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08 March 2016

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turcopolier

Aleksandr

I would counsel you not to talk like that unless you wish to give support to the war party here. pl

SmoothieX12

Russia does not have anything near US Power Projection capability. But that is precisely the capability based on which US military superpowerdom is defined. US Navy, despite its horrendous disproportions, still remains and will remain for a foreseeable future the mightiest navy on the planet. So, before getting emotional, everything has to be taken within geopolitical and doctrinal framework. Russia does not need even one tenth of power projection capabilities US has, nor should Russia try to obtain those for a precise reason that Russian doctrine will always remain defensive. As the famous saying goes: want to bankrupt the nation, give them a cruiser (or aircraft carrier, in modern version). The best way to win the game is not to play it. Militarily-wise Russia today is doing a lot in proper and measured manner which provides her defense against any opponent or their combination.

Fred

Smoothie,

" Russia is a direct challenge to US exceptionalism ... and by the fact that she can .... provide for civilizational alternative. "

Mississippi is a direct challenge to US exceptionalism. So's the rest of the South. There was a long bloody war here about civilizational alternatives.

Seamus

Just why do we hate North Korea?

zth

"What exactly has Russia done to require such aggressive reactions from the US?"

What percentage of the NSC, CIA, DoD and WH staff are post-Berlin Wall kinder?

I remember a time when the old Borg and Beltway Experts told us the Soviets were all 8' tall and every ss-18 silo and typhoon was breathlesssly counted when the budget came around. And we believed it, until reality TV showed Germans dancing on the walltops.

What in any 30-somethings curricula told them to be afraid of the big bad bear?

different clue

David Habakkuk,

The bad-analysis problem arises if one then goes on to decide that since Bernie Sanders, Professor Steven Cohen at Princeton and other such people are also Jews . . . that they are really stealth-the-same as the bad actors named above. That is where the old-fashioned antiSemites would like analysis to go. But analytical and spiritual discipline can keep it from going there.

If the bad actors and their bad followers named above can have their influence attritted and degraded over time with no factually unsupportable spillover, then good can be achieved with no harm done.

different clue

SmoothieX12,

By "rational explanation" do you mean "rational" in the sense that an experienced and knowledgeable psychiatrist can rationally explain why a paranoid schizophrenic in full-psychotic-break does what he/she does?

Or do you mean that dispassionate geo-political analysts and power-players could see a "rational reason" in the real world for why the Axis of NATO quite "rationally" pushes NATO eastward to Russia's border?

Which form of "rational explanation" do you mean?

Balint Somkuti

Now there is a point.

Alexey

It's a bit of elephant vs whale kind of thing. Whale is bigger strictly speaking but...

Amir

E.U.'s political class has lost it's sense of independence and this in regards to Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and U.S.

They are not willing to combat their own inhibitions, which are preventing them to defend themselves. They have purposefully chosen to look like seers in a headlight. It makes me think of the Iranians during the Mongol invasion.

A very simple way to put Turkey in it's place, would be to arrange for conditions that are similar to U.S. For the purpose of family reunion, thus putting tangible pressure on Sultan Erdogan. Economically, diversion of tourism from Turkey to Greece would bring down two birds with a single shot.

ISL

Per militarily, see below. But ultimately, military potential stands on the strength of the underlying economy. And this decade, the US economy is vastly larger and stronger than Russia's, plus can blackmail many other economies to join its policy directions - fickle or not.

No comment about the next decades.....

Much of the problems of the US economy that one reads about, IMO, devolve from its wealth concentration to a handful of individuals each with their own selfish and short-sighted and contradictory interests - the term is regulatory capture.

But the vast US wealth exists and could be remobilized for the national good if the political will developed. The US could easily wall itself off and tell the rest of the world to sc--w itself, and regenerate in I think less than a decade, world-class manufacturing and other lost industries. Not saying it will, just that it could.

Barish

I suppose news black-out by Saudi authorities plays a role. Also amusing to watch a Saudi-allied channel's coverage on Yemen, namely Al-Jazeera English (AJE): they started proclaiming "imminent Saudi conquest" of Sana'a months ago citing "AJ-exclusive sources", showed a bunch of Adenites posing with Steyr Aug 1 - wonder where those came from, Tunisia? - and what have you.

There's also the simple matter that progress of Saudi-Arabia against Yemen, poorest nation on the peninsula simply is a joke, given the fact that Saudi-Arabia has got the largest defence* budget in the region. Further, there's this tasty morsel that has to be kept in mind when it comes to the entire Saudi-initiated operation:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/al-qaeda-fights-on-same-side-as-saudi-backed-militias-in-yemen-1437087067

"Al Qaeda Fights on Same Side as Saudi-Backed Militias in Yemen"

Article was published in July last year, title says it all, really. I recall that none other than AJE - or maybe soon to be defunct AJ-America, can't recall - featured an online-article even earlier than that citing US military circles that were said to be scratching their heads as to the counter-productiveness of the Saudi intervention. Counter-productive insofar that the Zaidi Houthis together with the Yemeni Armed Forces were giving AQAP a run for their money. Not so any longer since the Saudis declared their crusade against the evil Persian wraith they appear to see every waking moment at the corner of their field of vision.

I can't seem to find that AJ-article anymore, which was released some time in spring last year as far as I recall. Given AJ's, hence Qatar's rather transparent pro-Saudi agenda it wouldn't be too surprising if they took that article down for good measure.

LeaNder

Well, obvious nutcases sometimes do stupid things.

Why would that be a matter of love or hate to any outside observer.

*****
For whatever reason, I cannot post a question below:
"The "long pole" for me continues to be the small number of ground forces available to R+6."

"long pole"?

disrupting logistic lines is an important component of the fight, but won't completely make up for boots on the ground?

turcopolier

LeAnder

"The long pole in the tent" is a widely used American expression especially in the military to denote the factor in a situation which is most difficult in resolving the situation. If you have ever erected a tent you will have found that there always seems to be a pole too long for easy completion of the task. As for your second point "mass" matters in campaigning. Logistics is very important but it helps a great deal to have sufficient force to do all the things necessary without stretching the force too much. If you do over-commit your forces you risk a sudden reversal of the situation. pl

SmoothieX12

" But ultimately, military potential stands on the strength of the underlying economy. And this decade, the US economy is vastly larger and stronger than Russia's, plus can blackmail many other economies to join its policy directions - fickle or not."

US economy is much larger than that of Russia, it is also an economy which is greatly (in fact, grotesquely) overvalued since 80% of US economy is FIRE (Finances, Insurance, Real Estate). The manufacturing sector (that is real economy) of US barely hits 20%. The main article of US export today is inflation. Russia's economy is grossly undervalued and its manufacturing sector's share of the economy exceeds 40%. So, while smaller, for obvious reasons, than the US economy, Russia's economy is smaller by much lesser margin than it is taught in all kinds of Ivy League economic madrasas. But it is not only the "size" (GDP) of the economy--it is its structure which matters for the issue of military power and here the number of closed technological cycles matters above all because it translates into the weapons--their quality and quantity. What goes into this I will not elaborate here but let's put it into prospective: there are only two nations in the world who produce full spectrum of weapon systems--from small arms to global positioning systems and space stations. You may have guessed it--these are US and Russia. China is not even in this league despite making some strides. Ask yourself a question why China, whose economy is largest, is so desperate to get her hands on SU-35C? Two words--Irbis and Saturn 117S, with thrust vectoring nozzles. Just a very small example.

As per national wealth of the US. I lived and worked long enough in the good ol' USA to stop recognizing the country I used to know. The nation today is bankrupt and it reflects everywhere--from decay in the what used to be working class communities, to, always weak, public education to innumerable marijuana shops along the main arteries in many towns and cities. Just listen to Dire Straits' Telegraph Road--it seems that Mark Knopfler knew what was coming already in 1982.

ISL

SmoothiX12,

I don't disagree with you about where things are heading or where they are; however, I was careful to say this decade. Barring the US getting into a major war (per normal for Great Powers) we have decades to turn things around - personally - I am not optimistic, but always hopeful. See trend in Great Britain over the last say century as it FIRE-d its economy - there is a long timescale. Unfortunately, that probably prevents the much needed serious reform.

However, right now the US can still leverage its wealth (debt-funded or not) to build an unstoppable army of even semi-functional weapons (F-35) that still remain unmatchable. The credit taps still run full scale.

That said, Russia has been amazingly successful at evolving its economy over the last decade from the Shock therapy basket case the US tried to apply under the drunken Yeltsin, particularly given the constraints placed on it in the world economy and its dependency on oil - and effectively applying that to maintain its ability to defend militarily its core interests. In contrast, the US seems to have defined the entire globe as a core interest, which takes orders of magnitude larger expenditures than Russia's needs.

The Beaver

Colonel et al.,

A long piece on IS from Jim Muir , BBC News:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35695648

"By the time both the new ISI and al-Qaeda leaders were killed in a US-Iraqi army raid on their hideout in April 2010, the insurgency was at its lowest ebb, pushed back into remote corners of Sunni Iraq.

They were both replaced by one man, about whom very little was publicly known at the time, and not much more since: Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Six eventful years later, he would be proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim, Commander of the Faithful and leader of the newly declared "Islamic State".

bth

Col., I've been thinking more and more about the economic attrition (warfare) that is occurring in the world especially among commodity based economies and especially those at war (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, GSS). I think we are approaching a economic culmination point in several key countries. Are you aware, is there any research into economic culmination points that is current and perhaps relevant to the ME at this point?

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang and Leander,

And, to your point (I think), mass without logistics might be analogous to a balloon which, when punctured collapses dramatically.

WPFIII

SmoothieX12

"However, right now the US can still leverage its wealth (debt-funded or not) to build an unstoppable army of even semi-functional weapons (F-35) that still remain unmatchable. The credit taps still run full scale."

Here is where we have to agree to disagree. It matters great deal how things are financed--on credit or in gold--and especially so in the military sphere. De-dollarization is already in progress. Dollar is the main instrument of US servicing her colossal debt. Unlike it was in immediate post-WW II period when US had about 60% share of global GDP, today things are drastically different since the only foundation for US globalism is an, largely empty, financial bubble. And here is the danger, I simplify it, of course--many in US decision making and policy setting circle think that the war is good for the US and, in fact, is one of the ways out of the already pretty grim economic situation. Enough to mention that desperately needed US re-industrialization miserably failed, sadly. What those people do not understand (they can not--most of them humanities and finances "educated" good ol' boys who see the life from the windows of their limos and private jets) is the fact that any US war with near peer, forget peer-to-peer, one which, as Colonel Macgregor stated "has a modicum of military ability", can result in a catastrophic dynamics for the US. The bubble will burst almost immediately. Even today US has squandered the bulk of her capital, including a soft power one. Consider now scenario where even a single US aircraft carrier is sunk or damaged to the point of being useless--it may not have necessarily immediate catastrophic consequences for the outcome of the war but it will, absolutely, have catastrophic political and economic consequences. Why so, is a very long discussion but US can not win conventionally in Russia's neighborhood, she can not invade China and she can not win the real war in Iran--these are hard facts and they already are having major influence on the global realignment. The problem and danger here, as I already stated, that the quality of US "elites" dropped precipitously in the last three decades.

different clue

zth,

I wonder to what extent the notoriously antiRussianitic racist antiRussianite Zbigniew Brzezinski left loads of proteges and acolytes and assorted little zbignoids placed throughout the diplomatic and academic systems to carry the flame of Zbiggy's grudges against Russia.

Fred

Interesting write up.

SmoothieX12

"By "rational explanation" do you mean "rational" in the sense that an experienced and knowledgeable psychiatrist can rationally explain why a paranoid schizophrenic in full-psychotic-break does what he/she does?"

Couldn't have put it better myself. This is exactly what I mean.

Prem

I wonder why the US haven't been able to build semi-competent armies in Afghanistan and Iraq?

The Soviet trained Afghan army was reasonably effective. If Gorbachev and Yeltsin hadn't cut off their arms supplies, and if Dostam hadn't defected they could have held out indefinitely.

Even today, from what I've heard the best personnel to be found in the Afghan forces are Soviet trained veterans of Najib's army.

MartinJ

There is no war in Yemen.

This will become clear in the coming weeks. The Saudis do not have any men in Yemen. Everything that is in the media is complete baloney.

That goes for these stories of South American mercenaries as well.

AQAP is a many headed beast. Most of their activities that make it to the MSM are in fact acts carried out by Ali Abdallah Saleh's Republican Guard or AQAP acting as a subcontractor for him. All false flag operations. In fact, I would define AQAP as a false flag militia; just one more criminal gang competing for smuggling routes and other criminal franchises.

Those fighting against the Huthis and Saleh, in Taiz for example, are calling themselves Salafis. They are actually closer to the AQ brand but they call themselves by a different name so that their pool of potential supporters are not confused into thinking they may join the pro-Saleh AQAP.

The Saudis are not actually fighting the Huthis in any real sense. They are fighting in the media. They take positions in public negotiations. They sell the "war" as a great victory to the Saudi people. But they do not really support an overturning of the established order. They fear the unleashing of chaos there that might result in millions of starving Yemenis pouring over their borders for a start.

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