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11 June 2007


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Cloned Poster

Sane, balanced, authoriative, intelligent and insightful commentary. It's a pity have to read this article on "teh internets" and nobody on the MSM (BBC included) has journalists willing to report in such a way.

Ah, if Lieberman was VP now in Gore's second term would Iran have been bombed already?

Frank Durkee

An excellent article. Let's hope real attention is paid to it and acted on in D.C.


Excellent, PL! And necessary. On a side note, I was watching the McLaughlin Report last night. It was fascinating to hear the respective positions on this missile 'shield' proposal. Pat Buchanan and Tony Blankly were sympathetic to the Russian position. Gerald Baker, from the FT was as well. He, supposedly, giving us the EU perspective. The woman, whose name I can't recall, who usually 'plays' the liberal on the show, was sympathetic to Bush's proposal. We can speculate why they took the positions they took. But it is fascinating to seek how the political spectrum has changed since, say, the 1980s. Buchanan and Tony Blankley agreeing, for the most part, with Russia? My how the neocons have created enemies right here in the states.

Cloned Poster

Europe will be nothing more than material for plots for cheap novels for a long time.

Replace will with is.

The Litvencko/Bereskovsky (sp?) issue with Blair is a prime example.


Well done Col. Lang. And kudos to the CSM, a real newspaper.


The current administrations has managed to set the stage for a new cold war. And Russia and China as the new global strategic threat is certainly convenient. I don't know how many people here reads atimes but a recent piece by M K Bhadrakumar is worth reading for further perspective. The idea of American power unilaterally controlling and reshaping the globe is still very much alive in the spirit of PNAC.

'A determined effort is on by Washington to eliminate Russia's strategic parity with the US. Washington regards this as the first essential step toward getting "unipolarity" and the New American Century project going again. The outcome is uncertain. Moscow is firmly resisting, no matter what it takes. But it is also a complex struggle. Despite Washington's attempts to portray it as a morality play of democracy and freedom versus authoritarianism, the heart of the matter is that the struggle also enables the US to consolidate its trans-Atlantic leadership over Europe in the post-Soviet era.'



Col Lang,

I would add one more critique of the administration's handling of this. In my opinion, Bush should have stated more clearly and forcefully that the US will resist Putin's attempts to reassert Russian 'ownership'/control/undue influence over former soviet republics/Warsaw Pact countries. Bush did make some perfunctory remarks to this effect, but I would argue that drawing a clearer line for Russia is necessary for the US, but is only possible if the administration accords the proper 'respect' to Putin.

As you said, "Russia remains a formidable nuclear power, and now it is also a country swimming in oil money. The nation's capacity for mischief in the world is growing, not diminishing."

The possibility of Russian mischief will in my view increase with greater ability to influence the former Soviet bloc. Putin may accept that Russia is not a global superpower, but he clearly thinks that Russian strategic interests lie in consolidating and reclaiming what many Russians consider the "Russian lands" (i.e. the Caucuses, Central Asia, and to some extent Eastern Europe). These independent states are not Russian, and Russia must be reminded that just as they deserve the respect of the world community, so does Georgia, Poland, and Ukraine, for example.

Ultimately, this is just another reason for showing more 'respect' in US dealings with Russia, as doing so will allow the US to better protect its interests in the region, however they ultimately develop.

W. Patrick Lang


I would agree that respect and firmness must go "hand in hand." pl

John Howley

We would also do well to remember that the national pastime in Russia is chess.


Thank you for the insightful article in a newspaper that has maintained its great integrity, at least in my opinion. If only the entire fourth estate approached reporting like the CSM.

Dean Rusk would have agreed with this article. He played a crucial, if not predominate, role in averting a nuclear war with the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis, thus fulfilling Sun Tzu’s maxim that the greatest victory is the one of the “sheathed sword”. And Dean Rusk said later that, in diplomacy, the US must always show great respect for the adversary and always allow “the enemy” a way out of a crisis with honor.

Seems to me that at least some of the Woodstock generation have become bullies on the world stage. Not to sound too corny, but our founding fathers hated bullies.

And this leads to a civilian question. I understand what has happened. But why are we alienating the Russians? Seems like an alliance at this time in history would serve the national interests of both.

Surely this patina of promoting democracy as a religion is but a hypocritical ruse or we’d be applying the same pressure on other nations less democratic, such as Saudi Arabia. So on a different level, what is the “animating spirit” or lack thereof in the USG that is promoting perpetual war in a way that would make Trotsky click his heels in joy?

A Rothbardian -- Raimondo -- has offered some brilliant insights, at least in my view, as has Pat Buchanan.

But if I may…I think if a person can determine the Straussian esoteric “weltanschauung” that is shared among the luminaries of the neoconservative cult, then such a person comes close to determining the “intent” that is animating US foreign policy at this time. The Rapturists and oil folks are drawn on board with the Straussians (aka Jacobins) to create what a journalist called the “perfect storm”.

So the challenge becomes to figure out this esoteric worldview. Then one can reveal what people are calling the Straussian noble lie. Jump in front of the historical force by employing the proper symbols.

And just to add a purely anecdotal -- or what some may call “empirical” -- insight: I have an American friend whose last name is Russian and translates into “wolf strangler”. Russian character to the core. Former SWAT. Trained with all the special ops…USMC, US Army Rangers et al. Part time secret service.

Just my opinion…but people are flat out delusional if they think the Russians don’t know how to fight and will back down from a challenge. If I were walking down a dark alley, I’d not only welcome the opportunity but also be thankful to have the Russians on my side at this time in history.



Thanks Colonel - a good one - though I am missing two points.

1. The project was NEVER planed to protect Europe form Iranian or other missiles. This was only invented after the project became public.

- No European country but Poland and Chechnia was informed of the project.
- The NATO planing group for missile defense was not involved.
- Europe could not need "Mid Course" missile defense like planed in Poland. Any defense for Europe within Europe is "terminal phase" missile defense. NATO/Europe has such capacity with Patriot III in place and Standard Missile I and MEADS in the pipeline.

The argument that the stuff in Poland is against a threat in Europe is simply false.

2. The Russians do not fear these as "Missile Defense".

- "Booster" missiles in silos in Poland could easily be converted from a "defense" roll to an "attack" role.

- Some "maintainance" would only have to exchange the war head and the flight software.

- With U.S. attack ground to ground missiles in Poland warning time against a decapitating attack on Moscow would be down to very few minutes.

My (European) recommendation for Putin:

- Immediately plan to install siloed "Mid Course Missile Defense" systems in Cuba to protect Mexico against the threat from Venezuela.

- If such systems are harmless, the U.S. will certainly agree to such a project.

W. Patrick Lang


Ever been to Alabama?

With regard to your point in re missile conversion to a ground to ground role, it is inherent in any strategic surface to air missile system that it can be converted in this way. The NIKE Hercules was for a long time our most effective SS system in Europe. pl


One interesting point about missile defense that I don't think gets made often enough. Missile defense will never work against a first strike by a major nuclear power. Unless the defense system is perfect it can be simply overwhelmed. What it could do, is shield a country from a retaliatory strike, where an enemy has had most of it's arsenal destroyed by a nuclear attack and is just launching whatever it has left. In other words, missile defense is about moving beyond the logic of mutually assured destruction and making nukes usable as strategic weapons.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

Your essay reminds me of what Richard Nixon said: "Russia is down, but not out. We should treat her with respect." and "We and the Russians can never be friends but we cannot afford to be enemies either.".

I am afraid, however, that the militarization of outer space and the create-fact-on-the-ground crowd are going to play their zero-sum vanity game regardless of what you or R.N.

They are high on Hubris.

Duncan Kinder

While I largely agree with Col. Lang's article, there is another aspect of this story which we should consider:

Poland has a long and complicated relationship with Russia, dating back to Boris Godunov and before, while the Czech Republic (a.k.a, "Bohemia") has played a major role in European history including the starting of the Thirty Years War, John Huss, and before.

So we are dealing with countries with their own identities and histories that transcend the Cold War and current European Union politics.

Under these circumstances, it would be simplistic to presume that they simply are acting as proxies for whatever the Bush or any U.S. administration. Nor would a Bush / Putin missile settlement necessarily put to rest whatever agendas they may have in this matter.


The best reason I've heard for this resumption of the Cold War by Washington is that its an attempt to interrupt the growing rapprochement between Russia and Germany.

Schroder started it, Merkel is continuing it. Germany has high technology and capital, Russia has raw materials and oil.

3 times in the last century Germany tried to get Russian raw materials - WW's I and II and Ost Politik - at last it seems to be succeeding.

Japan's case is just as interesting. It tried to get its hands on Russia's raw materials - 1905, 1919 (Japanese troops got as far as the Urals), 1936, 38 and 39, and trading deals during Detente. Now Russia seems to be prepared to export oil to both Japan and China (but more to China, perhaps because Japan is too close to the US).

Iran is doing oil deals with the Chinese, the Indians, the Japanese. Venezuela is doing deals with China. Even the Iraqi "government" seems eager to do its primary deals with the Far East.

Simpletons are perhaps not the best people to have in charge on a complex battlefield.


The fundamental issue with both Russia and Iran is the same--they are regional powers who are saying to the world's superpower, "HEY, your steamroller is exceeding the speed limit!"

I was amused to read somewhere that our sabre-rattling in the Persian Gulf is not as provocative as it seems. The U.S. and Iranian navies are in constant communication so as NOT to come into conflict by making any unexpected moves. All communications are professional and courteous on the basis of mutual respect. If only their governments would show the same common sense.



I rather have a friendly, Russia, with it's own frontlawn, rather than an encircled and unfriendly one.

NATO expansion in itself carries no value. It doesn't bring any safety benefits for those who are already members, except for a 5 minute improvement in airborne early warning time.

But defense seems to have ceased to be its purpose after the end of the cold war. NATO expansion in my understanding is a US political vessel. In some respect NATO has become America's counter-apparatus to the EU. In that game 'new Europe' is America's 'sleeper' or spoiler in Europe, for now. Look who was in the 'Coalition of the Willing'. In long term I guess Europe will assimilate them to some extent. Among other things they will have to adopt European law and so forth, they will at some point get the Euro.
America is far away, and the primary product the US can offer the newbies over is safety. Without an obvious enemy the whole US offer becomes much less attractive. There is this old say: Whose bread I eat, whose song I'll sing.

With a friendly Russia the question arises, safety from whom? From a re-emerging Germany? Uh, nevermind us, even though Germany luckily became much more assertive we are still way too guilt ridden to start anything funny.
The economical benefits gained from EU membership are much more formidable an argument than a squadron of second hand F-16, a base, a pat on the back by the US and some liberty rhetoric. All nice, no doubt. And of course there are East-European sensibilities and the desire to be safe from Russia and Germany after the experience of the last hundred years are an element, and the US do indeed exploit that. Foul play IMO, but consequent from a US point of view. An attempt to divide and rule.

I got ponderous when I heared the insufferable Madeleine Albright insist that the US are the indispendable nation. If that's so self-evident, why mention it at all? But better don't even start asking such questions. That's why it is all about Iran. Ahmedinejad, crazy. Russia, evil. Human rights record, bad. Authoritarian Russia, spooky!
Russsia has always been authoritarian, and atm it is way more open than under the tsar and any time in Russiam history. I wouldn't exactly see Jelzin's age of chaos as a model. Russia is no longer a threat to Europe.

When America's policy under 'dual containment' is to prevent independent action by Japan, Germany and by extension South Korea, then it would be plausible when they also try to bind Russia. That is consequent in the sense that US policy has strived to keep all control and the benefits gained since the end of WW-II and the Korean War and to expand based on that.

The US under Bush openly strive for 'full spektrum dominance' and global hegemony. This article about 'nuclear primacy' argues that the missiles in Europe could give the US a first strike capability against Russia, the interceptors in Europe and iirc Alaska being tasked with holding back the Russian counterstrike. Madness for normal folks, but it makes a lot of sense under the hegemony doctrine. And that is most probably what Russia is concerned about. If I were them in face of what can be understood as US encirclement and US sponsored color-coded revolutions in their back- and frontyards.

Mr. Lang once mentioned Khalilzad getting angry with him over disagreement about a policy statement he made. I presume he meant the Defense Planning Guidance. It is as actual now as it was then.


Pat asks:


Ever been to Alabama?

Ten US states and D.C. on my list so far. I've missed Alabama, but I know my Brecht.

Next foreign country travel outside Europe will be Iran, China and the West Bank. The U.S? Not voluntarily anymore - if some business pays for it, fine. But not on my private purse.
Thanks for confiming the Surface-Surface capability I suspected.

This is really about a first strike, anti-MAD ability the U.S. wants to develop.

Russia will not be the only one who wants to put some spoilers into that concept.

Michael Murry

It did my old heart good to see America finally get a space shuttle flight launched this year. Naturally, two Russian cosmonauts genially welcomed the arriving American crew at "our" space station. I sure hope that those nice, competent Russians will disregard the belligerant bullshit coming out of America's "government" right now and give our astronauts a safe ride home (as they so often do) should that hole in the fragile Shuttle's thermal-protection blanket make returning to earth in our own "technologically superior" death trap a chance not worth taking.

I could write more about the sheer stupidity of making enemies where none need exist, but others here have already done that well enough to make any further commentary by me redundant. So for my poor part, I'd just like to add a bit of movie allegory from the recent remake of The Count of Monte Cristo. Subsitute the Dick Cheney Shogunate Regency for the dissolute aristocrat, Fernand de Mondego, as he sits petulantly squandering away his familiy inheritance at a casino roulette wheel. Through a crack in an open door, Jacoppo (Edmond Dantes' sidekick) observes: "He's losing. And they're not even cheating him." A perfect epitaph for the sorry, privileged Texas buffoon currently trying to pass himself off as an "American" and "leader of the free world."

As I believe retired general Tony McPeak has commented: "For the last six years America has been engaged in an experiment to validate the proposition that it really doesn't matter whom we elect President. Although, when we elect somebody really stupid, it matters very much." I think I got that quote about right.

Oh, shit. Here comes another fit of that hysterical laughing and crying thing again.


With respect, I again have to remind people of the fundamental error in the entire PNAC/Neocon position, and with respect, I think the same error also infests military and liberal thinking as well.

That is, when we look at Russia and China, we are expecting them to behave as they did in the cold war, and to demonstrate cold war thinking, tactics and strategy.....Well they won't, and they are vastly more formidable adversaries then they were during the cold war, and I believe either one of them, let alone both acting together, would easily overwhelm America in any confrontation lasting more than a few months.

How come, you may ask? Simple! The Soviets and Chinese we beat in the Cold War had COMMAND ECONOMIES. These days they (largely) have market economies that are infinitely more efficient at turning out goods and services. As we know, WWII was won because the American economy simply out produced Germany and American materiel dominated the battlefield. This American advantage no longer exists.

You may of course argue that "American Technology" provides a strategic edge. I don't believe it does. I was extremely impressed with Russian Aeronautical technology as displayed at least ten years ago (No carbon brakes? Simple - fit brake cooling fans! Ground attack aircraft so simple to maintain that they even had inbuilt toolkits. Fighters that did "Tail stands" without the aid of computers and fly by wire controls, and so on, and so on - and these were largely products of a "command economy" - anyone who has seen Russian aircraft will agree).

Would anyone care to speculate how long our current military superiority will last if Russia and China decide to spend seriously on arms instead of infrastructure?

So what happens to our vaunted stealth aircraft when we are attacked not with hundreds of aircraft, but thousands?

What happens to our SAM defences when an aircraft is attacked not by one hand held SAM, but by twenty at once? I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

As usual, we have been planning to fight the last war, and we continue to do so. The Chinese factory that makes those DVD players can convert prettty quickly to making military electronics. As President Clinton famously wrote to himself "It's the economy, Stupid!"

Starting an arms race this time might eventually leave America in the same position as the old USSR finished - dead broke and way behind. Then the Russian equivalent of the PNAC might decide to "rearrange" the world to suit themselves.

Cloned Poster

I was amazed today (or maybe not) that Bulgaria want a piece of the action on this MDS. We all have to accept here that the Russians broke the spine of Nazi Germany, US/UK just did the coup de'tat (sp).

I think the neocons had they lived in WW2 would have praised Hitler for going East, except he lost, hence the mad rush to stop the Russians coming west.

The new EU constitution/whatever etc that is backed by Merkel/Blair/Sarkozy, wants to limit new Europe's powers. Bush is sending the dollars, but old Europe and White Russia have many shared interests, not least the spigots that Putin has his hand on.

Bush II lost the ME and EU in his first and second term respectively.



I believe the term you are looking for is coup de grâce -- "A deathblow delivered to end the misery of a mortally wounded victim."

Just an ex grunt

What do you learned folks say to my guess that this is really a pay-back project to Poland for joining the coalition of the "willing"?

I don't know much about ABM
systems, but Poland sure seems like an odd location to me.


It's safe to assume that President Putin ("Vlad")is totally familiar with Dr Strangelove and the unintended -- and intended -- consequences of a fail-safe "shield", particularly on the self-restraint of its proprietor.

Who will get the contracts for this latest pork in space boondoggle? Could they be chums of President Merkin Muffley and his gang?

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