Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

America First? Enter the über-hawks: Pompeo and Bolton

Change of foreign policy team points to increased US belligerence

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

2,226 Views

Even as Britain and parts of Europe – though not it should be stressed the rest of the world – have been distracted by the hysteria about the Skripal case flooding out of London, far more important events have been happening across the Atlantic.

President Trump’s position becoming stronger

Firstly, President Trump’s political position is beginning to look significantly stronger with the decision of the House Intelligence Committee to close down its Russiagate investigation and to report that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

It is expected that the Senate Intelligence Committee will shortly report the same finding.

The Mueller inquiry has yet to report, but none of its indictments suggest that any evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign has been found.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Russiagate scandal – at least so far as it concerns the position of Donald Trump as President of the United States – is finally drawing to a close.

A politically much strengthened President is now therefore using the increasing political space available to him to reshuffle his foreign policy team.

The reshuffle

Rex Tillerson, his former Secretary of State, is gone, replaced by former CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

General H.R. McMaster, his former National Security Adviser, is also gone, replaced by the notorious veteran hardliner John Bolton.

Tillerson and McMaster: a weak team

Neither Tillerson nor McMaster should be missed.

Tillerson is a person of great ability and experience who had the makings to be an outstanding Secretary of State.  However the task the President intended for him – to be along with his first National Security Adviser General Flynn the point-man in the restoration of good relations with Russia – proved impossible to execute because of the Russiagate scandal.

In consequence Tillerson has drifted, and over the last year his lack of empathy with the President has become increasingly obvious, with increasingly public disagreements between the two men about the conduct of relations with North Korea and Iran.

The fact that Tillerson is reported to have called the President (his boss) a “f…g moron” cannot have helped, even though the story has been denied.

As for General H.R. McMaster, opinions about him differ, but the President cannot have been happy at the way he was effectively forced on him following the forced resignation of General Flynn.

General McMaster, as a former protégé of General Petraeus, war historian and military planner, is often spoken of as some sort of neocon intellectual.

In my opinion his views are the conventional views of a US military officer, and he is overrated.

His approach to his task as head of the National Security Council’s bureaucracy has been essentially managerial, neglecting the job’s key function, which is to act as the President’s principal adviser on foreign and security policy.  To the extent that he has sought to perform this role at all, he has acted like a kind of gatekeeper, trying to box the President into following his own conventional thinking.

The President, who was elected with his own distinctive views on foreign policy has, understandably enough, become increasingly resentful of this tutelage.

It seems the breaking point may have been the President’s decision to ignore McMaster’s advice by telephoning Russian President Putin to congratulate him on his election.  McMaster apparently advised against it.  The President did it anyway, moreover refusing even to bring up Russiagate or the Skripal case with Putin.

Though tensions between the President and McMaster have been building up for some time and the two were apparently already in discussion about McMaster going, the President’s decision to ignore McMaster’s advice by calling Putin, and the subsequent leak to the media that he had acted contrary to McMaster’s advice, appears to have been the final straw, and within days McMaster was gone.

Pompeo and Bolton: disciples of America First?

What then of the two men – Pompeo and Bolton – the President has picked to replace Tillerson and McMaster with?

The first thing to say is that Donald Trump now has had a year of being President during which time he has become far more experienced in Washington politics, and has a much better idea of the sort of people he likes to work with and who share his views.

Whilst Tillerson and McMaster were people who were picked for him – Tillerson was apparently chosen at the suggestion of George W. Bush’s former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, not at the Russian government’s suggestion as the Trump Dossier’s compiler Christopher Steele has preposterously claimed – Pompeo and Bolton look to be Trump’s own choices.

In the case of Pompeo, Trump has now worked closely with Pompeo for a whole year, and it is clear that the two men get on with each other and share many of the same views.

In the case of John Bolton, the position is more complicated.

The Moon of Alabama describes John Bolton well

John Bolton is not a neo-conservative. He does not dream of ‘spreading democracy’ or ‘nation building’. He is a ‘smash, burn and leave’ libertarian hawk. He is also an exceptionally avid bureaucrat who knows how to get the things he wants done. That quality is what makes him truly dangerous. Bolton is known for sweet-talking to his superiors, being ruthless against competitors and for kicking down on everyone below him.

Another way of putting it is that John Bolton is an American nationalist and an apostle of US power.

He prefers to see this exercised with all constraints thrown off.  Moreover he does so with none of the pretences about “democracy promotion”, “human rights” etc with which the US – and neocon officials especially – habitually mask the US’s actions.

Thus whilst representing the US in the United Nations as its ambassador Bolton made no attempt conceal his total contempt for the United Nations and for the whole system of international law which it represents.

As to his attitudes to US interventionist wars, they were summed up for me in a television interview I saw him give some time after the start of the Iraq war as it was becoming clear that Iraq following the US invasion (which he supported) far from becoming a thriving democracy as had been promised was instead descending into chaos and sectarian civil war.

Bolton’s response was both clear and chilling: he didn’t care.  The US’s objective was to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who had been challenging the US position in the Middle East.  With that objective achieved what happened after – Iraq’s descent into chaos and civil war – was of no concern to the US.  If Iraq went to pieces and millions of Iraqis died or were killed, it didn’t bother him, and it did not concern the United States.

Not surprisingly most people find this attitude disturbing, which it is.  However I would point out its intellectual clarity and honesty.

Perhaps I am alone in thinking this but on balance I prefer Bolton’s tough minded way of speaking to the endless sermonising of people like Nikki Haley, Samantha Power and the neocons, who support all the same wars John Bolton has supported, but who also insist that they serve some higher moral purpose even as they spread death and disaster all around them.

Why Pompeo and Bolton appeal to Trump

It is easy to see how this sort of frank ‘no-nonsense’ thinking would appeal to someone like Donald Trump, who is every bit as much of an American nationalist as John Bolton, and who has never made any secret of the fact that he also despises the moralising language with which US policy is typically conducted, and has little time for international law.

Whilst Mike Pompeo, the new Secretary of State, has never expressed himself in quite such  blunt terms, he too seems to take the same strong line on vigorously defending US national interests and everyone else be damned that John Bolton does.

Since Pompeo and Bolton hold views about how the US should conduct itself in the world which look to be in accord with Trump’s, and since unlike Tillerson and McMaster they are clearly Trump’s own picks, I expect them to have a much better relationship with Trump than Tillerson and McMaster did, and to last much longer than Tillerson and McMaster did.

I do not share the widely expressed view that they will soon be gone, like Tillerson and McMaster.

Re-establishing civilian control of the US government

There is one important positive aspect of the coming of Pompeo and Bolton which has gone largely unremarked.

This is that the appointment of Pompeo and Bolton and the resignation of McMaster break the ring of generals who have been in effective control of the US government ever since Steve Bannon was ousted in August.

Though the other two generals that make up this ring – Defense Secretary Mattis and White House Chief of Staff Kelly – are still there, the coming of Pompeo and Bolton finally provides a civilian balance to them.

Soldiers tend to be more effective as executors of policy than as policy makers.  Ever since the military took charge of the US government in the summer the US has a result been drifting into ever deeper confrontation with Russia, China and Iran, without much thought of why it is doing so, and what the consequences of confrontation with any one of these powers might be.

I explained all this in an article I wrote for The Duran on 24th August 2017

General Mattis is not prepared to risk a head-on clash with the Russian military in Syria, but is willing to act in the most provocative way imaginable against Russia in Europe,…. General Mattis is not prepared to risk a head-on clash with China in the Korean Peninsula, but is willing to act in the most provocative way imaginable against China in the South China Sea.

As is the case in Europe, this is because General Mattis presumably doesn’t believe that the risk of an armed clash with China in the South China Sea is a real one.

This strange mix of policies – backing off from confronting the Russian and Chinese militaries in Syria and Korea where the risks are real, but aggressively seeking confrontation with Russia and China in Europe and the South China Sea where no risks are thought to exist, is exactly what one would expect of a US soldier.

They combine the extreme risk-aversion characteristic of today’s US military, with its longstanding habit of aggressive posturing where the risks of doing it appear to be minimal.

What is wholly absent is any sense of a larger strategy.

In no sense does General Mattis seem to have a policy either for Russia or China or for dealing with the separate crises in Afghanistan, Korea or the Middle East.

Instead he improvises reactively – as might be expected of a soldier – in each case doing so without any sense of the interconnections between the various crises which confront him, or of the paradox of the US seeking Russia and Chinese help in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula whilst simultaneously striking against Russian and Chinese interests in Europe and the South China Sea.

Needless to say, in respect to Grand Strategy – thinking about the Chinese-Russian alliance and looking for ways to respond to it – General Mattis can come up with nothing at all.  So far as he is concerned, it is enough that China and Russia are adversaries of the US, so he sets out in each case to confront them where he feels he can, without giving any thought to how this may make them work more closely together against US interests.

Though Mattis and McMaster did not get on, and though Mattis and General Kelly both wanted McMaster gone, the same criticisms I made of General Mattis apply equally to General McMaster.

General McMaster’s entire period as head of the National Security Council has been marked by the same sort of conventional thinking and absence of strategic vision as is true of General Mattis.

By contrast John Bolton – if he is nothing else – is at least someone who takes strategy seriously, and since he is driven exclusively by his conception of US national interests, he is someone who might conceivably act in an unconventional way.

Given the multiple challenges the US is facing some new thinking is essential, and if Bolton can provide it that might not in itself be bad thing.

The problem however is in the nature of the ‘new thinking’ Bolton might offer.

Renewed drive for a rapprochement with Russia?

The possibility that Pompeo and Bolton might decide that some sort of rapprochement with Russia is in the US’s interests, and that they might therefore go along with Donald Trump’s repeatedly expressed wish for better relations with Russia, might seem unlikely but it is a possibility which should not be completely discounted.

Pompeo and Bolton are in no sense friends of Russia.  On the contrary they see Russia as an adversary and rival.

However if the two were to decide that US interests would be served by temporarily mending fences with Russia, for example in order to avoid the US becoming over-extended as it pursues conflicts elsewhere, then they are not the sort of people who would let ideology or sentiment stand in their way.

Already Pompeo as CIA chief has shown an element of flexibility when he surprised many people by inviting to Washington the leaders of the Russian intelligence community for a bilateral intelligence summit.

However if Pompeo and Bolton do decide to seek some sort of rapprochement with Russia, it will only be of a temporary nature, and they will want it to be on the US’s terms.

That already makes the prospects for such a rapprochement problematic.

I suspect the Russians understand this fully, so that whilst some temporary easing of tension may occur, a genuine rapprochement is extremely unlikely, and any such easing as does take place will be short term.

War against North Korea?

Some are saying that Pompeo’s and Bolton’s appointment sharply increases the danger of the US attacking North Korea.

John Bolton is known to see the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme as a threat to the US, and he has publicly advocated an attack on North Korea as a way of bringing that threat to an end.

Mike Pompeo has spoken out in favour of regime change in North Korea.

Neither Bolton nor Pompeo are the sort of people to be deterred from a war against North Korea because it threatens casualties in faraway countries like South Korea and Japan.  John Bolton treats such casualties as no more than collateral damage (see above).

Of course questions of international law do not concern them either.

On balance, I however still think that an attack on North Korea is unlikely.  The risks of such an attack on a nuclear armed North Korea backed by China look altogether too great.

General McMaster is known to have called for a “limited strike” against North Korea.  General Mattis and the US military were however strongly opposed.  It seems that it was McMaster’s call for a “limited strike” against North Korea which turned General Mattis against him.

I expect the US military to be as opposed to a military strike against North Korea now that Bolton has taken McMaster’s place as they were when McMaster was around.

Ultimately I cannot believe an attack on North Korea will happen which the US military opposes, and for that reason I do not expect such an attack to happen.

However whilst I continue to believe that an attack on North Korea is unlikely, there has to be doubt about whether the proposed summit meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will now take place.

John Bolton has history of sabotaging negotiations between the US and its enemies.  He worked for example to sabotage talks between the George W. Bush administration and the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi.

Already there has been intense opposition to the proposed Trump-Kim summit in Washington, and given their known opinions about North Korea and about North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, it is difficult to imagine Pompeo and Bolton allowing a genuine understanding with North Korea to happen.

On the contrary it is far more likely that they will press for a more aggressive US military posture against North Korea.

That will translate into more troops and more ships deployed to the Korean Peninsula and to the north east Pacific, more demands for more sanctions against North Korea, more pressure on China and Russia to agree to those sanctions, and more pressure on South Korea to break off its current talks with North Korea.

Frankly the prospect of any understanding between the US and North Korea looks bleak.

China

Though US President Donald Trump seems to have established – at least in his own mind – a cordial relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, it is clear that his administration considers China a strategic competitor and long term adversary of the US.

The recent US move to impose tariffs on Chinese goods is at least in part driven by this belief, as are the increasing US naval deployments to the South China Sea.

I will here state my view that Donald Trump’s desire for a rapprochement with Russia as well as being driven by a genuine personal liking for the country is principally intended to divide Russia from China, with Donald Trump and his former adviser Steve Bannon being two of the few people in the US who seem to have noticed that the two countries have become allies.

I have no doubt that Pompeo and Bolton share this anti-Chinese outlook.  Bolton especially has form in supporting an independent Taiwan, which crosses a red line for China.

I expect relations between the US and China to continue to deteriorate, with China responding to the US’s increasing belligerence by challenging US moves in the South China Sea and by stepping up its cooperation with Russia.

Iran 

Mike Pompeo and John Bolton like Donald Trump are outspoken opponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) with Iran.

By ditching Rex Tillerson Donald Trump has removed from his administration the last major figure who supported the JCOPA, though General McMaster is also believed to have supported it.

The appointment of Pompeo and Bolton strengthens even further the already strong anti-Iran tilt of the Trump administration, which reflects Donald Trump’s own strong anti-Iran feelings.

Not only will this result in US hostility to Iran increasing even further, but outright cancellation of the JCPOA must now be on the cards.

A US military strike on Iran – something Bolton is known to have advocated during the Presidency of George W. Bush, has now become a distinct possibility.

Senior Iranian officials are already responding by talking of Iran’s need to strengthen even further its relations with the two Great Eurasian Powers: China and Russia.

The chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Alaeddin Boroujerdi is for example reported by Iran’s Press TV to have said this on 25th March 2018

We must strengthen our relations with important countries like China and Russia, which have also been subjected to US sanctions and face serious challenges from that country.  China and Russia are two important and influential members of the [UN] Security Council and the expansion of relations will help neutralize and reduce the impact of US pressure.

The extent of any future realignment of Iran with China and Russia remains to be seen.  However tensions in the Gulf region are certain to increase.

Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East

I expect Bolton especially to push hard for the restoration of US primacy in the Middle East, which has become severely eroded since the debacle of the Iraq war.

The Middle East happens to be the area of Bolton’s greatest interest, and I am sure he will devote much of his time and energy to it.

Though I suspect Bolton cares little about regime change in Syria, the fact that the US has suffered a strategic defeat there at Russia’s and Iran’s hands will undoubtedly rankle with him, and there must also be a fear that he will do all he can to reverse it.  A renewed push for regime change in Syria, risking a confrontation with Russia, is a distinct possibility.

At the same time I expect there to be a renewed effort to bring Erdogan and Turkey back on side.

Pompeo in particular has already shown a clear understanding of the importance of Turkey in securing the US’s position in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Middle East.  Only last month he visited Turkey to try to mend fences with Erdogan.

Whether Pompeo and Bolton are prepared to sacrifice the Kurds in Syria to win Turkey back however remains to be seen.

Of one thing however there cannot be any doubt: US support for Israel will remain unconditional and may if anything become even more strident.

Bolton for example has spoken against establishing a Palestinian state and against the two states solution, which is internationally widely regarded as the route to achieving broader Middle East peace.

Venezuela and Cuba

Much like Donald Trump himself, Pompeo and Bolton are implacable enemies of Venezuela and Cuba.

Whatever hopes the Cuban leadership may have had of a normalisation of relations with the US following Barack Obama’s decision to re-establish diplomatic relations have been dashed.

The result is that both Venezuela and Cuba are becoming increasingly dependent on Russia.

In Venezuela’s case this is leading to Russia establishing increasing control over Venezuela’s oil industry and over Venezuela’s erratic economic decision making.

In Cuba’s case steps to re-establish the economic and politic links which existed between Cuba and the USSR also seem to be underway.

Europe

The coming of John Bolton especially will not be welcomed in the major European capitals, where he is disliked for his belligerence and abrasiveness.  However that is unlikely to have any significant impact on the state of US-Europe relations.

Summary

With Pompeo and Bolton Donald Trump has what looks like the foreign policy team that he wants.

It is indeed an “America First’ team, committed to preserving and extending the paramount position of the US, and indifferent to the methods used to achieve it.

It is fair to say however that this is not the conception of ‘America First’ which many people expected when Donald Trump was elected.

Most people then assumed that ‘America First’ meant retrenchment: the US abandoning in its neo-imperial adventures so that it could refocus on its own needs.

Instead we look more likely to get a repeat of the administration of George W. Bush, but this time on steroids.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

Latest

Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

Continue Reading

Latest

From McCain to Brennan, Deep State soft coup against Trump picks up steam (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 59.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

After Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the Deep State smells blood, and is moving quickly to depose of US President Donald Trump.

Government officials and mainstream media puppets from left and right are condemning the US President over his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

Leading the charge are the usual Deep State, suspects, starting with John McCain and ending with the man many believe is behind the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax, former Obama CIA boss John Brennan.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine the soft coup aimed at removing US President Trump by the November 2018 midterms. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Independent

Conservative John McCain, who is facing a rare and terminal brain cancer, unleashed a damning statement against Mr Trump’s conference with Mr Putin, describing it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” he said.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”

The conservative senator’s comments arrived after the US president declined to name Russia as the adversary behind coordinated attacks on the 2016 presidential election.

While discussing whether he thought Russia was behind hacks against the 2016 election — as the US intelligence community has determined —the president said: “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

“Dan Coats [the US Director of National Intelligence] said its Russia. President Putin says its not Russia,” said Mr Trump. “I don’t know why it would be…..I have confidence in both parties. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

That set off a wave of condemnations from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“President Trump’s press conference with Putin was an embarrassing spectacle,” Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet. “Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin’s denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.”

Jeff Flake, one of the only frequent Republican critics of Mr Trump in Congress, said the conference was “shameful” in a statement he posted across social media.

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” he said. “This is shameful.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan released a statement calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment and describing his comments as “treasonous”.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours,'” Mr Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Elizabeth Warren also slammed the president for failing to hold Mr Putin accountable, writing on Twitter: “Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded.”

“Disgraceful,” she concluded.

However, Mr Trump’s typical roster of critics weren’t the only legislators rebuking his bizarre denials of US intelligence. Lindsey Graham also criticised Mr Trump’s performance, adding that his denial of US intelligence will “be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves”.

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections,” he said.

The Republican senator added a suggestion to Mr Trump: review the soccer ball Mr Putin gave to him as a gift for “listening devices” and “never allow it in the White House.”

Thomas Pickering, a regarded statesman and the former US ambassador to Russia, told MSNBC that he was in utter disbelief after the press conference was held on Monday.

“It’s a breathtaking denial of something that clearly is so obviously true,” he said. ”it represents the epitome of President Trump’s effort at self-promotion over the notion of defending the national interest of the United States.”

Mark Warner, a Virginia senator, also suggested Mr Trump committed a clear violation of his responsibilities as president.

Mr Trump committed “a breach of his duty to defend our country against its adversaries,” Mr Warner said. ”If the President cannot defend the United States and its interests in public, how can we trust him to stand up for our country in private?”

Meanwhile the latest Deep State leak, via the NYT, claims that US President Trump was told by Obama holdovers that Putin was involved in cyberattacks during the 2016 election. US intelligence told Trump this information days before the inauguration.

Via The Gateway Pundit

The same liberal hacks who illegally leaked this information want Americans to trust them as they continue to destroy this duly elected president.

President Trump on Wednesday told CBS anchor Jeff Glor that he has no confidence in the tainted intelligence by far left hacks Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

And, once again, the timing of this leak is not an accident.

Liberals are outraged that President Trump refused to chest bump Putin in Helsinki.

The deep state leaked this information to pile on the Republican president.

The New York Times reported…

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

Continue Reading

Latest

Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

Published

on

Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Advertisement

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement
Advertisements
Advertisement
Advertisements

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!

The Duran Newsletter

Trending