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23 April 2014


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FB Ali wrote:

'While Russia does not have anything comparable in the financial and economic sphere, it does have a marked advantage in another equally deadly sphere − cyber war. Former DNI Mike McConnell said in 2010, "If we were in a cyber war today, the US would lose". Leon Panetta talked in 2012 of a cyber-Pearl Harbour. If Putin considered the US use of the financial neutron bomb to be the equivalent of a nuclear first strike, he could well retaliate with an all-out cyber attack. Obviously the US administration was not prepared to risk this.'

This is a direct result of the denigration of science in the US by right wing interests. You reap what you sow. Given salaries and lack of employment opportunities for young graduates there is no reason any young American should want to go into science, engineering and computer science.


Yeah, the focus on diversity over actual results has nothing to do with it. Or the outsourcing of our tech base to H1Bs from Asia.


Put down the joint old man.


@FB Ali - I believe you are right. The industrialists and the unions here in Germany gave some harsh talks to Merkel on why they should pay for the screw up of U.S. and EU policies in Ukraine. Merkel had no decent answer and had to fold.


Interesting talk with Lavrov about the agreement in Geneva and the usual U.S. attempts to ignore or renegotiate such agreements on the fly to gets it will anyway.



The neocons don't care if civil war breaks out in Ukraine. As long as it keeps Russia busy what is not to like? There will be therefore, no matter what was signed in Geneva, no U.S. attempts to deescalate the issue.


The Obama administration again lied and distributed fake photos of "Russian soldiers in Ukraine" and the New York Times, without bothering to check, put those propaganda pictures up on page one. Two days later it had to retract.


nick b


'Given salaries and lack of employment opportunities for young graduates there is no reason any young American should want to go into science, engineering and computer science.'

Uh, have you seen average salaries for C++ algorithmic trading developers? They're about $250k/year, and they are in demand. Half the finance jobs I see offered these days are for quants or engineers. Software developer is constantly ranked as one of the best jobs to have and it pays very well. I think you are way off here.


I know a little bit about cyber issues. Certainly from a legal aspect of an attack/damages. It is the mating call of the cliche sprouting asshole to speak of 'digital Pearl Harbors'. Panetta is once such type. And I would not be so quick to say we would "lose" anything.

But all that aside..I hope what you write turns out to near correct. If fight it is to come to, and I think that would be skating with insanity, but if it does come to a fight, the Ukraine, east or west, is not the place to have it. And now is not the time to have it. The West, if fight it is going to come down to, would need a committed and rearmed Germany. (however slim that might seem now as a possibility). And you are going to need a energized and committed US population. Along with same from the UK. And we are gonna have to have a better appreciation of where China will be if it comes down to it. Neutral or leaning against us. In short it will take a geopolitical reorganization on the scale of the early 90s, if not, indeed, on the scale of the late 40s and 50s. I repeat, all of this talk seems insane to contemplate. But if it IS to be, let it be with adults talking and planning. Not 30 some year old campaign operatives masking as strategic planners. We have had a belly full of that this century. It was one thing to run off and battle some crumbling Middle East or Balkan nation with those dopes. A land war in Europe is a horse of different color. I wish Ukraine the best...but they are on their own. I sure hope.


"US policy seems unclear about a number of issues in the region, but the Kremlin's policy seems clear. “The Syrian issue for Russia is not just about interests or a transient alliance. Moscow does not compromise when it comes to its national security,” he said, then asserted that a Russian defeat in Syria is a defeat in the Caucasus. “Yes, [Putin] drew a red line toward Syria and Ukraine, and he will not accept that [the line] be crossed. He will not back down. That explains the mystery of the interdependence between the two crises.”

Labeviere noted that the United States is no longer a master in the art of chess as it was in the past. He said that the United States is being indecisive in the face of rapid developments such as those in the Middle East, especially Syria, but that does not mean the demise of its prominence. He said that the United States will remain a major force, even if it is in the process of decline and retreat."

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/04/french-strategist-interview-syria-russia-us-asia.html#ixzz2zkAyFaBa


FB Ali,

I agree that the Geneva Accord more or less codifies the events on the ground in Ukraine. Crimea for the foreseeable future is part of Russia. But, nothing has addressed economic and political hurricanes that led to the start of the Cold War II.

First, on the western side, Washington DC from the top down is led by crazy ideologues who are creating their own reality. They are directed by the 0.01% who are grasping onto their paper wealth by pushing austerity on American and European people. In addition to the surveillance state; a common enemy in Russia assists in the prevention of the rise of the anti-plutocrat party that would wrestle control of the state back to the people.

Second, I agree Russia is not the Empire it once was and that it has learned from Afghanistan and Chechnya. It will not be stupid enough to try to pacify Western Ukraine. As long as the unrest continues, it will solidify control in the Russian speaking majority provinces and create a secure supply line to Crimea. If Western Ukraine was Finlandized, this crisis would end immediately. But, there is too much money is made in the unrest and there is all that black soil and shale gas to be exploited. Also, as long as Vladimir Putin, like the Ayatollahs, refuses to kowtow to the Davos Elite, the Cold War II will continue.

Finally, Japan is disinvesting in China and sales of Japanese cars have plummeted there. The resurrection of the Cold War will give emphasis to BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India & China) efforts to establish a second world trading system and to regain control their own fates.


Excellent post, thanks! And a great title... which is true at so many levels.

Ironically, it is Big Oil to the rescue of Russia. Saudi Arabia is so last millennium. And shale oil is not a long term solution to anything. Looks like the power of "resources" trumps the power of ideology, as usual.

"The international oil companies are sending very, very bad signals to Putin and their own governments," said Oppenheimer's Gheit. "Basically they are taking Putin's side."

Digging Themselves in Deeper - Why Big Oil is doubling down on Putin's Russia. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/04/22/digging_themselves_in_deeper_big_oil_putin_russia
Big Western oil companies from BP to Shell have not just stayed the course in Russia in recent months -- many have essentially doubled down on oil and gas investments there and built even closer ties with Russian energy firms. Taken together, the deals could send billions of dollars flowing into the Russian economy just when Barack Obama's administration is trying to hammer it hard enough to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse his annexation of Crimea and stop menacing eastern Ukraine. … a parade of Western CEOs have made clear that they have no plans to end, or even delay, their joint projects with Russia.

"Basically, they are torpedoing whatever the United States and the EU are trying to do, which is rattle Putin's cage," said Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. "I'm very surprised the oil companies are going out of their way to assure Russia and Putin that they are going to do business as usual." …

Babak Makkinejad

FB Ali:

All those who are outside of NATO (with such members as Australia) are viewed thus - per The Republic of Plato:

"Therefore, to insure that someone like that [one whose reason is not strong enough to rule himself] is ruled by something similar to what rules the best person, we say that he ought to be the slave [doulon] of that best person who has a divine ruler within himself."

As goes for individuals, so evidently must go for countries...


nick b:

You're going to depend on C++ programmers working on Wall Street ripping off the middle class to protect you from cyber threats from Russia and/or China. Let me know how that works out for you.



You left out Ford, GM and other automobile companies. It's not all about oil. They also employ more Russians in their and their part supplier's factories than GB and Shell.



Results 1 – 25 of 348

That's just one classification at one company. No jobs! Damn conservatives.

Of course the marines are always looking for a few good men (and women). I'm sure the are plenty of young graduates signing up in the cause of freedom in Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lithuanian, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine. Lest I forget Samantha Power was on NPR last week talking about the Rwandan Genocide (America's fault) and how we really need to prevent that from happening in the Central African Republic. I sure hope the Marines get that women's OCS course thingy straighten out in time to fulfill our 'responsibility to protect' there, because you sure no Sam and company won't be at the tip o' the spear. Maybe Chelsea can lead that one, just read the cover of Fast Company, she's got power, influence and plan to change the world! Leaving her hedge fund manager husband and that $10 million Manhattan home to go in harms way probably ain't in it, but hey, there's always hope.

Nice dog whistle though, or are you ax grinding?


Ain't that the truth, The Emperor Has No Clothes. Great post. I've been reading Saul Bellow's Ravelstein (with its neocon fictional world) and mentioning to everyone that will listen that the attitudes are those of gods or aristocrats. Living on a cloud, let the others and little people clean up the messes, anyway, how can the gods of foreign policy ever mess up. By definition, if you are in the inner golden circle of the DC consensus, you can never be wrong.

What a mass delusion, it seems.


Astonishing and terrifying op-ed by Anne-Marie R2P Slaughter:


Oh dear. But even if some militants in Eastern Ukraine were Russians (and I wouldn't be surprised if there were), then they could be volunteers, mercenaries or just slightly weird men on an adventure, rather than Russian army units operating under a command structure with a goal of setting up a new country. Sitting around barricades isn't supremely difficult, but still can be effective (as seen in Kiev).

Alba Etie

Good news - several of my high tech customers are "insourcing" their design work and even some production back home to Central Texas . But the very same corporations are not saying this very loud either - its still not 'politically correct " to be cutting back on the HIBs.

Alba Etie

EXXON to big to fail ..


What is the name of your planet?
Do you ride unicorns and wear tinfoil hats?


In tech, things work. Or not.
Some of the best programmers that I've met did not have university educations; they were self-taught.

However, among those with degrees, one was a Classics major, one had a background in Medieval European History, and another was a Russian History major.

I've heard (via tales of someone who was there at the time) that the young Bill Gates and Paul Allen sought 'creative minds' for Microsoft back in the early 1980s when they were just starting up. They knew that employees would have to solve novel problems that could not be foreseen, and novel problems require curiosity, creativity, and persistence. A degree doesn't guarantee that a person has those habits of mind.

Rigid thinkers, or 'engineering grinds' can obtain a degree; they mostly have to follow a lot of instructions and meet deadlines. They can conform to existing structures quite well. However, that kind of thinker would not be able to solve novel, unanticipated problems; the young employers needed people with technical skills, as well as what is now called 'fluid intelligence'. IIRC the old story correctly, Gates and Allen were advised to seriously consider Comp Lit majors, and apparently they did. I've always remembered that story, because IMVHO it helps explain Microsoft's success.

The idea that tech always, and only, hires people with science and engineering degrees is not accurate. Those fields have a lot of value, but a degree in and of itself is not a golden ticket.

In a recent post, Col. Lang commented to the effect that the best intel employees have quirks, and are not likely to flourish within bureaucracies. It led me to suspect that there are similar habits of mind between good analysts and diagnosticians in any field, and in my observation the most productive people tend to have quirks.

David Habbukak has written about the problems US FP has encountered in recent years as a result of 'Straussian' obsession on specific, highly valued, individual texts, rather than collecting, gathering, and synthesizing information from a variety of sources. Clearly, the latter approach requires creativity and the ability to tolerate ambiguity. That is often also related to tolerating 'diversity'.

As for diversity... if you do a lot of work remotely, you actually don't know who is on the other end of the interaction. However, it's been my observation that diversity tends to create better outcomes in a global marketplace; for many companies, diversity is a business necessity - it has zilch to do with political correctness.

H1B visas are a whole other conversation.

However, FB Ali's post suggests that we are living in an era in which having the good sense to 'fold' is somehow viewed as a topic Not To Be Mentioned In Polite Company. Evidently, the commentariat would rather clutch their pearls in silence, than discuss what they view as an FP 'failure'.

Knowing which battles to fight is the only smart way to proceed, so the idea of the US 'folding' - in this instance - does not bother me in the slightest.

If FB Ali's analysis is accurate, then the distressing concern is that 'folding' will be presented by the neocons and R2Pers as a 'failure', which is like handing the neocons a can of gasoline to dump on a fire. (And no doubt there are plenty of contractors whispering in the ears of the neocons, John McCain, and the R2Pers.)

Unfortunately, the neocons appear to obsess on 'failure' and 'weakness'. Their obsessiveness and rigidity lead to egregious errors; one supposes that Sun Tzu would find them grimly amusing.

Here's hoping those of us who value using military power *strategically* drown out any neocon and R2P worrying and whining. If FB Ali is correct, and the US has finally come to its senses, and become a bit more strategic post-Iraq, then perhaps there is some cause for optimism after all.


Gemini and all
Fascinating article. I learnt from it that Assad's forces are using mortars, barrel bombs and... hypothermia to defeat the rebels! By dropping ice packs from helicopters?
It is pointless to mention all the other fallacies in that heap of hyperbole posing as an article, but there was one reader comment that surprised me. It claimed that at the time when US ships were deployed and poised to strike Syria, they did in fact launch 2 Tomahawks, which landed harmlessly in the sea because the Russian ships jammed the GPS signal. The comment was not sourced. Has any one here heard of this?



IMO, "the Emperor has no Clothes" everywhere around the world. China, EU, Japan, Russia, US & UK are butt naked. It's just that the recognition phase has not yet arrived. When it does, I believe the reaction will be swift. Let's hope & pray that the "idiots" who we have placed in leadership positions do not get us all embroiled in war & destruction.


Great. Mass murder (or perhaps mass suicide pact) for human rights. What's wrong with killing some millions of people when you are protecting lives?

Norbert M Salamon

Thank you for the excellent analysis.

While I agree that the US Could use the "nuclear Bomb" to attempt to wreck the Russian economy, that might cause untold troubles to the US.

1., of the 70 odd strategic goods the DoD needs 46 are sourced from Russia.

2., There is no replacement available for Russian oil/gas in Europe, nor for the 400 000 barrels a day the US imports from Russia. The Strategic Reserve, while large can be drawn off only a 4 Million barrels a day and as such would not balance Russia's export. The foreseen price rise in oil would put the nail in the coffin for any type of "recovery"[which is nil in EU, and only based on propaganda in US, while the reality is the same as EU].

3., Russian geeks have analysed The US/Israel created viruses attacking Iran, and without doubt have learned how the control works on Siemens products, the same company which manufactures most US transformers. It was mentioned earlier [in relation to the famous attempt at the transformer stain via gun fire]that 7 crucial transformer stations can cripple the US grid - if they are attacked at the same time.
4., etc. with respect to many multinationals and the status of the petro-dollar.


I am entirely in agreement with your view about creativity. Unfortunately, that's not the kind of environment that current trends in higher education US (especially, ironically, among the STEM advocates) is encouraging. They want to see people with measurable knowledge and skills, people who know the standard procedures and techniques and what rules to follow, not necessarily those capable of thinking on their feet. Those who try to go off the beaten path tend to get marginalized and penalized. The very best institutions are an exception to this, but a lot of middling institutions and below are increasingly falling into this pattern--a most worrisome development.

The approach to "diversity" reflects this too, at least the way it is actually implemented. Ideally, diversity would require tolerance of oddballs who think and act outside the box. The last people this sort of diversity will require are those who fit stereotypes of appropriate "minorities" closely. In practice, diversity, as enforced, all too often means bringing in stereotypical token minorities to fill the preassigned roles, with utter intolerance for minorities who don't act like "they should."

This sort of thinking, besides being the subversion of the ideals you had noted, dovetails nicely with neocon/R2P thinking, as both involve forcibly imposing stereotypes of the world it "should" look superficially, according to the preconceived notions of the powers-that-be, upon whoever is unlucky to be on the receiving end. This seems to be the central feature of illiberal liberalism both at home and abroad, with all the paradoxes that it entails.


'The idea that tech always, and only, hires people with science and engineering degrees is not accurate. Those fields have a lot of value, but a degree in and of itself is not a golden ticket.'

I'm well aware of what went on at Microsoft and in a more general sense I don't totally dispute your quote above. However, in the context of Mr. Ali's post regarding cyber warfare the country isn't going to have time to teach a bunch of literature majors how to function as network engineers thwarting coordinated attacks on our electrical grid, hospitals, financial systems, etc. This isn't going to be like WWII where military people could bring together persons trained in a variety of ways and form them into cohesive units while manufacturing ramped up then ship the whole thing overseas to fight.

How long do you think you can allow the country or various parts of the country to stay in the dark while you do all this training?

I think some of you are missing my point.

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