Saturday, July 1, 2017

Let's Try Q & A And Whatever Else Sticky Post

Here is the post which I will try to keep sticky for people to ask questions and share their thoughts which are not on topic. This, I think is known as Open Thread. Fire away.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Don't Limit This To CNN Only-I

As you may know, CNN is done as "news" organization. This is not news, really. US media in general are some iterations of present day CNN--they are propaganda machine. But this could last only so long before CNN finally overdosed on the massive amount of BS, lies and fake news before it understood that it is in the sewer. 

                    CNN imposing new rules on Russia stories

CNN, known for its support for Islamic terrorists and for promoting suicidal social and cultural views, got burned on Russia. How symbolic. 
The new restrictions come after CNN on Friday retracted a story that connected Anthony Scaramucci, a prominent ally of President Trump, to a Russian investment fund managed by a Kremlin-controlled bank.
“On June 22, 2017, published a story connecting Anthony Scaramucci with investigations into the Russian Direct Investment Fund,” the news organization said in a statement.
That story did not meet CNN's editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci.”
The retracted story had claimed that Senate investigators were looking at the activities of the $10 billion Russian investment fund in connection to Scaramucci, who served on the executive committee of Trump's transition team. 
A source close to CNN told BuzzFeed the incident was a "massive, massive f--k up and people will be disciplined."

But enough with Clinton News Network,  they are not alone in smearing people and whole countries (such as Russia) with lies--this is Modus Operandi of most of US main stream media. CNN simply got caught (again), while it has to be very clear that another "Russia" story actually far from not "meeting" CNN "editorial standards" is the standard and this standard is a lie. So the story meets CNN standard just fine. CNN, however, is not alone in its Russophobic hysteria, nor is it the first. Here we come to a wonderfully interesting question which Arctic Fox asked me in Open Thread:

Smoothie... You often mention the abysmal state of US higher levels of ex-Soviet/current Russ studies. As one who has read many of your posts over a couple of years, I can see your points... Obviously, US analysis, even at the "bleeding edge" level, gets many things wrong, if not very wrong. Thus, I'd be grateful if you could recommend a rough outline for a true "Russia" syllabus of university and/or self-study. I'm not asking for an encyclopedic review... But what would you say -- your "elevator pitch" -- to a smart high school student about what to follow in college/grad school; or what to say to an intelligent adult who wants to become better-able to address issues. Or, put another way, if you could talk to the curriculum committee at US West Point or Annapolis, or at various war colleges, etc... what would you say??

I would start with several points which are absolutely crucial for people who want to understand what Russia was and is: 

1. Russia studies in the West must be (this is not even a preference, this is imperative) de-ideologicized completely. Considering Russia's complexity, size and weight both geographically and historically it must be understood that drawing direct comparisons to popular "western" dogmas (most of them being false anyway) doesn't work and will not work. I am tempted, yet again, to repeat Sir  Bernard Pares' recipe for those who want to become knowledgeable on a subject:
"Irresponsible criticism is generally-self confident; but no one cares to be told:" I am holier than thou", especially by anyone who doesn't know his facts... And knowledge alone is not enough without understanding, which is much more hardly won. To no country does this apply more than to Russia....This gap has to be filled, or will it cost us dear."

Modern West doesn't understand modern Russia, not in a sense of Russia's very often justified grievances, but in a more fundamental sense--it doesn't understand what Russian people are. Even when a vast collection of facts on Russia and Russians is available, combined West fails time after time to come up with a whole picture. De Custinization of Russian history will help greatly those who are not overcome with acute symptoms of self-righteousness and exceptionalism, which, considering the modern state of West's academe suffering greatly from such affliction, is not easy to do. But simple things has to be understood: all this "democracy" (and its derivative ideological memes) propaganda is just that, especially against the facts of catastrophic European wars of 19th Century or US having official slave ownership mid-19th Century. These are hardly strong positions for pontification but that is precisely the way most of Western "Russia Studies" field operates. Against the background of today's "West's" rule of oligarchy, political corruption reaching the very top, not to speak about bloodshed exported all over the world--understanding of own, often critical, faults, is a good substitution for self-righteousness.  

2. That brings us to a second and, actually, legitimate West's discussion on Russia's civilizational orientation. It is known fact that Roger Scruton, whose definition of the West I use very often is a Russophobe, yet, his definition is correct and is worth repeating:
"The roots of Western civilization lie in the religion of Israel, the culture of Greece, and the law of Rome, and the resulting synthesis has flourished and decayed in a thousand ways during the two millennia which followed the death of Christ"
Culturally, Russia and Russians are Western people. Even the brief review of Russian contribution to Western culture--from magnificent literature, to science, to music, to technology--is distinctly Western. And even Russian communism, or what went under its name, is a distinctly western philosophy which inevitably was modified and Russified. Today's Russia's lack of desire to "integrate" with the West is not only understandable--it is completely justified and one of the major reasons for that is the fact of Russia being today more "western" than European West itself. A beaten to death "civilizational" cliche of Russia somehow missing on all those wonderful fruits of Enlightenment (which is false, btw) which somehow made Western societies so liberal and "western" is a complete baloney. It is especially true when one sees this very "liberal democracy" bringing Hitler to power, or seeing modern European societies being manipulated into the status of mindless imbeciles, especially when one sees French "elections"--I believe community of apes is more aware of its needs  and threats it faces than, supposedly, Enlightenment-struck population of the West, which already lives under totalitarian rule (US still tries to resist)--so much for some special effects of Enlightenment. Yet, non-Western Russia still remains one of the most educated nations in the world, not to speak of Russia's STEM elite which is one of the best, if not the best, in the world. How many people in the West really (I underscore it)  read (with full immersion) Tolstoy's War And Peace. But that brings us to the third point.

3. There is NO understanding of Russia without her 20th Century history and her communist period. None, period. Combined West has no idea of that history. Fact is, it would have been better if it would have been completely ignorant than have the caricature it has in a front of its eyes when speaking of Soviet/Russian period.  At this stage West is incapable of looking beyond the rigid ideological and propaganda limits it imposed on itself when viewing Russia's 20th Century history. E.g. even today West's WW II history is largely shaped by Wehrmacht generals--the fact underscored by well--known Glantz and House in their seminal works on Eastern Front. Nor were there "tens of millions" of victims of GULAG, "promoted" by Solzhenitsyn, as well as explanations for collectivization (and sometimes tragic price USSR paid for it) must be looked at not in Soviet, but Czarist history. The list of falsifications and of acts of demonetization (dehumanization) is colossal and many of those were and are of West's own making, done with intent and out of (geo)political and ideological expediency, truth be damned. But that is the whole issue here--the point I am trying to discuss constantly: truth is knowable and it is absolute and it must be pursued, even when it is inconvenient and it hurts, otherwise--this world is hopeless, but I don't share this point view. So, what this curriculum for Russia can start with? I think with one of the greatest books ever written in Russia on Civil War "Road To Calvary" by Alexey Tosltoy (and the 1977 TV series with superb actors' cast and two stunning women as protagonists) and movie adaptation of Bulgakov's seminal play Beg (Flight)--a movie which since early 1970 literally entered Russian language with a collection of the greatest one-liners. That could be a good start....

To Be Continued.......

Monday, June 26, 2017

Ike, Strategy Rant #2

You can read the start on Eisenhower's strategic mind here and here. Sadly, international events unfold with such speed that I sometimes can not ignore (as much as I want to) them and have to react in some form or fashion, instead of concentrating on a host of subjects which give me a degree of comfort and even joy while discussing them. Eisenhower, certainly, is part of it. So, I am ranting again:

As was stated in the previous rant, Marshall and Ike were not alone in understanding a decisive importance of European Theater. As early as ABC-1 conference--American, British and Canadian strategy consultations early 1941--even before United States were officially involved in WW II, it was clear that British intent was to guard the Empire, not to face Nazi Germany on Continent. The issue of Singapore and Ducth Indies was extremely important for London, it surely was not for the US. As Marshall noted in his rather abrupt rejection of British plan during consultations at Singapore :

While the two summaries were under study by Staff officers, who saw in this final paragraph the extent to which ABD had soared beyond American desires, further pressure for American aid to Singapore was being applied. A paper prepared by Stanley K. Hornbeck of the State Department and forwarded to the War Department suggested that the United States further Singapore's security by keeping three-quarters of the fleet based in Hawaii, sending more planes and submarines to the Philippines, and equipment to China, the Netherlands East Indies, and Singapore. To these suggestions General Marshall announced his opposition. He found nothing new in the facts cited, and no satisfaction in the conclusions. His own view was that "Collapse in the Atlantic would be fatal; collapse in the Far East would be serious but not fatal." 
It is easy today, having a luxury of a hindsight, to review those documents and decisions--it was not easy to make them then. It is to the highest credit of American officers from Marshall, Eisenhower to Embick and Gerow that they recognized real strategic importance of European theater even before Operation Barbarossa unfolded. With Germany's invasion of USSR it became crystal clear what theater has become decisive and by far. It would take Cold War, of course, to completely obfuscate or, when impossible to obfuscate--dull, a massive scale of the events and the nature of that war which had nothing to do with "survival of democracy" and was the war of annihilation. In 1989 late Paul Fussell, himself a  veteran of WW II and literary critic of some standing, in his Wartime: Understanding And Behavior In The Second World War, paraded pervasive general Western ignorance and kindergarten self-righteousness when stated:

Even the relative impurity of the Allied ethical cause once Joseph Stalin joined in seemed easily accommodated to the general high-mindedness. 
This certainly was not the attitude of Ike, especially when the first reports of staggering losses and atrocities committed by Nazis in USSR started to pour in Allied Camp. But how truly "allied" was this camp is a matter for serious debate. As ABC and ABD conferences have initially shown abundantly--Churchill's objectives were not to fight Wehrmacht on Continent. Hence, while debatable from the point of view of practical realization, a vigorous Sledgehammer was buried at the  Second Washington Conference in 1942 and was replaced with Operation Torch whose dubious strategic worth was debated ever since and played not a small part in developing later serious Cold War suspicions. What preceded this decision, however was completely devoid of any finesse and actual allied spirit. 

As many American officers noted, British behavior at the conference was arrogant, officers of British General Staff looked down at their American counterparts, and their opinions, with contempt. After all, what could those Americans suggest to people who at that time fought Nazis for two years. Americans complained but to no avail. Churchill persevered and ensured a dispersal of Allied resources to the strategically secondary theaters of operations. Secondary to the main political objective of defeating Axis forces, which could have been done only in Europe in general, and in Germany in particular. Especially when agreement on unconditional surrender of Germany was worked out between Russians and Allies--due to mostly FDR's fear of USSR cutting a separate deal with Hitler, a possibility which was debunked by Allied intelligence in 1942 against the background of appalling losses on both sides and of German atrocities on occupied territories. But Churchill needed Allied forces to guard Imperial possessions, up to the point of discussing a possibility, a rather dubious one, of Germans making it to India from their bases in North Africa. As I already pointed out in previous rant--with the burial of Sledgehammer, and, by implication, of the  Roundup, another Ike's plan, Ike's reaction to it, his passionate thrust in trying to realize war plans which could have eased substantially immense pressures under which Red Army was fighting in 1942, had an enormous human dimension, which in Russia's/Soviet case could not have been ignored. It was, and still is, impossible not to sympathize with Eisenhower and his both human and professional position, especially when one considers a strategic situation in Soviet Union with Battle Of Stalingrad approaching and a rather vigorous reporting on the events on the Eastern Front and Soviet people waiting for the real Second Front by nationally syndicated Leland Stowe. Obviously, today Stowe's first rate war reporting would be construed a "collusion" with Stalin, NKVD and devil himself. Yet, this was not a rarity in US then:
Soviet Union fought for more than just freedom--for survival.
Allied general staffs were aware of the situation on the Eastern Front. In layman's lingo Allied strategic discussion looked like this:

1. FDR was ambiguous, his officers, apart from naturally Pacific firsters, wanted to go in (Europe) decisively ASAP;
2. Churchill's calculus was drastically different and was revolving around impossibility of landing in Europe in 1942 and in 1943. 

In what would become one of the most controversial (a euphemism for military crime) attempts to discredit the very idea of viability of European landing, a sacrifice of 5000 Canadians was made at Dieppe in August of 1942. In early 1990s, the CBC made a hour long documentary in which placed the blame for failure squarely on Churchill and Dudley Pound (not the first time Pound's name will appear in connection to "controversy"), Russians, understandably, were livid but so were many in American camp. As was reported by National Post at 70th anniversary of Dieppe Raid:
What remains to be answered is if there was another element at play shaping events. The late Brigadier General Forbes West of Toronto thought so, identifying a political reason for the raid’s launch. “I feel that from the day planning began, it was intended to be a failure,” he revealed to me in his home 23 years ago. “Perhaps not as costly a failure, but a failure nevertheless. The British were being pressed by the Russians and Americans to open a second front, so we were put in with the firm intention of being destroyed. Men at the Chiefs of Staff level would consider 4,000 casualties a small price to pay for convincing the Russians and Americans an invasion would be a disaster.”
Dieppe debacle took place when the Battle of Stalingrad began, Casablanca Conference was held in January 1943, when the fate of the Stalingrad was decided, with it the fate of Wehrmacht at the Eastern front was sealed and with it--the outcome of war in Europe. And it will be there, at Casablanca, where the "primrose path" memorandum by US General Stanley Embick of Marshall's OPD would openly accuse Churchill of sabotaging any real attempts at fighting Germany where it mattered most. Italian Campaign would prove this point unequivocally when all facts would be collected properly after Battle of Kursk, they would show Ike's foresight and will explain why Stalin wanted American general officer leading Overlord...  

To be continued.... 

Friday, June 23, 2017

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To.

Universal, transcending borders: 

Oh, France.

It is Friday, and it is throw back to 80s and this amazing sound in Baku, before the whole world went to hell. 

It did go there, to hell, but there was a moment.... Like we thought that Fantomas and Mylene DeMoungeot were the coolest objects in universe in 1960s and 70s.



Nothing is new under the sun. Installing weapons on merchant ship is as old as navigation itself. 

While history does not repeat itself, it certainly rhymes. I hate cliches, but this one works, sort of. Enter Israel's testing its LORA weapon system (basically land-attack missile) from the commercial vessel. 

Now recall this: 

or this and behold the immense power of a standard commercial container. Are we back in the time of commercial raiding? We very well could be. Indeed, the only thing you need in case of 3M54 stored in a regular container is a targeting data, which can be obtained either with own means (radar) or through outside "providers"--they give you either bearing and range or current coordinates. You can even add these rather attractive girls in assisting you with target acquisition  and entering the "flight plan". 

Standard 3M54 (3M14) "Package"
But on a more serious note, proliferation of the container-based anti-shipping missiles, not to speak of land-attack ones with the launch ranges in excess of 2000 kilometers, may throw this whole littoral and A2/AD business completely off the rails. The whole notion of some of yours everyday, prosaic, run of the mill, merchant container ship, such as this:

She is only 2000 tons of displacement. Calculate potential salvo yourself;)
being able to launch 4-8-12 or even 16 cruise missiles when is called upon--this is a scary thought. Suddenly, both high seas but especially littorals become a very dangerous place. At the dawn of a nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles US Navy dabbled with an idea to place SLBMs on one of its cruisers--the idea which never was realized--you can find info on that if you are interested. Today game changed completely. Virtually anything, in terms of strike weapon systems, can be placed on practically any commercial vessel thus transforming it to a modern day raider. Considering modern advancements in navigation and radio-communications, building the network of strike platforms suddenly doesn't seem that difficult, especially when one has a decent size commercial fleet. Scary. But even scarier is a proposition of getting a salvo of land-attack missiles from thousands kilometers away--go find who did it. In the end, innocent looking commercial vessel can always blame it on some lonely Russian Oscar-II sub which did the nasty from the same area where this vessel was peacefully navigating for a commercial purposes. Thus, the number of variables grows exponentially and military intelligence agencies will have their hands full trying to figure out which vessel and in what capacity is sailing God knows where during this proverbial threatening period.

At this stage, this problem hasn't been studied in depth it requires. There is no doubt that with further proliferation and improvement of the cruise missiles' technology, merchant fleet suddenly becomes not only a serious logistical consideration, it becomes a serious combat factor. Any ship capable of carrying containers potentially becomes a battery of deadly missiles, whose salvo may alter the best naval operational plans or even have a direct strategic impact by wrecking a havoc on Shipping Lanes Of Communications. Having 3M54 it is not that difficult to do and it will be done (hopefully not) should the opportunity present itself.