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19 July 2019

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ambrit

Sir;
Isn't the "wild card" here the Israelis?
I can imagine an Iranian government, or perhaps the IRGC in a 'bitter ender' phase targeting Israel proper before they collapse. As the fate of Gerald Ball indicates, the Israelis are understandably paranoid about their regional competitors.

Christian Chuba

Iranian grain ships stuck in Brazil due to U.S. sanctions
https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-brazil-iran-sanctions/iran-grain-ships-stuck-in-brazil-without-fuel-due-to-u-s-sanctions-idUKKCN1UD2QM

We are now engaging in cartoon villainy in terms of trying to squeeze Iran into a tiny box. Iran cannot transact in dollars so they are reduced to bartering with Brazil for corn. Oops, even their urea export is sanctioned but that doesn't matter because we won't let Brazil sell them fuel oil to ship corn back to their home port. This is flat out evil.

Jim Ticehurst

I wondering if the former Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejah ...2005 to 2013 and His "Apocalyptic Shiites" were put in the background...with disinformation about His falling out of Favor....So Iran could play strategic games with the P5+1 agreement IN 2015 especially with President Obama..

SysATI

Eric Newhill

"But Iran still loses. Each hit the US Navy takes, strengthens the resolve to crush Iran that much harder."

Cm'on man... wake up and open your eyes...

The US hasn't won any war since... Eternity...
Do I have to remind you what happens in Afghanistan, in Irak or more recently in Syria ?

Well Iran is FIVE times bigger than Syria and is not a divided multicultural/multi-religious country. Do you think that anything you do could change the fact that those 80 something millions people will survive and will ALL be behind their leaders whoever he might be ?

If I was Iranian and even if the leader of the country was Adolf Hitler or some fanatic religious Abu Satanist al Muslim, I would still be behind him if my country was attacked by some foreign bully. My guess is that 99% of the Iranians think the same way....

Forget about allies like Hamas, Hezbollah or Houtis or even China and Russia.
Iran exists since 7000 BC and you really think that the new kid in the block with a couple hundred years of existence would be able to take it out ?
Given your history of military victories ???!!! Don't make me laugh...

Even if you naively believe that, do you think about the consequences of such a war ? Not on Iran, OK, you might level part of the country, but then what ?

Israel would most probably cease to exist. But so as the middle eastern Arab monarchies and most the world's oil industry, which we all depend on...

Which means that the whole planet will suffer for years to come...

If I can't feed my kids because my country can't get enough oil thanks to some nutcase in WDC guess how I'll feel about the US ?

Most of the world already hate you for a reason. If you want to be not just hated but treated like enemies where ever you go, go ahead, bomb Iran, start a war, have the whole world crumble...

And for what ???
Just "because you can" is not a valid answer...

"IMO, if there's going to be war, then the Europeans and Brits should fight it... Of course none of them will step up on their own and the US will have to do this."

Will HAVE TO do this ???!!!

Who the hell is forcing you not to mind your own business ?

Has Iran attacked the US ? Or Britain ? Or Europe ?
Or anyone else in the past several hundreds of years ?
No...


But.... Does the US oil industry would like the oil prices to go up ? YES !!!
Do the crazies in DC want to make more money by selling more weapons ? YES !!!
Do the crazies in Wahabistan hate the Shias and want to get rid of them ? YES !!!
Do the crazies in Israel want to get rid of a powerful neighbor ? YES !!!
Do even some crazies in the US want Israel to go in flames so that Jesus comes back ?

Unfortunately yes...

blue peacock

Col. Lang

"in a transition to war situation before the US Navy got its ducks in line and crushed them" what damage could Iranian ballistic missiles do to UAE, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia? Could they devastate oil & gas, LNG, port and pipeline infrastructure sufficiently that it would take a year to re-build back to full capacity?

It seems it would be a lose-lose proposition for everyone including Trump's re-election prospects. I have seen private surveys of working class people in the mid-west and the south who by an overwhelming majority oppose a war with Iran when informed about some of the potential consequences.

ex-PFC Chuck

I read Day of Deceit a month ago and found Stinnett's analysis and sourcing quite convincing. He demolishes the standard narrative that the attack was a total tactical surprise and to a large extent a strategic one as well. Admiral Yamamoto's orders to maintain radio silence were honored very much in the breach, one of the worst offenders being the at-sea mission commander himself, Admiral Nagumo. Many individual ship captains continued reporting their positions at specified times of the day, as was their peacetime practice. This enabled the US, British and Dutch signals monitoring stations, which were sharing information in spite of the fact that the US was not yet a combatant, to triangulate and track the Japanese mission fleet from its assembly point near the Kurile Islands eastward to their launch position several hundred miles north of Oahu. Stinnett assembles a strong circumstantial case asserting this information was available to the intelligence circles in Washington DC and in the US radio detection/cryptanalysis stations at Corregidor, the Aleutian Islands, and Station H on Oahu itself, practically within sight of Admiral Kimmel’s office, but it never made it to the admiral himself or to General Short. He got much of the supporting information through the FOIA process, but some of the most damning documents he cited he found by walking into various historical archive sites outside of the DC area and simply asking to see what they had. He makes the point that many of the documents he cites never saw the light of day during any of the three formal investigations of the affair: in the months immediately after the attack; shortly after the end of the war; and half a century later in the early 1990s. What he is unable to cite are documents that concretely connect the president, Admiral Stark the CNO, or General Marshall the Army Chief of Staff with knowledge of the available intelligence. Those known to have existed which might have been smoking guns that he sought via the FOIA were either still highly classified or were “unable to be found.” However the circumstantial case that they must have known and been on board, in some cases reluctantly, is strong. For example, it is known that the McCollum memo gained the attention of FDR himself soon after it was published, and the White House chief usher’s log documents that the commander had several meetings with the president. McCollum, a USNA graduate, had spent much of his childhood in Japan as the child of Christian missionaries and was almost natively fluent in the language as well as deeply steeped in the culture.

Charles Michael

Eric newhill,

There I must disagree:
Nethanyaou is again in election campaign same goes for President Trump; IMHO no war for the newt 6 months and probably never.

A deal is possible ? maybe
but it should encompass the Syrian issue from where all this Iranian crisis is actually born-again.
For example Iran could agree to withdraw its troops from Syria if USA and partners did the same as Trump was considering.
This move would surely have some effect on the YPG position, thus on Turkey's activism along its frontier with Syria (Afrin being not included).


Entering in negociations for a JCPOA bis will not be acceptable for Iran if sanctions (some at least) are not lifted. My educated guess is that is precisely what's going on.

turcopolier

Charles Michael
You are not correct. The Israelis have a deep psychopatholgy about Iranian ballistic missiles and a possible nuclear weapon that might - might exist someday. That has nothing to do with Syria.

Willy B

Col,

I don't know if it came from the McCollum memo or not, but at the ABC-1 meetings in early 1941, the British delegation proposed that the US take over the defense of Singapore from the Royal Navy, a proposal that was rejected by the American delegation.

The minutes of the ABC-1 meetings were published by the British National Archives some years ago and I have it somewhere on my hard drive but I couldn't give you a link. As I recall, it was interesting to see the American side rejecting the Singapore and other schemes to get the US to defend British colonial territories.

David Habakkuk

All,

I think the comment by ‘Elliot’ back in May reflects assumptions which are very deep-seated in the West, are questionable, and if wrong, could prove extraordinarily dangerous. So an extended response seems appropriate.

Of course the Russians have far more limited resources than the United States. What is important is to understand the implications of that fact for their strategic thinking.

On this I would strongly recommend two pieces at the top of the ‘Russia’ page on the ‘World Hot Spots’ section of the ‘Army Military Press’ site.

(See https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Special-Topics/World-Hot-Spots/Russia/ )

The first is a translation of a 2017 article from the journal of the ‘Academy of Military Science’, entitled ‘Color Revolutions in Russia’, by A.S. Brychkov and G.A. Nikonorov.

Among other things, this illustrates very well the rather central fact that Russian military strategists are very well aware that one of the things that wrecked the Soviet Union was the attempt to maintain permanent preparedness for a prolonged global war with a power possessing an enormously greater military-industrial potential.

As to the implications for contingency planning for war, these are spelt out in a piece, also published in 207, by the invaluable Major Charles K. Bartles of the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, entitled ‘Recommendations for Intelligence Staffs Concerning Russian New Generation Warfare.’

At the risk of glossing his meaning overmuch, what is involved is a kind of ‘higher synthesis’ of the ideas of two figures who were on opposing sides of the arguments of the ‘Twenties of the last century, Georgiy Isserson, the pioneering theorist of ‘deep operations’, and Aleksandr Svechin, who cautioned against an exclusive focus of the ‘Napoleonic’ strand in Clausewitz.

Both are quoted by the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, General Valery Gerasimov, in his crucial and much misunderstood address to the Academy of Military Science in February 2013, reproduced on the same page as the articles to which I have referred.

What Svechin was saying, in essence, was that an attentive reader of Clausewitz would realise that ‘toujours la’audace’ should be replaced as a motto by ‘l’audace at the right place and time’.

It was crucial to be able to judge when an offensive approach was absolutely the right choice, and caution suicidal, and when the promise of a decisive victory was a snare and a delusion, and defensive and attritional responses appropriate.

(This argument crops up in many contexts: the ‘Tabouleh Line’ strategy adopted by Hizbullah, which Colonel Lang discussed in posts during and following the 2006 Lebanon War, and also that advocated by James Longstreet at Gettysburg, are classic examples of what Svechin would have seen as circumstances where a sound ‘defensive’ strategy was the key to victory.)

As regards contemporary Russian thinking, an implication is that one of things they have been trying to create is the ability, in appropriate situations, to use characteristics of ‘deep operations’ – surprise, speed, shock – in support of clearly limited objectives.

The kind of possibility involved was alluded to in the conversation between the ‘Security Adviser’ and the ‘American Soldier’ – seemingly involved on the ground in the ‘deconfliction’ process – which accompanied Seymour Hersh’s June 2017 article in ‘Die Welt’ on the Khan Sheikhoun sarin incident the previous April, and the U.S. air strikes that resulted.

(See https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905618/We-got-a-fuckin-problem.html )

A key exchange:

‘SA: There has been a hidden agenda all along. This is about trying to ultimately go after Iran. What the people around Trump do not understand is that the Russians are not a paper tiger and that they have more robust military capability than we do.

‘AS: I don’t know what the Russians are going to do. They might hang back and let the Syrians defend their own borders, or they might provide some sort of tepid support, or they might blow us the fuck out of the airspace and back into Iraq. I honestly don’t know what to expect right now. I feel like anything is possible. The russian air defense system is capable of taking out our TLAMs. this is a big fucking deal...we are still all systems go...’

And that brings one to another critical strand in the approach of contemporary Russian strategic thinkers.

Not simply for war-fighting, but, critically, for ‘deterring’ the United States from escalating if the Russians do successfully achieve limited objectives, they have been concentrating on ‘asymetric’ involving focused investment in specific technologies.

So, Bartles explains that the Russian Ground Forces are ‘significantly ahead’ of the U.S. Army in electronic warfare, key objectives being to disrupt the demonstrated American capability for precision strikes, and also exploit the latent vulnerabilities involved in the dependence of so much equipment on GPS. (As an Army man, he does not discuss the interesting question of naval and air applications.)

And crucially, there has been a focus on developing a very wide range of missiles which ‘missile defence’ technologies are not going to be able to counter effectively in any forseeable future, and which have steadily increasing range, accuracy and lethality. One central purpose of this, which Gerasimov has spelt out in later addresses to the Academy of Military Science, also available on the page to which I have linked, is to provide non-nuclear ‘deterrence’ options.

It is, of course, always difficult to be clear as to what is, or is not, hype in claims made for new weapons systems. That said, it is I think at least worth reading some contributions by the Brussels-based American analyst Gilbert Doctorow.

In February, he produced a piece entitled ‘The INF Treaty is dead: will the arms race be won this time by the most agile or by the biggest wallet?’, and another, headlined ‘The Kremlin’s Military Posture Re-considered: strategic military parity with the U.S. or absolute military superiority over the U.S.’

(See https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2019/02/05/the-inf-treaty-is-dead-will-the-arms-race-be-won-this-time-by-the-most-agile-or-by-the-biggest-wallet/ ; https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2019/02/24/the-kremlins-military-posture-re-considered-strategic-military-parity-with-the-u-s-or-absolute-military-superiority-over-the-u-s/ .)

Certainly, a good many assertions Doctorow made merit being taken with a pinch of salt, if not a great deal more. However, before one empties the full salt-cellar over them, a few observations are worth making.

How much salt should be applied to Shoigu’s assertion that the cost of the systems being developed is hundreds of times less than that of the systems being developed by the United States against Russia I cannot say.

Some questions are however worth putting. It would be interesting to be clearer than I am as to how relevant, or irrelevant, is the fact that for a long time now Russian universities have, frankly, wiped the floor with their Western counterparts in international programming competitions is one.

Another relevant range of issues relates to how expensive the ‘software’ component of the relevant weaponry actually produced, once it is developed. A third relates to that of how far the new missiles, with their greater range, can be effectively deployed, either by updating old platforms – like Soviet-era bombers – or by creating relatively low cost-ones.

And then of course one comes to the question of how the technical military issues interact with the ‘geopolitics’ involved. In recent years, a range of different Russian analysts have been claiming, in essence, that the ‘Petrine’ era of Russian history is over. Three examples, from Dmitri Trenin, Sergei Karaganov, and Vladislav Surkov, can be found at

https://carnegie.ru/2016/12/25/russia-s-post-soviet-journey-pub-66569 ; https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/pubcol/We-Have-Used-Up-the-European-Treasure-Trove-19769 ; https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/book/The-Loneliness-of-the-Half-Breed-19575 .

If, as Trenin argued back in 2016, Russia has moved from aspiring to become part of a ‘Greater Europe’ to seeing itself as a central part of a ‘Greater Eurasia’, then this has implications for how it should react to the asymetry which was central to Soviet views of INF in the ‘Eighties.’

Put simply, INF in Europe can pose a ‘decapitation’ threat to Russia, while Russian INF do not do so to the United States.

At that time, the deployment of cruise and Pershing II helped to encourage a burgeoning awareness among important sections of the ‘security intelligentsia’ in Moscow of the extent to which their own security policies – of which the SS-20 deployment was just one of many examples – had created suspicion, fear and antagonism.

The conclusion – classically expressed in Georgiy Arbatov’s joke about the terrible thing that Gorbachev was going to do to the United States, deprive it of an enemy – turned out hopelessly naive. The liquidation of the existing Soviet security posture did not lead to any lesssening of Western antagonism.

In his second piece, Doctorow has an interesting discussion of views expressed by Yakov Kedmi, the sometime ‘refusenik’ who became a pivotal figure in organising Russian Jewish emigration to Israel, and is now a regular guest on Russian television. And he writes:

‘Perhaps Kedmi’s most interesting and relevant observation is on the novelty of the Russian response to the whole challenge of American encirclement. He noted that for the past 200 or more years the United States considered itself secure from enemies given the protection of the oceans. However, in the new Russian military threat, the oceans will now become the most vulnerable point in American defenses, from which the decapitating strike can come.’

Putting the point another way. Potentially at least, the ‘Greater Eurasia’ as Trenin describes it includes the Western European countries – indeed, it appears to include Ireland. It is, obviously, enormously in the interest of the Russians to include these, in that doing so both makes it possible to isolate the ‘Anglo-Saxons’, and also to provide a counterweight to Chinese preponderance.

To do so however – and at this point I am moving towards my own speculations, rather than simply relying upon better-informed observers – requires a complicated balancing act.

On the one hand, the West Europeans – above all the Germans – have to be persuaded that if they persist in following with the ‘Russia delenda est’ agendas of traditional ‘Anglo’ Russophobes, and ‘revanchists’ from the ‘borderlands’, they should not think this is going to be cost-free.

But on the other, the promise has to be implied that, if they ‘see sense’ and realise that their future is with a ‘Greater Eurasia’, without their needing to ‘remilitarise’ in any serious way, then they will not be threatened militarily.

This balancing act, ironically, makes it absolutely imperative for the Russians not to threaten the Baltics – particularly given their historical links to Germany.

By the same token, it provides a particularly cogent reason for threatening to respond to new American IMF deployments in Europe with ones that target the United States.

walrus

David and Col. Lang, how would Trump respond to Russian cruise missiles being deployed to Cuba?

Patrick Armstrong

AS it happens I am just finishing off a piece arguing that what Russia is doing today is countering US "Must haves". Much cheaper and easier to do than the former Soviet desire to do everything. Remember that in the Soviet days the USSR was also and "exceptionalist" country. Putin & Co know that that's a waste of time and resources.

Anon

I remember when I was still at school,a religious Jewish school,my parents said to me we are going to the movies.I got really excited and asked which one and they said "Torah,Torah,Torah and thought holy Moses this should be good.Imagine my disappointment when it was "Tora Tora Tora" instead.Still enjoyed it though especially the scene with all those planes flying in.Those were the days of Great War movies like "Von Ryan's express" and "Sand pebbles".As to the Iranians they miscalculated when they got trump instead of Clinton.

turcopolier

walrus

I have no idea. It would depend on how much the 'stache and Pompom could goad him into doing. They are also now trying to get him to appoint Fleitz s neocon as DNI.

Fred

David,

An interesting comment as always. I was struck by this quote:
"the terrible thing that Gorbachev was going to do to the United States, deprive it of an enemy "

In one respect he was correct; we are seeing the results of the intellectual apparatus of soviet progaganda continuing on, with, amongst others, AOC and the "squad" happily quoting the "victims/oppressors" narrative egged on by a lot of people hoping to cash in. The NYT take on the 50th anniversary being an example of thier new approach to American history.

aleksandar

Ancientarcher
Always funny how racism could lead people to write stupid things.
So let's go:
- the only sure sources about Chess invention are from central asia, maybe not genuinely persian but at this time under persian influence.
- Arabic numerals have never been known as " arabic " in the ancient arab world. It's when it was disvovered by europeans around 900 AC ( see Gerbert d'Aurillac ) that it was called " arabic ".
So much for " the Arabs have been trying to give their names to stuff which is not theirs for a long time now "
- And FOI iranians are not arabs, they are Persians mostly.

David Habakkuk

Fred,

What you write takes me ‘off topic’, but it raises another range of rather important issues, which may be more relevant than immediately appears to questions raised by Colonel Lang’s remarks.

When I first came across ‘victim culture’, back in the ‘Seventies, it was not actually among ‘victims’, but rather among certain kinds of what might be called WASxPs (meaning ex-Protestants) on the Left. It often seems to me that a lot of the ‘victims’ were, as it were, taught it.

Another phenomenon which was developing at that time, and a bit later, was what Steve Sailer, following Michael Barone, calls ‘Lennonism’ – very aptly in my view.

(See http://www.unz.com/isteve/hillary-secretly-called-for-hemispheric-open-borders/ .)

(There is, not uncommonly, a kind of ‘xP’ element to this: John Lennon himself was a product of the complex contradictions of Liverpool, including his complex responses to an upbringing by Aunt Mimi, a classic North-of-England Protestant matriarchal type. But then, in Liverpool, the ambiguous responses to a traditional Irish Catholic culture were also important – Cherie Blair being a case in point.)

A weird thing – which Sailer brings out in that piece, by linking to his discussion of what he calls ‘the Washington Establishment’s Invite-the-World/Invade-the-World conventional wisdom’ as exemplified in a seriously weird May 2016 speech by John Kerry – is that this kind of thinking has spread way beyond those who would be considered ‘left’ in any traditional sense.

An irony of the speech is that Kerry can evidently see, clearly, some of the pressures for a ‘Völkerwanderung’ which have been steadily increasing over past decades. He uses this however as reason for clinging to the delusion that somehow it is both necessary, and possible, to combat terrorism by using military force to remake the world in the image of the contemporary West.

It is symptomatic that Kerry’s address was given at a Northeastern University graduating class.

Unsurprisingly, this was very ‘diverse’. Idiots like Kerry take that as vindication of the assumption that the kind of people who pay large sums to study in American – or British – universities 1. are representative of the societies from which they come, and can collaborate in remodelling them, and 2. can be assumed to be absolutely honest and uncomplicated when, as often, they profess agreement with what people like Kerry say.

An even odder element of the current situation is that people like Kerry really aren’t helping anyone – up to and including themselves.

The tensions that would eventually produce ‘Brexit’ have been quite visible to anyone who cared to look for decades.

Those of us who were not happy to lock ourselves up in the developing ‘bubble’ could also see that concerns about immigration arose among a range of different people for a range of different reasons. Then, as now, there was plenty of what could genuinely be called ‘racism.’ But that, rather clearly, was only part of a very complex set of responses.

In the lead-up to the June 2016 vote prominent supporters of the ‘Remain’ campaign explained how, really, mass immigration was unstoppable. They appeared absolutely unable to understand that what they said was liable to be interpreted, in my view quite correctly, as indicating that, like John Kerry, they had no desire whatsoever to stop it.

Likewise, because they had taken what one might call the ‘Alf Garnett’ /‘Archie Bunker’ types – to hark back to notable British, and American, ‘sitcoms’ of the late ‘Sixties and ‘Seventies – as representative, and had never had sympathy, or compassion, for those characters, they completely failed to realise that elements of their anxieties were now, with reason, very much more widely shared.

As often, when it came to opinion polls, the responses people gave were influenced by what they recognised it was ‘acceptable’ to say – within the current ‘élite’ style of talking.

A predictable result of all this was that those who had ‘talked the talk’ made no serious attempt to head off the ‘populist revolt’ which was clearly brewing.

And, as was – famously – said of the Bourbons, they have ‘learnt nothing and forgotten nothing,’

Rather than trying to make sense of, and try to find a response to, the reasons why people voted for Brexit, or Trump – or indeed Corbyn – they prefer to invoke ‘foreign devils.’

It is a well-worn strategy, one pursued by Stalin and Mao. However, people like Kerry and Hillary – not to speak of Mueller and Comey – really do not have very much of the low and brutal cunning possessed by, at least, the former of those two not very loveable figures.

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