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Do you think his assessment is accurate?

Paul Craig Roberts has been uniquely visionary in his search for reality in a “post-factual” age.

The Saker

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This article was written for the Unz Review

“Do you think his assessment is accurate?” was the subject line of an email I got from a good friend recently.  The email referred to the article by Paul Craig Roberts “One Day Tomorrow Won’t Arrive” which claimed that “the US military is now second class compared to the Russian military“.  The article then went on to list a number of Russian weapons systems which were clearly superior to their US counterparts (when those even existed).  My reply was short “Basically yes. The USA definitely has the quantitative advantage, but in terms of quality and training, Russia is way ahead. It all depends on on specific scenarios, but yes, PCR is basically spot on“.  This email exchange took place after an interesting meeting I had with a very well informed American friend who, in total contrast to PCR, insisted that the USA had total military supremacy over any other country and that the only thing keeping the USA from using this overwhelming military might was that US leaders did not believe in the “brutal, unconstrained, use of force”.  So what is going on here?  Why do otherwise very well informed people have such totally contradictory views?

First, a disclaimer.  To speak with any authority on this topic I would have to have access to a lot of classified data both on the US armed forces and on the Russian ones.  Alas, I don’t.  So what follows is entirely based on open/public sources, conversations with some personal contacts mixed in with some, shall we say, educated guesswork.  Still, I am confident that what follows is factually correct and logically analyzed.

To sum up the current state of affairs I would say that the fact that the US armed forces are in a grave state of decay is not as amazing by itself as is the fact that this almost impossible to hide fact is almost universally ignored.  So let’s separate the two into “what happened” and “why nobody seems to be aware of it”.

What happened

Let’s begin at the beginning: the US armed forces were never the invincible military force the US propaganda (including Hollywood) would have you believe they have been.  I looked into the topic of the role of the western Allies in my “Letter to my American friend” and I won’t repeat it all here.  Let’s just say that the biggest advantage the USA had over everybody else during WWII is a completely untouched industrial base which made it possible to produce fantastic numbers of weapon systems and equipment in close to ideal conditions.  Some, shall we kindly say, “patriotic” US Americans have interpreted that as a sign of the “vigor” and “superiority” of the Capitalist economic organization while, in reality, this simply was a direct result of the fact that the USA was protected by two huge oceans (the Soviets, in contrast, had to move their entire industrial base to the Urals and beyond, as for the Germans, they had to produce under a relentless bombing campaign).  The bottom line was this: US forces were better equipped (quantitatively and, sometimes, even qualitatively) than the others and they could muster firepower in amounts difficult to achieve for their enemies.  And, yes, this did give a strong advantage to US forces, but hardly made them in any way “better” by themselves.

After WWII the USA was the only major industrialized country on the planet whose industry had not been blown to smithereens and for the next couple of decades the USA enjoyed a situation to quasi total monopoly.  That, again, hugely benefited the US armed forces but it soon became clear that in Korea and Vietnam that advantage, while real, did not necessarily result in any US victory.  Following Vietnam, US politicians basically limited their aggression to much smaller countries who had no chance at all to meaningfully resist, nevermind prevail.  If we look at the list of US military aggressions after Vietnam (see here or here) we can clearly see that the US military specialized in attacking defenseless countries.

Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War and the Global War on Terror when US politicians clearly believed in their own propaganda about being the “sole superpower” or a “hyperpower” and they engaged in potentially much more complex military attacks including the full-scale invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.  These wars will go down in history as case studies of what happens when politicians believe their own propaganda.  While Dubya declared victory as soon as the invasion was completed, it soon became clear to everybody that this war was a disaster from which the USA has proved completely unable to extricate themselves (even the Soviets connected the dots and withdrew from Afghanistan faster than the US Americans!).  So what does all this tell us about the US armed forces: (in no special order)

  1. They are big, way bigger than any other
  2. They have unmatched (worldwide) power projection (mobility) capabilities
  3. They are high-tech heavy which gives them a big advantage in some type of conflicts
  4. They have the means (nukes) to wipe-off any country off the face of the earth
  5. They control the oceans and strategic chokepoints

Is that enough to win a war?

Actually, no, it is not.  All it takes to nullify these advantages is an enemy who is aware of them and who refuses to fight what I call the “American type of war” (on this concept, see here).  The recent wars in Lebanon, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq have clearly shown that well-adapted tactics mostly deny the US armed forces the advantages listed above or, at the very least, make them irrelevant.

If we accept Clausewitz’s thesis that “war is the continuation of politics by other means” then it becomes clear that the US has not won a real war in a long long time and that the list of countries willing to openly defy Uncle Sam is steadily growing (and now includes not only Iran and the DPRK, but also Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Venezuela and even Russia and China).  This means that there is an emerging consensus amongst the countries which the USA tries to threaten and bully into submission that for all the threats and propaganda the USA is not nearly as formidable enemy as some would have you believe.

Why nobody seems to be aware of it

The paradoxical thing is that while this is clearly well understood in the countries which the USA is currently trying to threaten and bully into submission, this is also completely ignored and overlooked inside the United States themselves.  Most Americans, including very well informed ones, sincerelybelieve that their armed forces are “second to none” and that the USA could crush any enemy which would dare disobey or otherwise defy the AngloZionist Empire.  Typically, when presented with evidence that the USAF, USN and NATO could not even defeat the Serbian Army Corps in Kosovo or that in Afghanistan the US military performance is very substantially inferior to what the 40th Soviet Army achieved (with mostly conscripts!), my interlocutors always reply the same thing: “yeah, maybe, but if we wanted we could nuke them!“.  This is both true and false.  Potential nuclear target countries for the USA can be subdivided into three categories:

  1. Countries who, if nuked themselves, could wipe the USA off the face of the earth completely (Russia) or, at least, inflict immense damage upon the USA (China).
  2. Those countries which the USA could nuke without fearing retaliation in kind, but which still could inflict huge conventional and asymmetric damage on the USA and its allies (Iran, DPRK).
  3. Those countries which the USA could nuke with relative impunity but which the USA could also crush with conventional forces making the use of nukes pointless (Venezuela, Cuba).

And, of course, in all these cases the first use of nukes by the USA would result in a fantastic political backlash with completely unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences.  For example, I personally believe that using nukes on Iran would mark the end of NATO in Europe as such an action would irreparably damage EU-US relations.  Likewise, using nukes on the DPRK would result in a huge crisis in Asia with, potentially, the closure of US bases in Korea and Japan.  Others would, no doubt, disagree 🙂

The bottom line: US nukes are only useful as a deterrent against other nuclear powers; for all other roles they are basically useless.  And since neither Russia or China would ever contemplate a first-strike against the USA, you could say that they are almost totally useless (I say almost, because in the real world the USA cannot simply rely on the mental sanity and goodwill of other nations; so, in reality, the US nuclear arsenal is truly a vital component of US national security).

Which leaves the Navy and the Army.  The USN still controls the high seas and strategic choke points, but this is becoming increasingly irrelevant, especially in the context of local wars.  Besides, the USN is still stubbornly carrier-centric, which just goes to show that strategic vision comes a distant second behind bureaucratic and institutional inertia.  As for the US Army, it has long become a kind of support force for Special Operations and Marines, something which makes sense in tiny wars (Panama, maybe Venezuela) but which is completely inadequate for medium to large wars.

What about the fact that the USA spends more of “defense” (read “wars of aggression”) than the rest of the planet combined?  Surely that counts for something?

Actually, no, it does not.  First, because most of that money is spent on greasing the pockets of an entire class of MIC-parasites which make billions of dollars in the free for all “bonanza” provided by that ridiculously bloated “defense” budget.  The never mentioned reality is that compared to the USA, even the Ukrainian military establishment looks as only “moderately corrupt”!

[Sidebar: you think I am exaggerating?  Ask yourself a simple question: why does the USA need 17 intelligence agencies while the rest of the world usually need from 2 to 5?  Do you really, sincerely, believe that this has anything to do with national security?  If you do, please email me, I got a few bridges to sell to you at great prices!  Seriously, just the fact that the USA has about 5 times more “intelligence” agencies than the rest of the planet is a clear symptom of the the truly astronomical level of corruption of the US “national security state”]

Weapons system after weapons system we see cases in which the overriding number one priority is to spend as much money as possible as opposed to deliver a weapon system soldiers could actually fight with.  When these systems are engaged, they are typically engaged against adversaries which are two to three generations behind the USA, and that makes them look formidable.  Not only that, but in each case the US has a huge numerical advantage (hence the choice of small country to attack).  But I assure you that for real military specialists the case for the superiority of US weapons systems in a joke.  For example, French systems (such as the Rafale or the Leclerc MBT) are often both better and cheaper than there US equivalents, hence the need for major bribes and major “offset agreements“.

The Russian military budget is tiny, at least compared to the US one.  But, as William EngdalDmitrii Orlov and others have observed, the Russians get a much bigger bang for the buck.  Not only are Russian weapon systems designed by soldiers for soldiers (as opposed to by engineers for bureaucrats), but the Russian military is far less corrupt than the US one, at least when mega-bucks sums are concerned (for petty sums of money the Russians are still much worse than the Americans).  At the end of the day, you get the kind of F-35 vs SU-35/T-50 or, even more relevantly, the kind of mean time between failure or man-hours to flight hour ratios we have seen from the US and Russian forces over Syria recently.  Suffice to say that the Americans could not even begin to contemplate to execute the number of sorties the tiny Russian Aerospace task force in Syria achieved.  Still,  the fact remains that if the US Americans wanted it they could keep hundred of aircraft in the skies above Syria whereas the tiny Russian Russian Aerospace task never had more than 35 combat aircraft at any one time: the current state of the Russian military industry simply does not allow for the production of the number of systems Russia would need (but things are slowly getting better).

So here we have it: the Americans are hands down the leaders in quantitative terms; but in qualitative terms they are already behind the Russians and falling back faster and faster with each passing day.

Do the US military commanders know that?

Of course they do.

But remember what happened to Trump when he mentioned serious problems in the US military?  The Clinton propaganda machine instantly attacked him for being non-patriotic, for “not supporting the troops”, for not repeating the politically obligatory mantra about “we’re number one, second to none” and all the infantile nonsense the US propaganda machine feeds those who still own a TV at home.  To bluntly and honestly speak about the very real problems of the US armed forces is much more likely to be a career-ending exercise than a way to reform a hopelessly corrupt system.

There is one more thing.  Not to further dwell on my thesis that most US Americans are not educated enough to understand basic Marxist theory, but the fact is that most of them know nothing about Hegelian dialectics.  They, therefore, view things in a static way, not as processes.  For example, when they compliment themselves on having “the most powerful and capable military in the history of mankind” (they love that kind of language), they don’t even realize that this alleged superiority will inevitably generate its own contradiction and that this strength would therefore also produce its own weakness.  Well-read US American officers, and there are plenty of those, do understand that, but their influence is almost negligible when compared to the multi-billion dollar and massively corrupt superstructure they are immersed in.  Furthermore, I am absolutely convinced that this state of affairs is unsustainable and that sooner or later there will appear a military or political leader which will have the courage to address these problems frontally and try to reform a currently petrified system.  But the prerequisite for that will probably have to be a massive and immensely embarrassing military defeat for the USA.  I can easily imagine that happening in case of a US attack on Iran or the DPRK.  I can guarantee it if the US leadership grows delusional enough to try to strike at Russia or China.

But for the time being its all gonna be “red, white and blue” and Paul Craig Roberts will remain a lone voice crying in the desert.  He will be ignored, yes.  But that does not change the fact that he is right.

The Saker

PS: As for myself, I want to dedicate this song by Vladimir Vysotskii to Paul Craig Roberts and to all the other “Cassandras” who have the ability to see the future and the courage to warn us about it.  They usually end up paying a high price for their honesty and courage.

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Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

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This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

 

 

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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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