« Gabbard was right about the USG and al-qa'ida | Main | Hong kong is coming to a flash point on Monday. »

02 August 2019


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The Twisted Genius

Patrick, I remember the measle holes. That was back when we all thought shit was serious. I was only stationed in Germany as a case officer in a clan detachment, but even we practiced evacuating our location and driving to wartime sites to continue our collection mission behind the lines if necessary.

Lithuania is developing a poison pill/insurgency kind of defensive strategy and force structure. It would be a lot better than the front line of NATO strategy now in place. As you explained, that just causes Russia to have to counter the threat. The insurgency defensive strategy would be no threat.

For the bears, clades, species it doesn't really matter. If polar bears and grizzlies can interbreed, the brown bears of North America and Eurasia could interbreed without missing a step. I wouldn't want to piss off any of them.


thanks for the analysis - a shame the general did not expand on what Russian capabilities iN EW were eye watering.

Interesting "The first was the coordinated RPV attack on Russian bases in Syria last year in which seven were shot down and six taken over, three of them landed intact." According to the article, the drones were controlled from 100 km distant. This really doesnt sound like jihadi technology. So very interesting that Russia was able to take over the RPVs which were either US or Israeli...

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12)

according to Meduza

No, you are not an "honest troll". Meanwhile, why don't you try Die Deutsche Wochenschau as your source. Or CNN, at the least.

Dao Gen

Throughout its long history China has never tried to dominate foreign countries. It never tried to conquer Japan, for example, which had some very productive silver and gold mines. On the other hand, the Mongols tried twice (unsuccessfully) to invade Japan during their short period of dominance. China did try meddle in Korean politics and use Korea as a buffer zone, though a few times the Koreans threw them out. China also tried to secure buffer zones in the west and south. Even now, though, they seem to feel that they are destined to be the world's middle country, and they don't seem to have a hankering to invade or directly control foreign areas to gain Lebensraum, even though they have a huge population. And they have no tradition of global colonialism. It is not in the culture or the economic history.

As for the New Silk Road, it does not seem to be as self-serving and manipulative as the DoS and Pompeo are constantly claiming. China has an ancient continuous culture, and the Chinese seem to know full well by now that lasting prosperity only happens when all parties prosper. Mutual dependence and mutual recognition are a deep part of Chinese and all east Asian cultures, though the Japanese samurai ethic briefly went berserk and disregarded that wisdom back in the 1930s! The Chinese spirit of innovation-within-tradition and dynamic business management (including state management) is also likely to keep them confident in their own ability to be creative and cutting edge, so they will probably be less likely to try to suppress other economies the way Trump is trying to do. I imagine Chinese leaders are hoping that mutual prosperity and interdependence will make ideologies like "full spectrum dominance" risible relics of the past. Culture is long, turbulence happens.


Got me there.
The western alliance - since the fall of the USSR - has been pretty useless if not downright dangerous.
As for China, they may have gone too far in that "inscrutable oriental" act and begun to believe their own BS.


LA Sox Fan
re: "One day, the taxpayers of this country are no longer going to pay for an empire that they don’t profit from"

There is an easy orange way to solve that - just print more US dollars. They are as indispensable as the US nation. Start MAGA by making the dollar numbers greater!

It has side effects, no doubt, but then, also advantages.

After all, in time you'll be able to build another aicraft carrier for $, and buy bread, cigarettes or whiskey for $ 200.000, 300.000 or 500.000.

No, no, you're not a cheap curmudgeon! Instead you'll live in an exciting time!

With these numbers you'll also need to redesign the dollar bills since so far there is not enough place for all the zeros.

You'll also likely will need a truck to transport the money to buy cigarettes or bread. In that sense, inflation is in fact a really cunning subsidy for the oil and car industries! Maybe you also want that truck to be bullet proof ...

John Minehan

Lithuania is developing a poison pill/insurgency kind of defensive strategy and force structure. It would be a lot better than the front line of NATO strategy now in place."

Similar to what Yugoslavia planned to do under Tito? The protracted civil war they had in the 1990s is a sign that it **could** work, as is the conflict that followed OIF I.

John Minehan

The US (with those two oceans as its eastern and western boundaries) is a maritime power.

We are also still a sufficiently important maritime power that we have some level of responsibility for maintaining freedom of the seas (as with the issues with the pirates operating out of Puntland in southern Somalia in the late 2000s), a situation that has existed (in some form) since the Roman Republic made the Med "Mare Nostrum."

Russia has always been (mostly) a land power.

Given this, the US (even if it does not "seek to fight monsters" in Nietzsche's terms) has the Force Projection task thrust upon it in a way Russia doesn't.

Even if we sought to be non-interventionist (as I think we should), we still have more on our plate than Russia. (The PRC has the same inherent problem.)

Since we have a force projection mission thrust upon us as a maritime power, full spectrum dominance (in at least the areas where our ships operate) is an implied task.

So, I think the two thoughts I have about this article are:

1) we have broader defense needs than the Russians, based on being a maritime power; and

2) since our plate is already full, it makes little sense to add to that burden.


The Swiss are mountain people.

People in agrarian societies have a different mindset as people who live on/near the fringes (dessert, jungle, mountain, gypsies). Simply set people in agrarian based societies are more domesticated. IMO pastoralists are a bit in between (and are more hierarchical structured)

* the people on the edge are less hierarchical and based on meritocracy.
* most able men (and sometimes also women) become 'warriors' when required.
* they don't conform to nation-state norms/taxes etc.
* they are regarded by agrarian people (urban and rural) as thieves, outcasts etc (partly correct because stealing/plundering/providing military mercenary power is part of their core-business when interacting with domesticated people)
Remember the European verb 'no money, no swiss' which originated from the middle ages (still visible in the Vatican) when mercenary labor was a (seasonal) activity for able-bodied Swiss men.

IMO this still resonates in the present situation. Look at the present conflicts:
* Houthies/Yemen (mountain)
* Kurds (mountain)
* Afghans (mountain/desert) -> (anybody here with knowledge on Kochi pashtun? IMO they have a lot of things in common with gypsies & also do seizonal work fighting for money for the Taliban)
* Lebanese shia/Hezbollah (mountain)
* Berber in North Africa (mountain)
* Touareg (desert)
* Shan state/Burma (mountain/jungle)
* Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia montagnards (rhade, jarai, hmong etc) in the Vietnam-era and later

IMO in Russia this can be seen in Kozaks (who originate from people escaping from feodalism/domestication) but also in Byelorussia where people can be so isolated in swamps/forest that the villages resemble isolated islands.

John Minehan

This is interesting: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/08/03/russia-separatism-vladimir-putin-227498

As, for example, the history of the Western Roman Empire indicates (with the possible exception of the Five Good Emperors and the early Tetrarchy during and immediately following the reign of Diocletian), authoritarian states have some problems with succession.

Putin seems to have more of a "read" than any other world leader on the global stage right now, but the answer to who follows him is likely be: "To the strongest."

Bill H

Britain is an island. Australia, while designated a continent, is also an island. Please compare their "maritime power" status to ours, their defense spending as a percentage of gdp to ours, and their number of foreign bases to ours, and explain.

John Minehan

Please compare those things to similar sized maritime nations and evaluate this in the context of the former preeminence of the Royal Navy and its adjunct forces.

For extra credit consider the likelihood that the Royal Navy is to some degree an adjunct of the US Navy,

Patrick Armstrong

Not very interesting. Russia was "finished" 2 decades ago and the same stuff is endlessly recycled.


should have added the citation from your piece:



Patrick and John, The linked article was by Peter Eltsov a professor at the National Defense University, which is DOD (not State) sponsored.

The university has a journal: Joint Forces Quarterly:

https://ndupress.ndu.edu/ :

a quick survey of their articles shows a (surprise surprise surprise) DoD focus - better trauma care, weapons systems comparisons, logistics and strategy (e.g., one interesting article is on a civil war battle involving miners called "Battle of the Crater,"** as an example of the role innovation can play in war.

NDU doesnt seem to focus at all on great power rivalry, the role of diplomacy, and sanctions.

As such, perhaps it is not surprising that Professor Eltsov doesnt appear to have thought very deeply on the matter (Same has been said of China for decades, too, and Japan***).

Tellingly, these perennial collapsist authors never argue of the risk of a US implosion (hope I do not live to see) though their arguments apply also domestically, but even moreso.

here he is telling us in 2014 Crimea will be a big mistake for Russia...

---- -- - -- - -- --- - -- -

In any case, JFQ is a valuable resource


see work of Eamonn Fingleton, e.g.,


Fingleton shows that Japan decided on modesty and hid their economic strengths as the best way to deal with the US. Now, decades after teh Japan implodes story Japanese lifespan continues to lengthen (US is decreasing!!!!!!!!), and Japanese tech dominates the high tech backbone of the world (at the chip manufacturing level, machine tools, etc). Note, Japan still has a trade surplus with Asia.

scott s.

I would say that the Royal Navy is not to any degree an adjunct of the US Navy. It might have been somewhat the case back in the days of SACLANT when the emphasis was on the GIUK gap, but since the end of USSR that rationale has gone away. Yes, US naval leaders have pushed the "coalition warfare" and "virtual 1000 ship navy" but as recently pointed out on USNI blog, when push comes to shove it's easy for your "coalition partner" not to show up when you expect him to.

The USN likes to tout "freedom of navigation" and cite statistics on ocean shipping tonnage, but mostly it seems to rely on Mahanian strategy without really thinking through what the strategic significance is of maritime traffic today.


Consider that perhaps the Russians and Chinese have also read Thucydides and Mahan. And maybe unlike those in the west, they concluded that Alcibiades needed only more ships and men to succeed in Sicily.

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12)

As such, perhaps it is not surprising that Professor Eltsov doesnt appear to have thought very deeply on the matter (Same has been said of China for decades, too, and Japan***).

If I may. Peter Eltsov is, see his CV below:


A typical generic "professor" with degree(s) in basically "nothing related" to actual warfare not to speak of military technology--your typical "political analyst" who never spent a day in Armed Forces or Intelligence structures. The only reason this professor is allowed to pontificate on the issues on which he cannot possibly have any clue is his allegedly Russian last name and (most likely) classic pro-Western anti-Russian stance. Period, there is nothing else behind it. Yet, in the same time Eltsov is an exhibit A of current American "think-tankdom" and "academe" which cannot find its own ass in brightly lit room with their own two hands. I never heard of auto-mechanic with AA from local community college perform open heart surgery, but, evidently, "professors" of anthropology somehow are welcomed in US to express their opinions on modern geopolitics. If you try heard, I am sure you can recover from C-SPAN a video (about 15-18 years old) of Insurance Agent late Tom Clancy lecturing a group of US Armed Forces officers on how to fight he war, by means of reciting types of munitions. Evidently this MO is absolutely normal. No wonder the outcomes.

Patrick Armstrong

Somebody in the twitterverse asked the twits this question: "Name a job that you can completely suck at and still keep your job?" Instantly answered by Max Blumenthal "Beltway think tank senior fellow"

Patrick Armstrong

John Minehan

Russia is interesting, in a lot of ways.

Putin has been a smarter, more discerning leader than most presently on the world stage and that has lent credibility. He has an advantage, as a retired LTC in the old KGB of having some level of training and experience in both geo-politics and reading people and assessing strengths and weaknesses.

On the other hand, the demographics may actually be worse than the US or the EU (See, e.g., https://www.rand.org/pubs/issue_papers/IP162/index2.html.)

Even given that, Russia has a decided advantage over many places in terms of natural resources and in controlling what may be thought of as "global key terrain" (Mackinder's "Heartland").

They have a kind of lasting Jominian advantage. With BRI/OBOR, they are somewhat in the position of the guy in the Western who owns the land the Railroad is going to come through (or, possibly, not).

Given its size, position and history, it is questionable if Russia is ever "finished," but while it has come back from its dire position 20 years ago, it still is notably weaker than it was in the 1980s. As Mr. Armstrong's article indicates that may matter less than fact it appears strong enough to advance its own interests.

Ingolf Eide

"Notably weaker than it was in the 1980s."

Really? Seems to me the very opposite. Would you care to elaborate?


Off Topic:
100 years ago tomorrow, the first American Expeditionary Force in North Russia was disbanded. In March of 2020 the hundredth anniversary of the Siberian Expeditionary force withdrawal from Russia will occur.

John Minehan

In the 1980s, the then-USSR had control over more territory; the birth rate was picking up and life expectancy was rising.

Although the latter two are no longer in their 1990s trough, they are still not as good as they were in the 1980s. As to the former, they have recovered some territory, notably Crimea, but have to deal with some consequences from that.

Russia, given its size, resources and history, will never be unimportant. It is very well lead at present. However, it still has significant issues and faces a major inflection point, common to more authoritarian states, when a strong leader departs.

It has a lot of threats **AND** opportunities. Let's see . . . .

ex PFC Chuck

Couldn't agree more. The most dangerous threat to the USA's national security is its own financial sector. Lloyd Bankfein, former CEO of Golden Sacks, famously said that he was doing "God's work." If that's genuinely true, then the USA is truly at the very top of God's s**t list.

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12)

"Name a job that you can completely suck at and still keep your job?" Instantly answered by Max Blumenthal "Beltway think tank senior fellow"

Very true. Succinct.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad