Small Wars Journal

The United States and Russia Are Already at War

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 2:23pm

The United States and Russia Are Already at War

 Alexander Velez-Green

The United States and Russia are already at war. At least, that’s what many in Moscow seem to think. This war is not fought like past conflicts. It’s prosecuted today primarily by non-military means. But, the secondary role of military operations does not lessen the danger it poses to U.S. strategic interests. Moscow is targeting the United States in ways that sidestep America’s traditional understanding of warfare. Its seeks to cripple the United States, shatter NATO, and fill the void left by America’s absence. President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration may offer opportunities to de-escalate the confrontation. But doing so successfully will depend on Washington’s ability to adapt to Moscow’s novel way of war.

War By Other Means

U.S. policymakers tend to view war as being limited to the military arena. Their counterparts in Moscow increasingly see things differently. There is in Russia a rising awareness that non-military means can be used with devastating effect. These non-military tools range from cyber-attacks to information campaigns to economic sanctions. Russian strategists no longer define warfare solely—or even primarily—by the deployment, distribution, and maneuver of troops in the field. They see warfare instead as the combined use of political, diplomatic, informational, economic, and—to a lesser extent—military efforts to destabilize the enemy, undermine their ability to respond in a timely manner, and exploit asymmetries to nullify any adversary military advantages.

This premise informs Russia’s understanding of joint operations. That is, the Kremlin recognizes that all coercive operations, not just military ones, must be joint if they are to advance its strategic interests. This recognition is built into the structure of the Russian national security sector itself. Control over Russia’s security institutions—including political, military, intelligence, and other ministries—is highly-centralized. This is done in large part so that the Kremlin can bring all elements of its nation’s power to bear in a unified manner as threats arise.

The destructive potential of non-military tools is already all too apparent. Take as an example the Russia-directed Democratic National Committee hack. Moscow’s first objective was to damage Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected president. Far more perniciously, however, the Russian Federation sought to undermine the American system of government. Russian President Vladimir Putin knows that American political polarization inhibits Congress’ capacity to govern, undercutting U.S. global competitiveness and credibility. The Kremlin knows too—critically—that Americans tend to favor retrenchment so long as domestic political strife keeps their eyes focused inward. By stoking partisanship and inflaming populism, Moscow believes that it can severely weaken the United States’ ability to fight Russian adventurism.

Importantly, some might argue that this expanded definition of “warfare” is theoretically unsound and does little to capture the present state of U.S.-Russian relations. U.S. military scholars will remember that Carl von Clausewitz defined “war” as “an act of violence intended to compel [one’s] opponent to fulfill [their] will.” The Russian Federation’s intent to compel NATO to accede to its demands is self-evident. The veracity of this expanded definition therefore hinges on what constitutes “violence.” If non-military means can be used to cause suffering of such strategic consequence—measured in enemy deaths, economic ruin, or state collapse—then Russian advocacy for a broader definition may be well-founded.

A System in the Crosshairs

Russian military thought diverges from American on more than just the tools of modern warfare. How Russian strategists plan for war is also different. The U.S. Joint Staff’s operational planning construct—used to build American war plans—is designed for one-on-one contingencies. It treats both sides of an engagement as monolithic entities. The implications of such narrow thinking are evident in the U.S. counterterrorism effort. American initiatives against al Qaeda and ISIS nodes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere were conducted in earnest. But, Washington failed to devise an operational plan that treated these groups less as singular entities and more as parts of a complex, multi-theater movement. Conceptual missteps like this left space for the global jihad to adapt, persist, and grow.

Moscow’s policies suggest that it has adopted a different, more nuanced paradigm for war planning. According to this paradigm, the United States and NATO are not so much a compilation of states bound by mutual interest as one highly-interdependent system. And, that system is not just the Atlantic Alliance. It is the liberal order that underpins Western solidarity. To impose its will on the United States or other NATO members, Moscow is targeting these states directly. But it is also targeting the system. If the system can be unraveled, the polities within it will not only drift from one another. The nations will fall apart from within, accelerating that drift, and creating space for Russian maneuvering.

Russia’s unconscionable weaponization of the Syrian refugee crisis represents this paradigm in action. For instance, Moscow’s initiative may yet undermine the Hungarian liberal establishment and push the country towards a more permanently xenophobic political footing. If that happens, it will be like one of the twenty-eight screws holding NATO together unwinding just enough to weaken neighboring screws. The ongoing uptick in nationalism in Europe—aided by Russia-backed far-right European political parties—suggests that this is not an idle fear. Left untended, this unwinding could shatter the Alliance’s unified front.

Moscow’s use of the Syrian refugee crisis to destabilize Europe underscores Russian strategists’ view that the U.S.-Russia security competition is not a binary affair. It shows as well Moscow’s related understanding that the U.S.-Russia competition is not even itself just one conflict. It’s the summation of multiple ongoing and interacting conflicts. As Robert Kaplan writes, Russian policymakers see their “near abroad” as a single operational theater—a single “conflict system,” as Kaplan has described it—with ongoing operations in one area directly affecting campaigns elsewhere. This allows them to use efforts in Syria, for instance, to affect NATO politics in Brussels and the corresponding correlation of resolve in the Baltics. This can be seen as a collision of systems wherein Moscow uses events in its own conflict system to help scuttle European liberalism.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Russia’s efforts to derail liberalism reflect Moscow’s growing anxiety about the evolving security environment. They reflect in particular Russian strategists’ belief that the line separating offensive and defensive action no longer exists, or at least is no longer relevant.

Top Russian military thinkers indicate that Russia’s geographic proximity to NATO will leave Moscow with little time and few options for responding in the event of a NATO attack. Likewise, the United States’ ability—at least as perceived by Moscow—to launch a successful strategic first-strike using ballistic missile defense and prompt strike capabilities imperils Russia’s nuclear deterrent. That peril will only grow as new cyber and counterspace threats come online in the coming years. So not only will Moscow not have space for maneuver in the event of crisis. It won’t have time to respond either.

In this context, defensive—or even retaliatory—options have little real merit. Russian strategists have stressed this point for many years in Military Thought, the journal of the Russian General Staff. Once the United States has initiated an attack, that attack will be so swift and effective that the Russian Armed Forces will have little left to defend or retaliate with. As a result, Moscow increasingly believes that offensive action is required to protect the Russian state.

That’s already obvious in some cases, like the Russia-led DNC hack, weaponization of Syrian refugees, and investments in European nationalism. It’s less obvious in others. Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, for instance, was first and foremost an effort to forestall the West’s installation of a client on Russia’s border. But, Moscow also ably manipulated the Ukraine crisis to weaken the Atlantic Alliance, especially by revealing some members’ hesitance to assume risk in deterring further Russian aggression.

So long as the U.S. threat looms in Moscow’s vision, Russia will likely continue to take offensive action to weave chaos in and among the United States and its allies. That will be done using an array of non-military tools, complemented by select military operations. Russian actions will target individual states. But they will be best understood as part of a broader effort to undermine the Western system—the liberal order—itself.

Adapt and Overcome

President-elect Donald Trump has stated his desire to normalize ties with the Kremlin. Mr. Trump may be uniquely positioned to realize this goal. He and President Putin have long indicated substantial respect for one another. Moreover, Mr. Trump’s business background may allow him valuable insight into the set of interests and values influencing Putin’s behavior. And, his noteworthy political acumen may equip him to manage Putin’s machinations in surprisingly effective ways.

But, U.S.-Russian enmity is rooted not solely in personalities but in longstanding, often divergent visions for the future of Europe and the surrounding regions. To reconcile those visions is a tall order. Some elements of the U.S. position may be open for compromise. Mr. Trump may elect, for instance, to remove support for Syrian rebels or allow Russia greater freedom of operation in its periphery. But, there is only so far Washington can go without jeopardizing core interests, like its ability to reassure and protect allies in Europe. That fact is surely not lost on Putin, who has nonetheless already issued calls for President-elect Trump to press NATO to withdraw troops from Russia’s borders.

The coming years promise to be trying. So, too, will those that follow. The Kremlin is playing a long game. President Putin and his advisors recognize that American politics can be volatile. They know as well that U.S. skepticism of Russia runs deep in both parties. And—setting aside the question of U.S. intentions—they know Washington will likely continue investing in missile defense, prompt strike, cyber, and counterspace systems that could hold their nuclear deterrent at risk. Russian policymakers are therefore unlikely to abandon efforts to throw U.S. and European politics into disarray. Given the turbulent 2016 U.S. presidential election, they may even see working with President-elect Trump as an opportunity to further exacerbate political disunity in the United States and Europe. Perversely enough, Moscow may view helping Mr. Trump succeed—or at least be seen to succeed—as a way to further polarize American politics and encourage the election of like-minded populist candidates elsewhere.

The United States should therefore hedge its bets. That means investing in ways to deter Russian attacks on the very heart of Western society. U.S. policymakers must start by understanding Russia’s game. That includes recognizing Russia’s intent to cripple the United States, tear NATO apart, and take control of its periphery. It requires as well appreciating the devastative potential of non-military weapons, their important role in Moscow’s evolving conception of warfare, and the ways they—and their military complements—are being used to erode the liberal order. The successful deterrence of further aggression—and de-escalation of that which has already transpired—will ultimately rely on U.S. strategists adapting to overcome Moscow’s innovative way of war.

Categories: Russia - NATO

About the Author(s)

Alexander Velez-Green is a Research Associate with the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program and Future of Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security.  His research focuses on Russian military doctrine and thought, the impact of emerging technologies on U.S.-Russian strategic stability, and Middle East security challenges.

Mr. Velez-Green has co-authored several CNAS reports. He has also published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Defense One, The Hill, Lawfare, The National Interest, Quartz, War on the Rocks, and other outlets.

Mr. Velez-Green graduated cum laude from Harvard University. He is proficient in Arabic and Spanish and traveled extensively in the Middle East and Africa.


Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/01/2017 - 11:47am

Meet the SednitGroup, aka "Russian hackers" THAT Trump evidently knows more about than even the CIA/NSA and FBI....

AND for those that do not want to really believe it...yes we are at war....

One of the best write ups on the core Russian state sponsored hacking group with ties to SVR/GRU...who was and still is behind major power grid attack and the DNC attack...

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/01/2017 - 4:47am

The West Must Prevent Cold War 2.0
If we don’t resist Russian political warfare, very soon, Putin will win

By John R. Schindler • 12/31/16 11:00am

It was a year of profound, indeed systemic crisis. Across the West, friends of the Kremlin were surging in democratic elections, playing on legitimate fears of voters about economic anxiety and societal erosion. Moscow’s agents infiltrated Western politics at all levels, corrupting media and public discourse, while several European countries were poised to fall to parties overtly under Kremlin control—via the ballot box, not a coup. For Westerners who treasured freedom, it was all a nightmare coming true.

The year was 1947.

It’s important to note that while 2016, the year ending today, has been a dreadful one for Westerners who treasure freedom, with Vladimir Putin’s minions clandestinely subverting our politics, even in the United States, we’ve been here before. Indeed, we’ve been through much worse not all that long ago.

Moreover, the political threat currently emanating from Moscow is nothing new. Indeed, the parallels with the conditions the West faced at the dawn of the last Cold War are astonishing and ought to be recalled as Westerners ponder how to get it right in 2017—which may be the last chance to prevent the complete collapse of the American-led global order which, for all its faults, has worked well at preventing all-out global war for more than 70 years.

To start, we must not seek to downplay how grave the current crisis really is. Since the end of the first Cold War in 1991, a generation of neoliberal economics has raised Western prosperity, albeit not very evenly—rising tides turn out to lift some boats much more than others—while the angry legions of those who cannot compete in the 21st century economy grow daily. Many of them seek refuge in empty lives of online escapism, drink and drugs to numb their sense of displacement.

Their frustrations also include a nagging sense that, between declining native demographics and uncontrolled migration, they are literally losing their countries—in too many cases, to foreigners who plainly hate the locals and sometimes seek to kill them.

What makes all this so politically toxic is a pervasive feeling that, despite having regular elections, nothing much ever changes. Certainly, the big questions—Is our economy fundamentally just? Do we really want so much immigration?—never seem to be on the ballot. The system appears rigged by upscale mandarins in places like Brussels and Washington who make no effort to hide their distaste for the “deplorables” they seek to govern.

Behind them stand the big-money-men, the super-wealthy globalists who call the real shots, and they’re not really in the shadows anymore.
To top it off, the mainstream media serves as a tool of the ruling elite, seeking to quash key questions they don’t want asked, much less answered.

They flatter that elite, with whom they share a worldview: economically neoliberal, socially radical, and professionally self-absorbed. Dissenters are stifled with accusations of racism, xenophobia and “hate speech.” Guilt is customarily assumed, and in several Western countries those who step out of line wind up in jail for their heresy from the received wisdom of our ruling elites.

Here is where Putin stands ready to win big, conquering without all-out war.

This goes a long way to explaining why the political earthquakes of 2016 were so difficult for our elites to explain. First, Britain votes to leave the European Union, leaving stunned Eurocrats gasping for breath, then America elects Donald Trump, sending all decent Westerners into paroxysms of rage, howling gigantic curses against fellow citizens who are obviously fools addled with racism. Such electoral milestones were literally unthinkable for the West’s ruling class, so they never thought about them before they happened, and many of them still cannot seem to process what has occurred.

Whatever one thinks of BREXIT and President-elect Trump—and there’s ample cause for skepticism on both counts—their victories in 2016 have changed the West’s political game. When asked to choose between despised globalist elites and almost anything else, voters opted for the unknown latter. Make no mistake, the coming year promises to bring more of the same. France and Germany will be electing new governments in 2017, and radical shifts are poised to happen.

Here is where Putin stands ready to win big, conquering without all-out war. The coming French presidential election offers two likely choices: Marine LePen and her nationalist National Front, which openly takes money from Moscow, or François Fillon, a center-right politician who wants close ties with the Kremlin too. Both view Putin as an ally against the globalists and the EU, so no matter who takes France’s 2017 election, Moscow wins. Since France is an important middle-weight power possessing nuclear weapons, this will be a big win for Russia.

Things don’t look much better in Germany, where beleaguered Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a country furious at her opening the floodgates in 2015 to millions of migrants, mainly Muslim and unskilled, who have little to contribute to Germany’s very modern economy. This has engendered political chaos, and although Germany’s political system is designed to stifle far-right parties, thanks to the lessons learned from the Third Reich, nationalists are back in German politics in a serious way for the first time since the Hitler era.

Merkel’s nemesis is the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is rising fast at the local level and shows signs of finally getting traction in 2017 national elections, thanks to the anger at Merkel and her center-right coalition which has exposed the country to domestic terrorism in a serious way. The AfD makes little effort to hide its Kremlin ties, while Russian flags have a curious way of showing up at their demonstrations. Any progress by the AfD in the new year will be warmly greeted in Moscow, with good reason.

None of this is welcome news, and Western elites need to accept their share of the blame for this sad situation. By stifling legitimate feelings of anger and frustration at the neoliberal globalist order with accusations of racism and xenophobia, they have given Putin and his intelligence services a golden opportunity to exploit Westerners who feel ignored, despised, and disenfranchised. Kremlin spies in recent years have disseminated large amounts of cash to Western political parties they consider useful, on both the left and right, while passing weapons to the truly radical fringe. Putin wants a West that’s politically divided and increasingly unstable, and he’s getting what he wants.

Himself a figure of the anti-globalist right, Donald Trump may be just the man to turn to the political tables on the Kremlin.

How to stop this Russian semi-clandestine political juggernaut? Here looking back to 1947 helps. As the Cold War dawned, President Harry Truman eventually accepted that American power had to be used to prevent a Kremlin takeover of Western Europe. Thus was NATO born and American troops returned to Europe to prevent a Soviet invasion. Military power still matters, and the limited efforts made by the Obama administration to bolster deterrence in Europe may not be sufficient.

Yet it’s the political aspect that’s most intriguing. In the late 1940s, to prevent friends of the Kremlin from taking over via the ballot box, especially in key countries like Italy and France, Truman unleashed American intelligence to secretly support anti-Soviet parties of the democratic left. Aid, in cash and kind, was provided to European socialists to undercut the appeal of Communism by offering a robust reform program inside the democratic, Western system. This worked astonishingly well, and throughout the Cold War, the CIA and others quietly backed the European democratic left, politically undercutting the appeal of Moscow’s stooges.

The same must be done today. We must learn to work with moderate nationalists and anti-globalists, who are rising politically across the West. Stop denouncing them as racists and xenophobes, listen to their legitimate concerns, and start cooperating with the reasonable ones against Moscow. Seventy years ago, Washington successfully forged a quiet alliance with the moderate left to fight the Kremlin, and today we must do the same with the West’s moderate right. If we refuse to do so, they will gravitate to the only force which welcomes them, and his name is Vladimir Putin.

For more than three years, President Obama steadfastly refused to admit that we’re in Cold War 2.0 with Russia, which Putin de facto declared with his annexation of Crimea and subsequent invasion of eastern Ukraine.

However, Obama’s belated entry into the SpyWar with Moscow this week makes unmistakably clear that a new Cold War is in fact underway.

It shows no sign of stopping either, despite President-elect Trump’s fawning over the Kremlin on social media. Once in office, he will learn all the ways that Moscow clandestinely works to harm the West, and it is to be hoped that Trump takes appropriate action.

Himself a figure of the anti-globalist right, Donald Trump may be just the man to turn to the political tables on the Kremlin. The entire West should hope he does, soon.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 12/31/2016 - 4:09am

Comment from French social media yesterday evening after the praising of Putin by Trump....

Just so you know, French evening news just referred to Trump as Putin's new spokesperson on air.

We're all so fxxxxxxxxd

Outlaw 09

Sat, 12/31/2016 - 3:59am

AND we are not truly at war.....just not a shooting one.... the last time I checked full scale aggressive hacking of critical infrastructure rates as .....still war.....

Russian Hackers Began Honing Their Election-Tampering Skills in 2010

"He's not afraid to use this stuff": Michael McFaul explains the persistence of Putin's cyber power

Meet The Russian Hacker Claiming She's A Scapegoat In The U.S. Election Spy Storm

This is exactly why one must seriously question the political "sanity" of Trump and his transition team when he openly and publicly denies the Russians are in fact hacking the US.....
Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say
A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.
While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a security matter, the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid.
And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.
Officials in government and the utility industry regularly monitor the grid because it is highly computerized and any disruptions can have disastrous implications for the country’s medical and emergency services.
Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems.
The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.
Friday night, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) called on federal officials “to conduct a full and complete investigation of this incident and undertake remedies to ensure that this never happens again.”
“Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety,” Shumlin said in a statement. “This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling.”
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said he was briefed on the attempts to penetrate the electric grid by Vermont State Police onFriday evening. “This is beyond hackers having electronic joy rides — this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter,” Leahy said in a statement. “That is a direct threat to Vermont and we do not take it lightly.”
American officials, including one senior administration official, said they are not yet sure what the intentions of the Russians might have been. The incursion may have been designed to disrupt the utility’s operations or as a test to see whether they could penetrate a portion of the grid.
Officials said that it is unclear when the code entered the Vermont utility’s computer, and that an investigation will attempt to determine the timing and nature of the intrusion, as well as whether other utilities were similarly targeted.
“The question remains: Are they in other systems and what was the intent?” a U.S. official said.
This week, officials from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shared the Grizzly Steppe malware code with executives from 16 sectors nationwide, including the financial, utility and transportation industries, a senior administration official said.
Vermont utility officials identified the code within their operations and reported it to federal officials Friday, the official said.
The DHS and FBI also publicly posted information about the malware Thursday as part of a joint analysis report, saying that the Russian military and civilian services’ activity “is part of an ongoing campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and its citizens.”
Another senior administration official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security matters, said in an email that “by exposing Russian malware” in the joint analysis report, “the administration sought to alert all network defenders in the United States and abroad to this malicious activity to better secure their networks and defend against Russian malicious cyber activity.”
According to the report by the FBI and DHS, the hackers involved in the Russian operation used fraudulent emails that tricked their recipients into revealing passwords.
Russian hackers, U.S. intelligence agencies say, earlier obtained a raft of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, which were later released by WikiLeaks during this year’s presidential campaign.
President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the veracity of U.S. intelligence pointing to Russia’s responsibility for hacks in the run-up to the Nov. 8 election. He also has spoken highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite President Obama’s suggestion that the approval for hacking came from the highest levels of the Kremlin.
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said it would be “highly inappropriate to comment” on the incident given the fact that Spicer has not been briefed by federal authorities at this point.
Obama has been criticized by lawmakers from both parties for not retaliating against Russia before the election. But officials said the president was concerned that U.S. countermeasures could prompt a wider effort by Moscow to disrupt the counting of votes on Election Day, potentially leading to a wider conflict.
Officials said Obama also was concerned that taking retaliatory action before the election would be perceived as an effort to help the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
On Thursday, when Obama announced new economic measures against Russia and the expulsion of 35 Russian officials from the United States in retaliation for what he said was a deliberate attempt to interfere with the election, Trump told reporters, “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.”
Trump has agreed to meet with U.S. intelligence officials next week to discuss allegations surrounding Russia’s online activity.
Russia has been accused in the past of launching a cyberattack on Ukraine’s electrical grid, something it has denied. Cybersecurity experts say a hack in December 2015 destabilized Kiev’s power grid, causing a blackout in part of the Ukrainian capital.
On Thursday, Ukranian President Petro ­Poroshenko accused Russia of waging a hacking war on his country that has entailed 6,500 attacks against Ukranian state institutions over the past two months.
Since at least 2009, U.S. authorities have tracked efforts by China, Russia and other countries to implant malicious software inside computers used by U.S. utilities. It is unclear if the code used in those earlier attacks was similar to what was found in the Vermont case. In November 2014, for example, federal authorities reported that a Russian malware known as BlackEnergy had been detected in the software controlling electric turbines in the United States.
The Russian Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for the Energy Department and DHS declined to comment Friday.

Bill C.

Thu, 12/22/2016 - 5:06pm

In reply to by RantCorp

Above RantCorp said:

"A strategy shaped by an Operational Art applying the full spectrum of UW (wherein DA/kinetic fires forms an important but small element) is needed to counter these current strategic threats. Unfortunately, despite the fact the native populace of Russia, China, Pakistan Iran and the KSA would welcome the demise of their autocratic militarized political leadership more than anyone, our own MIC does not."


Could the reason be -- why our own MIC, etc., does not welcome the demise of these and/or other "autocratic militarized political leaders" -- this is because, as the current failed Iraq and Afghanistan wars indicate, and as the failed Arab Spring appears to confirm, "fostering internal revolution, revolt and regime change" in other countries; this now appears to be an exceptionally bad idea?

This, because what follows (unfathomable and enduring instability, chaos, suffering, loose nukes, refugee flows, endless exceptional engagement and war requirements, etc.); this such result is considered to be much, much worse than the previously "handled by the autocratic militarized political leaders" (and thus more-stable and more-manageable) status quo?

This such "things will be much worse with internal revolution, revolt and regime change" understanding providing that our "autocratic militarized political leader" opponents might now, indeed, come to THREATEN US with (a) revolution, revolt and regime change within their own countries and, thus, with (b) the "horrific-to-the-world-as-a-whole" possibilities now commonly associated same?

This "much worse result" reality, thus, causing the "full spectrum of unconventional warfare" option to be viewed -- by nearly everyone today -- in an exceptionally unfavorable light?

Bottom Line:


If we are -- by saber-rattling and buying more RMA bullshit, etc. -- able to cause the "autocratic militarized political leaders" to (a) remain in power and, thus, (b) keep the lid on Pandora's Box,

Then might this, as per the argument I have made above, be seen as an exceptionally "good thing," rather than as a "bad thing?"

(Note: The demise of the former Soviet Union and of pre-capitalist China; these would not seem to have been achieved by applying (a) "full spectrum UW" and, thereby, (b) causing such horrifically dangerous and destabilizing events and activities as are normally associated with "fostering internal revolution, revolt and regime change." [As per this latter matter, see the Greater Middle East and elsewhere today.] Rather, it appears that the very different [i.e. favorable rather than unfavorable] results achieved, for example, in the former Soviet Union and pre-capitalist China; these such favorable results came, it would appear, [a] more via RMA-like efforts and strategies and, ultimately, [b] more by working "by, with and through" the established [and, thus, already necessarily "legitimate?"] odious regimes. Herein, the threat posed by the U.S./the West in the Old Cold War of yesterday actually HELPING to provide for this exceptionally important "legitimacy" factor, to wit: the very element that would provide that these regimes could undertake and successfully achieve -- mostly own their own and minus the chaos, suffering, etc., associated with revolution, revolt, regime change, internal war, etc. -- the [admittedly limited/marginal/tentative] political, economic, social and/or value changes that we, the U.S./the West, desired. Thus, in the cases of the former Soviet Union and pre-capitalist China, these more RMA-like strategies and efforts providing [at much less cost?] for the very definition of "winning" as we understand it today, to wit: the transformation of these outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines?)


Sat, 12/31/2016 - 10:09am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw wrote:

‘Nothing has changed in Russia since 1972...absolutely nothing....only the name and authoritarian leaders.....’

It is the same in Iran, Pakistan, Syria, KSA and China. India has similar problems but an active democracy (rather than autocratic rule) and steady economic progress, acts as a safety valve keeping the political energy from distorting people's lives in an unacceptable manner.

It should come as no surprise, except for India, these nations are the source of much of our own and our allies’ problems. The purpose of their international belligerence is to distract their domestic audience from the shit-hole conditions they live under.

Instead of tapping into the revolutionary energy that all this misery produces, we shape policy that suggests an enemy armada is about to emerge on the horizon or an apparent belief in the super-natural will thwart us at every turn.

The latest manifestation of this hysteria is we need to protect ourselves from a PLA task-force spearheaded by a 1985 ex-Soviet carrier that the Ukrainians gave the PLA because it was a heap of crap. Unlike the much better Kuznetsov that the Russians kept?????!!!!! The Liaoning launches aircraft payloads so severely restricted by the ski-jump and lack of carrier-based refueling capability to render it an utter farce (hence the reason it was given to them).

Augmenting this strategic threat (and forming the other arm of a deadly pincer envelopment) are some airfields layer down two feet above the high-water mark on coral reefs in the middle of the ocean and a thousand kms from a friendly home port!

Only the B-21 – protected by the God-sent F-35 – can save us!

The notion that the revolutionary energy in these quasi-fascist ruled countries could stop all this nonsense before it even got started, is just ‘snake-eater’ bullshit.

God it’s enough to make you vote for the comparative sanity of a television reality star.

Brace for impact and happy new year,


Outlaw 09

Sat, 12/31/2016 - 7:59am

In reply to by RantCorp

RC...being effectively the only SWC commenter here who actually camped his way through the Soviet Union in 1972 and 1973 for a total of over 12 weeks...

It would have shocked many Americans as to the living standards of a Soviet citizen when compared to an Americans fresh bread supplies..little to no butter..virtually no fresh meat/ selection of vegetables.....and three families living in a three bedroom apartment in Leningrad.....they had just bought 3000 tons of stored EU butter that the EU needed to empty their storage facilities of to get more storage space and then sold the butter in say Minsk or Moscow in open wooden barrels outside food stores and eventually it became rancid and yet was still sold....

I came back telling all my German friends and any American I could find...the Soviets are only a military threat with nuclear weapons...BUT economically they are a massive failure and it looks like the Great Depression of the 30s....

Reagan basically "won" his arms race because the Soviet economy simply could not keep up and went bankrupt along the way....

It is now 2016 almost 2017 and the massive brain drain on Russia is literally emptying Russia of the best and brightest and those with money...and they say they are never going back.....Russia is again morally and economically bankrupt Putin just as not admitted it yet....

Nothing has changed in Russia since 1972...absolutely nothing....only the name and authoritarian leaders.....


Sat, 12/31/2016 - 6:36am

In reply to by Azor


Shock and awe:

After the wall came down the depth of misery the average Soviet citizen endured surprised many folks. Even the most benign inspection revealed a system that had been broken for a very long time. In many ways Putin’s goon mafia has proven just as toxic for the economic and political aspirations of the former Soviet citizenry – especially so the further you go east of the Urals. In other words if you want to see how broken the country was in the 1970s and 80s you can go there now – the bridges, railways, trains, planes are the same, only more worn out.

On the point of evidence and meaningful change – if you studied a map of the Gulf region from the 1970s – 80s and took note of our political and economic prospects back then, and you examined the situation today, you would discover lots of powerful changes – none of them in our favor.

Visual displays of force – what many referred to as ‘shock and awe’ – are a waste of taxpayers’ money if they fail to facilitate changes that enhance life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of the folks who paid for them in the first instance and those on the ground some time later. I don’t see much of that in the Gulf region wherein our entire conventional MIC/RMA ‘hell-yeah’ arsenal was applied against a supposedly hopelessly ill-matched opponent.


The Taliban is a post-Soviet entity, President Zia-ul-Haq died in 1988 and the Taliban emerged around Kandahar about 6 years later. It is true the children who were recruited were as a direct order from ul-Haq in 1982-3. The important point is the profoundly differing political energy driving the Taliban and that what drove the Mujaheddin.

The Muj were an anti-Communist movement opposing collectivization of land ownership and atheism as the State religion ( among other decreed absurdities) that emerged across the entire country from 1976 onward after the Communist coup disposing the King. The injection of the Soviet Army a few years later threw even more political fuel on the resistance energy that already had a firm grip across the entire country.

The ethnicity of the resistance fighters was utterly unimportant. Age-old hatreds were set to one side in the fight against the common foe. The leadership feuds within fellow ethnic groups was more of an issue, but if you traversed the entire country and you were against the regime and the Soviets, you were welcomed unreservedly.

That dynamic does not apply now and IMO indicates a profound difference in the nature of the conflict.

The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians of every ethnic group should flag a strategic difference as to the nature of the enemy’s intent. Our failure to recognize the UW nature of the Taliban (and thereby take Pakistan to task) and apply COIN instead of CUW is IMHO the root-cause of much blood and treasure wasted. I would go far as to say a successful UW campaign needs a COIN campaign opposing it for the UW strategy to succeed.

If your desire is to burn the aspirations of a population down you need to destroy new schools, bridges, power-plants, hospitals, courts, police forces and other forms of political governance to inflict the necessary political effect despair and hopelessness inject into the equation. That is to say, if an UW army was sent forth into a complete desert inhabited by nomads and the wretched poor, the lack of worthwhile victims would soon cause the invading UW army to implode in on itself.



Fri, 12/30/2016 - 1:06pm

In reply to by RantCorp

RC: “The Iron Curtain started crumbling long before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The USSR was a political and economic basket-case probably 10 years prior to Desert Storm in 1991. The Communist Party had long lost all credibility and everyone realized the game was up.
IMHO blowing up sitting ducks in a desert thousands of miles away had virtually nothing to do with the political tsunami that was about to wipe the USSR off the map and therein remove any threat of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.”

But did the Soviet leaders realize that “the game was up”? Andropov was aware of the seriousness of the situation in the early 1980s, but that did not prevent hardliners from staging a palace coup d’état against Gorbachev in 1991. Given the overkill of Desert Storm and the shock and awe that it caused in Moscow and Beijing, to say nothing of Washington, neither the Americans nor their adversaries knew how strong they were.

It takes time for an adversary to know that they have lost, and indeed most of the casualties of war are incurred when the losing side is in denial...

RC: “I’m afraid you’ve got that the wrong way round. We had been supporting the Pathans (Hekmatyar, Haqqani, Sayyaf, Abdul Haq etc.) all of who were Pathans from the south of the country. Prior to 9/11 Mashood and the Northern Alliance received virtually nothing from us. Their long-time benefactors were primarily Russia and Iran. The Taliban are the UW arm of the Pakistan Army – their ranks are filled with the children of Afghan refugees who were born in the camps that sprang up in Pakistan when the Soviet Army depopulated the border regions with indiscriminate bombing of civilians (much like Syria today). They are a political construct tightly controlled by the Pak Army who we have had a military relationship going back 50 years.”

I’ll have to look into this in greater detail. Suffice it to say, the CIA did have a relationship with the Northern Alliance and clearly US relations with the Taliban did nothing to pre-empt Al Qaeda’s plots or to coerce the Taliban into yielding after 9/11.

Yes, the Taliban did form in Pakistan and not Afghanistan, a terrible fusion of young refugees, the ISI and ul-Haq’s Islamist policies. Nevertheless, the Pashtun nation of some 50 million people straddles the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and their desire for self-determination has destabilized both countries. The Pakistanis have been adept at providing them autonomy, using them as proxies in Afghanistan and converting their desire for self-determination into radical Islamism, but the problem of Afghanistan cannot be solved without solving the Pashtun puzzle, which Pakistan will never permit lest its other ethnic and sectarian tensions be exacerbated.


Fri, 12/30/2016 - 4:12am

In reply to by Azor

Azor wrote:

‘Operation Desert Storm forever deterred Russia from launching a bid for mastery of the European continent, and drove home the point that Russia was neither the United States’ equal in conventional or nuclear power.’

The Iron Curtain started crumbling long before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The USSR was a political and economic basket-case probably 10 years prior to Desert Storm in 1991. The Communist Party had long lost all credibility and everyone realized the game was up.

IMHO blowing up sitting ducks in a desert thousands of miles away had virtually nothing to do with the political tsunami that was about to wipe the USSR off the map and therein remove any threat of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.


‘The United States had some knowledge of Afghanistan when it invaded in 2001, having long supported the Northern Alliance, but it had no comprehension of or ability to deal with the Pashtuns of southern Afghanistan or northern Pakistan, from whence the Taliban came.’

I’m afraid you’ve got that the wrong way round. We had been supporting the Pathans (Hekmatyar, Haqqani, Sayyaf, Abdul Haq etc.) all of who were Pathans from the south of the country. Prior to 9/11 Mashood and the Northern Alliance received virtually nothing from us. Their long-time benefactors were primarily Russia and Iran.

The Taliban are the UW arm of the Pakistan Army – their ranks are filled with the children of Afghan refugees who were born in the camps that sprang up in Pakistan when the Soviet Army depopulated the border regions with indiscriminate bombing of civilians (much like Syria today). They are a political construct tightly controlled by the Pak Army who we have had a military relationship going back 50 years.



Thu, 12/29/2016 - 5:41pm

In reply to by RantCorp


Well, the desire for security makes one strive to be more secure but also fuels insecurity in others. The launch of HMS Dreadnought forever deterred France from attempting to wrest control of the high seas from Great Britain, and it impressed Germany such that it strove to become a naval power and to challenge the Royal Navy.

Operation Desert Storm forever deterred Russia from launching a bid for mastery of the European continent, and drove home the point that Russia was neither the United States’ equal in conventional or nuclear power. China, was both terrified and impressed in 1991. The PLA was very poor man’s AFUSSR, and had largely dismissed Soviet qualitative advances in favor of quantity, taking false comfort in the results of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Suddenly, the Chinese had seen that all those goose-stepping soldiers and columns of tanks counted only for cannon fodder and target practice, and Chinese air defenses were in worse shape than Iraq’s.

Clinton’s decision to send two Carrier Strike Groups to the Taiwan Strait in 1996 only reinforced China’s weakness, and China sought to compete with the United States in the East and South China Seas. While the United States focused on low-end counter-insurgencies in the Middle East, China has worked furiously since 1991 and especially since 1996, to close the capability gap. China today is more akin to Wilhelmine Germany, although its leadership is far more collective and conservative, with rather limited geopolitical objectives. As with Imperial Germany, China can be blockaded from the sea, on which it depends for 98% of its trade…

Hence, the United States began the Third Offset, which includes big data processing, artificial intelligence, increased EM and cyberwarfare capabilities, and the fusion of weapons and sensors across all platforms. The F-35 is not even a fighter aircraft in the conventional sense, it is more of a pathfinder and strike coordinator against adversary ground, air and naval targets, taking control of various missiles and UAVs launched from itself and other platforms and swarming the adversary. Stealth and the ascendancy of BVR air combat have tilted the advantage back to the bomber, and the B-21 will be able to carry air-to-air, anti-ship and land-attack weapons as necessary in support of the F-35.

If history is any guide, the United States will need to partner with either Russia or India if China is to be contained. Great Britain partnered with former foe France in 1914 and 1939, and Germany partnered with former foes Austria in 1914 and Russia in 1939…

If there is failure, it is by the Intelligence Community, which has historically neglected HUMINT which is essential to understanding an adversary’s intentions. By comparison, I don’t believe that the Chinese or Russians are ahead of the United States in terms of SIGINT or cyberwarfare, especially after the Snowden revelations. However, the Russians have always been adept at developing human assets.

The United States had some knowledge of Afghanistan when it invaded in 2001, having long supported the Northern Alliance, but it had no comprehension of or ability to deal with the Pashtuns of southern Afghanistan or northern Pakistan, from whence the Taliban came. In Iraq, the United States had no understanding of the dynamics of the country when it invaded in 2003, and no military advantage could counter the folly of “de-Ba’athification”.

Both Ho Chi Minh and Mao wanted a “people’s war” with the United States in Vietnam. Despite the weak precision-strike capabilities of the early 1960s, US aircraft performed relatively well, and attacking all military targets throughout North Vietnam would have been much more impactful than the rather indiscriminate Linebacker II was…

Unfortunately, the United States only realized that there was a Sino-Soviet split some 10 years after it had begun. Again, better intelligence and deft diplomacy could have avoided war in Vietnam altogether…



Wed, 12/28/2016 - 6:12am

In reply to by Azor


We don’t get to pick and choose our enemies and we have even less say in the way they choose to fight us. Anyone with half a brain (Saddam obviously had considerably less) would avoid locking horns with our Second Offset fires. IMO the failure by our MIC to recognize this redundancy (Warsaw Pact has long gone) and the enemy’s vote is why our strategic interests are going backwards.

And it’s not all a zero sum game among the Fruitcake and the Mad Mullahs. If the Persians even look like threatening the Islamic Holy Places, Pakistan will enter the war with no holds barred, and they have the only RMA that actually does do what it says on the tin.

You suggested a strategic bombing campaign against northern VN infrastructure across the Red River and Haiphong Harbor was a lost opportunity for a win and the subsequent quagmire of not invading the north with a land army would have been avoided.

I would argue killing a hundred civilians with a dull knife or a 500 kg bomb dropped from 25,000 feet has the same strategic effect. In the West we have this ‘clean kill’ mindset regards the un-sighted killing that is not shared by those on the receiving end. In fact my experience suggests that many folks on the ground consider killing from a distance as cowardly (as opposed toe to toe) and as such inflames the strategic situation rather than dulling our enemies into submission. I hazard to guess the Chinese felt the same way about those being bombed in VN.

In the case of VN the Chinese understandably believed it best to fight the US on VN soil; even better using the youth of their ancient enemy, rather than wait until our bombs started falling on the Chinese end of the Hanoi-Kunming railway.



Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:30pm

In reply to by RantCorp

Not to repeat myself, but the Second Offset was expressly intended to allow American forces to “fight outnumbered and win”, given the quantitative disadvantage they faced against the Warsaw Pact, Chinese and North Koreans. It was the fulfilment of Kennedy’s “flexible response” doctrine from 1961, freeing the United States from dependence upon nuclear deterrence, and only became a true deterrent after Desert Storm, when new technology and tactics were tested in the crucible of battle.

The Second Offset was never intended to deal with counter-insurgency and counter-terror problems, which are primarily political in nature.

Note that the insurgencies in Vietnam, Afghanistan (1979-1989), Afghanistan (2001-present) and Iraq (2003-present), had no chance of success without major external assistance as well as political constraints placed upon the counter-insurgent.

Note that in World War II, anti-German resistance was not decisive in defeating German rule in Europe. Of all the insurgents involved, probably only the Poles (AK) and Ukrainians (UIA) were wholly indigenous, as all of the other movements received Allied aid. Yet the AK and UIA could neither force the Germans to withdraw, nor prevent their countries from being conquered a second time by the Russians.

RE: Vietnam

Yes, the US government simply assumed that Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese Kim Il Sung. I do believe that Johnson and McNamara missed a window of opportunity to use American airpower decisively in North Vietnam as to prevent its elaborate air defense system from being developed as well as to enforce a blockade of supplies from China and Russia.

I believe that the Chinese would have regarded a ground invasion as very different from an air campaign, and that they would not have entered the war directly until US ground forces launched an offensive toward Hanoi.


Tue, 12/27/2016 - 8:30am

In reply to by Azor

Merry Christmas,


If you had a map depicting political influence in the Gulf region before the Iraq invasion of Kuwait and the same map now, I would not describe things as going well for us either politically or militarily. After an enormous expenditure of blood and treasure we have very little to show for it. In fact things have gone from bad to worse, hence my skepticism as to the deterring effects of RMA.

In my mind's eye the Iranian influence is on the verge of reaching the Saudi border and even more alarmingly the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. Iranian RMA is virtually non-existent much as Hezbollah, ALQ, Daesh and the Taliban. Clearly our current approach is not working and IMHO RMA has to shoulder some of the blame in the decline of our influence in the region.


Our biggest strategic misconception in Vietnam was our failure to understand the Vietnamese would never allow the Chinese to use their country as a springboard for the Domino Theory. The Chinese wrongly assumed we were not stupid enough to prosecute a strategy grounded on a belief that the Vietnamese would allow the Chinese any political/military influence in VN and were forced to conclude we were intending to invade China itself.

The Vietnamese made the same mistake regards the absurdity of the Domino Theory and assumed we were attempting to reimpose colonization on their country. Both of these misconceptions created the perception of an existential threat in the collective minds of both the Vietnamese and the Chinese. Unfortunately for everyone, as far as the VN and Chinese leadership was concerned, it was the only conclusion that made any sense.

If we had invaded the north of Vietnam, China would entered the war, mobilized and sent the PLA across their frontier and engaged us in the northern regions of Vietnam and the Chinese southern highlands. They would have used their entire arsenal to defend their homeland from what they assumed would have been a prelude to an conquest of China.

That belief was something Johnson, McNamara and Kissinger got right.

If that had happened, instead of just one wall with 56,000 names, we would now have ten such walls listing the names of the VN War dead. And a as Gen Ridgway concluded before we even started, we still would have lost.

And for what?

Our defeat in VN did not alter the fact that Vietnam was, is and has always been, the main stalwart opposing Chinese influence in SE Asia.



Mon, 12/26/2016 - 8:34pm

In reply to by RantCorp

Merry Christmas...

RC: “Who exactly is deterred? The Vietnam War taught people, no matter the technology gap, if you’re willing to take casualties all the RMA advantage in the world will not change the outcome. The passage of time and the ever-widening tech-gap between us and say ALQ, Haqqani, Taliban, IRGC etc. suggests to me the RMA approach is encouraging rather than deterring our adversaries.”

I disagree…


The NLF was dependent upon PAVN’s support and participation on the battlefield. For its part, the PAVN was dependent upon Soviet and Chinese support, including just over 300,000 Soviet and Chinese volunteers and advisors at the height of the war, albeit typically not on the front line, as well as advanced SAMs and radars.

In Vietnam, the Americans had no inkling of how to break the North’s will to resist (limitless), and was forced instead to destroy its capability. Typically, that will involve the kill, capture or otherwise incapacitation of 20% to 33% of the adversary’s population, specifically the fighting-age males.

Yet the American leadership prevented the military from taking the action necessary to accomplish this objective; nor did it improve its knowledge of the North Vietnamese calculus. The United States lost the Vietnam War before Johnson’s escalation because it did not understand its adversary and was not prepared to go the distance. Johnson hopelessly restricted the air war, even after the deployment of major ground forces, while North Vietnam made good its losses due to Sino-Soviet support. Had Johnson unleashed a strategic bombing campaign against all of North Vietnam, including its rail links to China and port facilities at Haiphong, effecting a blockade, the North’s war effort would have faltered.


As for American COIN efforts in the Muslim world, they were doomed by politics. The United States is more than capable of letting its drones play whack-a-mole, but “nation-building” is quite another task. Look what it took to reconstruct the South, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea. Americans were only willing to make those commitments because those countries would become allies against Communist expansion. Now, Americans build schools for PR, knowing that they will be leveled by their enemy. One cannot bring peace to Afghanistan without resolving the issue of Pashtun self-determination, and that nation straddles the Afghan-Pakistan border, nor can one bring peace to Iraq without resolving the Sunni-Shia and Arab-Kurd disputes.


It deters everyone, because PGMs count for more than troop strength. The Second Offset was merely an idea during the Vietnam War, and the RMA occurred during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The First Gulf War was the Second Offset’s magnum opus as Iraq’s willingness to suffer casualties made about as much impact on the Americans as stacks of dead bodies did to Hitler and Stalin. If the United States had had precision-strike in the early 1960s, Johnson’s escalation would have been unnecessary. Note that guided bombs and missiles were 10% of the ordnance used in Iraq in 1991, but achieved 80% of the destroyed targets.

RC: “Folks often quote the First Gulf War as a vindication of RMA. I would argue the final ‘Gulf War’ is where we should draw our strategic lessons from. That appears to me to be a win for the Mad Mullahs and their cadre based militia army.”

Firstly, the express goal of the RMA was to “fight outnumbered and win”, and succeeded overwhelmingly. The sheer quantity of forces amassed during Desert Shield indicated a lack of faith on the part of the American political leadership that network-centric warfare and precision-strike would work, given the seeming strength of the Iraqis on paper. Note that various Pentagon advisors even advocated using tactical nuclear weapons against Iraq, so anxious were they about air defenses that seemed comparatively worse than North Vietnam’s.

Secondly, the United States achieved its objectives in 1991, which were to force Iraq out of Kuwait and prevent it from launching wars of aggression against its neighbors again. Successive administrations added further humanitarian and CBRN-related objectives, and…

RC: “You are right – CSGs won’t change the outcome (Vietnam anyone) and you might also be right that a MiG-29 in the drink will provide a valuable lesson for the Indian Army, albeit not the one Ivan intended.”

CSG air wings are formidable and don’t require basing agreements. They were essential for Vietnam, given the country’s geography, but the Johnson administration bungled the air war.

RC: “So, who is responsible for yet another specification our liberal democratic taxpayer finds unacceptable?”

US losses have been the measurement of victory, not objectives achieved. This is a dangerous form of thinking, especially when planners expected much higher casualties in 1991, 1999 and 2003.


Fri, 12/23/2016 - 4:59am

In reply to by Azor

Azor wrote:

‘By RMA, you mean the culmination of the Second Offset began in the late 1970s, and which has enabled the United States to deter its adversaries with conventional quality rather than quantity.’

Who exactly is deterred? The Vietnam War taught people, no matter the technology gap, if you’re willing to take casualties all the RMA advantage in the world will not change the outcome. The passage of time and the ever-widening tech-gap between us and say ALQ, Haqqani, Taliban, IRGC etc. suggests to me the RMA approach is encouraging rather than deterring our adversaries.

Folks often quote the First Gulf War as a vindication of RMA. I would argue the final ‘Gulf War’ is where we should draw our strategic lessons from. That appears to me to be a win for the Mad Mullahs and their cadre based militia army.

And again:

‘The Kuznetsova made no appreciable impact on the air campaign other than to advertise to India to buy more MiG-29Ks.’

You are right – CSGs won’t change the outcome (Vietnam anyone) and you might also be right that a MiG-29 in the drink will provide a valuable lesson for the Indian Army, albeit not the one Ivan intended.


‘Precision-strike was designed to reduce US and allied casualties and strike targets more accurately, not to be civilian-friendly.’

Couldn’t agree more. So, who is responsible for yet another specification our liberal democratic taxpayer finds unacceptable?

Breathe...and relax,



Fri, 12/23/2016 - 4:42am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw wrote:

'They voted for him to bring back manufacturing jobs but if the F35 is eliminated thousands of supply chain well paid manufacturing jobs in 45 States will disappear....'

The MIC is an inefficient way to create mass employment. Dollar for dollar if you invest in making a better gearbox, outboard motor, hoover, fridge, TV, cuckoo clock etc. you will provide ten times as many jobs as created in building tanks, ships and jets.

As you are very aware, Germany is a perfect example of the broad-based wealth created by a non-MIC manufacturing economy.

Whether or not Trump is genuine is another matter, but the democratic vote can only change the leadership, it cannot formulate governance. As the old saying goes 'You can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink'.

Fröhliche Weihnachten,



Fri, 12/23/2016 - 4:19am

In reply to by Outlaw 09



Fri, 12/23/2016 - 4:40am

In reply to by Outlaw 09



Fri, 12/23/2016 - 2:08am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Well, the demographics of Trump voters are not unusual for a Republican candidate, if one looks at those that voted for Romney and McCain.

Quite frankly, Trump’s “what can you lose” approach resonated with many middle class people who had not recovered from the Financial Crisis and Great Recession.

As for the ACA, it needs serious revision and is regarded as yet another burden that falls on the middle class.

Trump lobs Twitter bombs as the first round of negotiations, and the F-35 is not going to be cancelled; nor can it be replaced by the Super Hornet.

If Muslims attack Americans abroad, it will only strengthen Trump’s case for restricting immigration.

In my opinion, Trump is the Reagan to Obama’s Carter. Obama’s messaging as president was far too nuanced and cerebral. Trump is by far a superior communicator as far as the American people are concerned, and academics and intellectuals don’t get more than one vote the last I checked.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 12/23/2016 - 1:56am

In reply to by Azor

What needs to be understood is why did working class voters in large numbers evidently vote against themselves...therein lies the core problem....

Why did they follow a pied piper claiming to be proworker when he has made millions in fighting unions...not paying contractors and offshoring production of his own products that he claims should be made in USA..

Why did they vote for the elimination of Obamacare that many of the same voters are on right now thinking his statements I am going to repeal it would not happen.....

They voted for him to bring back manufacturing jobs but if the F35 is eliminated thousands of supply chain well paid manufacturing jobs in 45 States will disappear....

They voted for his proworker statements but he has nominated individuals who have either massively outsourced US jobs ie IBM...or has stripped taken over companies and then stripped out their financial assets at a profit and firing then the employees....AND Trump has a history of attacking unions in his hotels and golf courses and blasted a union president via twitter because the union president dared to tell the truth that Trump had lied about his saving jobs in front of running public cameras........etc....

THEN his using tweets has destroyed BILLIONS in wealth of individuals who have invested as part of their retirement in the stock market from say Boeing and LH and UTC....

So again why did a large majority of US working class voters vote against themselves.....should be the true core question.....???

Let's not even get into his use of twitter to drive FP in 140 characters...and his misspelling by a "smart man" as he claims he is?????

Until we fully and completely understand why working class voters voted against themselves everything else is secondary...because if these same Trump voters ever wake up and realize they were "fleeced for his interests"....we will have a far deeper problem that what his FP might in fact be......

His comments alone on Islam and Muslims might make at some point it impossible for US Trump voters to travel outside of the US due to their fear of being a terrorist target as they did not do in the days of the Red Brigades...RAF....2nd June and Baader Meinhof....when Americans were the specific target due to US FP.....AND in these days there was no social media with instant narratives...


Thu, 12/22/2016 - 6:09pm

In reply to by RantCorp

I agree that the establishment’s contempt for Trump made him even more popular, and this sore losing after the election is only making his supporters more fanatical.

I think that the “deplorables” comment was the most impactful, given that it caused many independents and moderates to loath Clinton. If WikiLeaks had not release the DNC e-mails and Comey had not provided the letters to Congress, many people would have nevertheless fervently believed that the DNC supported Clinton at Sanders’ expense and that she was unethical or criminal with regard to her private e-mail server.

By RMA, you mean the culmination of the Second Offset began in the late 1970s, and which has enabled the United States to deter its adversaries with conventional quality rather than quantity. I am in favor of more spending on high-end warfighting, because it is an economic boon.

Aleppo fell because Iran has been spending over $2 billion per month to keep Assad in power and has over 30,000 mercenaries in the field led by ~2,000 IRGC officers. The Kuznetsov made no appreciable impact on the air campaign other than to advertise to India to buy more MiG-29Ks. The fact that the rebels held out against everything the Russians could deploy beyond their borders and all the mercenaries that Iran could gather is an indictment of their poor tactics.

The SDB is intended to allow platforms such as the B-2 to drop more explosive warhead on target per loadout and strike more targets. Precision-strike was designed to reduce US and allied casualties and strike targets more accurately, not to be civilian-friendly.

Ike’s New Look/First Offset/SIOP was a disaster that JFK tried to correct philosophically, but which was never resolved technologically until the Carter and Reagan years. Basically, Ike put the United States at peril and overly reliant upon nuclear weapons for 25-30 years.


Thu, 12/22/2016 - 4:02am

In reply to by Azor


I personally believe most folks who voted for Trump (I most definitely was not one of them) decided a considerable time ago that anyone but the establishment (Republican or Democrat) was the way forward. Probably early in Obama’s second term these folks realized that the first black President couldn’t shake it up, so a real maverick was needed. Bernie was too left-wing and a lifetime politician (another one) - so the shock-jock businessman gets an at bat.

To me Wiki-leaks, deplorable, Comely, hack this, tweet that etc. was seen by many voters as the Beltway believing its palpitations are the center of the political universe. Clearly, they’re not. I would hazard a guess that the Republican establishment dumping on Trump convinced many angry folks that Trump was a guy who could really shake things up i.e. everyone hates him! But that’s just my POV and we’ve all got one of those.

Regard’s the MIC, I was not questioning the percentile of GDP. I was trying to emphasize we are spending too much of the defense dollar on RMA that is not applicable to the task at hand. Ironically the Russians recently provided a good example of where, IMHO, we are going wrong.

As the Admiral Kuznetsov CSG wheezed and coughed its way down thru North Sea, almost passed out in the English Channel and gasped its way into the Mediterranean I was wondering how ridiculous it must have looked to the Sixth Fleet sailors as our ships, subs and planes zoomed under, alongside and above them at break-neck speed and precision, in all their RMA glory.

Much to everyone’s relief the Admiral Kuznetsov managed to make it to the eastern Med without sinking and having only one of its aircraft ditching. The Russians then spent a month or so spluttering around off the Syrian coast watching their forces and their Allies capture one of the oldest cities in the world with a population of more than 2 million souls.

Aleppo fell to barrel bombs, dumb bombs, militia, and a handful of Russian KIA. I imagine the Russian sailors are somewhat embarrassed when our nice shiny ships and aircraft zoom past their battered and soot covered hulks. But then again, I’m certain their blushes are somewhat bolstered by the belief that it ain’t about shiny ships and starched uniforms, it’s about where the rubber meets the road, and in that part of the world, all roads lead to Aleppo.

The hell-yeah folks will rightly point out our forces could have annihilated the Regime held areas of Aleppo much more effectively and efficiently than Ivan’s attacks on the rebel held portion of the city. But that’s the thing – liberal democracies cannot stomach wars grounded on annihilating the enemy and much of our RMA is designed to annihilate. In my mind’s eye our taxpayer funded military has a solution geared to solving a non-existent military requirement.

Even the gentle folks at Boeing's GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb Works can’t undo what happens when a 120-kg bomb comes thru the window at 300 knots and the Fruitcake make certain every window has a civilian deliberately positioned in it.

Poor old Ike. Not a fan? I think there is more than enough blame to go around in 2016 to spare someone born 1890.



Wed, 12/21/2016 - 4:41pm

In reply to by RantCorp

I completely agree that this article is hyperbole.

The Russia file is actually a confluence of several trends:

1. The DOD and IC are turning away from low-end counter-insurgency and toward high-end peer and near-peer threats i.e. Russia and China. What is grand strategy after all, but threat management? What nation has ever had a grand strategy in the absence of an existential threat?

2. Anglo-Saxon society is based upon adversarial relations, not consensus (Germany, East Asia), and this applies to military-political relations as much as criminal justice. What elected representative or appointed official will pay attention to an analyst that says: "We should pay more attention to Russia and China, and make sure that our capabilities in Eastern Europe and the Western Pacific are keeping pace with possible threats"? None would. Instead, Russia is preparing to invade Latvia and occupy Narva, and China is about to steal the Senkakus from Japan. In the end, after the request for more resources undergoes various processes, the DOD eventually receives the modest increase in resources that it wanted originally. It is a negotiation.

3. Similarly, the American people must be made to understand what the threats are, and these threats have to seem impactful and existential for them to care. Focusing on the hack of the DNC accomplishes this in a way that whining about dangerous maneuvers in the Baltic, Black or South China Seas doesn't.

4. Hillary Clinton was not only the Democratic candidate, but the establishment one, and they are blaming anyone and everyone for her loss. After reviewing her national poll numbers and electoral vote estimates, and comparing against WikiLeaks' releases, it is clear that:

(a) WikiLeaks initial release was intended to give Sanders a fighting chance at the convention
(b) Hillary's "deplorables" remark did the most damage
(c) Comey's letters to Congress did a great deal of damage as well
(d) Russia was probably involved in the hacking of the DNC but did not impact the outcome of the election

I take a dim view of anyone referring to a "military-industrial complex" or using dollar values to discuss defense spending in the US. As a percentage of GDP, US military spending is at historical lows, and yet it has sprawling security commitments in Europe and Asia. As for Eisenhower, he is by far the most dangerous postwar leader that the United States has had. Look at how the Korean War was ended, SIOP-62, the Cuban Missile Crisis and American shortcomings in Vietnam, and tell me whether Eisenhower really showed the MIC or whether he brought the world to the nuclear brink...


Wed, 12/21/2016 - 1:45pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C,

I understand your point that this is a universal problem but I believe it is important to understand that a first world dilemma that inconveniences your daily commute i.e. industrial action, traffic jam, inclement weather etc. generates a markedly different political energy than that the political grievance generated by your children drinking tap water at the local school and dying of dysentery a week later.


Bill C.

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 11:19am

In reply to by RantCorp

The "political energy" that RantCorp discusses in his fourth full paragraph above; this appears to relate to the entire world (and, yes, here I am talking not just about the "third world," but indeed the "second" and now, obviously, the "first" world also) being fed up with the political, economic, social and/or value changes that are constantly and continually being demanded by the global elite and their pet projects globalism/globalization/the global economy.

This, because the populations of the first, second and third worlds all seem to believe and understand now that:

a. While they (and not the global elite) are the only ones being required to make the significant sacrifices needed to support these pet projects,

b. The global elite (who are not required to make any sacrifices) are the only ones adequately benefiting from these such "skewed" arrangements/requirements.

And herein, as they say, lies the rub; this being:

a. How can we continue to effectively blame such entities as Russia, China, Iran, ISIS, etc., today

b. For problems which the populations of the first, second and third world now say, and correctly point-out, lies more directly at their (the global elite's) -- and their pet projects (globalism/globalization/ the global economy's) -- feet?

Such things as "strategy," thus, needing to both understand, and to accommodate, the populations of the first, second and third world's new such comprehension of the world -- and, thus, their such new "world-view" -- outlined immediately above?


Wed, 12/21/2016 - 9:49am

I’m sorry I don’t buy it.

IMHO refining definitions of hot, cold, non-linear, 3rd Stage, 4th Generation war, warfare or conflict offers very little in efforts to address our current problem. You can cross ten time-zones of Russia and what you will find is a political/economic/societal landscape that the average American would describe as post-nuclear apocalyptic – only nuclear fall-out is missing.

Closer examination will reveal falling life-expectancy, 3rd world health-care, chronic underemployment, drug addiction, organized criminality and all of this misery plastered over a crumbling infrastructure and collapsing public services. Short of a mass nuclear attack it isn’t possible to cause more wide-spread misfortune. The average Russian would probably welcome a cyber-attack on their grid – in the hope the interference might turn the lights on. The Soviet Union reduced the average Russian citizen to an existence we would attribute to a lifetime on welfare, in a trailer or inner-city Project, with very little hope of change.

If some post-Soviet survivor geek manages to publish hacked material referring to some US political intrigue, cause the lights in Kansas to go off for 2 minutes, expose some public figure’s infidelity, fraud, mis-speak , pants size or the cancellation of a pizza order for the DNC head-office, I fail to understand the merits of arguing whether retaliatory bombing/hacking/strongly worded letter is an over/under reaction and to what extent any such acts may improve/worsen our own rudderless strategic direction.

IMHO these ‘the sky is falling’ arguments are a straw man to mask our own deeply entrenched shortcomings. Our political classes (Democrat, Republican and Independent) are desperate to blame anyone but themselves for their failure to recognize the political energy that has left so many of their cherished political strategies in Trump’s shredder. Our military leadership has been trying to pull off the same trick since the end of WW2 and failing miserably.

If war is politics by other means, it appears to me that the same mis-guided group-think that has failed to shape a successful military strategy in the last 5 wars, now plagues our traditional political class as well; and like their uniformed contemporaries, they now find themselves cast adrift and floundering in a strategic wilderness.

The Russian elites, like their political bedfellows in Pakistan, Iran, China and the KSA are acutely aware that their average fellow-citizens live in a political and economic shit-hole.

For those gentle souls unfamiliar with ground-truths - in Pakistan, Iran and much of Russia and China, the tap water is unfit for human consumption – it is literally poisonous. 90% of the inhabitants have little or no access to a toilet that is connected to a sewer main – i.e. they enjoy the same lavatorial circumstance as the proverbial bear-in-the-woods – all two billion of them.

The political leadership dominating Russia, China, Pak, Iran and KSA are acutely aware (unlike our own it would appear) of the danger the political energy that these (and numerous other) basic failures pose. As such they are hell-bent on deflecting the understandable political anger within their native populations away from the inescapable fact that their political leadership is directly responsible for the dire circumstance of their fellow countrymen.

Cue Donbass, Syria, Sparatly Islands, Underwater drones, Talibs, Pushtoonistan, Heroin, HoS, ALQ/Daesh, Mad Mullahs and Arab/Persian animosity.

Rather than respond with an overt political or military response; and therein satisfy the enemy commander’s intent, we should attempt to invigorate the political energy brewing within their native body-politic. Our own saber-rattling, empty threats, red lines, sanctions, spurious arguments on the nature of conventional fires etc. are vital enablers in their efforts to quell the domestic revolutionary energy within the host populations of Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and the KSA. Media, both social and main stream; real and fake (in my experience the latter has always been the rule) provide a hitherto unprecedented medium for deflecting the revolutionary gaze of a domestic audiences away from the true reason for their political dissatisfaction.

And it's not just those shifty Russians with their poisoned umbrellas and barrel bombs or the Fruitcake with their dish-dash and curved Janbiya clenched between teeth beneath black turbans who pull this crap. We saw the same political shenanigans thrown at us by both parties in the US Election and the BritExit Referendum. As Clinton got desperate she drew on Bon Jovi, Beyoncé, the mannequin challenge, SNL etc. and other such vassals of political gravitas, convinced those simple folk who feel their guns and Bibles threatened would be persuaded by the political acumen of an actor/rock star/TV show/ tweeter trend.

The other lot got the FBI (no less) to bat for them – convinced all that red-neck’s political energy could be shaped by snake-oil and shell games if a G-Man said it.

The big difference why this BS doesn’t work so well with us and appears to work over there is when you step into our flimsy cardboard cubicle you get a few minutes of total solitude and all the ‘tactical noise’ falls away and you get to vote exactly as you want for whom you want without fear or favor. You make an informed strategic decision. Over there the cardboard cubicle, the ballot box and the scrap of ballot paper is not sacrosanct. If you vote against the regime, you do so at your own and your family’s peril.

So what?

A strategy shaped by an Operational Art applying the full spectrum of UW (wherein DA/kinetic fires forms an important but small element) is needed to counter these current strategic threats. Unfortunately, despite the fact the native populace of Russia, China, Pakistan Iran and the KSA would welcome the demise of their autocratic militarized political leadership more than anyone, our own MIC does not.

In fact, it is my experience, it is violently opposed to any suggestion that more Carrier Strike Groups, $100 million fighters, billion dollar submarines, billion dollar frigates etc. will not solve our strategic aimlessness. As far as they are concerned developing a strategic capability that stokes revolutionary energy within the midst of our enemy’s populace is just ‘snake-eater’ bullshit. More importantly UW poses an existential threat to the RMA driven MIC and $600 billion a year buys an awful lot of political energy if the much money feels threatened.

Oddly enough Trump comments regards the cost of Air Force One and the F-35 suggests he appears to ‘get it’. The question is whether he gets UW and if he doesn’t, who is going to make sure he does? He has surrounded himself with Generals who profess they like to fight (why didn’t they stop at E-9 I hear you ask?) and their DA approach puts Iran, Iraq, and Syria on the SCAR list.

Unfortunately, it means KSA (oil) Pakistan (Nuclear IED), China (WW3) and Russia (the end of the world) get a pass. Unfortunately those with a pass are inside our OODA loop and IMHO are doing most of the damage as they continually beat us to the punch.

Full spectrum UW was invented to get on the inside of this OODA loop and solve the strategic problem.

Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh,



Below Outlaw said:

"... the strategic goal is to force you to change your form of government" ... again, losing trust in your form of government ..."

Question: Given the current Western "populist" movements -- and the effect that these such movements appear to be having (and appear will continue to have) re: "changing our current form of government"/ "governor;" causing us to "lose trust in our current form of government/governor" -- should we say that Russia (et al.) may believe that they are having some significant success re: their such strategic efforts?

While the U.S./the West in stark contrast -- and re: its similar efforts throughout the world to "force you to change your form of government/governor;" to cause you to lose trust in your form of government/ governor" -- having no such similar and significant success?

In both (a) the case of Russian (et al.'s) success above and (b) the case of U.S./Western non-success also, the reason for such differing results being found in:

a. Russia (et al's) appeal -- throughout the world and even unto the U.S./the West -- to such things as "traditional values?" And to the, distinctly different,

b. U.S./Western demand -- of all the non-western states and societies of the world and even the West also in some instances -- to undergo radical, fundamental and complete political, economic, social -- or especially value "change;" this, so as to adequately provide for "globalization?"

(No wonder Russia [et. al.] are "winning?")

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 3:51pm

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

Russian flag flies at Texas Capitol prior to #ElectoralCollege @TexasTribune @bobphoto #txlege

Sorry the photo of the Russian flag flying in the Texas Capital at the Electoral College.....cannot be posted here...

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 3:44pm

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

The core element of the Russian doctrine on the use of informational warfare is to in fact "bend the will of a civil society"...."bending" in this case is easy if one identifies the necessary elements in advance that one needs to set the propaganda narrative to match...once matched then feeding constantly that "defined" narrative....via fake media feeds via sites...using the defined "dog whistles" in order to awaken/maintain that narrative........

In this case also elegantly reinforced by a candidate that lies will no effort....and when called out for those lies..deflects again to a new topic....

Russian propaganda uses the 6D model.....distract...dismiss....distort.....deflect...ALL designed to create doubt and distrust.......

Remember seeing any of that lately?


Mon, 12/19/2016 - 3:35pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

I hope this post means you are okay.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 3:24pm

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon…

Former NSA Analyst Debunks Three Myths About Russian Hacking

Only we—not Putin—can truly undermine our republic

By John R. Schindler • 12/19/16 2:40pm

For someone like me, who’s warned about foreign espionage—especially Russian—for years, usually to little avail, it’s a pleasant change to see the mainstream media talk about so much Kremlin spies these days. It’s gratifying to witness the Obama White House, which downplayed and simply ignored Russian clandestine spy-games for almost eight years, suddenly pledge to get serious about it.

That this sea-change is coming as President Obama is packing his belongings and therefore will have minimal real-world impact doesn’t mean it’s not welcome.

All the same, the emerging debate about what exactly Vladimir Putin and his spies did in 2016 to influence our elections is already politically toxic, fundamentally dishonest, and flagrantly partisan. As is now the custom in Washington, both sides are more than willing to ignore inconvenient facts when they get in the way of their preferred narrative about this year

Therefore, without delay, we need a to debunk a few of the most pernicious falsehoods about the SpyWar events of 2016. The logical place to start is the issue of Russian “hacking” itself, which is being portrayed as a grand criminal conspiracy orchestrated by Putin personally, in the bowels of the Kremlin. All that’s missing is a cat on his lap to perfect the clichéd movie bad spy-guy image here.

That’s a flawed way to look at it, however. In truth, the vast majority of the email theft perpetrated by Russian spies against the Democrats was utterly normal signals intelligence collection, what the pros call SIGINT. Russians do it, we do it—in 2016 every country that can does it. Spies steal secrets, it’s what they do. Of course espionage is illegal basically everywhere, but everybody does it.Hyperventilating about it doesn’t help.

A century ago, when radio hit the world by storm—they called it wireless telegraphy back then—countries put their communications in the ether, and their opponents intercepted them: thus was SIGINT born. It quickly became the world’s most important form of espionage, and so it remains. Today everybody puts most of their communications on the Internet, so that’s where SIGINT professionals hunt for them.

None of this is to downplay America’s desperate need for better cybersecurity, which experienced complete implosion during Obama’s two terms, when pretty much everything worth stealing online from our government and countless private corporations was purloined by Russians, Chinese and many others. That said, getting smarter about cybersecurity won’t entirely solve this problem, since SIGINT professionals will always find a way.

It’s high time for people in sensitive positions in Washington and beyond to ponder the wisdom of putting so many sensitive messages online, where they are deeply vulnerable to interception. As I stated countless times during Hillary Clinton’s slow torture about EmailGate, if you’re a high-value target and you’re sending emails into the open ether, they are being read by our enemies and rivals. It’s that simple.

The first thing Republicans must do is stop telling transparent lies.
The real issue isn’t that Russian intelligence managed to get their hands on emails belonging to Hillary Clinton and other high-ranking Democrats—they did—rather that the Kremlin decided to employ its SIGINT as propaganda to hurt Hillary and her party in 2016. That effort Putin did personally direct, and he felt confident about doing so, fearing no retaliation, because he already had the measure of the man in the Oval Office.

The task of stemming Russian disinformation like the Kremlin weaponized in our election will soon fall to Republicans, who on January 20 will control the White House and both houses of Congress. Perhaps Kremlin agitprop aimed at Washington will wane, given Donald Trump’s excessively chummy relationship with Moscow, but Republicans now gloating about the pain inflicted on Democrats by Putin ought to ponder what would happen if the Russians exposed their emails too—because Moscow surely has them.

The first thing Republicans must do is stop telling transparent lies. Trump and his mouthpieces are still denying that anything untoward happened in 2016 involving Russians, which is a blatant falsehood. Here the Trumpian penchant for bald-faced denials and aggressive doubling-down is wearing thin, fast. The president-elect has put himself on a collision course with our Intelligence Community, a game of chicken that Trump will lose in the end, and lose badly. The last president to enter the Oval Office brimming with dislike and distrust of our spies was Richard Nixon, which ought to serve as a cautionary tale.

Team Trump especially needs to stop its surrogates from mouthing Kremlin propaganda alleging that the “real” source of the Democrats’ stolen emails was an American insider, perhaps even the National Security Agency—anybody but the Russians. They likewise ought to cease taunting Democrats with complaints about their “sour grapes” that Putin helped elect Trump, which only serves to taint the new administration with even more dubious Kremlin connections than it already has.

The facts are in, and they are not flattering to Trump. Our spies are unanimous in their assessment that the Kremlin interfered with our election to help him and hurt Hillary. The fleeting fig-leaf that the FBI didn’t concur with the CIA’s assessment of Russian intentions has evaporated, so it’s high time for the president-elect to accept espionage reality.

It’s not just our spies who know what Putin did—plenty of outside experts have reached the same conclusion. Back in the spring, the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike concluded that the culprit behind the theft of Democrats’ emails was GRU, that is Russian military intelligence, which was employing a well-known cut-out to steal emails. That assessment has been more than amplified by NSA, and it wasn’t a tough call since the Russians weren’t being subtle here. Putin wanted us to know, and using Wikileaks—which has been a Kremlin front for years—to disseminate the purloined data only pushed that point further.

It would be wise of the president-elect and his team to start acknowledging reality before they get buried under the avalanche of information about Russian malfeasance which surely will be unmasked by the coming Congress investigation of the 2016 election. However, Democrats likewise need to get smart and stop telling lies. Not content to rightly push for a serious inquiry into Putin’s spy-games, prominent Democrats are now selling the idea that Kremlin antics elected Trump and that the victor on November 8 therefore can’t be a legitimate president.

Nobody in Moscow made Hillary castigate millions of American voters as ‘deplorables’ unworthy of consideration or compassion.
Hillary Clinton is now openly blaming Moscow for her defeat at the ballot box, a claim which has been amplified by John Podesta, her top consigliere, who asserted that Putin backed Trump with Russian spy-games because he wanted a Kremlin “lap dog” in the White House.

President Obama has eschewed such caustic rhetoric but likewise is espousing the idea that Russian interference played a pivotal role in the election—while naturally avoiding any mention of how his own policies encouraged increasingly aggressive Kremlin espionage and disinformation.

Such rhetoric is politically cancerous and threatens to undermine President Trump before he even takes the oath of office. While it’s understandably tempting for Hillary and her surrogates, still seething from the November 8 outcome, to point fingers at Putin rather themselves for their unexpected electoral defeat, it’s just as dishonest as Trump’s claims that Russia did nothing.

Covert action by itself cannot create political conditions, it can only exploit what already exists. Kremlin spy-games in 2016 made hay out of the political situation which the Democrats created for themselves. Nobody in Moscow made Hillary castigate millions of American voters as “deplorables” unworthy of consideration or compassion, neither did they force her to use unsecure personal email as secretary of state, then lie about it repeatedly. Her abysmal campaign was created by high-priced consultants brimming with misplaced self-confidence, not GRU.

Blaming shadowy Russians for their traumatic defeat at the ballot box is pleasing to Democrats and surely much easier than soul-searching about what when so wrong for their candidate and their party in 2016. However, it’s politically hazardous for the entire country, since it threatens to make our already polarized politics even more so. Only we—not Putin—can truly undermine our republic and its institutions, and the toxic election debacle of this year, on all sides, demonstrates how easily we might.

The urgent task at hand is for a joint, bipartisan Congressional committee to meticulously examine all available evidence, classified and unclassified, to establish what foreign entities did to influence our election this year. This complex mission must be handled in the interests of country over party, while thorough assessment of exactly how much influence covert Kremlin antics had on November 8 will prove deeply vexing, so self-searching honesty is required. The first thing our 2016 candidates and their surrogates need to do is stop lying.


Mon, 12/19/2016 - 2:52pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

You say:

"Keep going back to cyber warfare and information warfare...if directed straight at your form of government with the strategic goal to force you to change that form of government.....

Violence yes or no....that is why it is urgent to form a totally new set of definitions....."

Parsing that out, what you describe is not what happened. You use the phrase "to force you to change," but no one forced the American population to do anything. The attack released information that was damaging to one candidate in order to help another candidate, but the American population, of their own free will, made that choice.

It is different it, as you describe latter, the Russians would have threatened to shut down the power grid if we did not vote for Trump. But that is not what happened.

We are not "at war." Each side is using various means, legal or illegal, to get the other side to change. We do it with sanctions. Are sanctions war? We do it with trade deals. Are trade deals war?

I admit, I don't like or trust Putin. I do not like what he did. But ultimately, it was the American people who made the choice. Even now, many of them don't even want to admit what happened. The Russians did not hack the DNC, this is all misinformation put out by Obama and the liberals to help Clinton. It is "sour grapes" in the words of a Trump spokesman. Putin did not cause that level of mistrust in the media or the government. We did that to ourselves. If America changes and moves away from democracy, it will not be because of Putin. It will be our own choice.

Bill C.

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 12:55pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw said: " ... the strategic goal is to force you to change your form of government" ... again, losing trust in your form of government ..."

Could this ("insurgency"-like?) description by Outlaw -- of the current Russian effort (which I suggest applies not just to Russia but indeed to the entire non-western world) -- could this "global insurgency"-like description accurately define/portray our current "conflict environment?"


In the New/Reverse Cold War of today one finds:

a. One set of "expansionist" nations (the U.S./the West) attempting to transform the entire Rest of the World; this, more along our unusual and unique (and, thus, often alien and profane) political, economic, social and value lines. And

b. The entire Rest of the World -- to include both great nations and small and both state and non-state actors (in what might be called a "global insurgency?") -- resisting these such highly disruptive (and thus highly unwanted) "transformative" attempts.

Thus, in this such "global insurgency" light, to find the U.S./the West today ( in its "leader of the current international world order" role of nothing else) being engaged in what might, most-accurately today, be called "global counter-insurgency" operations?


a. Kilcullen appears to allude to this exact such "resistance to unwanted transformation"/"global insurgency v. global counterinsurgency" conflict environment in his "Counterinsurgency Redux." (see bottom of Page 2 and the top of Page 3.)

b. As LTC Douglas Pryer also appears to do in his "How COIN Theory Explains Organization Change."… )

Bottom Line:

We know that:

a. The strategic goal of the U.S./the West today is to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines; this, for example,

b. By using various ways and means to "force these states and societies to change their current form of government" ... to "lose trust in their current form of government ..." (Note that this is [a] obviously taken from Outlaws' thesis above but [b] now is used to accurately describe U.S./Western "transformative" efforts throughout the world currently.)

Turn-about being fair play in these such "conflict environments," then do we actually find it unusual and/or unique -- that in the New/Reverse Cold War of today much as was the case in the Old Cold War of yesterday -- that one might see [a] one's opponents similarly threatening, for example, the U.S./the West today; this by, for example, [b] employing these exact same (insurgency-like/ insurgency-producing?) measures/tactics/methods/techniques now against us?

Current Western "populist" movements -- and the effect that these such movements have had in "changing our current form of government;" in causing us to "lose trust in our current form of government" -- these indicating, to some extent at least, (a) the success that our opponents are having via their such efforts and, correspondingly, (b) the lack of success that we are having re: our similar initiatives?

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/18/2016 - 1:27pm

Keep going back to cyber warfare and information warfare...if directed straight at your form of government with the strategic goal to force you to change that form of government.....

Violence yes or no....that is why it is urgent to form a totally new set of definitions.....

If your critical infrastructure is in fact compromised and a series of oil refineries explode and or a nuclear power plant threatens a meltdown or a major dam suddenly opens it's overflow gates and loss of life occurs and you do not respond.....what does the opponent who launched that attack think of you and what is then his possible next move.......

Is that any different from attacking a democratic election and causing a massive shift in the civil society in their trust of that election....

Again losing trust in your form of government....violence yes or no????

Especially if that loss of trust causes a distinct change in your previous FP for say the last 70 odd years???

We are at is just we have not yet figured out what to call it...the sooner we figure that what that new term is the better for all concerned......


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 7:18pm

I have come to the realization that, the reason so many people are in a hurry to call this war is because it makes the appropriate response simple - just blow something up. But if it is not war, well then this becomes a much more difficult nut to crack.


Sun, 12/18/2016 - 5:11pm

In reply to by Bill M.

Somehow I think that the "useful fools" who did the Kremlin's bidding this time around were the alt right, not the far left. That is, assuming that the purpose of this attack was to get Trump Elected.

Also, I offer for perspective, this:

"Six weeks earlier, Salvador Allende, a democratic Socialist, had won the presidency in a free and fair election, in spite of the United States’ spending millions of dollars on psychological warfare and misinformation to prevent his victory (we’d call it “fake news” today). Allende had campaigned on a program of social and economic justice, and we knew that the government of President Richard M. Nixon, allied with Chile’s oligarchs, would do everything it could to stop Allende’s nonviolent revolution from gaining power."…

Were we at war with Chile in 1971? Probably not. But as part of the larger fight with Marxist-Leninist ideology, perhaps we were - because we understood what the Soviet Union's end-state was. Still, what happened in Chile is a far cry from what is happening today.

Bill M.

Sun, 12/18/2016 - 2:35pm

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

Generally concur, but the Russians are still using the Soviet subversion methods, yet they advanced it to take advantage of new technologies and a new global context. While they are no longer pushing discredited Communist ideology, it appears that they view the American far left, those that still embrace Marxist ideology, as useful fools in further dividing America's people politically.


Sun, 12/18/2016 - 12:08pm

In reply to by Bill M.

I disagree with your premise that Russia has picked up where the Soviet Union left off. I have written about this elsewhere. Let me explain.

The Soviet Union adhered to a Marxist-Leninist ideology of a world revolution of the workers leading to the final stage in man's political revolution, a communist/socialist utopia of the Proletariat. It was a belief system that was not just evangelical, but required a revolution against the capitalist Bourgeoisie. In this case, it is appropriate to apply an six or eight stage model ending with conquest of the other country (or the entire world) because that is what the ideology requires.

That is not the case currently. Unless you believe that it is Russia's goal to conquer the world, using the sources you cite would be a false equivalency.

That said, I do believe that those who grew up in the Soviet era, like Putin, still see the tactics of foreign policy as unchanging - the methods of subversion and espionage are valid - regardless of whether you are using them as precursors to conquest. In Putin's mind, if he can achieve his political objective by a method that is nefarious that is perfectly acceptable. It does not mean that Putin is planning on invading the United States. It also is not war.

Bill M.

Sat, 12/17/2016 - 9:36pm

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

I disagree with your comment above this one, because calling it war doesn't equate to dropping a bomb on something. Where are we doing that against Russia or China? In fact, only the Russians and Chinese (and only some individuals, but thought leaders in their fields) have called this condition war. The U.S. and West haven't, but they also haven't come with effective counter measures.

To you point immediately above, we need to revise how we assess risk to our national interests. The Soviets and now the Russians have been conducting political and ideological subversion against the West for decades, and it is starting to work. I'm not talking about the alleged hacking in the last election, but the extreme division between the left and the right. The USSR in the enclosed brief, refers to the far left as those with soft heads that are receptive to this type of propaganda in our education system. The key point is we're doing nothing to counter it. We're challenged making decisions on both ends of the time scale (fast and slow).

Fast, Russia or another country conducts a rapid attack (Crimea, Georgia, or worst case an attack on the homeland), resulting in new facts on the ground, and if they conducted their subversion ahead of time, the West will lack the political will to react. On the slow side, we see a gradual erosion of American values, or Americanism, the values that made this country great.

Quotes from this site:

Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov speaking on Ideological subversion in America said:
"... Marxist-Leninist ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged, or counter-balanced by the basic values of Americanism." "The result? The result you can see. Most of the people who graduated in the sixties (drop-outs or half-baked intellectuals) are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, [and the] educational system. You are stuck with them. You cannot get rid of them. They are contaminated; they are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern.

"The demoralization process in [the] United States is basically completed already. For the last 25 years... actually, it's over-fulfilled because demoralization now reaches such areas where previously not even Comrade Andropov and all his experts would even dream of such a tremendous success. Most of it is done by Americans to Americans, thanks to [a] lack of moral standards." Yuri Bezmenov [1980's]

"As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who was demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him, even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents and pictures. ...he will refuse to believe it.... That's the tragedy of the situation of demoralization." Yuri Bezmenov [1980's]

Four steps to Ideological subversion:
1. Demoralize
2. Destabilization
3. Crisis
4. Normalization
End Quotes.

I suggest that anything that threatens our ideological underpinnings and Constitution is an existential threat, not existential in the sense that nuclear weapons are wiping us off the map, but existential in that what remains ideologically and politically no longer resembles America. We're so politically correct, that any counter measures against this would be seen as unacceptable, while we willing accept revisionist history that undermines the reputations of our nation's founders.

See this slide share of Soviet subversion measures (Active Measures), and tell me we're not seeing the same today? The part about manufacturing racial incidents (events conducted by Russian agents, such as sending letters that claim to come from the KKK, etc.) to keep racial tensions high, could be done via new ways today. In fact, when I watch RT (Russian propaganda disguised as news in the U.S.) they focus much of their time on racial issues in the U.S. to keep the issue front and center.……

"But if a Marxist-Leninist regime did end up coming to power, Bezmenov said these American leftists and idealists would be marked for execution because once they realize the reality of a brutal Soviet socialist system, they would rebel.

“[A] Marxist-Lennist regime doesn’t tolerate those people. In a Marxist-Leninist state, there will be no place for dissent,” he says adding that left leaning people such as Jane Fonda would be crushed like cockroaches."

Crushing Jane Fonda like the cockroach she is, well maybe it isn't all bad? I digress.…

Good discussion on the slow process of subversion.


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 2:47pm

In reply to by Bill M.

Read this one after the post below -

I think it is also important to realize that this attack could have been far, far more devastating, particularly in the current political atmosphere. Trump has already called into question the legitimacy of the entire election. So if Russia had 1), gotten into the voter ID databases of say, three or four states, and deleted four or five thousand Republicans from the voting rolls, and 2) inserted a false DNC email among the real ones claiming that the Democrats were behind the deletions, it would have resulted in pandemonium, especially if Hillary won.

There are any number of other variations of this plan that could have been used if Russia really wanted to bring down America. This was a very limited operation, but it is one that we cannot let happen again - and we must retaliate in kind.


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 2:43pm

In reply to by Bill M.


Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 1:11am

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

Actually well stated....but in order to counter the Russian/Putin push against the liberal political system that is really at the heart of the Russian attack on the US....we urgently need a new definition that allows everyone to fully and completely understand this new form of attack.....otherwise the general US civil society will never get onboard....

We see that already in the sheer number of Trump voters who with a single set of Trump tweets fully and completely believe he won the general election votes.....OR the lone rifle carrying and firing "Trumper" who wanted to investigate personally a "fake news myth" pushed by Infowars and about a DC pizza place....

In Germany due to Hitler the government works with a set of "hate laws" that is starting to be used to control that flow via the internet and the Russians are now claiming foul as it is against "democracy"....and they have a press council that monitors news media content and can out
"fake news".....also thanks to Hitler....


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 2:31pm

In reply to by Bill M.

Thank you for taking the time to listen. Honestly, I would be happy if we just called it "Grey Area" and leave it at that. The real work is how to deal with it - identify it, defend against it, and ultimately, practice it ourselves.

I am going to step away from generalities at the moment and go to some specifics of this attack, because it posses some unique issues.

First and foremost, I think we need to realize that liberal democracies are particularly vulnerable to this form of attack. What Russia has identified is that America's political center of gravity is its people. If they can directly influence our people during an election, they can help get the results they prefer. This is different from an attack on a power station, or other physical plant. This was not a disruption of our stock markets. This was, in some ways, far more damaging. But it was only damaging because of the vulnerabilities inherent in Western political processes.

Our old defenses against this form of attack are gone. During the Cold War foreign entities were not allowed to own American broadcasting stations. Beyond the fact that today, in America there is a Kremlin funded news station, Russia Today or RT, putting our news in America, we have an internet that is global. We cannot control the news Americans get as we once could. So we are going to have to look for new methods of defense.

As far as replicating this type of attack, we would have to identify Putin's center of gravity. It is certainly not the population. There is no viable political party or person who opposes Putin ... well at least none left alive. The last one was Boris Memtsov. To the best of my knowledge, his murderer was never found (wink, wink). So even if you could discredit him, there is no one to take advantage of it. Further, Putin has made a habit of throwing out or discrediting organizations that fight for political freedom, like Human Rights Watch. So an IO campaign similar to the one used here probably would not work.

So, we may truly be in new territory, one that our liberal political system is ill prepared to deal with.


First, to be clear, my argument is that some Russian military and civilian leaders refer to their competition with the West, especially America, as war. We're free to call this contest whatever we want as long as we don’t delude ourselves that we’re at peace and our interests are not at risk. Until recently we were relatively blind to it due our legacy views of war and peace based on our military’s excessive fascination with Clausewitz. “On War” should be a stepping stone to further study, not the end all be all theory of war.

Second, I disagree with Outlaw on the use of violence, Russians are using violence, or the threat of violence, in a number of places, but at a level that currently prevents a conventional U.S. military response. As you stated in one your posts, we’re wrestling with proportionality and the rule of law, and the dilemma of protecting the international order, which implies that we need to act within those rules if we’re going to protect it.

Third, the U.S. has been hesitant to call most modern military engages (post WWII) war, so as the Russian and Chinese theorists argue, war is no longer declared, it is just a condition. This complicates the rules issue that you keep referring to.

Fourth, I actually agree with your point below when you wrote, “why are we too intellectually lazy to give it its own definition with its own set of rules. We could certainly plagiarize from rules of war. Proportionality may be a place to start.” When you say this, we you need to start with the national level, especially the military side. When the only thing, or it seems, that the Secretary of Defense can offer is a technology focused 3rd Off-Set strategy to increase our conventional deterrence. This isn’t a strategy, and it fails to address the point that the Russians and Chinese are able to achieve warlike objectives short of war where our conventional forces would be employed. Again the gap that we have thrown a lot of names at, but have yet to develop a coherent strategic approach to protect our interests in this space, whether we call it the Gray Zone, competition short of armed conflict (while ignoring armed conflict is actually part of the whole, just on a lesser scale via the use of proxies).

Fifth, old terms like statecraft, unconventional warfare, low intensity conflict are still valuable, but at the end of the day they define means or ways, or describe a condition, they are a strategy. More cow bell without strategy is just more cow bell.

Sixth, to your point about our first diplomatic contact being war or peace if we stick the current rhetoric. Diplomacy becomes a coercive tool (statecraft) of war, or the space between war and peace, when it is used to achieve war or war like objectives, such as getting Iran and North Korea to stop their nuclear weapons programs. This is a limited objective, so if it reaches the point of armed conflict that you need to rationalize it as war, it would in theory be a limited war. Of course, if we have neocons in office it would rapidly elevate to regime change.

Seventh, cyber is interesting, can it be considered violence? Using Outlaw’s point, if it is used to target a nation’s key infrastructure, such as power plants, the physical effects (loss of power) would be the same as a bomb destroying the plant. Yet since there may not be an immediate loss of life, we would struggle to find a proportionate response, much less a strategy to win a competition in this sphere.

Eighth, all of this is a continuum, a non-linear continuum between peace and absolute war. We’re seldom to the far left or far right with our competitors, but our competitors have found new ways to compete in this space that should compel us to up our game.


Fri, 12/16/2016 - 10:29pm

We confuse war with combat. Lennon said to postpone combat until the enemy has been so weekend that our success is a sure thing, which is exactly what the Russians are doing.

From the author's first paragraph above:

"The United States and Russia are already at war. ... This war is not fought like past conflicts. ... It’s prosecuted today primarily by non-military means. ... success will depend on Washington’s ability to adapt to Moscow’s novel way of war."

Let me take this piece by piece:

1. "The U.S./the West and Russia are already at war." Agree, in the "cold war" sense presented by our author here.

2. "This war is not fought like past conflicts." Disagree.

This war, quite obviously, is a "cold war." Thus, it is a type of war that, in fact, was fought in the very recent past. And, as in the Old Cold War of yesterday, it is a war between "expansionist" powers and "containment"/"roll back" powers. And, thus, it is a war that we are intimately familiar with. The problem -- the distinction -- of course, is that we simply have had little experience fighting on the "expansionist" side of such a war. This, because much of our recent past experience comes from operating on the "containment" and "roll back" side of the equation and, thus, relates more to OUR undermining and "throwing monkey wrenches" into THEIR efforts to "transform" the Rest of the World.

3. "It is prosecuted today primarily by non-military means." Agree.

This is, in fact, (a) the very definition of a "cold war" and, thus, (b) the very normal manner in which a "cold war" is routinely prosecuted.

4. "Success will depend on Washington's ability to adapt to Moscow's novel way of war." Disagree -- with the "novel way of war" part of this statement.

As noted above, this is not a "novel way of war." It is, in fact, a "way of war" that we are intimately familiar with. However, because we are in the "expansionist" mode in the New/Reverse Cold War of today -- and not in the "containment" and "roll back" mode as we were in the Old Cold War of yesterday -- we simply do not have as much experience (now being on the "receiving end" of "undermining" and "thrown monkey wrench" operations) in dealing with these such disruptive efforts -- made by both great nations and small, and by both state and non-state actors -- to now thwart OUR "expansionist" efforts and designs.

Bottom Line:

Thus, the U.S./the West and Russia (et al.) are, indeed, (a) already "at war;" this, (b) in the exact "cold war" sense that our author describes in his first paragraph above.


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 8:27am

In reply to by slapout9

Slap, that is not war, that is reality. The history of the world is filled with powers that came and went.


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 12:32pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Would love to know where this guy is getting eight phases. The "Gerasimov Doctrine" only has six, of which the last three are military.

The obvious problem with theories like the one here, or Hybrid Warfare under the Gerasimov doctrine, is that they are explanations of events that have already assumed the conclusion. They are warfare because the process inevitably ends in war. This eight phase system includes, in its first two phases "information warfare, psychological, ideological, diplomatic, and economic measures, but also special operations conducted to mislead political and military leaders." That is pretty much day to day diplomacy. Voice of America is a form of information warfare under this description, as well as an ideological effort. Misleading a foreign country about your military capabilities is the norm. And we tap the phones of leaders and read their emails and conduct "trade wars" with other countries without any intent to take it beyond that.

Under these "definitions" of war, we are at war with another country from our first diplomatic contact, enemy or ally. Again, that makes a great rhetorical device, like the quote "diplomacy is war by other means," but that is all it is.…


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 8:55am

In reply to by Outlaw 09