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There Will Be No American-Russian Alliance Against China

Is the Trump Administration playing odd-man-out, teaming up with one of the two powers against the third.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Since 1991 and the formal end of the first Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the world has experienced an American “unipolar moment” as the bipartisan US policy establishment sought to consolidate and perpetuate its hegemonic control over the entire plant. Doomed to fail even before it received its fullest articulation in 1996 by neoconservative ideologists William Kristol and Robert Kagan (misleadingly billed as “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy”), that misbegotten moment thankfully is coming to an end.

The main question today is whether the grinding to a halt of a quest so foolish and destructive can peacefully devolve into a tripolar entente among the US, Russia, and China – or whether the entrenched Washington establishment will, Sampson-like, crash everything down in a desperate but futile attempt to hang on to its power and privileges. We appear to be approaching the cusp at which that question will be resolved one way or the other. What the Trump Administration does next with respect to Iran will be a key, perhaps decisive, indicator.

However, of late there has emerged an alternative concept that may be seen as a middle way between America’s stubbornly hanging onto our diminishing hegemony versus working out a new Concert of Powers with the two countries the Trump Administration has dubbed rivals in a new “great power competition.” This concept suggests that the United States should play odd-man-out, teaming up with one of the other two powers against the third. Such a triangulation conceivably could perpetuate and enhance America’s global dominance (it is assumed the other nation would be the junior partner) while limiting the influence of the designated adversary.

Strangely, given the unhinged  levels of Russia-hatred that define the American political class, no one seems to have proposed trying to flip Beijing away from its quasi-alliance with Moscow in a repeat of President Nixon’s “playing the China card” against the USSR in the early 1970s. Rather, the hot talk is all the other way ‘round, that the US should woo Russia as an ally against China. As presented by Harry J. Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest (“The Coming American-Russian Alliance Against China”):

‘[T]here is a very real possibility that Washington and Moscow will collude for a very big reason—and soon.

‘Both nations have a reason to fear a coming change in the international order that will impact them both. And as history shows us time and again, a rising power that seeks to overturn the international system can make the most dedicated enemies join forces—and fast.

‘I can only be talking about one thing: a growing and more powerful China. [ … ]

‘While it might not happen right away, and an armed clash over, say, Ukraine or Syria could delay or even destroy any chance of a geopolitical realignment, there is the very real possibility that the stars could align for Russia and America to take on China in the future. Stranger parings have occurred in the past. While we might rightly see Moscow as a rogue nation today, tomorrow it could be a partner in containing a common foe. History and circumstance still stand for no one.’

Playing the Russia card against China is even presented by former Indian diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar as part of a long term strategy (“Trump Has a Grand Strategy, He Wants to Do a ‘Reverse Nixon’ — Partner Russia for an Alliance vs China”) foreseen by the architect of Nixon’s long-ago outreach to communist China, Henry Kissinger (who reportedly is advising Trump to this end):

‘As far back as 1972 in a discussion with Richard Nixon on his upcoming trip to China, signifying the historic opening to Beijing, Kissinger could visualize such a rebalancing becoming necessary in future. He expressed the view that compared with the Soviets (Russians), the Chinese were “just as dangerous. In fact, they’re more dangerous over a historical period.” Kissinger added, “in 20 years your (Nixon’s) successor, if he’s as wise as you, will wind up leaning towards the Russians against the Chinese.”

‘Kissinger argued that the United States, which sought to profit from the enmity between Moscow and Beijing in the Cold War era, would therefore need “to play this balance-of-power game totally unemotionally. Right now, we need the Chinese to correct the Russians and to discipline the Russians.” But in the future, it would be the other way around.’

The possibility that Trump or some people in his Administration may be seriously considering the idea can’t be dismissed. It should be noted that among the few sane voices about Russia in US public life, such as Fox News’ Laura Ingraham (Trump “wants to triangulate China, Russia, does he not?”) and Tucker Carlson, it is axiomatic that “China is the real threat, not Russia.”

However, whether or not the US is open to teaming up with Russia against China doesn’t address the question of whether such a ploy would be objectively viable. There are three strong reasons to suppose it wouldn’t be:

US hostility toward Russia is unalterable for the foreseeable future. In a rational policymaking context, it should be obvious that there is no inherent reason for US-Russia animosity. The basic interests of the two states do not conflict and there is much, other than China, that should be a basis for cooperation, such as the common threat of Islamic terrorism (as opposed to the decades-long US penchant of employing jihadists against Russia and other countries, like Serbia, Libya, and Syria).

Unfortunately, there is little rationality about Russia in Washington. Diehard, uncompromising detestation of Russia, which decent people are not suppose to see as anything but an enemy, is inseparable from the transatlantic conspiracy to eject Trump from office. Indeed, Trump’s pledge to improve relations with Moscow is among the top reasons Trump is being targeted for removal.

Hostility to Russia (and to any Trumpian hopes of détente) unites virtually all the Democrats, almost all prominent Republicans, the entire legacy media (of course), almost every prestigious think tank, and seemingly every high-level official on Trump’s own team. In the wake of his Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump’s innocuous skepticism on supposed election “meddling,” the hysteria of this phalanx of hate has reached new heights of derangement. Senators promise a new “sanctions bill from hell” even as Trump insists existing sanctions are here to stay, presumably forever. The new Senate measure even includes a preposterous requirement that the Secretary of State “submit a determination of whether the Russian Federation meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism” – evidently ignoring the fact that for over seven years the US has armed and funded bona fide al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria while Russia has been killing them.

Trump’s own top officials openly press him not only on bogus 2016 meddling but already accusing Moscow of interfering in advance in the 2018 Congressional vote with the intent, without any sense of irony, to “undermine our democracy.” Social media like Facebook are on a search-and-destroy mission against anything even suspected of being “Russian-linked,” whatever that means. A young Russian student advocating gun rights and networking in Washington is treated as a conflation of Anna Chapman and Natasha Fatale while being smeared and slut-shamed across the major media(and her lawyer is threatened with a gag order). Stepped-up military aid is being provided to Kiev. The NATO Pac-Man is set to gobble up next (the Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia, while in the process alienating Russia from longtime Orthodox Christian friend Greece.

No wonder Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov can only look on with sardonic laughter.

In short, anything and everything Russian is toxic and becoming more so. Even if Trump really wanted to change this state of affairs – sure proof the evil Russians must “have something on him,” according to former CIA Director Leon Panetta – he couldn’t do it. Not only his opposition but his own team will see to that. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says Russia “is never going to be our friend.” The Russians have every reason to take her at her word.

This makes any notion of enlisting Russia as an ally against China impractical, to say the least. To even contemplate it the US would have to be able to extend some sort of olive branch to Russia, but that can’t happen anytime soon, if ever. You can’t build a partnership on the basis of unremitting antagonism.

Russia is once burned, twice shy. Even in the event, currently inconceivable, that the US did offer to bury the hatchet with Russia, the Russians would have to be fools to accept.

They are not fools.

Apart from the most minimal, easily verified circumstances, why would anyone in Moscow believe any assurance from anyone in Washington? Did the US honor our commitment to Boris Yeltsin not to move NATO “one inch” further east following Germany reunification? Did the US respect the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 during the Bill Clinton Administration’s 1999 military aggression against Serbia over Kosovo or the George W. Bush Administration’s spearheading of Kosovo’s purported secession in 2008? Does the US show good faith in baseless accusations of Russian guilt in false flag chemical attacks in Syria and the United Kingdom?

While Russian officials by nature remain open to “businesslike” and professional discussion with those they still insist on referring to as “partners,” they also know blind ideological and zoological hatred when they see it.

Even if tomorrow the US would offer the Russians the sun, the moon, and the stars in exchange for cooperation against China, they wouldn’t bite. Nor should they.

Russia has more objective incentives to get along with China than with the US. The main thing Russia needs from the US is basically – well, nothing. That is to say, there is very little of a practical, especially economic, nature Russia needs in a positive sense from the US, and vice versa. What Russia mainly wants from the US is negative: to stop regarding Russia as an enemy and get out of Moscow’s face in regions vitally important to Russia but of little or no value to the US.

Without taking the analogy to George Orwell’s 1984 too far (with America as the primary component of Oceania, Russia of Eurasia, and China of Eastasia), geographically America and Russia not only have no reason for conflict, they have little natural need for interdependence. Russia is the closest approximation of the “Heartland” of Halford Mackinder’s “World Island. The United States is the principal in Mackinder’s “Outlying Islands” (Western Hemisphere and Australia) and “Offshore Islands” (British Isles and the Pacific “First Island Chain”). But, contra the fantasies of some half-baked graduates of an elementary geopolitical “Mackindergarten,” this configuration need not give rise to a predetermined and inevitable conflict but points as easily to the self-sufficiency of each dominant power within its own exclusive sphere.

With a common boarder of over 2,500 miles, Russia and China are locked into a relationship by the simple fact of geography in a way neither is with the United States, which inherently is in the most secure position of the three. The Russo-Chinese relationship can be hostile (as it notably was in the late 1960s, when the two then-communist giants fought a short border war that threatened to escalate into a nuclear conflict and set the stage for Nixon’s China initiative) or it can be cooperative. Fueled in part by an entrenched American animus against Russia and a growing one towards China, Moscow and Beijing have chosen full-spectrum partnership via the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the New (formerly BRICS) Development Bank (NDB), and other initiatives. Finally, Russia and China are working in concert to de-dollarize their financial systems in favor of local currency and of gold, which both countries have been buying in massive amounts.

Such ties between Russia and China are as natural, complimentary, and obvious as are America’s with Canada and Mexico. It’s hard to picture Moscow (or Beijing) abandoning them because someone in Washington flashes a come-hither look.

* * *

If Trump survives the efforts to remove him (either politically or physically) – a tall order, given the forces arrayed against him – and doesn’t plunge the US and the Middle East into an Iran misadventure that would destroy his presidency, it is still an open question whether he can deliver on an America First policy. Along with getting control of our borders and restoring America’s industrial base eroded by bad trade policies, that must mean completing his demolition of the failed neoliberal order of which the US has been the guarantor and enforcer.

In its place the only stable and mutually advantageous arrangement for America is a Big Three accord with both Russia and China. The notion of turning one against the other should be dismissed as the distraction it is.

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tomVeeNarian (Yerevan)AM Hantsfranz kafkaDan Kuhn Recent comment authors
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tom
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tom

Some truly dreadful rubbish being spoken… ‘… an armed clash over, say, Ukraine or Syria could delay or even destroy any chance of a geopolitical realignment…’ As the violence in Ukraine and Syria was deliberately orchestrated by the US government in an attempt to harm Russia, there is obviously no chance whatsoever of any educated and alert Russian seeing the USA as anything but a determined and vicious enemy. ‘…there is the very real possibility that the stars could align for Russia and America to take on China in the future’. No. No, there isn’t. And it has nothing to… Read more »

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
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VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Thanks for a very sensible and informed discussion which has become a rarity in these hysterical bed-wetting anti-Russian RACIST times.

AM Hants
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AM Hants

JUST RELEASED: HERE’S WHAT THE FBI IS HIDING ABOUT CHRISTOPHER STEELE
Russian dossier author was improper FBI asset… https://www.infowars.com/just-released-heres-what-the-fbi-is-hiding-about-christopher-steele/

franz kafka
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franz kafka

I wonder how anyone, Jim Jatras included, can live (if he does) in the Schizoido-Psychopathic state which calls itself the USA. I know many Americans are leaving. I think many more would but they probably do not have enough skills to be admitted to most civilized nations. I wonder what stops Russia from a preemptive nuclear strike on the USA? 1. World War 3 has begun. 2. US policy on Nuclear weapons use is an open book (Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as ‘First Strike Rights’ [sic] come to mind). 3. The US openly threatens Russia daily, ‘existentially’, in a… Read more »

Dan Kuhn
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Dan Kuhn

The US wants war with China ; so long as China and Russia are allied that is impossibel. So they need to peel Russia away from China first.I have been saying that in comments for the last couple of years. But Russia would be stupid indeed to dump China because of a few kind words from the Empire, offering the ring to kiss . Looking at the US is the same as looking at a poisonous snake you have in a cage. You just know that someday that snake is going to bite and kill you, so you have no… Read more »

Marc Leif
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Marc Leif

I finally stopped reading about half way through because the idea is so utterly, profoundly ridiculous, it doesn’t bear a nanosecond of thought. Elvis and John Lennon coming back to Earth riding together on a flying, pink unicorn is ten times as likely as Russia aligning with the US against China.

Guy
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Guy

Mr Harry J. Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest , must be a very naive person or he is espousing soft propagandist drivel . The RF is not that stupid or naive .The US has proverbially shit in it’s own bed by demonizing Russia . There is a sickness that has overwhelmed the West ,read the US, and it does not bode well for the country,regardless of the propaganda .The patient is showing signs of terminal illness. Talks and respect between the US and Russia ,yes , good friends ,not so much. I would dare say that the… Read more »

daveycrockett
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daveycrockett

To respond to the title of this piece – Of course there won’t be, the idea is preposterous.

RussG
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RussG

I agree with you, Mr. Jatras. The Russians would never pair themselves with the nation that imposed sanction upon sanction, interfered in many other countries, broke many contracts – written and verbal, attacked its friends, and even killed some of its people. All of this was done with lie upon lie upon lie and the guiding principles of a plain bully. How could Russia make a treaty with the US, where the tentacles of its government are out of control? And why would Russia align with a state in its twilight years, instead of ones with like-minded visions of a… Read more »

Spit
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Spit

Its No Secret that the Brits and Americans Went all out ham to try and get their hands on the SU-57, Remember that time the Indians Gave a tour of a Russian Akula class submarine? Still Trying? ” There Will Be No American-Russian Alliance Against China” Severe Sanctions, increasing defence spending in Israel from 3.3 to 3.8 billion, Upgrading those ICBM’s? aimed at Russia? USA has on the ready in Israel? Is that what the Spending is about? The Chinese remember the 100 years of Shame and the Russians remember how USA funded the revolution. Its A very safe bet… Read more »

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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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.

The Duran

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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

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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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