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08 June 2015

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Aka

sir,
A saker article about an another rumor.

http://thesaker.is/is-the-pentagon-really-preparing-to-nuke-russia-hint-no/

walrus

I watched President Obama at the G7 meeting on TV. His body language is pure evil - extremely controlled, it makes my hair stand on end and I don't quite know why, yet.He reminds me of a Tarantula. Make no mistake, his business with Putin and Russia is personal and the mainstream media are replicating anti Russian talking points as fast as the White House sends them. For example AP articles containing throw away lines about "secret Russian Funerals" and suchlike. This is not sloppy journalism, this is active disinformation.

My opinion is now that President Obama has a personal (narcissistic) agenda with Putin and all President Obamas advisors, economic, political and military are singing the virtues of a war with Russia right now. My guess, as I suspect TTG thinks, is that the obliteration of Transnistria is a red line for Russia.

bth

Just because an obscure Russian blogger claims to know the content of a Pentagon meeting from a reliable friend doesn't make it true especially when it purports to portray Putin as the peaceful goaded bear. An equally plausible explanation is that she writes one of the dozens of propped up Russian or Russian friendly propaganda blogs.

William R. Cumming

So will the June 16th of your post be arriving early or late?

Ursa Maior

Dunno how the original greek (english) saying goes but 'those who are destined to be lost by the gods, are made a fool first'.

I am not happy to live close to those places.

Forcing the creation of the Eurasian Solar Union (kudos to Jon Tuffley) probably seems like a good idea, but only brings the end of the western dominance much closer.

YT

zbig...

LeaNder

"President Obama has a personal (narcissistic)"

Walrus, this a perfect example why I consider narcissism a pretty empty concept. It tends to be overused

"For example AP articles containing throw away lines about 'secret Russian Funerals' and suchlike."

Yes, maybe one should remain skeptic, not least since it could all be war propaganda. On the other hand the best type of propaganda should contain at least a grain of truth. At least it feels it should...

I scanned this:
http://tinyurl.com/Newsweek-200s

it no doubt contains some things that leave me skeptic.

Apparently on no side Ukraine - Russia journalists have an easy job. No side is free.

A friend of mine, who is slightly to the left of me politically, and I consider myself left, seems to trust these news.

http://tinyurl.com/Angelina-Davydova

LeaNder

I am vaguely reflecting about the end of western dominance too, occasionally. Mainly wondering about what the results on the ground will look like. Closer to 911 I was more thinking about democracy.

Haven't seen you here for a long time.

I'd love to know more about the Greek origins of the proverb.

rjj

My first thought: ardent free-lance firebrand as tool (= useful idiot) of official arsonists?

LeaNder

He sure comes to mind, but do you have evidence he supports this confrontation?

Allen Thomson

IMO this has the look and feel of a planted story that at the least needs to be carefully checked out. Contacting Wintemute's office and the CIA PAO to see if any such meeting took place would be a start.

See, BTW,

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html

confusedponderer

Shaakashvili doesn't need Spig to get any funny ideas. He's plenty able to get them on his own.

I think the Ukies may have an idea to 'get even' with Russia by going after Transnistria, which they see as a low hanging fruit, geographically isolated as it is. That would likely be as much as a means of baiting Russia as gloating revenge for the loss of Crimea.

Even if they do not do something right away, simply starving the Russian garrison there would test Russia's resolve.

If Russia intervenes it would be GOOD for the Ukies from their POV, because right now Western support is waning (beyond the hardcore) in light of how impossible, volatile and incompetent they are.

In such a situation it needs something spectacular to regain Western sympathy, attention and largesse - like a Russian over-reaction - to deliver them from their misery - a game changer, so to speak.

The apparent idea of going after Transnistria is a tactic that covers for not having a strategy short of drawing in outside help in their impossible pursuits. Left to their own devices the Ukies can do zilch.

A Russian intervention would in short term create a situation that would seem to confirm what the Ukies have lied about all the time - immimnent Russian invasion. It would engergise the hardcore supporters of a NATO engagement in Ukraine.

I don't think the Ukies or Shaakashvili think beyond that.

Their calculations may easily misfire - then, God help us all, the sorry bystanders in particular.

David Habakkuk

TTG,

One of the things that I have come to find most scary in the current situation is that policies are pursued towards Russia which are premised, explicitly or implicitly, upon assumptions about that country's government will react to them. But there is a comprehensive reluctance to make any serious attempt to reconstruct how the world appears from the point of view of the Russian government.

Instead, everything that its spokesmen claim is simply dismissed as 'propaganda', while it is commonly suggested that anyone who contests this view is a 'Putin apologist', if not indeed a 'paid Russian troll.'

In fact however even in Soviet times claims made in Moscow were sometimes propaganda, and sometimes not. And here, recent events have brought back for me – as doubtless for you, in a more painful way than for me – occasions in my family history were working out the truth or falsity of Soviet claims was a matter of some moment.

Back in 1933, the son of my father's – and grandfather's – headmaster came to the chapel my family attended in the South Welsh port of Barry, to talk about his recent trip to the Ukraine. Some time ago his family put up the totality of the reporting on the 'Holodomor' – the only significant Western reporting on the subject – by Gareth Jones on the net.

Particularly fascinating for me was seeing a page from the notes of an interview with the Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, which must have taken place only weeks before the talk in Barry. In these, the latter's flat denial of the famine in the villages is recorded with the simple comment 'prevarication'.

(See http://www.garethjones.org/soviet_articles/soviet_articles.htm .)

Later in the decade, however, people like my father had to confront the question of how to evaluate Soviet claims on a matter more immediately critical to them.

Was the policy of 'collective security' against Hitler, of which Litvinov was the leading champion, to be taken at face value? Or was it another case of 'prevarication' – a cunning strategy of deception, whose objective was rather similar to that which 'Tatiana Volkova' attributes to Lieutenant-General Mulholland – to lure others into destroying themselves in an unnecessary war?

The supporters of 'appeasement' – whose approach to interpreting Soviet policy was very similar to that of today's neoconservatives – sneered at the gullibility of 'democratic-progressive elements' who, supposedly, fell for this strategy. (I quote the phrase used by George Kennan, in his famous 'Long Telegram'. An advantage of my family background is that I know an old 'appeaser' when I see one.)

Actually, the rights and wrongs of the view of Stalin's policy held by the 'appeasers' have been debated from that day to this. My own inclination is to believe that the evidence vindicates those among the 'democratic-progressive elements' who abhorred the Soviet system, but did not think Litvinov's claims that his country's policy was motivated by fear of Germany were 'propaganda'.

Moreover, in my view, those who believed a cunning strategy of deception was at issue managed – inadvertently – to encourage the Soviet leadership to believe that the British were themselves engaged in just such a strategy, designed to lure them into a war with Germany.

Whether a different British strategy could have avoided the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and either prevented war or ensured it was fought on more favourable terms, is an unanswerable question – but, in my view, it should certainly have been tried.

(But then, as my father was one of these 'democratic-progressive elements' at whom Kennan sneered, it may be that filial piety distorts my judgement.)

Be all that as it may, in the apocalypse that was unleashed by the Nazi-Soviet Pact we British got off, relatively speaking, very lightly indeed. An irony was that precisely the scenario that the 'appeasers' had feared – in which attempting to 'contain' Germany in Eastern Europe made it impossible to 'contain' the Soviet Union – materialised.

But it did so in a situation where the massive power of the United States was involved on the continent, in a way that would have been unimaginable in 1939.

A critical question however necessarily arose. Should one attempt to 'roll back' the expansion of Soviet power which had resulted from the war, and perhaps indeed attempt 'regime change' in the Soviet Union, or should one essentially accept a 'Yalta solution' in Europe? At the time, the case could be, and was, argued both ways by intelligent people of good faith in both the United States and Britain, in debates whose complexities remain poorly understood.

For various reasons, however, by the beginning of the 1950s opinion in Britain had shifted decisively towards accepting the 'Yalta solution'. As regards Europe, for a time the British were actually more afraid of a 'preventive war' by the United States to head off the emerging threat from Soviet nuclear and thermonuclear weapons than they were of Soviet 'aggression'.

A crucial document here is a memorandum prepared in July 1951 by the then Director of Naval Intelligence, Vice-Admiral Eric Longley-Cook. Having initially responded by writing that this was 'the usual Communist approach to British intellectuals', and instructed that 'a sharp eye should be kept upon the writer', Churchill came round to the DNI's view.

For the memorandum, and Churchill's comments, see http://cryptome.org/longley-cook.htm .)

And with time the status quo in Europe – with American power 'containing' both Russia and Germany – came to be something with which most British opinion was, as I now think, much too happy. So long as the cohesion of the Atlantic system was maintained, 'deterring' the Soviet Union did not seem very difficult. A key imperative was seen as being to maintain consensus in NATO, and making it impossible for the Soviets to exploit divisions in the West.

This picture of the world was my starting point when, in the early 1980s, I first became interested in issues to do with 'security'. In it, the real danger was seen as being a process of 'escalation' in which the twin delusions of the same kind of American alarmists who had frightened Longley-Cook, and the 'peace movement', would feed off each other, and in so doing blow the cohesion of the Atlantic world apart.

It was not an intellectual framework which encouraged the asking of searching questions about Soviet policy.

Much to my surprise, however, I discovered that it was precisely some of those who had been concerned with making sense of Soviet military thinking in an official capacity who had come to have doubts about much of what I took for granted.

A key work here was the 1987 study 'Military Objectives in Soviet Foreign Policy' by Michael MccGwire, who had in a sense been Longley-Cook's successor, as after we followed the American model and created a unified 'Defence Intelligence Staff' in the Sixties he had headed its naval section.

Early in the book, MccGwire referred to a study entitled 'Soviet Strategy in the Nuclear Age' published in 1958 by Raymond Garthoff, the year after he left RAND and became a key member of the analytical section of the CIA which Sherman Kent was instrumental in creating.

In this, Garthoff quoted from a discussion in the confidential Soviet General Staff journal 'Military Thought' in June 1950 by Major General V. Khlopov.

Despite American strategic striking power and plans for its use against the Soviet Union, this had argued, the was a fatal flaw in the assumptions underlying such plans: that the NATO 'coalition army' in Europe could 'in the initial period of the war successfully hold enemy [Soviet] troops and gain time for the transfer of forces and material across the ocean.'

Under 'real conditions', Khlopov claimed, the Soviet forces would have greater air capabilities 'to disrupt and destroy the transfer and concentration of troops,' and ground forces capable of deploying 'powerful offensive operations on a large scale and with a high tempo of advance,' so that 'the bridgehead on which the American militarists count to concentrate and deploy their forces for land engagements will be liquidated, and their plans for [winning] the war will be buried with it.'

In the same study, Garthoff noted that Soviet discussions of American military strategy 'do not reflect awareness of the Western object of deterrence', and went on to observe that it would be feasible for the Soviets 'to note but deny in their propaganda the need for deterrence.'

In an important sense, the strategic analysis of the Khlopov article is absolutely cogent – and indeed, parallels that in American planning papers like the crucial NSC 68 document of April 1950. As this noted, at the time the American production of motor vehicles was more than ten times the Soviet.

If this massive industrial machine could be remobilised to produce aircraft, tanks, trucks, radio sets, etc etc and successfully deployed in Eurasia, in the long run the Soviets would go down to defeat – just as the Japanese had done.

Accordingly, we have two alternative sets of linked possible interpretations of Soviet thinking. It could indeed be that the suggestion that Soviet contingency planning for an offensive into Western Europe is simply designed to avoid defeat in a war which it is believed may be unleashed by the 'imperialists' was 'propaganda'.

In this case, it would have been natural to assume that Soviet claims not to understand that Western 'deterrence' strategies' are defensive in intent were 'propaganda'.

However, the alternative possibility was that Khlopov's claims reflected what the Soviet leadership actually thought. According to this scenario, in their view of things it would be Western claims about 'deterrence' that were propaganda.

Over time, through different routes, both MccGwire and Garthoff came to believe that the truth lay on the surface – that what was taken as 'propaganda' in the West corresponded to what the Soviet leadership actually thought.

If this was so, of course, the elaborate intellectual structures of 'deterrence' theory were mostly junk – and potentially lethally dangerous junk, in that if one saw the superpowers as engaged in a kind of game of 'blind man's buff', the risks of deliberate aggression by either side had been grossly overstated, and those of inadvertent escalation grossly understated.

Many different elements contributed to the changes in the Soviet Union which began following Gorbachev's accession to power in 1985. Among these, however, were both a vivid sense among Soviet strategists that the Cold War was in acute danger of turning into a hot one, and also a new conviction among some that their approaches to security had been based on false premises, and thus self-defeating.

In the event however, the alternative approaches advocated by the so-called 'new thinkers' were in large measure unsuccessful. This has not resulted in a return to old approaches – but it has meant that old threat perceptions have been coming back. Without understanding the history of how Soviet threat perceptions changed, it is actually difficult to make sense of how the perceptions of post-Soviet Russians have evolved.

Tom Welsh

I cannot believe that there is a real human person called "Wintemute".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromancer

Jack

TTG, Sir

Why are our political elite in both parties supported by the apparatchiks in government so keen on goading the bear? I don't understand their motivation other than hubris and burnishing their appearance as tough in the upcoming electoral charade.

The risk of miscalculation and the consequent psychological pressure to back the error further or lose political standing is so immense. The big money will lose all their assets in this game. Why would they support escalation?

rjj

Been thinking - if Obama really does have an INTENSE Russia fixation, it likely has something to do with BHO Sr.

Checked WIKI - "Obama's parents met in 1960 in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa,..."

hmmm.

Were any of Obamadad's wives Russian? Did Obamadad ever go to SU???

The Twisted Genius

Tom Welsh,

That's the first image that came to my mind as well. Wintemute is a real person.
http://www.american-vanguard.com/AboutUs/tabid/69/Default.aspx

Babak Makkinejad

Political Left or Political Right are no longer meaningful designations; Serfs vs. Feudal Lords is the best description of the politics as is now practiced everywhere in the world.

I am with the Serfs.

Babak Makkinejad

Chamberlain knew that Litvinov's offer was real; in a letter to his sister he gave the reason for rejection of Litvinov's offer to be the absence of liberty in USSR.

UK was pursuing a policy of Dual Containment - which proceeded to blew in her face; in my opinion.

r whitman

Please refer me to a website with a good map of the area. My 1995 National Geographic atlas is useless.

Haralambos

Ursa Maior,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whom_the_gods_would_destroy
The phrase "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad" is spoken by Prometheus in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Masque of Pandora". Another version ("Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad") is quoted as a "heathen proverb" in Daniel, a Model for Young Men (1854) by William Anderson Scott (1813–1885).

A prior Latin version is "Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat" (Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791) but this involves (presumably the Christian) God, not 'the gods'; an earlier version has Jupiter and the thought can be traced back to the play Antigone by Sophocles but even this appears to be a borrowing from an earlier, lost Greek play (see Euripides Misattributions).

The Twisted Genius

r whitman,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnistria

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/03/24/a-map-of-transnistria-crimea-and-other-geographical-gray-areas-to-be-worried-about/

Tyler

Funny isn't it. Sixty or seventy years ago you had the media in the West papering over Stalin's excesses, the Dewey Commission trying to defend Trotsky to Stalin and rehabilitate his reputation, and then Robert Conquest's line about "I told you so you f-cking fools".

And now the media is reacting like a jilted lover. Interesting.

LeaNder

Great comment, David, although needs more time to reflect. Random pick:

"However, the alternative possibility was that Khlopov's claims reflected what the Soviet leadership actually thought. According to this scenario, in their view of things it would be Western claims about 'deterrence' that were propaganda."

Could you help me to put my vague memories as far as "military defensive shields" are concerned into historical context. For whatever reason it surfaces occasionally on my mind (Reagan ??). Seems it enjoys something of a renaissance. But I do not remember the precise star-was-scenario in which they surfaced first considering the European East.

"As this noted, at the time the American production of motor vehicles was more than ten times the Soviet. "

Yes, maybe this caught my attention since maybe pure levels of production wouldn't work anymore. ;)

georgeg

Ms Davydova's profile shows interesting affiliations. Makes you wonder who pulls her strings.

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