Friday, April 28, 2017

Will And Mind.

Remember 1987? Gorby, Reagan in Moscow (later) and all this anti-nuclear shit? Well, boys and girls, it is exactly 30 years later and suddenly a great power metal hit by legendary Russian heavy-metal stalwarts Aria is back in rotation. Because Will and Mind are "stronger than any wars". Actually, the video is from 1986.

     "One mistake, accidental launch and the strike is inevitable."

Naive? Not anymore.............

      "All that you love to death will be obliterated in an instance"   

  

Ahh, what the hell--it is Friday and I am going full apocalyptic;-)

          

Moscow-Beijing "Axis".

I seldom refer anyone to Russia Insider but the material they presented about possible Russo-Chinese (military) alliance is thought-provoking and is worthy of attention.  The review of Chinese attitudes towards such an alliance is interesting and "pro" arguments do make sense. But these are "con" arguments which are especially interesting and require elaborations, especially against the background of recent events, especially around North Korea--a completely contrived international crisis which carries a threat of a major escalation. 

It becomes increasingly clear that Donald Trump decided, both under "deep state" (neocon) pressure and out of own volition and his business acumen, to approach, wrongly, international relations as a bully and the bullying is to be done against China. Bullying Moscow is useless because Moscow can bully back, as recent Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow demonstrated. As I stated not for once, Russia is not a good place for bullying since Russians saw bullies who (adjusted for the time period) would make US look like amateurs. We all know where those bullies ended. China, though, is a totally different case. Unlike Russians, who are extremely well acquainted with the peculiarities of being a superpower, China is only starting her ascent to this position and has no relevant experience with handling herself as a superpower. Nowhere it manifests itself more than in a military field. And here is a rather candid admission by Chinese:

A theme discussed widely in the paper is the possibility that the alliance would not be viewed as a defensive reaction, but rather as an offensive [具备一定的攻击性] and aggressive step. On the one hand, the author identifies a classic “entrapment” argument against alliances, noting that China could get pulled into unnecessary military conflicts. On the other hand, the author notes that Russia hardly requires the assistance of Chinese military forces.
Moreover, the point is made repeatedly in the article that China’s conversion of economic power into military is a relatively slow process [经济实力向军事实力转化的速度相对更慢] resulting in a lag, even as its economic ascendance is more obvious.
Pay attention to what is highlighted in yellow. While I constantly use Correlli Barnett's definition of the national power which states that military might alone can not be used as a criteria for assessment of nation's power, there is no denial either of the fact that military might is one of the pillars of that power. Ability to convert economic power into military might, which in today's insane chaotic world is a must, is one of the major criteria which makes one a superpower. China does fail in this regard. While Chinese economic growth and her absolute size of economy are truly impressive, once viewed from the position of military-industrial complex the picture becomes much less optimistic. 

As recent deliveries by Russia of advanced "russified" SU-35  fighter jets and S-400 air defense complexes to China demonstrate--competing with Russia or US in advanced military capabilities is not easy, to put it mildly. China is by no means a military pushover but, for a number of political and ideological domestic reasons in the US, Chinese military capabilities were greatly overstated.  This was done in support of the "pivot" to Asia where China is viewed by the US as a strategic threat. Yes, China benefited tremendously from American de-industrialization and produces a bulk of things ranging from everyday consumer goods to vast numbers of ships, but it is modern warfare where China is still in its infancy. Even a brief look at China's aerospace industry allows to immediately see a difference: after so many years China is still not capable to produce world-class jet engine, be it civilian, let alone military. China's COMAC C919 civilian jet will still be powered by GE-Snecma JV engine CFM International LEAP 1C--this is US-French engine. This is immediately where the enclosed technological cycle breaks down. We all know how "principled' "West" can be in shutting down the access to high end technology. Unlike Russia, who produces a whole line of good civilian engines ranging from reliable PS-90 to upcoming PD-14. Even Sukhoi Super Jet -100 flies on JV engines between Snecma and Saturn, which is a legend in jet engine design. China simply has no competitive engine. In military aviation it is even worse and there is no real aviation without full proof domestic engine production, by that I mean not just some engines, but modern cutting edge ones. 

The same picture is across the board in Chinese military. While building a large surface fleet (a correct decision) China lags generation or even two in modern nuclear submarines' design. Chinese nuclear subs are notoriously noisy and are not a competitor to a world-class US Navy's submarine force, which, in addition to qualitative edge, is simply larger. Most of the Chinese air defense are knock-offs of venerable Russian S-300s of early 1990s. So, once one makes even a brief review of China's capabilities the conclusion is inevitable: while not a second rate military by any means (and improving) China is still not in the same league technologically as Russia or US, despite both Russia's and US' large issues with force structure. But above all, China's military thought and organization have not been tested in real combat, even if against inferior opponent. US has an edge over China here, and a serious one, while Russia's military history and military school simply dwarfs that of China. This factor alone may account for at least a half of military might measure. Chinese learn, there is no doubt about it but are they ready to stare Donald Trump and his brass down? I doubt it at this point but we'll see soon enough. 

If the United States makes China look as if she backs off in the case of North Korea, this will be viewed as a humiliation in the nation which saw a lot of it in her 19th and 20th Centuries' history. This also may move China closer militarily to Russia and allow her become potentially a much larger recipient of Russian military technology and there are, certainly, things in Russian arsenal China really wants to get her hands on--be it latest missile technologies or even repeating India's experience with leasing one (or two) Russian SSNs. China will need them if she blinks today. If, however, China will be able to not yield to US military blackmail....well, who knows. It is a very fluid situation as of now and we may only hope that Donald Trump and his advisers will not run themselves into the trap from which they will not be able to escape without losing face completely and thus opening the possibility for a major conflict which will go out of control.      
     
     

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Almost Anti-Climactic.

We all remember that after the coup in Kiev and Crimea's return home in 2014, Russia, due to sanctions from EU, US, Ukraine--you name it--was cut off the Ukrainian (in reality Soviet) source of some crucial machinery. Nowhere more this cut off was evident than in propulsion plants for Russian Navy's ships (situation was somewhat similar but less dire with helicopter engines). I recall vividly what a case of schadenfreude Ukrainian side had, understanding that at that time introduction of new ships for Russian Navy was dependent heavily on Ukrainian "Zorya-Mashproekt" from the city of Nikolaev. That, plus proverbial MTU's diesel engines. Well, not anymore. You may see some photos from legendary Saturn here (in Russian).  If that wasn't bad (or good--all depends on POV) enough, Kazan Aviation Plant completely restored its unique (largest in the world) electronic-ray welding facility for titanium structures of.... TU-160s. 

Yes, Putin visited Saturn and did all what is required from the head of state--speech, appearance etc.--but for people in the know massive strategic (in fact, global) ramifications of these two events can not fail to make an impression. Saturn already stated that first production run turbines for ships will be produced by the end of this year and it does not merely translate in pretty much steep decline in Ukrainian turbine manufacturer's fortunes--that was clear from the get go--but it is a clear signal to China that Russia has more than enough resources to not remain dependent on Chinese products even as a stop-gap measure. Diesel engines will follow. For globalists these are horrible news--by 2020 Russian surface fleet of the remote sea zone will start growing and with respectable number of project 22350 frigates, capable of carrying 3M22 Zircon this spells some exciting time in Mediterranean. Add here a new modification (in reality a complete new plane) of TU-160M2 with new missiles and one has one hell of a conventional deterrent with global reach. As I stated not for once--operational implications of that are enormous. There is a very old Russian proverb--Gol' na vydumki hitra (literally: paupers are very inventive) and while Russians are generally inventive, they are also not a paupers anymore. Not as virtually rich (due to printing press) as Americans or some Europeans but not paupers and we are yet to see some good old Soviet views to transform into extremely advanced technological and operational concepts. Strategic, generational bet on high speed, smart stand-off missile weapons begins to pay off. 
     
Hyper-sonic Brahmos
 
 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Two Can Play The Game.

It is a really news-worthy Monday. Now US accuses Russia of supplying Taliban with weapons again. Of course, no evidence (it is normal now in US) of such activity was provided. 
At a news conference with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at his side, Gen. John Nicholson, the American commander in Afghanistan, wouldn't provide specifics about Russia's role in Afghanistan. But said he would "not refute" that Moscow's involvement includes giving weapons to the Taliban.
I already wrote about this nonsense here. But Mattis response was pure gold:

"We'll engage with Russia diplomatically," Mattis said. "We'll do so where we can, but we're going to have to confront Russia where what they're doing is contrary to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries.

It all begins to look and sound like bad joke or... a descent into a complete madness. But if one to follow the logic (or lack thereof) of this whole panopticon one may recall what General Gromov and Dmitry Rogozin wanted from US in 2010:
 A “successful end” to the operation in Afghanistan will not come simply with the death of Osama bin Laden. The minimum that we require from NATO is consolidating a stable political regime in the country and preventing Talibanization of the entire region.  
I have some news for Mattis: US lost the war in Afghanistan (but he knows it, he is a smart man) and the US will not do anything anymore other than provide some support for current Kabul government on the battlefield which increasingly begins to be dominated by Taliban. The task of stabilizing the region will fall largely to Russia and Russia doesn't give a crap about "human rights" and "democracy" in Afghanistan. Not any more. If it will take a grim dictator and fundamentalist to tame Afghan violence and drugs--so be it. But if Russia would have really supplied Taliban with weapons I can guarantee that the "evidence" (same level of "reliability" as evidence of Russia tampering with US elections) would have been presented long ago and the operational situation in Afghanistan would have been much much worse than it is today.  

Nothing lasts forever and we observe today how US global military-political power fades--it is an objective process and the only things which can be done about it is to:

1. Arrest it or slow it down;
2. Provide for more or less "soft" landing, which means avoiding global conflict.   

United States is faced with the necessity to leave Afghanistan now, US resources turned out to be finite--a 20 trillion dollar debt is a dramatic testament to this. Trump Administration already now is faced with hugely difficult choices which it has to make in order to avoid a global conflict and with it the end of the United States. After the tragedy of 9/11 the United States received an unprecedented political capital and mandate, she also received an enormous sympathy and support. She squandered this capital and now has to live with the consequences. In the end, it was not Russian idea to arm mujaheddin and let the genie out of the bottle. One reaps what he sows. 
     
"Freedom-fighters"

P.S. Taliban is identified in Russia's law as a "terrorist organization". The only contacts Russia has with Taliban are related either to the terms of surrender (changing sides) or to warnings about not doing completely stupid things.    
 

One Can Feel A Desperation.

When and if the story of the American intellectual collapse will be written, among many examples of a stupefying idiocy which afflicted American military-political thought lately, today's piece by Barry M. Blechman in USA Today must be used as a prime example of a desperation which completely wipes out any pretense of "scholarship" and reduces alleged thinking to the spewing of some propaganda points.   

Make no mistake, Blechman's list of Ph.Ds and employment by all kinds of military-political think-tanks is impressive by American establishment standards. Yet this list evidently does not reflect in any way Blechman's ability to make a coherent argument since he is, indeed, desperate. The desperation oozes from his piece and it is dense. Indeed,  the author, with all his Ph.Ds and experience to produce all kinds of pseudo-scholarly BS about war doesn't have any grasp of a reality since using the United States and "international law" in one sentence is an affront to even rudimentary morality and common sense.

In its latest “in your face” assault on international law, Russia has developed and now deployed operationally an intermediate-range cruise missile — a weapon that the U.S. and USSR solemnly agreed to ban in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The U.S. has long known that the new Russian missile, the SSC-8, was being developed and has sought to bring Russia back into compliance.  After denying for years it had been developing such a weapon, within the past few months Russia cheated even more flagrantly by deploying an operational battalion. A second battalion remains at the development site and no doubt could be fielded quickly.  

So, according to Blechman, it is Russia who assaults "into you face" international law, while it is good ol' USA who, actually, completely demolished it and unleashed a mayhem by destroying several nations such as Libya, Syria, Iraq and, failed miserably, in Afghanistan. While doing so, the United States killed hundreds of thousands of people, wounded and displaced even more, unleashed deadly civil wars, undermined not only regional but global stability and to top it all paraded herself as an exhibit A of a complete political corruption and ended up supporting terrorists. All that, I assume, was due to the US' particular admiration for the law in general and international one in particular. Ah yes, while doing so, United States, completely on her own volition, withdrew from a landmark ABM Treaty in 2002, but I guess Mr. Blechman is not aware of the fact that as of lately US is not a treaty-worthy party precisely for the reasons that she doesn't care about this proverbial international law. In the end, the main rationale for withdrawal from ABM Treaty was the fact that US (at that time) thought herself to be a greatest everything, the slayer of dragons and, in general, humanity's greatest hope. Russia's legitimate appeals to the US in an effort to uphold this important treaty were met with condescension and were viewed as Russia's weakness. Of course, how could those backward and evil Russkies respond to a flagrant violation of the treaty obligations by the US

Well, Russian did respond. Ain't life a bitch? Now, Mr. Blechman makes, in his piece, a fascinating reversal to completely destroy his own argument:

Russian leaders know that their new cruise missile has no military value. One can only guess at their motives for developing the weapon, but they likely are political — to weaken NATO by reigniting the debates that nearly destroyed the alliance in the 1980s. Responding to the Russian violation with conventionally-armed LRSOs would counter Russia’s cheating effectively, while avoiding the political fall-out that would accompany a nuclear response.    

Wait a minute, Mr. numerous Ph.Ds in BS--how come that you just fumed the whole article about those nasty Russkies cheating on holier than thou United States on cruise missiles and after making a passionate "argument" you state that those missile(s) "has no military value". Then what this whole fuss is all about? Hey, if the weapon has no military value then why worry? Actually, "Russian leaders" know damn well that be it SSC-8, or any other kind of other cruise missiles, they do have huge military value. But SSC-8 is a figment of imagination of the ever so "reliable" US "intelligence" community and media,  and the whole Blechman's worry is not about this "secret" SSC-8, it is about technological re-balancing, especially in the field where Russia holds an advantage over US--cruise missile technologies. Be it Iskander missile-complex, or Kalibr's 3M14  or 5000+ kilometer range X-101, all those missiles are completely capable to conventionally, within one salvo, demolish any Anti Ballistic Missile installation in Europe. This IS the real reason for Mr. Blechman's incoherent, to put it mildly, "argument". 

Of course, who likes to be on the receiving end. Mr. Blechman certainly doesn't. It is one thing to bomb helpless Arabs into the stone age with impunity, totally another to live with understanding that firing solution is one push of a button away from being entered into the "enemy's" cruise missiles on-board computers. And while some US "scholars" are busy concocting another propaganda BS about those evil Russlies who can not appreciate (backward people, after all) all magnanimity of the US, after all, all hell was unleashed out of the best "democratic" intentions, Russia continues to do what seems only natural--to increase her totally legitimate salvo by Kalibr cruise missiles (3M14) from sea-platforms. In this particular case, Russian Navy signed the contract for another three Buyan-class missile corvettes and that means another 24 powerful (and totally legit) 3M14s in the first salvo be it from Baltic Sea, at Poland's ABM positions, or Romania's, from the Black Sea. That is why Mr. Bleachman is so desperate--the missile balance between US and Russia is changing and for the US this dynamics is highly unpleasant, especially with 10000+ km range cruise missiles being in line for procurement, not to mention hyper-sonic missiles and vehicles completing their trials. Without this "secret" SSC-8 even today Russia has enough missiles to make sure that the equilibrium is preserved. In the end, Mr. Blechman should know how it works, he wrote the whole book on the use of armed forces without actually going to war and that goes well with Sun Tzu's immortal truism on not fighting wars. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why I Gave Up On American Foreign Policy "Realism".

There are so many foreign policy "realisms" today in US that one has to keep oneself from nodding off while counting and naming them. 


Well, there are: offensive realism, classic realism, defensive realism, neorealism,  structural realism, deep fired realism, realpolitik, realism salad... so, you get the picture. All this field of "realisms" is saturated, especially in US, with all kinds of Ph.Ds sinecures and with "experts" who cannot predict their own next bowel movement, much less how a complex international system would act. However, the father of the American realism, Hans Morgenthau, was very specific in stating his "realistic" views in no uncertain terms: 

You see, so no matter what Russians do, such as technological development, unless they remain poor, undeveloped, uncultured people they represent a problem. Already after aggression in Yugoslavia in 1999, sensing a major shift in US foreign policy views (and posture) I started to exercise an illusion that US foreign policy "realists" may somehow balance out the insanity of all those Albrights, Talbots and other fine representative of US "school" of diplomacy and geopolitical "thinking" which started to emerge under Bill Clinton's Administrations. Boy, was I naive. While I am still sympathetic to "defensive" realist views, otherwise known as common geopolitical sense, I still can not see how American "realists" can possibly change US approach to foreign policy--the reason being that many, very many of those "realists" (there are some exceptions, as one may expect) are still thinking within either:

1. Framework of American exceptionalism and thus inevitably are biased towards main simulacra of American narrative. They still need mantras of US military being the "greatest in history", or of "shining city on the hill" or of "democracy" or...

2. They do exhibit all traits of plain simple irrational attitudes towards others, such as is the case with Russians towards whom US elites exhibit a complex of emotions, none of them positive

All of that can be explained, in the end "My country, right or wrong" is understandable, similar sentiments are known to many nations, not just US. However, if to go back to Carl Shurz'  expansion of Decatur's famous dictum, one has to keep in mind that the whole thing reads like this: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” United States of today can not be set right without repudiating the very foundation of American exceptionalism--a move which very few are ready to make because the result of it may not be a salvation but indictment. I started writing this text several days ago when today stumbled upon Srdja Trifkovic's piece in Chronicles Magazine. There Trifkovic makes an observation which I quote here (I wrote about this for years now): 
  
The Russophobes’ narrative is unrelated to Russia’s actual policies.  It reflects a deep odium of the elite class toward Russia-as-such.  That animosity has been developing in its current form since roughly the time of the Crimean War, when in his Letters From Russia the Marquis de Custine said that the country’s “veneer of European civilization was too thin to be credible.”

“No human beings, black, yellow or white, could be quite as untruthful, as insincere, as arrogant—in short, as untrustworthy in every way—as the Russians,” President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in 1905.  John Maynard Keynes, after a trip to the Soviet Union in 1925, wondered whether the “mood of oppression” might be “the fruit of some beastliness in the Russian nature.”  J. Robert Oppenheimer opined in 1951 that, in Russia, “We are coping with a barbarous, backward people.”  More recently, Sen. John McCain declared that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.”  “Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker vision of global politics,” Slate wrote in early 2014, even before the Ukrainian crisis reached its climax.
Today, it could be openly stated that US "elites", including very many in the so called "realist" circles, are simply fixated on Russia. It is unhealthy fixation, since it is an uneducated one. Sadly, while raising its voice once in a while in an (futile) attempt to "if wrong, to be set right", American "realists" seldom achieve any tangible results and many are still not able to overcome a rigid ideological construct of their "realist" theory which believes "that world politics ultimately is always and necessarily a field of conflict among actors pursuing power". This is not the case with Russia who is explicit in stating her interests and concerns but to understand that, one has to know Russia. Very few even among "realists" do and that undermines their argumentation, even when it is a good one. As Trifkovic concludes: 

The Russophobic frenzy comes at a cost.  It further devalues the quality of public discourse on world affairs in the United States, which is already dismally low.  It has already undermined the prospects for a mutually beneficial new chapter in U.S.-Russian relations, based on a realist assessment that those two powers have no “existential” differences—and share many actual and potential commonalities.  It perpetrates the arrogant delusion that there is a superior, “Western” model of social and cultural thought and action that can and should be imposed everywhere, but especially in Russia.    
 I have very little to add here. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Putin Strikes Back, I Am Telling You....

Remember this scumbag O'Reilly, who was so cool as to call President Putin a "killer"? Well, Putin, FSB, GRU and others struck back at Bill O'Reilley and he got fired by FOX News today. I am telling you, this Putin fella is a mighty dark lord of US media, intelligence services, Pentagon, Congress, what have you. What's next now? Trump declaring socialism in good ol' USA? I am telling you, a scary stuff. On the other hand, wait, Bill O'Reilley got fired not because of Putin, he got fired because he is, indeed, a scumbag and a sexual pervert but let us leave it to courts to decide it, after all--innocent until proven guilty. But there is no doubt that he was and is fake, top-bottom, as was the Factor (or Fucktor?) he pushed on his unsuspecting sheeple.