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14 May 2015

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BabelFish

No real knowledge, Pat, but is this an 'anti-Petreaus' move? That a soldiers soldier is needed and not one more politician.

And, of course, I would think that getting D. Rumsfeld angry would be an award all in its own. Almost up there with getting Five Deferment Dick pissed off. Of course, he might shoot you in the face if he did. Or was that reserved just for lawyers?

The Twisted Genius

He's been a post commander at Fort Hood and Fort Drum so he's no stranger to dealing with the community outside the post. He probably did stint a with one of the SF groups after SFOQC so that's good. Did a lot of time with grunt infantry, too. I'm inclined to like that kind of background. All in all, I think he's perfect for CSA. I hope he has no illusions of ever joining the political elite so he would be willing, perhaps even eager, to tell all those pompous politicians to pound sand up their asses. Don't be a Petraeus!

robt willmann

Another part of new appointments, since Gen. Martin Dempsey is retiring, is Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford as the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--

http://www.defense.gov/Releases/Release.aspx?ReleaseID=17256

Fred

He's not a ring knocker either, which is also a surprise.

Tyler

Schoomaker, hah. I remember him from the debacle with planes being turned around in the middle of redeploying back to Alaska to land back in Iraq with armed MPs telling everyone to get off the fucking plane.

Miller will likely turn out to be another man who does whatever he's told to do. More SHARP nonsense, making Ranger School safe for women, and ARCOMs to female sergeants for "reporting on soldiers engaging in online bullying".

http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/careers/army/enlisted/2015/01/09/sma-chandler-defends-moerk/21464883/

Same Army that sent pink slips to men in the middle of combat deployments. Any son of mine would be better off joining Regimente Etranger.

alba etie

All
Perhaps President Obama is picking these realist , first General Dempsey , now General Milley because it furthers BHO's agenda of no more wars in MENA -with the exception of the undeclared , but very necessary war on Da'esh . I am hopeful this might be true anyway , there is still no direct intervention in Syria . Erdogan still has not gotten his no fly zone - as the first step in ousting Assad . It looks like the Iran deal will hold - even with the Coker bill being passed by the Senate. We shall see.

William R. Cumming

IMO Marshall picked by FDR because he [Marshall] disagreed with FDR. So the question is what tolerance does any President have for disagreements and second opinions/ My Information is that this President has little tolerance! Perhaps am wrong!

anna-marina

An interview with Craig Roberts: http://thesaker.is/the-saker-interviews-paul-craig-roberts/
Excerpts:
Paul Craig Roberts: "...Ever since Secretary of Defense William Perry privatized so much of the military in 1991, the military/security complex has been extremely powerful, and its power is further amplified by its ability to finance political campaigns and by the fact that it is a source of employment in many states. Essentially Pentagon expenditures are controlled by defense contractors."
-------------------------------
The Saker: "If the USA is really deliberately going down the path towards war with Russia – what should Russia do? Should Russia back down and accept to be subjugated as a preferable option to a thermonuclear war, or should Russia resist and thereby accept the possibility of a thermonuclear war? Do you believe that a very deliberate and strong show of strength on the part of Russia could deter a US attack?"
Paul Craig Roberts: "I have often wondered about this. I can’t say that I know. I think Putin is humane enough to surrender rather than to be part of the destruction of the world, but Putin has to answer to others inside Russia and I doubt the nationalists would stand for surrender.
In my opinion, I think Putin should focus on Europe and make Europe aware that Russia expects an American attack and will have no choice except to wipe out Europe in response. Putin should encourage Europe to break off from NATO in order to prevent World War 3."

Adam L Silverman

Anna- Marina,

We are not going down the path to war with Russia. If we were, we are clearly doing something wrong or we've perfected cloaking technology! Sure, somewhere a small planning team is working a plan for that contingency, like they try to do for other possibilities, just in case. That said we no longer have a Corps in Europe (V Corps was stood down after its last deployment to Afghanistan in 2012). 1st Armored Division is now garrisoned in Texas. And last year it was reported in the news that USAREUR had to bring armor into their Area of Responsibility for a joint exercise because they had so few tanks in the theater. If we were headed down a path to war with Russia, because of the realignment of US forces over the past several years, we'd be able to see it happening because no matter how good your Operational Security (OPSEC) you can't hide the movement of personnel and equipment that would be necessary to have in place before the festivities started.

FB Ali

Adam L Silverman,

The "path towards war with Russia" that the Saker was talking about is not the kind of war you mention. That path is for the US to use the unstated threat of its huge nuclear arsenal to push Russia into a corner, and force it to back down and accept US dominance.

But Putin didn't back down, and it was the US that has backed off. Kerry's recent visit to Russia was token of that. His statements there (not reported in the Western media) are worth reading and analysing. See: http://tinyurl.com/n4z6ky6 .

David Habakkuk

Adam Silverman,

It is necessary here to understand how Russian perceptions have changed. It is also necessary to be clear about the history of U.S. strategy. As I presume you know, 'containment', as defined in the key NSC 68 paper of April 1950, quite clearly includes 'compellence' in support of 'rollback', as well as 'deterrence'. And it is useful in understanding the background to what is happening now to grasp that George Kennan believed – presciently – that undermining the new Soviet empire in Eastern Europe could precipitate a process of disintegration within the Soviet Union itself.

In the Eighties, intelligent people throughout the Soviet system – including critically people in sections of the KGB – were having to confront fact that the Bolshevik Revolution had led Russia into a dead end. For 'grandchildren of the Revolution' – which is what Putin is – this often involved complex reassessments.

Whether claims that his grandfather cooked for Lenin and Stalin are accurate I do not know. However I see no reason to doubt the reports that his father was a skilled worker in Leningrad, a 'model communist' and 'militant atheist', while his mother was a 'devoted Orthodox believer'. And I also see no doubt that his parents' experiences in the siege of the city, in which they were both very lucky indeed not to join the third of its population who died, had a shaping influence on their son.

(For these reports, see http://russia.rin.ru/guides_e/2637.html .)

Also crucial in Putin's biography, as 'rkka' has pointed out, is judo. On the website of the United States Judo Association, you will find the following explanation of how anger violates the principle of 'seirjoko zenyo':

'How does anger benefit you or anyone else? The results of anger are invariably a depletion of mental energy and being looked down on or disliked by others. By following the principle of seiryoku zenyo, people will not be able to get angry.'

If you look at the documentary marking fifteen years of Putin's rule, you can see an interplay of these various elements.

A critical point is that, once you have conceded that the Revolution led Russia into a blind alley, one has also to concede that in some fundamental sense the West was in the right, and there was a very real case for 'rollback', and indeed for 'liberation'. But a lurking question for Russians, obviously, was whether the enemy of the West in the Cold War was simply communism, or whether there was, behind this, an agenda to destroy Russian power?

The history told in the documentary is that of how Putin moved from thinking the Cold War had been purely about ideology, to realising that geopolitical agendas were as or more important, with a step by step account of the events that persuaded him of this, and of his unsuccessful attempts to maintain good relations.

At the risk of caricature over-simplification, I think it is fair to say that a common Russian reading of the events of the past generation is that they demonstrate that when the West talks about 'democracy' it means rule by precisely the kind of 'comprador' élite whom Putin reigned in: how else can you explain our enthusiasm for Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky?

Further, the evidence seems to many in Russia to support the contention that the West is reverting to a strategy which has commonly been practised by their country's enemies: that of exploiting the tensions within a multi-national empire against it.

So, according to a common Russian version, key Western intelligence services have been all too happy to support the aspiration of Chechen Islamists to detach the North Caucasus from Russia. Likewise, Western powers have been all too happy to see Georgian nationalists subjugate South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

And last but hardly least, according to this version, we have been all too happy to exploit the self-professed heirs of Stepan Bandera to create a Ukraine which is supposed to be unified on the basis of anti-Russian nationalism – and critically, to make Sebastopol into a NATO base.

(Incidentally, Sebastopol was the city where Putin's father served in a submarine before the war. Unlike Leningrad, it fell, but the heroic seven-months' defence tied up the Eleventh Army of one of the most formidable of the German masters of mobile warfare, Erich von Manstein, buying crucial time for the Red Army elsewhere.

How anyone with the most minimal grasp of Russian history could not fail to anticipate Russian responses to the prospect of a united Ukraine including Crimea joining NATO I have difficulty understanding.)

None of this means that Putin expects the United States is going to launch a nuclear attack on Russia – any more than Western planners in the early Cold War thought that the Soviet Union was very likely to attack Western Europe. Indeed, a striking feature of his many public utterances – thoroughly in keeping with judo philosophy – is the complete absence of the kind of anger and hysteria you see in the exchanges between 'the Saker' and Paul Craig Roberts.

A critical question – as it clearly is in NSC 68 – is the role of the balance of military power as a control on risk-taking. Having abandoned 'first-use' in the mid-Seventies, and never having been keen on Western-style notions of 'nuclear deterrence', the Russians were pushed by the collapse of their conventional power into reliance on precisely such notions.

Quite clearly, they perceive the American enthusiasm for missile defence, and for locating missile defence installations in Europe, as designed to neutralise their 'deterrent' capability. It is also clear that Putin has very deliberately raised the possibility of nuclear 'first-use' in relation to the Crimea, in order to make the Western powers think twice about pushing their support of the Kiev regime too far.

From such a perspective, obviously, missile defence is seen as move in a strategy designed to make it impossible for the Russians to make 'credible' nuclear threats in defending themselves against possible offensive Western moves such as they perceived in relation to Crimea. As in the Cold War – see NSC 68 again – people commonly present threat perceptions in a crude and exaggerated way, when the real issue is 'escalation dominance'.

Recent events also take me back to the arguments of the 'Eighties in another way. In 1986, the American Sovietologist Jerry Hough published a book under the title 'The Struggle for the Third World'.

What the Soviets – and others – had believed, he pointed out, was that involvement in a Western-dominated international order necessarily consigned one to continued 'underdevelopment'. In fact, the reverse had turned out to be the case, as the contrast between say, South and North Korea demonstrated – and this was fully appreciated by analysts in Moscow research institutes. By the early Eighties the West had 'won' the Cold War, but appeared incapable of grasping its own success.

Ironically, it was a euphoric over-optimism about the benefits of rapid integration into the global economy that was one of the many reasons why economic 'reform' in the Soviet Union was such a comprehensive shambles. It is against this background that we have to see the attempt to Western élites to exploit the economic dependence of Russia in the hope of producing a cave-in in the face of the aspirations of the Kiev regime – if not indeed 'regime change'.

To expect that sanctions would either produce an oligarch 'putsch', or a rallying of Russian opinion behind the 'liberals' was, obviously, to live in cloud-cuckooland. The predictable result was always that Putin would move to reduce, as rapidly as possible, economic dependence on the West. So someone who was - people from St Petersburg not uncommonly are - 'Europeanist' by instinct was left with no option but to shift to the 'Eurasianist' camp.

To some of us in Britain who, like Putin, are old enough for their parents' accounts of the events of the pre-war and wartime period to have been a vivid part of growing up, this seems a bit familiar. It was a failure to attempt seriously to grasp Soviet security concerns that resulted in the Chamberlain government pushing Stalin into making a pact with Hitler.

Similar intellectual frivolity has now pushed Putin into a close alliance with China. It may well be that 'Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostock' was always a pipedream. However, it seems likely 'Asia from Shanghai to St. Petersburg' is going to be a reality for the forseeable future.

William R. Cumming

ALL: Absence nuclear weapons the cupboard bare for NATO IMO and that goes for every member and everywhere. Putin knows this but his principle goal is just to endure with some honor for himself and Russia. Many concede he is one of the world's richest persons but now more about honor than greed IMO. And his Fire sales to China needs a complex analysis. Has Steven Cohen written about Putin? Now not a decade ago!

FB Ali

I should have also referenced this analysis in the NYT (http://tinyurl.com/k586232).

After discounting the obvious biases of both the Saker and the NYT, these two pieces give one a fairly clear picture of the actual situation.

LeaNder

David, I'll read this more carefully.

but while I have recognized that Russia.Rin.Ru surfaces lately, maybe it's a bit German, I don't know your laws in this respect, they on the surface do not want to let me know who they are, while they apparently are able to feed into Wikipedia as acknowledged source concerning Putin's biography. Lot's of rumors there, as I recall.

Strictly I have to ask Wikipedians if a recognized source is allowed to remain anonymous for all I can tell:

http://russia.rin.ru/index_e.html

The closest I could get on first sight was rin.net located in LA, and some other organization that left no traces on the web, today even that offer is gone.

I like to know who is telling me whatever. Understand?

Complete discovery. I haven't made up my mind concerning Khodorkosky. For whatever reason I would want to make a difference between him and Beresovsky, after all he didn't take his money and leave, but what do I know? ;)

Without doubt you have a lot more servants to shape your public image if you are rich, and admittedly a "Die Zeit" portrait (quite some time ago) may have left traces on my mind.

try cp whois ip:
http://cqcounter.com/whois/

you can check others including Russian databases.

Hank Foresman

Milley being chosen CSA shocked everyone along the Army corridors in Washington. The betting was that either Vincent Brooks or David Perkins would be the next CSA. Both are outstanding officers, though frankly in my opinion Brooks would have been the proper choice as he is truly a strategic thinker, knows how the Pentagon works, and does well with the press and the congress types.
Milley is both a Princeton and Columbia graduate. A Spanish speaker, he had at least one Foreign Area Officer assignment in South America. If you look at his biography he Commanded an SF A team but there is no record of having attended the Q course as an officer, my guess is he had enlisted time in the SF or the Reserve Component SF where he attended the Q course.
According to Wikipedia he http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_A._Milley he was born in 1957/58 and is year group 80. He is not well liked in the Army and believes he is the smartest man in the room and is quick to let you know that. There are whispers his leadership style is toxic. If you go to this link you can find his biography. The Army is at a crossroads and is in serious need of a visionary CSA to set the Army course for the next ten years or so. The Army would have been served better with the likes of a Bernard Rogers or Shy Myers.

Tyler

Hank,

He's got a SpecOps diver badge so he's good enough for me!

David Habakkuk

LeaNder,

I fully agree about the importance of knowing the sources of information. In fact, when I checked, it turns out that the quotes from the Russia.rin.ru site I used were a direct lift from the Wikipedia entry on Putin, where the source quoted is a 2008 biography by Richard Sakwa, a British scholar of Polish extraction.

The reason that before checking I wrote that I saw 'no reason to doubt' these reports, however, was that they meshed what I had read elsewhere. Of some relevance here was Putin's recent account of his parents' wartime experiences, with his description of his father as having served in a 'NKVD sabotage squad', and also his contrast between his having learned 'from Soviet books and movies' to hate, and his mother's expression of sympathy for the German soldiers.

(See http://russia-insider.com/en/history/life-such-simple-yet-cruel-thing-vladimir-putin/ri6661 .)

That said, I certainly not suggesting that Putin tells 'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth', still less trying to turn him into a kind of plaster saint. It is clear enough that his project for the reconstruction of the Russian state has involved a great deal of Machiavellianism.

Against the background both of the Soviet and the broader Russian past, and also of the 'Fachidiotismus' of the advocates of 'shock therapy', it was hardly surprising that the 'market economy' that emerged in the Nineties was very heavily criminalised.

Partly because of this, the political battles described in the documentary to mark fifteen years of Putin's rule – and particularly those against his oligarch opponents and insurgents in the Caucasus – involved both a great deal of undercover skullduggery, and also 'information wars'.

In these, regard for truth has not always been conspicuous on any side, to use a little old-fashioned British understatement. Unfortunately, as we have repeatedly found nearer home, scaremongering frequently works.

One consequence of this is that when it comes to political battles in the post-Soviet space, separating truth from falsehood is often acutely difficult. That said, it is a major problem that both Western governments and the Western media time and again simply take for granted that 'information' provided by opponents of the current Russian regime can be accepted without question, while claims it makes are automatically to be discounted.

In turn, this is bound up with a propensity – commonly suicidal in dealing with any society, including one's own – to prefer to listen to people who agree with one.

A critical example is the claim that the Russian regime is a 'kleptocracy', restated last year in a notable study by Karen Dawisha. On this, a review by Richard Sakwa seems to me to the point. It argues, essentially, that Putin's Russia does indeed have 'kleptocratic features', but that Dawisha's analysis, although very valuable, is also seriously misleading, and problematic if taken as a guide to policy.

(See http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1514756.ece .)

From a very different perspective, an economist of Stalinist sympathies, Mikhail Khazin, who is a member of an interesting group called the 'Izborsky Club', produced an thought-provoking analysis and forecast in March, which was translated on 'The Vineyard of the Saker'.

(See http://tinyurl.com/qyolbz9 .)

In it, Khazin suggested that by the end of the Nineties those who had successfully pillaged state assets realised that they needed some general rules, which necessitated having an arbitrator. This involved the integration of elements of the 'siloviki', and the arbitrator who emerged was the figure who had performed that role in the 'criminal capital of Russia in the '90s – St. Petersburg': Putin.

One corollary of this, Khazin argues, is that there was actually an elite consensus behind the expulsion of members who 'refused to accept any rules' – Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Khodorkovsky. Moreover, the expulsion of Khodorkovsky could be used by Putin as a tool to make oligarchs pay taxes. However, after his return in 2010, Putin had a popular mandate, giving him a great deal more scope for independent action.

The account given by Khazin of current divisions within the elite is, to put it mildly, one I would be cautious about swallowing whole. But it does bring me on to the case of Khodorkovsky.

On him, CP has recommended a study which my German is not good enough to read. But it is I think unfortunate that Western coverage does, as it were, seek to put a lot of lipstick on the pig – in part because of uncritical sympathy, but also because the fugitive oligarchs could and in Khodorkovsky's case still can deploy the billions they looted to fund 'information wars' campaigns against Putin.

A very useful analyst, I have found over the years, is the Moscow-based fund manager Eric Kraus – he has for instance been warning for a long time that Western policy would end up pushing Russia into the welcoming arms of China. A commentary he wrote in December 2010, entitled 'Is Putin Pitiable, Or Is The Financial Times Corrupt?' is I think well worth reading.

(See http://darussophile.com/2010/12/putin-pitiable-or-ft-corrupt/ .)

Also interesting are two articles on Khodorkovsky published in the 'Moscow Times' in May 2005 by Catherine Belton, now with the 'Financial Times'. In these, Christian Michel and Christopher Samuelson, whose company, Valmet, was at the time majority-owned by Riggs Bank, describe the education in Western 'business methods' they were already providing to Khodorkovsky, and Berezovsky, from early 1989 on.

This is all involved with the murky story of 'economic reform' sponsored by the KGB, the massive spiriting of Communist Party funds out of the country, and the change in power relationships between figures like Khodorkovsky and their KGB sponsors caused by the failed 1991 coup attempt.

(See http://mikhail_khodorkovsky_society_two.blogspot.co.uk/ .)

In her piece, Belton also describes how the British lawyer Stephen Curtis was introduced to Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky by Samuelson. After the death of Curtis in a mysterious helicopter accident in March 2004, a fascinating investigation by Thomas Catan was published in the 'Financial Times'.

(See http://www.offshorenet.com/before_the_crash/ .)

By contrast to most Western reporting on these matters, Catan's is a serious piece of investigative journalism. It also brings out the fact that, whatever may or may not be true in other cases, if anyone murdered Curtis it was not the Russian security services. At the time he died, he had just begun to 'sing sweetly' to our National Criminal Intelligence Service, and what he was telling them is likely to have been music to Putin's ears.

A problem is that, in the chaotic world of the 'Nineties in Russia, led all kinds of people to involvements and actions which can be seen as compromising. In the West, however, there is a persistent propensity to try to see this history in terms of a simplistic vision of 'good guys' versus 'bad guys'.

It is rather as though people were on the set of 'The Godfather', and were fanatically determined to believe they were actually on that of the 'Lord of the Rings'. My point is not to try to tell the same kind of story simply reversing the polarities. But it really does not make it easy to conduct sensible policy-making if one sees Putin as a kind of 'Dark Lord of the Kremlin'.

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