Tag Archives: russia

Martin van Creveld warns us about Syria

Summary: Martin van Creveld is one of the top experts on modern war. That means non-trinitarian war, more commonly known as fourth generation war (4GW). Today he gives a typically brilliant briefing on the war in Syria, more similar to the Thirty Years War than anything in recent history. While a tiny and poor nation. Syria has become a focal point for the many conflicts twisting our world. We ignored his warnings about Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s not do so a third time.

“What you understand well, you can explain briefly.”
— Paraphrase from “The Art of Poetry” by Nicolas Boileau (1674).

Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the English Channel on 21 Oct 2016.

We Shall Win This War, and Then We Shall Get Out.
By Martin van Creveld.
Re-posted with his generous permission.

No, this is not Vladimir Putin speaking. This is Winston Churchill, not long after returning to power in 1951. The context? The conflict in Malaysia, which at the time had been ongoing for three years with no end in sight. The immediate outcome? The war came to an end and the Brits left. The ultimate outcome? To this day, whenever anyone suggests that brushfire war, alias guerrilla, alias people’s war, alias low intensity war, alias nontrinitarian war, alias fourth-generation war (currently, thanks to my friend Bill Lind, the most popular term of all) is beyond the ability of modern state-owned armed forces to handle, someone else is bound to ask: but how about the British in Malaysia?

In response, let me suggest that, had Israel agreed to get out of the territories (I wish!) it could have “won” the struggle against Palestinian terrorism in twenty-four hours. But this is not what it pleases me to discuss today. It is, rather the situation in Putin’s own stamping ground, i.e. Syria.

The following is the story of the war, as far as I can make it out. It all started in May 2011 when terrorism against Assad dictatorial regime got under way. At first it was local, sporadic and uncoordinated. Later the opposition coalesced and assumed a more organized character; even so, by last count there are, or have been at one time or another, about ninety different groups fighting the regime. And even this mind-boggling number includes neither Hezbollah, nor Daesh, nor the various Kurdish militias, nor the so-called Baby Al Qaedas.

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Here are the facts so far about the Trump-Russia file.

Summary: The Trump-Russia story creates a situation without parallel since Watergate (Iran-Contra was a sideshow). The news gives us the usual confusing mish-mash. Here is an outline of the story, with links and pointers to the best analysis I have seen so far. Read, decide for yourself —  and watch this story evolve. See the follow-up: Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia.

Donald Trump covering his ears

Contents

  1. The story so far.
  2. Follow-ups to the story.
  3. Analysis of the story.
  4. Updates.
  5. Conclusions.
  6. For More Information.

(1) The story so far.

Christopher Steele, former SIS (aka MI6) agent and director of London-based Orbis Intelligence Ltd., gathered a file of dirt about Trump — first paid for by Republicans opposing Trump, then by Democrats opposing Trump (details here; the clients carefully concealed themselves). Steele gave the file to the FBI in August 2016 (others did so later). With no visible results from the FBI, Steele gave it to others (e.g., David Corn, who wrote an October article in Mother Jones). They passed it to others (e.g., to Senator McCain, who gave it to the FBI). See The Guardian for details.

At some point US intelligence agencies took it seriously, in combination with information from other sources. The file consists of memos dated from 20 June to 13 December 2016. The memos have misspellings and minor errors. For example, it says that Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney, visited the Czech Republic. That was a different Michael Cohen.

On January 10 CNN broke the story, saying that Trump and Obama were briefed about their concerns about Trump’s ties to Russia (including allegations in the file) by four senior intelligence directors: James Clapper (DNI), James Comey (FBI), John Brennan (CIA), and Mike Rogers (NSA).  NBC said Trump was not briefed, and might not have received the two page summary. Some members of Congress also received the summary. Later that day Buzzfeed published a story about it, including the full 35-page file.

Update: Wednesday night James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, released a statement that punctured the fevered speculation by Democrats about the Trump-Russia file. The key lines…

“The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.”

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Stratfor explains why Russia won’t join our arms race

Summary: Here Stratfor examines the arms race, one aspect of the propaganda campaign seeking to start a new cold war with Russia. Spoiler: it’s bogus, like the rest of the campaign. Stratfor

An Arms Race Russia Will Not Run

Stratfor, 30 December 2016.

Summary

In the 25 years since the Soviet Union fell, Russia has punctuated military buildups on its border with the occasional rattle of its nuclear saber in response to U.S. provocations. But a muted reaction to President-elect Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that the United States should expand its nuclear weapons arsenal reflects a different military and economic reality for Russia, one in which the Kremlin realizes it could not afford to keep up in a new nuclear arms race.

Trump’s Dec. 23 pronouncement that the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be beefed up came as President Barack Obama signed a wide-ranging $618.7 billion defense spending bill. Trump’s remarks, particularly his quip about reigniting an arms race, elicited criticism from the Kremlin. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov responded that his country would not take part in any arms race, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the United States for trying to spend Russia to death.

In years past, Russia used news of U.S. arms buildups to justify expanding its own arsenals, but echoes of the disastrous Soviet defense spending spree in the 1980s have given Moscow pause. Russia’s more moderate tone does not mean it will pull back on its defense plans, but rather that the Kremlin does not want to repeat a history of military overspending that helped accelerate the demise of the Soviet Union.

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Stratfor looks at the growing monster of Russian ultra-nationalism

Summary: Far right movements are on the march again. In the US, Europe, and Russia. Here Stratfor looks at the disturbing political developments in the one-time superpower as it copes with rapid social change, their lost status as a superpower, and the economic stress from the collapse in oil prices.

Stratfor

Russian Ultra-Nationalism: A Monster of Moscow’s Making
Stratfor, 4 November 2016.

Forecast

  • The rise of Russia’s far right will undermine the Kremlin’s attempts to overcome the country’s deepening ethnic, class and religious divides.
  • The ultra-conservative movement will continue only to grow, thanks to its media influence and militant youth groups.
  • Moscow will work to curb the forces it has long supported in an effort to ensure that they do not challenge the Kremlin’s writ.

Analysis

Since taking power some 16 years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin has worked tirelessly to bring about the return of conservative and nationalist values. His government has enthusiastically promoted the Russian Orthodox Church, depicting its patriarchs as the state’s moral compass. After suffering a period of neglect under the Soviet Union, over 25,000 churches and 800 monasteries have been built or refurbished during Putin’s reign. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has also launched a series of youth programs, the largest being Nashi, that teach conservative courses on politics, foreign policy and family values. Finally, after consolidating strategic economic sectors under its control, the government has presented itself as the people’s savior from the liberal, decadent oligarchs who once controlled the country’s resources.

By stoking these long-dormant sentiments, Putin has managed to shore up his power base and create a moral mandate for Moscow’s domestic and foreign policy. Whereas the West could once accuse the Soviet Union of being a “godless nation,” the Russian Federation can now claim to have God on its side. This thinking has undergirded several of the Kremlin’s actions at home and abroad, including the passage of laws restricting homosexuality and pornography and the launch of interventions into Ukraine and Syria. But Putin’s ideological strategy has its drawbacks. Inflaming far-right extremism has given rise to ideologues who want to push the Kremlin further than it is willing to go. And, when the Kremlin balks at their demands, they are no longer shy about voicing their discontent.

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Learning from the Cold War to prevent war with Russia today

Summary: Clinton has stocked her foreign policy team with advisors belligerent and reckless, eager for conflict with Russia – continuing Team Obama’s work. The military-industrial complex’s propaganda mills work to arouse fear and hatred of Russia, as  they did during the Cold War. Let’s learn from that history before we starting risk a terrible war. We were told mostly false stories about the Soviet Union. How accurate are those about Russia? {This updates my post from Oct 2009.}

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it. That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”

— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about starting the Cold War. Truman did so in his famous speech on 12 March 1947. From Put yourself in Marshall’s place by James Warburg (he helped develop the US WWII propaganda programs).

Ministry of Truth

Contents

  1. “Exaggeration Of The Threat: Then & Now”.
  2. A look at the Soviet side of the Cold War
  3. Heinlein saw Russia’s long crash – in 1960.
  4. About the demographic collapse of Russia.
  5. Reforming the US intelligence apparatus.
  6. For More information.

 

(1) Evidence that the US government exaggerated the Soviet threat

We can learn much about the Cold War being brewed today by reading about the first one. Histories of the CIA document its poor performance as an intelligence agency. While incompetence played a role, the CIA’s obedience to its political masters probably was more significant — driving the hyping of the Soviet Union’s capabilities and hostile intentions during the Cold War. For a summary see “Exaggeration Of The Threat: Then And Now” by Melvin A. Goodman in The Public Record, 14 September 2009 — Excerpt…

“A recently declassified study on Soviet intentions during the Cold War identifies significant failures in U.S. intelligence analysis on Soviet military intentions and demonstrates the constant exaggeration of the Soviet threat.

“The study, which was released last week by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, was prepared by a Pentagon contractor in 1995 that had access to former senior Soviet defense officials, military officers, and industrial specialists. It demonstrates the consistent U.S. exaggeration of Soviet “aggressiveness” and the failure to recognize Soviet fears of a U.S. first strike. The study begs serious questions about current U.S. exaggeration of “threats” emanating from Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

“In the 1980s, long after Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signaled reduced growth in Soviet defense spending, the CIA produced a series of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) titled “Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Nuclear Conflict,” which concluded that the Soviet Union sought “superior capabilities to fight and win a nuclear war with the United States, and have been working to improve their chances of prevailing in such a conflict.”

“…The Pentagon study demonstrates that the Soviet military high command “understood the devastating consequences of nuclear war” and believed that the use of nuclear weapons had to be avoided at “all costs.” Nevertheless, in 1975, presidential chief of staff Dick Cheney and secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld introduced a group of neoconservatives, led by Harvard professor Richard Pipes, to the CIA in order to make sure that future NIEs would falsely conclude that the Soviet Union rejected nuclear parity, were bent on fighting and winning a nuclear war, and were radically increasing their military spending.

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Hidden but important truths from the presidential debate

Summary: The last debate was mostly chaff, like the campaign mostly entertaining demonstrations of the obvious. But there were moments revealing deep truths about our government and us. They were, of course, ignored. Here is the story of one such moment, a statement by Hillary Clinton that is rich with useful insights — if we dig into it.

“Fire destroys all sophistry, that is deceit; and maintains truth alone, that is gold.”
— Leonardo da Vinci, from his Notebooks. A bad solution for political structures built on lies.

CyberEspionage

More essential insights from Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept: “In the Democratic Echo Chamber, Inconvenient Truths Are Recast as Putin Plots”…

“Donald Trump, for reasons I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is an extremist, despicable, and dangerous candidate, and his almost-certain humiliating defeat is less than a month away. So I realize there is little appetite in certain circles for critiques of any of the tawdry and sometimes fraudulent journalistic claims and tactics being deployed to further that goal. In the face of an abusive, misogynistic, bigoted, scary, lawless authoritarian, what’s a little journalistic fraud or constant fearmongering about subversive Kremlin agents between friends if it helps to stop him?

“But come January, Democrats will continue to be the dominant political faction in the U.S. — more so than ever — and the tactics they are now embracing will endure past the election, making them worthy of scrutiny. Those tactics now most prominently include dismissing away any facts or documents that reflect negatively on their leaders as fake, and strongly insinuating that anyone who questions or opposes those leaders is a stooge or agent of the Kremlin, tasked with a subversive and dangerously un-American mission on behalf of hostile actors in Moscow.

“To see how extreme and damaging this behavior has become, let’s just quickly examine two utterly false claims that Democrats over the past four days — led by party-loyal journalists — have disseminated and induced thousands of people, if not more, to believe. …”

Both are straightforward lies by Team Hillary about the Wikileak emails of John Podesta, propagated by good liberals and her loyal journalists — allowing them to ignore the emails’ damaging content. His conclusion is spot-on.

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Is Trump a tool of Putin? See the story & the debunking.

Summary: Another day, another smear about Trump. Our elites are desperate to suppress debate about the issues raised by Trump, hence the focus by political leaders and journalists on personalities, sound bites, and smears. Such as Trump, the tool of Putin!

The solution to the disturbing issues raised by Trump in Campaign 2016

Political Mud

The Left continues their attempts to prevent discussion of the issues raised by Trump (e.g., populism, immigration, globalization). The near-tie with Clinton in the polls show that so far their smears have failed (e.g., Trump as Hilter), so they have become more desperate. Yesterday’s post examined claims that Donald Trump has a perverted attraction to Ivanka. Here is another of their “throw smears on the wall and see what sticks”: “Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really A Thing” by Josh Marshal at Talking Points Memo. It’s gotten attention on the Left. Excerpt…

“At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.”

It was immediately shown to be bogus: “Fact-Checking That ‘Trump & Putin’ Thing” by Jeffrey Carr — Excerpt…

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