Tuesday, October 11, 2016

“Oops!”—A World War!

Over the past week or so I’ve been receiving a steady stream of emails demanding to know whether an all-out nuclear war is about to erupt between the US and Russia. I’ve been watching the situation develop more or less carefully, and have been offering my opinion, briefly, one on one, to a few people’s great relief, and now I will attempt to spread the cheer far and wide. In short, on the one hand, all-out nuclear annihilation remains quite unlikely, barring an accident. But, on the other hand, such an accident is by no means impossible, because when it comes to US foreign policy “Oops!” seems to be the operative term.

One reason to be cheerful is that any plan to attack Russia is bound to become mired in bureaucracy. Battle plans are developed by mid-rank people within the US military establishment, approved and forwarded up the chain of command by higher-rank people and finally signed off on by the Pentagon’s top brass and their civilian political accomplices. The top brass and the politicians may be delusional, megalomaniacal and inadvertently suicidal, but the mid-rank people who develop the battle plans are rarely suicidal. If a particular plan has no conceivable chance of victory but is quite likely to lead to them and their families and friends becoming vaporized in a nuclear blast, they are unlikely to recommend it.

Another reason to be cheerful is that Russia has carefully limited the Pentagon’s options. One plan that, in the popular imagination, could lead to an all-out war with Russia, would be the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria. What many people miss is that it is not possible to impose a no-fly zone on a country with a sufficiently powerful air defense system, such as Syria. As a first step, the air defense system would have to be taken out, and the air campaign to do so would be very expensive and incur massive losses in both equipment and personnel. But then the Russians made this step significantly worse by introducing their S-300 system. This is an autonomous, tracked, mobile system that can blow objects out of the sky over much of Syria and some of Turkey. It is very difficult to keep track of, because it can use “shoot and scoot” tactics, launching an attack and crawling away in a random direction over rough terrain.

Last on my list of reasons why war with Russia remains unlikely is that there isn’t much of a reason to start one, assuming the US behaves rationally. Currently, the biggest reason to start a war is that the Syrian army is winning the conflict in Aleppo. Once Aleppo is back in government hands and the US-supported jihadis are on the run, the Syrian civil war will largely be over, and the rebuilding will begin. This outcome seems increasingly inevitable, and the American plan to see a black flag waving over Damascus is in shambles. Now, since Americans are sore losers, this line of thinking goes, and since sore losers may sometimes do random and self-destructive things, this development may result in some crazy adventure to salvage their five-year mission to overthrow Assad. Yes, there is some evidence that Americans are sore losers: just look at the half-century-long trade embargo they have maintained against Cuba. But sour grapes are yet to cause them to turn full-retard suicidal.

The most common reason people seem to give for thinking that a war with Russia is likely, or even inevitable, comes down to the phrase “anti-Russian hysteria.” Indeed, if you bother to pay attention the mainstream press in the US (which I rarely do any more) you may notice that the hysterical noises are starting to overpower the usual stench of disinformation. But to me it seems that anti-Russian hysteria is a sideshow of anti-Trump hysteria. The corporate press is all-in behind Clinton, you see, and Clinton’s strategy, pathetic though it is, is to claim that Trump is Putin’s errand boy, so the strategy is to demonize Putin, and hope that some of the demonization rubs off on Trump. This isn’t working; recent opinion polls in the US show that Putin is more popular than both Clinton and Trump. This factoid neatly points out the real problem in the US: in the immortal words of the inimitable Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia’s Liberal Democrats, Clinton isn’t even qualified to manage a public bathhouse, while Trump has even less national leadership experience than she does. On the other hand, Clinton’s national leadership experience has been, as Trump would put it, “a disaster,” and so Trump could do much better than Clinton by delegating all presidential responsibilities to a particularly pretty bush in the White House’s rose garden.

To summarize: the reasons war with Russia is unlikely are that:
1. The US military experts are not suicidal
2. There is no military strategy for them to pursue
3. There is no compelling reason for the US to go to war against Russia
4. Russia is not the enemy; Alzheimers is.

But the concern that a war with Russia could erupt by accident remains. You see, when it comes to American foreign policy, the operative word seems to be “Oops!”

Let’s take a short trip down the memory lane. The Americans successfully thwarted Soviet efforts in Afghanistan by arming and training Moslem extremists (at the time called mujahideen, or freedom fighters). This is the only example where American “terrorism by proxy” has worked. Invented for that occasion by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Jimmy Carter, it was a plan to destroy Afghanistan in order to save it, and actually worked, but only as far as destroying Afghanistan. Since then, it has failed every time on every level, but this has not stopped Americans from continuing to try to use it.

They tried it in Chechnya, by funding and arming Chechen separatists, but there Russia prevailed, and Chechnya is now a peaceful part of the Russian Federation. And, of course, they’ve been trying it in Syria for the past five years, with similarly poor results. If Syria follows the Chechen pattern, in another decade it will be a unified, secular republic, with free and democratic elections, rebuilt with Russian and Chinese assistance and with Aleppo featuring a gleaming skyline to rival the rebuilt Grozny in Chechnya. Meanwhile, Americans will no doubt continue trying to use “terrorism by proxy” elsewhere.

You’d think that after their failure in supporting the “freedom fighters” in Chechnya, American strategizers could have internalized a simple lesson: “terrorism by proxy” doesn’t work. But they hardly ever learn from their mistakes, and so they haven’t. Instead, they have been continuously doubling down on this failing tactic. While using terrorists to thwart the Soviets in Afghanistan, they accidentally created the Taliban; then they invaded Afghanistan and have been battling the Taliban for the past 15 years, less and less successfully over time.

Since “terrorism by proxy” has failed as a strategy against their enemies, the Americans decided to use it against themselves instead. A terrorist attack supposedly committed on 9/11 by the people they had trained and equipped in Afghanistan, rebranded “Al Qaeda” prompted them to attack Iraq. There were no terrorists in Iraq at the time, but the Americans quickly remedied this problem. First they disbanded the Iraqi army, locked up many of its senior officers, and attempted to form a new Iraqi army, which they fortuitously called NIC, for “New Iraqi Corps,” blissfully unaware that “nic” happens to mean “fuck” in the local slang. Meanwhile, the Iraqi officers they imprisoned were given ample opportunity to fester, network and brainstorm, and upon their release they founded ISIS, which then took over a large part of Iraq, then Syria… I could go on and on rattling off lists of details on America’s never-ending adventures in terrorism; the point is, this is all a comedy of errors, and the operative term seems to be “Oops!”

The Americans are now without national leadership (neither Obama, nor Clinton, nor Trump qualify), without a plan (Plan B for Syria is no plan at all), and being carefully corralled and thwarted by other nations, which realize that even in its senescence and decrepitude the US remains dangerous. In response, the US will no doubt continue to make minor mischief around the world, continuing to try to make use of “terrorism by proxy” while periodically hurting itself and claiming that it was all the terrorists’ fault in order to be able to play the victim. These efforts are likely to be as self-defeating as the previous ones, but some of them may accidentally get out of hand and trigger a wider conflict.

And so I feel it safe to conclude that the largest remaining possible cause for a major war between the US and Russia is yet another American “Oops!” However, Russian diplomats, foreign policy experts and military men are consummate professionals, and are dedicated to preventing just such an accident. They remain involved in negotiations with the American side on multiple levels, keeping channels of communication open at all times. Although some people somehow got the erroneous notion that the US has broken off diplomatic relations with Russia, what in fact has happened is that the US has suspended bilateral negotiations with Russia over Syria, while multilateral efforts continue.

But Americans shouldn't labor under the misapprehension that the Russians will remain infinitely accommodating. Recetly, the Russians took the Americans to the woodshed over their “accidental” bombing of Syrian troops at Deir-ez-Zor, which was clearly coordinated with ISIS, who went on attack immediately after the airstrike. This incident, which was a clear breach of the cease fire agreement, prompted the Russians to label the Americans with a particularly hurtful Russian word: ”недоговороспособные”—incapable of honoring an agreement. Some observers thought that the Deir-ez-Zor fiasco signaled that the Obama administration was no longer in control of the Pentagon, which was now running around like a headless chicken around a barnyard. This claim was bolstered when the Americans, or their terrorist proxies, then bombed a humanitarian convoy and attempted to pin the blame on the Russians.

The Russians have also cancelled a deal—the only arms reduction treaty Obama has managed to negotiate during his entire eight-year tenure—for getting rid of excess plutonium because of American failure to burn their share of plutonium in a fast breeder reactor which they had agreed to build for this purpose at Savannah River in Georgia. Fast breeder reactors are tricky, and most of the nuclear nations have failed at building and operating them. They make no economic sense, and, like fusion reactors, will forever remain an “energy source of the future.” Still, the Americans signed up to build and operate one; so much for that.

The Americans accepted their punishment with hardly a whimper to be heard in the national press, which was in any case probably too busy being hysterical. Perhaps these are ineffective ways of insulting them. Still, I prefer take this as a hopeful sign that the patient remains at least somewhat rational.

As far as the nasty medical problem of anti-Russian hysteria… I am sure that some highly trained Russian psychologists and psychiatrists are standing by to help with that as well.


V. Arnold said...

Thanks Dmitry; your comments are well thought out and somewhat comforting.
I think the U.S. psychosis is beyond even the Russian psychologists considerable abilities however.
As to a rational Pentagon? I'm having my doubts.
As the Zen master said; "we'll see..."

Anonymous said...

Anti-Russian hysteria, I hear, is cured by repeated injections of sulfazine until the problem behavior goes away. Which is just as well, since such can be left to nurses, some of whom may be taken from the glut of precariously employed nurses generated by the US education bubble, while those psychologists can treat those depressed but still potentially useful who, once the disinfo organs have been shut down, might number more than you think.

That said, the Iron Law of Institutions would suggest that the terrorism-by-proxy nutcases are unemployable soap opera writers mainly making work for themselves.

Unknown said...

I think a potential scenario for a major confrontation with Russia will have to start with BS, as most wars do. Given the US history of war-triggering incidents that worked, such as the Maine battleship, the Lusitania, the Gulf of Tonkin, and the Pearl Harbor (set in motion by the Perry ultimatum), a maritime calamity would do just fine provided it is spectacular and could be plausibly pinned on Russia. A couple of city towers or a vial of vile substance are not going to cut it this time.
Imagine this: a US Navy ship with a history of getting harassed by those pesky Russians, lots of video footage etc., such as USS Donald Cook, arrives at a dispensable Baltic port, e.g. Gdansk, Klaipeda, or Riga. There's lots of people streaming it live on socials, a dozen of TV crews, and that German guy who happens to video every terror act in Europe. Suddenly, there is a flash, a horrible noise, a horrible silence, and a mushroom cloud. Within minutes, the blame is pinned squarely on Russia. John Q. Public is too incensed and indignant to ask himself why would the Russians do that and whether such a strike would have any military value at all.
TV screens are rotating the images ad nauseam: SU-24s buzzing USS Donald Cook a couple of years ago; Polish/Lithuanian/Latvian children with awful burns; radioactive fires across the whatever Baltic city; a stern-looking yet indomitable police/fire chief with tears glinting in his (her would be even better) eyes. The finger of suspicion points to an Iskander missile launch from Kaliningrad. Russia, completely taken by surprise, is either silent or incoherent in its clumsy statements written in poor English. Vladimir Putin, who happens to be on a visit to Madrid/Rome/Paris, is corralled and held incommunicado with most of his lieutenants; his strategic control communications are jammed. All Western 'democracies' are united in their demand that Russia give up its nukes, Crimea, Kaliningrad, oil, gas, and whatever. Russian Visa and MasterCard holders suddenly find they have zero or negative balances. Russian Windows, Android and iOS users suddenly find they are locked out of their computers, tablets, and smartphones, unless they use them for Navalny, TV Rain, or some 'independent' media outlets bankrolled by USAID/EU/Soros.
…It is at this point things get truly interesting and imponderable.

MichaelK said...

Well, that all made me feel much better. Though, looking backwards in time, one could have made a similar set of rational and perfectly logical arguments in the period before the outbreak of WW1.

Social media are anti-social said...

"by delegating all presidential responsibilities to a particularly pretty bush in the White House’s rose garden."

Not a bush! You'll start something.

LezSez said...

So . . .

Washington has not broken off diplomatic relations with Russia and multilateral efforts continue.

Indeed, for Vladimir and Xi work The Long Game.

Delivering on new strategic and tactical weapon systems while the crown jewels of Washington's force projection prove themselves incapable, more or less, of delivering on the money.

Cornered - and facing the social and economic demise characteristic of all military-Keynesian economies - Washington will turn inwards as The Iron Fist of the Totalitarian State soon enough comes crushing down like a screaming Banshee on their own people.

Yet, in a moment of ideological madness might they just turn their guns on the Russians and the Chinese.

Then shall they discover that Vietnam, Laos, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the rest of their wars were no more than fairground duckshoots.

Karl K said...

The great thing about Alzheimer's is that you meet so many new people.

Zoltar said...

I agree with your conclusion that demonizing Putin and trying to link him with Trump is just one tactic in the campaign by the American corporate press to assure Hillary’s victory next month.
Granted, it’s idiotic to poison the United States’ relationship with such an important country as Russia over such a comparatively trivial matter as influencing which of two ghastly and incompetent people becomes the next nominal president of this country, but Americans are well-trained by now in looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

After all, insulting a beauty queen is obviously a much bigger deal breaker than killing many thousands of innocent people in a succession of illegal wars.

Jayhawk said...

The only problem with your theory is that the US government never says, "Oops." We did not create the Taliban, and are fighting them to protect freedom and democracy in Afghanistan. We deposed a horrible dictator in Iraq and turned it into a nation which now has a properly elected democratic (if not even Democratic) government. We freed Libya from an evil tyrant and prevented a genocide in Libya.

Russia is undoubtedly more mature and responsible than the US, but they are also preparing for war by building up forces along the borders of countries with NATO forces. It has been suggested that Clinton and her crowd believe that Russia will back down if her confrontation is sufficiently aggressive. She may want to consult with the French on that and, of course, with the Germans.

Niemand said...

So many memories of Bush apologists making similar claims regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and yes, Yemen. Or Haiti for that matter (*AHEM* 2006 census being the first in 24 years, because 2006 minus 2003 equals 24 !!?!). Then again, Clinton I did arm the RPF in violation of the Arusha accords, and sent Dallaire to give propaganda cover as the RPF depopulated Byumba prefecture of 800k people (see e.g. Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa), and it is to this day the party line that Bush I and Clinton I failed to intervene (sic) in Rwanda, the fact that the intervention started on or before 1 October 1990 notwithstanding.

So clearly the problem of mass psychosis is very American. I never could get an answer out of the Bush enthusiasts, and I take it that you are a Clinton enthusiast, so perhaps you could tell me.

Is it meth, mescaline, or some other substance, that gives rise to the mass psychosis of which you provide such a representative example?

Cortes said...

To France's Louis XV has been attributed the expression "Apres moi le deluge" (frequently rendered as "who cares what happens when I'm gone") and a clearer expression of the Bourbon insouciance could barely be imagined. That's the fear the elite of the USA is trying to instil:

Would they really go all the way?

A Russian view of recent events:


stevelaudig@gmail.com said...

"This incident, which was a clear breach of the cease fire agreement, prompted the Russians to label the Americans with a particularly hurtful Russian word: ”недоговороспособные”—incapable of honoring an agreement."

Native American tribes who treated with the US would agree.

"U.S.–Native American treaties

From 1778 to 1871 the United States government entered into more than 500 treaties with the Native American tribes; every one of these treaties has since been violated in some way or outright "broken" by the US government.[20][21][22][23] However, violations by one party do not nullify the treaties; the treaties are still in effect, and Native Americans and First Nations peoples are still fighting for their treaty rights in federal courts and at the United Nations.[21][24]"


Jayhawk said...

Oh, please. You cannot possibly have taken me seriously. My first sentence is a very clear indication that what follows is snark. How you can read my second paragraph and identify me as a Clinton supporter baffles me completely.

Cortes Kid said...

Dying empires don't lay down, they double-down.

toktomi said...


It warms me to hear that there are people in this world who honor their word as a point of personal integrity and practicality. It is a rare commodity in these "great" United States.

Anonymous said...

Sign of the times: Russian officials have been 'told to bring relatives home to the Motherland'. While deemed only a recommendation, failure to comply would be a complicating factor in the furtherance of their public sector career. Yet to be seen is the true motivating factor.
Could it be foreknowledge of a big event, or, an effort to squelch dissent?

Mark said...

Half the people in the US are not included in the mass psychosis; 45% don't vote, or watch TeeVee. I feel the mass psychosis is more brittle in 2016. Never have I seen such blatant election fraud - I've been shocked, even though I've been watching for 40 years, and it is not a completely new phenomenon. So it is clear our US "mis-leaders" are fortifying their positions vs. "the people" even as more people begin backing away slowly. I know nothing of todays military, but read about retired officers moving to northern Idaho prepper communities; an indication of their respect for the leadership provided by the establishment. Your readers may also find this bit of history interesting:


by RF Kennedy Jr.

Which may hint at one of the problems with US leadership: it's completely self selective, and excludes anyone who could turn the tide. And it would take many to turn the tide!

Veronica said...

Some good articles to round out the picture in Syria

Obama Stepped Back from Brink, Will Hillary?

Hillary Clinton's Axis of Evil

Russia Reads US Bluster as Sign of War
Hillary Clinton: Candidate of War
Why America Needs War
Neocon Insanity and “Political Madness”: Hillary Clinton and the Dangers of Nuclear War
It’s Not Just the Oil. The Middle East War and the Conquest of Natural Gas Reserves

What You Are Not Being Told About the Afghanistan War

Jeffrey said...

I might add that the "oops" strategy actually does work...if viewed from the perspective of the handful of 'winners' this strategy benefits. Think BAE, Raytheon, DoD, etc., and think tank beneficiaries. Of course that 'oops' facet is typically only carried far enough to perpetuate the gravy train; escalating it to the point of annihilation defeats the purpose of living another day to enjoy their profit.

PeterJB said...

I have noted as I have read, a number of recent articles that have pointed out - as opinion, that the US supply of arms to Saudi Arabia (and I presume this to include all other nations and group clients) is immense, but what is more interesting are the comments (opinions) that if this trade stops, then the USA arms industry is "bankrupt". This is "Peak Growth", as can be seen in the statistics. Perhaps better worded as 'growth saturation' or 'political saturation'; not just 'extremis', but the result of applied "leadership" Stupidity. Identical to the Fall of Rome.

The USA elite have allowed their whole National Economy to become totally dependent upon the supply of arms, which has required the full devotion of US "leadership" and all attached thereto, to supply for this Industry, Wars (plural) and at ALL Costs.

Suddenly is dawns on me that the USA has become totally dependent (financially and otherwise) upon War, genocide, invasion, imposition and killing, in order to stave off its own internal collapse, in particular, of its Armament Industry, that enemy that Eisenhower warned of in his parting address to the Nation.

And this applies also to other industries, without doubt; Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture, Banking and Finance, etc., so much so, that the USA Corporate, Shareholding and Private Equity systems have become saturated with arteriosclerosis inefficiencies and lack of innovation and vision, that they have reached "peak effective; hence the need of "Muppet scalping" and war.

Of course, this supports the hypothesis of Thermodynamic Equilibrium and Entropic death. And it is obvious that the USA has no other tricks in its playbook apart from War.

Hillary is that personification of Kali, the Goddess of Death, Destruction and Change, that will bring that absolutely necessary War, with Russia and China.

The Fiat contributions to the Clinton Foundation virtually costs nothing being mostly FedRes supplied and a mere drop as a cost in comparison to the expected returns of War.

We are observing phenomenal physics at the changing of the guard.





Grant Piper said...

What are the odds of this scenario:
1. Clinton is assassinated in false flag job, as she is damaged goods now and of minimal use to her backers.
2. Russia is blamed immediately,
3. Mass righteous indignation fanned by MSM,
4. US launches first strike in retaliation.
Or something like that. I'm sure there are many professionals wargaming all the scenarios right now. Thinking positively, there is more money to be made in perpetual war than MAD, so maybe those who drive the bus and have brought us to the brink will be the ones to stop us toppling over the edge?

Vierotchka said...

Spasibo, Dmitry, an interesting analysis. I wonder what the Saker's analysis is, I haven't found one on his site as yet. It would be interesting to compare his views with yours, you both are highly intelligent and very well-informed people.

Jeffrey said...

"The USA elite have allowed their whole National Economy to become totally dependent upon the supply of arms..."

Indeed. I suspect this is a fairly significant factor to some of the 'why' the U.S. continues their endeavors. Sure, the incentives are great to a small few to enjoy great profit, but as you indicate, it also props up a sizeable component of the national economy as a whole, where elimination or great reduction would damage an already frail economy.

There is little productive industry left, so the predatory financial sector, health-care-via-extortion-and-extraction, armaments-and-death, must continue to grow like a cancer; those are the few sectors that remain substantial supports to the U.S. house of cards.

Mark in AUS said...

This. The "spoils of war" used to be things like resources, land, and factories, today the war-making itself *is* the treasure, so people trying to parse a deeper "strategy" out of otherwise incoherent geo-political actions need look no further than to ask "but would it be good for Raytheon?" and they will find abundant "rationale" down that path. And it's not just the arms manufacturers, FedEx for example got a multi-million $ no-bid contract to fly bottled water from Seattle to Baghdad, and Kentucky Fried Chicken got a similar deal for thousands of new franchises on military bases from Kabul to Kenya. America = War.

Jeffrey said...

@Mark in AUS

"And it's not just the arms manufacturers, FedEx for example got a multi-million $ no-bid contract to fly bottled water from Seattle to Baghdad, and Kentucky Fried Chicken got a similar deal for thousands of new franchises on military bases from Kabul to Kenya."

Yes. We find similarly in the U.S. prison economy. The associated and tangential industries that supply commissary, phone comm, tech, laundry, etc., all factor into the rationale that the U.S. 'needs' to keep that system going, else lose a good chunk of the only pieces of their economy and associated jobs, tenable.

Hence, the carceral, police/prison state must live on.

shanty said...

Jayhawk, please do some non mainstream media research into Gaddafi. He transformed Libya into a garden and improved the lives of his people immesurably. He was about to release a gold backed currency for Africa, which is why he was murdered by USA and his country invaded. Which recent US president has significantly improved the lives of the American people? USA has destroyed Libya, NOT saved it. Libya is a complete mess now.

Alfred1860 said...

"Last on my list of reasons why war with Russia remains unlikely is that there isn’t much of a reason to start one, assuming the US behaves rationally."

If you ask me, that is a very dangerous assumption to make. I guess it all comes down to how broad is your definition of rational. Is it rational to make decisions with the sole goal of accruing more power and wealth in the short term (i.e. a decade), regardless of how many people get killed, either directly or indirectly? We all know that the Middle Eastern wars the US in which the US is embroiled were not started for their stated purposes, but can one really argue that the real purpose was rational? Is it rational to bolster the already obscene wealth of the 0.01%, at the expense of everyone else, given the lessons of history? I think the only scenario in which one does something like this is under the assumption that they will never be caught, and never be held responsible. IMO, that is a very irrational assumption to make when we're talking about things of this magnitude that destroy the lives of tens of millions of people.

I'm just a guy, but to me you can be greedy and materialistic and even mean without going over into complete irrationality. I see absolutely no restraint on the elite's part over the last couple of years. They are behaving as if it is their right to operate outside the law and outside anything close to a moral/ethical framework. If Clinton gets into the White House (legitimately or not) a third World War is basically guaranteed. They will never stop of their own accord.

shadiya said...

I'd agree that the creation of the Taliban was an "oops" but disagree we can call it an accident. You don't really give people guns/training and money by mistake... The only mistake was in thinking the chickens wouldn't come home to roost and I guess that could be where the Alzheimers comes in. To be fair to Americans, they took a leaf out of the UK book of "How To Have Your Empire and Keep The Oil Too", leaving Gov UK, trailing in their wake, like some kind of lap dog, as we desperately try to believe that we are still a world power...

Anonymous said...

What about this scenario:

U.S. boots are now on the ground in Syria (without Congressional authorization).

Some U.S. troops are ''accidentally'' killed by somebody ??

The U.S. chicken hawks prevail for a total war against Syria.

seha said...

The hysteria towards Russia, I would argue, stems in large part from the jealousy of the so called ( fearless and shameless) leaders of the West against Putin who's relegated them to the second division on the world stage.

seha said...

Trump has successfully laid to rest any thoughts about his being a change agent in a moment of strife. Thus, have we learnt to live while the mortal man is waiting to die!