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War Planners Simulated a US-Russia War in Asia in the 1980s – It Would Have Ended Badly.

Everyone concerned is fortunate that tensions never led to open combat.

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Nearly every analyst during the Cold War agreed that, if Moscow and Washington could keep the nukes from flying, the Central Front in Europe would prove decisive  in war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The NATO alliance protected the Western European allies of the United States from Soviet aggression, while the Warsaw Pact provided the USSR with its own buffer against Germany.

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But when the Cold War really went hot, the fighting took place in Asia. In Korea and Vietnam, the Soviet Union waged proxy struggles against the United States, and both sides used every tool available to control the destiny of China. However, while few believed that the Pacific theater would determine the victor of World War III, both the United States and Soviet Union needed to prepare for the eventuality of war there.

Scholars have devoted far less attention to the planning of World War III in East Asia than to the European theater. The two classic novels of the Third World War (Tom Clancy’s  Red Storm Rising  and John Hackett’s  The Third World War ) rarely touched on developments in Asia. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Naval War College traced the potential course of war in East Asia as part of a series of global war games. These games lend a great deal of insight into the key actors in the conflict, and how the decisive battles of a Second Pacific War might have played out.

The Players:

China

How would China have reacted to the onset of a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact? Beijing certainly regarded the survival of NATO as critical to its security from the 1970s on. The existence of NATO prevented the USSR from concentrating the bulk of the Red Army and of Soviet strategic aviation against China; a Soviet victory in the West would have put China in great peril. By the 1980s, China stood at a massive technological disadvantage against the USSR. Moreover, Beijing worried (perhaps rightly) that even if the USSR held its nuclear fire against NATO, it would view a strategic exchange with China as less risky. Thus, there was no guarantee that China would open a second front against the USSR.

Japan

Japan combined extraordinary economic strength with significant military power and a crucial geographic position. A Japan committed to the United States could effectively prevent the sortie of the Soviet Pacific Fleet, while enabling attacks against the Soviet Far East. A neutral Japan limited these options, but still provided the NATO alliance with a strong economic foundation in case of a protracted war. Washington had the advantage; it only depended on how and how much.

Korea

Would North Korea have joined a general Soviet war against NATO by invading South Korea? Such a move would have put extraordinary pressure on U.S. forces, although by the 1980s South Korea could probably survive with only measured U.S. assistance. However, Pyongyang answered to two masters; it required the support of both Beijing and Moscow. Given the unlikelihood that China would support a Soviet war against NATO, the prospect of Beijing’s acquiescence in a second Korean War would have been extremely sketchy.

Southeast Asia

The Soviets had an ally in Hanoi, but no means to support that ally against either China or the United States. Moreover, the Vietnamese had little to gain from joining a conflict; they were substantially controlled by Laos and Cambodia, and could do little more than harass shipping lanes in the South China Sea. However, given the bloody nose that Vietnam had inflicted on both countries in 1975 and 1980, neither Washington nor Beijing would have had much interest in reopening the conflict, especially with far more pressing issues at hand. That said, Vietnam could still make some mischief with U.S. allies in the region, and the PRC still had scores to settle.

The Chess Pieces:

Soviet Pacific Fleet

The Soviets took the Pacific seriously. By the 1980s, the fleet included two Kiev class aircraft carriers, and one Kirov class battlecruiser. In peacetime, the ships of the fleet sailed widely, regularly visiting Southeast Asia and even the Indian Ocean.

Wartime, however, would have tightly constrained their operations. The Sea of Okhotsk served as a bastion for the SSBNs of the fleet, and naturally as a target for U.S. attack. Soviet objectives would have included the neutralization or defeat of Japan, the defense of the Russian Far East and potentially the penetration of the Pacific in order to attack maritime supply networks and distract U.S. attention from Europe.

U.S. Pacific Fleet

The United States Pacific Fleet commanded the balance of power in the region. With several carrier battlegroups supported by a variety of amphibious assault ships, battleships, nuclear attack submarines and a large array of land-based aircraft, the U.S. Navy could have undertaken both offensive and defensive operations to control the pace and course of the war.

Moreover, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense force and the Royal Australian Navy could have both offered extensive support to the Americans. The central objectives for Allied naval forces would first have been to detect and defeat any Soviet efforts to penetrate attack submarines into the Pacific or Southeast Asian shipping lanes.

Second, the U.S. Navy had taken upon itself a mission of attacking the periphery of the USSR directly, in order to distract the Red Army from the Central Front in Europe. At a minimum, this would have involved missile and airstrikes against Soviet installations throughout the Far East. At a maximum, it could have involved amphibious assaults against lightly defended Soviet targets.

The War Games

The Naval War College examined the potential for World War III in Asia as part of its global war game exercises in the 1970s and 1980s.  Played annually between  1979 and 1988,  each of the games explored  alternative strategic and technological aspects of a confrontation between the superpowers. Although generally focused on Europe, the games always included an East Asian component. While the early war-games saw some variance (informed to some degree by the Sino-Vietnamese War), they held to a basic pattern; the Soviets hunkered down, while U.S. and allied naval forces chipped away at the bastions and tried to distract the Russians from Europe.

The 1984 war-game played out much differently. Instead of sitting on its hands, the Soviets opened the war with a massive air and missile assault against Japan. This assault destroyed most Japanese air assets on the ground, along with those of the US. special operators delivered by submarine and by clandestine civilian ship-launched unconventional attacks against U.S. bases across the Pacific, including Guam and Pearl Harbor.

The Soviets unleashed Pyongyang early in the conflict, redirecting U.S. attention towards the Korean Peninsula. Washington had effective answers; it quickly undertook offensive anti-submarine operations in the Sea of Japan, decimating Soviet SSN and SSBN forces. Soviet surface ships also came under attack. Nevertheless, in a daring move the Soviets launched a successful amphibious assault against Hokkaido. Although the operation suffered heavy losses, it succeeded in establishing a beachhead in Japan (though this was later withdrawn under fire).

The United States took a more aggressive stance in the 1988 war-game. Instead of waiting for a Soviet attack, Washington immediately began air and unconventional offensives against installations in the Soviet Far East, designed to decimate Soviet air defenses and threaten the survival of military-industrial installations. For their part, the Soviets hoped that a reticent military stance and a diplomatic offensive could keep Japan out of the war.

This gambit succeeded to a point, as the Japanese suspended active military cooperation with the United States. American pressure eventually forced Tokyo to yield, and the Soviet opened offensive operations against the archipelago. By this time, however, the U.S. Navy had devastated Soviet naval forces, confining the Pacific fleet to its bastion in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Late in the war, the Soviets gave Pyongyang the green light to invade South Korea. However, this operation backfired, as the North Koreans failed to make substantial progress against combined U.S. and South Korean forces. Moreover, the Soviet move confirmed the U.S.-Japanese alliance, and helped drive Beijing into a much more hostile disposition towards the Soviets.

Both the Soviets and the Americans had options in Asia. The strategic environment was far more fluid than in Europe, allowing a variety of different choices to disrupt and destabilize the opponent. This made the course of war far less predictable. At its (nonnuclear) worst, war could have raged across Asia on multiple fronts, from Korea to Japan to the Sino-Soviet border. At its best, the combatants might have observed an uneasy quiet, at least until it became necessary to outflank a stalemate in the West. But as was the case in Europe, everyone concerned is fortunate that tensions never led to open combat.

Robert Farley is author of  The Battleship Book . He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security and maritime affairs. He blogs at  Lawyers, Guns and Money Information Dissemination  and the  Diplomat.

Via The National Interest

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WillDippel

Here is an interesting Cold War document that shows how the United States planned to bomb the Soviet Union into oblivion:

http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/01/how-united-states-planned-to-bomb_30.html

Unfortunately, implementation of these plans could bring all of humanity back to the Stone Age.

ruca
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ruca

If it was in the 80’s, I would assume that they simulated a US Soviet war.

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Theresa May’s soft Brexit plan continues to fail, as EU now pushing for UK to leave (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 138.

Alex Christoforou

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Theresa May’s soft Brexit strategy has been such a monumental failure that even Brussels negotiators are now pushing for the UK to simply leave the union, in what has becoming a British debacle, and a thorn in the Conservative Party’s side.

Many media pundits and analysts are now asking if the latest impasse in Brexit talks means that we are indeed seeing the last days of Theresa May?

While much of the mess the Conservative Party finds themselves in because of Brexit is squarely Theresa May’s fault, much of the damage done by May’s inability to close the deal on Brexit will not go away, even if she does.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s continued failure to obtain her soft Brexit dream, placing herself (and her Conservative Party) in such an embarrassing position, that European Union negotiators, tired of never ending talks, are eager to see Britain go away, in what will be an inevitable hard Brexit.

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“Are these the last days of Theresa May?”, authored by Stephen Bush via The New Statesman:


Are these the last days of Theresa May? This morning’s papers are full of stories of plots and ultimatums to the Prime Minister unless she changes her Brexit strategy, whether from her Scottish MPs over any extension of the transition period due to concerns over fisheries policy, from her Brexiteer MPs over the backstop or from her Cabinet over practically everything.

All this before the Budget next Monday, when Philip Hammond is going to have to find some way to pay for the extra cash for the NHS and Universal Credit all while keeping to May’s pledge that debt will continue to fall as a share of GDP. So added to all May’s Brexit woes, a row over tax rises could be coming down the track.

Of course, the PM’s position has been perilous for a very long time – in fact, when you remember that her period of hegemony ran from July 2016 to June 2017, she’s actually been under threat for more of her premiership than she hasn’t. But just because you roll heads 36 times in a row doesn’t mean your chances of rolling tails aren’t 50/50 on roll 37, and May’s luck could well be running out.

But while May shares a good size of the blame for the mess that the Conservative Party are in, it’s not all her fault by any means and none of those problems will go away if May is replaced or changes tack to win over her internal opponents in the European Research Group.

Ireland has a veto over the end state and only an indefinite and legally binding backstop for the island of Ireland will do if any deal is to be signed off. It’s true to say that no deal also means a hard border on the island of Ireland, but it’s also true that it will always been in the political interests of whoever is in office in Ireland for a hard border to be imposed as a result of no deal rather than for the Irish government to acquiesce in the creation of one through a EU-UK treaty.

The DUP can bring the Conservative government to an early end so they, too, have a de facto veto over any deal that creates barriers between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. But the only UK-wide solution – for the backstop to encompass the whole of the United Kingdom – is nothing doing with pro-Brexit Conservative MPs who don’t want an indefinite backstop. It’s also politically tricky with many EU member states, who don’t want the default outcome of the talks to be a UK-wide backstop, which many regard as a threat to the sanctity of single market. (The only reason why it is acceptable on the Irish border is because Ireland is still a member state and because the Irish border was both the location and the cause of political violence within living memory.)

Added to that, the Conservative parliamentary party seems to be undergoing a similar psychological journey to the one that Steve van Riel described during the 2015 Labour leadership election: that groups of any kind tend to reach a more extreme position the longer an issue is debated. Brexiteers who spent 20 years saying they wanted a Norway style deal now talk of Norway as a betrayal. Leavers who cheerily talked about making Northern Ireland into its own customs area before Brexit now talk of the backstop as a constitutional betrayal. And Conservative Remainers who only reluctantly backed an In vote to avoid the political upheaval of negotiating Brexit, or the loss of David Cameron, now call for a referendum re-run and privately flirt with the idea of a new party.

Some of that is May’s fault, yes. But none of it is going to go away if she does and all of it makes the prospect of reaching a Brexit deal considerably less likely.

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Saudi Crown Prince Spoke To Khashoggi By Phone Moments Before He Was Killed: Report

The shifting Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community.

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Via Zerohedge


In the latest bombshell report involving the Khashoggi murder, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly spoke on the phone with journalist Jamal Khashoggi moments before he was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak disclosed the new alleged details of the case in a report on Sunday, contradicting claims by Saudi authorities that Prince Mohammed played no part in Khashoggi’s murder.

“Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh,” the report said.

“Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed’s offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended,” it added.

While the report is so far unconfirmed, the New Arab reports that so far Turkish pro-government media have been receiving a steady stream of leaks many of which turned out to be accurate, including pictures of the hit team as they entered Turkey and reports of audio recordings of the murder said to be in the possession of Turkish authorities.

Meanwhile, the Saudi version of events has been changing significantly over the past two weeks with authorities conceded Saturday that Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and a Riyadh critic, was killed inside the kingdom’s Istanbul diplomatic compound following a “brawl”. The admission came after a fortnight of denials with the insistence that the journalist left the consulate alive, starting on October 5, when Crown Prince MBS told Bloomberg that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate and “we are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises”.

On Saturday, the kingdom announced it had fired five top officials and arrested 18 others in an investigation into the killing – a move that has widely been viewed as an attempt to cover up the crown prince’s role in the murder.

The shifting Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community, and has left the U.S. and other allies struggling for a response on Sunday. As Bloomberg reports, France demanded more information, Germany put arms sales to Riyadh on hold and the Trump administration stressed the vital importance of the kingdom and its economy to the U.S.

In Sunday radio and TV interviews, Dominic Raab, the U.K. politician in charge of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, described the latest Saudi account as not credible; French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for “the truth’’; and Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his government would approve no arms sales so long as the investigation was ongoing.

Earlier on Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir acknowledged a cover-up attempt. The dramatic reversal, after Saudi officials had previously said the columnist left the building alive, has only complicated the issue for allies.

Saudi Arabia’s al-Jubeir told Fox News on Sunday that the journalist’s death was an “aberration.”

“There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to cover up,” he said, promising that “those responsible will be punished for it.”

More importantly, he said that Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the events, although if the Turkish report is confirmed, it will be yet another major flaw with the official narrative.

Several senior members of US President Donald Trump’s Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed was linked to the killing, and one called for a “collective” Western response if a link is proved. In an interview with The Washington Post, President Trump, too, said the Saudi narrative had been marked by “deception and lies.’’ Yet he also defended Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a “strong person,’’ and said there was no proof of his involvement in Khashoggi’s death. Some members of Congress have questioned his willingness to exonerate the prince.

“Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” Trump said on the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to disclose details about the case at a meeting of his AK Party’s parliamentary faction on Tuesday, Haberturk newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, as Western firms and high-ranked officials scramble to avoid any Saudi involvement, Russia is more than happy to step in and fill the power vacuum void left by the US. As a result, Russian businesses are flocking to attend the investment forum in Saudi Arabia, as Western counterparts pull out.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has had considerable success boosting Moscow’s influence in the Middle East at U.S. expense, by standing by regimes that fall afoul of the West, including in Syria and Iran. Last week Putin signed a strategic and partnership agreement with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, backed by $25 billion in loans to build nuclear reactors. Until El-Sisi came to power, Egypt had been closely allied to the U.S.

Meanwhile, all eyes are fixed squarely on the Crown Prince whose position of power is looking increasingly perilous. Congressional leaders on Sunday dismissed the story proffered earlier by the Saudis, with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee saying they believed the crown prince was likely involved in Khashoggi’s death.

Lawmakers said they believe the U.S. must impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia or take other action if the crown prince is shown to have been involved. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. should be formally expelled until a third-party investigation is done. He said the U.S. should call on its allies to do the same.

“Unless the Saudi kingdom understands that civilized countries around the world are going to reject this conduct and make sure that they pay a price for it, they’ll continue doing it,”’ Durbin said.

The obvious question is what happens and how the Saudi royal family will respond if it is pushed too far, and whether the worst case scenario, a sharp cut in oil exports, could be on the table if MBS feels like he has little to lose from escalating the situation beyond a point of no return.

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The Biggest Winners In The Mediterranean Energy War

Energy companies are flocking to the Mediterranean after oil and gas discoveries in the territorial waters of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt.

The Duran

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Authored by Vanand Meliksetian via Oilprice.com:


Former Vice-President of the United States Dick Cheney once said: “the good lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected states… Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all considered, one would not normally choose to go. But we go where the business is.” Europe is surrounded by states with abundant energy resources, but supply from these countries is not always as reliable. Russia, for example, is regularly accused of using energy as a weapon. However, major discoveries of gas in the Eastern Mediterranean could mitigate dependence on Russian gas.

The discovery of a gas field named Tamar near the coast of Israel in 2009 set off a wave of investments in the energy sector. After 9 years, companies are flocking to the region after other discoveries in the territorial waters of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt. Ever larger finds in the Mediterranean Sea’s Levant Basin such as the Leviathan gas field in 2010 and Zohr in 2015, have the potential to transform the strategic importance of the region.

Turkey’s energy hub ambitions

Few states in the world are geographically so well positioned as Turkey. The country controls Russia’s only warm water port in the Black Sea and serves as a bridge between east and west. Therefore, during the Cold War Ankara was an indispensable member of NATO. More recently, Turkey has the ambition to become an energy hub for Middle Eastern and Caspian energy. Ankara has had mixed successes in attracting investors and maintaining political stability.

After Israel’s significant discoveries, a U.S. backed initiative presented Turkey as an energy hub. Although a land pipeline is the cheapest option to transport gas from the Mediterranean to Europe, political developments have stalled construction. President Erdogan’s escalating public denunciations of Israel have made Jerusalem look for other options. Furthermore, relations with Europe have also been damaged which would be dependent on Turkey as a transit country.

Egypt as the regional gas hub

Egypt’s has the third largest gas reserves in Africa. Therefore, its export-oriented LNG industry came on-stream in 2004 but was shut mid-2013 due to a lack of resources. The growth of the domestic market demanded ever larger volumes, which went at the expense of exports. Instead, Egypt started importing LNG. However, the discovery of the massive Zohr gas field, the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean, has turned around the situation. Egypt imported its last shipment of LNG in September 2018.

Although relations between Egypt and Israel are far from normal, privately held companies have been able to strike a deal. Starting from the first quarter of 2019, in 10 years 64 bcm worth $10 billion will be delivered. The agreement has stirred controversy in Egypt, which until recently was exporting to Israel. However, with this deal, Cairo comes closer in becoming an energy hub.

The recent signing of another agreement, this time with Nicosia to develop a subsea pipeline from Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field, has been another important step. Cypriot gas will be pumped 400 miles (645 kilometers) to the south to Egypt’s LNG facilities. Difficult relations with Nicosia’s northern neighbors make a pipeline to the north highly unlikely.

Cairo has been able to act pragmatically concerning its relations with its neighbors such as Israel while taking advantage of the limited amount of options for exporting gas. The obvious winner in this context has been Egypt and its LNG industry. Its chances of becoming the regional energy hub instead of Turkey have significantly increased.

Turkey’s hope for luck

All littoral states of the Eastern Mediterranean struck ‘gold’ in the shape of natural gas except for Turkey. Ankara strongly opposes the exploitation of the gas resources in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus without a sharing agreement with Northern Cyprus’ Turkish inhabitants. The Turkish Navy prevented ships from Italy’s Eni from performing exploratory drilling off the coast of the Republic of Cyprus.

In search of its own luck, Ankara has set up a project to start looking for gas in the EEZ of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Turkey. Kudret Özersay, TRNC deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, proclaimed the desire to turn the TRNC into an energy and electricity hub. However, it seems unlikely that investors will be willing to participate due to political and legal reasons.

The legal situation of the TRNC is an impediment to any major decision involving a longtime commitment worth billions. From an international point of view, the region is de jure part of the Republic of Cyprus, despite holding no control over the region. The TRNC holds no seat in the WTO.

Large investments require solid legal and political support for companies to earn back their investments. The current economic situation of Turkey makes it dependent on foreign money. However, stringent due diligence rules could impede some international banks in lending the necessary funds.

The Eastern Mediterranean Sea basin promises great rewards, but the risks are also high. With Turkey potentially being the only country that doesn’t profit from the gas bonanza, Ankara has acted aggressively to get what it regards as its fair share. However, it faces a united front from the other littoral states of the Eastern Mediterranean. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Turkey will be able to profit in the same way as Cyprus, Egypt or Israel.

By Vanand Meliksetian for Oilprice.com

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