The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Enough Russian Roulette with Nuclear Fire

As commenter OldSkeptic points out, Russia has now called up reserves:

“Russia’s Defence Ministry plans to call up military reservists across the country for two months of training exercises on new weapons, news agency Interfax reported on Friday.

Moscow has previously used such exercises to boost troop numbers on its border with Ukraine. There are concerns in the West that Russian forces could intervene in the conflict between the Kiev’s government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The exercises were planned last November, the defense ministry said, and will last from August until October.”

I have covered the Ukrainian crisis closely since it began for a reason: the real antagonists: Russia and the US, with NATO as an American proxy, are nuclear armed.  Let us review:

  • The Ukraine was part of Russia for about 200 years.
  • Crimea is Russia’s most important naval port.
  • The Maidan protests overthrew a government which, whatever you think of it, was democratically elected.  The Maidan protests were heavily backed by US money and aid.
  • The Russian deal with the Ukraine was far more generous than the EU/IMF deal, which requires cutting pensions in half and likely doubling gas prices, if the gas supplies continue at all. Russia, on the other hand, offered subsidized gas and a fifteen billion dollar loan at nominal prices.
  • While there are those in Crimea who did not want to join Russia, I am aware of no convincing evidence that a supermajority did not wish to. The referendum was somewhat coercive and produced results in line with the last referendum in the region.
  • The rebellion in the East and the South is in regions where the strongest economic ties are with Russia.  While I have seen no polls indicating majority support for the rebels, I have also seen no polls indicating majority support for the Kiev government.
  • Ukraine is very close to Moscow.  Moscow is not defendable, in war, if enemy forces are in Ukraine.
  • It is American doctrine that Russia without Ukraine is not a European Empire; with it, it is.

In 2008, during the Georgian war, I wrote that the next flashpoint would be Crimea.  The experts sneered at that: it could never happen, Russia and the EU had nothing to gain and everything to lose by allowing it.

The EU is, as Old Skeptic points out, however, not in the driver’s seat.  The US is, and NATO is, and NATO is currently led by a hawk.  What Merkel, or Germany, think is irrelevant  unless they are willing to threaten to leave NATO and follow through if necessary.  While Mark From Ireland has pointed out that there are signs of German and European realignment away from the US, they seem to be signs that will take years to develop to actual estrangement.  The current leaders, like Merkel, are of a generation which grew up under American hegemony. While many balked at Iraq, it will be far harder for them to refuse to act if NATO, including Britain and the US, goes to war.

It would take an incredibly brave leader to say no if NATO mobilizes to help Ukraine in light Russian regular forces.

The question, then, is whether Russian regular forces will be needed, or used.

We have, meanwhile, sanctions. So far they have amounted to not much, though they will increase financing costs.  However threats of greater sanctions continue, and slowly the strength of the sanctions has been increased.

I don’t know if OldSkeptic is right, and the plan is to force Russia into a humiliating retreat in the face of sanctions, with the use of military force ok’d to break Russia.  I actually doubt it, because it would be insane.

You don’t risk a shooting war with a nuclear armed state like Russia, who has enough nuclear weapons not just to destroy the US and Europe, but the world, multiple times over; and which has second strike capability which NATO cannot credibly expect to take out.  If either side starts losing and resorts to nukes, things can get out of hand very, very quickly.

But something being insane, or boneheadedly stupid does not mean it won’t happen: if Iraq or Syria (and the rise of ISIS) has not taught us this, nothing will.  American leaders are ideologues, drunk with power, who believe they rule the world and everyone else must bow.  Putin tweaked them hard over both Snowden and Syria, and they have worked since the fall of the USSR to move NATO right to Russia’s borders, something George Bush Sr. promised they wouldn’t do.

Russia feels itself under threat.  The military believes it cannot defend Russia from NATO if NATO is in the Ukraine, and notes also the constant moving up of anti-missile defense, closer and closer to its border; something it believes is meant to degrade its nuclear deterrent (it is, how well it will work is another question.  My suspicion is “not nearly well enough”.)

There is West’s sanction threats have been all stick: there is no upside to Russia buckling to the sanction threats, all they get back is the status quo.  Going forward, Russia having given in to sanctions once, they would have no independent policy the West could not veto by threatening them again.

So how does this play out?

I don’t know.  I do know that the people in charge in America, Britain and NATO are stupid, mad-drunk with power, and ideologues who believe in American primacy at any cost.  I do know that Russia believes it faces a potentially existential threat, and that Putin personally could not survive a humiliating capitulation.  And by not survive I mean he would probably wind up, personally, dead.  Russian leaders like Putin rarely leave office except in a casket.

This confrontation is over Russia claiming some right to interfere in territory it ruled for about two centuries.  Longer than the US has ruled most of its territory, I might note.  If the West can interfere in practically any country in the world, the Russians see no reason why they don’t have the right to interfere in their sphere of influence.

This is not, necessarily, to say that Russia should have the right to interfere with other countries, but given the West’s record of invasions, occupations and coups, it is simply laughable hypocrisy to make any claims that this is about territorial integrity of Westphalian states.


So if it is happening, it is happening for a reason.  To bring Ukraine into the Western fold, to force Russia to bow, and to show the world that even a power like Russia, with nuclear weapons and a huge arsenal, was forced to bow.

As much as the Gaza assault is an endless series of war crimes, and tragic, the greatest danger in the world today is in the Ukraine.  We are closer to nuclear war than we have been since the early 1980s when the Russian leadership was crazed by fear by US deployment of first strike missiles to Europe.

I will suggest, simply, that NATO needs to be disbanded.  The Europeans should simply step outside of it and put together their own military.  They can defend themselves from Russia if it comes to it (it won’t if they don’t poke Russia repeatedly with sticks).  They have a nuclear deterrent (I’m talking France here, not the UK, who probably can’t even use their nukes without American approval, and whose leadership are complete poodles for DC) and can build more if they so desire.

It’s time for Europe to grow back up, take responsibility for their own defense and future, and stop allowing America to drive the world to war, the brink of war, and possibly nuclear armaggedon.  As for the Ukraine, the Russian proposal of keeping it together, minus Crimea, but with a decentralized structure, and out of any Western alliance is entirely reasonable.

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Kurdish Peshmerga fail to hold Sinjar Mountains


  1. Celsius 233

    Gaza is the end of justice. The abomination that is the U.S. and Israel just guaranteed the end of the UN and relegated it to its final death. Those two letters, UN, should always be spoken as words, not an abbreviation; the *united nations* has lost all relevance precisely because impunity rules the world led by the U.S.A.
    The world should collectively shudder at the coming horror, for this is just the beginning.
    I fully expect war in Ukraine now that the UN is null and void. There is nothing left to stop the coming holocaust…
    It’s apparent the U.S. will stop at nothing to affirm its supremacy…
    God help us poor humans…

  2. Gaza is anything like the end of justice, it’s navelgazing by the US. there are a dozen more conflicts that Israeli/ Palestine. there’s not as well-funded.

    boring boring very boring

  3. John Measor

    Thanks for clearly articulating this quandary Ian; I’ve been really trying to figure out what the play is for the US since Yanukovich was ousted … pushing him and generally destabilizing a Russian proxy made sense (not that I support it, but it has been the basic M.O. of US foreign policy since Iran and Guatemala in the 50s).

    What I don’t understand is **why** the full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, recklessness? Establishing a state of brinksmanship with Russia benefits U.S. interests / goals / etc. how?

    While events have seen some Cold Warriors ghoulishly arise for some sincere Russophobia and attendant Kremlinology, most have been very reticent and seem perplexed themselves. The former military types mostly seem at a loss as to why the sole state on the planet capable of shooting back, of bringing the temple walls falling down around the global commons, is being goaded and treated with zero respect. I like how you have consistently pointed out that – even beyond the rhetoric – the policy motions out of Washington have been all stick and no carrot.

    I believe that (at least in this post) you haven’t incorporated the domestic dynamic (GOP pressure) nor taken note of the time pressure – Obama and his “team” are rapidly approaching the end of their effective ability to do things … however, these are not causal.

    I keep coming back to their slavish belief in their own power and their complete misreading of politics from the (recent?) past. Stunning that after losing two land wars in Asia, not to mention the state of domestic affairs, that the political class wouldn’t be more cautious in the exercise of statecraft – but, as they haven’t been held accountable for those disasters they are either blind or feeling that they are playing with house money. Moreover, most of these decision-makers are the product of Ivy League graduate seminars and business schools – so they believe that Ike and JKF, Nixon and Reagan, etc. just ‘willed it’ and it became so. That a fancy brief or mind-numbing stack of powerpoint slides that doesn’t face opposition will become reality on the steppe.

    A truly opaque policy that isn’t being debated in the public realm. Perhaps your readers will enlighten me.

  4. Z

    Whenever the U.S. does something that seems to be against its own interests, I ask myself: what does Israel want?

    This is a comment by Working Class Nero on a recent post in that I think is a decent take as to what Israel’s role in the Ukraine situation is (I actually believe the comment is slightly biased in some ways to the inhabitants of Israel):

    The common thread in all these foreign policy challenges is the protection and nurturing of Israel. Along with this come the problems of Jewish power, and the limitations of the settler colonial model applied in Israel. But to understand the world people have to stop listening to the pretty lies policy makers and the media tell and instead look at the world through some pretty harsh Machiavellian-tinted glasses.

    Throughout their post-Roman history the Jews have been a mobile people with no fixed abode. This is important for a self-proclaimed “Chosen People” who, the Ashkenazi’s at least, tend to outperform their local hosts — because resentments tend to build up over time. With the founding of Israel they are now — at least partially — a fixed people, but with the traditional resentments growing in their neighbors. And given that by definition there is a very finite number of Jews, they are not going to be able to take over whole continents following the mass settler colonial model like the Anglo Saxons/Europeans in Australia or North America. So Israel has a limited growth and power potential and as a result a limited choice on how to approach their increasingly hostile neighbors. The two choices are to make their neighbors client states and those who refuse must be convinced to fight each other so as to not have the time or energy to be attacking Israel.

    So forget all the purple finger democracy bullshit in Iraq, the goal is to reignite the Iran / Iraq war until either country has enough and screams Uncle Sam, and agrees to a client state / ally relationship to Israel like Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Remember a healthy and robust Iraq is a threat to Israel; as is obviously Iran. And sure the WASP remnants of the elite get sweet oil contracts as well. So the Iraq adventure is going perfectly; as long as they are not attacking Israel it really doesn’t matter how much human misery the locals have to suffer through. That is straight-up orthodox Neoconservative doctrine.

    The second problem is one of Jewish power. Given the inherent weaknesses of Israel, Jews need a strong base of power elsewhere to nourish the motherland. Without going into too much detail, since there are powerful taboos against doing so, currently Jews have an extraordinary power base in the US. But will it last forever?

    No. Of course Jews would be fools to put all of their future eggs into the rickety American basket – especially if we take into account the rapid decline of America and the increasingly large patches of third world living standards in the US. Jews must plan for the day America crumbles into dust. They must find new potential hosts from which to obtain and project wealth and power. And that is not something that can be done in a day – fifty years is a better time line.

    This question is not new and the options were not many. Given old Europe’s history the chances were pretty limited of Jews getting much more a foothold there. Besides, Europe is on the same road to ruin as the US is on. And for example China was out of the question due to their being even more ethnocentrically nationalist than the Jews. But luckily there were other choices. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the perfect new host candidate for Jewish power appeared: Russia. There is a long history of Jews living in Russia and with the fall of Communism plenty of Russian nearly Jews were moving to Israel. And so a gang of Jewish Harvard economists (Larry Summers, Jeffrey Sachs, Andrei Shleifer, Stanely Fischer, and Jonathan Hay) wasted no time in “liberalizing” Russia and lo and behold six of the seven oligarchs that resulted were Russian Jews thanks to state assets being sold to them for pennies on the ruble. But seriously, there was no ethnocentric favoritism shown (!). The token gentile oligarch was a nice gesture; but from these six Jew-ligarchs the seeds of future alternative Jewish power base were planted. Here was a perfect Jewish hedge against the eventual collapse of American power.

    But lo and behold the evil Vladimir Putin (aka Putler) came along and crushed the tender Jewish oligarchic green shoot and completely reversed the oligarch line-up; sending five of Jew-ligarchs to the Gulags in London or the South of France and keeping one token alongside his many new Gentil-ligarchs. And because of this vicious destruction of the secondary Jewish power base, Putin has been public enemy #1 to ethnocentric Neocons in the US ever since – although they can’t really come right out and say it for obvious reasons.

    And so the goal in Ukraine is certainly not to destroy it like Iraq. Jewish Oligarchs are coming back to the Ukraine (according to the NYT), ironically thanks to the heroic efforts of fascist Right Sector, kind of like how the ISIS is useful for restarting the Iran/Iraq conflict. Ukraine will be nourished and made a forward base for a campaign to attempt to make Russia submit to US power (full spectrum dominance) and to allow the return of the lost Jewish oligarchs who were so rudely run out of Russia by Putin.

    Also by eventually dominating Russia, the Iranian resistance to US/Israeli hegemony will wither on the vine.

    But it’s all about the timing. How fast will all these things happen? The US decline? Russia finally submitting to rule by Jewish oligarchs? Is Iran getting sick of fighting the power and finally becoming a client state / ally of Israel? Or will things break the other way? Israel is relatively small. If things get out of control it would not take that much effort to make those lands uninhabitable. The last time settler colonialism was tried there, by the Crusaders, their Kingdom of Jerusalem didn’t last for 200 years. Is the US already in over-stretch mode? Will they, to paraphrase Napoleon, choke on their Ukrainian adventure and Russia will come out on top?


  5. Formerly T-Bear

    This time history will not be written by the self-appointed self-assumed victors, it will be written by the dead. Those surviving will not be able to write history, the pains of witness will prevent that record, only the dead will be able to tell the story from their graves.

    “Travels with Herodotus” previews the likely outcome, history again foretelling future for those who will read and understand. But then reading books is for the wimps, the nearsighted and the intellectuals, can’t be having that amongst the population of The Hegemon. So be it.

    If any think their elite self-correct, you’re about to be disabused. If any think the mindset of their elite can be changed, you’re about to become disabused. If any think ill-conceived policy is not set in stone, you’re about to find out differently. If any think their intentional ignorance will save them, you’re certainly in for a surprise. If any think knowledge will appear entire of its own accord as Athena sprung from the head of Zeus, eternity beckons, you’ll need the time. Cassandra had it easy being the archetype.

    Those who worship flags, deify rags. This is an abrogation of the responsibility of being an adult human as well as being a citizen (or subject) of any country, but attaining such status has no guarantee and is becoming a rarer event by the generation. Once those who attained the stature were found in the governing elite but the hunger of and for wealth has marked paid to that process. The knowledge of power is lost and the tools of power bent to other purpose. This path will not last, none invest in that knowledge, the future is bleak as control of complexity becomes just another unmourned body in the graveyard.

  6. Formerly T-Bear

    Thanks for deleting Q whatever. Some never learn, do they.

  7. OldSkeptic

    As a slight, but only slight digression there is a fascinating SITREP from Vineyard of the Saker.

    One comment absolutely stood out to me.

    Bit of background first (being tedious for a moment).
    Now I’ve studied a lot of military history, especially WW2, but as a necessity that means studying German, British, US, Russia, etc military history, to help understand why certain things were done in certain ways, as much as the ‘what’ (MFI I’ll definitely get that book you recommended a while back, when I have the spare cash, boy it is expensive) .

    This stood out like the proverbial dog’s balls….Original: Comment at Yurasumy LiveJournal Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov

    “The death of the Ukrainian troops in the “Southern Intestine” was caused not by errors at the level of strategic planning (from a purely military standpoint no such errors were committed).

    This catastrophe was predetermined by the decisions made by at the highest level of the systemic hierarchy – at the level of the basic foundations of the worldview and the overall cultural level of the people that planned the armed forces group operation “Cordon”.

    Only Americans, “Yankees”, could put forward an idea of the “boa constrictor encirclement” of the territory of the enemy. No one other than them has this idea embedded in their subconscious. Whereas for Americans, “Yankees”, this idea is inherent at the level of their national self-identification – as a base military-strategic mythologem of modern American statehood, born in the throes of the victory by the North over the South in the American Civil War.

    And only Americans could so utterly miss the option of voluntary withdrawal by Strelkov’s Brigade from Slavyansk. And the reason is elementary – their lack, at the level of the subconscious, of centuries of experience of European military history. ”

    And that is 100% correct if you’ve studied anything about US military history/
    ‘strategy’/’tactics’/etc. That sort of thing is in their military DNA and always has been. A superficially ‘clever’ plan, set by those on high out of touch with the realities. A total reliance on numbers. A total belief that the enemy will always do what you want them to do.
    A total unwillingness to back out/change when it all turns to custard.
    A, long held by them, complete inability to ‘leave ground’ when the tactical situation goes against them. They get themselves stuck on a point, and then get themselves speared on a point. Throwing good money after bad (see below for more comments on that) .

    The commentator is being incredibly perceptive..possibly sending a message…that the real enemy is now the ‘Yankees’? That the US is now in direct military control? Good news for the Federalists though, as bad (and corrupt) as the Ukrainian military leaders are, the US ones will be far worse..
    Unfortunately more bad news for the civilians there, another part of the US military DNA is to slaughter them in large numbers.

    Extra comments (you can ignore them) :
    I could write a book (many have by the way) about how bad the US military ‘DNA’ is. Hence zero wins since WW2 (where they were in a coalition with the British Empire and the USSR and, carefully written out of history now, their greatest victories in Europe were when either Monty was in charge or Ike listened to him). Korea, at best, was a draw. Losses ever since.

    Their military DNA comes from three sources: the Indian wars (basically genocide), South America/Philippines/etc empire creation and their civil war. That’s it. Learning since then? Zero…..

    And, being a materiel based military (civil war DNA) , though they proudly shout about their technology, they never use it properly. War has seriously changed now because of technology. Good, well led, well trained, fast, mobile light infantry, with anti-tank missile and anti-air ones, backed with some reasonable mobile artillery, perhaps a few tanks is now the dominant ground force.

    We saw this in Lebanon in 2006, where I argued that (in various forums) we’d seen a military revolution right in front of our eyes. And airpower, at least as we know it now, has basically seen it’s day as a determinant in the battlefield.

    As an aside I’d also totally recommend the book ‘The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914″ by Christopher Clark, which I’d say is the finest one on the reasons for WW1.
    Some of the parallels are scary….like the role of the UK then ..and now. Amazing how history ‘Rhymes’ as Mark Twain put it.

  8. Formerly T-Bear

    The Independent has this observation of beginning political scenarios of WWI. May be of interest some of the parallels twixt eras:

    Striking the pusillanimous indifference of governmental leadership. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  9. Without going into too much detail, since there are powerful taboos against doing so, currently Jews have an extraordinary power base in the US. But will it last forever?

    Somehow I don’t think the author of this comment was very reticent in breaking the “taboos”. Adopting an essentialist theory of what “Jews” do and need as well as helping confirm the suspicion that “neocon” is code for “Jewish conspirator” is not helpful, in my opinion. I don’t know why the whole Russia/Ukraine thing seems to attract this type of writing, even more so than (!!!) Palestine arguments.

  10. Celsius 233

    For additional insight, Raul, at AE has a very interesting and highly relevant thread on this very topic;

    And a hat tip to T-Bear for his spot on post.
    Time to wake up; this is the real deal and none too trivial…

  11. BlizzardOfOz

    Mandos right on cue with the old point ‘n sputter.

    The common thread in all these foreign policy challenges is the protection and nurturing of Israel.

    Everyone knows that noticing common threads is a thoughtcrime.

  12. Jeff Wegerson

    As long as Russia can keep proxying this thing along then there is the chance to avoid the really messy stuff like nukes or even less. Meanwhile cold weather approaches. The rest of Ukraine will feel the bite of really expensive gas. Me, I can’t even begin to imagine the pressures unmitigated cold will bring to bear on all sides.

  13. Formerly T-Bear

    @ Jeff Wegerson 3 August 2014 #63795

    Yes, cold weather will be having some decisive effect if it isn’t too late. You may have inverted your up and down though, evidenced by the insidious accusation *As long as Russia can…*, where all available evidence indicates The Hegemon and its sycophants in place in Brussels, NATO and Downing St. are directing the Ukrainian Junta and their motley array of mercenaries and neo-nazi thugs now wearing the uniform of the Ukrainian military, these comprising the real proxies in the Ukraine. The aforementioned proxies are the ones violating the peace and standing in the way of resolution. As long as Russia can withstand this assault upon its security is the appropriate drift of that sentence. For doG’s sake, the Ukrainian forces are leaving behind dead bodies that are Black. Are those likely Ukrainian natives? I can only trust I have not misread your statement.

  14. OldSkeptic #2 Female now

    Since the ‘elephant in the room’ has been mentioned. Personally I think there is zero chance of the Israeli Lobby losing their influence in the US for at least a decade or two.

    Just check, and it it is politically so no non correct to say this , how many Jewish Billionaires, how many in the neo-cons, how many in the US administration (at all levels) . Let alone (especially) economic and civil life.

    Now Jewish does not mean Zionist. But, as a default most, but fortunately not all, Jewish people will default to Israel in their loyalties whatever country they are born in, push comes to shove.

    To pretend otherwise is stupid.

    I have met Scottish racists, English racists, German racists, Dutch racists, French racists ..and of course many Australian racists..And Jewish racists.

    Racism, sadly is for so many, is an escape from dealing with people face to face..and working something out between each other.

    It can be also be a release for many people’s ‘inner sociopath’. That lust for death and killing that we all have…just for them of course, though in secret so many have fantasies about killing their boss/wife/husband/children/parents…. Which they will never, usually do…unless given ‘permission from authority’ to go out and kill…count the numbers lining up to do it..unless the the threat of being killed back deters them.

    That is the cruel logic of war.

    Milgram experiments 101…though the unpublished parts were that they extended it to family members torturing and killing each other….

    Interestingly that, since the same experiment has been repeated so many times, the biggest resisters to that, the ones that refused to do that, were women who had been had a track record of resistance (ie demonstrations, etc) …where were the men…right…where were the men….?

    Actually..where are the men? Real men. Ian is one, Mark is one..where are the rest…?

  15. Celsius 233

    It is apparent now that most do not understand, much less appreciate the gravity of the situation in Ukraine.
    This may well (probably) devolve into the end game.
    I fervently hope I am proved wrong, but the evidence (Gaza/Ukraine) would indicate this (Ukraine) is ground zero in the hegemon game of the west. There can only be two outcomes; capitulation by Russia (not going to happen) or capitulation by the west (the U.S.A.) and I don’t see that in view of the last 24 days in Gaza. American re-supply of Israel and the collapse of the United Nations as mediator…

  16. metamars

    Great post. I wrote a very similar diary at FDL: German Industrialists Helped Hitler’s Rise; They Can Stop WW3 (Maybe) –

    As Russia doubtless considers a NATO’ized Ukraine an existential threat, I think they will have to seize the initiative. Trifkovic (outstanding foreign affairs analyst at says that his Moscow contacts thought believed that Putin thought he could negotiate with Poroshenko (

    ” When Putin announced a week before the May 25 presidential election in Ukraine that he would recognize its outcome – even though it was no more legal and legitimate, given the circumstances, than Bashar al-Assad’s reelection in Syria – my Moscow contacts saw his move as a sign that a political solution was on the cards. Poroshenko is a pragmatist, the theory went, and he knows that he cannot win an outright military victory in the east. He will talk tough – he has called resisters in the bombarded cities “gangs of animals” – and continue some limited military operations to appease the Maidanist fanatics, but in the end he will settle for some form of political-military neutrality abroad and a modicum of meaningful regional devolution at home. Knowing which side their bread is buttered, the Europeans (Germany) will help broker a deal, parting ways with Washington’s über-hawks (Nuland & Co.).

    That theory was wrong. Poroshenko is not an ultranationalist, but he is a hostage of his own Galician über-hawks, who are supported, aided and abetted from Washington. They can bring him down, kill him even, if he deviates.”

    If it was winter time and gas shortages were seriously hurting the NATO economies and morale, a German withdrawal from NATO would be far more plausible as an imminent event. The problem with waiting is that US elites have no motivation to be patient – just the opposite. The recent use of ballistic missiles by the Ukrainians, plus overt military assistance to them, doesn’t suggest a patient strategy on the part of US elite loons.

    Faced with an existential threat, but seeking options with low probability of triggering hostilities with NATO, the Russians have to be looking abroad.

    An almost obvious option is disrupting Saudi oil deliveries – say, by taking out a port facility – or maybe 2 port facilities, if that’s what it takes to make oil prices double. That should immediately help focus European, and especially German, minds on where their best interests lie. A nominal Syrian commander can be placed “in charge” of the Russian warship that does the deed. Everyone will understand that this is merely a fig leaf.

    Syria has lots of motivation to damage the Saudi economy. After all, those pukes helped destroy Syria. Thus, retaliation against Saudi would be framed at striking against one of the greatest sponsors of terrorism that the world has ever known. American citizens won’t appreciate their food and gas prices doubling, but will have to be sympathetic to striking such a major sponsor of terrorism.

    Also, putting inexperienced Syrian officers in charge of Russian ships is quite likely to result in some learning mistakes, ya know? Let’s hope he doesn’t make any more mistakes…..

    Russia has, I believe, escalation dominance, but if they restrict themselves to Europe, they are significantly more limited in what they can do in the near term. Their only near term, ‘local’ option is to turn off the gas (which they could frame as a “sanction” – if you do business with the US, which has sanctioned Russia, then we – Russia – will have to sanction you. Have fun waiting for your US LNG).

    Trifkovic had argued that Russia should have imposed a no-fly zone over eastern Ukraine. Russia’s purely covert support has been interpreted as weakness, both domestically, and by the US loon elites. Putin may have to err on the side of being too aggressive, this time around.

  17. I never fail to be amazed and disgusted by the degree to which the threat of destruction of a building or two, or even a city, is described as a “threat to national security” by our leadership and media. This nation is far more robust that to imagine that it would be destroyed as a nation by the loss on that scale.

    I am equally amazed and disgusted by the inability of our leadership and media to recognize that NATO in Ukraine actually is a “threat to national security” for Russia.

    My third amazement is the restraint shown by Vladimir Putin. After not drawing the line on NATO expansion until it reached Ukraine, he is being remarkably deliberate in his manner of drawing that line, and is not blustering and making threats in the process. He has not yet treatened to shut down our overland route to Afghanistan and, whle he has calld in some Ukraine loans and cut off some discounts on gas, he has not treatened to call all their loans or shut off the gas. He does not threaten, he acts, while Obama throws threats around like party favors at a parade.

  18. metamars

    sorry, Trifkovic writes at chroniclesmagazine.ORG, not chroniclesmagazine.COM

  19. Everyone knows that noticing common threads is a thoughtcrime.

    Yesyes we all know how enthusiastic people are around here for noticing “common threads” and deploying their tough-minded, clear-eyed Survival Logix and all that. But I am here to tell you that using your advanced dot-connecting powers may not always be a virtue.

    Look: if you were to say that there is a powerful Israel lobby, that goodly number of US policymakers are of Jewish background and have an emotional attachment to pro-Israel ideologies, that US Mideast policy is partly driven by pro-Israel concerns, etc etc that would all be fine and dandy, even Israel’s supporters these days acknowledge most of that.

    Where I get off *that* bus, however, is when we start talking about specific inherent characteristics and needs of The Jew as a diasporified generalized person who magically plants “Jew-ligarchs” in Russia and so on and so forth and has some sort of Protocolsy grand strategy to…rule the world or something. It sounds suspiciously like viewing Jews as a historic infection, and we all know who did *that*, now don’t we? The shoe fits. It quacks like a duck.

    All those wonderful “Machiavellian-tinted glasses” and Survival Logix and so on go right out the Rassentheorie window, confining the whole line of thinking to racist conspiracy-minded people. Not to mention the fact that, you know, there’s a lot more than Jews in the USA who are ideologically committed to Israel. It’s taking a page out of the Steve Sailer playbook: black neighbourhoods tend to be more violent LOOK AT THE COMMON THREAD PEOPLE!!!11!!! Would you like some propter hoc fries with your post hoc McNuggets?

    (So-called) political correctness. It exists for a reason. Learn to love it and hug it and call it George.

  20. amspirnational

    Well, we know about how the 1960s John Birch Society said communism was a monolithic conspiracy and that there was no Sino-Soviet split, only a feinted one. I might have missed something. Were the “jew-li-garchs” in Russia, the opponents of Putin,
    even bothering to feint anti-Zionism?

  21. wendy davis

    Thank you for the discussion, Ian. I couldn’t agree more that this is a crucial situation that could indeed be a game-changer for the world, unlike Gaza, which, though tragic as all giddy-up, is taking up most of the print online.

    To your funding of Ukraine I’d add the many deep-state NGOs, especially NED and USAID (CIA). The think tanks are buzzing with dictates and fear of any threat to the Empire.

    But the propaganda push of Russia being responsible for downing MH17 is one of the major keys, and while the Russian military has offered plausible scenarios discrediting that theory, still, the US media scribes push the theory, and label it ‘a war crime’, causus belli for…war, I guess.

    “The latest survey in Ukraine by the Pew Research Center, reveals 91% of Crimeans believe the recent referendum was free and fair and only 4% believe Ukraine is correct in not recognising the referendum results. The poll numbers underline that the official results of the Crimea referendum are a true reflection of the will of the Crimean people.”

    And yes, by all means: disband NATO. Not long ago it was considered a relic, but then, the AFRICOM desk was created, and Nick Turse writes that the US military and proxies for the hegemon have large footprints, and often bases, in every African Nation. The Big News that Erik Prince was hired by China to ‘advise them on Africa’ will create more of the tension to fund NATO, and expand the military expenditures in those nations, further destabilize them, readying them for the ‘chaos’ that NATO’s mission statement claims it’s all about.

    TarheelDem at My.fdl did a multi-part series on that subject, went to the Chicago NATO protests, and ended up in jail with the three who are still inside.

    And to OldSkeptic #2 Female now: congratulations on your completed metamorphosis of which you wrote so well. Yes, being oneself and the peace that can come with it must be several steps on the road to enlightenment.

  22. Jack Woolfe

    Your STARRED points 5&6 are very much debatable. According to a PEW poll conducted in the Spring of 2014 only 54% of Crimeans wanted to seceded from Ukraine, while in eastern Ukraine only 18% wanted to secede. Further, when polling only Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians, still only 27% wanted to secede from Ukraine.

    One finds it easy to conclude that Russia isn’t all that popular within Ukraine, and that secessionist approval within eastern Ukraine has been greatly enhanced by the barrel of a gun pointed at anyone who might disagree.

  23. Ian Welsh

    The rebels original demand was federalization, not independence.

  24. jcapan

    What Mandos said

  25. JustPlainDave

    What’s the line of thought that leads to Crimea being Russia’s most important naval port? It hosts the second smallest (of five) fleets. It’s important and they definitely want to up its importance, but they were hedging with talk of investments at Novorossiyisk.

  26. troutcor

    Excellent analysis.
    To me, the determining factor on whether this escalates into a major war is whether Ukraine and its US and NATO puppeteers drive to retake Crimea. Putin may allow Donetsk and the rest of the separatist turf to fall, but I have to think his line is drawn at Crimea.
    Perhaps the question for Europe comes to the fore in autumn when, with winter looming, they are asked to choose between obedience to NATO and having their gas shut off.

  27. There are problems with projecting the threat of nuclear war when talking about the looming NATO/Russia showdown.

    One of them is: do we know that NATO decision-makers believe in a “Russian nuclear threat”?

    If they don’t, is it good politics for our side to project such a threat, as if we know better?

    The last head of the KGB, Krioutchkov, a participant in the August 1991 coup against Gorbachev, at his trial justified his participation in the coup on the grounds of the need to prevent the Soviet nuclear arsenal from coming under the control of the US.

    I have it from a relative insider that Yeltsin indeed handed the codes to the Russian nuclear arsenal over to the US. He then tried to have this arsenal abolished, gaining ZERO support from anyone in the “West” including the anti-nuclear movements. (To their disgrace).

    In the meantime Putin has stated that he has regained control of the Russian nuclear arsenal, but there are surely plausible political reasons for him to make such a claim irrespective of its truth.

    If “our side” publicizes the idea that Russia is dangerous because of its nuclear arsenal rather than the idea that we DO NOT KNOW to what extent Russia controls its nuclear arsenal, then we do not prepare public opinion for the eventuality of a nuclear “false flag” operation, with nuclear weapons use attributed to Russia when the decision has in fact been taken elsewhere.

    My suggestion is that we should declare pre-emptively that we will regard any alleged future Russian nuclear weapons use as “false flag”.

  28. Dan Lynch

    Agree 100% with Ian’s blog — that it’s insane to risk a war with Russia, but our leaders are psychopaths, so ……

    As Arthur Silber has been saying for quite a while, once the President claims the right to murder American citizens, it doesn’t get any worse than that. If he has no scruples about murdering Americans, then why would we expect him to have scruples about murdering Ukrainians, or anyone else?

  29. jcapan

    Dan, I’d say it has to do with Americans’ overwhelming compliance in the face of ongoing abuse. Hard to imagine that’ll be the case with Putin and his merry band of nuclear-armed oligarchs. Millions incarcerated and brutalized here at home, and the collective American reaction is ‘serves ‘em right—hope he enjoys all the rape.’ Create Orwell’s Telescreen and you don’t have to forcefully install it in every citizen’s home, he’ll go right out and buy it himself. Anymore, I’m left wondering what line our leaders would have to cross to inspire revolt? Certainly, a few assassinated Muricans isn’t going to rouse them. Maybe if they start droning puppy kennels. That’d create empathy.

  30. Even if everyone else wants demonstratively to ignore the issue I raised, perhaps Ian Welsh will see the need to address it.

  31. Celsius 233

    W. Hall
    August 4, 2014
    Putin not in control of his nukes? I find that statement incredible regardless of who implied it…

  32. I have cited such evidence as I have, with circumstantial evidence the attitude of American politicians. But all in all I think that Ian Welsh’s stance on the subject makes for bad politics. NATO doesn’t have to be reminded of dangers by people with no relevant knowledge. The assumption that future Russian (or “Russian”) nuclear weapons use will be false flag is the best pre-emptive stance to adopt, given all the parameters of the present situation. That is my view.

  33. Celsius 233

    W. Hall
    August 4, 2014
    But all in all I think that Ian Welsh’s stance on the subject makes for bad politics.
    I don’t even know what that means, *makes for bad politics*.
    Ian certainly doesn’t need defense from the likes of me, but, he is one of the better informed commentators on the WWW.

    The situation is already at an insane posture and you think Ian doesn’t know what he’s talking about? It’s apparent you are not familiar with this here blog and its owner.
    Just what is your point?

  34. Ian Welsh must be on the side of good, not of evil. And he engages with the real baddies, introducting information which should be better known. But I don’t think that to describe the people making these present-day moves to go to war as “insane” is an effective approach. They are people who rely on fraud, and the fraud goes even further than Ian Welsh documents here. There is a division of labour in the United States between right and left on the subject of nuclear weapons. Specialists such as John Mueller talk about the uselessness and fraudulence of nuclear weapons and are invited to speak to right-wing audiences, for whom their message is reassuring. Left-wing and liberal writers speak of the destructiveness and horror of nuclear weapons and have conferences where they propose that they should be banned. (Everyone has to agree to this, of course. It would be no good supporting, e.g. something like Yeltsin’s 1991 efforts to do away with the Soviet nuclear arsenal. That is the assumption.) In fact the Soviets should have got rid of their nuclear arsenal after the Cuban missile crisis. Kennedy had shown that Soviet nuclear weapons have zero deterrent ability. Khrushchev had apparently thought that if the US was going to attack anybody, they would attack Cuba. Instead of doing that Kennedy thumbed his nose at all notions of “nuclear deterrence” and threatened to H-bomb Soviet cities. Khrushchev’s successors did not learn the lesson that the nuclear weapons fetishist Khrushchev had perhaps been taught. Nobody else was allowed to learn the lesson subsequently, either. Would the Soviet Union have collapsed in 1991 if the diametrically wrong lessons had not been drawn from the Cuban missile crisis nearly thirty years previously? This is a subject I would like to see discussed by people with expert knowledge who have not been blinded by ideology.

  35. DMC

    I think his point is that due to having some 25 year old missle launch codes we should assume any nuclear strikes on the part of “Russia” to be false flags. This assumes that the Russian military is wholly incompetant and wouldn’t have changed those codes first thing. For that matter, the US codes have been publically known to be 6 or 7 zeroes in row for some time now, so by W. Hall’s logic, any nuke strike by the US should be assumed to be a false flag by (insert malefactor here).

  36. JustPlainDave

    W.Hall, the problem here is that you really haven’t presented any meaningful direct evidence. Your assertion boils down to some unnamed guy who may or may not be who you think he is telling you something that once might or might not have been true and extrapolating that into a huge assertion. I know a bit more than the average guy about nuclear weapons command and control and I have to say that a) none of what you say squares with the historical record as I have read it in dozens of books, articles and monographs, and b) guarding against this exact sort of danger was the focus of work for thousands of people in both the east and the west over more than a decade (and it remains an active area of inquiry to this day, for obvious reasons), with billions spent on various aspects of it – if your extrapolation had solid basis, we’d have heard about it.

  37. Celsius 233

    @ JustPlainDave
    August 4, 2014

    Yep, pretty good summary; W. Hall is, I don’t know what, but he is dedicated to a POV that has no coherence…

  38. Just before his death former Soviet Foreign Minister Andre Gromyko is quoted as saying: “We made more and more nuclear weapons. That was our mistaken position. Absolutely mistaken. And the political leadership bears the entire blame for it. Tens of billions were spent on the production of these toys. We did not have the brains to stop.” (from David E. Hoffman, “The Dead Hand”, p.314.)

    This assessment from a quintessential old-guard Communist seems entirely justified to me. NATO’s 1980’s “limited nuclear war” strategy predicated on a counterforce strike by Pershing II nuclear mssiles (circulating on trucks in populated areas of Western Europe) and targeting nuclear installations in the USSR, with the threat of an ICBM strike against cities if the USSR attempted retaliation against it, would have been impossible if the Soviets had abolished their nuclear arsenal after the Cuban missile crisis.

    It was the political climate generated by this strategy (mass anti-nuclear movements, danger-mongering) that set the stage for the concessions of Glasnost and Perestroika and the subsequent collapse of the USSR. Could the collapse have produced by other means? I don’t know, but the reality is that it was produced by these means.

    Given that almost every charge currently being levelled by the US government against Russia is false, it is a reasonable assumption that putative future charges of use of nuclear weapons by Russia will also be false. My claim is that it will be good politics to assert pre-emptively that it will be false and to gather such data as is available to document such a position.

    This is the way the other side ALWAYS operates.

  39. Benedict@Large

    Regarding not risking a nuclear war, a couple of months back, Paul Craig Roberts noted that the pedigree of Obama’s Ukraine staff led right back to the Committee on the Present Danger, of which PCR himself claimed former membership. This group, claims PCR (based on his personal knowledge), completely believes that the US could win a nuclear war with Russia.

    Regarding increasing the cost of financing, Russia, like the US, has its own sovereign fiat currency, and thus has zero need to borrow to finance its operations. They may not understand this however. They certainly did not back when the Chicago Boys convinced them (wrongly) that they had to default, a mistake they’ve been paying for ever since.

  40. JustPlainDave

    Wayne, what does Gromyko’s comment in 1988 have to do with the assertion that a post-coup Yeltsin was willing to dismantle nuclear weapons in place? I understand that this is a well established talking point for you, but seriously what does Gromyko’s statement have to do with anything?

    Judging from what you’ve put into the public domain, your assertion regarding Yeltsin’s intent for reductions rests on one un-sourced reference from the New Left Review. That’s not a significant level of support for such an extraordinary assertion. You’ve made the association between Yeltsin supposedly surrendering launch codes and hardliner justification for the coup many times, but at no point that I’ve been able to find have you addressed the fact that the coup was in early August and Yeltsin didn’t acquire launch authority until December.

    What this looks like to me is that you’re mixing together a bunch of unrelated stuff and hoping that your audience doesn’t know the chronology.

  41. What belies W. Hall’s theory is Putin’s aggressive, expansionist behavior. If what W. Hall says is true, then Putin knows he can’t use his nukes and The West could false flag one of Russia’s nukes at any time and use that launching as a prelude to a retaliatory strike that could wipe out Russia. If Putin knows this, why the hell would he be so aggressive and in-your-face with The West unless he was a suicidal madman?

    Plus, we all know the aliens would never allow a nuclear war. 🙂

    We Need To Have Another Talk

  42. Gaianne


    Good post.

    The trolls descend: Annoying, but a good sign, actually.


  43. OldSkeptic

    A summary from Counterpunch of the just passed Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 (S.2277) . To be more honest I’d call it the “Let’s Go to War With Russia” Act.

    If anyone doesn’t think this is a declaration of war, then I’d wonder what you did think one was?

    Snippets (bottom one is a beauty):

    …that seeks to prevent “further Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia.”

    Directs the President to submit a plan to Congress for accelerating NATO and European missile defense efforts.

    Directs the President to impose significantly increased sanctions if Russian armed forces have not withdrawn from the eastern border of Ukraine, or if agents of the Russian Federation do not cease actions to destabilize the control of the government of Ukraine over eastern Ukraine, and if Russian armed forces have not withdrawn from Crimea – all within seven days after enactment.

    Directs the President to halt all redeployments of combat forces from Europe, and develop a plan to correct any deficiencies in the Armed Forces’ ability to respond to contingencies in Europe and Eurasia and *

    Directs DOD to assess the capabilities and needs of the Ukrainian armed forces and authorizes the President to provide military assistance to Ukraine.

    Provides non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova for purposes of the transfer of defense articles or services as well as to increase U.S. armed forces interactions with the armed forces of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

    This is good one…
    Amends the Natural Gas Act for expedited application and approval process for export to World Trade Organization members as well as urge the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the World Bank Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction for “promotion of US private sector participation in energy development in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova” for exploitation of natural gas and oil reserves.

  44. VietnamVet

    Thanks for the great post. This is the most dangerous period for mankind since 1962 and 1983. I was at university in Seattle in 1962 out of the range of the intermediate ballistic missiles, young, and felt no fear at all. I believed John Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson. The U-2 pictures were clear. I was not aware of Able Archer 83 until recently.

    I do not believe Barrack Obama and John Kerry. Both have lied. The MH-17 shoot down two weeks later is still muddled. We are being bombarded with propaganda 24/7. Supplying military arms and advisers to Ukraine does not make any sense unless the purpose is to destabilize Russian and pay off war profiteers. I do not see any Western politician backing down and losing face. The sanctions are an act of war by USA and EU against the Russian Federation. The austerity cuts in government spending shows the plutocrat’s clear lack of concern for well-being of people in the West. The only reason the shooting hasn’t started between NATO and Russia is that Vladimir Putin has so far refused to rescue ethnic Russians at risk of being massacred and starved to death in Donetsk. Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) is real. But, if it fails to prevent a shooting war due to insanity or a human failing on either side, an escalation to a nuclear war is inevitable.

    I am scared. It should be quick. I live within the blast radius of Joint Base Andrews which I assume is targeted by the Russians.

  45. A summary from Counterpunch of the just passed Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 (S.2277) . To be more honest I’d call it the “Let’s Go to War With Russia” Act.

    Going to war would be invading Russia. That’s not what this act says. It says it will get the back of, and help defend, those countries in the region that are threatened by Russian expansionism. If Russia isn’t expansionist, then there shouldn’t be a problem, but if Russia wants to invade other countries, well, The West is going to provide substantial aid and assistance to deter Russia’s aggression. I see it as a defensive posture and had this been done when Hitler annexed Austria prior to World War II there may have been no World War II.

    It’s interesting to think what would have been had there been no World War II. I know some notable authors have tried to imagine it. Well, the world is at that crossroads again. In sixty years perhaps the question will be, I wonder if there would have been a World War III had America not passed the Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 (S.2277). There will be no question in sixty years if there is a World War III.

    I’m counting on the aliens to intervene and stymie the electronics of the nuclear warheads when and if that time comes. I’m sure they don’t want to see their experiment self-destruct. There’s still much studying to be done. 🙂

    Paper or Plastic? Ebola or Nuclear War? All these tough choices. Someone decide for me. They will.

  46. OldSkeptic

    I have a gut feeling that this time, unlike Syria or Iran the US military (USM for short) is, overall, supporting this this (there will pockets of resistance).

    The resistance from the USM over Syria was massive and, using Seymour Hersh’s research as a guide, they worked very hard between the scenes to sabotage it. Ditto Iran over the years, if not for them the US would have attacked years ago.

    But thinking from their point of view they didn’t want to get involved in yet another insurgency type war as they calculated (correctly) that it would end up involving ‘boots on the ground’. In their lexicon of beliefs ( or self serving excuses) they have only been defeated in insurgencies because they ‘couldn’t take the gloves’ off’.

    But war with Russia? This is (to quote a German general after the Battle of Britain and being informed that they were going to attack the USSR) ‘at last a real war’. A ‘chance to redeem themselves’ after many decades of humiliating defeat after defeat.

    This is what they have been training for many decades for. This is what their shiny equipment is all for. This is part of their DNA virtually.

    I am sure they are all having real fun right now war gaming scenarios and making bets on how quickly they will reach Moscow.

    The airforce will be full of confidence in the F-22s and F-35s (oops sorry they don’t have any of those yet), F-16s and F-15s sweeping the skies of the Russian Air Force. Then bombing the heck out of their military forces and ‘logistics’ centres (ie civilians), somehow all those gas pipelines to China will be hit (accidentally of course) . Probably promising that they will have air dominance within a week (there is no such thing as an airforce that doesn’t over promise massively).

    The Navy will be promising to eliminate Russian boomers real fast and flooding the Black Sea with their missile ships and a carrier group or two to get in on the act.

    Marines are probably champing at the bit to do an amphibious landing on the Crimea, getting there before the US Army.

    US Army confident that their M1s will sweep the battle ground of the T-72s and T-90s. And their ‘better trained and equipped’ troops wiping out the Russians before them.

    Some will probably be having orgasmic fantasies about being the first country to ever conquer Russia (take that you Frenchies and Germans).

    A few will worry about the nukes of course, but many will feel they can win this hands down too. After all , that huge amount of money spent on AMD systems can’t be a waste…can it? Patriot systems will take care of Russian short range tactical nuke missiles…wont they? The Navy will eliminate all the Russia boomers, the Air Force wiping out all their aircraft.

    As for the National/security/Intelligence crowd, again I am amazed at the lack of leaks (usual way of pushback by them). There were far more before Iraq for example. So I also have a gut feeling that they are ok with this too. And quite happy to feed rubbish to the top, while covering their professional arses of course with ‘maybes’ and so on.

    The economic elites fairly on side, or neutral at least as they realise this is the chance to ensure US economic and even energy dominance for decades (after all the USG has put into law US investment in oil and gas there), so worth the risk…and the Fed will pump even more money into the system of course, so the stock market stays up…and all that money to be made from oil/gas/food/etc futures due to supply disruptions that raise prices through the roof..

    The US media, well what can you say….? They’ll do their bit dutifully to stir up the proles. Just waiting, because it is inevitable, for some to use WW1 as an excuse to call for the west ‘to face down tyranny forcefully’.

    So the stage is set, the players nearly in place (watch for the carrier movements and troop/aircraft movements), the script a bit of a work in progress (but firming up nicely).

    What could possibly go wrong?

  47. OldSkeptic

    The early warners (same as those who early warned about Iraq, etc) are, well starting to early warn.

    Pepe Escobar:

    Heavy Hitter Stephen F. Cohen:

    Him on the US media (but applies to nearly all western media) ‘going all the way with LBJ’:

    An earlier piece (May) but very relevant:

    This Cold War—its epicenter on Russia’s borders; undertaken amid inflammatory American, Russian and Ukrainian media misinformation; and unfolding without the stabilizing practices that prevented disasters during the preceding Cold War—may be even more perilous. It will almost certainly result in a new nuclear arms race, a prospect made worse by Obama’s provocative public assertion that “our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians’,” and possibly an actual war with Russia triggered by Ukraine’s looming civil war. (NATO and Russian forces are already mobilizing on the country’s western and eastern borders, while the US-backed Kiev government is warning of a “third world war.”)

    And yet, all this has come with the virtually unanimous, bipartisan support, or indifference, of the US political establishment, from left to right, Democrats and Republicans, progressives (whose domestic programs will be gravely endangered) and conservatives. It has also been supported by mainstream media that shape and reflect policy-making opinion, from the Times and The Washington Post to The Wall Street Journal, from The New Republic to The Weekly Standard, from MSNBC to Fox News, from NPR to commercial radio news. (There are notable exceptions, including this magazine, but none close enough to the mainstream to be “authoritative” inside the Beltway.)

    You can add: Guardian, Independent, BBC, all of the Murdoch media empire and so on. Seems most of the European media too.

  48. OldSkeptic

    Sign of Germany coming into line now?

    Germany says halts Rheinmetall defence deal with Russia

    Aug 4 (Reuters) – Germany’s Economy Ministry has confirmed it has halted Rheinmetall’s export of combat simulation gear to Russia, going beyond recently imposed EU sanctions which block future defence contracts.

    Maybe shadow boxing of course: The company has repeatedly said that sanctions against Russia would not have a major impact on its business because the combat training centre, its only major contract with the country, has been largely delivered and paid for.

    But of symbolic value, the fact that the German Govt announces this is highly suggestive. The pressure on Germany to ‘toe the line’ must be incredibly intense. So something like this may be a bone to throw to the US. But it could indicate that the German business lobby is on the back foot now.

  49. Spinoza


    You have put into words perfectly what I was grasping towards in a comment of mine on MFI’s post. All of the military types have been pining for a war with Russia for decades and decades and finally they get their chance.

  50. cripes

    OldSkeptic has described the barbaric military scenario with as much precision as possible, considering the vagaries of actual events that haven’t yet occurred. But maybe the details don’t matter so much as the potential for a complete historical civilization-destroying fuckup.

    What strikes me is the confluence of world zionist hegemonic ambitions ala Nuland-Kagan with the MIC cold war crazies we remember from the Cubam missle crisis and Dr. Strangelove. They’ve spliced their deranged DNA together in a mad scheme at world domination that can have no good outcome. But how bad remains to be seen.

    Just when we thought the imperial system was spent, depleted, exhausted by the endless adventures in failed military conquest, it disgorges yet another, more hideous iteration.

    Russia is cornered and will, must, at some point strike back. I am astounded at the restraint shown so far. The western military machine is, like a serial killer, animated by a compulsion to commit more atrocities, but is careening around like a drunken and rudderless ship headed for disaster. And icky as it sounds, dancing like a marionette to the tune of an international zionist, jewligarch conspiracy to preserve the doomed state of Israel.

    Obama, Kerry and his clueless crew are stumbling along, beating the obligatory war drums like the little puppets they are. It’s enough to make us pine for Allen Dulles, Mcgeorge Bundy and George Shultz, who knew at least something of history.

    Death throes, much?

  51. Given all the above postings, a return to the question of pre-emptive assertions that putative future Russian resort to nuclear weapons will be a false flag…… seems inadequate as a rallying point.

    But for the record, Just Plain Dave, the reference to New Left Review is not unsourced. Yeltsin’s proposal of 95% unilateral Russian nuclear disarmament was made in the Russian Duma in August 1991, as reported by Robin Blackburn in NLR 189, Sept-Oct 1991. The reports on Krioutchkov’s claims that the August 1991 coup was necessitated by the threat of the US gaining control of the Soviet nuclear arsenal were made in press coverage of the time. Don’t ask me for references now. The information about Yeltsin handing over the codes to the US was communicated to me by an Italian journalist with good contacts in yesterday’s USSR and today’s Russia.

    Gromyko’s comments are of relevance as a testimony to a reality.

    In 1991 I did everything in my power to canvass support for Yeltsin’s proposals in the anti-nuclear movements whose slogan in the 1980s had been “A nuclear-free Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals”. The fact that the political mainstream that had expended so much moral indignation on Soviet nuclear weapons in the preceding decades should not have lifted a finger to support a Russian leader who wanted to abolish them….. speaks volumes for our present situation. My tolerance for nuclear weapons danger-mongering is low given my eighties experience of the use that was made of this particular reflex.

    In the present situation probably the only initiative half worth supporting is EuroBRICS, and that primarily because it is where Putin seems to be investing whatever hope he has in anything.

  52. On the other point you made, Just Plain Dave, Yeltsin’s proposal for 95% unilateral Russian nuclear disarmament was made in August 1991. I was not given a date for the handing over of the codes, but it could have been after December.

  53. Russia is cornered and will, must, at some point strike back. I am astounded at the restraint shown so far.

    Cornered how? It’s making money hand over fist — so much so, it doesn’t know what to do with it all so it’s taking that excess profit and investing it in making weapons and building its military so it can expand into surrounding areas and regions and usurp said regions’ wealth and resources instead of reinvesting the immense profits from artificially high oil prices constructively back into its own “creative” economy and infrastructure.

    Many decry that America is letting its infrastructure go to pot, and I agree, it is, but so too is Russia and in Russia’s case it’s more egregious because Russia is not a creditor nation. It has money in the bank — a significant amount in the bank — and considering the artificially high price of oil isn’t going away anytime soon if ever, it’s got huge wealth reserves in the ground. Therefore, it has no excuse not to transform its infrastructure into a state of the art paradigm for all the world to emulate. Instead, it tries to contend with America for military supremacy which is superfluous. America is the enforcement division of the WWON (World Wide Oligarch Network). Perhaps Putin has a problem with that and wants to shake up the arrangement, but if that’s the case, it’s being done at the expense of the Russian people and all the Small People the world over. Two imperialists are not better than one. Three are not better than two and one and so forth and so on.

    For anyone who claims to be anti-imperialist, you must be anti-tyranny first because imperialism is borne of tyranny. You don’t fight imperialism with tyranny because ultimately all you’ll get in return is more imperialism.

  54. OldSkeptic

    The fascinating thing is how haphazard this is all, from a total ‘whole of Govt’ USG point of view. So this is fairly dysfunctional and opportunistic, but so was Iraq and WW1 and WW2.

    State Dept (and all their neo-cons) are driving this. Obama and the Congress has given it 100% total support (and some of his recent anti-Russian rhetoric has been bizarre), the US NATO boys are all the way. The UK politicians are all the way.

    The USN has been caught out. I suspect there are reservations within the mainland US Army given their current very poor state, last I read from an insider is that they would struggle to put together a couple of battle groups.

    The Navy is interesting in that they have a lot of their carriers out of operation at the moment. But I noticed 2 amphibious landing group heading off from the US in the last week, ‘for operations in the Atlantic’. LHD-5 is one, forgot the other.

    Love to know where their AMD Aeigis ships are all heading.

    Trouble is winter is coming. And apart from all the gas/etc things military operations will be ‘interesting’ then. Not many militaries can function well in that sort of weather. Russia is obviously one.

    I agree with MFI in that if we can get through the next few months then logic and other political forces will start to make things safer.

    But the next few months are shaping up to be very fraught.

    And there is a ‘hidden’ factor. What will the French and German militaries do? Now the UK military has been told to ‘obey or quit’ (just recently when they raised objections, search the Telegraph for that article), which they will do. But it is not in good shape after Iraq and Afghanistan and budget cuts.

    The eastern NATO militaries aren’t worth a piss in the wind except as supply dumps for the Ukrainian forces. The US Army is not in great shape. Marines are ok. USAF is not in great shape, ancient aircraft hammered to death except for their few F-22s (if they work that is). Though they have numbers and that ever USAF over confidence. USAF is always all the way.

    So the fairly decent French and German militaries are going to be key to this. Are they going to front up?

    Recent, but unconfirmed, reports are that 2 or 3 US military people have already been killed or wounded in operations with the Ukrainian forces. Again adding credence that the US is directing Ukrainian military forces in a tactical way, not just strategic.

    Which given they are outnumbered 10:1 or even 20:1 gives the federalists some hope. Though how will they cope with being outnumbered 100:1 as the Ukrainian mobilisation ever continues and their stores, Poland, etc are striped bare of military equipment?

    Note Poland is a big player in all this..and not in a good way, which a cynic would say would be typical for the Polish.

    Note the IRCC has now designated this as a war…not a terrorist operation. Note Guardian (etc) readers…..which will never ever report this.

  55. JustPlainDave

    Actually Wayne, the proposal that you attribute to Yeltsin *is* unsourced. I read the article – all you have is some guy making an unsupported statement as to what was said. If you had tracked it back, you would have learned a couple of things:

    1. The Russian Duma as a deliberative body didn’t actually exist at the time – any statement would have been made to the Congress of Peoples’ Deputies. This body included representatives from all the soviet republics, not just Russia. Congress was at that time somewhat agitated (for reasons that should be obvious) and dissolved itself two days later.

    2. Yeltsin did make a statement to the Congress of Deputies, but he didn’t say what you assert he did. In reference to nuclear weapons, he said only this:

    “Third. The preservation of the union armed forces with indisputable control by the center of the U.S.S.R. nuclear arsenal. We need military reform. Russia, on its part, guarantees the preservation of the integrity of the nuclear potential, the army. It will not fall (into the hands of) hawks or extremists. Special structures are being created for it today. At the same time we stand for a considerable reduction of military expenditures, their level must be determined by two criteria: sufficiency for defense and the strengthening of social protection for the servicemen.” [I’m not going to link directly to the statement because it will cause the comment software here to embargo my commentary – the source is a contemporary AP translation of his complete remarks modest GoogleFu will give you the source.]

    3. In interview with CNN Yeltsin said this:

    “SHIPMAN: Mr. President, you said today in your speech to that it was very important for the armed forces, especially nuclear weapons, to remain under central control. It’s our that about 90 percent of the Soviet nuclear weapons are on Russian territory. First, do you have plans to bring the remaining 10 percent to territory, and second, do you have any plans to dismantle the nuclear arsenal at all?

    YELTSIN: First of all, as regards the transfer of all weapons to the Russian territory, the Ukraine has proclaimed a non-nuclear republic. Therefore, the strategic nuclear in the Ukraine are being pulled out from the Ukraine to Kazakhstan is another nuclear republic and Kazakhstan is a statement to proclaim itself as a non-nuclear republic the strategic weapons from Kazakhstan will be transferred to Now let me explain our position. First, to set up a special – it is being set up – have set up a committee to nuclear weapons so that it is not used either by hawks or or ultra-right wing forces or terrorists, because this is dangerous at the present time.
    Apart from the central government, we want Russia to control weapons and to be responsible for nuclear weapons on the of Russia, and we want to be answerable to the whole community so that we keep a finger on the button as well. As regards the second part of your question, we are in favor total elimination of nuclear weapons in Russia, proclaimed that the first congress of Russian deputies. But then there are factors involved, i.e., reasonable security. We need to parity with other nations and we need to promote the idea of non-proliferation and extend it to other countries.

    I think personally that it is not a major victory when 50 of nuclear weapons are earmarked for elimination in a when 5 percent is enough to destroy the whole world. We to continue our work to eliminate all nuclear weapons, and Russia will work to bring that about.

    Also it is necessary to stop underground nuclear tests. The range in Semipalatinsk will be closed but then again there’s issue of Novaya Zemlya. This is part of Russia. This territory in the north of Russia and this is very sensitive environmentally it will not – if we damage the environment, it will not be in 1,000 years.

    We need to prevent further testing of nuclear weapons and call on President Bush and all the other nuclear powers to stop tests of nuclear weapons, and this will be one of the elements will help to destroy nuclear weapons on earth. This is our position of principle.”

    [The comment software allows me one link, so this is it:

    Bottom line, Blackburn got it wrong. It happens – this is why we run sources to ground *before* building huge, flawed analytical constructs that have no independent support in the historical record on top of them.

  56. JustPlainDave

    Less tangentially, everyone take a deep breath. Russia and NATO are not going to go to direct kinetics over this (or anything else) any time soon. Yes, frictions are increasing substantially. Yes, this does represent a deflection point in relations. However, there will be lots of shouting but no direct bang bang. If everyone would try to keep their information hygiene (e.g., source evaluations) up to snuff we might even have a chance of knowing what’s going on.

  57. markfromireland

    @ Oldskeptic

    Drive-by comment as I’m more than somewhat pushed for time at present. This would not be the first time that American forces or Israeli ones come to that have been ‘on the ground’ in the near abroad during a crisis. If you recall there were American and Israeli ‘advisers’ present in Georgia both when Saakashvili decided that his Western friends would back him up if he launched a war and during hostilities. I’ve always thought that the Russians showed admirable restraint during that operation — which didn’t stop them wiping the pavement with the American and Israeli trained, equipped, and advised Georgian forces.

    Apropos your comment ‘obey or quit’ comment above if you read between the lines of the following press release from SHAPE:

    ACO – Allied Command Operations | DSACEUR and Senior U.S. Officials Discuss Ukraine Crisis:

    Washington D.C. – General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) met with numerous senior military and defence officials in the United States in order to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the appropriate NATO responses. The visit included stops at NATO’s Allied Command Transformation Headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia on Tuesday, 29 July, as well engagements with the Atlantic Council officials in Washington D.C. for the remainder of the week.

    Discussions were frank and there was widespread agreement that the security paradigm in Europe has changed due to Russia’s recent actions and tactics in Ukraine. The crisis is receiving renewed prominence due to the recent downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet and accusations that Russia may have provided surface-to-air missiles to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

    “NATO has responded to the Ukraine crisis with a series of immediate assurance measures in the short term, but more work remains,” said General Bradshaw. He indicated that as the NATO Summit approaches in September, political leaders will consider ways to enhance the capabilities and responsiveness of NATO forces to meet the new situation in Eastern Europe whilst remaining responsive to other threats.

    “We already have the equipment and the manpower to deal with this new situation. The key is to train them and prepare them to be more responsive. Improving our responsiveness for collective defence in Europe can also have benefits in the field of stabilization and capacity building. Our Immediate Assurance Measures, in response to the Ukraine crisis have met with a very positive response from Alliance members worried about their own security. They have also contributed to NATO solidarity. We must now build on the measures to improve the responsiveness of our defence forces,” said General Bradshaw.

    Both the DSACEUR and U.S. officials stressed that European Allies have a key role to play in ensuring defence spending targets are met and that sufficient defence capabilities are retained to maintain the credibility and effectiveness of the Alliance.

    Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

    You can see that there’s still quite a lot of resistance with NATO not least on the grounds that they lack capacity. There were frank (bad-tempered) discussions:

    “more work remains,” said General Bradshaw. He indicated that as the NATO Summit approaches in September, political leaders will consider ways to enhance the capabilities and responsiveness of NATO forces to meet the new situation” … … … “We already have the equipment and the manpower to deal with this new situation. The key is to train them” … … … We must now build on the measures to improve the responsiveness of our defence forces,”

    The final paragraph is so entertaining that I cannot resist quoting it in full — “Both the DSACEUR and U.S. officials stressed that European Allies have a key role to play in ensuring defence spending targets are met and that sufficient defence capabilities are retained to maintain the credibility and effectiveness of the Alliance.”.

    This won’t be the first time that the British High Command have reined in their American counterparts as they prepared to go all-out against Russian forces, remember Jackson? The sense I’m getting is that the European militaries France, Germany, Italy, are pushing back. Libya showed that the European militaries aren’t capable of going it alone. But equally neither are the Americans as you yourself outline above.

    Agreed re: Poles and Balts, but especially the Poles. I also think that the way in which the Czechs backed off and the quite remarkable speed with which they did so indicates that they believe that once this dies down that there will be a reckoning.

    It’s all about timing the Americans need things to start rolling now if they’re to see any return on their $5 billion and rising investment.

    Finally as an aside as As-Safir report all of this is also feeding that other major crisis. Don’t have time to go through the whole thing for you but the important points are that the Ukrainians have been exporting plane loads of arms on a ‘cash and carry’ basis to buyers in Southern Turkey for use in Syria and Irak. The Serbs have also got in on the act. As those cuddly moderate and ineffective salafist fighters so beloved of Riyadh, Doha, and Washington D.C. collapse in the face of the uncuddly and effective kind they too are flocking to make a financial killing as opposed to the other sort and selling as much as they can. By the time they’re finished Anbar will have more guns, bullets, and grenade launchers, than sand.


  58. markfromireland

    Quick postscript. I meant to mention that the Russians have let it be known that they’re pondering denying their airspace to Western Airlines see:

    Russia may restrict trans-Siberian flights for EU airlines – newspaper | Reuters:

    (Reuters) – Russia may restrict or ban European airlines from flying over Siberia on busy Asian routes, a newspaper reported on Tuesday, following Western sanctions which have grounded one Russian carrier and a billionaire’s private jet.

    The Russian business daily Vedomosti quoted unnamed sources as saying the foreign and transport ministries were discussing possible action which might force EU airlines into long and costly detours and put them at a disadvantage to Asian rivals.

    Shares in Russian carrier Aeroflot – which, according to Vedomosti, gets around $300 million (177.82 million pounds) a year in fees paid by foreign airlines flying over Siberia – tumbled after the report.

    The Transport Ministry and the civil aviation authority declined to comment on the possibility of responding to the European Union sanctions imposed due to the Ukraine crisis, which were tightened last week.

    At the height of the Cold War, most Western airlines were barred from flying through Russian airspace to Asian cities, and instead had to operate via the Gulf or the U.S. airport of Anchorage, Alaska on the polar route.

    However, European carriers now fly over Siberia on their rapidly growing routes to countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, paying the fees which have been subject to a long dispute between Brussels and Moscow.

    The daily quoted one source as saying a ban could cost carriers including Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) over three months. Restrictions would lead to longer flights, higher fuel use and other additional costs.

    However, state-controlled Aeroflot would also be hurt if it lost the fees. Aeroflot was the worst performing stock in Moscow on Tuesday, down 5.9 pct at 1030 GMT compared with a one percent drop on the broad index.

    Lufthansa said it operates about 180 flights a week through Siberian airspace but declined further comment, as did British Airways. I don’t see Merkel being happy about the telephone calls she’s doubtless getting from Lufthansa about this.

    And John Kemp has done a lengthy piece for Reuters pointing out the obvious see RPT-COLUMN-EU energy restrictions on Russia are mostly sanctions theatre: Kemp | Reuters:

    Aug 5 (Reuters) – EU sanctions on Russia’s oil sector will not seriously hamper the development of new oil resources in either the short or the long term, though they leave open the possibility of further escalation if relations with Russia deteriorate in future.

    Taken as a whole, the restrictions announced on July 31 are best viewed as a piece of “sanctions theatre” designed to show the public and Washington that the EU is doing something in response to the downing of the Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine while keeping the costs to EU energy firms as low as possible.

    It’s worth reading in its entirety.


  59. Quick postscript. I meant to mention that the Russians have let it be known that they’re pondering denying their airspace to Western Airlines see:

    What are they going to do if a passenger jet wanders into their airspace if and when they implement this? Shoot it down? Where have we seen that before? Flight 17 was just the beginning. Good thing I’ve cut back on flying.

  60. I’m not surprised that the energy sanctions are theatrical.

  61. Celsius 233

    EU energy restrictions on Russia are mostly sanctions theatre: Kemp | Reuters:
    If this weren’t so serious it would be hilarious theater of the absurd; but wait, that’s exactly what it is…

  62. I don’t think either side is following any kind of existing plan. Maybe some strategist in a think tank cubicle is happy, but who else would possibly want this situation?

    The Yanukovich regime change crossed a red line, not because it was a regime change. Ukraine’s government, in terms of pro-US or pro-Russia, has been changing hands repeatedly. That kind of thing is totally normal.

    The red line was regime change, PLUS the nurturing of the fascists who came into power in the immediate aftermath of Maidan. To the Russians, the bit about actively encouraging fascists in Europe is a sure sign of insanity, pure and simple. I happen to agree. But to the US State dept, it was no big deal — they’re just another group of crazies who we can get rid of when the time comes.

    The US didn’t KNOW we were crossing that red line. So Russia’s reaction is deemed irrational, a remote possibility nobody really thought would happen. The Russians never expected this situation either, they were unprepared to see their historical nightmare enemies on their border, armed with an old but massive arsenal of Soviet gear, and potentially backed up NATO. The longer they wait the worse it would get.

    So now what? Can’t go back without some very slick *cooperative* PR from both sides.

    My personal solution would be this: just have Ukraine *SELL* Donetsk and Lugansk to Russia for a bunch of money. The exact sum can be haggled over, 20 Billion might be a starting point, considering how utterly wrecked is now.

    The US can keep doing sanctions, Ukraine can keep howling about Crimea. But once the conflict, and with it the accusations of “aggression”, are settled, the EU, or at least those parts of it who have some measure of independence, have a good reason to put things back to normal in terms of its economic relationship to Russia.

    After scaring the piss out of the rest of the world, Putin and Obama can come off as great statesmen too, for coming up with the compromise.

    As for NATO, Russia will just have to live with it.

  63. Just Plain Dave your response to what I have been saying is the first time that anybody with something approaching professionalism and expertise has engaged with it. In fact it is the first time that there has been any feedback to it at all other than the expression of undocumented opinion, mostly dismissive and “common sense” based. I think I can see from the transcript you linked us to how Blackburn might have “got it wrong” in the way you argue.

    But there are other points I make: for example, Krioutchkov’s testimony in his trial that the coup was necessary to prevent the Soviet nuclear arsenal from coming under the control of the United States and the Italian journalist’s information that Yeltsin handed over to the United States the codes to Russian nuclear arsenal.

    At the time that these events were taking place I was trying to persuade the Greek ecologists, who at that time had a parliamentarian, to issue a statement calling for unilateral Soviet nuclear disarmament. I could not see the logic of denuclearising Ukraine, Kazakhstan and and Belarus and not denuclearising Russia.

    I was persuaded that Soviet nukes were indeed useless and had been shown to be useless since the time of Cuban missile crisis. Also that the end game for the USSR could not have been played the way it was, with the Pershing II first strike counterforce missiles, if the Soviets had not had a nuclear arsenal.

    I still support unilateral European nuclear disarmament, which could of course be extended to a bilateral European/Russian process along Brazil/Argentina lines.

  64. different clue

    John Measor,

    To your “what’s driving it” question way up above, a longtime commenter at Sic Semper Tyrannis named Walrus has suggested a possible answer in addition to others. Over the years he
    has noted that while he is not a psych. clinician, Obama certainly looks like a deeply pathological narcissist to him. Several years ago he predicted that Obama would do something amazingly stupid when his narcissistic self image was challenged in ways his fragile psyche could not handle or accept. Perhaps Putin’s resistance to Obama is that challenge to Obama’s deepest psyche and our wounded Narcissist President is determined to make Putin “respect his authoritah” in public.

  65. markfromireland

    @ Celsius 233 August 5, 2014 It’s worse than absurd. It’s folly.


  66. markfromireland

    @ peteybee August 5, 2014

    The US didn’t KNOW we were crossing that red line.

    Self-serving American crap. Do you really think that any0ne with even a tiny amount of information about how the American government consistently behaves believes that pack of lies?

    As for NATO, Russia will just have to live with it.

    You’ll find they have other ideas.


  67. JustPlainDave

    Wayne, I have a hard time believing Kryuchkov’s testimony. The reporting that I’m seeing in the archives says the testimony at the trial from his 2i/c was that the coup was planned a long time in advance and I see nothing in the historical record to indicate that Gorbachev would ever have handed control over to the Americans. Yeltsin, I don’t know – he’s a bit more of a wild card, but he wasn’t in the nuclear chain of command until late December. At the time of the coup he had no codes to hand over and couldn’t have been that threat.

    What this sounds like to me, more than anything, is a card that Kryuchkov might have played to justify his actions after cutting Gorbachev’s comms during the coup. The way the Sov system used to work was that they had three nuclear command and control consoles (akin to the American “football”). Gorbachev’s console was the only one that could raise the alert status without specific criteria having been met – *unless* it had been out of contact for a defined period of time. During the coup, that period of time elapsed and the coup platters then used their consoles to manipulate the alert levels of Sov forces, warning western governments to stay out of their internal affairs.

    I don’t think the Sovs thought their nukes were useless post ’62. What they learned was that they needed to be much, much more careful in how they used them, but getting Jupiter out of Turkey was a tangible benefit.

  68. markfromireland,

    I wasn’t saying that as an excuse. I think it is just a consequence of an institution believing the stuff found in its own policy analysis writings.

    And as for NATO in Ukraine… I’m trying to come up with a realistic compromise.

    How exactly is Russia going to stop west Ukraine from selling itself to NATO? And even if Donetsk and Lugansk win completely, 90% of the buffer that Ukraine used to be is still gone. And lastly, lets look at a map — is Ukraine closer to Moscow than Latvia?

    Just as the USG is deluding itself that there aren’t a bunch of neo-nazis in Ukraine who are going to cause a world of trouble down the line — Russia also isn’t being realistic if it thinks the Germans, for example, or most of the Eastern Euro countries, will ever prefer them to the Americans, or put up any barrier to US intimidation.

  69. Just Plain Dave I wonder if the only way that the United States might gain control of the Soviet nuclear arsenal would be by a Russian politician consenting to them doing so.

    The conclusion I drew from my years in the anti-nuclear movement is that just about everything emanating from the United States on the subject of the Soviet and later Russian nuclear arsenal… from the “atomic spies” (Klaus Fuchs and company) onwards has been and is disinformation. Fuchs and all the other little Fuchses may have thought they were doing something patriotic and necessary, but they were deluded (as they eventually realised themselves): the Soviets gained absolutely nothing from having nuclear weapons. They were just an instrument to enable them to dig their own grave.

    All the decades of Western nuclear “brinkmanship” were decades of bullshit.

    Khrushchev has a comparatively good image overall in “the West” but it seems that he was a key victim of nuclear delusions and the Maoists may have had a better understanding of this than American Sovietologists.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with Fernando Gonzalez’ interpretation of the Cuban missile crisis. Gonzalez is not a writer whose politics I admire but I would like to see a plausible refutation of his thesis, namely that Khrushchev’s big headache with Cuba was the problem of geopolitical overextension of Russia. He wanted to get Castro out of the way and thought that he get the USA to help him achieve this objective by provoking them with missile installation in Cuba. This would provoke an American invasion and the overthrow of Castro.

    Believing as he did in nuclear deterrence Khrushchev did not imagine that Kennedy would threaten a nuclear strike against Soviet cities rather than an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy disabused him of this idea and in the process also undermined the doctrine of “nuclear deterrence” in a way inconvenient for mainstream US ideology. In compensation, and perhaps also in genuine embarrassment at what he had been forced to do, Kennedy followed up the confrontation over Cuba with initiation, in collaboration with Khrushchev, of more radical anti-nuclear measures than the world has seen since.

    I would like to see total disappearance of nuclear danger-mongering. The Soviet or Russian nuclear scarecrow is not an instrument that can be used for any good purpose by anybody. If it is evoked by “progressives” this merely feeds warmongers. The message that the US emperor has no clothes, that everything it does and says is based on fraud and deception is the message I like to see being projected. Not the message that the US is run by dangerous and reckless madmen or that there is anything to be afraid of.

    Of course there is much to be afraid of if one is unfortunate enough to live in certain places but I assume that we who are talking here are not (yet?) people who live in such places. Perhaps that is not the case.

  70. How exactly is Russia going to stop west Ukraine from selling itself to NATO?

    That’s an excellent point. Let’s say, even though I no longer think this is the case if I ever did, Eastern Ukraine ultimately falls into the Russian sphere and a longitudinal line is drawn separating East from West Ukraine. So, what then? Russia still effectively borders Ukraine and NATO, and if it wants to, NATO can still install its missile defense system in Western Ukraine. Of course, when and if that time came, arguments would be made once again for Putin that he needs to take West Ukraine as well to prevent this and then onward to the entirety of the Baltics, Balkans and all the former Soviet satellites states. At what point will those who rationalize and justify Putin’s obvious expansionism draw the line and say, “you know, I was wrong and you were right — his intentions were not honorable and understandable and I stand corrected”? At that point, if it ever comes, it will be too late, and “I told you so” will bring no satisfaction.

  71. Cold N.,

    Since you mention it. Honorable intentions are a rare thing among countries who have their own foreign policy. If there were an absolute scale for that, both the US and Russia would both be deeply negative, “less than honorable” as you put it.

    But we can still make comparisons. When the Obama gave his blessing of legitimacy to the post-Maidan government — which raised the fringe parties, Svoboda and Pravy Sektor, into powerful positions — that settled the question of honorable intentions in my mind, as far as this conflict is concerned.

  72. madisolation

    On top of restrictions on Western airlines flying over Siberia, I’ve been noticing other, smaller sanctions that Russia has enacted. These seem minor, but on top of the “austerity” imposed by the IMF, I think this might cause economic hardship to populations who side with Europe and the U.S.:
    1. “Russia will propose Turkey to boost fruit and vegetable supplies to Russia to replace the now banned imports from Poland and Moldova…”
    2. “Russia’s consumer rights watchdog (Rospotrebnadzor) has banned the import of juice products from Ukraine, the agency said on Thursday [this includes baby food]…Such products should have Customs Union’s common market sign.”
    3. “Russia’s veterinary watchdog said on Tuesday it was eyeing a temporary ban on imports of Ukrainian sunflower, soybeans and oilseed meals.”
    4. “A ban on imports of vegetable, fruit and fish preserves from Ukraine that has been introduced by Russia’s federal consumer rights watchdog.”

    I appears Russia is pretty much banning agricultural products from Ukraine, and Moldova and Poland won’t fare much better. From what I’ve read, these countries can’t count on Europe to buy their products. Hard times make for a hungry and restive population. Put winter into the mix and politicians may want to think twice about their decisions.

  73. JustPlainDave

    Wayne, I don’t think that interpretation of Cuba fits the facts well. If Khrushchev’s intent was to provoke an overthrow of Castro, there’s no way he would have allowed tactical nuclear weapons (i.e., in addition to the warheads for the MRBMs) to be deployed there.

  74. Demeter

    Thank you, Z. Your explanation makes perfect sense of the last couple of decades of “madness”.

    Once the sleight of hand is revealed, the magic is gone.

  75. JustPlainDave: You wrote “Wayne, I don’t think that interpretation of Cuba fits the facts well. If Khrushchev’s intent was to provoke an overthrow of Castro, there’s no way he would have allowed tactical nuclear weapons (i.e., in addition to the warheads for the MRBMs) to be deployed there.”

    Gonzalez claims that the Russian missiles in Cuba were dummies, not real missiles. I am merely quoting him. His book includes comprehensive documentation. He is a nasty fellow politically but not sloppy. I have never seen any discussion of his book by “respectable” people.

  76. I agree with Demeter on the subject of Z’s analysis. Let’s have more of this.

  77. JustPlainDave

    Wayne, this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. If the aim was to end up with Castro deposed, why then did the Sovs specifically extract a commitment from the United States to not invade Cuba without extreme provocation as a condition of conflict termination? Similarly, if they wanted Castro deposed why would they – as recent work in the Sov archives indicates – dispatch a top diplomat *after* conflict resolution to negotiate the handover of the tactical warheads (around 100 mounted on cruise missiles and short range rockets – which the Americans didn’t even know existed), to Cuban control? In the course of negotiations they apparently realized that Castro was way too volatile to be trusted with nuclear weapons, but their original intent was to transfer these things such that they were under unilateral Cuban control.

    The only way the dummy missile hypothesis makes sense to me as anything other than techno-thriller fiction is if Gonzales is extrapolating from accounts of the inert training missiles (there were a handful on the island) to the fleet generally, prior to us in the west knowing that tactical weapons had been deployed (I think this was something that came out of work in the early 90s). Other than that, this interpretation is just at odds with the facts.

  78. Gonzalez is an opponent of Castro and as I said I would like to see a plausible refutation of his thesis in “The Nuclear Deception”. It does (did?) seem to have a prima facie plausibility in that it provides an apparent explanation for some of the bizarre aspects of Khrushchev’s behaviour during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because Gonzalez writes for a specific audience, between whom and the mainstream academic establishment there is little or no intellectual contact, it is not so surprising that one has not seen dialogue around his hypotheses.

    This is perhaps not completely unrelated to another phenomenon I have pointed out: how writers with original and iconoclastic ideas on the subject of nuclear weapons, ideas which subvert the idea of their utility, tend to be shunted off to complacent and non-activist conservative audiences, while anti-nuclear activist audiences are fed with the ideas of writers whose stance on nuclear weapons is one of superstitious horror.

  79. Celsius 233

    JPD & WH

    God’s be good; what the hell is the point of your back and forth? Kudos for the civility, but really, what’s the point; I fear it’s long lost…

  80. JustPlainDave I have asked Gonzalez if he wants to comment on the above exchange between you and me.

    Here is a quote from past correspondence between Gonzalez and myself. He says:
    “You mention in your article the “imaginable possibility that must remain in the realm of speculation, that of the United States activating Russian nuclear weapons (i.e. starting a nuclear war) while claiming that “the Russians are doing it”. Unfortunately, the sociopaths controlling the invisible government of the United States have that option on the table, and are preparing for it. In the past three years they have been frantically buying land and properties in the Patagonia, the southernmost part of South America. Obviously, they are planning to survive a nuclear Armageddon that will destroy most of the Northern hemisphere.”

  81. Here are Servando Gonzalez’ comments on Dave’s posts:

    Dave wrote: Wayne, I don’t think that interpretation of Cuba fits the facts well. If Khrushchev’s intent was to provoke an overthrow of Castro, there’s no way he would have allowed tactical nuclear weapons (i.e., in addition to the warheads for the MRBMs) to be deployed there.

    Servando: [[The presence of MRBMs and their nuclear warheads on Cuban soil has never been proved. The U-2 photos that were shown to JFK as the ultimate proof are now in full resolution on the web. Take a look. There are no missiles in the photos. What you can see is long covered by tarps — which the CIA said were strategic missiles. You can also see come concrete bunkers — which the CIA said contained the nuclear warheads. You can also see some crates on the decks of Soviet ships leaving the island — which the CIA said contained the Soviet missiles. So, if you are a fool that believes what the CIA says, that’s enough proof. The most important refutation to the theory that there were nuclear warheads in Cuba in 1962 is that none of the books and articles writien about the subject (except my book) mention the existence of radiation from the warheads. SG]]

    Dave: “Wayne, I don’t think that interpretation of Cuba fits the facts well. If Khrushchev’s intent was to provoke an overthrow of Castro, there’s no way he would have allowed tactical nuclear weapons (i.e., in addition to the warheads for the MRBMs) to be deployed there.”

    Wayne: Gonzalez claims that the Russian missiles in Cuba were dummies, not real missiles. I am merely quoting him. His book includes comprehensive documentation. I have never seen any discussion of his book by “mainstream” people.

    Dave: Wayne, this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. If the aim was to end up with Castro deposed, why then did the Sovs specifically extract a commitment from the United States to not invade Cuba without extreme provocation as a condition of conflict termination?

    Servando: [[This is another myth. The so-called Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact does not exist. See below, quoted from my book. SG.]]

    One of the undying myths about the U.S. inability to tame Castro
    was for many years the existence of the Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact —or “agreement,”
    or “understanding,” as some people liked to call it. But, contrary to the
    popular belief, the famous Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact never existed.

    The problem with the existence of such a document, or even with such an
    “agreement” or “understanding,” is that in any compromise both parties agree to
    do something. According to the prevalent myth, Khrushchev agreed to remove the
    nuclear missiles from Cuba in exchange for the American promise not to invade
    Cuba. But, as we have shown above, the available evidence shows that no Soviet
    nuclear missiles were ever on the island, and no one is going to believe that President
    Kennedy was so naïve as to exchange something for nothing.

    In 1970, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, concerned over the submarine
    base the Soviets were building in Cienfuegos, a port on the Southern coast of
    Cuba, hunted through the State Department’s files looking for the written agreement
    he was sure President Kennedy had signed with Khrushchev. He discovered,
    to his utter amazement, that there was none. Furthermore, if the agreement ever
    existed, it has the dubious honor of being one of the few international agreements
    to have been applied long before it was signed, because the U.S. government’s
    harassment of the anti-Castro Cuban-Americans began a year and a half before the
    Cuban missile crisis, just after the Bay of Pigs invasion.

    The Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact was nothing but a U.S. government’s concoction
    to justify the unjustifiable. If, despite rhetoric on the contrary, American presidents
    from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush have proved unwilling to get rid of
    Fidel Castro, it is not because a non-existent pact forbids them to do so, but because
    of some hidden motives unknown to us.

    Dave: Similarly, if they wanted Castro deposed why would they – as recent work in the Sov archives indicates – dispatch a top diplomat *after* conflict resolution to negotiate the handover of the tactical warheads (around 100 mounted on cruise missiles and short range rockets – which the Americans didn’t even know existed), to Cuban control? In the course of negotiations they apparently realized that Castro was way too volatile to be trusted with nuclear weapons, but their original intent was to transfer these things such that they were under unilateral Cuban control.

    Servando: [[I never heard about this before, but it is totally implausible that in 1962, when the Soviets has less that 100 MRBMs (the Missle Gap was BS) they gave a 100 of them to Castro. Moreover, the Soviets NEVER (before, during or after the CMC) allowed their nuclear warheads to be deployed beyond their borders. SG]]

    Dave: The only way the dummy missile hypothesis makes sense to me as anything other than techno-thriller fiction is if Gonzales is extrapolating from accounts of the inert training missiles (there were a handful on the island) to the fleet generally, prior to us in the west knowing that tactical weapons had been deployed (I think this was something that came out of work in the early 90s). Other than that, this interpretation is just at odds with the facts.

    Wayne: Gonzalez is an opponent of Castro and as I said I would like to see a plausible refutation of his thesis in “The Nuclear Deception”. It does (did?) seem to have a prima facie plausibility in that it provides an apparent explanation for some of the bizarre aspects of Khrushchev’s behaviour during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because Gonzalez writes for a specific audience, between whom and the mainstream academic establishment there is little or no intellectual contact, it is not so surprising that one has not seen dialogue around his hypotheses.

    Servando: [The mostly CFR-controlled mainstream academic establishment has ignored my book because they cannot refute my hypothesis. My recent book Psychological Warfare and the New World Order gives further proof of Castro’s collaboration with the CFR globalist conspirators. SG.]]

    Wayne: This is perhaps not completely unrelated to another phenomenon I have pointed out: how writers with original and iconoclastic ideas on the subject of nuclear weapons, ideas which subvert the idea of their utility, tend to be shunted off to complacent and non-activist conservative audiences, while anti-nuclear activist audiences are fed with the ideas of writers whose stance on nuclear weapons is one of superstitious horror.

    Servando: [[I agree with you. SG]]

    [[Nevertheless, the main argument against the prevalent myth, namely, that Khrusuchev gave Castro the missiles to protect Cuba from U.S. aggression is this: According to Krushchev’s Memoirs, the idea of deploying nuclear missiles in Cuba came to his mid when he was visiting Bulgaria in April, 1962. But this makes absolutely no sense, because it was in early April 1962, when Castro retired his ambassador from Moscow and expelled the Soviet Ambassador, Sergei Kudryavtsev, from Havana. Why? Because Kydryavtsev, who was also a senior Soviet intelligence officer, had been plotting to unseat Castro though a coup d’etat and put in power a Moscow-friendly leader of the traditional Cuban Communist Party.

    So, in order to buy the prevalent hypothesis, you need to believe that Nikita Khrushchev was a fool or a masochist. and he was none of this. Intersting, most of the books about the CMC do not mention Kyryavtsev. As a matter of fact, Kuryavtsev is my bullshit level gauge on articles and books about the CMC. If he is not mentioned on the Index, the book has a 95% of possiblities of being BS. SG]]


  82. Cold N. Holefield posted something here, but it was removed, perhaps by himself, before I had time to respond.

    On Servando’s responses: the point about the tactical warheads more or less corroborates what I have got into the habit of saying: i.e. that I believe nothing said officially on the subject of nuclear weapons. That doesn’t prove that Servando’s claim is true.

    As for the “Kennedy-Khrushchev pact”, Servando’s view is obviously coloured by his idea that the US government SHOULD have tried to remove Castro, something the majority of mainstream commentators in the US also thought at the time. It is also coloured by an assumption that Kennedy knew or believed what Servando says about the non-presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

    I cannot confirm or refute what he says about Kissinger failing to find the text of a “Kennedy-Khruschchev” agreement. His statement that the idea of such an agreement is nothing but “a concoction to justify the unjustifiable” is again predicated on his own view that not removing Castro is unjustifiable.

    His argument that Khrushchev decision to install (or appear to install) nuclear missiles in Cuba coincided with Castro’s expulsion of the Russian ambassador from Cuba and withdrawal of his own ambassador from Moscow, if true, does appear to undermine the popular conception of any putative “protective” function of these missiles and reinforce what I say (and what Gromyko said) about Soviet/Russian nuclear weapons serving no constructive purpose.

    So if we can’t agree to rally around a pre-emptive statement that we will regard as American “false flag” any putative future Russian resort to nuclear weapons, let us at least desist from making references to Russian (or “Russian”) nukes as part of our own argumentation against going to war with Russia.

    More commentary fromJustPlainDave would be welcomed because I value what he has so far said here.

    Gonzalez is not one of the people who react to Russia in exactly the same way as they reacted to the Soviet Union in the past. Whether his attitude to present-day Russia is more positive or more negative is something I haven’t quite worked out. He says: “The Soviet Union was a bogeyman, a patsy created by the warmongers. Current Russia is not. This makes the situation much more complicated.”

  83. JustPlainDave

    Wayne, I’m afraid I don’t find Mr. Gonzales’ views on this convincing. Other than a radiation dog not barking (not surprising given the lack of access and that state of the art in airborne detectors back in the day), his argumentation seems to reference only his interpretation of imagery products. I don’t see any reference to other sources – such as the archival materials that have become available since the fall of the Sovs. That’s a real weakness.

    I’m also very concerned that he says he’s never seen references to the Russian deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to the island and that he doesn’t appear to understand the distinction between cruise missiles and MRBMs (they are completely different things). I don’t know much about the crisis – I’ve read a couple of books and articles and seen much mention of it in other works – and I know that the revelations that there had been tactical weapons deployed was a big hairy deal for western scholarship. It was probably the biggest “re-write” in the history of scholarship on the topic. If *I* know that with my quite limited knowledge of the issue and someone else does not, that doesn’t fill me with confidence I should accept their assertions that mainstream “CFR” scholarship is so wrong.

  84. To me the most convincing part of his argument has to do with Khrushchev’s motives for installing the missiles. If it is true that the installation coincided with a diplomatic crisis between the Soviets and Cuba, the notion that Khrushchev had some idea of “helping” Castro by installing them becomes more difficult to argue. Or do you disagree with that?

    This of course is an insight that appeals to me, to my view that virtually everything said on the subject of nuclear weapons is disinformation, that the Soviet nuclear arsenal was the key factor in the Soviets losing the Cold War, that we should be on our guard against the possibility of American “false flags” involving allegedly Russian nuclear weapons, and that we should not talk about Russian nuclear weapons as if they are something that in any way strengthen Vladimir Putin. If the Americans Ukrainian collaborators can shoot down a Malaysian airliner with their own fighter aircraft and have the US claim that Ukrainian separatists did it with a missile, then Americans can also say that Russians are exploding nuclear bombs when in fact Americans themselves are doing it. And no denial by Putin will count for anything unless we can make it count for something

  85. Here is some input from an arch-disinformationist, Noam Chomsky:

    Gonzalez could not dialogue with Chomsky. Should we blame him for that?

  86. Here is documentation Servando Gonzalez sent for his statements on Kissinger and the “pact” between Kennedy and Khrushchev whose existence he disputes


    In 1970, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, concerned over the submarine base the Soviets were building in Cienfuegos, a port on the Southern coast of Cuba, ordered his assistants to hunt through the State Department’s files looking for the written agreement (the Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact) he was sure President Kennedy had signed with Khrushchev. He discovered, to his utter amazement, that there was none, either oral or in writing. See, Kurt M Campbell and James B. Steinberg, Difficult Transitions: Foreign Policy Troubles at the Outset of Presidential Troubles (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 2008), p. 118.

  87. JustPlainDave

    Wayne, I don’t find the assertions that this deal never existed at all convincing. This looks to me like Mr. Gonzales is taking one secondarily sourced datapoint and assigning it an evidentiary importance that is way out of whack with that it deserves.

    I’m not an archivist, but I did a little poking about to see what I could find in the way of primary source material on this issue – and keep in mind, this is just the stuff that’s been digitized and placed on the web. With just a little looking I was able to find the declassified translated text of the letters between the principals (JFK and Khrushchev), transcripts from the EXECOMM meetings that managed the American response to the crisis and Soviet diplomatic communiqués summarizing the negotiations between RFK and Dobrynin. All of this material confirms the generally accepted contours of the agreement between the Soviets and the US. For an agreement that allegedly doesn’t exist, it has a huge documentary footprint.

    As to Khrushchev’s motives, I don’t find the data on offer convincing. Those exact same memoirs assert that Kudryavtsev was recalled (not PNGed) because he was irritating the Cubans – his replacement Alekseyev is specifically identified by Khrushchev as an intelligence officer who had been active since Kudryavtsev was credentialed. History records Alekseyev as having served as ambassador until 1968. Notably he is frequently said to have had close relations with Castro during the missile crisis. Alekseyev was eyeball deep in all the same stuff that Kudryavtsev was, so I have a hard time accepting this interpretation of things.

  88. For a number of years now I have more or less taken my line on the Cuban missile crisis from Servando Gonzalez. It appeared plausible and in accordance with what seems to me most expedient to believe.

    If Servando withdraws from the discussion now, where does that leave me?

    For a start, it leaves me with the EuroBRICS initiative, which in relation to Ukraine has these positions:

    Unfortunately some of the key people behind EuroBRICS have ideas on nuclear weapons that don’t take us where we want to go.

    For example, take this article by key EuroBRICS activist Marie-Helene Caillol:

    Mme Caillol is not afraid to drawn unfashionable conclusions but when it comes to nuclear weapons her beliefs are shaped by conventional wisdom of the French masses. Mme Caillol turns this conventional mass wisdom on its head but doesn’t emancipate herself from it.

    The Euro BRICS initiative is good and needs to be improved.


    “So the old Hillary Clinton who was drawn to Barry Goldwater has finally shown her colors. Although Goldwater would likely have lost to Johnson, the public then was mindful of what was at stake, and the famed Daisy ad is attributed with increasing Johnson’s margin of victory.

    Now that the fear of nuclear war has faded, the stakes apparently aren’t perceived to be as high.”

    Why has “the fear of nuclear war … faded”?

    Why does Ian Welsh apparently think that it has not faded, or should not have faded?

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