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.