Provoking a War with Russia? by Larry C Johnson

Larry Johnson-5x7

The anti-Russian insanity that dominates the politics of America is dangerous, stupid and detached from facts. Two news items from Wednesday (December 18th) should scare the hell out of you.

The first concerns Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which is nearing completion and will deliver gas to Europe. According to Reuters:

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to slap sanctions on companies building a massive underwater pipeline to bring Russian natural gas to Germany, but it was uncertain whether the measures would slow completion of the project. 

Senator Jim Risch, a Republican and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the sanctions will prevent the project’s completion and are an “important tool to counter Russia’s malign influence and to protect the integrity of Europe’s energy sector.”

Nord Stream 2, led by state-owned Gazprom, would allow Russia to bypass Poland and Ukraine to deliver gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany. U.S. lawmakers say Ukraine could lose billions of dollars in transit fees if it is built.

This is not the fault of the Democrats. This is being driven by Republicans, with Senator Ted Cruz leading the charge.

The Trump administration should use sanctions to halt the construction of a pipeline that would allow Russia to transport natural gas directly to Europe, potentially generating cash to fuel President Vladimir Putin's military aggression, says Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline “would make Europe even more dependent on Russian energy," Cruz told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. "And that makes Europe susceptible to economic blackmail, because Putin has already demonstrated he's perfectly willing to cut off the gas in the dead of winter to try to force people to do what he wants.”

Russia's "military aggression?" Did Russia invade Iraq twice in the last 29 years? Did Russia launch a war in Libya? Did Russia arm and train insurgents in Syria? I think Ted Cruz has not been paying attention to world events over the last thirty years. The number one country engaged in foreign military aggression is the United States. Hands down.

Here are the actual military facts about Russia:

  • Russia’s 2018 GDP of $1.66 trillion, which is just 8% of America’s total GDP of $21.5 trillion.
  • Russia’s annual manufacturing value added is currently about $200 billion compared to $2.2 trillion for the US economy.
  • Russia’s working age population of about 85 million is already just a fraction of the US working age population of 255 million.
  • Russia’s $61 billion of military outlays in 2018 amounted to less than 32 days of Washington’s current $750 billion of expenditures for defense.
  • During the Cold War Russia armed itself to the teeth via a forced-draft and allocated upwards of 40% of the GDP of the Soviet empire to the military. Today the Russian defense budget amounts to less than 4% of the country’s anemic economy.
  • The US has eleven such carrier strike groups. Russia has zero modern carrier strike groups and one beat-up, smoky old (diesel) aircraft carrier. A carrier based strike group is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, at least one cruiser, a squadron of destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft. 
  • The United States dwarfs Russia’s ability to project force via air power– the US has 6,100 helicopters to Russia’s 1,200 and 6,000 fixed wing fighter and attack aircraft versus Russia’s 2,100. More importantly, the US has 5,700 transport and airlift aircraft compared to just 1,100 for Russia.
  • The only military category where Russia enjoys a decisive edge is tanks—22,710 versus 8750 for the United States. This is a legacy of WW II, where Russian tanks played the critical role in pushing the Nazis back to Germany.
  • As recently as 2017, the Russian fleet operated 61 submarines. “Historically the backbone of the Russian navy, 75 percent of the 61 operational submarines are over 20 years old and are slowly being replaced." The United States has 75 and is building two new ones each year at a cost of $5 billion.

So why is this pipeline now a redline in the sand that Russia dare not cross? Apparently because it will give Russia a way to make more money to finance its massive military buildup (hopefully you understand sarcasm) and, more importantly, will cost Ukraine lost income. Can't afford to have Ukrainian oligarchs running out of money that they are sending to Democrat and Republican consulting firms and candidates. 

While it is unlikely that the sanctions will prevent the pipeline from being completed, largely because they come too little, too late, this is not going to hinder efforts to punish Russia:

A new Bloomberg headline reads “U.S. Concedes Defeat on Gas Pipeline It Sees as Russian Threat” just following new sanctions included in the House and Senate passed 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week.

But two administration officials tell Bloomberg it's too little too late, despite Trump's heightened rhetoric of calling Germany “a captive to Russia” and charging Berlin with essentially giving “billions” of dollars to Russia:

Senior U.S. administration officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the administration’s take on the project, said sanctions that passed Congress on Tuesday as part of a defense bill are too late to have any effect. The U.S. instead will try to impose costs on other Russian energy projects, one of the officials added.

Seriously, that United States has no right to threaten Russia in this way. It is reminiscent of the sanctions that the United States imposed on Japan prior to World War II that blocked Japan's access to critical oil and rubber supplies. That was a precipitating factor in Japan's decision to attack us on December 7, 1941.

If you think I am just being chicken little, I suspect you did not read the recent comment of Deputy Chief of General Staff of Russia, Valery Gerasimov:

NATO exercises near the border with Russia reflect the alliance’s preparations for a large-scale military conflict, Russia’s chief military officer said in remarks published Wednesday.

The chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, said at Tuesday’s meeting with foreign military attaches that NATO’s activities have heightened tensions and reduced security along the Russian border.

Asked if the Russian military sees a potential threat of war, Gerasimov said that Moscow doesn’t see “any preconditions for a large-scale war.”

He added, however, that Western pressure on Russia could trigger “crisis situations” that may spin out of control and provoke a military conflict.

The anti-Russia hysteria in the United States is tying the hands of Donald Trump to act responsibly to protect America. If he vetoes the bill put forward by the Congress he will be accused, as he has been for more than two years, of catering to Putin. 

The fanatics and frauds waving the Russian threat ignore the fact that the United States and Russia work closely and productively on the Space Station. Our astronauts and their cosmonauts co-exist peacefully in space and we rely on the Russians to haul our folks to and from the Space Station. In Syria, the Combined Air Operations Center (i.e., CAOC) communicates daily with Russian counterparts to ensure that their respective air assets do not fire on each other or inadvertently wander into a combat space. This has been going on for more than three years.

Russia still has nuclear weapons. It is their ultimate deterrent against another invasion. The memory of losing more than 12 million soldiers in World War II remains vivid and painful. The U.S. public can barely remember that we lost less than 500,000 soldiers, marines and sailors in World War II. Our inability to remember coupled with unjustified belligerence is pushing us towards a war with Russia that would be beyond catastrophic.

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41 Responses to Provoking a War with Russia? by Larry C Johnson

  1. catherine says:

    ”The Trump administration should use sanctions to halt the construction of a pipeline that would allow Russia to transport natural gas directly to Europe, potentially generating cash to fuel President Vladimir Putin’s military aggression, says Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas”
    I don’t know how many times I have said…..Who do these politicians think they are !!??
    They were not elected to ‘run the world’. WE must get rid of them.
    The Col told me awhile ago that the CIA doesn’t do ‘accidental deaths’ ….too bad.

  2. Adrian E. says:

    At least, these sanctions are not only directed against Russia, but also against Western Europe.
    First,the sanctions directly affect not only Gasprom, but also Western European companies that are involved in building the pipelines (since only a small part of the work remains to be done, Nordstream 2 can probably be finished without some of them, but if everything continues as before, some Western European companies involved in building the pipelines would clearly be affected by US sanctions, among them a specialized Swiss company).
    Second, the purpose of the pipelines clearly is not only to help Russia selling gas, but also to help Germany buying Russian gas.
    The sanctions are not anti-Russian sanctions, but sanctions against Europe, including Russia, Germany, and other European countries.
    Especially in Germany, there is absolutely no tolerance for such sanctions with which the US wants to force Europeans to buy uncompetitive expensive US fracking gas. There are talks about European countersanctions against the US. The US may hope to exploit disagreements among EU countries. After all some EU countries like Poland are against Nordstream. But the US should not rely on this – such blatant interference in European matters is clearly not tolerated by the EU. An appropriate countermeasure might be punitive Tarifs on US fracking gas exports – there is not much demand for it, anyway, but it would make sense to prevent any significant amounts of US fracking gas from being bought in Europe as long as the US wants to force Europeans to buy it.
    In any case, these anti-European sanctions show once more that the US has become a pariah nation that has isolated itself and has no real allies any more (except perhaps Saudi Arabia and Israel).

  3. Adrian E. says:

    I would not call these sanctions only anti-Russian sanctions. They are just as well directed against Western Europe.
    First, it is not only Gasprom which is involved in building the pipeline (although it is the owner), but also European companies (among them a Swiss one). Since Nordstream II is almost finished, the services of some of these companies may not be necessary any more, but if they continued normally, also some Western European companies would be sanctioned.
    Second, obviously, the purpose of the pipelines is not only to help Russia selling gas, but also to help Germany (and other Western European countries that will receive it via Germany) buying Russian gas.
    In Germany, there is very little tolerance for such sanctions, and people talk about counter-sanctions against the US. An appropriate measure could be punitive tariffs on US fracking gas. There is little demand for US fracking gas in Europe, anyway, since it is more expensive, but it may make sense to make sure than no significant amounts of US gas are sold in Europe as long as the US wants to force Europeans to buy it.
    The US may hope to exploit disagreements about Nordstream within the EU. After all, some countries like Poland are against it. But the US should not rely on this tactic working. Such blatant interference in European energy supplies with sanction will hardly be tolerated by the EU.
    In any case, these anti-European sanctions show one more how much the US has become a pariah country that has isolated itself and hardly has allies any more (except perhaps Saudi Arabia and Israel).
    I agree that one of the motives for these anti-European sanctions is anti-Russian insanity in the US. But another important motive is disrespect of the US for Western Europe, which it seems to regard as a kind of colonies or vassal states it can tell what to do.
    In Europe, there is still a certain gap – while polls show that the US is very unpopular, among European elites, pro-US forces still have a certain influence. But probably, it won’t take very long until European countries will adapt their policies towards the US in the direction a majority of their citizens wants. Another such example of US folly is the idea that Germany should pay more for the presence of US troops. According to polls, about half of the German population wanted US troops to leave, anyway, even before the question of increased payments was raised, and if the US is serious about this demand, the consequence that it will lose its military bases is obvious.

  4. Factotum says:

    Who recently described Russia as third tier country, with an economy no bigger than the state of New York?

  5. Factotum says:

    Send in Greta Thonburg. She’ll show them. More use of fossil fuels zut alors! Who will even be buying Russian energy. How dare they.

  6. Paul Damascene says:

    I credit you with possessing the good sense, seemingly rare, to not wish to enter into a direct military conflict with Russia, particularly out of some hyper inflated sense of threat, owing (no less) to their aggression. Kudos to you for acknowledging which country is the number one threat of military aggression in the world.
    The sarcasm of referring to a mounting Russian threat is merited insofar as their military budget is actually falling as a proportion of output.
    I would suggest, however, when assessing the strength of the enemy you rightly argue that it is stupid to provoke, that you do not limit yourself to the prevailing think-tank approaches to assessing that threat. It’s pretty obvious to most people that comparing an Su-35 to an F-35 in dollar terms makes the F-35 3 or 4 times the military threat of the Sukhoi. Ditto with an Su-57 to F-22 comparison.
    But it would be better to listen to actual military experts with technical training in the STEM disciplines needed to provide the analysis. I would suggest you look at the work of A. Martyanov’s work, a retired Russian naval officer writing occasionally US Naval institute Blog. Or visit his blog, Reminiscence of the Future, through which you could get more background on his books, including the latest, The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs.
    His concern is that (while some of us use these CIA factbook-type analysis to cool off the hysterical claims of threat) Russia hawk politicians and think-tank military pseudo-experts are using these to seriously downplay Russia’s capacity to counter American aggression. Would welcome your thoughts on his work.

  7. Russia’s 2018 GDP of $1.66 trillion, which is just 8% of America’s total GDP of $21.5 trillion.
    Larry, it is patently and, actually, grossly untrue on both counts. Nor comparison of military budgets is legitimate tool. In fact, all this is in the foundation of the United States failing, time after time, having a good grasp of the military balance.

  8. Ghost Ship says:

    Last winter LNG from the Russian Yamal gas field was delivered to the United States. Perhaps Washington should deal with its own dependence on Russian energy before it starts pressuring Europe.

  9. Stephanie says:

    The goal is to overturn the government of Russia, just like the goal has been to overturn the government of Bolivia (Mission Accomplished), Venezuela, Cuba, China, Russia, North Korea, Libya, Lebanon, Iran, Syria… This is imperialism. It’s history is long and has been successfully practiced by far by the British and Americans. And it’s goal is the theft of the resources, human and natural, of the countries targeted. It is old news. Nothing has changed for two hundred years. My God, the original Crimean War was fought for exactly the same reasons as the current Crimean War although the actual fighting is of a different scale and different style. Permit me to include in the litany above Native Americans who were slaughtered for their territory. It is astonishing that President Trump seems to be less than enthusiastic about this program, but it certainly recommends him highly if he is. And today, we may ask who is behind this program. It is certainly not the American people.

  10. Factotum says:

    The only thing young Russians today would fight for is an American visa.

  11. Seamus Padraig says:

    First these idiots in congress wanted to sanction Turkey over their own failed régime-change gambit in Syria, and now they want to sanction Germany over Nordstream II? Well, I say … good! This’ll be the death of NATO real quick. It’s long past time for us to pull out of Europe, come home and start taking care of our own country. America first!

  12. Seamus Padraig says:

    BTW, Larry, it’s time for an update on Gen. Flynn, isn’t it?

  13. Christian J Chuba says:

    Provoking War
    If nothing else the Neocons are predictable. This is what they are thinking, ‘Everyone said that Ronald Reagan was going to start a war but by standing up to Russia, peace through strength, he broke the Soviet Union’.
    They want an arms race with Russia, they want to surround Russia with hostile countries. They think the new Evil Empire will collapse, they will break it into even smaller pieces, and maybe even take away her nukes. The difference between the Neocons and Reagan is that Reagan had actual principals while they are delusional jackals. Reagan, at his core, argued for the sovereignty of Eastern European countries. The Neocons want total power and hate any country strong enough to resist them.
    This can end in any number of ways including war. The Neocons are drooling over the prospect of building missile bases in the new NATO members closer to Russia’s borders in a new arms race. The nauseating thing will be to hear them and their MSM toadies claim to be the victim of Russian aggression while they do it.

  14. JJackson says:

    Should you wish to expand on that at some point I, for one, would be very interested in how to interpret these metrics. The US seems to spend a phenomenal amount on procurement more what achieves. Russia and China seem to get a lot more for their buck. A view from the outside with no real way of knowing how close to the truth it is.

  15. Lyttennburgh says:

    WarOnTheRocks (WotR, Carl!) even run recently an article, about how “it’s not so clear-cut” (c) when assessing Russia’s military spendings through the ususal auti… ahem… “think-tankers” lenses
    https://warontherocks.com/2019/12/why-russian-military-expenditure-is-much-higher-than-commonly-understood-as-is-chinas/
    If this abode of neo-cons is starting to smart-up, well, it’s time for everyone else to do the same.

  16. Factotum,
    This notion that young Russians are all queuing up to flee the evil Putin is, I am afraid, just another of those fantasies to which the inhabitants of the ‘bubbles’ in Washington and London, who invariably listen to those from other societies who tell them what they want to hear, cling.
    A kind of ‘running commentary’ on the issue has been maintained over the years in the ‘Unz Review’ by Anatoly Karlin, who is a ‘repatriate’, of what might be called ‘White Guard’ political sympathies.
    His most recent piece, published at the start of this month, is headlined ‘Number of Russians Preparing to Emigrate Reaches Record Low.’
    (See https://www.unz.com/akarlin/number-of-russians-preparing-to-emigrate-reaches-record-low/ .)
    The title is tongue-in-cheek, because Karlin is deliberately responding by putting a tendentious headline on the latest Levada poll to the customary flurry of Western news reports eager to build large conclusions on data which fits with their preconceptions – in this case an uptick in the number of young Russians saying they want to emigrate.
    As to your confidence that young Russians will not fight – which places you squarely in the great tradition of Napoleon and Hitler – it is material that, in general, those who do most of the fighting are not the kind of ‘liberals’ to whom Americans and Brits prefer to listen, but ‘deplorables.’
    If you want a useful brief account, by a member of a group who might be called ‘liberals mugged by reality’, of how the policies pursued by successive Administrations comprehensively alienated most of their fellow countrymen, I would recommend a response by Alexander Lukin in the ‘National Interest’ last February to a characteristically inane explanation by Strobe Talbott of how Russia was really on the ‘right road’ in the ‘Nineties.
    It is headlined ‘How the United States Got Russia Wrong; The West today is paying for its collusion with Russia in the 1990s.’
    (See https://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-united-states-got-russia-wrong-42977 .)
    An excerpt reveals what to me a clearly very deep and to my mind eminently understandable bitterness about the Clinton people:
    ‘Many Russians who advocated democratic reforms in the early 1990s and for whom both the Yeltsin kleptocracy and the Communist dictatorship were anathema now have reason to blame Talbott and his like-minded associates for contributing to authoritarianism in Russia. Those policies served to discredit Russia’s pro-Western forces completely because everything was lumped together in the public’s perception – kleptocracy, corruption, Western aid, pro-Western policies, and Russia’s abasement. And it was the policies developed by Talbott and his associates that gave rise to this perception.’
    As to how the West is ‘paying’, one rather important way should I think be now rather evident. In very many ways, the Chinese have been the beneficiaries of, in particular, the Clintons. Part of this. obviously, has to do with the immense potential value of Russia as an ally.
    Perhaps more important, however, the spectacle of what became of Russia, once ‘liberals’ who trusted the West took charge, may well have been of incalculable help to the Chinese Communist Party in heading off challenges to the legitimacy of their rule.
    One can, very easily, be comprehensively cynical about one’s rulers. But if the likely result of toppling them looks like anarchy and national humiliation, then ‘better the devil you know’ is liable to seem a sound maxim.

  17. Sven Lystbæk says:

    There are two ways of measuring GDP. One is by current curency exchange rate and the other is by purchasing power parity ecchange rate.
    There is absolutely no discussion yhat the current Rouble-Dollar exchange rate dramatically undervalues the Rouble. Consequently the real Russian economy is at least equal to 20 per cent of the American which makes it equal to the German GDP.
    Further it seems that Russian progress in weaponsystems not least in missile technology implies that a war with Russia would be a very bad idea indeed.

  18. Ken Roberts says:

    Interesting article, thanks. Authors advocate purchasing power parity as a means of comparison. The 2nd author is Richard Connolly (sp?) who wrote a good book on Russia’s response to sanctions. The Russian economy, and its ability to produce to focus, is intriguing. To really be “gret” requires a level of concentration, and ambition combined with humility towards acknowledging defeats and working on defects, sometimes found in the best athletes and teams. But unfortunately not often found among the cheer leaders.
    Hah – see I misspelled “great” above. Curious similarity to “greta”. I had a negative response to that publicity phenomenon but her recent admission “that didn’t work, must try otherwise” suggests she has potential, because she introspects. We will see. She will possibly have a long run and may do some good, however launched.
    Best wishes to all for the season. Col Lang’s website has been a tremendous resource for trying to make sense of world / societies.

  19. Should you wish to expand on that at some point I, for one, would be very interested in how to interpret these metrics.
    I wrote two books on that and am writing the third one. US GDP given in nominal USDs is nothing more than a sum of prices of all things and services provided in the US. This is not even serious metric and even IMF (controlled by the US) gives GDP stats on PPP (Purchase Power Parity) bases, and even that is not accurate. For starters, US “economy” is primarily FIRE (Finances, Insurance, Real Estate) economy, with US manufacturing sector shrinking catastrophically in the last two decades, with US machine building complex being hit especially hard. But here is a short comparison. US real economy is dwarfed by Chinese one, nor Russian economy is 1.66 trillion, Russian economy is larger than that of Germany, and, actually, much larger. Let’s compare, say, two products which both Russia and US do actually produce–in construction, houses.
    1. The US construction industry can built and sell a house (3 bedroom, 2 baths, some up to roughly 2,000 sq. feet) in some average mid-town USA for say this (it is about 10 years old)248Ks:
    https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/974-E-Jaylee-Dr_Rigby_ID_83442_M17462-59155?view=qv
    2. For the 53Ks you can buy this near Moscow (not Idaho, Russia)
    https://moskva.naydidom.com/search/adpage/918102624.html
    So, here is the question and a simple math: US will count the house which is in the same league, not to mention being nowhere near any major cultural urban center at 248K, same level of housing in an extremely desirable location in Russia is 53Ks.
    Guess who adds more to GDP? Right, the United States, Russia which builds housing like there is no tomorrow, will be adding 248-53=195 USDs less to her GDP if it is calculated in USD. This is just one single and simplified example. For 53K somewhere in superb Voronezh or Yekaterinburg, or Krasnoyarsk I can buy a freaking palace. One more example: for $8 billion Russian Navy already built and operates 3 and has 5 in the shipyards state-of-the-art strategic missile submarines of pr. 955-955A Borei class. $8 billion is exactly the estimated cost (most likely to be much higher) of a SINGLE (one) Columbia-class SSBN which is already having a truck lead of issues before being built. That is a definition of a bang for a buck.
    Russia is somewhat poorer than the United States for obvious historic reasons and her economy is smaller than that of the US but it is a bout the third of the size. Just to illustrate–the United States doesn’t have commercial shipbuilding to speak of. Russia’s commercial shipbuilding is exploding, with still being constructed massive Zvezda Wharf already building and having contracts for 35 major vessel, with half of them being supertankers and LNG transporters whose displacement is larger than that of latest US aircraft carrier. Most of Western economic statistics is as reliable as public opinion polls in 2016 which stated that HRC will win elections.

  20. Michael Kofman seems to be reading my books. I am not talking even about operational models in which dyadic comparison of numbers of tanks, planes, guns etc. is an exercise in futility because taken out of the context tends to confuse, rather than clarify issues of military potentials. Just an example: USAF may have more (nominally) combat aircraft than Russia, but the state of the park in USAF is, actually, appalling with cannibalization reaching 30% (by different estimates). Even latest mods. of venerable F-15 are not competitors to SU-30SM, let alone SU-35C. No F-22, let alone F-35 will survive Russian AD systems. So, it is “slightly” more complex than mere comparison of numbers of anything. Admiral Stansfield Turner gave a superb succinct explanation of how warfare works in 1976 in his interview to CSM. Sheer brilliance of putting complex things into simple words.
    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-t3CM-S9eg68/XX7I2mQGCAI/AAAAAAAACTM/_mC55V9lqCEu3aPaCdFMCUqKHcLceYrPACLcBGAsYHQ/s1600/Turner.jpg

  21. A.I.S. says:

    Overall, I would rate Russia somewhere between 30 to 50% as powerfull as the USA overall. This puts her in a position where she can challenge American intrusions into Ukraine or Syria (2 places where she enjoys homefield advantadge) and can reasonably hope to prevail. Especially in the context of the actively misinformed US strategy in these areas.
    History is replete with examples in which 2 sides with such a disparity clashed, and also quite as replete with situations in which the weaker side won.
    The Russians have a couple of additional advantadges on their side:
    -1: From my experience, Russians are a lot less arrogant about American capabilities then Americans (it appear that arrogance increases with rank here, this may be a by product of that conformism inducing up or out principle) are about Russias. I also think that the deciding Russian elites have a more precise and usable knowledge of the USA then the deciding US elites have of Russia. Arrogance is never good but it always happens. Being less arrogant does not mean that you will win a conflict, but it certainly helps.
    -2: Russia appears to be more competently led
    -3: Russia is a more unitary actor.
    -4: Russia essentially relies on herself, while the US increasingly relies on a system of tributaries. Tributary managment binds resources, and tributaries get more independent minded if the overlord suffers clear setbacks, particularly on the battlefield.
    There is potential for reform. Maybe a clear battlefield defeat would result in long overdue changes in the US political and military system (somewhat along the lines of Russias reforms following her defeat in the Crimean war), but it would be far less risky and far more beneficial for all of mankind if the impetus for such reforms would come in the form of a new Sputnik, rather then a new GRAD shock.

  22. And even PPP is inaccurate. Just to give one example: extremely well developed system of public transportation actually drives GDP down, because it “adversely” affects car production–this is in a nutshell. PPP is also not exact measure, granted, much better one than absolutely unrealistic nominal measures of GDP. This is what I call an “operational” dimension of economy, because it is akin to comparison of apples to oranges but which must be done to understand a real relation. It is akin to asking who wins–2000 F-15s fighting 1000 SU-35C in the environment covered by Air Defense Army armed with S-400, Buk-M3 and S1 systems. This is just a crude example. Life is complex and can not be always expressed just in numbers, context is always important. Just to give another example, neither Germany nor Japan can develop full blown, especially piloted, space program–it is a completely different level of complexity. At this stage only USSR/Russia and US can show serious results in that. China, while being an economic monster, is still nowhere near the US, let alone Russia, in terms of piloted space exploration. It is hard and requires more than just the size of economy, albeit the size is imperative.

  23. A. Bear says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t respond to this, SmoothieX12, given your books:
    “The US has eleven such carrier strike groups. Russia has zero modern carrier strike groups and one beat-up, smoky old (diesel) aircraft carrier. A carrier based strike group is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, at least one cruiser, a squadron of destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft.”
    Larry should read your books!

  24. Paul Damascene says:

    Andrei has most of the issues under discussion well handled. But I would add that there is a basis of comparison of comparable importance, I suspect: that being a comparison of systems of military procurement in a crony-capitalist vs. a command and control system with capitalist elements.
    * First there is the rake of off executive pay and the conflict of interest baked into executive remuneration based on shares.
    * Then there are the immense sums lavished on lobbying, PR, marketing, sales, and conversely the cost of influence peddling of many kinds.
    * Then of course there are the political contributions and the direct and indirect costs of the revolving door in which there is a steady stream of increasingly corrupt influencers moving into and out of the private sector, helping to spawn terrible military spending policy (think Star Wars) and terrible business practices (think, Boeing 737).
    * Then there is the waste involved in spreading defense spending across voting districts to keep the political system captive.
    * Then there is the rank profiteering — the $500 USD toilet-bowl brushes.
    * Then there are the PMCs and the sub-contracting of services.
    Pitch, lobby, sell, buy, skim, inflate … etc.
    So any such technical comparisons still must somehow not lead us to miss these systemic factors.

  25. scott s. says:

    I don’t suppose Texas being the major US LNG exporter has anything to do with Cruz’s opposition to a Russian pipeline?

  26. Lyttennburgh says:

    >”Michael Kofman seems to be reading my books”.
    That would charitably imply that he reads ANY books at all 😉
    After all, this THEMichael Kofman, who’d been Nostradamizing through 2015 that:
    1) Russia won’t get involved in Syria. “Russia suck in Ukraine” (c) anyway ;
    https://warontherocks.com/2015/08/is-russias-power-to-annoy-changing-the-game/
    2) Oh… it’s already here? In that case all of its planes won’t last even couple of months there! “The narrative of Russia being stuck in Ukraine is also breaking down” (c)
    https://warontherocks.com/2015/10/the-russian-intervention-in-syria-policy-options-and-exit-strategies/
    In a year, he got through the rest of “5 Stages of Grief”. Now Koffman is very, very respectable “Russia hand” and gets invited into… places.

  27. confusedponderer says:

    scott s.
    re I don’t suppose Texas being the major US LNG exporter has anything to do with Cruz’s opposition to a Russian pipeline?

    You’re so suspicious (and likely correct) but don’t read too much into that.
    Likely Cruz would happily take … campaign contributions … from oil people in DC, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Florida, Utah, Arizona or California too. I don’t think in these cases he is picky as long as there is enough bling.
    In my area such people like to showdrive their Mercedes, BWM, Ferrari, Maserati or Humvees with golden weels, flat tires (especially sensible with a Humvee), big sunglasses, a few ounces of gelee in the hair and a pound of gold on the chest. Kings of the road on the road!
    And then, while Cruz officially is a politician, there are classic professions with a long tradition where people are ready to be rented for services of many kinds. And some people just have two jobs.
    As for the Northstream 1 and 2 pipelines – the only folks crazy about that are …
    #1#
    The Poles and Ukies, mostly because the pipeline would deny them the possibility to hassle and more or less blackmail Germany and/or the EU and/or Russia not to mention the money for gas transiting their countries and …
    #2#
    Trump and his Trumpists who likely want to urgently sell more expensive and thus economically unattractive US frack gas to Europe, and for that purpose tells a lot of nonsense of “Germany slaving itself to Russia” by buying their gas eagerly repeated by here rather unpopular Grenell, the so called “ambassador who only says what the whitehouse says” (well, we can read Trump’s tweets solo too).
    And then inevitably with a one trick pony comes the penal tax and sanction blackmailing game by arbitrary tweets, a formulation Trump fiercely doesn’t accept because it has way too many syllables
    .
    I don’t buy oil or gas to make Putin, murder prince MBS or Trump happy. I for my part just really like it to be warm in my place in the winter. If the oil or gas for that comes from the north sea or Russia I don’t really care. As for the Gulfies or imposed frack oil I do care.

  28. ISL says:

    one thing has changed, nukes – of which, none that you mention, had, and which our Dr. Strangelovian-congress forgets.

  29. Diana C says:

    I have often thought that this abhorrence of anything Russia related comes from people younger than my generation–many of them now working in government.
    They must have heard too many stories from their elders about duck and cover drills and bomb shelters in the back yard. And who can forget the ticking clock?
    I, too, heard horrible stories about “Bolsheviks” from my grandparents’ generation who fled from Russia as the Communists were taking over, but I did get a good education in the American system before the NEA took it over. I know that Russia is different now, and we should realize that things change all the time.
    I also know that many Americans are so complacent in their safe and secure lifestyles that they simply are stupid about national and international news. I have one close relative who brags about not following the news because she thinks it’s unnecessary and thinks everything doesn’t matter unless it affects her immediately and personally. The problem is that she doesn’t realize that often it does affect her life, but in such a way that she is not immediately aware of it.
    Does Ted Cruz simply not want us to have any competition in regard to our own sales of gas?

  30. “Russia’s 2018 GDP of $1.66 trillion, which is just 8% of America’s total GDP of $21.5 trillion.”
    The correct methodology for comparing economies is by the Purchasing Power Parity system. The IMF reports on this basis. For 2018, China was first with 18.7% of global GDP. U.S. second with 15.2%. Third, India with 7.69%. Fourth, Japan with 4.16%. Fifth, Germany with 3.24%. Sixth, Russia with 3.09%.
    Simple arithmetic tells us that Russia’s economy is 20% of the U.S.

  31. J says:

    My question regarding 5G technology. While it is frying the troops that use it (US & NATO) on the ground [infantry and artillery, spec ops, C&C], what are its odds as survivable communications in an EMP environment?
    5G uses the band ranges that your microwave uses [with a little tweak].
    5G bandwidths and TSA body scanners go hand in hand. Those TSA personnel who are in constant contact with the body scanners are coming up with cancers that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
    So while 5G is endangering those on the ground who will use it in a battlefield environment, my question is what good is it for?
    While mom an pop America and the world at large use it to fry their innards, the Rough Men who stand guard, sadly won’t be doing much better [except those in EMP shielded Van’s and Aircrafts].

  32. Robin Rusch says:

    So this is a hit list to trash Pres. Trump. It amazes me how people think they can come on these venues, to trash Americans, and thing you won’t be held accountable. Everyone has opinions… I can say this, I haven’t heard any real facts on this page. Your self aggrandizing is sickening. I am a big Gurl, you don’t need to tell me what is going on, and don’t assume Americans fall into your diatribe. Shame on you. How about some real dialogue instead of a hit list. oh yeh, and I use my own name on here. Robin Rusch

  33. Turcopolier says:

    Rusch
    This is directed at Larry Johnson? You don’t sound like an American. You are a big gun? What the hell does that mean? Your comment is a threat against the freedom of speech and expression that we still have in the US. I don’t like threats and if you do it again I will deal with you as i have with others who made such threats.

  34. J says:

    Larry, Colonel,
    Phil Giraldi made some good points in his latest article regarding the stupidity of the Administration and the Congress in their end-of-year stupid session sweepstakes. Particularly in regards to the authorization for Kiev in the NDAA that gives them additional funds for lethal assistance push-back against Russia in the Black Sea which will provoke the Russian Bear even more.
    I don’t which is worse, the additional lethal assistance funding, or the push to get Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO. I agree with Phil that their inclusion in NATO, Russia will regard as an existential threat.
    Do I need to hire contractors to build me a bomb shelter on my little piece of heaven here on the prarie, especially the way it’s heading with the White House and Congress going stupid regarding Russia? Frankly, I don’t think a contractor can did me a fox-hole deep enough, unless he’s planning on digging me a fox-hole half-way to China.

  35. vig says:

    confusedponder, it no doubt would be interesting to see how the ICC, the International Court of Arbitration would deal with matters. Are there experts in the field already speculating one way or the other?
    Seems the Swiss building experts decided to surrender. Would take to long …? They wouldn’t be able to get an ICC decision?
    Other then, who really would want to face a well funded US State?
    But yes, it gets pretty curious as far as US continunity is concerned.
    *******
    Otherwise beyond the ones building, how does the law target dilivery, sale longterm? And how gains? Or who gains, considering US law. Law wise.
    Did you look it up?

  36. vig says:

    I don’t [know] which is worse, the additional lethal assistance funding, or the push to get Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO.
    As European I start to wonder to what extend the US has been involved in the larger EU/NATO enlargement process. More arbitrarily: To what extend can presidential, vice-presidential, secretary of state travels tell us what our US state competitor as interested party is up to? Old vs New Europe?
    Concerning the US or its present empeachment affair. Admittedly from a rather superficial perspective to pick up on ‘don’t know which is worse’
    I don’t know which is the worse in basing an empeachment on: non-dilivery of weapons or on possible Biden corruption. …
    Good luck, but it doesn’t feel you have to prepare for a better version of “duck and cover”. Not yet. …

  37. J says:

    Stephen Cohen is right on point when he says that the last thing Putin wants is a Cold War with the west. Putin wants stable good relations with the west. Putin is not the big bad monster.
    Cohen: How Impeachment Is Escalating The New US-Russian Cold War
    https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/cohen-how-impeachment-escalating-new-us-russian-cold-war

  38. J says:

    Durham Investigation Puts CIA Director Gina Haspel On Notice
    https://www.oann.com/durham-investigation-puts-cia-director-gina-haspel-on-notice/
    “CIA Director Gina Haspel is the latest Intelligence official to reportedly be dragged into John Durham’s investigation of the Russia probe. On Friday, Politico reported Haspel may have information on former CIA Director John Brennan, who served under the Obama administration.
    That information could help Durham learn whether the CIA used unauthorized surveillance on 2016 Trump campaign officials.”

  39. Keith Harbaugh says:

    The Politico article about Haspel, et al., by Natasha Bertrand,
    was extensively discussed, from a somewhat different perspective, by sundance:
    “Dirty Spooks Concerned About Barr and Durham…”, sundance, 2019-12-27
    sundance has been, and still is, quite critical of the SSCI and those that who receive its approval:

    At this point anyone who was or is confirmed by
    a corrupt Senate Intelligence Committee
    [chaired by] Chairman Richard Burr [R-NC] and Vice-Chair Mark Warner [D-VA]
    should be considered dirty and compromised.
    This includes both CIA Director Gina Haspel and ICIG Michael Atkinson.

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