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24 June 2017


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I read Ghost Wars by Steve Coll when it first came out, won a Pulitzer. But you are talking about another book?



IMO Steve Coll is a pretentious ass. i debated him at Intelligence Squared at NYU in 2009 . he read his statement from prepared script in violation of the rules of the debate. Yes, I know him and a few others. pl


I would agree that the US has been much too aggressive in resorting to military action with our foreign policy. We have needlessly tried to extend the Cold War. However, your attempt to make Russia a great place to live just does not line up with the facts. It remains a poor country (per capita GDP lags Greece) that relies too heavily upon extraction of natural resources. Life expectancy overall ranks 110th in the world (behind North Korea!) and 127th for men (64.7 years) per WHO stats. Alcoholism remains a major problem. Are things improving there? Probably, but still not a great place to live.



Once upon a time, Cheney was honest, if only for s space in time.


Not now, not since 2003.

Doug Colwell

I, like mauisurfer, read Colls' Ghost Wars when it came out. I remember wondering how he could make such an interesting subject seem so dull.


Your life expectancy figure is from 1994. As of 2015, life expectancy in Russia was 71.4 years. There is a long line of fools who have come to grief from underestimating Russia. It looks like the US is next up.


Babak and OM,
one may also add the invasion of Finland in late 1930s, the Baltic states and of course, the most egregious one was in taking part in the s.c. 4th partition of Poland in 1939 , meaning the pact with Hitler. The previous three partitions took place in the late 18th century. So, Russia was also expanding beyond the original Muscovy, creating a large and powerful empire. The expansion East and taking over Siberia up to Pacific was serving the expansionist forces of Russian state, ending on the Chinese border with the 'unequal treaties'. There is more to say about the action/reaction reasons, as so often in history.


chaos theory
to the benefit of Israel


I am grateful to Publius Tacitus for such straightforward articles. This is the second one of your articles that I will archive in order to review again at a later date.

David E. Solomon

Ah Tacitus,

You tell it like it is. Go to it.

Unfortunately, no one is likely to listen.

Trump is as dumb as they come and Hillary and her consort are still lurking..




Mauisurfer, she's referring to Ghost Fleet, by PW Singer.


Most if not all the posts on this blog and the added commentary they elicit are insightful and encouraging. Here again the wise Roman has raised a perspective that is too often lost in all the noise. But I find it instructive to go further as I don’t attribute this folly to mass delusion alone. As another has noted in the comments, Cheney was aware of the consequences of invading Iraq and of deposing Saddam and then once back in power again, he and others drew us into this quagmire anyways.

Yes, there is a mass delusion, but defining Russia as the enemy is also a “noble lie” told by a group of political hacks—dare I say criminals due to negligence and/or intent.

I think the folly is for the most part the price they decided to pay for their grand designs. They’ve committed themselves to the path they chose much like Shakespeare’s MacBeth as he metaphorically waddled in a pool of blood only to realize he had no choice but to continue the bloodshed. That isn’t to say things haven’t gone awry or that they haven’t deluded themselves and the public at large (they most certainly have), but a lot of what we have seen was intended and was the cost of going about their agenda in my view.

The agenda is the “big idea,” a NWO which was “coming into view," in the immortal words of GHWB as the SU fell into collapse. It’s not a happy coincidence the US, as an arm of globalism, has had thinly disguised pretexts to bomb Yugoslavia and Libya, invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and at times support terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda the very group responsible for drawing the US into the region to begin with. This was the price to pay for a total and global supremacy, a supremacy of a select few’s manifest will to control the whole of human destiny.

They’re desire was not merely to let the Russians bleed, but to checkmate them and to deny them any opportunity of reemerging as a superpower capable of challenging their designs. And this agenda coincided with the desires of the hardline Zionists/Wahhabists in their death battle for total supremacy over a hardline theocratic Persia and their allies.


Steve, its not so simple. Just recently, The Lancet reports that the wealthiest Americans live 15 years longer than the poorest. So a poor American (most people these days) would be "better off" by that measure in Russia or a long list of other countries.

As to whether its better to be an uber-rich tycoon / hollywood celeb (the only real people per the media), the US wins hands down. However, I only know a few in that very very small class. Its also probably better to be a successful business man in the US. Again - a small coterie.

I read that something like 65% of Americans cannot find $400 for a medical emergency without pawning something - and the numbers are growing fast - this does not lead to a societal stability. In Russia and China the trend is towards greater societal stability.

As to where is a better place to live, its a meaningless question. For Russians Russia is better (that is where their family and culture are) and for Americans, America is better (that is where their family and culture are).

The question Publicus Tacitus asks, is whether the US is living up to its promise to its citizens or living in a delusion about the reality of America - a delusion broadcast on the mainstream media continuously.


I never read that the USA depends on China for "glamorous" electronic and electro-mechanic components like microprocessors or micro-motors, but there have been a few hidden, very niche products where the USA temporarily lost control of their production.

An example were rare-earth based magnets used in aircraft and missiles. Because these were produced by private corporations under the control of pure-profit-orientated private equity firms, and because of the competition from China in the sector of rare-earth, there were long stretches from the early 2000s onwards during which production took place exclusively in foreign countries, including China. Mines and processing factories in the USA were simply shut down as unprofitable. A look for Magnequench and Molycorp will turn out a few articles.

There is also the case of totally unglamorous rifle ammunition. Starting with the Iraq war, the USA simply could not produce enough such military-grade ammunition. For years, they were forced to import large batches from foreign countries -- not China of course, but South Korea and Israel for instance. When I read about that for the first time, I was stunned. If the USA do not even have the industrial capacity to wage such small wars as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, what kind of delusion is it to claim world leadership and warrant of world order? A colossus with clay feet, truly.



Comparing U.S. and RF military spending based on USD figures is misleading, because Russian weapon systems use few or no imported parts, and are produced, maintained and operated in Rubles, exchanged at 2/3 its pre-sanctions value of 2014. In other words, given low inflation rates in Russia, sanctions have made it easier for Russia to rearm on the cheap.


"The only (still inaccurate but still better)official index which could be used here is a PPP (Purchase Power Parity). Just to illustrate how it works, here is the quote from one of my articles"

That is nonsesne. For some issues the absolurte values are important, think about the ability to import stuff. Russia is somewher in between.

"Actual size of Russian economy is that of Germany and with industries which Germany (as an example) simply doesn't have."

Denatable. Russia is overall not able to survive without exports of oil + NG, this issue has not changed for decades, hint: even many parts they need for this are maufactured in the west. German has no problems, i.e. Germany has a lot of industries Russia does not have. :-)

I am not aware that a Russian company is competitor of Boeing, Airbus is however. You confuse the ability to cover some parts of domestic demand with the ability to make money on the international market with industrial products. :-)

And then we have the interesting aspect of soft power. My many Russian colleagues tlell me that Russia maye a severe issue in this department.

Sylvia 1

I am--sorry for my mistake. The book is Ghost Fleet by PW Singer and August Cole. It's a Novel About a future War With China. According to Foreign Policy--the book "A Novel About War With China Strikes a Chord at the Pentagon". Interesting book.

David Habakkuk


‘and of course, the most egregious one was in taking part in the s.c. 4th partition of Poland in 1939 , meaning the pact with Hitler.’

Actually, there is no ‘of course’ about it. The 1999 study ‘Grand Delusion’, by the Israeli historian Gabriel Gorodetsky, who both knows the British archives inside out and was given access to the Russian unprecedented for any non-Russian historian, argued in essence that we British pushed Stalin into it.

(For what seems to me a very balanced review by Truman Anderson, an American historian – apparently also a former Marine officer – then at the London School of Economics, see http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/93 .)

Part of the reason Chamberlain made such a hash of things was that – encouraged by MI6, who were as incompetent then as they are today – he had a view of Stalin’s policy which it turned out was simply wrong.

In a letter to a friend on 26 March 1939, he wrote:

“I must confess to the most profound distrust of Russia. I have no belief whatever in her ability to maintain an effective offensive, even if she wanted to. And I distrust her motives, which seem to me to have little connection with our ideas of liberty, and to be concerned only with getting everyone else by the ears.”

His grasp of the complex games of bluff and counter-bluff going on was so poor that he could not see that a unilateral guarantee to Poland would provide every incentive to Hitler to seek a Pact with the Soviets.

Subsequently, the complete absence of any serious attempt on Chamberlain’s part to understand, let alone accommodate, Soviet fears of being left fighting Hitler on their own created a situation where Stalin’s least worst option was, quite patently, to try to buy time by accepting the German overtures.

Publius Tacitus

Do you realize how silly and ridiculous your comment is? Just deal with the facts--the US is spending far more on a per capita and total basis than Russia. Just because Russia can do it cheaper means nothing. What you ignore are the defense lobbyists that ring Washington and provide the money and pressure to ensure the Defense Budget keeps growing regardless of what is going on in the world.


You confuse the ability to cover some parts of domestic demand with the ability to make money

Evidently you confuse the issue of real economy and the fact, that for Russia it is all about domestic demand, but then again, without knowing what 1990s were in Russia, when she, among many other things, was forced to shut down her commercial aircraft industry and start to impost a bulk of "Western" second-hand B737s and A319s etc. I don't see how anything could be explained. FYI, MS-21 just completed the first phase of flight tests and as of today has 185 firm (prepaid) contracts + 110 options and this is largely Russian internal market. As for making money, I am sure US will "make money" selling a lot of so called 5th generation embarrassments like F-35 or LCS.

That is nonsesne. For some issues the absolurte values are important, think about the ability to import stuff. Russia is somewher in between.

Not in GDP. Again, you confuse real economy and a staple of US economy which was thoroughly de-industrialized and is a classic case of FIRE (Financial, Insurance, Real Estate). There was a reason that apart from PPP index (still very inaccurate)some economists introduced a "Bic Mac dollar". I presented here a simple example: the whole program of Russia's naval nuclear deterrent, that is 8 state-of-the-art SSBNs of Borey-class (3 already afloat, 5 being built) costs less than a single (and that is GAO projected--costs will go overboard, as they always do) boat of projected Columbia-class. Same criterion works across the board of virtually any real (manufacturing) sector. Let me put it in a simpler worlds: Russia simply gets a much larger bang for a proverbial buck. The gap will only increase and the trend is already here.

Denatable. Russia is overall not able to survive without exports of oil + NG, this issue has not changed for decades, hint: even many parts they need for this are maufactured in the west. German has no problems, i.e. Germany has a lot of industries Russia does not have. :-)

No, not debatable. Most of power machinery related to extraction have been fairly fast substituted with domestic manufacturing. If you want to talk about Germany, be my guest and ask German MTU when they expect (if theoretically sanctions on Russia will be lifted, that means never)to return to Russian market. I'll give you a hint--never. Should you have followed real news from Russia, you would have known that the issue of power plants for ships, a niche largely occupied prior to 2014 by Ukrainian Zorya and German MTU has been resolved by efforts of such companies as Saturn among many others. Just to give you one example (Google translate will do good enough job):


This is what used to be a German shtick in Russia, not any more. As per industries which Germany "has". To give you a little reference point--Rosatom's contracts portfolio for 2016 was in the vicinity of 200 billion dollars. Unlike Germany, Russia produces a whole line of state-of-the-art jet engines, including being certified cutting edge PD-14. If not for Anglo-French Alliance giving Germany some bone in integration of Airbus planes, Germany has no aerospace industry to talk about. But I am sure many German cell-phones have, together with GPS a function for GLONASS. I am not talking about MIC of Germany. Now that we measured penises, I will reiterate the point which I was making since long time--Western "views" of Russia are not only wrong, they are dangerously wrong (as events from 2014 demonstrated fully). Caricature, which is Russia in the West, has no more relation to reality than me being an alien from planet Zoltar. I repeat--this is dangerous. Evidently, as of lately, it started to dawn on some people in "analytic" community. I hope it is not too late. I could be wrong.


I never read that the USA depends on China for "glamorous" electronic and electro-mechanic components like microprocessors or micro-motors, but there have been a few hidden, very niche products where the USA temporarily lost control of their production.

Yes, the main problem today is to stop Chinese counterfeit. US was and will remain for a while a leader in microprocessor technologies. But the world doesn't stand still either and, per military applications, nations such as Russia are totally independent in this micro electronics respect. New technologies also coming up soon.



You are surprised that I don't know what the OSP was? Your ugly nastiness is deliberate and intended to wound. There is a pattern in your comments of seeking to denigrate and minimize me. If you knew anything you would know that I have written extensively on the subject of the OSP. You are not welcome on SST. I will not post any more of your comments. Does that mean you are banned? Yes. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I agree; the much weaker government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh survived 3 years of economic blockade between 1950 to 1953. Iran could not sell oil and was exporting such things as pomegranate peels (as precursor for natural dyes).

I think, in fact, it is Germany, Japan, and South Korea that cannot last long if they no longer could export - and thus pay for their imports.

And then are such countries as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada whose propriety is based, in whole or in parts, on the export of natural resources.

I think there is an animus against Russia and Westerners search constantly to find fault with her.

The same obtains, more or less, with Iran.

If you are a friend of the Western Fortress, all sins are forgiven - as it were.

I think the thrust of the Western Fortress policy since 1991 has been wrong to try to exclude the Russian state from any role in Europe; Russian realities (to some of which you have pointed) as well as historical patterns militate against such a posture against the Russian Federation.

An analogous posture against Iran by the Western Fortress in the Near East has also been unproductive for it but the willingness to change course is not evident.

Likely a case of Hubris informed by absence of the faculty of Judgement among both the leaders and the led in the Western Democracies.


Nope, you are both wrong. The data on where Russia places by country is from WHO data from 2015. The average life expectancy is 70.5 years, but for men it is much worse. But, different sources do come up with different numbers. If your 71.4 number was correct, that would put Russia at 104th instead of 110th in the world. They might beat North Korea for total average, but still lag on male life expectancy.

As to the Lancet study, it basically confirms the big JAMA study from 2016, which I think had slightly superior methods. It showed that life expectancy for the richest 1% of males was 87.3 years, and for the poorest 1% of males (these are both in the US) was 72.7 years. So, the average life expectancy of the poorest 1% of US males was about 8 years greater than the AVERAGE Russian male.

I agree that if you are Russian, you probably still like Russia better, and the US has plenty of problems, I just object to the nonsense that Russia is now a great place to live. It is a fairly poor, poorly run country. It has always been that way. I don't see much evidence that it is a whole lot better now.


Chris Chuba
"Russian military operations have been confined to its immediate borders--i.e., the Crimea, the Ukraine and George."
I'd put it a different way. The Russian military (post-USSR) has never crossed its borders where it wasn't welcomed, including Syria, yet we have been able to push the meme of a 'revanchist' Russia determined to rebuild the Russian Empire. Would I feel differently were I an Estonian? Perhaps, all I am saying is that there is yet to be an example Russia conquering a former republic, yet we are fully mobilized for a Second Cold War. This is quite a success for the Foreign Policy Establishment.

I thought this was an interesting fact regarding Crimea. In 1992, they declared their own constitutional independence only to have it nullified by Ukraine. So on every occasion where the Crimeans were able to express their desire, they never wanted to be part of Ukraine yet the talking heads talk about about the Russian referendum based annexation as if it was an atrocity http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/03/28/so-who-annexed-crimea-peninsular-then.html

If we are having a contest for the biggest Russophile, I bet I'm in the upper half of that list.

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