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09 July 2015

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rkka

Doubtful. So far, the proxy war is sustainable for Russia and the DNR, and it is Ukraine that is collapsing economically and politically as we speak. Barring NATO military intervention to stave off Ukrainian military collapse, the Russian armed forces will not cross the border.

It's the prospect of that NATO military intervention, into a conflict NATO does not really understand, that contains the gravest of risks.

William R. Cumming

Did the US promise the Ukraine military protection in return for surrendering their nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War in some open or secret arrangement?

William R. Cumming

Is Merkle fearful or just recalcitrant that the fig leaf is being torn off German soft power [or possible hard power?]?

David Habakkuk

rkka,

All this takes me back many years. In an introductory note to the English translation of Makhmut Gareev's 1985 study of Mikhail Frunze, a pivotal figure in the creation of the Red Army, one Joseph D. Douglass Jr wrote:

'The importance of the first strike in nuclear war is stressed. The logic is the same as set forth in V.D. Sokolovskiy's landmark text from the 1960s, Military Strategy.' This was the standard interpretation of Soviet military thinking, championed by Albert Wohlstetter, Richard Pipes, and figures like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz.

It is their successful attempt to claim that their analyses and prescriptions were vindicated by the retreat and collapse of Soviet power which has made it possible for them to lead the United States towards disaster.

I have just looked again at the translation of an – incandescent – letter from Gareev which was inserted into the copy I bought. Among other things, he points out that the Soviet Union had 'solemnly taken upon itself the commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons.'

Actually, Gareev was the theorist of the conventional strategy which developed, after the Soviets concluded in the late Sixties and early Seventies both that a general war with NATO need not necessarily escalate to an all-out nuclear conflict, and that the notion of victory in such a conflict was meaningless. It could not be anything other than an irretrievable catastrophe.

The study published under the name of Sokolovskiy to which Douglass referred had actually been compiled and co-authored by General-Mayor Larionov. In the late Eighties, he emerged as one of the military theorists most closely associated with Gorbachev's 'new thinking', if not indeed the principal military figure associated with it.

When I and a colleague interviewed Larionov for the BBC at the start of 1989, unfortunately, we did not know of this background. Likewise, I was not in a position to grasp what was at issue when he talked about a Soviet theorist of the Twenties called Alexander Svechin.

Among the many drivers of change at this time was the fact that the conventional strategy had proved economically ruinous. But beyond this, there was the collapse in faith in large areas of the Soviet elite in Marxism-Leninism, and also a deep-seated fear of nuclear war.

One of the central objections of Soviet military theorists to Western-style 'deterrence' theory was, quite precisely, that it took inadequate account of the danger that, in a kind of Sarajevo-style situation where events might run out of control, it might be impossible not to implement nuclear threats.

And indeed, when in response to the collapse of their conventional power the Russian government adopted Western-style theories of 'deterrence', Gareev had more or less to be dragged kicking and screaming into acceptance of the change.

(See http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/rusrma.htm .)

By the time Gareev's 1985 study was published, two notable Western intelligence analysts turned academics – the American scholar-diplomat Ambassador Raymond Garthoff, and Michael MccGwire, who had been the Royal Navy's principal expert on its Soviet counterpart – had established that the 'neocon' interpretation was simply wrong.

From mid-1987, they were pointing out that changes in Soviet negotiating positions indicated the likelihood of a decisive shift to the kind of defensive strategy which Svechin had championed, against Tukhachevskii, in the Twenties.

Both, moreover, had come to believe that the objections of Soviet theorists to Western theorising about 'deterrence' had a great deal of cogency.

Unfortunately, the neocons, who are as good at PR as they are incompetent at strategic analysis, were able to persuade everybody that changes in the Soviet Union they had signally failed to foresee were a vindication of the analytical frameworks which had made it impossible for them to foresee them.

Having successfully pushed the Russians into using the same kind of approaches as we once used, we seem blindly oblivious to the possibility that we may be creating precisely the kind of situation in which their underlying problems could prove fatal.

FB Ali

I doubt that Poroshenko has enough power to decide one way or another. He's just making the most of his position by filling his own (already pretty full) pockets.

The real power appears to be in the hands of Yats and the neoNazis. And they are controlled by the US neocons. When the former think they are ready to resume "open hostilities", and the latter OK that, the war will start again.

Have you seen Senator Durbin's letter to Yats published by the Saker? (It's at http://tinyurl.com/qxnrjhh ).

VietnamVet

CP,

I want to make a belated thanks. I have been wrapped up thinking about the divisions in the USA raised by Donald Trump and the lowering of the Confederate battle flag. However, this is more important. My old unit in Vietnam is training these troops near Lviv:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32349308

I no longer think this is incompetence. From a strategic sense what is best for the citizens of America and Germany is to keep Greece within our alliances, our people prosperous, and avoid a nuclear war with Russia. Yet, clearly the policy of the Western rulers is the exact opposite. All else are diversions to avoid us from seeing the truth.

rkka

"One of the central objections of Soviet military theorists to Western-style 'deterrence' theory was, quite precisely, that it took inadequate account of the danger that, in a kind of Sarajevo-style situation where events might run out of control, it might be impossible not to implement nuclear threats.

And indeed, when in response to the collapse of their conventional power the Russian government adopted Western-style theories of 'deterrence', Gareev had more or less to be dragged kicking and screaming into acceptance of the change."

Theories of deterrence fail to consider that war is the continuation of political intercourse. They fail to consider that if one's policy has convinced the government that one is seeking to deter that you pose a dire and immediate threat to their national independence, you have created conditions under which what you think are your deterrent threats will actually provoke the behavior you are seeking to deter.

And that's where Nuland's coup in Kiev last February have landed us.

And there is no indication that folks in DC are even capable of understanding this.

rkka

Not that I am aware of.

However, folks in DC, unaccustomed as they are to having their cherished policies visibly and embarrassingly defeated, will probably raise the stakes by militarily intervening in Eastern Ukraine at that point, expecting Putin to back down.

And that's when the Russians will crack open some Instant Sunshine.

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