What in the world? 8 March 2016


There is so much going on in the world that I want state my opinions during these interesting days.   I don't claim that this is reportage, only my opinion:

  • US Foreign policy.  What on earth are we doing?  Carter, Durnford, Nuland, Brennan and the incredible Breedlove all seem intent on war with Russia.  Russia is a much weaker country militarily and economically than the US but it is also armed with several thousand deliverable nuclear weapons.  Is it really wise to pick a fight with an entity that may feel deeply threatened by such things as NATO expansion but which also possesses the ability to destroy you in a mutual festival of death reminiscent of what happens if you put two scorpions in a jar.  Breedlove in particular is a bizarre creature.  He looks and talks like a used car salesman pushing to get the numbers up for the month.  What exactly has Russia done to require such aggressive reactions from the US?  Breedlove wants to permanently return a heavy (armored) US Army brigade to Europe?  For what purpose is that desired?  Is it to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, the Baltics or some other place in eastern Europe?  Does anyone not invested in international tension really think Russia is going to invade these places?  Is it anticipated that the Russian intervention in Georgia set a pattern for Russian aggression?  If that is really believed at the level of government of the people named above then war may be inevitable.  In "Doctor Strangelove"  General Buck Turgidson, USAF (imagined) tells the president that he can "absolutely guarantee" that US casualties in a USSR/USA thermonuclear exchange  would be "no more then 10 million dead, 20 million tops!"  In fact the estimates current in the US government before the fall of the USSR were for much higher US casualties than that.  What on earth are we doing?
  • Yemen.  The Saudis have been defeated. They have lost a lot of men and have shown themselves to be inferior fighters when compared to the Yemen Army/Houthi forces.  This makes the "threat" of Saudi intervention in Syria a massively nonsensical fraud.  If exposed to the heat of the campaign now being waged in Syria by R+6, the Saudis and their mercenaries would melt away like snow. 
  • Israel.  Natanyahu and company are so sure of their "soft power"  (campaign money) position in the US that he dares to once again show his contempt for Obama by spurning an invitation to the Oval Office.  What is his problem?  He wants more money and equipment than Obama is willing to give him and he wants the US to be silent about any damned thing he wants to do?  Failing that he thinks that he will get a better "deal" from the next US president?  Well, you see, pilgrims, beggars really CAN be choosers.
  • Turkey.  Erdogan and his dwarf familiar Davutoglu are well along in the process of destroying Kemalist secular Turkey and its constitution.    There are now direct assaults on press freedom and individual self expression in Turkey.  At the same time Erdogan continues to have the Turkish Army shell YPG positions in Syria.  He cannot do more because Russian air defenses have blocked him from anything more  At the same time Erdogan and his Grima Wormtongue PM clone are trying to blackmail the EU into giving them a great deal of money and accelerated EU admission in return for a cessation of Turkey's little "refugee" project.  "They have brass balls" was the old US Army that described people like them.
  • Afghanistan. "Good money thrown after bad."  We created a state apparatus that Afghanistan can never pay for from domestic resources.  And even that bloated structure cannot hold the state's effective territory against the Taliban and IS jihadis.  The area of jihadi control is continuously expanding.
  • Syria.  R+6 forces are advancing across the country.  There have been local jihadi and unicorn counter-attacks in the last week but they have all been defeated.   the liberation of Palmyra and the relief of the isolated Deir as-zor enclave seem inevitable.   FSA and other more or less seculars rebels are surrendering to the government amnesty program and in many cases are being put back in charge of defending village localities.  The elimination of rebel forces in Lattakia and Idlib provinces seems likely.  In the east, IS defenses appear to be crumbling from a lack of resources now that the money derived from oil exports through Turkey have largely been halted by Russian and US air.  Logistics rules!  The "long pole" for me continues to be the small number of ground forces available to R+6. 
  • Iraq.  Iraqi Army and Shia militia forces are moving forward in Anbar and Salah ad-Din provinces.  IMO this is a result of the general crumbling of IS forces.
  • Libya.  The next big place.  pl
This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Science, Syria, Turkey, Yemen. Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to What in the world? 8 March 2016

  1. Tony says:

    “…he (Netanyahu)dares to once again show his contempt for Obama by spurning an invitation…” Why did the WH invite him to begin with? I think Obama is asking to be humiliated.

  2. All,
    ‘Natanyahu and company are so sure of their “soft power” (campaign money) position in the US that he dares to once again show his contempt for Obama by spurning an invitation to the Oval Office.’
    I think it is an interesting question here as to how far they have a realistic perception of events, and how far a completely delusional one.
    In this country, is precisely very many of those of us who have been traditionally the most philosemitic who have viewed developments over the past two decades with, to be frank, a combination of bafflement and horror.
    There are a very wide range of claims that were made by old-fashioned antiSemites here, which people like myself and my wife were used to treat with derision and contempt, among other things because they had no relation whatsoever to our own experience of Jews in Britain (which is quite extensive, and diverse.)
    It is a quite bizarre – indeed, discomforting experience – to, as it were, have the ghost of an old anti-Semite, whom one had dismissed as a bigoted, paranoid and hysterical fool, saying to you: Haim Saban? Sheldon Adelson? Paul Singer? Bill Kristol? Different Elliots, Abrams and Cohen? The Kagan/Nuland ménage?
    ‘Do you think these people give a damn for the interests of most of the inhabitants of Britain, or indeed the United States?’
    Sometimes one begins to suspect that, irrespective of whether there is a God, empirical evidence suggests there must be a Devil, who plays bad jokes.

  3. crf says:

    Remember “bring back our girls”?
    A potential mission with a clearly defined objective & limited scope, and with, potentially, a large political payoff (if you go in for that kind of reward).
    Of course absolutely not much was done beyond a few politicos, literally, sending out Twitter messages. (Obama did send some military advisors to west Africa: but obviously with no mission to see things get done.)
    They do not care about those people.
    Obama lent his support to butchering Yemen instead. And, he’s sleepwalked into letting the Saudis infest Oceania and south-east asia with destabilizing fundamentalist Wahabism, setting up potential repeats of the Nigeria situation there. Would a peep of protest and diplomatic countermeasures be wise?

  4. oofda says:

    When Carter was a deputy to William Perry in the Bill Clinton administration, he was utterly oblivious of Russian interests and concerns. The Russians began to consider him as snake-oil salesman for his ideas on reducing their ICBM fleet. He could/would not comprehend that they had concerns about other players than the USA- like China.
    For the Russians, the eastward expansion of NATO was a betrayal of a promise supposedly made when the Soviet Union peacefully ended. Whether such a promise was really made by Bush I or not, many people in Russia consider it as gospel. And for the Russians, NATO expansion into Ukraine is a red line- period. For some in the USG to continue to push NATO expansion into Ukraine is reckless insanity. What on earth are we doing indeed.

  5. On the EU/Turkey confab in Brussels, the word “ransom” appears in the headline:
    “Shopping in a Turkish bazaar is never wise for the novice. The EU learned that lesson the hard way when it discovered the carefully crafted refugee deal it believed it had sold to Turkish leaders in the run-up to Monday’s summit turned out to be little more than the beginning of the negotiation.”
    Plus: an assessment of the deal now being discussed: “Any deal on migration that the EU strikes with Turkey would be almost impossible to implement, according to an internal report prepared for Eurojust, the EU’s judicial cooperation agency.”

  6. SmoothieX12 says:

    “For some in the USG to continue to push NATO expansion into Ukraine is reckless insanity.”
    This reckless insanity has a very rational explanation.

  7. tim s says:

    “US Foreign policy. What on earth are we doing? Carter, Durnford, Nuland, Brennan and the incredible Breedlove all seem intent on war with Russia.”
    I think that TPTB realize that their time is short, with the mess they have made of the economy and the political landscape. They’re getting a scare on both sides of the uniparty for POTUS and may doubt that they can count on maintaining power in the not-so-near future as they have been able to do for decades past. Their mask is coming off, and they are no good at faking it anymore.
    They’re not good at much of anything, I’d say, and they have painted themselves into a corner. They are detested everywhere, and have nowhere to run. If they manage to squeeze Hillary through the public minefield, I’d be willing to bet they’ll go all in, thinking that it is their last best chance at the world domination they have dreamed of, and are failing miserably at achieving.

  8. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    With the collapse of their mendacious Syria policy, the collapse of the oil prices, and the termination of their oil thievery, davutoglu and tayyip (Grima Wormtongue and Saruman?) are in trouble. After the Sukhoi incident tayyip’s son and his family skedaddled out of Italy due to fears for their security. It is nice to know that there is no security for them anywhere. tayyip & co. have to try to brazen it out. We will see if that works.
    The best show in Turkey today is the fight between the gulen crowd-those (dis)honorable architects of kangaroo courts, fake proofs, blackmail, etc. whose leader lives in Pennsylvania- and the tayyipist kleptocrats of the muslim brotherhood pedigree. A few of the gulen moles in TSK were recently cashiered out. More will follow. A very satisfying side-show entails reading/observing the “confessions and self-criticism” of liberal democratic “useful idiots” who now claim to have been misled by tayyip, omitting the fact that their “misleading” involved largesse in cash and position. Now they are trying to get in with whatever comes next. The third ring of this circus involves the Europeans and their dealings with tayyip. Scenes of Merkel’s latest trip to Istanbul, including “thrones” , were priceless.
    I think we, secular Kemalists, still have enough power to cleanup the mess Turkey is going to be in once we hit bottom. The overall economic malaise will help us. Hopefully.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  9. SmoothieX12,
    I’d like to hear your rational explanation. My take on the most immediate snit is the botched attempt to extend NATO to the Ukraine-Russia border. The most visible jewel of that attempt would have been the NATO flags flying over Sevastopol and NATO ships owning the Black Sea. Being bested by Russia in this attempt and seeing Crimea firmly back in the Russian fold leaves a festering wound in the NATO psyche. This perceived slight must be addressed. On another level, I see NATO trying to justify its continued existence through continued expansion. A final reason to continually confront Russia is the US fixation on full spectrum dominance. We just can’t accept the existence of a peer competitor.

  10. Imagine says:

    The Turgidson character was quoting John von Neumann, father of modern game theory, who actively campaigned for a preemptive nuclear attack on the USSR based on these odds. Santa Monica’s RAND is a direct descendant of his school of thinking. Game theory was invented partially to justify such actions, but it falls short by basing analysis only on the single axis of utility and not the second axis of moral good. There are some things even a mafia lord will not do for money because they are wrong. Current game theory disregards this, and requires fixing.

  11. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to SmoothieX12 08 March 2016 at 01:55 PM
    “This reckless insanity has a very rational explanation.”
    Really? Really and truly? Well why don’t you tell us what it is instead of just asserting it?

  12. Seamus says:

    Many people mention Dr Strangelove as the ultimate Cold War/nuclear nightmare film. I think a much better – and altogether more frightening and sobering – one is Fail-Safe with Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau.

  13. Fred says:

    I agree. It is said the wasted billions and the risk of complete destruction over something of so little importance to our Republic.

  14. visitor says:

    “The Saudis have been defeated. They have lost a lot of men”
    Does anybody have any pointers to casualties statistics or any kind of practical evidence regarding “losing a lot of men” (e.g. large Saudi units being sent back for R&R, budget increase to deal with military pensions for war wounded and widowers, whatever)?
    So far, I have only read scattered reports about incidents when the Houthis managed to ambush Saudi forces, and about recruitment of South American mercenaries, but nothing conclusive about overall fatalities or equipment losses.

  15. Walrus says:

    There is a suggestion elsewhere on the web that Kerry (the borg) has a “plan B” for Syria which is to create and arm a lebanese sunni (mercenary?) rebel force to attack East into Syria from Lebanon, thus threatening Latakia and the Russian rear areas.
    Apparently the Greek coastguard intercepted a freighter loaded with arms originating in Turkey that was allegedly bound for a Lebanese port.
    Allegedly a senior US Government spokesman said that a plan B could/would involve “military – like” operations.
    Hezbollah has said nothing about this, but I could believe that such a move would be music to Israels ears.
    Question for SST: would such an operation be feasible? Would it make sense from a Neocon perspective? Who would “run” such an operation turks, israelis, the CIA?

  16. SmoothieX12 says:

    “My take on the most immediate snit is the botched attempt to extend NATO to the Ukraine-Russia border. The most visible jewel of that attempt would have been the NATO flags flying over Sevastopol and NATO ships owning the Black Sea. Being bested by Russia in this attempt and seeing Crimea firmly back in the Russian fold leaves a festering wound in the NATO psyche.”
    These are merely consequences. They are, primarily, a product of what is my academic contention from the last 15 years–absolute collapse of the OODA loop in US power “elites”.
    1.US (disclaimer–by US I mean its political class), until recently, thought that it could fight and win conventionally in Russia’s immediate vicinity. It can’t. For some this reality begins to dawn, for others–not. If it would be limited to Breedlove alone, that would have been of lesser concern but we are talking about large strata of American decision-makers. Considering a pathetic state of US Russian/Soviet “studies” field and of Russia “experts” it is not surprising that such moods prevail.
    2. Russia is a direct challenge to US exceptionalism by: see pp.1 and by the fact that she can (will she be able–that is another discussion, it is not preordained) provide for civilizational alternative. This process is already launched and some results are visible. Russia knows that so called “liberal” project, of which US is a main driving force, is over.
    3. US internal dynamics which is not positive, to put it mildly. New issue of Cold War is needed for a number of tactical domestic reasons. Some of them to unify public opinion, others to make money for MIC, and, considering the fact that US foreign policy is formulated by ethnic-religious mafias (AIPAC and Saudis are prime examples) it is very doubtful that US will break the vicious circle of never-ending Chalabi moments.
    This, very-very short, list of reasons may give some primer for understanding of what is going on. In some sense this whole behavior is reminiscent of Bene Geserit and Guild navigators who were afraid that Paul Atreidis will take the water of life. The water of life, of course, being finally dumping IMF monetarist policies and with it a dollar, including resumption of the emission. Considering the real (I underscore), real, Russia’s economy one may see the “trouble” along the way for the US. This, plus, of course, that Russia produces world-class weapons, all of them. In some sense, saying all this may, actually, contradict my own thesis that well, to put it mildly, those in power are not nearly as bright as one might think, since they seem to foresee at least some ramifications of what is going on. But, actions speak louder than words. As Clausewitz brilliantly observed: “It is legitimate to judge the event by its outcome for this is the soundest criterion”. The outcomes are everywhere and passing judgments on those is not only warranted but irresistible.

  17. SmoothieX12 says:

    EU is run, pardon my French, by imbeciles. I mean it. The whole Western “elite” today is a panopticon of dimwits, bureaucrats, shysters and perverts. Most of those are also weaklings–this is a demand of liberal order. Anyone with principles, courage, human decency may not apply. Rare exceptions merely prove the rule. The problem is systemic and can not be addressed by merely changing one set of creeps for another.

  18. asx says:

    Client Paralysis, a term I first saw here on SST is reaching terminal phase. American interest is no more than the sum total of all our client interests. All tails wag the dog.
    It is almost as if there is a machine intelligence and algorithm running our foreign policy with no adult intervention. Each of these missteps compute into some intangible national advantage per this algorithm. But the sum total is a complete Fubar. This will produce an outcome no different than the market crashes precipitated by the HFT bots.

  19. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Let me get this straight:
    “A Lebanese Sunni (mercenary?) rebel force to attack East into Syria from Lebanon” –
    And pigs would fly….

  20. aleksandar says:

    “Russia is a much weaker country militarily and economically than the US”.
    Sorry, sir I don’t think so. If we only check numbers, it’s right but…..
    Russia :
    – Complete sky dominance due to the failure of JSF for the ten years to come.
    – AA capabilities better than NATO.
    – No logistical problems to rearm and reinforce theirs troops but capacity to destroy NATO LOC everywhere in Europe.
    – Up to 2 millions of soldiers available just to begin with.
    – Best knowledge of Ops Theater and a 500 km deep operational front.
    – OPS PLANS already drafted to resist an invasion.
    – Ground forces manned with excellent military equipment.( T90, Armata and so on )
    – Capability to launch a partisan war.
    Ready to lose million of deaths to defend “Mother Russia”.
    How many million of deaths are NATO nations ready to accept to win such a war ? And how long ?

  21. Haralambos says:

    Walrus, I think you might have seen this, since b comments here rather frequently, but, in case you have not, here it is: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/03/kerrys-plan-b-an-attack-on-syria-from-lebanon-with-saudi-and-turkish-help.html

  22. Kooshy says:

    Colonel I think you forgot the NK, or you left that out. IMO sanctions wouldn’t change anything, even if China genuinely comes on board.

  23. turcopolier says:

    I am not concerned with NK. ROK and Japan should be concerned with them. Now, if NK uses a nuke in combat all bets are off in my view. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    I would counsel you not to talk like that unless you wish to give support to the war party here. pl

  25. SmoothieX12 says:

    Russia does not have anything near US Power Projection capability. But that is precisely the capability based on which US military superpowerdom is defined. US Navy, despite its horrendous disproportions, still remains and will remain for a foreseeable future the mightiest navy on the planet. So, before getting emotional, everything has to be taken within geopolitical and doctrinal framework. Russia does not need even one tenth of power projection capabilities US has, nor should Russia try to obtain those for a precise reason that Russian doctrine will always remain defensive. As the famous saying goes: want to bankrupt the nation, give them a cruiser (or aircraft carrier, in modern version). The best way to win the game is not to play it. Militarily-wise Russia today is doing a lot in proper and measured manner which provides her defense against any opponent or their combination.

  26. Fred says:

    ” Russia is a direct challenge to US exceptionalism … and by the fact that she can …. provide for civilizational alternative. ”
    Mississippi is a direct challenge to US exceptionalism. So’s the rest of the South. There was a long bloody war here about civilizational alternatives.

  27. Seamus says:

    Just why do we hate North Korea?

  28. zth says:

    “What exactly has Russia done to require such aggressive reactions from the US?”
    What percentage of the NSC, CIA, DoD and WH staff are post-Berlin Wall kinder?
    I remember a time when the old Borg and Beltway Experts told us the Soviets were all 8′ tall and every ss-18 silo and typhoon was breathlesssly counted when the budget came around. And we believed it, until reality TV showed Germans dancing on the walltops.
    What in any 30-somethings curricula told them to be afraid of the big bad bear?

  29. different clue says:

    David Habakkuk,
    The bad-analysis problem arises if one then goes on to decide that since Bernie Sanders, Professor Steven Cohen at Princeton and other such people are also Jews . . . that they are really stealth-the-same as the bad actors named above. That is where the old-fashioned antiSemites would like analysis to go. But analytical and spiritual discipline can keep it from going there.
    If the bad actors and their bad followers named above can have their influence attritted and degraded over time with no factually unsupportable spillover, then good can be achieved with no harm done.

  30. different clue says:

    By “rational explanation” do you mean “rational” in the sense that an experienced and knowledgeable psychiatrist can rationally explain why a paranoid schizophrenic in full-psychotic-break does what he/she does?
    Or do you mean that dispassionate geo-political analysts and power-players could see a “rational reason” in the real world for why the Axis of NATO quite “rationally” pushes NATO eastward to Russia’s border?
    Which form of “rational explanation” do you mean?

  31. Balint Somkuti says:

    Now there is a point.

  32. Alexey says:

    It’s a bit of elephant vs whale kind of thing. Whale is bigger strictly speaking but…

  33. Amir says:

    E.U.’s political class has lost it’s sense of independence and this in regards to Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and U.S.
    They are not willing to combat their own inhibitions, which are preventing them to defend themselves. They have purposefully chosen to look like seers in a headlight. It makes me think of the Iranians during the Mongol invasion.
    A very simple way to put Turkey in it’s place, would be to arrange for conditions that are similar to U.S. For the purpose of family reunion, thus putting tangible pressure on Sultan Erdogan. Economically, diversion of tourism from Turkey to Greece would bring down two birds with a single shot.

  34. ISL says:

    Per militarily, see below. But ultimately, military potential stands on the strength of the underlying economy. And this decade, the US economy is vastly larger and stronger than Russia’s, plus can blackmail many other economies to join its policy directions – fickle or not.
    No comment about the next decades…..
    Much of the problems of the US economy that one reads about, IMO, devolve from its wealth concentration to a handful of individuals each with their own selfish and short-sighted and contradictory interests – the term is regulatory capture.
    But the vast US wealth exists and could be remobilized for the national good if the political will developed. The US could easily wall itself off and tell the rest of the world to sc–w itself, and regenerate in I think less than a decade, world-class manufacturing and other lost industries. Not saying it will, just that it could.

  35. Barish says:

    I suppose news black-out by Saudi authorities plays a role. Also amusing to watch a Saudi-allied channel’s coverage on Yemen, namely Al-Jazeera English (AJE): they started proclaiming “imminent Saudi conquest” of Sana’a months ago citing “AJ-exclusive sources”, showed a bunch of Adenites posing with Steyr Aug 1 – wonder where those came from, Tunisia? – and what have you.
    There’s also the simple matter that progress of Saudi-Arabia against Yemen, poorest nation on the peninsula simply is a joke, given the fact that Saudi-Arabia has got the largest defence* budget in the region. Further, there’s this tasty morsel that has to be kept in mind when it comes to the entire Saudi-initiated operation:
    “Al Qaeda Fights on Same Side as Saudi-Backed Militias in Yemen”
    Article was published in July last year, title says it all, really. I recall that none other than AJE – or maybe soon to be defunct AJ-America, can’t recall – featured an online-article even earlier than that citing US military circles that were said to be scratching their heads as to the counter-productiveness of the Saudi intervention. Counter-productive insofar that the Zaidi Houthis together with the Yemeni Armed Forces were giving AQAP a run for their money. Not so any longer since the Saudis declared their crusade against the evil Persian wraith they appear to see every waking moment at the corner of their field of vision.
    I can’t seem to find that AJ-article anymore, which was released some time in spring last year as far as I recall. Given AJ’s, hence Qatar’s rather transparent pro-Saudi agenda it wouldn’t be too surprising if they took that article down for good measure.

  36. LeaNder says:

    Well, obvious nutcases sometimes do stupid things.
    Why would that be a matter of love or hate to any outside observer.
    For whatever reason, I cannot post a question below:
    “The “long pole” for me continues to be the small number of ground forces available to R+6.”
    “long pole”?
    disrupting logistic lines is an important component of the fight, but won’t completely make up for boots on the ground?

  37. turcopolier says:

    “The long pole in the tent” is a widely used American expression especially in the military to denote the factor in a situation which is most difficult in resolving the situation. If you have ever erected a tent you will have found that there always seems to be a pole too long for easy completion of the task. As for your second point “mass” matters in campaigning. Logistics is very important but it helps a great deal to have sufficient force to do all the things necessary without stretching the force too much. If you do over-commit your forces you risk a sudden reversal of the situation. pl

  38. SmoothieX12 says:

    ” But ultimately, military potential stands on the strength of the underlying economy. And this decade, the US economy is vastly larger and stronger than Russia’s, plus can blackmail many other economies to join its policy directions – fickle or not.”
    US economy is much larger than that of Russia, it is also an economy which is greatly (in fact, grotesquely) overvalued since 80% of US economy is FIRE (Finances, Insurance, Real Estate). The manufacturing sector (that is real economy) of US barely hits 20%. The main article of US export today is inflation. Russia’s economy is grossly undervalued and its manufacturing sector’s share of the economy exceeds 40%. So, while smaller, for obvious reasons, than the US economy, Russia’s economy is smaller by much lesser margin than it is taught in all kinds of Ivy League economic madrasas. But it is not only the “size” (GDP) of the economy–it is its structure which matters for the issue of military power and here the number of closed technological cycles matters above all because it translates into the weapons–their quality and quantity. What goes into this I will not elaborate here but let’s put it into prospective: there are only two nations in the world who produce full spectrum of weapon systems–from small arms to global positioning systems and space stations. You may have guessed it–these are US and Russia. China is not even in this league despite making some strides. Ask yourself a question why China, whose economy is largest, is so desperate to get her hands on SU-35C? Two words–Irbis and Saturn 117S, with thrust vectoring nozzles. Just a very small example.
    As per national wealth of the US. I lived and worked long enough in the good ol’ USA to stop recognizing the country I used to know. The nation today is bankrupt and it reflects everywhere–from decay in the what used to be working class communities, to, always weak, public education to innumerable marijuana shops along the main arteries in many towns and cities. Just listen to Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road–it seems that Mark Knopfler knew what was coming already in 1982.

  39. ISL says:

    I don’t disagree with you about where things are heading or where they are; however, I was careful to say this decade. Barring the US getting into a major war (per normal for Great Powers) we have decades to turn things around – personally – I am not optimistic, but always hopeful. See trend in Great Britain over the last say century as it FIRE-d its economy – there is a long timescale. Unfortunately, that probably prevents the much needed serious reform.
    However, right now the US can still leverage its wealth (debt-funded or not) to build an unstoppable army of even semi-functional weapons (F-35) that still remain unmatchable. The credit taps still run full scale.
    That said, Russia has been amazingly successful at evolving its economy over the last decade from the Shock therapy basket case the US tried to apply under the drunken Yeltsin, particularly given the constraints placed on it in the world economy and its dependency on oil – and effectively applying that to maintain its ability to defend militarily its core interests. In contrast, the US seems to have defined the entire globe as a core interest, which takes orders of magnitude larger expenditures than Russia’s needs.

  40. The Beaver says:

    Colonel et al.,
    A long piece on IS from Jim Muir , BBC News:
    “By the time both the new ISI and al-Qaeda leaders were killed in a US-Iraqi army raid on their hideout in April 2010, the insurgency was at its lowest ebb, pushed back into remote corners of Sunni Iraq.
    They were both replaced by one man, about whom very little was publicly known at the time, and not much more since: Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
    Six eventful years later, he would be proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim, Commander of the Faithful and leader of the newly declared “Islamic State”.

  41. bth says:

    Col., I’ve been thinking more and more about the economic attrition (warfare) that is occurring in the world especially among commodity based economies and especially those at war (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, GSS). I think we are approaching a economic culmination point in several key countries. Are you aware, is there any research into economic culmination points that is current and perhaps relevant to the ME at this point?

  42. Pat Lang and Leander,
    And, to your point (I think), mass without logistics might be analogous to a balloon which, when punctured collapses dramatically.

  43. SmoothieX12 says:

    “However, right now the US can still leverage its wealth (debt-funded or not) to build an unstoppable army of even semi-functional weapons (F-35) that still remain unmatchable. The credit taps still run full scale.”
    Here is where we have to agree to disagree. It matters great deal how things are financed–on credit or in gold–and especially so in the military sphere. De-dollarization is already in progress. Dollar is the main instrument of US servicing her colossal debt. Unlike it was in immediate post-WW II period when US had about 60% share of global GDP, today things are drastically different since the only foundation for US globalism is an, largely empty, financial bubble. And here is the danger, I simplify it, of course–many in US decision making and policy setting circle think that the war is good for the US and, in fact, is one of the ways out of the already pretty grim economic situation. Enough to mention that desperately needed US re-industrialization miserably failed, sadly. What those people do not understand (they can not–most of them humanities and finances “educated” good ol’ boys who see the life from the windows of their limos and private jets) is the fact that any US war with near peer, forget peer-to-peer, one which, as Colonel Macgregor stated “has a modicum of military ability”, can result in a catastrophic dynamics for the US. The bubble will burst almost immediately. Even today US has squandered the bulk of her capital, including a soft power one. Consider now scenario where even a single US aircraft carrier is sunk or damaged to the point of being useless–it may not have necessarily immediate catastrophic consequences for the outcome of the war but it will, absolutely, have catastrophic political and economic consequences. Why so, is a very long discussion but US can not win conventionally in Russia’s neighborhood, she can not invade China and she can not win the real war in Iran–these are hard facts and they already are having major influence on the global realignment. The problem and danger here, as I already stated, that the quality of US “elites” dropped precipitously in the last three decades.

  44. different clue says:

    I wonder to what extent the notoriously antiRussianitic racist antiRussianite Zbigniew Brzezinski left loads of proteges and acolytes and assorted little zbignoids placed throughout the diplomatic and academic systems to carry the flame of Zbiggy’s grudges against Russia.

  45. Fred says:

    Interesting write up.

  46. SmoothieX12 says:

    “By “rational explanation” do you mean “rational” in the sense that an experienced and knowledgeable psychiatrist can rationally explain why a paranoid schizophrenic in full-psychotic-break does what he/she does?”
    Couldn’t have put it better myself. This is exactly what I mean.

  47. Prem says:

    I wonder why the US haven’t been able to build semi-competent armies in Afghanistan and Iraq?
    The Soviet trained Afghan army was reasonably effective. If Gorbachev and Yeltsin hadn’t cut off their arms supplies, and if Dostam hadn’t defected they could have held out indefinitely.
    Even today, from what I’ve heard the best personnel to be found in the Afghan forces are Soviet trained veterans of Najib’s army.

  48. MartinJ says:

    There is no war in Yemen.
    This will become clear in the coming weeks. The Saudis do not have any men in Yemen. Everything that is in the media is complete baloney.
    That goes for these stories of South American mercenaries as well.
    AQAP is a many headed beast. Most of their activities that make it to the MSM are in fact acts carried out by Ali Abdallah Saleh’s Republican Guard or AQAP acting as a subcontractor for him. All false flag operations. In fact, I would define AQAP as a false flag militia; just one more criminal gang competing for smuggling routes and other criminal franchises.
    Those fighting against the Huthis and Saleh, in Taiz for example, are calling themselves Salafis. They are actually closer to the AQ brand but they call themselves by a different name so that their pool of potential supporters are not confused into thinking they may join the pro-Saleh AQAP.
    The Saudis are not actually fighting the Huthis in any real sense. They are fighting in the media. They take positions in public negotiations. They sell the “war” as a great victory to the Saudi people. But they do not really support an overturning of the established order. They fear the unleashing of chaos there that might result in millions of starving Yemenis pouring over their borders for a start.

  49. Fred says:

    “… Russia does not need even one tenth of power projection capabilities US has,…”
    Russia has a much better idea of what their national interests actually are and are limiting themselves to defense of those.

  50. SmoothieX12 says:

    The largest, most secretive, heavily guarded military secret in the West during the Cold War was the fact that USSR didn’t want to fight the war, let alone the one which would destroy what many Soviets treasured very much–Europe. But then again (I am being deliberately smug here) what would I know with my whole childhood and juvenile years spent in military and military-industrial environment and then almost 11 years of service with Special Significance clearance (I don’t know what is the equivalent of it in the US–in USSR it was above Top Secret). Almost each time I read something about Soviet or, for that matter, Russian military doctrine, organization, intentions, strategies–I cringe. With some few exceptions of serious and competent observers who do deliver good assessments, most of what is available on USSR/Russia is complete baloney, bordering on delirium or some dissident psychobabble. Even famous Anti-Sovetchick and Russophobe, Richard Pipes, was forced, in 1977, to admit that US is forming her military policies without even considering Soviet doctrine or strategy. He went on, of course, after that to write about 3 000 words of utter BS, but, at least, the premise was sound. The history of the Cold War is not written yet. Meanwhile, Russia wants to be left alone but she, probably, never will be. Having said that, Russia will continue formation of her armed forces capable of fighting and winning the war in Russia’s immediate vicinity (e.g. Ukraine) but nothing more.

  51. Kooshy says:

    Colonel I understand, IMO Borgistas want to step on China’ foot, I think is just a mater of time before borg start demonizing and to sanctioning China, stratigicly speaking I don’t think China will give up or let go of NK. I think for China’ planers a wild card is God thing to keep everyone in the neighborhood on thier toes. Like if Chinese have their own strategically crazy Saudis in thier neck of woods.

  52. Thirdeye says:

    “Libya. The next big place.”
    And about to get a whole lot bigger, like through northern Africa according to Peter Lee.
    And unlike with Syria and Iraq, there are no regional parties like R+6 with the combination of interest and power to change the course of things. The West is going to be busy with this one for a long, long time. One couldn’t blame the R+6 for having a good laugh.

  53. different clue says:

    Ahh . . . okay then. The suspicion began arising that you might have been saying that pushing NATO eastward actually had some kind of rationale . . . some sort of elevendy-mentional chess kind of thing. I am glad that was not your meaning.

  54. An interesting post and thread IMO! One question! How does modern supply-chain theory mesh with military mobilization and logistics? In other words today, right now, what are the key factors in power projection and war-fighting?

  55. Peter Reichard says:

    Obama is one of them.As a high profile charismatic black man he was curiously almost invisible on the campus of Columbia University when ZB was a professor there.I suspect rather than attending regular classes he may have had a special tutored relationship with that notorious Russophobe who guided his world view.

  56. LeaNder says:

    “traditionally the most philosemitic who have viewed developments over the past two decades with, to be frank, a combination of bafflement and horror.”
    David, when I felt I recognized a trend in the post 9/11 universe, I fled into the academic sphere ‘to get some balance’ between the surfacing antisemites and whatever category of philosemites–post late 19th century, when they were still called “the friends of the Jews” by the German extreme nationalist right. …
    Unfortunately my academic balancing oasis was broken up between December 2005 and January 2006. By now even the traces of the sycophant, or for that matter the resignation of two people, one of whom may well have engineered the breakup are gone from the web. In any case it distinctively felt that the list editor was forced into resignation by a sycophant, and gone are a multitude of highly interesting scholars and debates.
    In any case I wonder if “philosemitic”, never mind the historical burden of the term linguistically, is a good approach. …

  57. LeaNder says:

    thanks Pat, appreciated.

  58. LeaNder says:

    Prem, how is Chechnya related to our post 9/11 universe? If I may ask a nitwit question.

  59. Which will come first? Sinking of a US carreir or Chinese occupation of the Moon?

  60. SmoothieX12 says:

    It is said that Ronald Reagan before meeting Gorbachev read Tom Clancy, W., actually, tried to read Dostoevsky, Obama has Zbig as one of his main geopolitical advisers and Russia “experts”–it is not a secret. So, what could possibly go wrong here? Well, I am being facetious, of course.

  61. ISL says:

    Basically, your point is that in addition to the nuclear stalemate, there is an economic equivalent that would when addressed by rational folk, would lead to a stalemate – dont try to dance in a rocking boat.
    Sorry cant agree to disagree, I agree!
    We are fortunate that Russia has followed a rational actor course.

  62. The Beaver says:

    O Brother,
    After David Brooks: “I Miss Barack Obama”
    Here comes Jeffrey Goldberg,another dual national who would rather be a prison guard in Israel that joining the US military to show his loyalty :
    Wonder who is next – may be someone from WaPo or another journalist who did partake in breaking bread with the new President back in January 2009 at 9 Grafton street in Chevy Chase Village !!!

  63. turcopolier says:

    IMO it is untrue that Zbig is an adviser to Obama. The Zionists hate him and would do everything they could to prevent that. I suppose they could meet in secret somewhere. pl

  64. SmoothieX12 says:

    Speaking of being rational. These news didn’t make it to first pages but they surely should have.
    The nation, Iran, which has nothing, zilch, to do with 911 is supposed to pay for Saudi crimes. I can not wrap my brain around it. Full blown Alice In Wonderland, getting curioser and curioser. I’ve seen nations going completely mad before and I didn’t like it.

  65. Prem says:

    Well, I don’t claim any expert knowledge on that subject. It started as a nationalist revolt(the Chechens never really accepted Russian rule).
    Then it was overtaken by the global phenomenon of Saudi funded Wahabization. Putin cut a deal with the saner rebels giving them lots of money and autonomy in return for stamping out Islamist attacks on the rest of Russia.
    If it hadn’t been in such a strategically important location I would advocate the Russians leaving – the place is regressing to medieval Islamic social norms. Unfortunately, this is happening in much of the Muslim world.
    In the ex-Soviet Union a few Muslim nationalities like those on the Volga seem to be OK, but others are spiralling downwards.
    Tajikistan is the worst case. It has gone from having near-European levels of literacy to Indian levels, and heading for Pakistani and Afghan levels. Literate parents are raising illiterate kids – the sort of thing that happened after the fall of Rome or the Mongol conquests.

  66. SmoothieX12 says:

    I am aware of Zbig calling on US to stop Israel’s possible attack on Iran. That much is true. The problem with Zbig is that once the word “Russia” enters his mind, he becomes totally irrational. He is not a good scholar of geopolitics, because he is not good scholar of the warfare–this is a common trait of both neocons and liberal interventionists or people associated with them. I think, Russians would rather deal with Brent Scowcroft types than with Zbig. Founding fathers warned about foreign passions, Zbig is the case in point–whenever it is about US-Russian relations, Zbig becomes a Pole, which, in the end, he is and that also implies a certain set of attitudes to a certain group of people.

  67. SmoothieX12 says:

    Sorry, forgot to mention. Zbig, in accordance to Stephen Cohen, at least was consulting Obama on geopolitics.

  68. @PL
    I don’t know whether Zbig is presently an advisor to BHO but I recall reading that BHO’s undergraduate degree at Columbia was in International Relations and Zbig was one of his Professors or even his senior thesis advisor. I believe the senior thesis, which is embargoed, was on the control of nuclear weapons. It is remarkable that so little has been made of this aspect of BHO’s background. Sorry I don’t have backup links.

  69. J says:

    Colonel. TTG,
    It appears that Breedlove has an anti-Russian successor in Gen. Scapparotti.

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