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03 February 2016

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Old Microbiologist

I have always thought there were three, often completely separated, governments in America. Why Kerry doesn't resign baffles me. I have considered him a man of honor but apparently not one of fortitude. That or it is all orchestrated. The simplest word to define US Foreign policy is schizophrenic.

LeaNder

"frozen confirmation"?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Foreign_Assets_Control

https://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/Pages/szubin-e.aspx

A Harvard'ian and Fulbright scholar, that should raise Babak's esteem. In other words one of the "best and brightest". What's Harvard's place on the list of best universities in the world? Somewhere around the top I would guess.

Old Microbiologist

I had an afterthought. A large part of the collapse of the Soviet Union was trying to keep up spending against the US in a wild goose chase for Star Wars technology. Wouldn't it be ironic if this were to happen to the US now? Another trillion dollars for upgrading nuclear weapons is delusional, reckless, and insane thinking. More spending of money we don't have and even if we had it we have huge problems inside the US that must be addressed but these are left unfunded so we can fight off imaginary enemies. However, these kinds of things have a habit of becoming self fulfilling prophesies. Obama has been a Neocon's wet dream come true. Hillary will be exponentially worse.

LondonBob

President Putin is likely the richest guy in Russia, the St Pete gang and Siloviki have done well too, but the Russians largely expect that and he has done an outstanding job otherwise. As with most of the world corruption will die a slow and long death in Russia, if at all. Of course the sort of corruption that leads to one selling out your country's national interest for say a book deal, or lucrative corporate positions post retirement, are as frowned upon in Russia as they are tolerated in the West.

Amazing the way this whole conflict has been contrived, the best we can do is to keep on arguing against it, as well as pray they don't get their guy or gal into the White House. What should worry you is that our current government in London looks even worse than the one you have in DC at the moment. Of course we too are about to spend an enormous sum of money we don't have on renewing Trident, a weapon system of no real purpose in the post Cold War era.

oofda

And Rubio, Cruz et al will be disastrous as well. And remember Nuland is the sister-in-law of Fred Kagan, who wanted the United States to attack Palestine the day after 9/11.

Lars

I know that in Northern Europe this is a welcome development. In my native Sweden an increasing population, soon to become a majority according to polling trends, want NATO membership due to the military threat of Russia. They, the Russians, have largely driven this by increased and threatening military activity in the Baltic Sea in addition to their activities in Ukraina.

Of course, Russia has been a military threat for centuries in that area and public opinion reflects that too.

thepanzer

Kind of a side question for PL and the community here. Would it be possible for you to broadly wargame a US/Russia conflict similar to the one you did a few months back? I know the scale and complexity are magnitudes larger, but even a "wild-ass guess" here is likely more accurate than what I'm finding on google. (which is mostly 80's Fulda Gap and similar)

Maybe work under the assumption that the nukes stay off the table and it's conventional only.

My assumption is neither can country can land anything like a knock-out blow to the other just due to the distances involved. Land invasions for either side are non-starters, plus the Russian's are more defensive oriented anyway correct?

So I'd assume a lot of naval, specifically sub engagements and air power skirmishes on the borders? This area isn't my wheelhouse though, I'm curious what the community with a better background and wargaming experience think.

Also what would China do? Sit out and pick up the pieces after US/Russia have their phyric victory/defeat? Would they risk losing Russia and standing along against the west? Again, no presumption on my part for which way they would jump.

Babak Makkinejad

In your estimation, is Putin more or less corrupt than Jacque Chirac?

Babak Makkinejad

Harper:

My guess is that US is doing this to reassure allies in Europe and keep NATO functioning.

Not everyone who is scared of Russia and Putin in Europe are fools - some are quite intelligent (I know) - albeit misguided.

turcopolier

thepanzer

I would not feel competent to run such a game. It is not my part of the world. Perhaps someone else might do so. pl

SmoothieX12

"In this fragile and highly charged environment, words matter."
------------------------------------------------------------------

"The change in words and values is no less important than the change in policy, because words are deeds and style is substance insofar as they influence men's minds and behavior"(c)
Senator J. William Fulbright.

Ishmael Zechariah

thePanzer,

You might read "On the Beach" by Nevil Chute. It is not an exaggeration. Perhaps the "decision makers" of the Borg should be shown an actual thermonuclear explosion and then be required to write the expected result for a major population center. I am amazed by their complacency.
Ishmael Zechariah
P.s: Had the devices in Hiroshima and Nagasaki exploded at ground level, most of those areas would still be uninhabitable.

LeaNder

OM, lately for whatever reason, late Richard Feynman surfaced on my mind.

In a similar dot connecting way you triggered questions between private and public plus administrative restrictions/(career control?) that, more arbitrarily in defense studies surfaced as question marks on my mind while watching closely a US case. ... related to, if I am not mistaken, to our first encounter. And maybe, causing me to respond minus only watching before. Yes, there were earlier more arbitrarily collected dots that surprised me ...

Considering Hillary, while it may not be your best of all chosen sources politically, I went back after what feels a very, very long time to:

rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/clinton_hillary

Maybe you can answer my question that led me there: why there are there a multitude of candidates on the Republican side, while there are only three, if I get matters right, on the democrat's side?

LeaNder

Lars, I am vaguely aware of the post "Ukraine confrontation" threat scenario in recent news.

What would move beyond muscular games, considering a real threat scenario?

SmoothieX12

You can go to the older "version" of such a conflict (with USSR) in famous war games conducted in 1970s and 1980s in Naval War College in Newport, RI. It is in publications known as Newport Papers. The one I am talking about is, if my Alzheimer doesn't fail me;-) is NP #20. I could be wrong with the number, but it is easy to find. There is a lot of wishful thinking, including some major underestimation of Soviet capabilities, but it is the best one can find in the open.

Per your question on China, it will stay out, should, God forbids, such a conflict break out. The moment even a single US carrier is sunk, all bets will be off. The level of casualties in such a conflict, should it remain conventional, will be something on the order of magnitude US Armed Forces encountered in post WW II era. These are givens, the rest--leave it to Mr. Friedman of infamous (and highly incompetent) STRATFOR to write Tom Clansinesque baloney on this issue. He wrote some fiction on this issue, I believe, in the end of 2014. If you want to have fun time reading operational fairy tales, you can find this Friedman's opus on the internet, I am sure. But I would suggest Colonel Douglas Macgregor's Time magazine article in which he defines some operational realities in possible peer-to-peer or peer-to-near peer conflict. God forbids.

http://nation.time.com/2012/12/03/usmc-under-utilized-superfluous-military-capability/

Jackrabbit

The War is on. For now, its a war of influence fought by proxy, attrition (economic), and disinformation (propaganda).

The objective in this war is not to capture territory (although that helps) but to corrode the foundation of the other side's power causing confusion and turmoil that opens opportunities for regime change (Arab Spring, Maidan, etc.)

Traditional "wargaming" is about force projection and territory. This war is about psychology and sociology.

Old Microbiologist

No doubt and the same for Rubio who has strong backing from Jewish donors. Carson is a joke as is Bush which only leaves Rand Paul as the minimally sane one in the bunch. Trump, IMHO, is a megalomaniac who is a genius at marketing. I have maintained that he is not in it for money, power, or sex. I believe he wishes to go down in history as the best President ever which would require a lot of head thumping in Congress and a huge set of brass balls. I think he is experienced at making deals usually st the other guy's expense and doesn't think twice about cutting losses. If he applies sound business strategy to everything it will be far better than what we have now. The clues will be in who he chooses as a running mate and who he chooses for the cabinet positions. The President is a position that governs a select few who govern everyone else. I also like that he says basically anything which is refreshing in a weird way. But, I have doubts about whether he is going to do what he says. There is still a possibility he is working for Clinton and will toss the race at the last minute.

Sanders is a problem and I don't think he has the ability to actually move anything along. I also don't think he will survive a full term so his choice of VP is very critical. He looks bad these days and we are still early days.

Her husband along with Kristol wrote the Neocon manifesto The Project For The New American Century (PNAC) which has been their game plan since. He is also on HRC's campaign committee. Strange that an Ultra-Neocon would be helping elect a Democrat unless she is truly a Neocon in (thin) disguise. Equally baffling to me is how many Democrats love her despite her obvious Ultra-Conservative ideas. The Saker refers to these people as Anglo-Zionists which using his logic fits.

burton50

"Of course, Russia has been a military threat for centuries in that area and public opinion reflects that too."
Funny, I don't remember Sweden ever being invaded by the Russians. Conversely, I count fifteen invasions of Russia by the Swedes, beginning in 1142 and ending with the defeat of Karl XII at Poltava in 1709.

jsn

Obama is just trying to get out of office without pissing off anyone in the corporate worlds of health care, pharma or multinational finance. He expects in the Clinton mode to become fabulously wealthy in his retirement if he can just weather this year.

He appears to have an understanding of some sort with Putin, who has repeatedly bailed him out in foreign policy, even while he indulges the NeoCon Strangeloves at State and in the Pentagon. The president seems to understand that his internal opposition is hapless and ineffectual at anything other than looting Pentagon and black budgets and seems to be content to pay them off to leave him alone in that way, pulling them back again and again from their own stupidity when reality threatens to intrude on their delusions.

It's either something like this or he (we) have just been astonishingly lucky to avoid a major nuclear showdown.

Old Microbiologist

I think it is easy. Attack Russia and you die.

Russia will leave everyone alone if left alone itself. What most Americans fail to realize is that economic sanctions are acts of war and seen that way by Russia. Also, pissing in someones yard is not something you do with a friend. The recent bad faith comments from the US just amplify the Russophobia that seems to be running rampant.

However, the game plans really haven't changed much over the years. The force structure in Europe is very hollow. A rapid deployment force cannot deploy in less than 4 days. The war is over by then. Everyone knows this. Yet, Russia doesn't attack and won't unless attacked first. However, you have to be very clear in that this includes people of Russian ethnicity. The same is true if and when Americans are attacked anywhere in the world.

I caveat all of this in that I am only married to a Russian and her extended family in Russia and elsewhere. I believe I have an bare inkling into the mindset of Russians. Yes, Putin is corrupt. What politician isn't?

Jackrabbit

As I wrote above: the war is on. So provocations are to be expected.

Our provocations are always depicted as reacting to THEIR provocations.

LondonBob

Who am I to judge, besides corruption could be measured quantitatively or qualitatively. Tony Blair did immeasurable harm to this country and his net worth is merely GBP70m or so, where as Putin has delivered enormous benefits to his country and his net worth far exceeds that.

Anyway I take George F Kennan's approach to Russia, their internal issues are theirs to solve, and will be solved quicker without our interference. I applaud his resurrection of order, stability, prosperity and standing to his country but corruption and property rights leave much to be desired.

Stonevendor

As this latest episode has unfolded I couldn't help think of that classic movies from the '60s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEWWRbn4zG0

Our foreign policy with regard to the Russians is hard to fathom.

Trey N

Google "Pentagon wargames NATO vs Russia" and scan the list of stories.

Bottom line: a think tank was hired to run the scenario of NATO taking on Russia in a land campaign, and the results made Napoleon and Hitler look like geniuses. Told to keep replaying until they got "the right results", the analysts eventually ran 16 games -- and each time NATO got obliterated.

And this was before the recent display of awesome Russian military capabilities in Syria!

Shades of the famous Millenium Challenge 2002, where Marine Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper played the Iran side and absolutely kicked the US ass in the Persian Gulf....

The Japanese ran a wargame before the Midway operation. The Captain playing the American side did exactly what the US Navy did in the real battle, ambushing the Japanese carriers from a position NE of the island (he was not quite as successful as the Americans actually were -- he only sank 3 carriers instead of all 4). The Japanese brass were so impressed that they stopped the game, escorted the captain out of the room and (figuratively) tossed him over overboard, and restarted the game. Of course, the new game worked out perfectly to expectations so they proceeded with the actual naval campaign. Oopsie....

cynic

Washington, Wailing Wall Street and the City of London are in no position to pose as mentors of morality. Too much chutzpah already!
Because they are crooked they want everyone to believe that anyone whom they oppose must be worse.

If we think in terms of performance related bonuses, Putin obviously deserves orders of magnitude more than any western political or business executive.

If it went to a popular vote I think his electorate would happily award Putin quite a lot. He could be the best Czar they've had in a couple of centuries. Their publics would be much less happy with the performances of the western morally crippled political pygmy leadership.

All this anti-Putin rhetoric is very like the 'Putin killed Litvenenko' story, a smear and a distraction.

In any case, corruption is not incompatible with competence; nor is personal honesty any guarantee of political competence. Just think of the contrasting cases of Walpole and Corbyn!

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