Arming the World: Inside Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Drive to Expand Weapons Exports

Arming the World: Inside Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Drive to Expand Weapons Exports

April 18th, 2018

Via: Reuters:

In a telephone call with the emir of Kuwait in January, U.S. President Donald Trump pressed the Gulf monarch to move forward on a $10 billion fighter jet deal that had been stalled for more than a year.

Trump was acting on behalf of Boeing Co, America’s second-largest defense contractor, which had become frustrated that a long-delayed sale critical to its military aircraft division was going nowhere, several people familiar with the matter said.

With this Oval Office intervention, the details of which have not been previously reported, Trump did something unusual for a U.S. president – he personally helped to close a major arms deal. In private phone calls and public appearances with world leaders, Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry, analysts said.

Trump’s personal role underscores his determination to make the United States, already dominant in the global weapons trade, an even bigger arms merchant to the world, U.S. officials say, despite concerns from human rights and arms control advocates.

Those efforts will be bolstered by the full weight of the U.S. government when Trump’s administration rolls out a new “Buy American� initiative this week aimed at allowing more countries to buy more and even bigger weapons. It will loosen U.S. export rules on equipment ranging from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery, the officials said.




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German FA president hopes Angela Merkel will visit 2018 World Cup in Russia

“We’ll hail any support [for the German national football team in Russia], including from Angela Merkel,” Grindel told Nordwest Zeitung newspaper, as cited by DPA.

He also said that before the football showpiece in Russia begins, players from the national team will meet with members of the German federal government, where the question of Merkel’s possible visit to Russia could be raised.

“Quite possibly, the issue [of Merkel’s visit to Russia during the tournament] will be discussed there,” he said.

The German chancellor has yet to announce her plans regarding a possible trip to Russia for the World Cup, where defending champions Germany will be among the favorites to claim glory.

On Monday, during a dinner with the chancellor, German national team coach Joachim Low and team manager Oliver Bierhoff gave Merkel a football jersey signed by the players, with her name written on the back.

A big football fan, Merkel attended the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where Germany won the title, beating Argentina 1-0 in the final.

It remains unknown whether Merkel will visit this summer’s football showpiece, as diplomatic relations between Russia and several European countries have seriously deteriorated following the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, UK.

READ MORE: ‘It’s of little interest what Boris Johnson thinks about Russia’ – England manager Southgate

A number of European nations blame Moscow for the incident, and the UK and Iceland have announced a diplomatic boycott of the World Cup.

In March, UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that no British ministers or members of the royal family would travel to Russia, including the president of the English FA, Prince William.

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Top 3 Casino Cruises to visit in the World

Casino cruises offer the best experience to anyone who is looking for holiday fun with a twist. Cruise liners set up for casino cruises are as luxurious and exciting as the more famous land-based casinos. However, with casino cruises, you get to see the world and spend time in some of the most famous cities and still get to do some serious gambling. There are a number of industry big players that operate some of the best casino cruises in the world. Let’s look at three of the best and what they have to offer.

Cunards Queen Mary 2 Ocean Cruiseliner

#1.Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Ocean Cruiseliner

For The Sophisticated Gambler Cunard offers old-world sophistication and elegance you would find in places like Monte Carlo. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 takes travelers on exciting transatlantic voyages between New York and Southampton. The ocean liner offers virtually everything for everyone, but perhaps the best part about the ship is the Empire Casino. This grand casino harkens back to the sophisticated casinos of the world where men dress up in tuxedos and women put on their best cocktail dresses – makes you think you might just run into James Bond sipping a Martini at the bar.

The casino offers gaming tables where you can play blackjack, roulette, three card poker and Texas hold ’em. If tables aren’t your thing, then there are slot machines and video poker machines you can play. Betting limits on tables range from $3 To $500 and slot machine limits range from $0.05 to $5.

First-time gamblers can take advantage of the daily lessons on how different games are played, what the rules are and how to win. These lessons are fun and people actually manage to get lucky after a couple of lessons.

Norwegian Cruiselines Casino Cruise

#2. A Norsk Casino cruise – For The High Stakes Gambler

Norwegian Cruise Line has been taking travelers on exotic voyages to the Caribbean and Bahamas for years. Their Ocean liner, a Norsk Casino cruise, Norwegian Escape takes over 4,200 guests from Miami, Florida across the world’s best waters past exotic Islands and sandy beaches. There is plenty of onboard entertainment offered, but the casino is arguably the best place in the entire ship for a gambler.

Casinos at Sea

Norwegian Escape’s state of the art casino has over 300 slot machines and over 20 gaming tables offering blackjack, craps, poker, baccarat, roulette and pi-gow. There is something for everyone, whether you are a novice or a high-stakes gambler. For true gamblers who want the whole red-carpet, high-stakes game experience, the ship has an exclusive VIP room. Here games are set at high limits which are just perfect for those who like to bet big to win big.

The Escape offers more than a great gambling experience. Guests can enjoy the day soaking up the sun and play various games on offer. You can even catch a movie or go dancing – the idea is to let loose. It is, after all, a holiday and you should enjoy it to the fullest.

The Sunborn Superyacht Casino

#3. The Sunborn Superyacht Casino – An Intimate Setting

The Sunborn Superyacht Hotel and Casino sit permanently docked in Gibraltar in the Ocean Village Marina overlooking the famous Rock of Gibraltar. It has breathtaking views of the ocean with Morocco just a few miles away. This boat has 58 states of the are slot machines, American roulette tables, live poker and blackjack tables.

Bets are structured to suit both novice and experienced high stakes gamblers. Slot machines have a minimum bet of £0.01 and a maximum of £50, American roulette has a minimum bet of £1 and a maximum of £100 while blackjacks minimum bet is £5 and maximum is £500. There is a poker room set aside where regular tournaments take place throughout the cruise.

The casino has all the trappings you would expect to find like a glitzy bar that serves anything from beer to colorful fruity cocktails. The Casino also offers side table service for gamblers whilst they play.

Guests have a choice of luxurious suites with the ultimate being the 74sq.m penthouse suite with a private sundeck and the best view perfect for the ultimate high-roller.

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Slattery & Collett on Trump’s Syria strike, govt. “intelligence,” and the New World Order

Also, call the White House at 202-456-1111.


National Bugle Radio with Patrick Slattery 4.13.18

Check out Dr. Slattery’s website,

Most immediately, let’s flood the White House switchboard with calls. Here is the number: (202) 456-1111.

There is also an email page. We need to avoid profanity and coarseness, but forcefully state that these hoaxes are aimed at preventing Trump from restoring relations with Russia, which is necessary in order to Make America Great Again.

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Washington forces its allies to accept a bipolar world , by Thierry Meyssan

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Over the last few weeks, and for the first time in their history, the United States and Russia have mutually threatened one another with a World War. The totally disproportionate character of the crisis in terms of the subject of the dispute demonstrates that what is at stake here today no longer has any connection with what has been happening in the Greater Middle East since 2001, but exclusively with an attempt to maintain the current World Order.

After the gigantic massacre of millions of people over seventeen years, from Afghanistan to Libya, the manner in which about fifty people in East Ghouta (Syria) are said to have died seems almost ridiculous. And yet on 14 April, this was the pretext chosen by Washington, Paris and London to launch a three-party aerial attack.

Let’s avoid getting distracted by the circumstances, and get straight to the heart of the matter – the Western powers are attempting to maintain their domination over the rest of the world, while Russia and China are breaking free of it.

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not hesitate to tweet to Russia that he was going to fire missiles of a new generation on its soldiers in Syria. The Russian ambassador, Alexander Zasypkine, immediately responded that these missiles would be intercepted and the planes and ships that fired them would be destroyed. The Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, expressed his astonishment at this « street brawl » and called the participants to reason. All of the actors then began to back-pedal.

The naval group of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman left its base in Norfolk, apparently to take position facing Syria. It will take several weeks before it is operational. The question of the confrontation between the United States and Russia, in other words the Third World War, will then be raised again.

It goes without saying that the preparation of this naval unit and its 6,500 soldiers began well before the affair of the Ghouta which serves as a pretext for its deployment.

The question is therefore to understand whether, by firing a deluge of missiles on a few abandoned buildings, Washington and its allies have postponed the confrontation in order to occupy a more efficient position, or, on the contrary, have given up on direct warfare and are preparing for a new form of conflict.

The result of the bombing on 14 April is astonishing – 103 missiles are said to have been fired by the Allies. 71 of these are said to have been destroyed in flight by Syria. A decommissioned military laboratory was apparently destroyed, and the installations of two aerodromes were damaged. This deluge of fire allegedly wounded only three people and killed none. If Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May had intended to show their power, they in fact showed themselves to be powerless.

Seen from Damascus, the message was clear – Syria is in the process of freeing itself from the jihadists, but will not enjoy peace for all that, and will not be able to count on any help from the West for its reconstruction.

The Allies pretend that Syria kept stocks of chemical weapons, despite its membership of the Convention which prohibits them. They claim that they targeted only areas linked to these weapons. And yet, for example, they fired four missiles at the international commercial airport in Damascus, an exclusively civilian target. Happily, the Syrian Arab Army managed to intercept them all.

In total, the Syrian Arab Army, which was only in possession of S-125’s, S-200’s, Buk’s, Kvadrat’s and Osa’s, managed, single-handed, to shoot down two thirds of the Western projectiles. Finally, despite themselves, the Allies had just fought the first battle of their history in which they killed not one enemy. France, which tested its new naval Cruise missile for the first time in a combat situation, was unable to boast of a success to its potential clients.

Of course, the Allies limited themselves. They carefully avoided hitting Russian or Iranian targets, and these two states did not participate in the operation. Nonetheless, the Western armada no longer has the capacity to impose its will on middle powers as long as they are protected by Russia.

Everyone has understood that, as from now :

- the United States and Russia – just as in earlier times the USA and the USSR – will refrain from any direct confrontation in order to avoid nuclear war ;

- and that the middle powers allied with Russia will not be significantly damaged by the West.

- The only military superiority possessed by Washington, London and Paris resides in their capacity to manipulate armed groups and use them as proxies.

By bringing France and the United Kingdom into the fray, President Trump has forced them to accept the reality they were refusing to see.

This grand show, then, was no more than a futile gesture. After a quarter of a century of unilateral domination by the West, its three main military powers have just been down-graded. The world has returned to a bipolar situation like that of the Cold War, although the new rules still need to be defined. The Third World War will have to wait.

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Artists to build modern world’s largest hanging gardens since Babylon (Video)

Known as one of the seven wonders of the world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were a spectacular feat of ancient engineering. Now French artistic collective Les Machines de L’ile are building what might be the largest hanging garden built since Babylon, towering 114 feet high and spreading out over 160 feet in diameter. Watch this video explaining the collective’s L’Arbre aux Hérons (The Heron’s Tree):

Based out of Nantes, France, Les Machines de L’ile was born out of the collaboration between the duo of François Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice, who were the creative minds behind the construction of this fantastical, mechanical metropolis in Nantes. This world of actual mechanical wonders was inspired by the works of Nantes native and writer Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci. The Heron’s Tree is intended as a third in a series of imaginative, kinetic installations, which include the Grand Elephant and the Galerie des Machines (Machine Gallery) in 2007, the Carousel of the Sea Worlds in 2012, all of which are situated in the city’s shipyards, adjacent to the River Loire.

Les Machines de L’ileLes Machines de L’ile/Video screen capture
Les Machines de L’ile© Les Machines de L’ile
Les Machines de L’ileLes Machines de L’ile/Video screen capture
Les Machines de L’ileLes Machines de L’ile/Video screen capture

The Heron’s Tree will consist of a huge, tree-like steel structure that will be located in an unused granite quarry. Preliminary sketches of the design have two mechanical herons that will alight beside two platforms to carry visitors on a predetermined route. In addition, visitors will be able to walk on some of the Tree’s branches, in the midst of a network of hanging plants that give that impression of a delightful garden. So far, partial prototypes and studies of the design have been built and are on display at the Galerie des Machines. The designers say:

Not unlike a tree, its construction is a living process. [..] Until the final months of its growth and the expansion of its foliage, the final struts that have been planted will begin to lower their loads, like the sprouting roots of a giant Banyan tree. The Tree’s mechanical menagerie will continue to grow and evolve throughout its life. 
During the 4 phases of construction, the Galerie des Machines will be a space where you can share and talk about the artistic adventure of the Heron Tree.

Les Machines de L’ile© Les Machines de L’ile
Les Machines de L’ile© Les Machines de L’ile
Les Machines de L’ile© Les Machines de L’ile
Les Machines de L’ile© Les Machines de L’ile

It’s an ambitious project that will be slated to open by 2022. This cultural tour de force is being crowdfunded via Kickstarter — you can donate there or to find out more, visit Facebook and Les Machines de L’ile.

Les Machines de L’ile© Les Machines de L’ile

[Via: This Is Colossal]

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Options for Russia in the road to World War III

Defcom game WWIII World War III nuclear war


There are some fairly good reasons in favor of Russia’s decision to intervene in Syria, which is why I have always been modestly if unenthusiastically supportive of it:

  • It is basically a giant and continuous live training exercise for Russian pilots and generals, making it almost “free” in financial terms.
  • The value of the Khmeimim base is modest, but not entirely negligible.
  • It supported Russian weapons sales.
  • Fighting Islamic State made for good PR.
  • Could potentially be used as a bargaining chip for concessions elsewhere (e.g. the Ukraine).
  • One commonly cited but fake reason: Supporting an ally. As I have long been pointing out, it was Vladimir Putin himself who pointed out that prior to the war, Assad had visited Paris more frequently than Moscow.

However, there were always a couple of major downsides:

  • Supporting Assad placed Russia at odds with all of the powerful players in the region – the US, its European allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs, and Turkey. The only exception was Iran, and even its interests are far from synonymous with Russia’s.
  • The modest Russian expeditionary force in Syria there is completely overawed by, and surrounded by, military assets belonging to states that don’t really want them there. This makes it highly vulnerable.

With the defeat of Islamic State, Russia’s continued presence in Syria has become much more dangerous, since neoliberalism.txt could now revert to its old mantras about Assad “killing his own people” without the superlative evil of Islamic State spoiling the optics.

Indeed, as I speculated at the start of this year, the drone attacks on Khmeimim could have been a message to Russia that it was time to pack up its bags.

Recent developments over the Douma false flag gas attacks have basically proved that my gloomy presentiments were correct, e.g. see this from February:

And the Russian air presence in Khmeimim remains absolutely overawed by the resources at CENTCOM’s disposal.

Hopefully Syria doesn’t launch any more large-scale chemical weapons attacks, false flag or otherwise (admittedly, controlling for false flags is hard). Because while the kremlins might be forced to swallow the deaths of a few dozens “They’re Not There” mercenaries, explaining away RuAF hunkering down in Khmeimim as Turkish/Israeli/US-backed jihadists overrun Syria – or worse, getting themselves wiped off the face of the earth in a futile attempt to fight back – will be orders of magnitude harder.

Indeed, this is a theme that I have been noting since the very start of Russia’s intervention in Syria, in both my posts and many comments on the Unz Review, in the face of persistent and often vicious naysaying – no matter that this is a rather obvious geopolitical reality.

I do not know the immediate outcome of the immediate crisis. Most likely, it will be a much larger-scale repetition of the mostly symbolic strike on Shayrat AFB in April 2017. Maybe a miracle will happen and it is called off entirely.

But maybe things will go in a much more disastrous direction, in a scenario that will be the subject of this post.

However, even if the outcome for now is relatively “good”, the underlying issues that got us where we are will not go away. As I noted in the aftermath of the 2017 strikes – indeed, as Putin himself pointed out – the Syrian rebels, and/or their sponsors, now have a perverse incentive to stage further false flag attacks, in the sure knowledge that Trump will no longer have any option but to respond with ever greater force. As this cycle of escalation increases, the chances of Russian soldiers getting hit by US/coalition strikes rises to unity.

I do not know if the present crisis will culminate in conciliation or catastrophe.

I do think that the probability of catastrophic outcomes will continue increasing so long as the Assad government remains in power. Contra the trolls who will bloviate about hasbara troll Karlin’s defeatism in the comments, this is not an argument for Russia bailing out of Syria. Nor, for that matter, is it an argument that Russia should stay. To the contrary, it is just a reality that needs to be confronted, in the eventuality that the Americans start going beyond the limited, one-off strike that they committed in 2017.

1. The Khmeimim Crisis

I hope it goes without saying that Russia has absolutely no way to win in Syria should its forces enter into a full scale regional conflict with CENTCOM.

It is not going to be a trivial fight by any stretch of the imagination:

  • There are two S-400 complexes guarding Khmeimim, and several Pantsir systems.
  • Though composition varies from month to month, there are usually around a dozen air superiority fighters (Su-35, Su-35) and a dozen other fighters, as well as a few military helicopters.
  • Around 4o Pantsir systems total in Syria
  • Two Kilo submarines are currently in the region, though not the formidable Moskva cruiser, with its S-300 system
  • Two Bastion anti-ship coastal defense systems
  • Stand-off cruise missiles (Kh-32, Kh-50, Kalibrs) can be fired from deep within Russia, or from Caspian/Iranian airspace

But here are the forces ranged against them:

  • A single carrier such as the USS Harry S. Truman has around four to five dozen F-18s
  • Hundreds of F-15s and F-16s in US bases in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, and the UAE
  • Hundreds of Tomahawks can be fired from US Navy ships
  • The air forces of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and Britain, and possibly that of Israel and Turkey
  • B-52 bombers from half a world away

This is a totally lopsided match, which even the optimistic Russian military analyst Andrey Martyanov acknowledges:

Of course, US can unleash whatever it has at its conventional disposal at Khmeimim and it will eventually overwhelm whatever the Russians have there, from several SU-35s to S-300s and S-400s and, possibly, make Peters’ wet dream of keeping the whole ordeal confined to Syria very real. This would work, say against anyone’s military contingent except Russia.

The true extent of Russia’s defeat will depend on the precise composition of its forces and enemy forces come the day, as well as on the specific circumstances in which the showdown happens.

(a) If Russia is able to strike first, for instance, during a US attack on Syrian units when they are not expecting Russian interference, it’s plausible that it could down a few dozen fighters and two to half a dozen frigates and destroyers.

(b) If on the other hand it is the US that attacks without warning – for instance, including Khmeimim in its upcoming Tomahawk barrage – then Russia would be lucky to get even just a dozen kills. The Kilos and Bastions might still be able to sink a few a ships.

(c) A third scenario, and I suspect the likeliest one, is a mistake or “mistake” in which Russian air assets or air defenses gets targeted by a sweep of Syria by coalition air forces after the initial Tomahawk barrage – perhaps by an incompetent Saudi airman, or Israelis seeking to provoke a major escalation that would lay the groundwork to finish off Assad once and for all.

In this scenario, Russia’s air defense systems will be partially depleted from knocking down the initial Tomahawk barrage, and its responses will be confused rather than planned. However, a majority of the attacking force will not be expecting the Russians to turn hostile either. Consequently, the damage inflicted on the US in this scenario is somewhere between that of (a) and (b).

I doubt that Russia will manage to sink or even disable an aircraft carrier in either of the latter two scenarios. Contra the War Nerd’s fantasies about suicide motorboats taking them out, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is a 100,000 ton metallic honeycomb with hundreds of watertight compartments, protected by a screen of smaller ships, submarines, and fighters. Sinking these leviathans is really, really hard.

Of course it would be trivial to do so by launching a couple of ICBMs that disperse nuclear warheads in a grid pattern around the carrier’s general location. However, the US will treat this as a full-fledged nuclear attack. In any case it’s not even clear what such a cardinal violation of ethical and military norms would change in the big picture. The US would still have 10 aircraft carriers left.

In any case, the ultimate outcome is clear and near certain: The Russian military presence in Syria will be eradicated within a week (mostly within the first two days).

Furthermore, US and EU sanctions will be drastically stepped up in the following weeks. In particular, I expect the latest US sanctions against the companies of Deripaska, which bar US nationals from any dealings with them, compel US nationals to sell any shares they have in them, and freeze their US based assets, to be extended to all the major Russian corporations – with their consequent expulsion from the wider Western financial system. And I also expect this to be the point at which Russia gets cut off from SWIFT.

2. Retreat or Escalation?

Putin will now have to make some hard choices between dishonor, war, or some combination of the two. These constitute a number of non-exclusive options.

2.b. Hunkering Down

Militarily, this is the least risky option. However, Putin will face rising domestic discontent as Western attempts to strangle the Russian economy transition to a new and far more intensive phase, and living standards collapse.

How long will the “buffer” of 80% approval ratings hold up? People don’t like losers, as the Argentine junta discovered.

And it’s not only internal affairs that people will Russia will have to worry about. Not only does nobody like losers, but this period will see secular trends in the post-Soviet space coming to their logical conclusions. The ageing post-sovok rulers of Central Asia are getting replaced by nationalists and Islamists. The overthrow of Lukashenko by the Belorussian nationalists (zmagars) his regime has been quietly cultivating. The Ukraine will continue to recover economically and consolidate politically. By the early 2020s, oil prices may start to collapse due to the exponential rise in adoptions of electric vehicles.

If the Americans supported Chechen rebels even under “Boris and Bill” in the 1990s, it goes without saying that Western efforts to stir up separatism and color revolution will be doubled and redoubled.

Russia may partially mitigate this by intensifying its reorientation to the East, especially China. But this will not be a silver bullet that solves all its problems.

In my assessment, in this scenario there is a significant chance that Russia will eventually be forced or manipulated into acceding to Western terms, if not capitulating entirely.

2.b. Syria

1. The most obvious option, and the one pushed most energetically by The Saker, would be to continue the struggle in the Middle East, especially Syria.

Obvious objection: Using what, to do what? At this point, shorn of Russian air support, incredibly demoralized, and getting swept up by continuing air strikes – Israel in particular will use the opportunity to wipe the Iranian presence from the Syrian map – the Syrian Arab Army, which has never been a very functional fighting force, will collapse once again as jihadis take the initiative.

Within months, they will overrun much of the country, with perhaps only Latakia and Tartus continuing to hold out (and even that’s not certain, considering the extent to which those regions of core Assad support have been bled out since 2011).

There will also probably be a genocide of Alawites and the remaining Christians in Syria, which the Western media will most certainly not televise.

As for Turkey, here is what I wrote about it at the start of the year:

Erdogan would prefer an Islamist Syria to Assad, but would prefer a unitary Syria even under Assad to a powerful Rojava occupying half the country’s territory. This largely explains his heel turn in Syria. Even so, there is nothing stopping him from doubling back should circumstances on the ground change yet again.

It will be largely immaterial whether or not Turkey closes the Bosphorus to Russian shipping (which would be a formal act of war). By this point, the Mediterranean will be a completely American lake anyway.

This in turn makes the logistics of supplying any further expeditions to Syria untenable.

On the off chance that the infamously deceptive Erdogan actually refrains from placing yet another “knife in Putin’s back”, the best that could be hoped for from him is providing cover for Russia to evacuate what remains of its shattered forces in Syria.

2.c. The Persian Gulf

The American victory in Syria will be an even greater defeat for Iran in terms of both geopolitics (unlike Russia, Iran really does have a vital interest in breaking out into the Mediterranean) and legitimacy (its pretensions to leadership of the global Shiite community).

Just like Russia, Iran too will have a choice between hunkering down/capitulating or carrying on the fight.

If it chooses the latter, its best bet would be to close the Strait of Hormuz and hold it in place long enough for the ensuing oil price spike and ensuing recession to force the US to the negotiating table.

The best ways of doing that at Iran’s disposal are:

  • Anti-ship missiles
  • Mines

Anti-ship missiles: The bulk of the Iranian arsenal is based on Chinese C-802 missiles, which are similar to Harpoons and Exocets. Unless fired in salvoes, the USN can probably deal with them, though they would pose a credible threat to passing oil tankers – enough of a risk, possibly, to get insurers to stop covering the Strait of Hormuz route (which is ultimately what really matters). Ironically, at this point, many of them might start using the Northern Sea Route.

Mines: Iran’s naval mine stockpile is opaque, though its possible that it would be even more of a threat to shipping. It would be helpful to begin mine-laying operations before open outbreak of hostilities if at all possible, since doing so would become far harder afterwards. (However, since the US will be very much on the watch out for this in the wake of its destruction of Syria, a covert mine-laying operation will not stay secret for long).

One solid option would be to keep most of the anti-ship missiles in reserve, and use them primarily to attack US mine-clearing ships (which are less well defended than its capital ships, and far more fragile than double-hulled, multi-compartment oil supertankers). This might even force the US into launching ground operations on the Iranian coast, which will add body-bags to economic pain and possibly plunge it into political crisis.

Iran might also consider launching IRBMs at Saudi oil installations, which are very densely clustered on its east coast, or sabotaging them with special forces. However, oil and gas pipelines can be easily repaired, and Iranian missiles aren’t all that accurate, so I don’t see this having much of an impact.

Without Russian intervention – for instance, if Russia goes down the Capitulation route – Iran’s attempts to strike back are likely doomed to failure. But its prospects improve cardinally with Russian help.

Bastions can proliferate on the mountainous coasts of southern Iran, and Russia can launch long-range cruise missiles from Tu-22M3 bombers to shut down sea traffic through the Persian Gulf (at least so long as China acquiesces). The success prospects of any US landing operations also decrease drastically.

2.d. The Ukraine

Options here range from formal recognition of the LDNR to a resurrection of the Novorossiya project.

1. Recognizing the LDNR, or even incorporating them into Russia, will temporarily assuage dissatisfied nationalists and send a signal that Russia is not backing down before the West.

However, this will come at the cost of even more sanctions from the West and what is sure to be even greater support of the Ukraine in the wake of the Syria imbroglio. In particular, it seems likely that NATO will start pushing through expedited membership for the Ukraine. It is also unlikely to add all that much to Putin’s approval ratings.

2. A full-scale invasion and occupation of Eastern Ukraine and/or Novorossiya is still plausible, but it will be an order of magnitude more difficult than in 2014. The Ukrainian Army is more experienced, better funded, has been purged of its pro-Russian elements, and its disposition is no longer concentrated in the west of the country.

Here is what I wrote about Ukrainian military developments a few months ago:

If there was a time and a place for a Russian invasion of the Ukraine – in reality, not in Western/Ukrainian propagandist fantasy – it was either in April 2014, or August 2014 at the very latest.

Since then, the Ukrainian Army has gotten much stronger. Since 2014, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have grown from no more than 100,000 troops (almost none of them combat-worthy) to around 250,000. It can now carry out complex tactical operations: In an August 2017 report at Colonel Cassad, Vladimir Orlov noted how night vision equipped Ukrainian spec ops used highly technical means to kidnap a Russian citizen serving with the NAF.

It has been purged of its “Russophile” elements, and even though it has lost a substantial percentage of its remnant Soviet-era military capital in the war of attrition with the LDNR, it has more than made up for it with wartime XP gain and the banal fact of a quintupling in military spending as a percentage of GDP from 1% to 2.5%-5%.

This translates to an effective doubling to quadrupling in absolute military spending, even when accounting for Ukraine’s post-Maidan depression. Russia can still crush Ukraine in a full-scale conventional conflict, and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future, but it will no longer be the happy cruise to the Dnepr that it would have been two years earlier.

Of even greater import is that the Ukrainian military now completely overshadows the Novorossiya Armed Forces.

The latter have no more than 40,000 troops, and with the exit of the more “idealistic” warriors in 2014-15, it has succumbed to low morale. Alexander Zhuchkovsky, a Russian directly involved in the NAF, estimated that they would be unable to hold out for longer than a week against a full-fledged Ukrainian assault without help from Russia. The Maidanists dream of a repetition of Operation Storm and – absent serious Russian intervention – they are probably already capable of it.

In reality, fighting the Ukraine in the wake of a debacle in Syria will be even more difficult.

In 2014, the US geopolitical analysis website Stratfor war gamed three scenarios of a Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

The maximal one involved an advance to the Dnieper, which they estimated would require 91,000-135,000 troops and could have been accomplished in 11-14 days. They also estimated that Russia would need counter-insurgency forces of 28,000-260,000 to secure the area, depending on the intensity of partisan resistance. Since considerable percentages of people throughout putative Novorossiya supported joining Russia in 2013-14, I would have leaned towards the lower end of those estimates at that time – especially considering that “Russophile sentiment” went up by about a standard deviation in Crimea after its annexation, with support for joining Russia going up from ~40% to ~90%. However, in the rest of the Ukraine, “Russophile sentiment” collapsed by a standard deviation in the course of 2014; support for joining Russia in Novorossiya collapsed from ~25% to ~5%. Consequently, assuming this collapse was “deep” as opposed to temporary, the garrisoning forces required now might be much larger than four years ago.

Nonetheless, it could probably still be accomplished – the Ukrainians still have no counter to Russian air power and advanced EW capabilities – although there would now be thousands of Russian military deaths, as opposed to hundreds in 2o14. Even if NATO were to have decided to mount a major air intervention, Stratfor estimated that the deployment of 22 fighter squadrons to forward areas in Eastern Europe would take 11 days – that’s around the time at which Russian spearheads would be reaching the natural defense line that is the Dnieper, along with their mobile air defenses.

A huge NATO ground mobilization would still be able to overwhelm and push Russia out of the Ukraine in the long-term. However, it is very unlikely that even the Americans – let alone Germans – would want to do that for the sake of a non-NATO member, especially since Russia would likely still not be formally at war with them.

Meanwhile, even the maximal estimate of the needed numbers of occupation troops – 260,000 for Eastern Ukraine – could be matched by the 340,000 troops at the disposal of Russia’s National Guard.

This “regathering of the Russian lands” would restore the legitimacy of the Putin government.

Nor would the financial cost be unduly high.

For instance, out of Novorossiya’s eight oblasts, Donetsk (mining) and Kharkov (science, heavy industry) would be net contributors to the budget immediately or almost immediately. Donetsk has coal, and generated something like 25% of the Ukraine’s foreign currency earnings and as well as a disproportionate share of gov’t revenue. Kharkov is the Ukraine’s second hi-tech/science city after Kiev, as well as a major industrial center. Odessa (main Ukrainian port), Zaporozhye (Motor Sich), Nikolaev (shipbuilding), and Dnepropetrovsk (industrial) would have started off as recipients but could have been expected to transition to net donors after a few years of convergence. Only Lugansk and Kherson would likely remain net recipients indefinitely.

Still, 6/8 is a great deal. Much better, say, than the North Caucasus ethnic minority republics (0/7). If anything, it would be Kharkov subsidizing, say, Pskov, as opposed to “Russia” subsidizing Kharkov.

This demonstration of force would also rescue Russia’s much diminished authority amongst countries such as Belarus and Kazakhstan, which in the wake of its humiliation in Syria would otherwise be rushing to disassociate themselves from Putin’s Russia.

Nonetheless, it’s pointless to pretend that this strategy will be without its risks.

First, Russia will be injected with a certain demographic highly hostile to it, especially if this project was to extend beyond Novorossiya. Second, Moldova might join up with Romania, making Transnistria officially part of a NATO country with all its attendant consequences. Third, sanctions will be ramped up to a near total level, and the prospects of reconciliation with the West, including the EU, will go from minimal to effectively zero.

2.e. The Baltics

By far the riskiest but highest potential pay-off strategy would be to invade the Baltics immediately after the Syria debacle, perhaps after giving them a 24 hour ultimatum to denounce NATO (which will certainly be declined).

In the first days of the war, the residents of Saint-Petersburg will see their Internet speeds slow down to a crawl, as NATO trawlers cut the submarine fiber-optic cable linking Western Russia to the global Internet. The Unz Review and other alt media sites that host Russian propaganda will also be shut down right about this time. In general, communications and trade links between the two blocs will be rapidly severed, while traditional wartime mechanisms of authoritarian control reappear.

The main advantage of this strategy is that a fast and relatively bloodless victory is all but assured, as Russian armored spearheads sever the Suwalki gap to connect Kaliningrad to the mainland, while others race towards Tallinn and Riga.

This is not just my opinion, but that of the RAND Corporation in its 2016 report Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank: Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics:

In a series of wargames conducted between summer 2014 and spring 2015, the RAND Corporation examined the shape and probable outcome of a near-term Russian invasion of the Baltic states. The games’ findings are unambiguous: As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad: a bloody counteroffensive, fraught with escalatory risk, to liberate the Baltics; to escalate itself, as it threatened to do to avert defeat during the Cold War; or to concede at least temporary defeat, with uncertain but predictably disastrous consequences for the Alliance and, not incidentally, the people of the Baltics.

The obvious downside is that Russia will now likely be formally at war with much of NATO, assuming that most of its members choose to honor Article V, at least in words.

The upside is that retaking the Baltics would be prohibitively expensive – Kaliningrad represents one of the greatest concentrations of military power on the planet, while the Baltic Sea itself would become a death zone under Russia’s A2/AD bubble. Western nuclear escalation is unlikely to be credible, since it’s hard to imagine the US trading New York for Riga. Meanwhile, a failure to mount a credible intervention risks demoralizing and cracking NATO itself.

My guess is that the likeliest outcome is (1) a consolidation, rather than cracking, of NATO; (2) a long and possibly permanent “phoney war”, such as the one that prevailed between France and Germany for the first eight months of World War II.

Still, the risks are extremely high.

If NATO fully consolidates and fully mobilizes, then Russia’s conventional defeat becomes inevitable – the military-industrial divergence between the two blocs is simply too great. But here’s the crux of the matter – such a conflict will go nuclear, at least if Russia follows its own military doctrine, which relies on the concept of limited “de-escalatory” nuclear strikes (a strategy that bears a resemblance to NATO’s during the Cold War when the Warsaw Pact had military superiority in Central Europe). If NATO checks or raises instead of folding, Russia will continue reraising, up to and including a full scale nuclear apocalypse. It’s a reckless strategy, sure, but as a weak player with no other chips left, it has no other choice.

Conversely, if it is NATO that fails to consolidate and enters an existential crisis after Russia conquers the Baltics, it is the US that might escalate to the use of nuclear weapons in a bid to preserve its global hegemony.

Consequently, it is highly unlikely that the highly cautious men in the Kremlin would embark upon such an adventure.

2.f. China

There’s a small possibility that China will use the opportunity to seize Taiwan and solidify its hegemony over the South China Sea, though it’s not really militarily ready for that yet (many of its weapons system are close to qualitative convergence with the US, but it has yet to mount a credible buildup, which will take another decade or two).

Still, the US being so preoccupied elsewhere might be too juicy of an opportunity to miss out on.

Although it is uncertain to what extent China will help out Russia, it is not in its interests to allow it to collapse and drift over to the Western camp. Russia is China’s strategic rear, and a secure source of hydrocarbons and minerals should tensions with the US increase to the point that they shut down its sea routes to the Middle East.

Still, on the off chance that China decides to join the West in pressuring Russia, then the latter’s situation becomes hopeless, and it might as well capitulate sooner rather than later.

3. Nuclear War

It is unlikely but not impossible that World War III will escalate to a major nuclear exchanges between the US and Russia.

Since the tone of this article has so far been pessimistic, now is as good a time as any to inject a “positive” note.

Even a full-scale thermonuclear exchange between Russia and the US is patently survivable. The theory of “nuclear winters”, at least in its wilder variants (drops of many tens of degrees), has been long discredited. The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 was approximately equal in megatonnage to that of all the world’s current nuclear arsenals, and yet it merely led to a single “year without a summer” that did not even produce any major famines in a pre-industrial world. Fallout radiation levels decay rapidly, and it will be safe to emerge from shelters almost everywhere after just two weeks. Most rural areas and many small towns would be almost unaffected, at least directly. Sadly, there will be no monster mutants roaming the post-apocalyptic plains – even in the Fallout video games, that was the result of a biological weapon, not of nuclear weapons.

Now to be sure, some modest percentage of the world population will die, and a majority of the capital stock in the warring nations will be destroyed.

However, this destruction would have been far from total even during the 1950s, when missile accuracy was lower, urban population density in the US was higher, and total megatonnage was much larger. Here is a table of the percentage of capital stock that nuclear war theorist Herman Kahn (On Thermonuclear War) expected to survive in the US following a nuclear war with the USSR:

As Herman Kahn might have said, this is a tragic but nonetheless distinguishable outcome compared to a true “existential risk” to the human species.

Now to be sure, they will be some pretty cardinal changes.

There will be a modest global cooling, and a collapse of the global economy. Many Third World countries may indeed slip into famine due to the breakdown of global trade.

The US, Russia, and chunks of Western Europe will be economically and demographically shattered, having lost 10%-25% of their population and perhaps 80% of their GDP.

Although the majority – probably the vast majority (90%+) – of the world’s population will survive, that is extremely unlikely to include myself. Although Moscow has the A-135 anti-missile system, which uniquely uses 10 kiloton nuclear missiles to knock down incoming nuclear missiles – in the process flattening much of the surrounding Moscow oblast – it cannot stop a barrage of hundreds of missiles. The most it can do is buy a bit of extra time for the Kremlin elites to descend into the D6 secret subway system and spirit themselves off to remote control bunkers such as the one at Mount Yamantau.

Meanwhile, the world’s new hegemon – assuming it managed to mostly stay out of the line of nuclear fire – will be China.

Although some Europeans, especially our best representatives, might rue this development, it would on some level be quite well deserved and even appropriate.

That is because getting manipulated into rage quitting on your own civilization by some Middle Eastern tribes is really, really retarded, and stupidity needs to be punished.

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