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Towards a more realistic US strategic posture based on cooperation with the other Great Powers

These proposals are ambitious, but if even partly adhered to, the world could become a far safer place.




Rather than speculate on what Trump’s next move with Russia will be, at this point it would be healthier to make some constructive suggestions for how the world might look when the military and geo-political super-powers cooperate with clearly defined spheres of influence.

The key elements of such a proposal rests on the fact that because of the diplomatic incompetence of the Obama administration and the steadfast, intelligent approach of Putin, Lavrov, Churkin and Zakharova; Russia is now the global leader when it comes to mediation in areas of conflict.

Russia’s lead in organising the Astana Conference for peace in Syria, Russia’s even handed approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict and Russia’s ability to remain on good terms with both India and Pakistan, as well as Russia’s pivotal role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, makes this abundantly clear.

It is also increasingly clear that Russia’s air power is superior to that of the US. Russian planes are capable of more diverse missions and are more cost-effective and durable than the overly expensive fleet of US aircraft.

By contrast, the US navy is superior to any in the world. This is a reflection of the astronomical budget of the US navy, even though sometimes it seems that the US doesn’t know what to do with its huge fleet.

In terms of tanks, Russia’s new Armata  and related vehicles have turned heads throughout the world. Russia has not only caught up with NATO in this area, but it would not be an exaggeration to say that the Armata may well be the best tank in the world.

As The Saker recently wrote, Russia’s ability to build her armed forces around practical needs rather than abstract technological goals makes Russia’s armed forces both formidable and operationally effective.

It is clear however that both Russia and the US have important roles to play in the world.

Because of Russia’s increased involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean, I believe it is important for Russia to have more air and naval bases in the region.

In addition to Russia’s base in Tartus in Syria, the next logical place for Russia to construct a modern harbour and air field is Cyprus.

Cyprus and Russia have become increasingly more cooperative. Cyprus owes its liberation from Turkey to Russia (see the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-8), and as an Orthodox people who have been let down by the EU injections of Russian investment have helped keep Cyprus afloat in difficult times.

Building a large naval base in Cyprus would be good for the Cypriot economy and would be an assurance that Cypriots could rest easy when it comes to threats of future Turkish aggression. Indeed, it would send a clear message to Turkey, which still illegally occupies the north of the island, that Cyprus has chosen to be in Russia’s sphere of influence.

As for Russia, Russia has always needed a large permanent warm-water base, and Cyprus is the most suitable location.

By contrast the US does indeed have a role to play in Europe, but it is certainly not with the ground troops and heavy vehicles that Obama has sent to central and north-eastern Europe, where fantasists and fanatics imagine a war might occur.  In truth the US has no need for a single soldier to be in any European country, nor do its Cold War bases there have any role to play.

The US should withdraw its army from Europe and instead focus on naval power in the central Mediterranean. I would suggest that the US Navy strike an economically fair deal with Malta to use the deep water harbour in Valletta. As the US Navy has supplanted the Royal Navy in terms of size and prestige, it would be only logical for America to pick up where Britain left off. The Royal Navy of course withdrew from Malta in 1967.

Once Syria and Iraq are liberated from terrorist occupation, many if not most of the surviving terrorists will likely go to the failed state of Libya.

Where Gaddafi was once a bulwark keeping terrorists from North Africa out of Europe, now the floodgates are open.

As the Europeans seem not to have the will to do anything about this, the US could stay in the Mediterranean to clean up the mess that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama by their murderous intervention in Libya created.

Furthermore, with both Russia and the US having a presence in the Mediterranean, it would be easier to forge a constructive pact with Egypt to cooperate on the subject of Libya. Ultimately it will need Egyptian political leadership combined with Russian and American military help to turn Libya back into something that resembles a functional state.

Furthermore, if a land war ever takes place in Europe, it will be in the Balkans, not in the Baltics.

The US under Bill Clinton helped destroy this region, but if under Trump the US needs to work with the UN and of course Russia to calm any potential Balkan conflict, then southern Europe makes more sense for a US presence in Europe than do Germany or Poland.

In terms of East Asia, Obama’s incompetence in the region surrendered what was left of US influence. The South China Sea dispute will likely be solved without much if any American input. Trump might indeed say ‘you have the sea; I’ll have some tariffs’. Here, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is king. Just as Senator Robert Taft opposed the War in Korea shortly before his death, so Trump’s neo-Taft America first policy ought to begin by letting East Asia be.

Of course, many will say these proposals are idealistic. They are!

Re-tooling the cumbersome, entrenched NATO machine to do something practical will not be easy, especially with high levels of opposition from the Pentagon and Congress.

However, if Trump wants a realistic foreign policy that maintains American might whilst allowing for crucial cooperation with Russia who Trump rightly seems to view as an equal, this is the correct path. Will it be followed even in part? Time will tell.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch



Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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Saudi Arabia trying to squirm free of Khashoggi murder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 2.

Alex Christoforou



RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s possible admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi…accidentally, while they were torturing the man inside the consulate in Istanbul.

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Via Zerohedge

Even before the publication of last night’s Saudi trial balloon hinting that the kingdom would soon acknowledge that the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi – the insider-turned dissident journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and never walked back out – was the result of a “botched” kidnapping attempt carried out by “rogue killers” (despite reports that the US intelligence community knew that Khashoggi was being “targeted”), two realities had become increasingly clear. One: That the Saudis would avoid responsibility for the killing by pinning it on some unfortunate underling, and two: that there would be few, if any, lasting diplomatic repercussions.

And as more media organizations confirmed reports about Saudi’s plans to spin Khashoggi’s murder as a botched interrogation (we can only imagine what was said in that room to justify the use of such extreme violence), CNN calculated the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh for approximately 15 minutes early Tuesday, following his 12-hour-plus flight to the kingdom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia lasted no more than 15 minutes, CNN estimates based on the time the top US diplomat’s motorcade arrived at the royal court and departed.

The motorcade arrived at the royal court at 11:42 a.m. (4:42 a.m. ET) and left 26 minutes later. There is a fair distance to walk from where the motorcade dropped Pompeo off to where he met the king.

While Trump said on Monday that Pompeo would travel to Turkey “if necessary”, the Saudi’s decision to “come clean” about Khashoggi’s death pretty much rendered Pompeo’s fact-finding mission unnecessary.More important are developments in Turkey, where the joint Saudi-Turkish “investigation” is turning its attention toward the home of the Saudi consul, where a black diplomatic van that departed the Saudi consulate just under two hours after Khashoggi entered was captured on camera disappearing into a garage. Some speculate that this is where the killers finished disposing of Khashoggi’s body. This comes after a “nine-hour” search of the Saudi consulate building that, according to leaks published in Al-Jazeera, turned up “evidence of tampering” by the Saudis. On Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister clarified that Saudi had yet to admit its role in Khashoggi’s disappearance and probable death.

Turkish investigators will carry out a search of the Saudi Consul General’s residence on Tuesday as the probe into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

CCTV footage released to the media from the day the Washington Post writer vanished show movement of vehicles from the consulate building to the Consul General’s residence nearby.

As speculation mounts that the incident could unseat the increasingly authoritarian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (who has already marginalized or incapacitated nearly every threat to his rule), it’s looking more likely that neither the US nor the rest of the Western world will do much to punish the world’s most important oil exporter, which can “weaponize” the oil market seemingly on a whim.

Any punishment for this flagrant violation of human rights will need to come, therefore, from the private sector, which, according to Bloomberg, could sabotage MbS’s grand Vision 2030 plan, which aims to remake the Saudi economy via a flood of foreign direct investment:

The economic strategy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS, is to make investment the main engine of economic growth instead of government spending, but the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could frustrate these ambitions. Foreign direct investment, a key part of the plan to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s economy, declined sharply in 2017 and is unlikely to return to previous levels, leaving the government’s target for 2020 beyond reach, according to analysis by Bloomberg Economics. Increased policy uncertainty and, after the Khashoggi incident, the risk of reputational damage to foreign companies working in Saudi Arabia won’t help.



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