Friday, November 10, 2017


Seventy-five years ago this month, the Soviet Red Army surrounded — and would soon destroy — a huge invading German army at Stalingrad on the Volga River. Nearly 300,000 of Germany’s best soldiers would never return home. The epic 1942–43 battle for the city saw the complete annihilation of the attacking German 6th Army.

It marked the turning point of World War II. Before Stalingrad, Adolf Hitler regularly boasted on German radio as his victorious forces pressed their offensives worldwide. After Stalingrad, Hitler went quiet, brooding in his various bunkers for the rest of the war. During the horrific Battle of Stalingrad, which lasted more than five months, Russian, American, and British forces also went on the offensive against the Axis powers in the Caucasus, in Morocco and Algeria, and on the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific.

Yet just weeks before the Battle of Stalingrad began, the Allies had been near defeat. They had lost most of European Russia. Much of Western Europe was under Nazi control. Axis armies occupied large swaths of North Africa. The Japanese controlled most of the Pacific and Asia, from Manchuria to Wake Island. Stalingrad was part of a renewed German effort in 1942 to drive southward toward the Caucasus Mountains, to capture the huge Soviet oil fields. The Germans might have pulled it off had Hitler not divided his forces and sent his best army northward to Stalingrad to cut the Volga River traffic and take Stalin’s eponymous frontier city.

By the time two Red Army pincers trapped the Germans at Stalingrad in November, Russia had already suffered some 6 million combat casualties during the first 16 months of Germany’s invasion. By German calculations, Russia should have already submitted, just like all of the Third Reich’s prior European enemies except Britain. Instead, the Red Army drew the Germans deeper into the traditional quagmire of Russia until the 6th Army was low on supplies, freezing in the winter cold, and trapped more than 1,500 miles from Berlin.

How did the Red Army not only survive but go on the offensive against the deadly invadersIn part, it had no choice. Germany was intent on not just absorbing Russia, but wiping it out or enslaving millions of its citizens. In part, Britain and the United States under the Lend-Lease policy began sending huge amounts of material aid, providing everything from boots to locomotives. In part, Red Army soldiers were terrified of their own communist strongman, Josef Stalin. Prior to the German invasion, Stalin was responsible for some 20 million Russian deaths through forced farm collectivization, planned famine, show trials and purges, and the murders of his own Red Army troops.

More than 10,000 soldiers were likely executed at Stalingrad by their own officers. But most important, no European invader — neither Sweden under Charles XII in the early 1700s nor France under Napoleon in the early 1800s — had ever successfully invaded and defeated Russia. The country was too large, both geographically and demographically. Good weather was too brief between the spring floods and the bitter Russian winter. And Russians always fought heroically as defenders of their own soil, even if this wasn’t always the case when they were fighting abroad as invaders.

Despite the horrors of Soviet Communism, the Allied winners of World War II owed a great deal to the Russian people. Russia’s male and female soldiers were most responsible for destroying Hitler’s vast ground forces, having killed more than two-thirds of the German soldiers lost in the war. The Soviet Union lost about 27 million soldiers and civilians — about 60 times more than America lost in the war.

Due to memories of the Soviet Union’s Cold War ruthlessness, and because of Vladimir Putin’s autocratic government, it is now fashionable to demonize Russia. Moscow sent troops into eastern Ukraine, absorbed Crimea, and has sought to tamper with a U.S. presidential election.

But most Americans have forgotten key aspects of Russia’s 20th-century history, a tragedy of unspeakable human losses. Outside Kiev in late summer of 1941, more than 700,000 Russian soldiers were killed or captured by Germans in a single battle. In one of the costliest sieges in history, at Sevastopol in July 1942, 100,000 Russians were killed or captured in a failed effort to save the port on the Black Sea.

We rightly see Putin as an aggressive autocrat. But millions of Russians view Ukraine and the Crimea as sacred, blood-soaked Russian ground. After the collapse of the nightmarish Soviet Union, Stalingrad was renamed Volgograd “city on the Volga.” Today, few in the West know exactly what happened there 75 years ago this month. This Veterans Day, we should also remember those heroic Russian soldiers. In bitter cold, and after losing hundreds of thousands of lives, they finally did the unbelievable: They halted the march of Nazi Germany.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hail Columbia!

Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue way back in 1492.

This delightful ditty firmly places the date of the discovery of the New World into the minds of saavy kids everywhere in Great Satan.

Later on, CC get's dissed in crash courses for introducing alien concepts like slavery, STD's, baby Jesus and advanced weaponry to hapless, childlike human sacrificing races in places from South America all the way to Alaska.

What ev.

What was the motivation for CC to split sail from Europa and head west?


Find a short cut to India.

The real quiz is quite significant. Why?

After all, Europa was the centre of the world for the tech saavy Europeans - India's locale was well known since Alexander the Great's era and thanks to Prince Henry (the cat who put the 'gator' in navigator) sealanes and land routes could have sweetly hooked up to provide the fastest transport times circa 1500 anywhere on earth.

Check out a World map from 1500 AD and the answer is prett obvious.

Critical portions of any route to and from India were totally beseiged by totalitarian monarchies like the Ottomans, Safavid Persia and an unhealthy mix of sundry and "...various m"Hammedist states..."

Plus, a newly reconstituted Xian Spain had just fought an expensive, bloody reconquista against 7th century time traveling control freaks and all of Europa wanted to get as far away as possible from said jerks and creeps.

Amazing that the reason for the season of Columbus Day is traced back to probs that kicked off Great Satan's very 1st regime change and are facing the world today.

Unfun, unfree and unhinged regimes built, cruelly maintained and by their very design expansionist, feature intolerance, nonegalitarian and misery projection with all the trimmings like slavery, pitiful lit rates and of course - violence.

Detours allowing the avoidance of such 'tardist, backward civs were in high demand, thanks to Columbus - Europa turned her back on the faux, played league of failed states - and concentrated her efforts on the "New World"

Pic - "Admiral of the Ocean"

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Nuclear Nippon And SoKo?

Just when cautious optimism was beginning to resurface that the North Korea crisis might be fading slightly, Pyongyang took yet more actions to alarm the international community. Kim Jong-un’s government announced that it had conducted another nuclear test. The latest move came just days after the launch of an intermediate-range missile that flew directly over Japan’s northernmost island before breaking up and splashing down in the western Pacific.

The nuclear test was even more alarming than the missile test. Pyongyang stated that, unlike North Korea’s previous underground detonations of atomic bombs, this one was a much more destructive hydrogen bomb. Seismic data confirmed that the explosion was approximately five times larger than previous tests. The North Korean government also insisted that the device was designed to be placed on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). A missile with that range would be capable of reaching targets on the west coast of the United States, and perhaps beyond

Although the latest developments are worrisome, there is no need yet to assume that North Korea currently poses a mortal threat to the American homeland. The North’s boast that it has been able to miniaturize the apparent hydrogen weapon for deployment aboard a missile should be viewed with considerable skepticism. So, too, should Pyongyang’s assertion that it already possesses missiles capable of striking the continental United States. More sober analyses point out that although Pyongyang has tested components of an ICBM, as well as testing at least three intermediate-range missiles, such achievements are not the same as a successful, full-range ICBM test. Moreover, even the more limited tests have hardly been flawless. The missile fired over Japan, for example, apparently came apart during re-entry—a defect noted in several previous tests as well.

At the same time, complacency on the part of U.S. leaders and the general public is unwarranted. It is clear that Pyongyang is making rapid strides in both its nuclear and missile programs. Within a few more years, North Korea will have the ability to attack the American homeland. The real danger is not the prospect of an unprovoked strike out of the blue. Contrary to the panicky mythology that American hawks cultivate, there is no evidence that North Korean leaders are suicidal. They fully realize that any nuclear attack on the United States would lead to massive retaliation and the annihilation of the communist regime.

However, while such direct deterrence remains quite credible, there is always the danger of a miscalculation. The development of a robust North Korean nuclear arsenal and delivery system also significantly erodes the credibility of extended deterrence—Washington’s commitment to risk nuclear war to protect such allies as Japan and South Korea. A bold North Korean leader might very well wonder whether U.S. leaders would really chance the destruction of American cities to protect third parties, even valued allies.

The credibility dilemma of extended deterrence often troubled Washington’s European allies during the Cold War, and was a key reason why NATO members sought not only multiple assurances but the presence of U.S. troops as a tripwire to guarantee that the United States would honor its commitment if Moscow challenged it. The East Asian allies now face a similar problem involving a far more unpredictable adversary.

Various analysts have argued recently that the United States must climb down from its long-standing demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear and missile ambitions. Instead, they advocate moving to a new policy based on negotiations, containment and deterrence. Such proposals are more realistic than the current bankrupt approach insisting that Pyongyang return to nuclear virginity, and they are far more prudent than reckless suggestions that the United States consider launching a preemptive conventional or nuclear attack.

However, they still contain the central defect of retaining America’s role as the lead player in trying to contain and deter Pyongyang. Washington’s chief objective instead should be to reduce America’s risk exposure in Northeast Asia’s increasingly dangerous strategic environment.

That means recognizing the reality that primary deterrence has greater credibility than extended deterrence. In other words, it is time for North Korea’s neighbors to acquire their own nuclear deterrents, with America’s blessing. Unfortunately, too many American officials, political figures and pundits believe that all forms of nuclear proliferation are equally bad. That is not true, and in any case, nuclear proliferation is already far advanced in Northeast Asia. When China, governed by a dictatorial regime, and North Korea, a bizarre communist monarchy, already have nuclear weapons, it is misplaced to fret about stable, status quo–oriented democracies such as South Korea and Japan possessing modest nuclear deterrents.

Moving to empower Tokyo and Seoul in that fashion is necessary to credibly deter North Korea over the coming decades.

A doctrine of mutually assured destruction between North Korea and its noncommunist neighbors, along the same lines as the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, is hardly an optimal solution. But it beats having America continue being on the front lines of a potentially catastrophic confrontation. It is time to offload that risk to the countries that have the most at stake in deterring North Korea.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Never Forget

If there’s one lesson the nation should have learned from that awful day 16 years ago, it’s that the United States cannot afford to ignore a rabidly anti-American terrorist group that has established a haven in a faraway place.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Fall Weiß

At dawn on September 1st, Luftwaffe struck at Polish airfields destroying most of the planes before they could get off the ground. With control of the skies assured wicked Wehrmacht began the systematic destruction of railroads and the few communications nodes. From the very outset the Poles mobilization plan was seriously compromised. Before the day ended, chaos reigned at Polish Army HQ.

The first phase of the campaign, fought on the frontiers was over by September 5th and the morning of the 7th found reconnaissance elements of Army Group South’s 10th Army just 36 miles southwest of Warsaw. Meanwhile, also on September 5th, vBock’s Army Group North had cut across the corridor and turned southeast for Warsaw. Units of the 3rd Army reached the banks of the River Narew on September 7th, just 25 miles north of Warsaw. The fast moving armored panzer 'Schwerpunkts' of blitzing attacks left the immobile Polish armies cut up, surrounded and out of supply.

Meanwhile the closing of the inner ring at Warsaw witnessed some tough fighting as the Polish Poznan Army, bypassed in the first week of the war, charged heading and attacked toward Warsaw to the southeast. The German 8th and 10th Armies were put to the test as they were forced to turn some divisions completely around to meet the desperate Polish assault. In the end the gallant attack fell short and by September 19th the Poznan Army surrendered some 100,000 men and Poland’s last intact army.

As this was occurring the second, more deeper envelopment led by General Heinz Guderian’s panzers took the city of Brest-Litovsk on September 17th, and continued past the city where they made contact with the 10th Army spearhead at Wlodowa 30 miles to the south.

The war, for all practical purposes was over by September 17th. Lvov surrendered on the 19th. Warsaw held out until September 27th, gave up the ghost and the last organized resistance ended October 6th with the surrender of 17,000 Polish soldiers at Kock.

The campaign had lasted less than two months and ended in the destruction of the Polish Army and the fourth partition of Poland. German losses were surprisingly heavy considering the brevity of the campaign.

Deutsch casualties total some 48,000 of which 16,000 were killed. Fully one quarter of the panzers the German committed to battle were lost to Polish anti-panzer guns.  Luftwaffe was forced to trash  550 aircraft.

It was not a cheap victory by any means but it did confirm to the generals of  Wehrmacht that the military machine that they had built was indeed the best in the world and worthy of their confidence.

Reaction around the world on 1 Sept 1939?

France - mobilized her military and demanded Deutschland withdraw from Poland.

Great Britain - mobilized her army and RAF (the Navy was mobilized the day before) and demanded Germany withdraw from Poland.

Italy - Announced no military plans or initiatives.

Russia - warned concern for civilian population of Russian descent and fear of Polish bandits would warrant armed intervention. She also mobilized her military.

Great Satan - Demanded a halt of indescriminate bombing of towns and civilians.

Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Swiss - announced neutrality

Deutschland - "Determined to eliminate insecurity and perpetual civil war from the borders of the Reich"

Poland - appealed to Great Britain and France to intervene in honour of the Mutual Assistance Treaty of 1939.

1 September is the day an old world order was violently overturned, chock full of lessons, promises and harbingers that echo still today.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Abu Mazen's Last Stand?

Following Israel’s July 16 decision to install metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, the Palestinian leadership announced the suspension of security coordination with Israel. The detectors have since been removed, but coordination has not been reinstated.

“The decisions to freeze or to resume security coordination between the Palestinian Authority [PA] and Israel have been expropriated from the Palestinian leadership,” an Israeli security source speaking on the condition of anonymity told Al-Monitor. “Those decisions are now in the hands of the Palestinian street.” Now more than ever, according to the source, it appears that the Palestinian public controls the leadership, not the other way around.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had withstood a barrage of criticism leveled at him over the past two years by opponents accusing him of collaborating with Israel, but he caved during the events last month on the Temple Mount sparked by the July 14 killing of two Israeli policemen at the site and Israel’s subsequent installation of the metal detectors. Now he no longer seems able to muster the great courage required to retake the high road. 

The crisis over the Temple Mount is over, Israel has removed the metal detectors and cameras, and the Palestinians have declared victory in the volatile struggle over Al-Aqsa Mosque. The anti-Israel climate on the Palestinian street, however, has worsened, and the “victory” has awakened an appetite for more of the same by putting pressure on Israel — for example, by freezing security coordination.

When the PA informed Israel that it was severing ties in response to what it described as Israel's “violation” of Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest site, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said dismissively, “It's a Palestinian need first and foremost. If they want it, they'll continue [coordination]; if not, they won't. We don't intend to chase after them over it or force the issue. We’ll manage either way.” He emphasized that Abbas needs the coordination more than Israel does.

Seemingly punitive Israeli actions taken over the past week appear to signal that Israeli security professionals disagree with Liberman’s attempts to minimize the importance of security ties with the PA.

Actually, in recent days, US officials have told the head of Palestinian intelligence, Majid Faraj, that security cooperation must be resumed immediately, warning that the PA was playing with fire. It is unclear whether the American demand followed an Israeli request, but the fact is that joint efforts are underway to renew coordination — the Americans through diplomacy, the Israelis with threats.

On Aug. 2, Israeli soldiers raided the office of the Palestinian security forces in Hebron that deals mostly with civilian and crime-related issues among the city’s Palestinian residents. At the same time, Israel removed the checkpoint at the exit from Ramallah (near the Beit El settlement) that provided top PA officials with convenient, coordinated passage out of PA-controlled territory.

The Israeli security source confirmed that Israel had indeed adopted some measures against the PA, calling them “adjustments” to changing circumstances, such as the absence of formal coordination, rather than sanctions. A Palestinian security force member, however, told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity that Israel is clearly punishing the PA.

He warned that it was “making a serious mistake that would make renewal of coordination even harder’’ and added that despite the excellent coordination previously, Israel had implicated the PA time and again, when its troops entered West Bank Area A (under full Palestinian control according to the Oslo Accord) and carried out arrests. “We were perceived as having opened the door to them and even telling them, ‘Go ahead, arrest [so and so],’” he said.

Abbas has provoked great anger, especially in the Dheisheh, Jalazone, Qalandia and Balata refugee camps. The almost regular raids by Israeli soldiers on those camps to conduct arrests have led to a breakdown of trust between the local populations and the PA in general, and its security forces in particular. Residents of the camps consider Abbas an enemy and his security forces traitors to their people.

Abbas withstood pressure for months to halt security coordination with Israel; at the height of the “individual intifada” in November 2015, he called security coordination with Israel “sacred.” During those stormy months, Abbas met at least twice with the then-Shin Bet chief, Yoram Cohen, with the understanding that chaos might harm the PA and that therefore security coordination was also in the interest of the Palestinians. That is likely what Liberman meant when he claimed that the PA needs coordination more than Israel.

The Temple Mount crisis, which caused Abbas to cut short a visit to China and rush back to Ramallah, changed Abbas’ priorities. To restore some measure of public support, he was “forced” to set aside the sanctity of coordination with Israel for the sanctity of Al-Aqsa. Turning back the clock now seems almost impossible.

“The Israelis chose to undermine the Palestinian VIPs' status,” the Palestinian source told Al-Monitor. Top PA officials carry a card issued by Israel that enables them passage through specific checkpoints into Israel or into Jordan and from there to the rest of the world, virtually without undergoing security checks. Now, he argues, Israel is making it difficult for these officials to exit the West Bank “to make their lives miserable.” He explained, “Israel thinks they will put pressure on Abbas to restore the security coordination and with it their pampered existence. But it’s not that simple.”

Restoring security coordination will require careful preparation of Palestinian public opinion to dispel the perception of Abbas as a leader who does Israel’s bidding. The Palestinians will be seeking “revisions” to security ties with Israel to present them as achievements.

The PA's first demand, to appease refugee camp residents, will be an express promise from Israel to avoid surprise raids into Area A. The second demand will be to ease the passage of all Palestinians through Israeli roadblocks and to allow the presence of Palestinian police at the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan, where Palestinian are required to go through Israeli metal detectors. The issue of metal detectors has become very sensitive following the Temple Mount crisis.

Can Israel accede to these demands? The Israeli source told Al-Monitor that the Palestinians are going out on a limb, and there is no chance of them getting such concessions from Israel. The conclusion, therefore, must be that the resumption of security coordination is nowhere on the horizon.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Options On Iran

In the Middle East, the Administration has signaled its preference to strengthen relationships with the Sunni Gulf states by way of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  By strengthening relationships with the Sunni Gulf states, as well as announcing an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the United States appears willing to continue isolating Iran.  

This has the potential to exacerbate tensions with Iran, which if one views it through an international relations theory lens, Iran will attempt to counteract actual or perceived Saudi (read: Sunni) influence gains to maintain balance in the region, as well as prevent loss of Iranian influence.

Iran has a variety of proxies, as well branches of its armed services serving in countries throughout the Middle East.  This is illustrated through the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, as well as deployment of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Syria and Yemen.  This does not include the activities of the IRGC in other countries that include Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan[1].  Iran’s military adventurism throughout the Middle East serves to advance the foreign policy agenda of its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  

Put succinctly, the foreign policy agenda of the Supreme Leader is the expansion of Iranian (read: Shia) influence throughout the Middle East to serve as an ideological counterweight against the expansion of Saudi/Wahhabi ideology.

Recently, on May 20, 2017, Iran held a presidential election.  The incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani, won re-election by receiving 57% of the vote.  Mr. Rouhani is seen as a reformer in Iran, and he is expected to attempt most of his proposed reforms now that he is in his second term.  How many reforms will actually take place is anyone’s guess, as is the influence Mr. Rouhani will have on IGRC policy, but it will be a factor that should be considered when considering the United States’ approach to great power interactions.

Significance:  The Middle East will continue to be a region that perplexes United States policymakers.  United States’ Allies will continue to be confused as to policy direction in the Middle East until more fidelity is provided from Washington.  Iranian meddling will continue in sovereign nations until it is addressed, whether diplomatically or militarily.  Furthermore, Iranian meddling in the region, and interference in the affairs of sovereign nations, will continue to destabilize the Middle East and exacerbate tensions in areas where conflict is occurring, such as Syria and Yemen.  A complete withdrawal of the United States’ presence in the region would likely create a stronger vacuum potentially filled by an adversary.  As such, the United States must choose the option that will provide the strongest amount of leverage and be amicable to all parties involved in the decision.

Option #1:  Maintain the status quo – the United States continues to strengthen Sunni states and isolate Iran.  Through maintaining the status quo, the United States will signal to its allies and partners in the Middle East that they will continue to enjoy their relationship with the United States as it exists in current form.  45’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia signals this intent through proposed arms sales, announcing the establishment of a center to combat extremism, and the use of negative language towards Iran.

Risk:  The risk inherent in pursuing Option #1 is that the window of opportunity on having a moderate, reform-minded person as President of Iran will eventually close.  Through isolating Iran, it is likely they will not be keen on attempting to make overtures to the United States to reconsider the relationship between the two countries.  Since the United States is not going to pursue a relationship with Iran, other countries will seek to do so.  The risk of missed economic opportunities with an Iran that is an emerging market also has the possibility of closing the window for the United States to be involved in another area where it can exert its influence to change Iranian behavior.

Gain:  Through maintaining the status quo that exists in the Middle East, the United States can be sure that pending any diplomatic, political, or international incidents, it can maintain its presence there.  The United States can continue to nurture the preexisting relationships and attempt to maintain the upper hand in its interactions with Iran.  The United States will also remain the dominant player in the great power interactions with other countries in the Middle East.

Option #2:  The United States strengthens its relationship with Iran through moderate reformers and building relationships with moderates in Sunni states to provide shared interests and commonalities.  Given the propensity of nation-states to expand their power and influence, whether through political or military means, it is likely inevitable that conflict between Iran and the Sunni states will take place in the near future.  If a relationship can be built with moderates in the Iranian government as well as Sunni states, it is possible that commonalities will overlap and reduce tensions between the different powers.

Risk:  The risk exists that neither rival will want to have the United States attempting to influence matters that may be viewed as neighborly business.  The possibility also exists that neither nation would want to build a relationship with the other, likely originating from the religious leaders of Iran or Saudi Arabia.  Finally, the worst-case scenario would be that any type of relationship-building would be undercut through actions from independent and/or non-state actors (i.e. terrorist groups, minority religious leaders, familial rivals from ruling families).  These undercutting actions would destroy trust in the process and likely devolve into reprisals from both sides towards the other.

Gain:  Through interacting with Iran, the United States and other powers can establish relationships which could eventually allow the opportunity to address grievances towards existing policies that serve to inflame tensions.  It is also likely that by having a partner in Iran, instability in the Middle East can be addressed in a more effective manner than is currently being done right now

Monday, August 7, 2017

Russian Navy Day

On July 30, the Russian Federation celebrated Navy Day with some 100 vessels across its ports in St. Petersburg; Vladivostok; Novorossiysk; Baltiysk, Kaliningrad; Tartus, Syria; and illegally-occupied Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine. Admiral Aleksandr Vitko, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, announced plans to continue developing the Russian naval forces with a frigate, two large diesel submarines, small missile ships, patrol ships, and communications ships. The navy also recently introduced two new frigates, four diesel submarines, anti-sabotage ships, and several smaller vessels. Official photos from the events display an array of air and naval equipment.

St. Petersburg hosted the main naval parade off of Kronshtadt, an island near the city, with around 40 vessels including the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate Admiral Makarov (pennant no. 799), the Kirov-class heavy missile battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy (“Peter the Great,” pennant no. 099), the Slava-class cruiser Marshal Ustinov (pennant no. 055), the Udaloy-class destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov (pennant no. 626), and the Kuznetsov-class heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov (“Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov,” pennant no. 063).

Three Chinese warships — the Type-052D destroyer Hefei (NATO reporting name “Luyang III-class” or “Kunming class” and pennant no. 174), the Type-054A frigate Yuncheng (NATO reporting name “Jiangkai II” and pennant no. 571), and the supply ship Luoma Lake (pennant no. 964) — participated in the main naval parade in St. Petersburg. As @DFRLab previously reported, the three Chinese warships were just in Russia’s western port in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad, participating in the “Maritime Cooperation-2017” bilateral naval exercises in the Baltic Sea.

As with most Russian military celebrations, Navy Day was primarily a platform to display Russia’s military prowess. Notable developments compared to prior celebrations include holding festivities in Syria, the participation of Chinese warships in the main parade, and new frigates and submarines.

Several of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet vessels that participated in the parade in St. Petersburg will return to their permanent base in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad. En route to Baltiysk, they will participate in joint training exercises with vessels from Russia’s Northern Fleet.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Navy Railguns

The Navy’s much-hyped electromagnetic railgun has come a long way. Ever since the futuristic cannon enjoyed a public debut at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division in Virginia in November 2016, the Office of Naval Research has been working diligently alongside defense contractors to bring the decade-long program closer to battlefield effectiveness.

Based on new video published by the Department of Defense, the railgun has successfully moved from single-shot to repeated firing rate operations — a major stepping stone on the path to the battlefield.

The ONR video shows the railgun conducting its first multi-shot salvos powered by repeated pulses in energy over a short period with minimal cooldown time, a critical system for efficient applications downrage. While the prototype unveiled in November can currently launch single high-density projectiles at velocities reaching Mach 6, or 4,500 mph, the Navy clearly wants more rapid firepower. The original request for information published by Naval Sea Systems Command in 2013 called for prototypes that could fire 10 shells a minute and store up to 650 shells; this is a weapon designed with repeat fire in mind.

Engineering a power source that can provide that fire — by repeatedly generating fluctuating electromagnetic fields over short periods of time — has been a priority for ONR. In June, Electromagnetic Railgun Program chief Tom Boucher told National Defense magazine that contractors BAE and General Atomics were testing new barrel designs and devastating pulsed-power systems capable of firing five shells in a single missile, raising the cannon’s rate of fire and increasing its destructive potential.

The newly released footage reveals that the program has met its goal — sort of. The railgun manages to build to full power and send a projectile down Dahlgren’s 25-mile Potomac River test range twice in 25 seconds, a firing rate of 4.8 shells a minute — just under the goal Boucher laid out in June. It’s mightily impressive, regardless, especially given the Navy’s intent to equip guided-missile destroyers and cruisers with the railguns — if only for defensive purposes.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Persian Hegemon

Those of us above the age of consent may very well remember eons back when anyone chatting about the "Shia Crescent" were laughed out of the room.

Except of course, nobody's laughing now...

Iran has been at odds with the West since 1979, when Islamic radicals overthrew the pro-US shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and established the country as a theocracy. Over the last decade Iran’s nuclear program has caused panic in Washington, DC, as successive administrations have struggled to work out how to deal with their regional bogeyman. This culminated in the controversial 2015 nuclear deal signed by 44 — which 45 now appears to have in his sights.

Officials in Tehran are busying themselves with the facts on the ground in the Middle East. Ever since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran — a Shiite state — has had its eyes on its Shiite-majority neighbor, intent on taking over the levers of power, commerce, and the military.

But this is just one part of Iran’s wider goal: to establish territorial dominance from the Gulf of Aden to the shores of the Mediterranean.

Since the start of the Arab Spring, Iran has drawn tens of thousands of Iraqi, Lebanese and Afghan fighters to fight in the war for Syria. Ely Karmon, at the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya, Israel, estimates there are 5,000 to 7,000 Hezbollah fighters in Syria at any given time.

The Fatemiyoun Brigade, a unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, an elite branch of the armed forces, is comprised of Afghan fighters, and numbers up to 17,000 fighters. Hisham Hashemi, an Iraqi security expert, estimates around 65,000 Iraqi militia fighters have received training, weapons, or funding from Iran.

US and Israeli officials have voiced grave concerns about what appears be an emerging land bridge of fighting groups loyal to Tehran stretching from Iran’s Zagros Mountains all the way to the borders of Israel — but seem powerless in their attempts to stop it. Iran appears to be using these men in ever more creative ways, in an ongoing sectarian and geopolitical war that pits pro-Iranian Shiite countries and organizations against a Saudi-led bloc of conservative Sunni governments backed by the US.

The Iranian training of militia fighters seems to be accelerating, with fresh recruits and veterans of past training missions planning trips to Iran this year, according to the fighters themselves. Recent recruits described being trained in the use of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), which can pierce the armor of military vehicles and were used extensively against US forces during the occupation of Iraq a decade ago.

Iran’s reach extends beyond Syria and its neighbors. US and other officials suspect that Iranian training of fighters in Yemen — where Tehran’s Houthi allies control the capital — is behind recent attacks on ships off the coast of Yemen that some worry could cripple crucial sea lanes.
Fighting loosely organized and diverse armed groups of men who blend easily into civilian populations also presents a significant challenge to the US and its allies, one for which conventional tools of warfare rarely suffice.

Iran’s ruling elite is opaque at the best of times, and figures within Tehran’s security apparatus have rarely disclosed details about the training program. No one outside Iran's circle of security leaders knows what it is called — one Iranian national security insider told BuzzFeed News that it doesn’t even have an official title. In the media, Iranian officials describe the fighters as “Defenders of the Holy Shrines,” in reference to their role in protecting Shiite religious sites. In rare moments when Iranian officials do talk about the program, they describe it in grand terms, linking its aims to the establishment of a just world order that will come about with the return of the Mahdi, the disappeared 12th Imam in Shiite theology, whose reappearance they say will herald a new age.

It’s also a battle Tehran sees as a direct assault on US influence in the Middle East.

The main goals of Iran’s militia program are to maintain Iran’s security by weakening or eliminating radical Sunni groups; strengthening Iran’s strategic objectives by expanding the capabilities of its allies; keeping a balance of power favorable to Iran in the Middle East; and countering rivals such as the US and Israel. 

Monday, July 31, 2017


On (almost) this day in 1943, Operation Tidal Wave begins! Nearly 180 Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers embark on a lengthy mission to destroy oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania. The mission has been called the “longest, bloodiest, most heroic bombing mission in history.”

The day would come to be known as Black Sunday. Five men would receive Medals of Honor for their bravery that day.

Americans had been planning to hit the oil refineries in Ploesti for months. The refineries were an important source of energy for the Germans! Taking out Ploesti would seriously hamper the Nazi effort.

Naturally, that would be no easy task. Ploesti was located deep in enemy territory. The attack would have to be launched from more than 1,000 miles away, in Benghazi. The raid would be a low-level attack: The bombers would fly low, sometimes only a few hundred feet off the ground. Navigation would be difficult, and the bombers might be more vulnerable. But they’d avoid detection by radar.

The bombers left Benghazi at daybreak on August 1, 1943. Was it an omen when one plane lost an engine and crashed during takeoff? There would be many more such problems that day.

As the bombers flew past Greece, one of the planes suddenly crashed into the sea for unknown reasons. Worse, the Germans apparently figured out that Americans were headed toward Ploesti. The American bomb groups became separated and never reconnected because of the strict requirement for radio silence. Perhaps worst of all, Americans never realized how strong the Ploesti defenses were until they arrived.

The scene that followed bordered on chaos.

Those bomb groups that had been separated from the rest finally arrived on the scene. Their targets had become more difficult! Colonels John Kane and Leon Johnson were leading their respective bomb groups. They continued toward their targets, despite the “thoroughly warned defenses, the intensive antiaircraft fire, enemy fighter airplanes, extreme hazards on a low-level attack of exploding delayed action bombs from the previous element, of oil fires and explosions and dense smoke over the target area.”

The American bombers had an equally difficult time returning to Benghazi. They were low on fuel, and they encountered attacks along the way. Not every plane that left Ploesti made it back to a friendly airfield.
The attack had been horrific. At least 500 Americans were killed, wounded or captured. Roughly 1/3 of the B-24s were lost.

A grateful nation responded by making an unprecedented move: Every participant in the raid was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


The fall of the primary ISIS stronghold in Mosul in Iraq represents a turning point strategically, politically, ideologically and even religiously in the Muslim world. Mosul has been the largest symbolic center of the ISIS “Caliphate” over which the ISIS “Caliph” ‘Abd-al-Rahman al-Baghdadi presided.

The fall of the ISIS “capital” of Raqqa in Syria will not be far behind. That puts an end to ISIS’ claim that it had begun the physical elimination of all colonial borders starting with that between Iraq and Syria. In short, It will mark the end of the territoriality of ISIS, perhaps the “Caliphate’s” most striking claim-to-fame.

The institution of the Caliphate has been one of the important historical and symbolic features of Muslim history, embodying the ideal of a universal Islamic state—even though such a thing has never quite fully existed. The Caliphate is roughly the equivalent of the Papacy—once a major territorial concept, and still today a concept of the living religious community of Catholicism. Both Caliphate and Papacy symbolize a vision—the religiously-founded state as an ideal.

Unlike its caricatured image in the West, in the eyes of most Muslims the concept of the Caliphate is quite positive—a symbol of  the Muslim world’s historic power, culture, civilization, and geographical reach. Today, however, few Muslims believe that a Caliphate could ever again be practically reconstituted. Yet the idea of having a single seat of religious authority makes just as much sense for Islam as it does for other religions. But today an effort to recreate a meaningful and responsible Caliphate raises near-insoluble questions: where would it be located, who would the Caliph be, how would he be elected, what qualifications would be required, what would his authorities be, what political power he would exercise if any, and what issues could he address authoritatively. And finally, how binding would his pronouncements be. (The  Pope still faces some similar problems).

Contemporary schemes for the reestablishment of a modern-day Caliphate go back to the abolition of the office of Caliphate by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Turkey in 1924. (Turkey had a right to expel the Caliph but not to abolish the office, any more than an Italian prime minister can decide to abolish the Papacy; it is an issue for global Catholics to decide).

The unique feature of ISIS was not so much that it declared a contemporary Caliphate but that it provided  it territoriality—the closest thing in a century to establishing a meaningful Caliphate possessed of political, administrative and military power. Tragically it was established by individuals brutally intolerant in their vision, violent and cruel in their administration, and willing to employ terrorism against opponents. Yet all these ugly features did not necessarily have to come with the turf—any more than all Popes necessarily had to be brutal. But unspeakable acts became the hallmark of the ISIS brand—and its primary victims were overwhelmingly Muslim—both Shi’a and Sunni.

Equally baleful was the ISIS practice of takfir, declaring individuals—even Muslims—to be non-Muslims or “infidel.” For ISIS the penalty was usually death. But the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia also practice theological takfir, as do many other Salafis or ultra-traditonalist Islamists, even if not necessarily calling for the death penalty. Indeed, Saudi Wahhabism is not directly terrorist —but indirectly its preachings and massive financing have led to the propagation of large numbers of intolerant and extreme movements and individuals around the world, many of whom are indeed violent or even terrorist.

For most Muslims, as well as for the West, the fall of ISIS will be welcome. Yet we should not believe that terrorism conducted in the name of Islam will automatically come to an end. Such terrorism is widely recognized by specialists as basically stemming not from theology—but rather the product of politics, sociology, disadvantaged minorities, or even troubled individuals seeking ideological justification to express the rage of their personal pathology.

But a sober reality remains: the virtually non-stop wars promulgated primarily by the US in the last two decades across large parts of the Middle East, have decimated the region, with upwards of one million Muslims being killed in the wars and resulting anarchy. Vast  material devastation and social and psychological dislocation have occurred whose effects are far from over; they still arise daily in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria among other places. Such violent conditions are hotbeds for the emergence of rage, hatred, despair and psychological derangement. If American soldiers suffer in large numbers post-stress traumatic disorder—leading to high suicide rates—why should the PSTD among Muslims not be one hundred times greater?

Thus as long as radical conditions exist the conditions for further terrorism will also continue to exist. Even in the West there will always be a handful of psychologically and socially alienated Muslim youths ripe for recruitment into acts of terrorism. In most cases it comes down to cases of abnormal psychology then dressed up and dignified as a religious act. One wonders how such cases will ever completely cease. Nor is psychotic violence limited to Muslims in the West by any means.

But the destruction of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is still of major importance. The once dramatic claim to have established a Caliphate on physical territory is no longer there to dazzle and tempt many. For most the bloom is off the rose. Revelations about the brutality of life in ISIS territories are well known in the Muslim world and the overwhelming majority of Muslims are horrified by it. They do not condemn the concept of a Caliphate in Islamic history, but they certainly condemn this vicious expression of it.

Thus today, if some aspiring Muslim radical says “I have a great historical vision, how about creating a Caliphate?” there will likely to be very few takers willing to resuscitate such conditions of violence. By now most Muslims have “been there and done that.” The idea of a Caliphate as a shining new idea ready to attract angry, adventuristic, or idealistic youth has lost its gloss. Others may yet try to proclaim some ramshackle Caliphate in one remote area or another, but it will likely have little attraction except through brute force.

Parallels in the communist movement are instructive. The theoretical foundation of communism—a high degree of state socialism—will never die. But the experiment with communism in the Soviet Union created a fairly miserable society that even Russia’s admirers could no longer accept. Many doctrinaire leftists will still make the case that Russia simply carried out the communist experiment exceptionally badly, that it did not have to be like that, and that the Swedish model of society and governance is closer to the communist ideal.

Still, the present iteration of ISIS as “Caliphate” is now drawing to a close. There will inevitably be some who will try to exploit the power of the idea again—as with authoritarian state socialism— but it becomes mostly an exercise in brutal imposition of power, not an exercise in Islamic political thought. The US can help by sharply curtailing its campaigns of military destruction in the region; they gave birth to ISIS in the first place and remain a key wellspring of radicalization.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Russia's New Big Warships

Russia is likely to build larger surface combatants in the coming years—with larger corvettes and frigates in the works. However, Moscow is not likely to spend large sums of money to build massive new vessels such as the gargantuan 14,000-ton Leader-class nuclear-powered destroyers or 100,000-ton Storm aircraft carriers. Instead, Russia will likely build scaled up versions of existing warship designs.

Indeed, the Leader-class is unlikely to ever be built. Moscow will more likely build a smaller and more cost effective vessel based on its Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates. The new “Super Gorshkovs” are likely to displace about 8,000-tons, which is about size of a normal destroyer.

At 8000-tons, the new Super Gorshkovs would be larger than most frigates such as the 6,700-ton French-Italian FREMMs or 6,400-ton Spanish Álvaro de Bazán class (F100)—and would thus be more appropriately categorized as destroyers. Indeed, the new Russian vessels would be comparable to the 7000-ton Australian Hobart-class or 8,500-ton British Type 45 destroyers in terms of size if not capability.

In addition to the new super-sized Gorshkov-based frigate/destroyer, the Russians are likely to focus on up-sized corvettes.

There is a debate in Russia as to whether their navy needs additional smaller green water surface combatants. If Kofman is correct, the Russians are now leaning towards building larger vessels.

Overall, the Russian fleet will grow and recapitalize at measured pace. Moscow is unlikely to embark on any fantastical projects like the Leader anytime soon. Modern Russia is not the Soviet Union and simply doesn’t have the kind of resources it once did during the Cold War. Thus, current day Russian navy modernization is more measured than was the case prior to the Soviet collapse.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


"It. Must. Not. Fail"

Elefants, Tigers and Panthers, oh my!

By spring time 1943 das Dritten Reiches was in a hexen kessel of scary dimensions. In the last year Great Satan and Great Britain had driven the vaunted Afrika Korps into extinction, sortee'd several "Thousand Bomber Raids" that carpetly xformed ancient Deutsch cities into flaming craters, Battle for the Atlantic was looking kinda iffy and worst of all - the encirclement, destruction and ultimate surrender of wehrmacht's nearly 1 million (550K to 900K - depending on the source) combat truppen of vPaulus' 6th army at Stalingrad.

Despite the ferociously fearful mauling wehrmacht took on the Volga, Deutschland recovered and thanks to savage fighting hooked up with vManstein's famous back hand b slap, the ultimate Aryans retook Kharkov and inflicted amazingly horrific losses on the best Red Army could juggernaut.

As spring's thawing muddy rasputitsa sunk in - both sides frantically roused themselves out of exhaustion and prepped for the coming summer campaign.

The forced reinstatement of the forced retired "Klotzen, nicht kleckern" cat - the newly minted Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen tripped out on a ruthlessly relentless reinvigoration of the panzer franchise by blitzing factories, design firms, unit creation/rebuilding ubungsplatzes and shooting ranges in a new blitz of genius born of desperation.

Even Luftwaffe got all panzer happy - sexing up something something sturzkampfflugzeug Stuka
with dual 37mm rapid fire cannons and deploying Henschelicious Hs-129

STAVKA knew their bulging bulge in the lines around Kursk would prob be the spot the hated NSDAPers would schwerpunkt in the coming months and conscripted anyone they could get their hands on to erect a formidable deep defensive belt - 500 miles of barb wire, over a million anti ppl and anti panzer mines remixed in a web of of ditches, scarps, counter-scarps, hedgehogs, roadblocks, minefields, fixed artillery impact areas, bunkers and a myriad of panzer obstructions, traps and general purpose nastiness on a colossal scale. Plus Comrade Stalin had spy sources at the highest levels of enemy command.

Sev months of infighting at OKH/OKW bout doing another Kharkov backhand - allowing Red Army to attack first, roll with flow and launch a crushing counter attack - or doing the fourplay forehand pre emptive attack - conterminously coalesced with quality control/production probs with the Panther (her 1st production engines enjoyed bursting into flames at the most inopportune moments), stubborn refusal of the sturmgeschutz to die on the vine and manpower in general held up Operation Zitadelle for months.

Purveyors of pre emption won out and on 5 July Germany attacked. The southern front of Zitadelle featured a combat rock star line up of 3rd Reich's finest panzerteers - all rebuilt, rearmed and reconstituted to Generalinspekteur specs - Großdeutschland, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th and 11th Panzer divisions and the newly created II Waffen Ss Panzer Korps

Featuring the lavishly equipped and fully crunk Ss Panzer Grenadier divisions of Liebstandarte, Das Reich and Totenkopf - vManstein formed 'Panzerkeil" - an uparmored wedge with Tigers at the tip, Panthers and Mk IV's fanning out behind with a creamy centre of inf armed with automatic weapons, mortar mounted or SP gunned SdKfz looking thingies with the base built of heavily armed panzergrenadiers in tracked vehics.

In contrast Zitadelle's northern commander Model used Montgomery's El Alamein idea of using inf to poke holes for the panzers to exploit - with disastrous results for his 9th Army.

These panzerkeil wedges were designed to crack open tender, sensitive portions of the southern defensive perimeters, break free and fan out for a fun fast trek like France 1940.

And they did. Chopping through an immense junkyard of trashed Soviet material, General Hausser's Feldpolizei Po Po hauled off columns of dazed and defeated Russian POWs, the final breakthrough was at hand on the morning of 12 July when II Ss breached Psel river - the last obstacle to Kursk - and collided with the Russian armored reserves at a place called Prokhorovka.

For over 8 hours this enormous armored brawl raged unabated, slashing the orchards and churning the lush, green cornfields of a few square miles of upper Donetz river valley into a blackened inferno of exploding armor, wrecked burning vehicles and charred corpses - drenched intermittantly by downpours from violent thunderstorms.

The controversial climax of Zitadelle involving over 2K panzers - as the largest panzer battle in history - has acquired mythic stats - heroic Russian stories of Russians ramming Deutsch Tigers, the 3 premier Waffen Ss fighting shoulder to shoulder, death ride of the panzers and a glorious Soviet victory suffer from hard facts as Prokhorovka gets re examined.

"...Closer study of the losses of each type of tank reveals that the corps lost about 70 tanks on July 12. In contrast, Soviet tank losses, long assumed to be moderate, were actually catastrophic.

"...In 1984, a history of the Fifth Guards Tank Army written by Rotmistrov himself revealed that on July 13 the army lost 400 tanks to repairable damage. He gave no figure for tanks that were destroyed or not available for salvage.

"...Evidence suggests that there were hundreds of additional Soviet tanks lost. Several German accounts mention that Hausser had to use chalk to mark and count the huge jumble of 93 knocked-out Soviet tanks in the Leibstandarte sector alone. Soviet sources say the tank strength of the army on July 13 was 150 to 200, a loss of about 650 tanks.

Germany's Lost Victories indeed, nicht wahr?

Regardless of appearance - Deutschland lost the initiative and despite desperate counters like Zhitomer, Totenkopf's amazingly tenacious blunting blow outside Warzawa or Unternehmen Frühlingserwachen, never again held the initiative. Red Army did. And they never let it go until 3rd Reich died kicking and screaming.

And it happened today - at Prokhorovka.

Pic - "Backhand or the forehand?"courtesy of Uncle Theo

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Syrian Ceasefire

What does the ceasefire in Syria mean on the ground? Which areas will observe it and which areas will not?

In theory, the ceasefire should apply to all of Syria. However, Russia has insisted that, along with its allied forces, it reserve the right to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and al-Nusra Front forces as these two groups are outside the framework of the ceasefire, as are other groups labelled as 'terrorist' by the UN.

This means that the ceasefire is not geographically demarcated. This exception to the ceasefire is very problematic, however, because Russian forces have attacked many rebel groups and civilian areas under the justification of attacking ISIL and Nusra.

These two groups have become convenient scapegoats for Russian attacks throughout Syria. Russia has essentially reserved the right to militarily engage any armed groups in Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIL and Nusra.

The United States has been working with Russia in an attempt to designate whether certain areas are ceasefire-abiding areas or not, but they have yet to agree on the specific geographic contours of the agreement. The absence of such contours will give Russia greater military latitude.

Practically speaking, this means that large swaths of Syrian territory in which these groups are present, particularly in the eastern and northwestern parts of the country, will remain active conflict zones. 

Groups outside of the ceasefire, such as Ahrar al-Sham and others labelled as terrorist groups, remain present in parts of Homs and Hama provinces, as well as near Damascus, meaning these areas also potentially lie outside of the ceasefire zones.

What are the chances of the ceasefire holding and for how long? What could it hold and why might it not?

The ceasefire is unlikely to hold for three main reasons: First, Russia and its allies have reserved the right to attack forces outside of the ceasefire. This means that any violence on the ground that is committed by Russia or regime-led forces can be justified within the framework of the Munich agreement and the ceasefire under the pretence of fighting ISIL.

As such, Russia can have its cake and eat it, too; it has reserved the right to militarily engage armed groups while demanding that they cease all hostilities. Second, there are simply thousands of small, organised brigades in Syria that have little interest in a cessation of hostilities.

There is a network of armed groups who have benefitted handsomely from the conflict and for whom a ceasefire may threaten them and their activities.

It is counterintuitive; however, it is important to note that not all of the violence in Syria is driven by metapolitical issues, such as trying to overthrow the regime, and that there are micropolitical issues, such as security and smuggling, that also motivate armed groups.

With little incentive aside from the possible reprieve from Russian bombing, it is unlikely that many of these groups will be motivated to observe the ceasefire.

Third, most of the rebel groups inside of Syria cooperate with other groups on the battlefield. This cooperation has as much to do with their political or ideological affinities as it does their relative strengths and weaknesses and need to build alliances to make military gains.

Thus, very few armed groups inside Syria operate independently of other groups, blurring the distinctions between them. Isolating a few groups as outside of the ceasefire betrays the organisational structure of violence on the ground and the reality that most groups cooperate on the battlefield.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Unhappy Adversaries

When your adversaries are unhappy - rejoice!

There was no pressing reason for Xi Jinping to stop off in Moscow for a summit meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. There have already been two recent high-level contacts where critical issues in the Russia-China relationship were discussed. 

The Chinese leader had already met with Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana a month ago, and the Russian head of state had traveled to Beijing in May for the “One Belt, One Road” conclave. And both leaders, of course, were already scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany later this week.

No, the decision for Xi to travel to Moscow first and for Putin to host him in the Kremlin is meant as a direct and clear message to the United States and to the administration before the President leaves for Europe: we aren't pleased with the direction of U.S. policy, and we have options.

One must also assume that Xi is giving Putin the benefit of his experiences during his face to face meetings with 45 at Mar-A-Lago earlier this year, as well as his “read” of the American president, prior to Putin's own first direct encounter at Hamburg.

This could prove to be very critical in how that meeting unfolds. Xi, of course, was honored with a meeting with 45 in the more intimate setting of 45's Florida hideaway, but was also “interrupted” by the decision to launch an American cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack in Idlib.

Will Xi convey a sense that 45 employs a bit of  37's “madman” approach and that one must be cautious in dealing with the U.S. president? Will he advise Putin that  45 talks a good game but then can't seem to get his preferences through the U.S. policy process? (A precedent Putin has already experienced with 44 and 43.) And does Xi still believe it is possible to do business with the administration, or will he counsel the Russian president that expectations about 45 the deal maker were overrated? Or, given the political turmoil in Washington, it is time for both Moscow and Beijing to forge ahead and create more “facts on the ground” whether in Ukraine, Syria or the maritime zones of the Pacific?

Of course, China and Russia remain cautious in defining the limits of their strategic embrace. Both will complain about U.S. actions and promise verbal and moral support, but neither Moscow nor Beijing has been pushed—yet—to consummate any sort of Eurasian entente. Neither side has completely foreclosed on the hope that, at some point in the future, 45 the deal maker will gain bureaucratic control of the U.S. national security apparatus and be prepared to sit down to negotiate.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Born On The 4th Of July

4 July 1776 fired off a crazy rocking rolling ride that hasn't stopped 'stirring things up' on a global scale.

Advancing arrogance into an art form with a remarkable relentless risque commitment to liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, and laissez-faire values. 

America differs qualitatively from all other nations, because of her unique origins, nat'l credo, historical evolution, and distinctive political and religious institutions.

Great Satan is magically especial because she was a country of immigrants and the first modern democracy. 

Loud, proud and rowdy - early America forecast future stuff with a provocative lingo that still fits today. "Don't Tread On Me!" "Liberty Or Death", "Live Free Or Die" 

Great Satan's superiority of the American xperiment is reflected in the perception among Americans of America’s role in the world. That American foreign policy is based on moral principles is a consistent theme in the American hot diplopolititary gossip – a phenomenon recognized even by those who are skeptic of such an assessment. 

This inclination to do right has been virtually unique among the nations of the world - and for this very reason - America has been totally misunderstood. How could a nation so rich, so successful actually, really be so unselfish and so caring?

Unconvincing (and either historically igno - or deceitfully dishonest - either term will do) critics cry Great Satan must have darker motives! America must be seeking imperium - to dominate everyone else, suck up all the oil, to trade and rob blind for America's selfish purposes. 

People from more grasping, less idealistic societies find it nigh impossible to accept that America honestly believes that giving everyone opportunity is the real roadmap for abundance and happiness everywhere - not merely in the magical Great Satan.

Americans honestly believe that securing other people's freedom is actually like the best guarantee that America can keep her own.

Great Satan does not want to dominate the world. Americans want to live in peace and hope other people will too.

Great Satan will go out into the world, redress errors, stop uncool unacceptable behaviour, to first challenge, then annihilate threats to our liberty.

Creative destruction is Great Satan's middle name. It is her natural function, for she is the one truly revolutionary country in the world for more than 2 centuries. 

She does it automatically, and that is precisely why creeps and tyrants hate her guts, and are driven to attack her. An enormous advantage, despots fear her, and oppressed peoples want what she offers: freedom. 

Amazingly, some suspect states, illegit leaders and some people have not yet comprehended that America's primary intention is to preserve and keep our own land and liberty and all it's prosperity and that America will do anything and go anywhere to make it happen.

Great Satan built the modern world.

And She knows her way around.

Joyeuex Anniversarie America!