Our Grand American Delusion by Publius Tacitus


City on a Hill? Leader of the Free World? Defender of Freedom? How about a mass of delusional crazies? I have come to the sad conclusion that we are the latter. We have forfeited our moral standing in the world. If you believe in God and the concept of karma, then you should be praying the God forgives us for our greed, our blood thirsty policies and our eagerness to accept lies rather than confront uncomfortable, hard truths. We have racked up one hell of a karma bill and there will be hell to pay.

At the core of our mass national delusion is the anti-Russian meme that is being enthusiastically and frequently repeated. Here's a passage from a article in the National Review last year that is, from what I have gleaned scanning the internet and the media, a representative view:

Russia’s false narrative of the history and destiny of the eastern Slavs as one in which all others must resign themselves to living under Muscovite hegemony must be constantly challenged and rebutted, especially in the West. It would be a great help in that task of public mental health if Western political leaders, or wannabe political leaders, would cease and desist from describing Vladimir Putin as a strong leader who gets things done. What Putin has gotten done is to build a kleptocratic Mafia state on top of a crumbling civil society while murdering his opponents with impunity and using an acquiescent Russian Orthodox Church leadership to provide ideological cover for the entire enterprise. This is shameful in itself; it is even more shameful when it is left unanswered and unchallenged by Western political and religious leaders.


Let me give you some basic facts about Russia and the United States in terms of defense spending and then you will begin to appreciate my glum, angry outlook.

Russia has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1.326 Trillion dollars. Their Per Capita GDP is roughly $9,200.00. Russia, who is supposedly keen on conquering the world, only spends $60 Billion dollars on Defense. That works out to $417 per person in Russia to buy tanks, planes and air craft carriers.

The United States, with a GDP of almost $18 Trillion dollars is spending over $600 Billion dollars on Defense. Every man, woman and child in America is contributing $1,884 for U.S. defense. On a per capita basis the United States is spending four times what Russia does.

It also is laughable to portray Russia as "a crumbling civil society." Look at the fundamental economic facts. Although the United States enjoys a higher per capita GDP than Russia (almost six times more than Russia) the United States has a massive imbalance between its income and its expenses. The United States, with a GDP of $18 Trillion dollars, has a debt that is approaching $21 Trillion dollars. Put simply, we are spending more than we are bringing in. As long as the rest of the world lets us run up our credit card then we can continue to live the lives of kings. Russia, with a GDP of $1.3 Trillion dollars, only has a national debt of $157 billion dollars.

What saves the United States from total economic humiliation is the fact that our currency remains the international vehicle for doing business. Countries around the world are still willing to accept U.S. dollars for payment and to buy U.S. Treasury bonds. We are living in the type of Ponzi scheme that sent Bernie Madoff to jail. The only difference is that Madoff stole around $50 billion dollars from his investors. Washington? We're talking trillions of dollars.

Go check out Moscow's international airport and then compare it to New York's LaGuardia, JFK or  Washington Reagan. You can also compare Moscow's subway system with the New York or Washington versions. If the term "crumbling" is going to be applied to a country based on its transportation infrastructure the United States, not Russia, deserves that label.

To reiterate a point I raised in a previous post–since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian military operations have been confined to its immediate borders–i.e., the Crimea, the Ukraine and George. Those military operations killed less than 5,000 people. The United States, by contrast, has sent troops and planes to Somalia (1991), Iraq (1991), Iraq (2003) Afghanistan (2001), Pakistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen. We are carrying out ground assaults and drone strikes. Total dead? Between 500,000 and a million. 

Beyond the cost of human life, the United States has spent close to $2 trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's money we have borrowed from other countries or our future. And what do we have to show for our lethal profligacy? Has terrorism diminished? Is the world safer? Are countries, especially in the Middle East, enjoying more peace and prosperity. I think an honest, object observer would admit that things have gotten worse over the last 16 years, not better.

But honest objectivity is a rare bird in the United States. An op-ed this past week in the Wall Street Journal by former V.P Dick Cheney and his daughter, who insisted that we need to spend more on defense, typifies the dishonest shilling that infects Washington. They paint a dire picture of a military in decline. According to them, we are on the verge of being overrun because we are so weak:

. . . the situation President Trump inherited is dire. America today faces an array of threats more serious and complex than at any time in the past 75 years.

President Obama and his policies are largely to blame. The 2011 Budget Control Act, which mandated across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, at a time when threats were growing, has also done serious damage. “No enemy in the field,” Mr. Mattis told lawmakers, “has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than sequestration.”

What have eight years of Mr. Obama’s policies, and six years of the Budget Control Act, wrought? The military superiority America relied on after the end of the Cold War has been seriously eroded, our capabilities diminished.

This is the American delusion. We insist that Russia is a beast of enormous appetite and intent on world conquest while happily ignoring the hard truth that the United States is invading more countries than any other nation state. We continue to spend more money on defense than China and Russia combined while our infrastructure becomes more frail, middle class jobs disappear overseas and our national debt exceeds our domestic product. We are like a drunk asleep on the sidewalk. In our previous life we were a banker of great repute. Now we lie soiled and asleep. Content to keep drinking the lethal mixture of war and debt. This much I know–this does not end well for us.

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59 Responses to Our Grand American Delusion by Publius Tacitus

  1. Lemur says:

    Spengler predicted the destiny of the West was technocratic global imperium – man enslaved to the machine, and Western man in particular become ‘machine’.
    For Spengler there was no way out; all that could be done was to ‘hold the lost positions’, because nothing is more important than doing one’s duty in life.
    The painful truth is our civilization is corrupted from the inside out. It’s not just a question of ‘those bad elites doing their thing over there’. They’re a symptom. The fact they’re in power is a testament to systematic malfunction.
    But we can search for a new beginning. Amidst the ruins of our decaying cultural and political order, we must find a new numen, a new point of genesis for another civilization. Whatever form it takes (one cannot rationally parse the numinous in a positive sense), it certainly won’t adopt the false gods of this current epoch – humanism, materialism, oligarchy, irony, the destruction of nature, the desacralization of the world, and the primacy of desire over honour.

  2. aleksandar says:

    ” Quos vult perdere, Jupiter dementat”
    Rien de nouveau.

  3. aleksandar says:

    I apologize for this french sentence, forgot to translate.

  4. OIFVet says:

    I have said it for a while, that Slavophobia reigns supreme amongst the Anglo-Saxon elites. It has since it first reared its ugly head in the 19th century British Empire, and while the US resisted going down that path at first, it has now embraced it with gusto. The National Review excerpt does nothing to disabuse me of my belief.

  5. Yellow Dog says:

    Holy shit! Dick Cheney?
    I was right there with you, Publius, right up to the point where you rolled out Dick Cheney as an exemplar of “honest objectivity”. I recognize that I’m right on the limit of civility here, but did you just wake up in 2008?
    I’ve got to say that this makes me reconsider your previous posts bewailing the maltreatment of poor, sweet Donald Trump.

  6. A. Pols says:

    I see this essential reality as the primary driver underlying the smokescreen of self righteous rhetoric surrounding the centuries of western nipping at Russia’s heels during the interludes between wars of attempted conquest. They do sort of sit on some prime real estate after all and much salivating has been going on about what “we” could do with it if only we possessed it.
    Of course it would be impolite to express this openly, though Hitler got close, but even he had to resort to veiling it with talk of preserving western civilization. I’m only talking about history here. Please don’t infer that I’m playing the Nazi card. That is not my intent.

  7. Sylvia 1 says:

    I write to say how much I appreciate this blog. There are so few sites on the web where you can read articles by highly qualified people who are honest enough to say what needs to be said. Yes, I agree, it’s likely that we are in a heap of trouble as we alienate much of the world with our actions and policies, meanwhile, our “economy” here at home seems less than optimal.
    Here are a few additional thoughts; can the word of the USA be trusted? Can we adopt a policy and stick with it? One President enters into an agreement, the next President refuses to abide by it. Maybe the problem is that we have allowed money and undue influence to guide many of our actions and the national security interests of the USA often seems to be a secondary consideration?
    We also seem to spend too much and get too little for it. The cost of the national security state goes far beyond the current military budget. If you sit down and include all the elements, including the contribution to the national debt and it’s ongoing interest expense–you can come up with a figure well north of $1 trillion a year. Many of the elements of this structure appear to be bloated, unaccountable, inefficient, and, frankly, out of control. Attempts to audit the DOD have failed and maybe as much as $6 trillion in spending can’t be accounted for.
    But it’s not just the National Security State–large sections of the rest of the US “economy” seem to rest on fragile foundations. Take health care–the USA spends at least 50% more that the rest of the developed world on health care, doesn’t cover everyone, and achieves worst results. Again, here’s a huge infrastructure that is boated, unaccountable, inefficient, and out of control. Then you have the prison industrial complex, much of it private, where the USA incarcerates a larger % of our population than even countries like North Korea, usually for non-violent crimes.
    Don’t even get me started on the financial system where “rent seeking” is rampant, or the tech companies gobbling violating our privacy.
    It’s a disturbing picture all around.

  8. What are you reading? Who offered up Cheney as an exemplar? You’re being obtuse. Please re-read the piece. I simply quoted a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Cheney wrote with his daughter.

  9. Bill H says:

    Just yesterday the San Diego Union-Tribune had an article about how the Navy “struggles with a shortage of aircraft carriers.”
    You can read it here for yourself, but put down your coffee cup first.

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Do you understand why Americans like China?

  11. Old Microbiologist says:

    Kudos to you for writing this. I am married to a Russian who left the Soviet Union to come to the US only to find it was worse. She bought into all that propaganda during the cold war and regrets believing any of it. However, I have learned a great deal about Russian history and their viewpoints and it has been very eye opening. You have more or less summarized it but it goes far beyond what you mentioned. For example, Russia hasn’t invaded any country (except in retaliation) since Sweden in 1708. World War II was virtually entirely won by the Soviet Union at great cost. The numbers of Nazi dead and wounded are a log difference between what the US and it’s allies achieved. Of course we worked in partnership and the Soviet Union badly needed US assistance so it is not a straightforward win but in terms of effort the lion’s share was done by the Soviets. The US hasn’t been invaded by anyone since 1812 and we haven’t fought a war to defend the homeland since. Russia has centuries of attacks and invasions all of which they have won, sometimes at great cost. There is an old joke in the military about stupidity. There is stupid and really stupid then invading Russia. We could go on and discuss the role the US had to play in the horrible years after perestroika and the subsequent raping of the country. It goes on and on and the propaganda still goes on perhaps even worse today. The nutcases in Washington seem to believe that Russia will back down in the face of aggression by the US. I guess they don’t understand history at all. They also seem to believe their own BS that our weapons systems are so superior we could win a first strike nuclear confrontation against Russia. Their madness is frightening. I had hoped Trump would normalize things but it is business as usual and maybe worse. However, I firmly believe we all would already be dead if Hillary was President. Trump may be a bumbling idiot but she is a monster.

  12. BraveNewWorld says:

    You could have added in that article the fact that despite the level of spending on the US military the % of all that equipment that is combat ready is very low. Maintenance isn’t being performed on every thing from aircraft to ships to tanks. The front line stuff of course gets maintenance, but when an organization with the resources of the US military is cancelling training for lack of equipment some thing is very wrong.
    One of the twitter feeds I follow posted a comment a couple of days ago. “The US had $500M to train and arm a handful of terrorists in Syria but no money for water treatment in Flint.” That is the most stark analysis I have heard so far.

  13. Bill H says:

    Economists are obsessed with relating everything to GDP; a practice I decry, since the spending is made from federal revenue, not from the national cash flow. What are the amounts of revenue involved? The US spends something like 17% of federal revenue on defense.
    I don’t think that the following refutes anything that you say at all, but the numbers work out that Russia spends 4.5% of GDP on defense, while the US spends a lesser 3.3% of GDP. The actual amounts spent are so wildly at variance that the percentage of GDP seems meaningless, no matter how much the economists tout it. It seems to me that the percent of GDP is actually misleading; as, in fact, I suspect it is intended to be.

  14. SmoothieX12 says:

    Russia, with a GDP of $1.3 Trillion dollars, only has a national debt of $157 billion dollars.
    This is a grave misrepresentation of the actual size of economy of Russia. The only (still inaccurate but still better)official index which could be used here is a PPP (Purchase Power Parity). Just to illustrate how it works, here is the quote from one of my articles:
    The future replacement of venerable Ohio-class SSBNs, a Columbia-class is slated to go into production in 2021 that is if the R&D will go smoothly. But one has to consider a feature which became defining of US R&D and weapons procurement practices—delays and astronomical costs of US weapons, which, despite constantly being declared “superior”, “unrivaled” and “best in the world” are not such at all, especially for the prices they are offered both domestically and abroad. As in the case with above mentioned Columbia-class SSBN, the GAO expects the cost of the whole program to be slightly above 97 billion dollars and that means that the average cost for each sub of this class will be around 8.1 billion dollars. That is much more than the cost of the whole—8 advanced submarines—program of Russia’s naval nuclear deterrent.
    Actual size of Russian economy is that of Germany and with industries which Germany (as an example) simply doesn’t have. It is also a very complex and advanced economy which contains a huge number of enclosed technological cycles from extraction of raw materials to R&D to procurement of very advanced finished products. As an example, Germany may be producing expensive (and over-engineered cars, but Russia, while still producing own, not as fancy, cars produces the whole spectrum of aerospace products ranging from state of the art combat aircraft, to advanced civilian commercial aircraft, to space navigation and surveillance systems–all from scratch. For Germany’s economy to be able to do so–well, the bottom will fall off if it tries. It is my academic contention for years now, that most of the data which has circulation in the West, especially military one, on Russia is mostly unusable and dangerous, since creates false or grossly distorted assumptions. Empirical evidence to support such claim is overwhelming.

  15. fanto says:

    thanks for the link to Pivot of History. There I found a Mackinder statement about the control of the world; his statement about who rules the world is similar to what is attributed to Lenin (sorry, I have no link) who allegedly said: “who rules Berlin controls Germany, who rules Germany – controls Europe, who rules Europe -controls the whole world”. So, either Lenin took a cue from Mackinder or vice versa.

  16. aleksandar says:

    maybe this also
    Montgomery’s rules of war
    1. Don’t march on Moscow.
    2. Don’t go fighting with your land army on the mainland of Asia.

  17. AK says:

    He was using Cheney’s op-ed as an example of how we still cling to fallacious and ultimately detrimental modes of thinking vis a vis our standing in the world, and how we continue to give credence to people whose opinions should long ago have been swept away with the sewage that is their legacy. You completely missed the point on that one.

  18. VietnamVet says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. This is simply crazy. The Cold War with Russia has restarted for no good reason with all the risks of destroying the world that were present during the first go around. NATO is about to get into a shooting war with Shiite militias supported by Iran over a patch of desert in Eastern Syria in order to prevent Iran from having a landline to Lebanon. This could easily escalate into a shooting war with Iran and then Russia. The President has delegated civilian command and control to the Pentagon. Meanwhile, infrastructure is falling apart. Americans are dying at an earlier age and piling up personal debt that they can never pay off.

  19. Yellow Dog says:

    My apologies for my poor reading comprehension. I will endeavor to read more carefully in the future before I hit “Post”.

  20. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Russia invaded Iran – a declared neutral country – in 1914 and 1941.

  21. Sylvia 1 says:

    Please correct me if I am wrong–but I also understand that Russia manufactures all of the component parts of it’s weapons systems including computer chips and other electronic parts. The US does not do this and, paradoxically, depends on chips made in China. In the book–Ghost Wars–China had programed the chips to stop working if bathed with a certain frequency. fact, the US no longer manufactures much of In anything we would need should a major war break out.
    We may be more weaker and more vulnerable than we think we are.

  22. mauisurfer says:

    exactly right
    Juan Cole is among the lost experts suffering this delusion
    furthermore, the true cost of USA military is actually $1.1 Trillion/year (not just $600B) if you include the nukes in budget of Energy Dept, and the secret costs of CIA, etc
    also, the true costs of USA warmongering is far more if you include the lifetime disabilities of the wounded and the lost earnings of the dead, some economists say over $6 Trillion on Afghanistan/Iraq, Watson Institute estimates $4.79 Trillion and counting
    and none of these costs will put Humpty Dumpty back together again, they are merely the costs of plaster and paint over the immeasurable extent of the true damage

  23. J says:

    Speak of hubris, from 2016 Hillary Emails pointed to NATO’s reason for eliminating Libya’s Qaddafi planned to create a gold backed African currency to compete with the U.S. Dollar and the Euro.
    Now we have a quagmire in Libya because of it.
    What will be the ulterior motive behind U.S. intervention in Syria besides the Natural Gas pipeline imbroglio?

  24. SmoothieX12 says:

    1. Russia does produce all or most of components, including microelectronics, domestically. It is especially true, of course, for defense industry.
    2. Per US electronics. I don’t think US depends on China but there is a problem–the problem is a counterfeit (restored from discarded US radio-electronics “junk”), which floats into US industry. There were number of reports on this threat and how to counter it. I heard there was progress.

  25. Thirdeye says:

    IIRC Madeleine Albright made some comment during the late 1990s as to how the west was on the brink of gaining control of the resources of northern Eurasia and how they would be “better allocated.”

  26. mauisurfer says:

    I read Ghost Wars by Steve Coll when it first came out, won a Pulitzer. But you are talking about another book?

  27. turcopolier says:

    IMO Steve Coll is a pretentious ass. i debated him at Intelligence Squared at NYU in 2009 . he read his statement from prepared script in violation of the rules of the debate. Yes, I know him and a few others. pl

  28. steve says:

    I would agree that the US has been much too aggressive in resorting to military action with our foreign policy. We have needlessly tried to extend the Cold War. However, your attempt to make Russia a great place to live just does not line up with the facts. It remains a poor country (per capita GDP lags Greece) that relies too heavily upon extraction of natural resources. Life expectancy overall ranks 110th in the world (behind North Korea!) and 127th for men (64.7 years) per WHO stats. Alcoholism remains a major problem. Are things improving there? Probably, but still not a great place to live.

  29. fasteddiez says:

    Once upon a time, Cheney was honest, if only for s space in time.
    Not now, not since 2003.

  30. Doug Colwell says:

    I, like mauisurfer, read Colls’ Ghost Wars when it came out. I remember wondering how he could make such an interesting subject seem so dull.

  31. Thirdeye says:

    Your life expectancy figure is from 1994. As of 2015, life expectancy in Russia was 71.4 years. There is a long line of fools who have come to grief from underestimating Russia. It looks like the US is next up.

  32. fanto says:

    Babak and OM,
    one may also add the invasion of Finland in late 1930s, the Baltic states and of course, the most egregious one was in taking part in the s.c. 4th partition of Poland in 1939 , meaning the pact with Hitler. The previous three partitions took place in the late 18th century. So, Russia was also expanding beyond the original Muscovy, creating a large and powerful empire. The expansion East and taking over Siberia up to Pacific was serving the expansionist forces of Russian state, ending on the Chinese border with the ‘unequal treaties’. There is more to say about the action/reaction reasons, as so often in history.

  33. mauisurfer says:

    chaos theory
    to the benefit of Israel

  34. Bandit says:

    I am grateful to Publius Tacitus for such straightforward articles. This is the second one of your articles that I will archive in order to review again at a later date.

  35. David E. Solomon says:

    Ah Tacitus,
    You tell it like it is. Go to it.
    Unfortunately, no one is likely to listen.
    Trump is as dumb as they come and Hillary and her consort are still lurking..

  36. Warpig says:

    Mauisurfer, she’s referring to Ghost Fleet, by PW Singer.

  37. Gunpoint says:

    Most if not all the posts on this blog and the added commentary they elicit are insightful and encouraging. Here again the wise Roman has raised a perspective that is too often lost in all the noise. But I find it instructive to go further as I don’t attribute this folly to mass delusion alone. As another has noted in the comments, Cheney was aware of the consequences of invading Iraq and of deposing Saddam and then once back in power again, he and others drew us into this quagmire anyways.
    Yes, there is a mass delusion, but defining Russia as the enemy is also a “noble lie” told by a group of political hacks—dare I say criminals due to negligence and/or intent.
    I think the folly is for the most part the price they decided to pay for their grand designs. They’ve committed themselves to the path they chose much like Shakespeare’s MacBeth as he metaphorically waddled in a pool of blood only to realize he had no choice but to continue the bloodshed. That isn’t to say things haven’t gone awry or that they haven’t deluded themselves and the public at large (they most certainly have), but a lot of what we have seen was intended and was the cost of going about their agenda in my view.
    The agenda is the “big idea,” a NWO which was “coming into view,” in the immortal words of GHWB as the SU fell into collapse. It’s not a happy coincidence the US, as an arm of globalism, has had thinly disguised pretexts to bomb Yugoslavia and Libya, invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and at times support terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda the very group responsible for drawing the US into the region to begin with. This was the price to pay for a total and global supremacy, a supremacy of a select few’s manifest will to control the whole of human destiny.
    They’re desire was not merely to let the Russians bleed, but to checkmate them and to deny them any opportunity of reemerging as a superpower capable of challenging their designs. And this agenda coincided with the desires of the hardline Zionists/Wahhabists in their death battle for total supremacy over a hardline theocratic Persia and their allies.

  38. ISL says:

    Steve, its not so simple. Just recently, The Lancet reports that the wealthiest Americans live 15 years longer than the poorest. So a poor American (most people these days) would be “better off” by that measure in Russia or a long list of other countries.
    As to whether its better to be an uber-rich tycoon / hollywood celeb (the only real people per the media), the US wins hands down. However, I only know a few in that very very small class. Its also probably better to be a successful business man in the US. Again – a small coterie.
    I read that something like 65% of Americans cannot find $400 for a medical emergency without pawning something – and the numbers are growing fast – this does not lead to a societal stability. In Russia and China the trend is towards greater societal stability.
    As to where is a better place to live, its a meaningless question. For Russians Russia is better (that is where their family and culture are) and for Americans, America is better (that is where their family and culture are).
    The question Publicus Tacitus asks, is whether the US is living up to its promise to its citizens or living in a delusion about the reality of America – a delusion broadcast on the mainstream media continuously.

  39. anobserver says:

    I never read that the USA depends on China for “glamorous” electronic and electro-mechanic components like microprocessors or micro-motors, but there have been a few hidden, very niche products where the USA temporarily lost control of their production.
    An example were rare-earth based magnets used in aircraft and missiles. Because these were produced by private corporations under the control of pure-profit-orientated private equity firms, and because of the competition from China in the sector of rare-earth, there were long stretches from the early 2000s onwards during which production took place exclusively in foreign countries, including China. Mines and processing factories in the USA were simply shut down as unprofitable. A look for Magnequench and Molycorp will turn out a few articles.
    There is also the case of totally unglamorous rifle ammunition. Starting with the Iraq war, the USA simply could not produce enough such military-grade ammunition. For years, they were forced to import large batches from foreign countries — not China of course, but South Korea and Israel for instance. When I read about that for the first time, I was stunned. If the USA do not even have the industrial capacity to wage such small wars as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, what kind of delusion is it to claim world leadership and warrant of world order? A colossus with clay feet, truly.

  40. Emad says:

    Comparing U.S. and RF military spending based on USD figures is misleading, because Russian weapon systems use few or no imported parts, and are produced, maintained and operated in Rubles, exchanged at 2/3 its pre-sanctions value of 2014. In other words, given low inflation rates in Russia, sanctions have made it easier for Russia to rearm on the cheap.

  41. Ulenspiegel says:

    “The only (still inaccurate but still better)official index which could be used here is a PPP (Purchase Power Parity). Just to illustrate how it works, here is the quote from one of my articles”
    That is nonsesne. For some issues the absolurte values are important, think about the ability to import stuff. Russia is somewher in between.
    “Actual size of Russian economy is that of Germany and with industries which Germany (as an example) simply doesn’t have.”
    Denatable. Russia is overall not able to survive without exports of oil + NG, this issue has not changed for decades, hint: even many parts they need for this are maufactured in the west. German has no problems, i.e. Germany has a lot of industries Russia does not have. 🙂
    I am not aware that a Russian company is competitor of Boeing, Airbus is however. You confuse the ability to cover some parts of domestic demand with the ability to make money on the international market with industrial products. 🙂
    And then we have the interesting aspect of soft power. My many Russian colleagues tlell me that Russia maye a severe issue in this department.

  42. Sylvia 1 says:

    I am–sorry for my mistake. The book is Ghost Fleet by PW Singer and August Cole. It’s a Novel About a future War With China. According to Foreign Policy–the book “A Novel About War With China Strikes a Chord at the Pentagon”. Interesting book.

  43. fanto,
    ‘and of course, the most egregious one was in taking part in the s.c. 4th partition of Poland in 1939 , meaning the pact with Hitler.’
    Actually, there is no ‘of course’ about it. The 1999 study ‘Grand Delusion’, by the Israeli historian Gabriel Gorodetsky, who both knows the British archives inside out and was given access to the Russian unprecedented for any non-Russian historian, argued in essence that we British pushed Stalin into it.
    (For what seems to me a very balanced review by Truman Anderson, an American historian – apparently also a former Marine officer – then at the London School of Economics, see http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/93 .)
    Part of the reason Chamberlain made such a hash of things was that – encouraged by MI6, who were as incompetent then as they are today – he had a view of Stalin’s policy which it turned out was simply wrong.
    In a letter to a friend on 26 March 1939, he wrote:
    “I must confess to the most profound distrust of Russia. I have no belief whatever in her ability to maintain an effective offensive, even if she wanted to. And I distrust her motives, which seem to me to have little connection with our ideas of liberty, and to be concerned only with getting everyone else by the ears.”
    His grasp of the complex games of bluff and counter-bluff going on was so poor that he could not see that a unilateral guarantee to Poland would provide every incentive to Hitler to seek a Pact with the Soviets.
    Subsequently, the complete absence of any serious attempt on Chamberlain’s part to understand, let alone accommodate, Soviet fears of being left fighting Hitler on their own created a situation where Stalin’s least worst option was, quite patently, to try to buy time by accepting the German overtures.

  44. Do you realize how silly and ridiculous your comment is? Just deal with the facts–the US is spending far more on a per capita and total basis than Russia. Just because Russia can do it cheaper means nothing. What you ignore are the defense lobbyists that ring Washington and provide the money and pressure to ensure the Defense Budget keeps growing regardless of what is going on in the world.

  45. SmoothieX12 says:

    You confuse the ability to cover some parts of domestic demand with the ability to make money
    Evidently you confuse the issue of real economy and the fact, that for Russia it is all about domestic demand, but then again, without knowing what 1990s were in Russia, when she, among many other things, was forced to shut down her commercial aircraft industry and start to impost a bulk of “Western” second-hand B737s and A319s etc. I don’t see how anything could be explained. FYI, MS-21 just completed the first phase of flight tests and as of today has 185 firm (prepaid) contracts + 110 options and this is largely Russian internal market. As for making money, I am sure US will “make money” selling a lot of so called 5th generation embarrassments like F-35 or LCS.
    That is nonsesne. For some issues the absolurte values are important, think about the ability to import stuff. Russia is somewher in between.
    Not in GDP. Again, you confuse real economy and a staple of US economy which was thoroughly de-industrialized and is a classic case of FIRE (Financial, Insurance, Real Estate). There was a reason that apart from PPP index (still very inaccurate)some economists introduced a “Bic Mac dollar”. I presented here a simple example: the whole program of Russia’s naval nuclear deterrent, that is 8 state-of-the-art SSBNs of Borey-class (3 already afloat, 5 being built) costs less than a single (and that is GAO projected–costs will go overboard, as they always do) boat of projected Columbia-class. Same criterion works across the board of virtually any real (manufacturing) sector. Let me put it in a simpler worlds: Russia simply gets a much larger bang for a proverbial buck. The gap will only increase and the trend is already here.
    Denatable. Russia is overall not able to survive without exports of oil + NG, this issue has not changed for decades, hint: even many parts they need for this are maufactured in the west. German has no problems, i.e. Germany has a lot of industries Russia does not have. 🙂
    No, not debatable. Most of power machinery related to extraction have been fairly fast substituted with domestic manufacturing. If you want to talk about Germany, be my guest and ask German MTU when they expect (if theoretically sanctions on Russia will be lifted, that means never)to return to Russian market. I’ll give you a hint–never. Should you have followed real news from Russia, you would have known that the issue of power plants for ships, a niche largely occupied prior to 2014 by Ukrainian Zorya and German MTU has been resolved by efforts of such companies as Saturn among many others. Just to give you one example (Google translate will do good enough job):
    This is what used to be a German shtick in Russia, not any more. As per industries which Germany “has”. To give you a little reference point–Rosatom’s contracts portfolio for 2016 was in the vicinity of 200 billion dollars. Unlike Germany, Russia produces a whole line of state-of-the-art jet engines, including being certified cutting edge PD-14. If not for Anglo-French Alliance giving Germany some bone in integration of Airbus planes, Germany has no aerospace industry to talk about. But I am sure many German cell-phones have, together with GPS a function for GLONASS. I am not talking about MIC of Germany. Now that we measured penises, I will reiterate the point which I was making since long time–Western “views” of Russia are not only wrong, they are dangerously wrong (as events from 2014 demonstrated fully). Caricature, which is Russia in the West, has no more relation to reality than me being an alien from planet Zoltar. I repeat–this is dangerous. Evidently, as of lately, it started to dawn on some people in “analytic” community. I hope it is not too late. I could be wrong.

  46. SmoothieX12 says:

    I never read that the USA depends on China for “glamorous” electronic and electro-mechanic components like microprocessors or micro-motors, but there have been a few hidden, very niche products where the USA temporarily lost control of their production.
    Yes, the main problem today is to stop Chinese counterfeit. US was and will remain for a while a leader in microprocessor technologies. But the world doesn’t stand still either and, per military applications, nations such as Russia are totally independent in this micro electronics respect. New technologies also coming up soon.

  47. turcopolier says:

    You are surprised that I don’t know what the OSP was? Your ugly nastiness is deliberate and intended to wound. There is a pattern in your comments of seeking to denigrate and minimize me. If you knew anything you would know that I have written extensively on the subject of the OSP. You are not welcome on SST. I will not post any more of your comments. Does that mean you are banned? Yes. pl

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree; the much weaker government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh survived 3 years of economic blockade between 1950 to 1953. Iran could not sell oil and was exporting such things as pomegranate peels (as precursor for natural dyes).
    I think, in fact, it is Germany, Japan, and South Korea that cannot last long if they no longer could export – and thus pay for their imports.
    And then are such countries as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada whose propriety is based, in whole or in parts, on the export of natural resources.
    I think there is an animus against Russia and Westerners search constantly to find fault with her.
    The same obtains, more or less, with Iran.
    If you are a friend of the Western Fortress, all sins are forgiven – as it were.
    I think the thrust of the Western Fortress policy since 1991 has been wrong to try to exclude the Russian state from any role in Europe; Russian realities (to some of which you have pointed) as well as historical patterns militate against such a posture against the Russian Federation.
    An analogous posture against Iran by the Western Fortress in the Near East has also been unproductive for it but the willingness to change course is not evident.
    Likely a case of Hubris informed by absence of the faculty of Judgement among both the leaders and the led in the Western Democracies.

  49. steve says:

    Nope, you are both wrong. The data on where Russia places by country is from WHO data from 2015. The average life expectancy is 70.5 years, but for men it is much worse. But, different sources do come up with different numbers. If your 71.4 number was correct, that would put Russia at 104th instead of 110th in the world. They might beat North Korea for total average, but still lag on male life expectancy.
    As to the Lancet study, it basically confirms the big JAMA study from 2016, which I think had slightly superior methods. It showed that life expectancy for the richest 1% of males was 87.3 years, and for the poorest 1% of males (these are both in the US) was 72.7 years. So, the average life expectancy of the poorest 1% of US males was about 8 years greater than the AVERAGE Russian male.
    I agree that if you are Russian, you probably still like Russia better, and the US has plenty of problems, I just object to the nonsense that Russia is now a great place to live. It is a fairly poor, poorly run country. It has always been that way. I don’t see much evidence that it is a whole lot better now.

  50. Chris Chuba says:

    “Russian military operations have been confined to its immediate borders–i.e., the Crimea, the Ukraine and George.”

    I’d put it a different way. The Russian military (post-USSR) has never crossed its borders where it wasn’t welcomed, including Syria, yet we have been able to push the meme of a ‘revanchist’ Russia determined to rebuild the Russian Empire. Would I feel differently were I an Estonian? Perhaps, all I am saying is that there is yet to be an example Russia conquering a former republic, yet we are fully mobilized for a Second Cold War. This is quite a success for the Foreign Policy Establishment.
    I thought this was an interesting fact regarding Crimea. In 1992, they declared their own constitutional independence only to have it nullified by Ukraine. So on every occasion where the Crimeans were able to express their desire, they never wanted to be part of Ukraine yet the talking heads talk about about the Russian referendum based annexation as if it was an atrocity http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/03/28/so-who-annexed-crimea-peninsular-then.html
    If we are having a contest for the biggest Russophile, I bet I’m in the upper half of that list.

  51. AriusArmenian says:

    Excellent article, a hard truth for Americans.

  52. Emad says:

    I guess I wasn’t clear enough.
    The dollar-to-dollar comparison is misleading, because it underestimates the pickle the U.S. is in. Yes, the U.S. is spending more on the military. And yes, this spending is ineffective. But that’s not the whole story. The U.S. has also sanctioned a country that should’ve been left alone or given a place at the adult table. Now Russia has turned the devaluation of the Ruble into an asset, lowering the life cycle cost of its weapons systems even more.

  53. Pundita says:

    Publius Tacitus —
    Would you consider starting a 15-20 minute show on YouTube? Call it the “Intelligence Corner” or something like that. You could interview people like Colonel Lang and Dr Postol. Analyze a piece of big defense news from the viewpoint of problems in the American military/ intelligence communities and how they could be fixed.
    Keep the setting and tone very informal and ‘approachable’ — Just old pros jawing with each other, maybe around a kitchen table with coffee and donuts.
    I think the show would get quite a following and you could then expand it to a half hour if you had the time.

  54. Tempting, but I’m trying to avoid publicity and remain in the shadows. I’m flattered by your suggestion.

  55. Procopius says:

    What are you reading? In the article here I read, “An op-ed this past week in the Wall Street Journal by former V.P Dick Cheney and his daughter, who insisted that we need to spend more on defense, typifies the dishonest shilling that infects Washington.” Emphasis added. “Shilling” in this context is not the obsolete English coin, but the gerund form of the verb, “to shill.” Just the opposite of what you say you saw.

  56. Procopius says:

    Pity Westmoreland ignored that. I still can’t believe that the holdovers from JFK’s government, “the Best and the Brightest,” fell for his concept of waging a war of attrition at the end of an 8,000 mile supply line in an Asian country. Also, too, the reconquest of Vietnam (as a French colony) was emphatically not a major U.S. interest, whereas reuniting their country free from foreign invaders was a vital interest of the Vietnamese.

  57. Procopius says:

    Given how bad reporting is in the U.S. I am not clear about exactly what Trump conceded to the Pentagon. It seems fairly clear that he basically told Mattis he could send however many troops he liked to Afghanistan. I think he probably is bored by military decision-making, but it’s not clear to me that he actually told Mattis, “Do whatever you want, I’m outta here. Going to Mar a Lago for the weekend.”

  58. Vicky Davis says:

    The article says.. “we continue to live like kings”. Who is “we”? I don’t know who you are talking about. What I see is a country that is being cannibalized including the people in the various sectors of the economy in a rotation – rather like the swirling that occurs with the flush of the toilet.

  59. EEngineer says:

    An audio only podcast perhaps then?

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