NATO Would Probably Lose a War Against Russia

These pieces are papers that I believe to be still relevant; they were published earlier elsewhere under a pseudonym. They have been very slightly edited and hyperlinks have been checked.

NOTE 2017: I originally wrote this in December 2014; the resolution referred to is H.Res.758 — 113th Congress (2013-2014) against Russia’s “aggression”. If anything, more recent developments make my point even more strongly: Russia is more capable now than it was three years ago.

With the hyper-aggressive resolution just passed by the US House of Representatives we move closer to open war. Thus what follows may be apposite. In short, the US and NATO, accustomed to cheap and easy victories (at least in the short term – over the long term Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo are hardly victories), will have a shattering shock should they ever fight the Russian Armed Forces.

At the beginning of my career, in the 1970s, I spent some years engaged in combat simulations. Most of these exercises were for training staff officers but some were done in-house to test out some weapon or tactic. The scenario was usually the same: we, NATO, the good guys, Blue, would be deployed, usually in Germany; that is, on the eastern edge of West Germany. There we would be attacked by the Warsaw Pact, the bad guys, Red. (The colours, by the way, date from the very first war game, Kriegspiel; nothing to do with the Communist Party’s favourite colour).

Over several years of being on the control staff I noticed two things. Naturally both Red and Blue were played by our people, however interesting it might have been to borrow some Soviet officers to play Red. What always fascinated me was how quickly the people playing Red would start getting aggressive. Their fellow officers, on the Blue side, were very risk-averse, slow and cautious. The Red players just drove down the road and didn’t mind losing a tank, let alone a tank company. What was really interesting (we tested this in the office, so to speak) was that, at the end of the day, the full speed ahead approach produced fewer casualties than the cautious approach. The other thing – rather chilling this – was that Red always won. Always. And rather quickly.

I developed a great respect for the Soviet war-fighting doctrine. I don’t know whether it was based on traditional Russian doctrine but it certainly had been perfected in the Second World War where the Soviets carried out what are probably the largest land operations ever conducted. Nothing could be farther from the truth than the casual Western idea that the Soviets sent waves of men against the Germans until they ran out of ammunition and were trampled under the next wave. Once the Soviets got going, they were very good indeed.

The Soviet war-fighting doctrine that I saw in the exercises had several characteristics. The first thing that was clear is that the Soviets knew that people are killed in wars and that there is no place for wavering; hesitation loses the war and gets more people killed in the end. Secondly, success is reinforced and failure left to itself. “Viktor Suvorov”, a Soviet defector, wrote that he used to pose a problem to NATO officers. You have four battalions, three attacking and one in reserve; the battalion on the left has broken through easily, the one in the middle can break through with a little more effort, the one on the right is stopped. Which one do you reinforce with your reserve battalion? He claimed that no NATO officer ever gave the correct answer. Which was, forget the middle and right battalions, reinforce success; the fourth battalion goes to help the lefthand one and, furthermore, you take away the artillery support from the other two and give it to the battalion on the left. Soviet war-fighting doctrine divided their forces into echelons, or waves. In the case above, not only would the fourth battalion go to support the lefthand battalion but the followup regiments would be sent there too. Breakthroughs are reinforced and exploited with stunning speed and force. General von Mellenthin speaks of this in his book Panzer Battles when he says that any Soviet river crossing must be attacked immediately with whatever the defender has; any delay brings more and more Soviet soldiers swimming, wading or floating across. They reinforce success no matter what. The third point was the tremendous amount of high explosives that Soviet artillery could drop on a position. In this respect, the BM-21 Grad was a particular standout, but they had plenty of guns as well.

An especially important point, given a common US and NATO assumption, is that the Soviets did not assume that they would always have total air superiority. The biggest hole, in my opinion, of US and NATO war-fighting doctrine is this assumption. US tactics often seem to be little more than the instruction to wait for the air to get the ground forces out of trouble (maybe that’s why US-trained forces do so poorly against determined foes). Indeed, when did the Americans ever have to fight without total air superiority other than, perhaps, their very first experience in World War II? The Western Allies in Italy, at D-day and Normandy and the subsequent fighting could operate confident that almost every aircraft in the sky was theirs. This confident arrogance has, if anything, grown stronger since then with short wars in which the aircraft all come home. The Soviets never had this luxury – they always knew they would have to fight for air superiority and would have to operate in conditions where they didn’t have it. And, see General Chuikov’s tactic at Stalingrad of “hugging the enemy”, they devised tactics that minimized the effectiveness of enemy aircraft. The Russians forces have not forgotten that lesson today and that is probably why their air defence is so good.

NATO commanders will be in for a shattering shock when their aircraft start falling in quantity and the casualties swiftly mount into the thousands and thousands. After all, we are told that the Kiev forces lost two thirds of their military equipment against fighters with a fraction of Russia’s assets, but with the same fighting style.

But, getting back to the scenarios of the Cold War. Defending NATO forces would be hit by an unimaginably savage artillery attack, with, through the dust, a huge force of attackers pushing on. The NATO units that repelled their attackers would find a momentary peace on their part of the battlefield while the ones pushed back would immediately be attacked by fresh forces three times the size of the first ones and even heavier bombardments. The situation would become desperate very quickly.

No wonder they always won and no wonder the NATO officer playing Red, following the simple instructions of push ahead resolutely, reinforce success, use all your artillery all the time, would win the day.

I don’t wish to be thought to be saying that the Soviets would have “got to the the English Channel in 48 hours” as the naysayers were fond of warning. In fact, the Soviets had a significant Achilles Heel. In the rear of all this would have been an unimaginably large traffic jam. Follow-up echelons running their engines while commanders tried to figure out where they should be sent, thousands of trucks carrying fuel and ammunition waiting to cross bridges, giant artillery parks, concentrations of engineering equipment never quite in the right place at the right time. And more arriving every moment. A ground-attack pilot’s dream. The NATO Air-Land Battle doctrine being developed would have gone some distance to even things up again. But it would have been a tremendously destructive war, even forgetting the nuclear weapons (which would also be somewhere in the traffic jam).

As for the Soviets on the defence, (something we didn’t game because NATO, in those days, was a defensive alliance) the Battle of Kursk is probably the model still taught today: hold the attack with layer after layer of defences, then, at the right moment, the overwhelming attack at the weak spot. The classic attack model is probably Autumn Storm.

All of this rugged and battle proven doctrine and methodology is somewhere in the Russian Army today. We didn’t see it in the first Chechen War – only overconfidence and incompetence. Some of it in the Second Chechen War. More of it in the Ossetia War. They’re getting it back. And they are exercising it all the time.

Light-hearted people in NATO or elsewhere should never forget that it’s a war-fighting doctrine that does not require absolute air superiority to succeed and knows that there are no cheap victories. It’s also a very, very successful one with many victories to its credit. (Yes, they lost in Afghanistan but the West didn’t do any better.)

I seriously doubt that NATO has anything to compare: quick air campaigns against third-rate enemies yes. This sort of thing, not so much.

Even if, somehow, the nukes are kept in the box.

To quote Field Marshal Montgomery “Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: ‘Do not march on Moscow’. Various people have tried it, Napoleon and Hitler, and it is no good. That is the first rule.”

(His second rule, by the way, was: “Do not go fighting with your land armies in China.” As Washington’s policy drives Moscow and Beijing closer together…. But that is another subject).

Really Stupid Things Said About Russia

It is not prudent to deny or forget a thousand years of Russian history. It is replete with wars of imperial aggrandizement, the Russification of ethnic minorities, and absolutist, authoritarian, and totalitarian rule.

My comment: Substitute any other country here and what difference would there be? Note in the thousand years he ignores periods in which Russia was prey and not predator – the Mongols, the Time of Troubles, Teutonic Knights and so forth. A fine example of selective facts and how much easier it is to say something than it is to refute it.

Ariel Cohen (Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation) “A New Paradigm for U.S.-Russia Relations: Facing the Post-Cold War Reality.” 6 March 1997.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 FEBRUARY 2017

RUSSIA INC. Summarising three recent authorities, Wikipedia says Canada’s GDP is greater than Russia’s and Germany’s is about two and a half times greater. There’s something deeply misleading and, in fact, quite worthless about these GDP comparisons. Russia has a full-service space industry including the only other operating global satellite navigation system. Neither Canada nor Germany does. It has an across the board sophisticated military industry which may be the world leader in electronic warfare, air defence systems, silent submarines and armoured vehicles. Neither Canada nor Germany does. It has a developed nuclear power industry with a wide range of products. Ditto. It builds and maintains a fleet of SSBNs – some of the most complicated machinery that exists. Ditto. Its aviation industry makes everything from competitive fighter planes through innovative helicopters to passenger aircraft. Ditto. It has a full automotive industry ranging from some of the world’s most powerful heavy trucks to ordinary passenger cars. It has all the engineering and technical capacity necessary to build complex bridges, dams, roads, railways, subway stations, power stations, hospitals and everything else. It is a major and growing food producer and is probably self-sufficient in food today. Its food export capacity is growing and it has for several years been the leading wheat exporter. It has enormous energy reserves and is a leading exporter of oil and gas. Its pharmaceutical industry is growing rapidly. It is intellectually highly competitive in STEM disciplines – a world leader in some cases. Its computer programmers are widely respected. (Yes, there is a Russian cell phone.) It’s true that many projects involve Western partners – the Sukhoy Superjet for example – but it’s nonetheless the case that the manufacturing and know-how is now in Russia. Germany or Canada has some of these capabilities but few – very few – countries have all of them. In fact, counting the EU as one, Russia is one of only four. Therefore in Russia’s case, GDP rankings are not only meaningless, but laughably so. While Russians individually are not as wealthy as Canadians or Germans, the foundations of wealth are being laid and deepened every day in Russia. What of the future? Well there’s a simple answer to that question – compare Russia in 2000 with Russia in 2017: all curves are up. Of course Russians support their government – why wouldn’t they? It’s doing what they hired it to do; we others can only dream of such governments. For what it’s worth, PwC predicts Russia will be first in Europe in 2050, but, even so, I think it misses the real point: Indonesia and Brazil ahead of Russia? No way: it’s not GDP/PPP that matters, it’s full service. Russia is a full-service power and it won’t become any less so in the next 30 years. Autarky. Very few aren’t there? And… in that little group of four autarkies on the planet, who’s going up and who’s going down? A big – fatal even – mistake to count Russia out.

TREASON. A couple of weeks ago it was revealed that a computer security specialist and an FSB officer had been arrested under treason charges. Another arrest followed. Theory 1. Connected with a group of hackers known as Шалтай-Болтай (Humpty-Dumpty) for whom the FSB has been looking for some time. Theory 2. Connected with the “golden showers” dossier. If so, this is evidence that the dossier is fake – the FSB would not publicise arrests if it really had kompromat on Trump. But passing even fake information to Western intelligence could be treasonous. Theory 3. Something else. But the treason aspect does suggest information passed to foreign intelligence operatives.

FAMILY LAW. Decriminalisation of domestic violence brings out the usual stuff from the usual sources. The reality is much more complicated and John Helmer explains the background: “An amendment adopted last year by the Duma decriminalized a first battery offence between strangers but left battery between kin or spouses as it was. The practical effect was anomalous — strangers beating children could be treated with more leniency than parents.” The new law equalises things. But the proof will be in the results and there’s no guarantee the law won’t be changed again.

FREE LAND. Last year a program offering free land in the Far East was begun. According to the website, there have been 55,000 applications and about 5000 plots handed out.

UKRAINE. US Senators McCain and Graham visit Poroshenko and urge him to attack: “Your fight is our fight. 2017 will be the year of offence.” Even RFE/RL admits Kiev re-started the war. Is there a US law against Americans doing this? Maybe, under the new management, we will find out.

NEW NWO. Another wheel comes off the juggernaut.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Putin Derangement Syndrome December 2016-January 2017

In which I collect all the examples of this strange mental defect that have caught my attention in the last month of the seventeenth and first month of the eighteenth years of The New American Century.

THE SYNDROMES CONVERGE

trumputin

PUTIN STEALS/HACKS/CONTROLS US ELECTION. OR SOMETHING.

The dominant story through December and early January was that Putin had “hacked”, or controlled the outcome of or influenced the outcome of – exactly what was never precisely expressed – the US presidential election. Even so, the result had not been affected or so we were assured by the White House itself in “What Obama Said to Putin on the Red Phone About the Election Hack“: President Obama picked up the “red phone” and warned Putin to stop. “Did the message work? ‘Look at the results,’ said an Obama administration official. ‘There was nothing done on Election Day, so it must have worked.'” As ever, the WaPo led the charge and the day after the election told us “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House“.

But when we finally saw the “secret assessments” they proved to be laughably damp squibs. The DHS/FBI report of 29 December 2016 carried this stunning disclaimer:

This report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the DNI report of 6 January 2017 was the space – nearly half – devoted to a rant about the Russian TV channel RT. A report that had been published four years earlier. What that had to do with the Russian state influencing the 2016 election was obscure. But, revealingly, it also said this:

We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.

In other words, DHS told us to ignore its report and the one agency in the US intelligence structure that would actually know about hacking and would have copies of everything – the NSA – wasn’t very confident. Both reports were soon torn apart: John McAfee: “I can promise you if it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you it was not the Russians”. (See 10:30). Jeffrey Carr: “Fatally flawed“. Julian Assange: not a state actor. Even those who loath Putin trashed them.

The last gasp was the “golden showers dossier”. Commissioned from a former UK SIS officer by one of Trump’s Republican opponents and then taken over by a Democrat supporter, this collection of bottom-feeding stories had been floating around for months looking for a taker. Allegedly a record of compromising material on Trump collected from an improbably wide circle of informants it was finally published by Buzzfeed. In my opinion, it is good that Buzzfeed did so, otherwise it would have remained a poisonous rumour in the background. Once in the open, it was swiftly savaged. John Helmer probably did the best job of taking it apart, “Scott” examined the Ukrainian connection as did George Eliason. (In my opinion, many of the stories in the dossier had the sloppy quality of SBU inventions.) Finally, not even Newsweek, the source of many a PDS panic itself (“How Vladimir Putin Is Using Donald Trump to Advance Russia’s Goals“) bought it: “Thirteen Things That Don’t Add Up in the Russia-Trump Intelligence Dossier“.

So, altogether, the two intelligence reports sagged on internal evidence and the “golden shower” dossier was pretty much laughed out of court. It is not, therefore, surprising that we have heard little more since the first half of January. But more on this curious pause later.

But the memory of this (hopefully) short-lived pundit cottage industry lingers: “Russia’s American coup: The U.S. is finally waking up to the fact that it has been turned into a subordinate ally to Russia, thanks to Putin and Trump“; “The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.“; “Trump refuses to face reality about Russia“; “Today, as the U.S. grapples with a Russia with resurgent global ambitions, with a Kremlin that hacks our emails, manipulates our news—and, according to the CIA, actively worked to elect Donald Trump“; “Donald Trump: The Russian Poodle” and “Is Trump a Russian Stooge?“.

OTHER ELECTIONS TOO

The allegations (and I think we may confidently say unfounded allegations – the intelligence reports are deeply unconvincing) have sparked off similar excitement in other countries. Not content with the hacking – or whatever it was – of the US election, we are told that Putin wants more. In Germany: “Putins hybrider Großangriff zur Bundestagswahl 2017; Propaganda-Feldzug sogar mit Sexmobs” (Putin’s hybrid major attack on the Bundestag election 2017; Propaganda campaign even with sexmobs). Anne Applebaum eagerly picked up the theme: “In 2017, the Russian government will mount an open campaign to sway the German elections.” But why stop at Germany? “Is Putin’s Master Plan Only Beginning? With three consequential European elections occurring in 2017, the former K.G.B. officer has more potential to undermine free societies than he could have ever fathomed during his Cold War days.” And so on: lots of this out there. Complete nonsense: anyone who thinks about it knows the globalists’ election reverses are not because Putin seduced their subjects from proper deference, but because they have had enough.

It’s absolutely absurd how ready people are to say that Russia controls everything – in the most recent of a very long series, a couple of days ago the the UK Defence Minister went on a rant about how Russia is “weaponising information“. RT’s and Sputnik’s budgets are a fraction of the BBC’s let alone all those of the other Western state-run outlets. Western news outlets have a world-wide presence that utterly dwarfs RT; their audience is many times greater no matter how RT boasts about its YouTube hits. And yet Western politicians expect their listeners to believe that, somehow, Putin has wormed his way into everybody’s head, directs voting at a distance and is on the very edge of ruining everything. Derangement indeed.

MISCELLANEOUS SCARY THINGS

Immortal Vladimir Putin? Russian leader visits anti-ageing pill factory“.

Vladimir Putin’s Face Appears to Contain More Botulism Than Drug-Store Sushi

From Russia With Hate: Vladimir Putin’s Newest Export: Terrorists“.

Russian treachery is extreme and it is everywhere.”

‘Vlad Will Smash Britain In One Day!’ Russians plot to turn UK into Siberian-style labour camp.

Why 2017 is the most dangerous year for Britain since the Cold War: With the US and France both set to be run by Putin acolytes, it will fall to us to defend the Baltic states if Russia strikes. Yet we’ve cut our military to the bone…” “The Kremlin had succeeded where foreign invaders had failed since the Norman Conquest of 1066. Britain had been not just defeated, but crushed…”. Encouragingly, the best-rated comments are contemptuous of what he’s saying.

And who can forget the WaPo, formerly leading the struggle against “fake news”, now trying to “retire” the term, telling us that a “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say“? This sample of fake news hilariously survives with an Editor’s note appended: “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.” That particular piece of PDS didn’t even survive a day.

THE FUTURE

In September I wondered, given that Western demonisations of enemies typically stopped upon their overthrow, how intense they would become when they couldn’t get at their latest target. Would the accusations get crazier and crazier? Well, they did get crazier and crazier. But we are entering a rather interesting phase in which we will learn whether two forms of Derangement Syndrome can co-exist.

Since Trump was inaugurated on 20 January, I have noticed that Putin Derangement Syndrome is being pushed aside in the punditry by a crescendo of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Just as Putin has been diagnosed at a distance, so has he: “Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill? 3 Professors Of Psychiatry Ask President Obama To Conduct ‘A Full Medical And Neuropsychiatric Evaluation'” and his signature gives cause for concern. “As Trump prepares his kissy face for Putin, a glimpse into the dictator’s soul“. PDS is replete with such remote sensing of Putin’s inner self. The student of PDS will recognise the magazine covers about Trump of which the standout is Der Spiegel’s (no small purveyor of PDS itself) showing Trump decapitating Lady Liberty à la Daesh. Since under-estimating Trump was so successful, why not continue to? Some writer thinks he’s just a puppet of Steve Bannon. But maybe they’re converging: “Manchurian Presidency: Why Angry White America Fell for Putin“. But the most beautiful example of convergence, one that brings everything together is: “The Russian ‘philosopher’ who links Putin, Bannon, Turkey: Alexander Dugin“!

So, will Putin Derangement Syndrome be replaced by Trump Derangement Syndrome? Or are we entering a new state of delusion in which separate derangement syndromes converge and Putin, Trump, bin Laden as well as lesser figures like Milosevic and Gaddafi are revealed to be all part of a single Hidden Masters Derangement Syndrome?

 

 

Trump-Putin phone call

Question from Sputnik asking for thoughts on the phone call and what the two can do in Syria.

The White House “readout” of the call says it was a “significant start to improving the relationship” and both are hopeful that “the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern.” The Kremlin account is more detailed and speaks of hopes to improve “cooperation on a constructive, equitable and mutually beneficial basis”. The discussion touched on the Middle East, strategic stability, Iran, Korean Peninsula and Ukraine. But the big topic was “joining efforts in fighting the main threat” of “international terrorism”.

The call – one of several Trump made that day – took about an hour; therefore, allowing for interpreters, each president had about 15 minutes. Thus there was only enough time to communicate intentions and list problems. Therefore, only a beginning.

As to cooperation in Syria we have two stories going the rounds. One, from the Russian Armed Forces, that the US forces passed target data to them and – after checking: there’s still a distance to go before trust is assumed – Russian aircraft struck the targets. I would expect that the US military will be pleased enough to cooperate – there are already reports that US trainers know perfectly well that they are just training “the next generation of jihadis“. The other story, at the level of plausible rumour, is that Representative Gabbard took a message from Trump to Assad that US policy had changed and that “Assad must go!” was no more. Certainly Trump has in the past shown that he knows what’s really going on in Syria. And one should not forget what Flynn would have told him about the origins of ISIS/Daesh. So there is real hope that the US will stop arming and assisting ISIS/DAESH: a necessary step indeed.

Thus, there is much possibility for US-Russia cooperation in Syria.

But it’s only a start and there more to be done. But it is a good start.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 26 JANUARY 2017

TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY. In his inaugural speech he said that other countries were quite right to put their own interests first. Has any other US President in recent decades ever said that? The official site continues the echo of Adams’ policy to not go abroad to seek out monsters. All to the good – the world has suffered enough from the Exceptionalists – 26 thousand bombs in 2016. However, some things disturb me. I don’t like the hostility towards Iran from him and his team – Iran (much stronger today thanks to the inept machinations of Washington, by the way) may be a concern for Israel and Saudi Arabia, but it isn’t for us; to say Iran is “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism” while ISIS/Daesh is “the greatest threat globally” is not only idiotic but self-contradictory. Secondly, threats against China’s activity in the South China Sea are frivolous: in the final analysis there is nothing Washington can do about it short of a big war (which it would certainly lose) and no reason why it should. Finally, if he seeks a less interventionist foreign policy, why does he want even bigger armed forces? And, if, as some think, there is some notion of a Kissingerian separation of Russia and China, there will be disappointment. Xi Jinping recently emphasised the difference between China’s relations with the USA and with Russia: “We will strive to build new model of major country relations with the United States, a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with Russia…“. Lavrov reinforced it by saying he considered Russia-China relations as “a model for responsible major powers“. The situation was very different in 1972 and the intervening years have taught Beijing and Moscow to put little trust in Washington’s promises or capacity to carry them out.

RUSSIAN HACKING. I hope – probably naively – that, now that it has failed in its purpose, we never hear anything more about this preposterous story. Although we do need serious investigations.

FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE. The Neocon Lament: Nobody wants them in Trump’s Washington.

MYSTERIOUS RUSSIA. Not the face you’d expect under a papakha, is it? Wikipedia on African-Abkhazians.

PUTIN’S RUSSIA LEGALISES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!!!! Not really.

RUSSIAN MPs IN ALEPPO. Interesting video – most are Chechens but all of them are Russians. In this respect – the distinction between русские and россияне, Русь and Россия – Russians are better heirs of the Roman Empire than we are. Note the first-rate equipment and air of soldierly competence.

SYRIA. The Astana meeting, sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, took place. Nothing was decided, but it was another step in a necessarily slow process. Some developments in identifying the non-jihadist opposition; Turkey further distanced itself from the USA; Iran made another advance in importance. Russian and Turkish aircraft have conducted joint operations. As an earnest of the paragraph in America First Foreign Policy on defeating ISIS, the Russians report the US passed target information to them. There is reason to believe that the US military will be happy to cooperate: “they know they are just training the next generation of jihadis“. Remember what Michael Flynn, then DIA head, now National Security Advisor, said. (Remember the flapdoodle when Trump called Obama the “founder” of ISIS? That’s what he meant.) Tulsi Gabbard has visited Syriainterviews here.

SPEAKING OF WASHINGTON AND DAESH… “we were watching, we saw that DAESH was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened… We could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him.” And that’s after the US giving an “extraordinary amount of arms”. Kerry, thanks to Wikileaks at 22:25. Washington always thinks it can “manage that” and never does: a catastrophic record of self-deception and hypocrisy since 1979.

MH17. Don’t try investigating or challenging the official story yourself, you’ll get into trouble. Trump himself is unconvinced. There’s a call for a new investigation.

UKRAINE. Kiev had 460 troops killed in the Donbass last year – 55% from non-combat causes (63 of them ruled as suicides). Terrible morale. There’s a move to punish Pinchuk for daring to suggest it’s over.

WESTERN VALUES™. The Director of Human Rights Watch has decided that Trump and the others revolting against the established order are “a new generation of authoritarian populists [that] seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections”.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Trump Day One

My interest, as a non-American, is, first and foremost, in Washington’s future foreign policy (which really means, these days, war – there hasn’t been much of anything else this century). As I wrote four months ago “To me, the choice in the US election is utterly simple: the most important thing is stopping the perpetual wars of the New American Century.” I believed then and believe more strongly today that US President Trump carries the hope that this will be so.

His inaugural address reinforces my belief. It was overwhelming directed towards rebuilding and repairing. His diagnosis: “a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost”; his theme: “a nation exists to serve its citizens”; his promise: “the oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans”. Whether he can deliver will be a matter for great speculation (most of it, amusingly, by the same people who so completely failed to understand the campaign) and wonderment. While we have learned that contemporary US Presidents can start wars ad libitum, it is less certain that they can build “roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways” or end the “American carnage”. But that is of more concern to Americans than to the rest of us.

The world knows America today almost entirely though destruction: to thousands and thousands today America is a drone strike, the bringer of random death, Abaddon.

But President Trump can avoid starting more wars and can end present wars. As he has implied he will, many times. The theme of his approach to foreign relations is this:

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

The understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first“; when did we last hear an American President promise that? Indeed the theme of the Twenty-First Century has been that only “Exceptional America” has important interests. From a former Vice-President: “the most powerful, good and noble country in the history of mankind“; from a former President: “I believe America is exceptional, in part because we have shown a willingness… to stand up, not only for our own interests, but for the interests of all.” What other nation’s puny, erroneous and mundane interest can possibly stand against such glory, righteousness and sanctity?

President Trump echoes President Adams two centuries later:

But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….

In becoming the dictatress of the world, the United States has indeed lost the rule of her own spirit and her liberty has changed to force. Trump’s “benignant sympathy of her example” is

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

Much to hope for after the catastrophes, cataclysms and carnage the Exceptionalists have wreaked on us during the last decade and a half.

Shining instead of bombing.

Rotating on Your Tanks

(A question from Sputnik: what do I make of the US Army forces moved to Europe and what do I think US President-elect Trump will do about it.)

The first thing to do is calm down: I’ve seen headlines with “thousands”, “hundreds” or “scores” of tanks. What we are actually talking about, according to the US Army in Europe, is the “3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division” of “3,500 personnel, 87 tanks, 18 Paladins; 419 multi-purpose Humvees and 144 Bradley tanks”. (And why are they in desert tan and not European green, by the way?) In other words 87 actual tanks (120mm gun), 18 self propelled guns (155mm gun), 419 of the most expensive Jeeps ever made and 144 infantry fighting vehicles (not “tanks”) (25mm gun, two anti-tank missiles). These troops are the first of “back-to-back rotations of armored brigades in Europe as part of Atlantic Resolve” – “rotations” gets NATO out of its 1997 pledge against “additional permanent stationing“. NATO is also planning to place a (rotating) battalion group in each of the three Baltic countries and Poland. In short, rounding everything way up: a maximum total of 10K soldiers, 100 tanks, 40 serious artillery pieces and 250 IFVs. That’s the high end. The actual reality will be smaller, under-equipped, very multi-national, always re-learning the ropes and therefore not very effective. In return Russia has reactivated the First Guards Tank Army. This Russian formation will have much more modern and more powerful kit than NATO’s and would brush aside the US brigade without pausing and ignore the battalion groups.

The purpose one assumes (if we ignore standard NATO-issue boiler plate about “security” “stability” “aggressor” and so on) is to emplace a “trip wire” – if you attack Estonia, you will be attacking us all. But that’s the point of the NATO alliance already: “an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.” In theory that is. But there are plenty of polls showing that “NATO’s European Allies Won’t Fight for Article 5“. So I guess it’s supposed to be a reassurance to the little ones that NATO really really means it. So in that sense, it’s thought to be a deterrence.

But the assumption is quite idiotic. Moscow knows full well what the NATO Treaty means. The only circumstances under which it would attack any NATO country would be if it feared an attack on itself by all NATO countries. And then there would be no holding back: Moscow would know who it was fighting and why it was fighting and would go full out from the beginning.

This move – in the waning days of the Obama Administration – violates two Trumpian principles. First it is calculated to irritate Moscow and hobble US President-elect Trump in his stated intention to repair relations. Second it contradicts his ideas that NATO members should pay more for their own defence. (And a third: better relations with Russia obtained through diplomacy would eliminate the “threat” this deployment is supposed to be countering). Thus it is very probable that the whole thing will be reversed on the 21st. It should be remembered that Trump not only has a number of senior generals on his team but that there is plenty of evidence – “After 15 years of war, America’s military has about had it with ‘nation building’– that the US military are tired of endless wars. He’s not flying blind. And he’s not flying alone.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 5 JANUARY 2017

PREDICTION FOR 2017. The revolution will continue. And spread. And there will be more harbingers of that change – here’s this week’s.

RUSSIA HACKED THE ELECTION. Read the disclaimer – not even the authors of the DHS/FBI report believe it. (Were the Russians listening? Of course they were and so was everyone else. As soon as it was learned that the Ukraine coup was plotted on open cellphones and Clinton was wedded to her Blackberry, you can be sure that every hacker in the world started looking. And when they found an insecure private server, dopey passwords, phishable dupes and plenty of juicy information – a hacker’s paradise! Clinton’s decision to ignore State Department security procedures is one of the biggest security leaks in US history. Here’s Tuesday’s interview with Assange: not Russia and not a state.

PUTIN-ABE MEETING. While no breakthrough on the territorial issue (Moscow is not giving it up: if ever possible, the opportunity has passed), a number of agreements that will lead to others. Tokyo broke the G7 boycott of Russia, Washington will be next and then the rush. I bet Ottawa will be last.

FAILING RUSSIA. Remember all that stuff you were told by the “experts” about failing Russia? Very, very poor predictions – when not simply purchased to order, they were a mixture of wishful thinking and profound ignorance. Here are photos of major infrastructure projects of 2016. A lot is happening.

“THE RUSSIAN THREAT”. Gone: it’s not a priority. I like the Tillerson appointment and either of the two people said to be short-listed for Ambassador will be good too.

WADA. Since I learned about Therapeutic Exemption Certificates, I’ve stopped taking WADA seriously.

NEW FAKE NEWS RECORD. Anti-Russia fake news used to last a few days (NYT photos, WaPo PropOrNot) but the WaPo has managed to put out and retract a story on the same day! Even CNN’s fake news story about the Anglo-American School in Moscow lasted a bit longer.

NUKES, TRUMP AND PUTIN. New nuclear arms race!!! More fake news: here’s my take.

OIL CUT. The agreement has gone into effect; Russia’s share of the cut is 300,000 barrels a day.

SYRIA. I recommend the following antidotes to the rubbish in the Fake Stream Media (FSM): Aleppo didn’t “fall”, it was “liberated. Eva Bartlett. Vanessa Beeley. Andrew Ashdown. Carla Ortiz (watch incredulity from the CNN hairstyle at 4:00). They’ve all actually been there: they don’t report on Aleppo from the UK. MSF, formerly respected, has disgraced itself. A ceasefire negotiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey is operating (under current management the USA is недоговороспособны). Russian engineers continue to clear Aleppo. Russian aircraft support Turkish operations in northern Syria. I was very interested to see Erdoğan‘s statement that he had evidence that the US coalition supports Daesh (of course it does. As he very well knows. Stay tuned). I would expect, under the new circumstances, that Gabbard’s bill will pass. She is, BTW, someone to watch.

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS (SYRIAN BRANCH) TO YOU. Mona’s magic pyjamas save her again and again and again. Aleppo’s twitter girl has amazing Internet service and doesn’t like to speak Arabic (see also Ortiz video above). Anybody remember “Gay Girl in Damascus“? Fake Syrian atrocity videos in Egypt and in Norway.

UKRAINE. It’s never easy to know what’s really going on there – for example the Privat Bank nationalisation has several interpretations. But of greater import is oligarch Viktor Pinchuk’s piece “Ukraine Must Make Painful Compromises for Peace With Russia“. No EU or NATO membership, local elections in the Donbass and Crimea is Russian. It has the usual fantasies to sweeten the bitter medicine – Ukraine will be so rich in “15 to 20 years” that Crimea will beg to come back – and the usual claptrap blaming Moscow. But the recommendations remain. We will see whether anything comes of it but it’s momentous that a big player who thought he had secured his future (a BIG donor to the Clinton Foundation) realises his investment is gone and is trying to make another. Ukraine is pretty dysfunctional and there are a lot of people with guns who get extra votes, as it were, but the dream is over. Three years after Maidan Ukraine is ruined, in a civil war, overrun with nazis, as corrupt as ever, has got nothing from the EU and will get nothing from the USA. It will soon disappear off the West’s news pages joining Kosovo, Somalia, Libya and the other regime change triumphs nobody talks about today. USA Today discovers Crimeans like being in Russia. Expect more of this as the FSM adjusts to the new boss in town.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Strong Russia, Fake News

The combination of two remarks by Russian President Putin and a twitter from US President-elect Trump set off a fake news storm in what should be properly called the Fake Stream Media. This from Canada’s National Post will serve as an example: Vladimir Putin signals renewal of nuclear arms race: ‘We are stronger now than anyone’, “Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin fired the starting gun on a new nuclear arms race on Thursday as they both vowed to launch a major strengthening of their countries’ arsenals.” Why do I call this fake news? Well the headline does not accurately quote Putin and the piece makes no mention of US President Obama’s trillion dollar nuclear plan announced a few months ago. In any case, Trump is not yet President and he and Putin have yet to meet and begin to repair things. So the headline will soon be obsolete.

With that introduction let us turn to what Putin actually said in the 22 December meeting of the Defence Ministry Board (English) (Russian) and amplified the next day in his press conference (English) (Russian).

With regards to nuclear weapons, he said:

Our nuclear triad, which is vital for maintaining strategic parity, has been maintained in the required state. I would like to say that the share of modern weapons in our nuclear forces nearly reached 60 percent of total armaments.

На должном уровне поддерживалось состояние ядерной триады, которая играет ключевую роль в сохранении стратегического паритета. Отмечу, что доля современного вооружения в ядерных силах составила почти 60 процентов.

In next day’s press conference he expanded on the reasoning, repeating, as he has done many times, that the Russian nuclear buildup was a response to Washington’s abrogation of the ABM Treaty 15 years ago.

Once again, allow me to repeat something I consider extremely important. In 2001, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty. This agreement was certainly the cornerstone of the entire international security system… I said, “We will have to react somehow, we will need to improve our strike systems in order to defeat these missile defence systems.

As to the other remark, after listening to the Minister of Defence enumerate what had been done over the preceding year, Putin observed:

At the same time, many factors, such as military factors, our history and geography and the general mood in the Russian society, allow us to say confidently that today we are stronger than any potential aggressor. I repeat, any aggressor.

Вместе с тем уже сегодня, с учётом очень многих факторов, включая не только военные, но и нашу историю, географию, внутреннее состояние российского общества, можно с уверенностью сказать: на сегодня мы сильнее любого потенциального агрессора. Любого.

The next day he expanded on it:

What does it mean to be an aggressor? An aggressor is someone who can attack the Russian Federation. We are stronger than any potential aggressor. I have no problem repeating it.

None of this has anything to do with the National Post’s breathless headline (or those of other FSM outlets). In fact, it is not difficult to understand what Putin is saying and what he is not saying.

  • What he is saying is that if you attack Russia, you will lose the war.
  • He’s not saying that the Russian Navy can beat the US Navy in the South Pacific. He’s not saying that Russia can conquer Europe. He’s not saying that Russia can land an expeditionary force in Mexico and threaten the USA. He’s not even saying Russia could conquer (it could) and hold (see Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan etc etc: it couldn’t) Ukraine. Or even the Baltics (yes, overrun in a couple of days, but then what? See Iraq, Afghanistan).
  • He’s not saying that Russia is “stronger than anyone”.
  • What he’s saying is that Russia is strong enough to defeat anyone who attacks Russia at home either conventionally or with nuclear weapons. (Of course with nuclear weapons everybody loses.)
  • That’s all.

And he’s right. It wasn’t true 20 years ago, it was arguable 10 years ago, but today, for anyone who can see reality rather than exceptionalist fantasies, it is true. If you attack Russia, you will lose the war.

The other thing he’s saying is that Russia has modernised its nuclear weapons. Which, again, is true and he did warn when the ABM Treaty was cancelled that he would do this.

Twenty years of NATO expansion, regime changes, humanitarian bombing and threats (or, as Trump might put it, the mistakes of the past“) have done nothing to make him see things differently. Indeed, I have argued that he “came back” because the Libya war showed NATO’s untrustworthiness and aggressiveness and he knew bad times were coming for Russia. Two years ago he said:

Back then, we realised that the more ground we give and the more excuses we make, the more our opponents become brazen and the more cynical and aggressive their demeanour becomes.

At the Defence Ministry Board meeting, Putin intimated that modernisation and improvement would continue: he does not trust the West any more.

However, if we allow ourselves to relax even for a minute, if we make a single significant mistake in modernising the Army and the Navy and training military personnel, the situation will change very quickly, in light of the speed of global events. It can change in the wink of an eye. Therefore, we depend on you to carry on the work you have been doing for the past few years.

All this can change in a “wink of an eye”; and it did change in a “wink of an eye” with Trump’s election victory. But trust must be earned over time by deeds just as it was lost over time by deeds. When asked at the press conference about meeting with US President-elect Trump, he said he hoped the subject of such a meeting would be:

Issues that concern putting our relations back on track. During his election campaign, Mr Trump said that he considered it appropriate to normalise Russian-American relations. He also said that the situation would not be worse, as it cannot get any worse. I agree with him. So, together we will think about how to make things better.

In short, headlines will likely be different in a year’s time.