy or reliability of the analysis, but I imagine many here can offer more information.
    Here is one of the several conclusions presented:
    The combination of these factors is compelling Russia to pursue a multipronged defence strategy. The country needs to be prepared for a broad range of threats, and for several possible types of conflicts, from counter-insurgency and interventions in the former Soviet republics to a large-scale conventional land war with NATO or China, and a global nuclear war with the US. Clearly, such multi-pronged approach creates a huge number of problems for the Russian armed forces and defence planning, especially if one takes into account Russia’s vast territory, the length of its borders, and the shortage of resources the country is still facing.
    “The key goals of Russian defence strategy can be outlined as follows:
    • Putting military-political pressure on the domestic and foreign policy of the former Soviet republics, and using military force against these republics, if such force is required to protect Russian national interests
    • Military deterrence of the US and the NATO countries, with the primary goal of preventing any Western meddling in conflicts in the former Soviet republics or Western attempts to forestall possible Russian actions with regard to these republics
    • Participation in countering internal threats such as separatism and terrorism.”

  48. nick b says:

    Dr. Makkinejad,
    If you believe polling, a large majority of people in the United States are not eager to escalate, or even be involved in Ukraine.
    From Pew Research:
    “By a roughly two-to-one margin (56% vs. 29%), the public says it is more important for the U.S. to not get involved in the situation with Russia and Ukraine than to take a firm stand against Russian actions.”
    This is a few weeks old from Rasmussen:
    “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 17% of Likely U.S. Voters think the United States should get more directly involved in Ukraine if the political violence continues. Two out of three (66%) want the United States to leave the situation alone, while 18% are undecided.”
    According to Gallup, the American public is also paying attention to this situation:
    “More than two-thirds of Americans, 68%, say they are paying “very” or “somewhat” close attention to Russia’s involvement in the situation in Ukraine.”

  49. nick b says:

    You wouldn’t have to force US truck fleets to change to LNG. It’s already starting to happen. Not because of Ukraine and/or Russia, but because it makes economic and environmental sense. http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/news/story/2013/11/first-ta-and-petro-lng-locations-announced.aspx
    If lowering the price of oil is what you want to do, the US has about 727mm barrels in its strategic petroleum reserve. The US govt could release 1mm or so barrels a day for a well over a year to drive down prices. The world uses approx. 89mm barrels a day (2011 figure). Interesting that the US just decided to test its distribution capabilities from the SPR by announcing it would sell 5mm barrels, but just “as a test”.

  50. Mac says:

    It seems that the Uighur angle needs to be fully explored. There’s been 2 bloody attacks in the last 30 days.
    With so large a Chinese passenger count and the intended destination of Beijing, I would think the possibility that Uighur terrorists commandeered the aircraft to use against Beijing is/has been considered? The timing, in the context of the recent attacks, is curious….

  51. kao_hsien_chih says:

    “…when such a government attacks its own people and/or when such a government deprives a portion of their population of basic rights”
    Which government of Ukraine are we talking about? The pro-Russian one or the pro-Western one? The old Ukrainian government, regardless of who ran it, was corrupt, incompetent, and often abusive, but there is no indication that Yanukovych’s government in particular was systematically depriving the Ukrainian people of their basic rights (unless you believe that being “associated with” EU is a basic right, and that was what sparked off this crisis.
    On the other hand, the new government has already signaled that it intends to deprive a significant portion of the Ukrainian population of what they consider a basic right: the law removing the official status of the Russian language was one of the first actions taken by the new government in Kiev. That they pulled back doesn’t really matter much: Russophone population of Ukraine have had a good reason to be suspicious and their suspicions have been confirmed. You can’t put this cat back in the bag now.
    So, yes, they value democracy to the degree that it results in a government that values the will of the people and respects their rights. We do not understand this and therefore we insist on using force to shove a “democracy” that claims legitimacy because its leaders say they do down their throats. Some democracy.

  52. F.B. Ali,
    Thanks for the link. The advice which Robert W. Merry takes from Lord Salisbury is of course pertinent. However, I cannot see a cat in hell’s chance of any contemporary U.S. government taking it.
    For good or for ill – perhaps, a mixture of both – Lord Salisbury was a particularly brilliant and somewhat extreme example of a kind of traditional British Tory.
    Much could be said against such people. But one virtue that they sometimes displayed was that their deep-rooted cynicism was, at least on occasion, applied not simply to others but to themselves.
    Figures like Obama and Kerry – and also David Cameron and William Hague – are quite different: however cynical their behaviour, they retain the assumption that their innocence and benevolence must be absolutely evident to their adversaries.

  53. nick b says:

    “Will there be anyone left to collect their winnings?”
    Please forgive my macabre sense of humor, but I’ve always been a fan of Tom Lehrer:

  54. North says:

    Great post indeed, FB Ali. But this is for adults, not for thirsty for power chimps..

  55. different clue says:

    A good and hopeful point. Several threads ago someone raised the question of how many different free-lancing power-groups might be in or around government pursuing their own separate agendas. Sometimes they co-operate and sometimes they try obstructing eachother in ever-shifting coalitions. If/when I feel I have enough discipline or energy to think and write about that thought, I may try doing so. Unless somebody better qualified comes along and does it better first.
    It certainly is interesting to think out the meaning of the trail of footprints leading to Bush Junior’s stable of neocons. They didn’t shoot or sneak their way into these positions, did they? Am I wrong to think they were installed by separately-agenda-ed people more powerful than themselves? Candidate Bush picked Cheney to lead his select-a-VP nominee task force. Did he make that pick all on his own or did some trusted someone(s) advise him to make that pick? Cheney took that chance to say he himSELF would make the best VP pick. When elected, he placed Rumsfeld at head of Defense. He had to know that Rumsfeld would bring his whole flock of neocons and vulcaneocons with him. Why did Cheney want those people in there, and on what agenda’s behalf? He knew they would take the power they were gifted and run mad with it.

  56. different clue says:

    If Putin consistently thinks and feels the way he wrote in that article, then he has been severely
    disunderstood and disinterprented by the mass molders of public opinion. If so, why and for whose ends? Or are the mind-molders themselves sincerely disinformed by themselves or by others?
    If America were to reach Yeltsin-era levels of disorder then many people here would value order
    very highly if it truly disappeared for a while. Could it be that powerful society/economy dismantlers are seeking to disorder America severely in order to “fascistify” America as we seek to repair our broken order?

  57. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Time for the Commons to meet and restore to the Crown the conduct of the Foreign Affairs.
    Consider: Iran, Syria, North Korea, and now Russia are all evidently enemies of the Crown without the Sovereign being able to utter any objections.
    And in case of Iran, North Korea, and Russia the sovereign as well as the subjects are only 2 or 4 steps away from annihilation – again without the Sovereign being able to make any amends to a clearly insensible policy.
    The old Persian dictum comes to mind: “Only the Sovereigns know the best interests of their Realms.”

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This statement: “Putting military-political pressure on the domestic and foreign policy of the former Soviet republics, and using military force against these republics, if such force is required to protect Russian national interests” is akin to the application of Monroe Doctrine by US, no?

  59. Ramojus says:

    With all due respect…
    Could someone please provide a reliable link(s) regarding the “…$5 billion destabilization effort run against the government of Ukraine about which Ms Nuland was recently publicly bragging”….
    I may have missed it in previous posts, but have not seen any hard evidence.

  60. DH says:

    I don’t think a one-term senator sees the whole picture or knows the location of the levers to pull anything close to this off. Even his own advisors, eg, Susan Rice are R2P-ers.

  61. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I have a hunch that Babak is asking about the near universal elite consensus in favor of escalation. The fact that further escalation is distinctly unpopular among the public makes the elite consensus even stranger…

  62. turcopolier says:

    WRC told us that the NED as a public institution publicly funded publishes its projects and expeditures. None of them will be labeled “destabilization effort.” pl

  63. DH says:

    Agreed, AE. All he has to do is let everyone bluster and suggest, and then have things calmed down and worked out when the diplomats sit down together.
    Putin may hold out for a summit with Obama.

  64. turcopolier says:

    Ah, but the elites are a closed shop determined in its membership by its group think and fancy diplomas. They know that if they do not fall in line they will be shunned. pl

  65. kyooshtik says:

    From FB Ali’s link, I’m trying to distinguish Lord Salisbury’s sentiment from that of Lord Halifax and Neville Chamberlain. Here’s Halifax in the House of Lords on June 8th, 1939. And yes, of course, I realize this isn’t 1939, but neither is it the time period that gave birth to Salisbury’s admonitions.
    In the House of Lords on June 8th Lord Halifax made a speech in which he affirmed our dual policy of resistance and conciliation. On the same day, in a written reply to a question by Lieutenant-Commander Fletcher, the Prime Minister recalled his own previous statements in which he had repudiated any desire on his part to impede “the natural and legitimate extension of German trade in Central and South-Eastern Europe” or to block any “reasonable aspirations.” These statements, accompanied as they were by secondary murmurs of appeasement, have been much criticised in certain quarters. Such critics divide themselves into three schools of thought. There are those who contend that any gestures of appeasement will in the present condition of Europe be regarded as signs of weakening ; there are those who argue that the statements of the Government were ill- timed, and that to make such pronouncements at the very moment when their Majesties were visiting the United States and at a crucial stage of the Russian negotiations proves that our Ministers are lacking in that essential diplomatic virtue, a sense of occasion; and in the third place there are those who believe that peace can only be preserved if the German public are definitely confronted by the nightmare of a war on two fronts, and that so far from explaining encirclement away we should affirm it and confirm it by every means within our power.
    There is a definitive momentum shift in the past five to eight years and Russia is emboldened. What they accomplished with Syria is impressive. Sure, it’s not over (with Syria), but for now Putin has shown his mettle; as if we were ever in doubt he had said mettle. Now, the ante is upped. If it’s poker, and I hope it’s not, is it a crying call or a hero call, and who’s doing the calling or who will call?

  66. Haralambos says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    Thank you, and yes it is, I believe. That is what I have thought from the get-go of the expansion of NATO over the past 20 years, and I think I might have noted it as such in an odd post. I have watched Europe as an American denizen in Portugal and Greece for the past 35+ years, but I will defer to others who are more knowledgeable here on matters military, diplomatic, and geopolitical.

  67. William Herschel says:

    “And Kiev is where Russia started a thousand years ago, the birthplace of the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church.
    It’s almost sacred. That’s why President Putin doesn’t want to let it go.
    And those deep seated emotions are what make this crisis so dangerous.”

  68. Fred says:

    Just what did Putin accomplish in Syria, besides keeping the US from creating yet another unstable country in the MIddle East which would become a have for many enemies of both the Russian Federation, the US and the EU?

  69. Bandolero says:

    As for the basis of that claim see this video here, if you don’t like the lengthy speech of Ms Nuland, start watching at 7:26:
    For all what Russia currently does in regard to Ukraine, keep in mind that Putin very much dislikes “color revolution” schemes engineered by the US, especially if they target countries with friendly ties to Russia, and when such “events” are accompanied by violence.
    Keep also in mind that Putin said last December that this US engineered unrest in Ukraine was originally planned for (the election in) 2015, but now the US made a mistake in having launched this operation prematurely.
    So expect that Putin is currently not improvosing but following a detailed plan prepared already a while ago.

  70. Yohan says:

    Col. Lang, are you going to make a post on DiFi vs. CIA?

  71. FB Ali says:

    I don’t think there’s much use in trying to decipher the effects of Chamberlain’s actions on the 1939 situation as applied to the present one. After all, the British and French guarantee to Poland didn’t stop Hitler either.
    The essential elements of the present crisis are:
    – When East and West Germany were being reunited, assurances were given to the Soviet Union that NATO wouldn’t move further eastward. In spite of that Poland and the Baltic states were later taken into its fold. That left only Ukraine as the buffer between NATO and Russia.
    – When the attempt to link Ukraine to the EU failed, anti-Russian extreme right groups, backed by US NED funding and support overthrew the elected Ukrainian President and his government.
    – Putin obviously sees this as an attempt to move NATO up to the Russian border. He is trying to counter this.
    The relevance of the Salisbury rules to this situation is that they have been violated by the US and the West, and have led directly to this crisis. Russia is reacting to these violations of the balance-of-interests and balance of power concepts caused by geopolitical over-extension and exacerbated by “promiscuous jingoism”.

  72. turcopolier says:

    “DiFi?” pl

  73. William Herschel says:

    “The pro-Russian government in Crimea issued a statement saying its “self-defense” forces had seized the gas terminal because Ukraine had turned off the supply of fuel, leaving homes, hospitals and schools without heat or electricity. The government also said that it found the terminal rigged with explosives “with the goal of totally destroying it,” which would cut off gas to eastern cities in Crimea.
    Those claims, carried by the Interfax news service, were impossible to verify independently. Power in some parts of Crimea appeared to be disrupted in recent days, although it was possible that was because of power lines downed by high winds.”
    First sentence of the article: “SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Tensions mounted on the eve of a secession referendum here in Crimea as helicopter-borne Russian forces made a provocative incursion just outside the peninsula’s regional border to seize a natural gas terminal…”
    The American press seems to have completely discredited itself. Judith Miller is in charge. The American people are being whipped into a war frenzy.
    Oh, and note: “Yet inside a Malaysian Air Force control room on the country’s west coast, where American-made F-18s and F-5 fighters stood at a high level of readiness for emergencies exactly like the one unfolding in the early morning of March 8, a four-person air defense radar crew did nothing about the unauthorized flight. “The watch team never noticed the blip,” said a person with detailed knowledge of the investigation into Flight 370. “It was as though the airspace was his.””
    Those F-18’s and F-5’s made a lot of money for some industrialists, but they’re never going to get used for the purpose they were designed for.

  74. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I must admit that I find no solace in the analogy between the situation surrounding Ukraine at the present time and what obtained in Central Europe in 1939.
    I mean, I thought Iran was the NAZI Germany, Ahmadinejad was Hitler, and Obama, Chamberlain.
    Now, on the other hand, I have to accept the fact that Iran is being pushed out of its rightful place by Russia and Putin is assuming the mantle of Hitler – Mr. Obama characteristically being the perennial Mr. Chamberlain.
    I suppose John McCain is the Valorous Winston S Churchill, bidding his time in political wilderness, until Fate and Country call him to Greatness.
    In this Passion Play, who is Hirohito, Assad?
    Or is that honor to be bestowed on Kim of North Korea?

  75. confusedponderer says:

    I have ‘With enough shovels’ on my shelf. That FEMA report probably doesn’t scare them.
    The title refers to this quote, made infamous by reporter Robert Sheer by T.K. Jones, Deputy Under Secretary of Defence for Strategic and Theater Nuclear Weapons:
    “Dig a hole, cover it with a couple doors and then throw three feet dirt on top … if there’s enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.”
    Walmarts all around the country are full of shovels, there are plenty of doors around and a lot of dirt also. In light of such a strong position, there is no reason to not contemplate a nuclear first strike against Russia!
    Actually, with the recent modernisations and improvements in the US arsenal, not to mention missile defence, and first strike platforms like the B2, there are probably Loons in DC who think they could catch the Russians with their pants down.
    As I read it, the US, during the last decade and a half, has spent a lot of money and effort on modernisation efforts in order to create for the US first strike decapitation capability directed at Russia and China.
    That’s what the combination of (a) adding very accurate delivery systems to nuclear weapons does, especially when combined with (b) new reconnaissance and (c) communication technologies (sensor networking), (d) the downsizing of arsenals while (e) introducing missile defence (that radar in Poland, especially US Navy missiles).
    After all, a hegemon is not really a hegemon as long as MAD works.

  76. different clue,
    The question you raise about why Putin is misunderstood is an interesting one with very widespread ramifications.
    Part of the explanation is that people in the U.S., and also the U.K., are either totally uninterested in looking at the intellectual sources to which he points – or look at them through the spectacles of refugees from the former Soviet space who read these tendentiously.
    An example of the latter problem comes in a recent article in the ‘Washington Post’ by one Maria Snegovaya. An extract:
    ‘Putin’s favorites include a bunch of Russian nationalist philosophers of early 20th century – Berdyaev, Solovyev, Ilyin – whom he often quotes in his public speeches. Moreover, recently the Kremlin has specifically assigned Russia’s regional governors to read the works by these philosophers during 2014 winter holidays. The main message of these authors is Russia’s messianic role in world history, preservation and restoration of Russia’s historical borders and Orthodoxy. A quote from Ilyin will help:
    ‘Lets immediately accept that Russia’s partitioning prepared by the international backstage has absolutely no reason behind, or real spiritual or political considerations besides revolutionary demagogy, absurd fear of a unified Russia and inveterate enmity towards the Russian monarchy and the Eastern Orthodoxy. We know that Western nations don’t understand and don’t tolerate Russian identity… They are going to divide the united Russian ‘broom’ into twigs to break these twigs one by one and rekindle with them the fading light of their civilization. They need to partition Russia to equate it with the West, and thus destroy it: a plan of hatred and lust for power … (from Ivan Ilyin’s 1950 piece ‘What Does Russia’s Partitioning Mean to the World?’, taken from his collection “Our Tasks” that contains his articles published in 1948-1954.)
    (See http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/03/02/how-putins-worldview-may-be-shaping-his-response-in-crimea/ )
    Back in the Eighties, when Stephen F. Cohen was trying to explain to Western audiences what was happening in the then Soviet Union, he recommended Berdyaev’s 1937 study ‘The Origin of Russian Communism’ to his readers. Having taken his advice, I can tell you that anyone who calls Berdyaev a ‘Russian nationalist philosopher’ does not know what he or she is talking about.
    As to Il’yin, he was quoted by Putin in another of his pre-election speeches, in the context of a polemic against Russian ethnic nationalism, and indeed Orthodox chauvinism. The relationship to his argument against American exception in his NYT op-ed may be apparent:
    ‘In one of the earliest Russian philosophical and religious works, Sermon on Law and Grace, the very theory of a “chosen people” is rejected and the idea of equality before God is preached. And in the Tale of Bygone Years (The Primary Chronicle), this is how the multinational character of the ancient Russian state is described: “Here are just those who speak Slavic in Rus (ancient Russia): Polans, Drevlians, Novgorod Slavs, Polochans, Dregoviches, Severians, Buzhans… And here are other peoples – Chud, Merya, Ves, Muroma, Cheremis, Mordva, Perm, Pechera, Yam, Litva, Korsh, Neroma, and Liv – these speak their own languages…”
    ‘It was specifically about this special character of the Russian state system that Ivan Ilyin wrote: “Do not eradicate, do not pressure, and do not enslave foreign blood and do not strangle the life of a different tribe and a different Slav, but allow everyone to breathe and give them the great Motherland… watch over everyone, reconcile everyone, allow everyone to pray in his own way and work in his own way, and recruit the best from everywhere for state and cultural construction.”
    (See http://www.russkiymir.ru/russkiymir/en/publications/articles/article0235.html )
    Of course, it would be naïve to take what Putin says as a reliable guide to what he does. Equally, however, if one is to make any sense of him, it is necessary to attempt to take seriously the dilemmas for Russian political and intellectual figures who attempted to avert the revolution before it happened, and to subsequently reflected on how their country might escape from the dead end into which it led.

  77. Yohan says:

    Sorry, Dianne Feinstein

  78. Thomas says:

    Rumsfeld hired Cheney to work with him in the Nixon Administration, they have been best friends since.
    Their goal has always been to establish an American Imperialism and the Neocons are useful helpers in the task. And, as we see now, it doesn’t even matter who serves as President, the project moves forward.

  79. Charles I says:

    Our Mr Vapidly valorous PM Harper is going to Kiev next week to affirm his political mettle by seizing every available photo op for the adoring diaspora back home, critical to the wounded warrior’s upcoming try for a second majority, via every sly dirty or obsequious means possible. He’s a confident clever dangerous little man of the most committed ilk.

  80. Charles I says:

    Um, they were designed to make money. If they were for the defense of the land, surely they’ be the best jests possible by several generations, and not for sale to foreigners.
    Unless every one has a back door TAO.

  81. crf says:

    Harper should get Yatsenyuk to give him a tour of the whole country. I’m sure the east and south are wonderfully scenic in springtime. If Yats is really PM, rather than just an Aguirre-type princeling on a Kiev raft that should be easy to manage.

  82. confusedponderer says:

    interesting subject re what’s a threat and what isn’t.
    I recall that some years back I was surfing the web for this and that and eventually ended up at some website, unofficial, of some US Marine air unit. What struck me, while I was browsing that site, was that they had a nice compilation of various air and land vehicles, divided neatly into US hardware and ‘threat systems’. The latter section contained among other things, Germany’s Leopard 2 tank, at that time a vehicle in use exclusively in NATO countries. Having done my military service in the Bundeswehr not that long ago, and having considered myself allied with the US, I took offence, asked that guy what the hell he was thinking and never got a response.
    What I take away from that peculiar and largely trivial episode is that whoever made that site, didn’t bother to differentiate and perhaps didn’t understand that someone who also has a good, if not better, tank is not a threat just because of that.
    US policy nowadays shows the same defective thinking.
    What makes a threat is hostile intent. Intent one can influence – not just with coercion but through persuasion, confidence building and eventually being reliable oneself. Regarding and approaching everybody, even allies, as threats, and with threats, is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. QED in the case of Russia.
    Emphasis on technical capability completely ignores that beyond the means the intent is what really counts.
    Just like the policy of democracy promotion, ending analysis at capabilities is being content with having done just half the job.
    Determining capabilities is a technical thing – counting tanks, in the simplest of cases. Getting the info about ability or intent to use them is the difficult and really interesting part.
    Just pointing at capability is giving information without context. Saying a country has a capability to do X, or has the system Y is simply pointing out a fact (assuming that it is correct). It isn’t an argument. Without intent to use a weapon, it will just sit there and gather rust. Intent is finally what matters.
    Arguably, the French and the Brits have the capability to kill Americans by the millions if they ever decided to point their nukes at the continental US. Fortunately, they don’t. How come they are not a threat? They sure could do it, technically. Point is, they wouldn’t. They are not a threat despite their obvious and undisputed capability to do so because they are friendly nations.
    That is the salient point with US relations to Russia.
    Russia is not a threat because it has the means to destroy the US.
    Russia’s ability to annihilate the US is a threat only to the extent that Russia is hostile. A friendly Russia is not a threat.
    The current so-perceived ‘problem’ of Russian assertiveness comes from the Russian experience with US duplicity and US hostility. What they do is to look after themselves and their interests.
    The often heard Sudetenland analogy falls short IMO.
    Russia’s predicament is IMO more akin to the situation of Germany found itself in after Versailles, when German Freikorps fought in teritories like Silesia that were lost to Poland, but where sizeable German populations wanted to remain with Germany.
    The US should have known and predicted the Russian response.
    This also means that the Russian attitude it is a thing the US can influence – and I don’t mean by threats and coercion but by the US changing their behaviour and policy.
    I thionk that the US will have a very hard time to do that. There is so much national vanity involved. Horrors! Changing course will involve the acceptance of the fact that US reach is limited and the insight that the US ought not meddle on Russia’s porch and in Russia’s backyard!
    And then there are predictable domestic consequences of shifting US policy towards a rational approach to Russia: It will inevitably lead to the ‘Russia must be smashed’ agitating along well trodden lines: ‘Who lost Ukraine?’ … ‘D’s are weak on defence – AGAIN!’ …and so forth.
    Changing course??! Never!

  83. Anonymous says:

    “Here is a man [John Kerry] who possesses no expertise in any field.”
    Kerry was an expert silver miner while in Vietnam. Also, according to the testimony of one Richard Blumenthal, Kerry fough bravely alongside him against the commie enemy down there.

  84. Poul says:

    Interesting to read Putin’s speech at NATO’s summit (Bucharest, April 2, 2008)a few months before Georgia attacked South Ossetia. He clearly warned NATO about Ukraine and what could happen (his reference to Kosovo). Not just with Crimea but also the south-eastern part of Ukraine with large numbers of Russians.
    ” But in Ukraine, one third are ethnic Russians. Out of forty five million people, in line with the official census, seventeen millions are Russians. There are regions, where only the Russian population lives, for instance, in the Crimea. 90% are Russians. Generally speaking, Ukraine is a very complicated state. Ukraine, in the form it currently exists, was created in the Soviet times, it received its territories from Poland – after the Second World war, from Czechoslovakia, from Romania – and at present not all the problems have been solved as yet in the border region with Romania in the Black Sea. Then, it received huge territories from Russia in the east and south of the country. It is a complicated state formation. If we introduce into it NATO problems, other problems, it may put the state on the verge of its existence. Complicated internal political problems are taking place there. We should act also very-very carefully. We do not have any right to veto, and, probably, we do not pretend to have. But I want that all of us, when deciding such issues, realize that we have there our interests as well. Well, seventeen million Russians currently live in Ukraine. Who may state that we do not have any interests there? South, the south of Ukraine, completely, there are only Russians.
    The Crimea was merely received by Ukraine with the decision of the KPSS Political Bureau. There were not even any state procedures on transferring this territory. We have been calm and responsible about these problems. We are not trying to provoke anything, we have been acting very carefully, but we ask our partners to act reasonably as well.”

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