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)



Sat, 12/17/2016 - 8:54am

In reply to by Outlaw 09


Outlaw 09

Sat, 12/17/2016 - 8:14am

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

Actually when one reads the eight phases of the Russian doctrine titled and translated from Russian as "non linear warfare" form of actual movement of combats troops really does not occur before phase five......

The first four phases are non violent and tied to cyber warfare and information warfare which attempts to bend the thinking of the targeted civil society to cave to the new narrative Russia is pushing....

The New Generation Warfare has eight distinct phases. The first and second phases consist of non-military asymmetric warfare. They include information warfare, psychological, ideological, diplomatic, and economic measures, but also special operations conducted to mislead political and military leaders.

Coordinated measures are carried out by diplomatic channels, media, top government and military agencies; they include leaking false data, orders, directives, and instructions. The third phase’s objective is to consolidate the first two, by intimidating, deceiving, or bribing government and military officers, with the objective of making them abandon their duties. The fourth phase is the one including the “polite green men”.

It encompasses destabilizing propaganda to increase discontent among the population, boosted by the arrival of bands of militants to escalate subversion. Only with the fifth phase military action per se begins, although still in an indirect way. It consists of establishing no-fly zones over the country to be attacked, imposing blockades, and extensively using private military companies in close cooperation with armed opposition units. This is as far as events have progressed in Ukraine at this moment. 
The sixth phase is the beginning of employing direct military measures, with large-scale reconnaissance and subversive missions, including but not limited to special operations forces. The seventh phase is a combination of targeted information campaign, electronic warfare, and aerospace operations, combined with the use of high-precision weapons (long-range artillery, possibly weapons based on new physical principles, including microwaves, radiation/radiology, non-lethal biological weapons). The eighth phase’s aims are to roll over the remaining points of resistance and destroy surviving enemy units.
To answer the question if this strategy can be successful in Europe, it is important to determine the objective. Is it territorial control or influence? The Russian military is openly considering the transatlantic community, and especially the United States, as Russia’s main geopolitical enemy. However, although in Crimea’s case the tactical objective was to gain territorial control, elsewhere in Europe the aim may be rather to gain influence, albeit the exception (in the long run) might be the Baltic States. Far from seeing them as enemies, Russia considers Germany and France the best potential European allies in a multipolar world order, with the United States losing its credibility as world hegemon.
The key element of the Russian strategy is the notion that the war is essentially staged in the minds of the participants. In other words, conceptual support for war, both at home and in the country being attacked, is critical to gain victory. Thus, asymmetric and non-linear warfare’s objective is the creation of a sociopolitical environment conducive to destroying the opponent’s economic and political structures.
Information operations have a great role to play, and they have reached a point where they can take on strategic tasks. Many Russian military authors stress that they have a very significant role in disorganizing military control over territory and the state administration. They can also more generally mislead the enemy, sway public opinion the attacker’s way, and incite antigovernment demonstrations and other actions to erode the opponent’s willingness to put up resistance.
In Europe, the Russian strategy has been focusing on fostering, by political means, divisions regarding common security interests. According to Mark Galeotti, this includes using single-issue lobbies with divisive messages, well-funded fringe parties, global TV network Russia Today, think tanks, and business lobbies, to cite just a few [1]. The objective is not necessarily to stimulate direct support for Russia, but rather to debase national support for NATO (and weaken Article 5’s assurance value) and the European Union (thus undermine the geopolitical influence of the West). In other words, Russia uses democratic tools to fight against democracy itself.…


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 7:44am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Still no, standing on their own. Whether these acts could precipitate a war is a different matter.

Non-linear warfare involves actual incursions into the target country's terrain by your Soldiers, armed and ready to kill - "little green men."

Outlaw 09

Sat, 12/17/2016 - 4:40am

In reply to by slapout9

#Russia's Plan to Divide and Conquer the West

BUT WAIT that was clearly signaled in Crimea...eastern Ukraine and Syria and it is called non linear warfare....emphasis is placed on the word "warfare"...


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 2:12am

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

China just stole one of our unmanned underwater drones. Is that an act of war? Is building artificial islands and arming them against shipping an act of war?
Or my original point what if the enemy has a different definition of war?

War is any situation where one system looses power and another system gains power because of the intentional actions of that system.


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 7:49am

In reply to by Bill M.

An undeclared war that involves bombing cities, as in Syria, Iraq, and the Ukraine, is still war.

Based on your new definition of war, when the United States hacked Angela Merkel's phone for political gain, that was an act of war.

Bill M.

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 11:10pm

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

Fine, we'll tell the Russian their dangerous, ignorant, and unprofessional. In the mean time we drive on blinded by a naïve level understanding of Clausewitz that we try to project in the 21st Century as the end all and be all description of war, and who is exactly is ignorant?

Perhaps you do more reading on limited war, and exactly why that doesn't justify bombing military targets or cities, although strangely enough military targets and cities are being bombed in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and elsewhere. We don't declare the type of wars you're clinging to anymore, but that doesn't make them any less serious.


Sat, 12/17/2016 - 8:16am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

I would ask you the same question, considering your current residence, when the United States hacked Angela Merkel's phone, was that an act of war?

"Why is it so hard to use old words?" Because old word have real meaning, even if we have bastardized "war" to mean anything we are going to put great emphasis on.

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. For example, proportionality might be a good place to start. The problem, in my mind, is finding an appropriate retaliation. How do you craft a response that can have the same kind of damage to a closed political structure that information has in an open political structure.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 12/17/2016 - 1:24am

In reply to by Azor

All these terms of what is and or is not war tells us exactly what...that we are unwilling to comprehend exactly what is ongoing around us.....

If some would join me at work you would in fact define what we are seeing in the Russian state sponsored hacking as war..they are in fact set on destruction of economic assets...damage to critical infrastructure...damage to political processes working against a set strategic end state....all with the click of a mouse..

While no one is firing a single shot nor is anyone getting killed....but bringing a nuclear power plant off line due to internal hacking and damaging controls is a direct threat in my world....recently done here in Germany....OR the complete crashing of a critical power grid and bringing hospitals offline for their critical care patients and shutting down water plants..or causing gas pipelines to automatically again...war...

This new form of warfare needs to be called for what it is....non violent war.....simple and clear...

WHY is it so hard to adapt old words to new events....


Fri, 12/16/2016 - 11:09pm

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

I completely agree.

We are in a conflict with Russia, whether we term it competition, or a Cold War or whatever.

The fact that both Russia and the United States use non-violent methods against one another that they would also use during wartime, does not make it a war.

War involves the breaking off of diplomatic relations and trade, typically, but those can also happen in the absence of war.


Fri, 12/16/2016 - 10:01pm

In reply to by slapout9

The definition is fine. We are in a conflict, we are not in a war.

To use "war" in this situation is no different than using it in "the war on drugs" or "the war on crime." It is simply a rhetorical devise. It does nothing to clarify the situation or the applicable rules of law.

I agree that this is something different. To paraphrase Clausewitz, it is getting your enemy to do you bidding, but without the violence.

But once you define it as war, then a whole different set of rules apply. We are justified in bombing military targets or cities. We are justified in killing Soldiers and civilians. It is dangerous, ignorant, and frankly unprofessional, to use the term "war" where it does not apply.


Fri, 12/16/2016 - 3:34pm

Thats an opinion not a fact. What happens if the opponent has openly stated it is a war. Do we continue to ignore the situation? Our definition of War has failed us.


Fri, 12/16/2016 - 3:13pm

Sorry, except where used as a rhetorical devise ("Cold War"), war is always lethal. War is the non-spontaneous, organized, lethal violence committed by one identifiable group of people against another identifiable group of people, executed by warriors and morally sanctioned by the entire group, for some purpose other than the violence itself.…

Without lethal violence, it is not war. It can be conflict, but not war.

War is an action in the Human Domain. If you are talking about political entities, without the primordial hatred whipped up in the people as Clausewitz describes, you have something else. Perhaps sabotage. I don't know. But it is not war.


Fri, 12/16/2016 - 11:32pm

In reply to by Bill M.

The Joint Publication 1 does not have a definition of war that does not involve violence:

JP1 does, however, note that there are non-violent and non-military forms of warfare.

Wars typically involve non-violent and non-military methods, however, that does not mean that these methods in isolation constitute war.

JP1 notes that: "Clausewitz believed that war is a subset of the larger theory of conflict."

Again, there is a conflict between Russia and the United States, albeit at a lower level than during the Cold War, but there is no war.

Azor states I'm, "I think that you are conflating "war" and "conflict". The Russians regard "war" as "armed conflict", as we do in the West."

I understand the logic behind the assertion, but I'm sticking to my argument that Russia or other nations do not view war the same way we do, and this misunderstanding of how others looks at war may prove to dangerous to us.

To take the conversation further, since it seems the debate around the article is now largely over the definition of war. If we put that argument to the side, it seems we would largely be in agreement. But I can't let it go, because lexicon in any profession is important.

Quotes from Joint Pub 1, which we should all use to inform our discussion from a U.S. military perspective (even if we disagree with it). Words have meaning, and I say war and mean one thing and you mean another we'll keep talking past one another. Thoughts for consideration:

1. War is socially sanctioned violence to achieve a political purpose.

2. Warfare is the mechanism, method, or modality of armed conflict against an enemy. It is “the how” of waging war. Warfare continues to change and be transformed by society,diplomacy, politics, and technology. (if we're engaged in armed conflict, are we not at war by the definition above?)

3. Historian John Keegan offers that war is a universal phenomenon whose form and scope is defined by the society that wages it. The changing form and scope of warfare gives value to delineating the distinction between war and warfare. (defined by the society that wages it, um? But warfare is a subset of war no? Can you have warfare without war?)

Bill C.

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 11:19am

Let us consider the following introductory paragraph from our author above -- not from the perspective of a "hot" war -- but, rather, from the "cold" war perspective that our author suggests at the beginning of his paper:

"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.

Thus, to see that our author above has actually (a) utilized a description of a "cold war" ("This war is ... prosecuted today primarily by non-military means") to (b) identify our present-day conflict environment.

So, I suggest, we now need only move on to identify, in this current "cold war" conflict environment,

a. Who are the great nations who have worldwide "expansionist" goals and ambitions today and, specifically, re: transforming the outlying states and societies of the world more along their often alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines. (Herein, I suggest, it is the U.S./the West that meets this criteria in the New/Reverse Cold War of today; much as it was the Soviets/the communists who met this criteria in the Old Cold of yesterday.) And to identify, in the current "cold war" conflict environment,

b. Who are those entities that are seeking to prevent these such unwanted "transformations" from taking place; especially, in their own backyard/in their own spheres of interest and influence. (Herein, I suggest that the term "the entire Rest of the World" -- encompassing both great nations and small and both state and non-state actors -- accurately meets this criteria in the New/Reverse Cold War of today; this, much as this such exact same term might have accurately met this criteria in the Old Cold War of yesterday.)

In such a "cold war," to find strategies -- such as "containment," "roll back," etc. -- being commonly used by the "resisting unwanted transformation" parties? And such methods -- employed in these such strategies' behalf -- as political warfare, unconventional warfare, hybrid warfare, etc.?

As we all know, this nothing new. The U.S./the West can actually be said -- in the Old Cold War of yesterday and re: our "resisting unwanted transformation" efforts at that time -- to have, if not invented, then certainly to have expanded upon, and/or perfected, these such "resisting unwanted transformation" strategies and related techniques.

What is new, of course and, thus, what we should actually be discussing here, is the fact that the U.S./the West -- in an "expansionist" mode for the first time since the beginning of the 20th Century (?) -- now finds itself on the "receiving end" of these such initiatives.

Bottom Line:

Want to understand "The U.S./the West and (not just Russia but, actually, the entire Rest of the World) Already at War?"

Then, I suggest, we need look no further than the New/Reverse Cold War explanation that I have provided in my comment above, and that I go into somewhat further detail in my comments below.

Bill M.

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 1:18pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C.,

An interesting view, but I disagree with para b. above.

"b. "Bad:" If you are in the "transforming the world more along one's own alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines (see "jurisdiction over the whole life of the society," etc. above) mode; such as the Soviets/the communists were in the Old Cold War of yesterday, and such as the U.S./the West is in in the New/Reverse Cold War of today."

Give examples, not a one off, where the people of nation, not a corrupt government, view our goals as completely alien? I'm sure the Iranian people love the crazy Mullahs because they say they do during interviews, because it is preferable to being tortured and killed, I'm sure the Iraqis loved Saddam, even though they were happy to see him go, and Afghanis weren't really celebrated when our forces liberated some cities from them, they were just pretending to, and lets not even discuss how happy the North Korean people are. The people generally don't flee from countries that practice a form of governance acceptable to the West, so that should be an indicator we're not as bad as you imply.

We have some politicians who over step, but as Mark Twain said our goal should be to free people to pursue their own form of ideal governance, not impose our view of ideal on them. This was in response to our efforts to transform the Philippines, where we contributed to killing off a tenth of the populations (according to some estimates, over a million were killed or died of disease as a result of the conflict out a total population of 7-8 million). We have, and continue to make major mistakes, but in my opinion assisting nations to free themselves of tyranny to self-actualize along their own ideas is a good thing. Unfortunately we all too often only do the first step, and then impose our form of idealized governance on top of chaos. That doesn't work, nations need time to grow into more advanced forms of governance, it can't be opposed.

Bill M:

As per my argument below, and your "dictator" thought thereto, consider the famous distinction made by former U.N. Ambassador (now deceased) Jeane Kirkpatrick; this, between dictators ("traditional autocrats") and "revolutionary regimes" (the communist such version in this case but I suggest the logic here applies to U.S./Western "perpetually at war with the Rest of the World" case also):

"[Traditional autocrats] do not disturb the habitual rhythms of work and leisure, habitual places of residence, habitual patterns of family and personal relations. Because the miseries of traditional life are familiar, they are bearable to ordinary people who, growing up in the society, learn to cope . . . ."

"[Revolutionary Communist regimes] claim jurisdiction over the whole life of the society and make demands for change that so violate internalized values and habits that inhabitants flee by the tens of thousands . . . ."…

Note here that, for the U.S./the West during the Old Cold War of yesterday -- and re: our goal then of "containing communism" -- dictators/tyrants, etc., as noted above, could be seen as a "good thing"/a "lesser evil."

This, because such dictators were often our "natural allies" -- in that they often did not attempt -- nor would they often allow -- the transformation of their states and societies more along communist political, economic, social and/or value lines. (Herein, the power of the populations "traditional" ways of life, ways of governance, etc., as noted by Ambassador Kirkpatrick above, also tending to naturally insulate the populations from same?)

And note that, for the U.S./the West in the New/Reverse Cold War of today -- and re: our current (much-like-the-Soviets) "world revolution" goals -- dictators/tyrants, etc. are now often seen as a "bad thing"/something to be eliminated. (In this light, to understand our recent zeal for "regime change.")

Why is this? Because, in the New/Reverse Cold War of today -- and with the U.S./the West (like the Soviets/the communists before us) now being perpetually "at war" with those states and societies who we feel have not been transformed sufficiently more along modern western political, economic, social value lines -- in these such times, we often see the dictators, and the populations' traditional ways of life, ways of governance, etc., as standing directly in the U.S./the West's way. (Much as they stood directly in the way of the Soviets/the communists and re: their "transformational" designs for the outlying states and societies of the world during the Old Cold War of yesterday.)

Bottom Line:

Dictators, tyrants, etc. -- and the population's traditional way of life, way of governance, etc. -- being seen as a "good" or a "bad" depending on where you sit:

a. "Good:" If you are in the "containment" and "roll back" camp -- as the U.S./the West was in the Old Cold War of yesterday, and such nations as Russia, China and Iran are today.

b. "Bad:" If you are in the "transforming the world more along one's own alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines (see "jurisdiction over the whole life of the society," etc. above) mode; such as the Soviets/the communists were in the Old Cold War of yesterday, and such as the U.S./the West is in in the New/Reverse Cold War of today.



Fri, 12/16/2016 - 6:01pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw 09: “…I would love to take you into my company and show you just how the war is already well underway...and the Russians are still just as active in the opposite direction...”

You may have a change of mind when you read my response on the Forum in the Trump thread. In any event, I would be happy to do so. Of all the denizens of the internet, I can think of no other online acquaintances that I would rather talk with in person than you and CrowBat. Prague would be halfway roughly between you two.

I have no doubt that the Russians are always on the offensive, but so too are the Americans. The United States is more vulnerable to cyberwarfare because it is more connected, but it is also the most capable of offense, as Operation Olympic Games demonstrated, against which the Ukrainian power grid operation was primitive.

Obama and the White House have discussed “retaliating at a time and place of our own choosing” in October and now again in December. Well?

I have responded to the CIA’s allegation in the Forum thread on Trump, which you will see.

As for Russia’s use of disinformation, I would say that its adherent in the United States is the Clinton Campaign. Why? Because Clinton relies on surrogates and supporters to make all kinds of positive and negative claims, just as Putin does.


Fri, 12/16/2016 - 6:04pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

What of all the politicians who thought that Snowden's and Manning's revelations were for the public good?

Outlaw 09

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 4:24pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Appalling. Just appalling. Longtime CA GOP Congressman is a nationalist of a foreign country....which hates us.

GOP congressman on Russian hacking: 'Terrific' that voters got more truthful information @CNNPolitics

Rohrbacher is a well known proRussian supporter who has repeatedly stated his liking of Putin and approved of the Russian takeover of Crimea....

In 2014 he attempted to place into the military defense spending bill a clause stopping any funds of Ukraine because they were lead by a Nazi Junta....when he was confronted on where he got his information that there were all Nazi's in the Ukrainian government he stated that a US lobbying firm had provided him the information...…

Published On: Fri, May 9th, 2014
News / Northern America | By nsnbc

House grilled Nuland over US’ Cooperation with Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

nsnbc : A two-hour hearing of US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at the House Foreign Affairs Committee over the Obama administration’s and the US’ role in the developments in Ukraine nailed down Nuland over the United States overt cooperation with and use of neo-Nazis. Nuland tried to dodge questions, explained US plans for Ukraine and told the Committee outright lies about Kiev having “upheld the obligations of the Geneva agreement”. Nuland omitted that Kiev has mobilized Ukraine’s military forces and the presence of large contingents of Ukrainian troops near the Russian border.

Hard times covering-up cooperation with neo-Nazis. It becomes increasingly difficult for the Obama administration and the corporate US press to cover-up the fact that the main driving force behind the coup in Ukraine are neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists, supported by the US.

While the Obama administration is pushing for Ukrainian elections on May 25, it transpires that about half of the 30.000 troops Kiev deployed to southeastern Ukraine are members of the National Guard, created in March, and “special regional military units” created this month, consisting predominantly of members of the neo-Nazi Pravy Sector and UNA-UNSO, militant members of the ultra-nationalist and overtly anti-Semitic Svoboda party and other radicals dressed in uniform to give the impression of “legality”.

Dodging questions. Nuland, who was asked to give her assessment of the situation in Ukraine and the “necessity to hold elections in Ukraine on May 25″ to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, attempted to dodge questions about “sensitive” issues.

Nuland was nailed down by the Californian Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher who asked Nuland about the legality of the ousted Yanukovich government and the presence of neo-Nazis during the protests in Kiev and the coup. Rohrbacher served his entré, saying to Nuland:

“We did have a legitimate election before, and the legitimate president was removed after we had major street violence. There were pictures of people running around, that we were told were neo-Nazis”.

Nuland attempted damage control attempting to position the mobs in Kiev’s Maidan square as “peaceful protesters”, saying:

“First of all, the vast majority of those who were participating on Maidan were peaceful protesters. There were mothers and grandmothers and veterans…
Rohrbacher, obviously discontent with being served propaganda, reminded Nuland about the nature of his entré, about neo-Nazis, saying:

“I saw those pictures and I also saw a lot of people throwing fire bombs at groups of policemen. There were people shooting into the ranks of police. So, yes, there were mothers with flowers, but there were also very dangerous street fighters engaged in those demonstrations. …The question is: were there neo-Nazis involved?”

Neo-Nazis Honoring Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. Note Svoboda’s logo.
Nuland, continued dodging a very direct questions, saying that “there were many colors of Ukraine involved, including very ugly colors”. It has become established fact that the US administration and allies have cooperated with neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists in Ukraine since the end of WW II, and that the primus motor behind the coup were neo-Nazi organizations centered around Pravy Sector and the Svoboda party.
Nuland submitted and read out a statement on US policy towards Ukraine to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, saying that the Obama administration’s policy is based on four pillars.

With regard to the first column, Nuland said that the US is, first of all offering “financial, technical and non-lethal security assistance” for the election on May 25. Nuland said:

“In addition to $92 million in FY2013 State/USAID funds and $86 million in FY2014 funds, we are providing an additional $50 million in technical assistance and the $1 billion dollar loan guarantee under the authority passed by Congress on April 1st.”

Nuland added that the United States electoral assistance includes “$11 million for non-partisan election activities, including efforts to support voter education and civic participation” plus the participation of observers, in addition to the OSCE observers. Nuland said:

“In addition to the 100 OSCE observers we are sending, the United States is supporting 255 long-term observers and over 3300 short-term observers”. 
Nuland explained that US financial aid also involves “$18 million in non-lethal security assistance to the Ukrainian armed forcesand State Border Guard Service to enable them to fulfill their core missions.” 

Nuland outlined the second column, saying that the US is working with its international partners “to leave the door open for diplomatic de-escalation should Russia change course”.  

At this point, Nuland claimed that Kiev had implemented its commitments with regard to the Geneva agreement, while she accused Russia, saying “Russia fulfilled none of its commitments.” 

Nuland’s claim to the House Foreign Affairs Committee was an outright lie. Kiev’s obligations with regard to the Geneva agreement were that Kiev disarms illegal militant groups, ends punitive military actions against the regions who don’t accept the legality of the post-coup government and ask for federalization of Ukraine, that Kiev enters into direct dialog with the regions, and that Kiev releases political prisoners.

Meanwhile, acting president Turchynov has ordered punitive military actions which have resulted in dozens of dead, using 30.000 troops with heavy military equipment.

'Instead of disarming illegal armed militia, Kiev has put them in Ukrainian uniforms, claiming them to be “special regional military units” and the “National Guard”.

Kiev has not entered into a dialog with representatives of the regions. Kiev has released almost non of the political prisoners.

Moreover, and most alarmingly, acting president Turchinov has ordered the full mobilization of Ukraine’s military forces and called in, all military aged men as well as the reserves.

With regard to the third column, Nuland said that Washington is steadily increasing sanctions, claiming that the sanctions against Russia are beginning to bear fruit. Nuland said:
“The Russian economy … is,.. already buckling under the pressure of these internationally imposed sanctions. Its credit ratings are hovering just above junk status”.

Russian Central Bank Director Elvira Nabiullina said in April, that previously forecast results for 2014 were unlikely to be achieved, making a downward revision of macro-economic indicators necessary. The growth in Russia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to slow to below one percent, while the annual, projected inflation rate will increase by five percent, said Nabiullina, addressing the association of Russian Banks.
The Russian Central Bank Director added, that capital flight will exceed 20 billion US dollars, and warned that the country’s geopolitical situation after the development of the crisis about the Ukraine and Crimea as well as the dangers of a closure of access to foreign investment for Russian businesses as part of western sanctions, may adversely affect internal financial stability. The Russian Interfax news agency cites experts as predicting an economic contraction of 0.6 percent in 2014, compared to the 1.3 percent economic growth registered in 2013.
Experts agree however, that the US, EU and G7 imposed sanctions are harming western economies as much as they are harming the Russian economy. Moreover, China, earlier this week made statements to the same effect and warned the US and EU against any further sanctions.

Nuland added that the US is also taking measures to reassure its NATO allies about the US’ commitment and that the US is  “providing support to other front-line states like Moldova and Georgia. … We have worked with our NATO Allies to provide visible reassurance—on land, sea and in the air—that Article 5 of the NATO Treaty means what it says.”

While the US continues aggravating the situation in Ukraine, there have been taken tangible steps by Russia, the OSCE and Germany and “some” other EU members, in an attempt to deescalate the situation. Steps suggested by Russian President Putin and Swisss President and OSCE Chair Didier Burkhalter were ignored by Kiev.

Putin and Burkhalter called on Kiev to immediately end military operations against rebelling regions and to begin direct dialog. The initiative was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Putin also called on the rebelling regions to delay the referendum, scheduled for May 11. At least two of the regions, Donbas and Kharkov, however, rejected the delay stressing distrust toward Kiev in the light of the ongoing military operations and a lack of guarantees that a referendum could be held after elections.

REMEMBER this article is from 2014 and this blog site was one of the first true "fake news sites".....was featured Rohrbacher

Outlaw 09

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 12:49am

In reply to by Azor

Azor....yes you are right...the retaliation will be via the mouse click not via F22/35s....

I would love to take you into my company and show you just how the war is already well underway.....and the Russians are still just as active in the opposite direction....we are in the midst of analysis of a major event last week for one of the largest German banks which handles the German government pension payments....

You will see as well on the Ukrainian thread one of the Russian attempts against Ukrainian banks which was also from the analysis part and parcel of the Russian hack used to shut down an entire Ukrainian power grid...which was similar as well to the take down of a US power grid in 2015....BTW...that particular hack was never made really public in the States due to the critical nature of the hack...

While this sounds great from Obama..IMHO he will do nothing as he is running out of time to order a retaliation strike and he shot his chances when he attempted to do a public shaming right before the election...

In my world we do retaliate and the Russians on the other end fully get then the message.....

Obama has truly failed to learn that push back is the only answer Putin understands right now....and Putin knows this.... might be surprised just how weakly defended the entire Russian banking system is and a majority of Russian government agencies and defense industries are....

President Obama said the United States will retaliate against Russia over its malicious cyberactivity during this year's election, in an interview that will air Friday on NPR.

“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections . . . we need to take action,” the president said. “And we will — at a time and place of our own choosing.

Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.”

The president did not comment on last week's Washington Post report, that was later confirmed by other outlets, that the CIA has concluded with high confidence that Russia intervened in the election specifically to help Donald Trump win the White House.

Seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies publicly announced in October that they had concluded the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign manager John Podesta was undertaken by hackers working for Russia.

Speaking to “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep, Obama said “there are still a whole range of assessments taking place among the agencies,” and he is waiting for the report on cyberattacks he has ordered to be delivered by Jan. 20.

“And so when I receive a final report, you know, we'll be able to, I think, give us a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations,” Obama said. “But that does not in any way, I think, detract from the basic point that everyone during the election perceived accurately — that in fact what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign.”

“There's no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary's emails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC,” he added.

Bill M.

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 6:31pm

In reply to by Azor

Now you're addressing our policy and intellectual shortcomings that Russia and China have exposed. DoD still overly relies on conventional military responses for options, which obviously are rejected by the national level leadership, because they are disproportionate and inappropriate.

Yet, we have a number of means to respond, and actually we do so in many cases, but most of what we do is reactionary versus a series of activities based on a competing strategies that seeks long term advantage.

In this confrontational space, a place on the operational continuum where we operated quite effectively during the Cold War, though not perfectly, while today our views of war and peace put us in a space where we have no intellectual context that enables understanding, and consequently this prevents the development of a holistic strategy to deal with these challenges.

The military should be a greater role than it does beyond conventional force posturing, but we seldom see that.


Thu, 12/15/2016 - 5:17pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

So the United States should respond as though it were an attack by a MiG?

Cruise missiles to Russia's cyber-warfare facilities?

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 4:23pm

Azor...this is not warfare?....never think for a moment espionage is not considered by the Russians as not being "warfare"

The East German MfS "Stasi" had a saying for their agents working against the West...BTW... I personally rated the ability of the MfS far higher than the KGB....

"I am a soldier on the invisible front in an invisible war...ready to die for my country."

Understanding Russia’s SpyWar Against Our Election

By John R. Schindler • 12/15/16 pm

In the latest twist in the evolving story of how Moscow and its spies interfered with America’s 2016 election cycle, U.S. intelligence has determined that RVladimir Putin himself was deeply involved in the secret operation to discredit the Democrats and Hillary Clinton.

According to NBC News, our Intelligence Community has “a high level of confidence” that Russia’s president#”personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used.” Putin’s#motivation was revenge, according to unnamed senior IC officials, since he#despises Clinton, plus the Kremlin sought to create confusion in the United States to make us appear an unreliable ally and an ailing global power.

To anybody acquainted with Putin and his Russia, this is entirely unsurprising. The Russian president grew up in the KGB and long worked in counterintelligence. To his core, Putin is a secret policeman, what Russians call a Chekist—a term worn with pride in the Kremlin. It’s an easy bet that Putin was briefed on this most special intelligence operation daily; it was very likely the first item in his morning briefing from Russia’s spy services, a quotidian event that Putin—unlike our president-elect—takes seriously.

For a former KGB officer, humiliating the hated Americans by disseminating the embarrassing emails of our top politicians is the summit of glee. The takedown of Clinton, Inc.—and no matter the reality, this is unquestionably how it’s being sold, with smiles all around, by Putin’s inner circle—was by any standard a very successful operation. A century hence, it seems likely that Moscow’s spies will rank this achievement among their “greats” like the TRUST operation and the Rosenbergs.

However, some salient facts about this secret Kremlin operation need to be understood. In the first place, there wasn’t much “hacking” going on here. Instead, most of the purloining of emails from top Democrats fell under normal 21st century signals intelligence operations of the kind done by Russia, the United States, and pretty much every technically advanced country on earth. Everybody spies—among adults this isn’t a controversial statement.

What set this year’s election games apart, however, was how the Kremlin weaponized what its spies in the ether had systematically purloined, disseminating it through its#Wikileaks front to harm the Democrats. Russians intelligence has countless emails from American politicians of every stripe—if you’re a Washington macher of any variety who uses email, it’s a safe bet Moscow reads#them—but this year it only wanted to expose the ones from Democrats.

Russians call this kind of nasty covert action scheme Active Measures, and Moscow’s spies have been doing it a long time. The only novelty here is that the Internet makes it devilishly easy to disseminate such disinformation, to use the proper term, quickly and anonymously.

As the Internet has sped up our news cycle dramatically, it’s made spreading disinformation faster and easier, too.

Our biggest problem resides in the Russian moles in Washington who haven’t been caught.

The Kremlin has done this sort of thing many times to countries it dislikes or fears, indeed it’s old hat to a seasoned Chekist like Putin. But the Russians have never done anything quite this brazen to their “Main Adversary”—as they called America during the Cold War and today do again. To be clear, Putin ordered his spies to execute strategic Active Measures against the United States and top Democrats in 2016 because Moscow possessed enough stolen information to do so.

He#didn’t fear retribution.

Here we need to see this from the Russian point of view, briefly. Putin has a very different way of looking at espionage than American spies do. Russian intelligence culture is its own breed of cat—cagey, conspiracy-minded and dangerous when cornered. They play the long game and take risks that no Western spy service would. For Chekists, the crown jewel in the SpyWar—the never-ending clandestine conflict between states, seldom seen by the public—is offensive counterintelligence, that is gaining control of the enemy’s intelligence apparatus to deceive him.

Russian intelligence aims to create what counterspies term the “wilderness of mirrors,”#and over the last century the Kremlin has gotten very adept at this cunning game.

Viewed in this manner, several important spy stories in recent years come into focus and can be understood for what they really are. American counterintelligence, which has never been a high priority in Washington, suffered complete collapse during President Obama’s two terms. In matters of basic security, Obama’s inattention and escapism amount to presidential dereliction of duty. Pretty much all our Federal agencies have been hacked by Russia and/or China, including the White House itself, while the pillaging of the Office of Personnel Management ranks as a security debacle without parallel in espionage history.

Then there’s the case of Edward Snowden, who, contrary to vast media myth-making, did enormous damage to Western intelligence by stealing and leaking 1.5 million classified documents, many of them relating to enormously sensitive intelligence programs.

Snowden has been working for the Kremlin since he landed in Moscow in late June 2013—and perhaps before. It’s no coincidence that he was shipped to Moscow by Wikileaks, since that vaunted “privacy organization” has been doing Putin’s bidding for years, long before Julian Assange went on a crusade to take out Hillary Clinton.

Our biggest problem, however, resides in the Russian moles in Washington who haven’t been caught. There was one clear counterintelligence success on Obama’s watch, the roll-up of 10 deep-cover Russians spies in the United States in the summer of 2010. That operation, called Ghost Stories by U.S. counterintelligence, was a genuine coup, although it had been in the works for years, long before Obama moved into the White House. Putin was furious at our unmasking of his network of “Illegals” (to use the Chekist term) in America and he wanted revenge—which he got in 2016.

The most important aspect to Ghost Stories, however, was the dog that didn’t bark. In the course of the extended IC investigation of Russia’s Illegals network, it became obvious that Moscow had several moles in Washington, including inside our intelligence agencies—with one or more burrowed into the National Security Agency, our most important spy service—and Snowden wasn’t one of them.

The evidence for their existence going back at least to 2007—and perhaps even earlier—is overwhelming to anyone who understands Russian spy tradecraft, what the Kremlin calls konspiratsiya (yes, conspiracy). Since no Russian moles in our nation’s capital have been unmasked over the last six years, it’s safe to assume they’re still active.

In this light, the events of 2016 come into proper focus. Putin confidently executed a strategic spy operation against our election, specifically to harm the Democrats and their presidential nominee. Russia’s president didn’t fear retribution, as he correctly assessed that Obama was too timid and eager to win Russian favor to respond in any meaningful way. After all, the White House in 2015 quashed a tiny State Department effort to counter Kremlin disinformation, which was taken in Moscow as a green light to put their spies-telling-lies machine into overdrive.

Moreover, Putin knew what the Obama administration would (and would not) do about this massive and aggressive jump in the SpyWar thanks to his moles in Washington. It seems highly likely, based on available evidence, that Russian intelligence has been reading secret U.S. communications for years—that’s what moles inside NSA are for—which would give Putin the ability to beat American spies every step of the way, not to mention deep insights into top-level decision-making in Washington.

This all resembles the famous XX Committee of World War Two fame, after which my Twitter feed and my blog are named. That was the remarkable British counterintelligence program which first caught all the German spies in the UK, then turned them into double agents without Berlin noticing. They became a channel for disinformation with war-altering impact. Patiently, British counterspies fed bogus intelligence to the turned German agents, fooling the Nazis time and again. Most importantly, they provided Berlin with wrong information about the time, size, and location of the Allied invasion of France in June 1944.

The key part of the XX Committee was the fact that British spies could read secret German communications, unbeknownst to the Wehrmacht. This was the famous ULTRA secret. Cracking the Enigma code machine, thanks to the Poles, gave London the ability to see that their disinformation was believed by the enemy. They knew that turned German agents were really working for Britain, not their original masters, and they could see that their lies were accepted as truth. This made the XX Committee one of the great successes in the annals of espionage.

Looking at the available evidence with the eye of a counterintelligencer, it’s alarmingly plausible that Russia has done something similar to us in recent years. Putin acted so brazenly in 2016, subverting our election, because he knew he could get away with it. Moreover, as someone who’s been critical of President Obama’s many foreign policy missteps, particularly regarding the Russians, it bears pondering that some of his underperformance may be attributable to the serious possibility that the Kremlin has been reading his mail.


BTW..just for your information the entire foreign intelligence files of the MfS landed in the hands of the US IC in a night and fog operation in the middle of the confusion inside the GDR... immediately after the Wall fell...within the first three days of the Wall falling....after analysis of those files it was determined that well over 100 US citizens were still physically working for the GDR MfS when the Wall fell..but the IC could not pinpoint who they were....

NOW the circle becomes complete and the puzzle makes sense.....

We have been at war with Russia for a long time.....

Bill M.

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:29pm

In reply to by Bill C.


This is an overly simplistic view that simply isn't supported by the facts unless you cherry pick your facts. Those who are resisting us in general are corrupt dictators and their corrupt proxies as you point out: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, AQ, ISIL,etc. With few exceptions the majority of the world prefers the international we helped design and defend, and they want us to do more to protect that order. The media with their "if it bleeds, it leads" reporting creates a view of the world that doesn't reflect reality.

Under Obama we over rescued by pushing gay rights and other foreign concepts,that even many Americans find offensive into societies that weren't ready for this, and may never be. I suspect the new administration will back away from this type of intervention, while still opposing human rights violations. We have to balance Our ideology with pragmatism.

I understand where you're coming from, but it isn't as black and white as you seem to claim.

Thought: The key here would seem to be to see the U.S./Russian conflict (a) in the proper context and, thus, (b) not in isolation:


In the New/Reverse Cold War of today, the U.S./the West would indeed seem to be "at war" with those states and societies of the world that are not now -- in the U.S/the West's mind -- adequately organized, ordered and oriented more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines.

This, much as we understood that, in the Old Cold War of yesterday, the Soviets/the communists were indeed "at war" with those states and societies of the world that -- in the Soviets'/the communists' mind -- were not then adequately organized, ordered, and oriented more along communist political, economic, social and value lines.

This such understanding -- that the "expansionist"/"world revolution"-promoting power is in a perpetual state of "war" with those that he seeks to transform and incorporate -- helping us to understand why the "expansionist" U.S./the West today, much like our "expansionist" Soviet/communist counterparts in the Old Cold War of yesterday, appear to have:

a. Much the same problems with our expansionist agenda (resistance -- by both great nations and small and by both state and non-state actors -- to the alien and profane ways of life, ways of government, and values, attitudes and beliefs that we seek to install in other countries).

b. Much the same "natural enemies" (the more-conservative, the more-religious and the more-established members of the population). And

c. Much the same "natural allies" (the more-liberal, the more-irreligious, the less-ensconced in/the less-dependent upon/the less-engaged in the status quo elements of the population).

Via this exact same logic (we are now involved in a New/Reverse Cold War; with the exact same problems, the same "natural enemies" and the exact same "natural allies" as our Soviet/communists counterparts in the Old Cold War) to likewise understand why such great nations as Russia, China and Iran today -- and especially in their own back yards/their own spheres of influence and interest -- would employ against us (a) the exact same strategies (think "containment" and "roll back") and (b) the exact same methods (think political warfare, UW and hybrid warfare) as the U.S./the West employed against the Soviets/the communists back-in-the-day.

Bottom Line:

Thus, to suggest that:

a. In the New/Reverse Cold War of today, the "expansionist" U.S./West -- and re: our current "world revolution" agenda -- would indeed appear to be "at war;" not just with Russia, but with the entire Rest of the World. This,

b. Much as in the Old Cold War of yesterday -- and re: their similar "world revolution" agenda back then -- the "expansionist" Soviets/the communists were considered to be "at war;" not just with the U.S./the West, but indeed with the entire Rest of the World.

In this "world revolutionary/expansionist powers perpetually at war" (in our and the Soviet's case, on a global scale) light to properly see and understand-- today as with yesterday -- the unique phenomenon of finding both great nations and small, and both state and non-state actors (and especially the conservative elements thereof) -- and in all corners of the world -- being assaulted by, and attempting to stand against, the ambitious "imperial"/ "expansionist" powers? Powers bent on indoctrinating, transforming and incorporating the "outlying" states and societies of the world? This, more along the "imperial"/"expansionist" power's often alien and profane political, economic, social and/or values lines? (The "global backlash," then as now, to be understood accordingly?)

Thus, it is via this more comprehensive, complete and accurate description of the "global conflict environment" that we might come to see and understand such interesting phenomenon as "The United States/the West Already at War -- Not Just With Russia -- but with the Entire Rest of the World?"


Thu, 12/15/2016 - 4:22pm

In reply to by Bill M.

I think that you are conflating "war" and "conflict". The Russians regard "war" as "armed conflict", as we do in the West.

What is different is that the Russians believe that they are in conflict with the West, currently non-violent, whereas the West is undecided as to whether that conflict exists. This discrepancy is the result of:

(a) The West's comparative power in the world (resting on its laurels)
(b) Russia's relative decline across various spectra over several decades
(c) The desire of Russians and former Russian subjects to integrate with the West, threatening Russia's elite
(d) Western attempts to integrate the post-Soviet space
(e) A combination of Russian paranoia and burning desire to be globally relevant

Gerasimov's model of conflict resolution, which involves various non-military and/or non-violent measures, clearly makes the distinction between conflict and armed conflict.

What I am most curious about is where China truly fits into Russian strategic thought...

Bill M.

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:42pm

In reply to by Azor

More later when I get back to my computer and references, but your point is incorrect, but Russia does identity different forms of war, and of course they recognise CvC definition of war, but they're not limited by that definition.

To point six, non military means does not mean non violent means. What Russia seeks to do is avoid a direct clash between conventional forces. They won't hesitate to employ violence as required to achieve their goals, and they still have a quasi police state to maintain control.


Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:07pm

In reply to by Bill M.

Firstly, Russia is not at war with the United States, according to Russian definitions of warfare, which remain Clausewitzian (albeit Marxist-Leninist influenced), and involve the use of military force. Gerasimov’s methods to resolve escalating conflicts are not unique or uniquely Russian, and even the unpractical concept of “nuclear de-escalation” is very similar to the SIOPs developed during the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Russian doctrine has evolved to rely upon non-violent instruments first to protect its interests, before using lethal force. However, in Ukraine, Russia used its armed forces to protect its interests without any non-violent escalation. Russia’s concept of total war or “mobilization of all resources” involves a global war with “radical military political objectives”. Russia’s concept of warfare in the 21st Century is very similar to that of the United States, in fact.

Secondly, both Russia and the United States are engaged in non-violent containment of one another. However, the United States has also engaged in non-violent rollback (former Warsaw Pact, former Yugoslavia, former Soviet Union), which has intensified Russian containment efforts. The Kremlin regarded the pro-Western Ukrainian Revolutions in 2005 and 2014 as rollback attempts by the West, and in 2014 responded with military force.

Thirdly, Russia’s use of a whole-of-government (i.e. Gerasimov’s 4:1 non-violent-to-military ratio) approach to containment reminds me of when the United States followed the same practice during the Cold War. The United States took that approach when it had no good military options, and when the Soviet armed forces could appear in Cuba, Indochina, Africa and the Middle East, when Communism was popular in the developing and de-colonizing world, and when all the United States could do was rattle its nuclear saber and send forth the CIA. It is a sign of weakness and should be recognized as such.

Fourth, open societies are always more at risk from malign external influence, but this is one of the prices we pay for freedom and democracy.

Fifth, I agree that the United States should counter Russian information and intelligence operations with its own, but I would argue against attempts at rollback in say Belarus or Central Asia.

Sixth, Russia’s concept of non-violent measures used to achieve military and political objectives is hopelessly flawed. Why? Because Moscow does not believe in a free press, spontaneous protests, democracy that is not managed, etc. The Ukrainian “separatists” are a mere nuisance without Russian military support, and Assad would have been overthrown were it not for massive reinforcements by Iran and Russia’s air campaign.

Lastly, Russia perceives the United States as a potential military threat in the way that the latter does not. In addition, while Russia and the United States both believe in war as a reasonable instrument (although Russia also tends to believe in war as eschatological), Europeans have a typically cataclysmic perspective of war. One would therefore expect the Europeans to be on the forefront of non-violent means to achieve objectives, but they failed in Yugoslavia and in Ukraine…


Bill M.

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 4:37am

In reply to by Azor

You appear to be projecting your view of war is upon the Russians, but Russia theorists have written in open source documents that they are in a permanent state of war, which means they have a permanent enemy, which is the West. We may call it competition short of traditional (or conventional) armed conflict or a rivalry, but this is an asymmetric view compared to the Russians. In some ways this may put us at risk, based on one side pursuing war objectives with a deliberate strategic approach, while we react with random acts of touching void of a comprehensive strategy.

As for CvC, for one, I don't agree that his description of war is the final word on the matter, nor apparently do the Russians. However, borrowing from CvC, it is clear the Russians, the U.S., and the Chinese desire to avoid absolute war (unconstrained). Instead Russia is pursuing limited war (limited objectives for the most part focused on forcing it adversaries to make policy changes), using a concept they call total war. For Russia total war is using all means, many of which are non-military. Even nuclear weapons have back into play, but only from a posturing perspective by doing flash exercises that involved simulated tactical nuclear strikes to signal the West. However, the real conflict is taking place in the information domain, political and economic subversion, military and economic coercion, etc. This is how they weaken their adversaries and put them in a position where they can be coerced.

This gets to your excellent point about the U.S. not conducting a whole of government strategy based on our conventional force superiority. When you listen to the SecDef speak to the 3rd Off Set strategy is hyper focused on conventional deterrence, DoD is not addressing the reality of the challenge we face today. While conventional dominance will always be important, the fact is that the Russia and China are achieving war like aims using their subtle, and not so subtle, strategic approaches that seeks to avoid a conventional force clash with superior Western military powers, and yet still achieve their objectives. So even if the 3d Off Set strategy is successful, it will do little to off-set the threat we're facing today short of traditional armed conflict.

The often quoted CvC wisdom, but never put into practice by the U.S. in recent decades, is the imperative to understand the nature of the war you're about to enter. Obviously paraphrased, but you get my drift. I agree with Frank Hoffman that understanding should be a principle of war, one we are clearly in violation of.


Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:03am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill M.,

I said that the US did conduct a whole-of-government approach during the Cold War, particularly when it was conventionally inferior.

However, it does not do so now, mainly because it has the luxury of conventional dominance.

Clausewitz' definition of war involves violence and kinetic action. The US must accept that it is in a new Cold War, but this is a state of rivalry not war.


Bill M.

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 12:31am

This is a good summary of Russia's approach to what they refer to as war, and rightfully so from their view. Our asymmetric views on the character of this war puts us in a position of disadvantage when it comes to strategy. Azor is incorrect about our ability to conduct a whole of government approach to meet this threat. Unlike the Russians who coordinate and synchronize the efforts of their various government agencies, we need to address it in a stovepiped manner, with each agency pursuing it own ends largely independent of the other, and often at cross purposes. We have all the advantages except the ability to effectively employ those advantages in a harmonious manner to achieve our ends. Our biggest shortfall is organizational and processes that we're designed for a different time.


Thu, 12/15/2016 - 5:15pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

All of these unresolved conflicts existed long before Putin’s ascension. They are legacies of Stalin’s policies toward the Soviet Union’s various ethnic minorities, which were all designed to ensure ethnic Russian domination of a multiethnic empire.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union was not particularly messy, given the circumstances, and none of the unresolved border conflicts risk a major war. The mass murder witnessed in the former Yugoslavia has not been visited upon the post-Soviet space, except to a far lesser extent in the former Georgian and Azerbaijani SSRs.

Does Putin use Russia’s various “peacekeeping” efforts in Moldova, Georgia, Tajikistan and Armenia as a guise for permanently stationing Russian forces in areas of interest? Yes.
Will Putin spark ethnic conflicts if these will deter or prevent a former Soviet republic from joining NATO or the EU? Yes.

Does Putin believe that Russia should have a “privileged sphere of interest” encompassing the former Soviet Union and perhaps even the former Warsaw Pact and Yugoslavia? Yes.

Does Putin want to expand the borders of the Russian Federation to those of the former Soviet Union? No.

Why? Putin is keenly aware of the demographic crisis of ethnic Russia:

(a) Russians as a share of the RSFSR/RF population have been declining since at least 1970

(b) Russians in the RSFSR/RF have been declining on an absolute basis since at least 1989

(c) Russian fertility rates have been below replacement levels since the 1980s

(d) Non-European (Turkic-Mongolic, Caucasian) ethnic groups have higher fertility rates than the Russians and are increasing as a share of the population, especially Muslims

Basically, there are not enough ethnic Russians to ensure their domination of the Russian Federation, let alone colonize additional territory as the Soviets did in the Baltic republics, Kaliningrad/East Prussia and Central Asia.
If military doctrine under Putin has come to embrace non-military measures, then Russian expansion has come to embrace non-imperial ones. How so?

(a) Russia is keen to incorporate the ethnic Russian minorities in Kazakhstan, the Baltics, Moldova and Ukraine

(b) Russia has revised its definition of “Russian” to focus more on linguistic and cultural affinities, thereby encompassing most of its former non-Russian subjects (similar to the British and French policies after de-colonization)

(c) Therefore, the term Russian has become contradictory. On the one hand, it continues to represent the ethnic chauvinism of the Great Russians, but on the other, it also embraces those non-ethnic-Russians who have an affinity for Russia

(d) Instead of an empire, Russia is attempting an “integration project” on the model of the European Union, albeit with Russian characteristics (EAEU, CSTO)

Therefore, I believe that the crisis in Ukraine and subsequent war are the result of two integration projects – one led from Brussels and one led from Moscow – clashing. European “soft power” succeeded in convincing the Ukrainians to demand that Kiev begin the process of integration with the EU, even at the risk of initial economic hardship, and Russia responded with “hard power”. As for the Donbas War being “extremely hot” (I would say that it is a low-intensity conflict), you have repeatedly blamed the (pro)Russian insurgents for that, and noted how they do not want indifference from Kiev, Moscow or the West.
You are right that the Russian integration project will fail because it is unappealing. In that respect, the EU is the greatest threat to Russia, because it reminds Russians of the possibilities of prosperous, free and peaceful societies with rule of law.

As I remarked to Bill above, I believe that we are arguing over the Russian definition of “conflict” as opposed to “war”. Velez-Green is deliberately referring to the unarmed conflict between Russia and the West as a war so as to draw attention, not unlike how “Russia could occupy the Baltic republics in three days”, becomes “Russia will occupy the Baltic republics in three days”.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:49pm

In reply to by Azor

Azor..suggest the following exercise...take a map of eastern and central Europe and plot in all "frozen conflicts" conducted via Russia military force since say..starting in 2000....then add the latest coup attempt in Montenegro...the Russian statements against Macedonia for their wanting to join NATO...then add the just announced Russian weapons sales to Serbia to counter Croatia?......would actually argue that Putin missed his "frozen conflict" in eastern Ukraine WHEN the UAF Cyborg unit held out totally surrounded longer than did Stalingrad giving the UAF the time to rebuild militarily and to rebuild morally and the UAF has kept the "frozen conflict" extremely hot...thus actually throwing off Putin's timeframes....

AND then tell me Russia and Putin are not expanding the borders of Russia to include that of the former Soviet Union....

BTW...all those " frozen conflicts" have nothing to do with roll back and or defensive measures...all those "frozen conflicts" actually signal "expansionism" the borders of the original Soviet Union.....

I would argue actually ALL those so called "frozen conflicts" were definitely not non violent.....

You are still sidestepping the core reason for the "color revolts"....rule of law...economic development a la the EU free travel inside the complete EU and good governance...BUT the critical element ...the civil societies of say Ukraine..Georgia...and yes even Moldavia are sick and tired of blatant everyday Soviet style corruption....

Evidence of this has been in the complete rebuilding of the Ukrainian local police forces trained by 10 different US State Police organizations out of the US....even the locals are now respecting the local police as they no longer hold out their hands for a simple traffic stop as they did in the older days...and the locals actually report when one does which has lead to 15 officers being relieved for bribery....

I would argue that the economic development of the EU..freedom of visa free travel are a far more enticing image for the former members of the Soviet Empire....than the current Russian model...

Remember Putin has been at the helm since 1999 a la Chechnya War 2...where the explosion in an apartment complex triggered the war and now some say the apartment explosion was in fact a false flag attack by the FSB....

So spend some time rechecking actual history in the last ten years not in the last 50 years....

General Gerasimov may have written the doctrine for non linear warfare...I pay very close attention to exactly how Putin defines the word "war" not the General as he answers sraight to Putin these days....

I pay attention to what Putin says and does not to the current Russian military doctrine simply because they answer directly to him.....

I do though pay attention to how they both define political warfare and how they implement political warfare....


Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:14pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

See my reply to Bill M. above, and sources.

Russia has merely transitioned from the clumsy "armored columns first" approach of Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), Afghanistan (1979), Chechnya (1994, 1999) and Georgia (2008), and is relying upon non-violent measures first to achieve military-political objectives. That does not mean that trolling CNN messageboards is regarded as war in the same way that bombing Aleppo is.

Russia clearly views NATO and the United States as threats, in ways that the United States does not appreciate or reciprocate, but nowhere have I seen Russia engaged in anything other than containment and rollback where possible (e.g. NATO/EU). However, this is only a reversal of NATO's enlargement in the 2000s and various pro-Western revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and Central Asia, as well as protests in Russia and Belarus.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:08am

In reply to by Azor needs to get back to the theme of the article....are we already at war with Russia......

IF we and this you know from my many seriously needs to reread the Russian non linear warfare doctrine complete with their updated nuclear doctrine and their thesis on the use of information warfare coupled with cyber warfare.......IN order to define what Russia perceives to be "war".

I have always maintained international relations is a perception balance...meaning what does your opponent "perceive" you capable of doing and or willing to do based on the actions demonstrated by you....

THIS is what has gotten the Obama WH into serious trouble and causes them to dig themselves in even deeper...AND do not think that Trump will get us out of that hole...he might in fact dig us in deeper...

The key to understanding Obama is two his failure to backup his own 2013 red line in Syria which if carried out would have set the limits of Assad and in eastern Ukraine...his 2014 statement..."we will judge Putin on his actions not his words".....which would have reinforced the Minsk 2 agreements in a more forceful manner.

Putin fully understood that Obama was unwilling to use force to counter any Russian move and that Obama and Kerry were enamored with "talking diplomacy"....Putin is the direct opposite....

BUT back to the term "war".......

YES we are already involved in a "Spy War" characterized by "active measures" a la KGB 1990s...

YES are in a cyber war....reference the direct and active Russian state sponsored hacking of our election processes and organizations involved in that election TO INCLUDE the RNC which for some strange reason Russia has not released a single email on that they stole....NOT to include a serious number of hack conducted on our critical infrastructures since 2014....

Hacker, fugitive for years in guess where (Russia). Man held at JFK airport over largest US financial cyber-hacking 

YES we are in a massive information war carried out by Russian propaganda media outlets funded to the tune of over 2B USDs per year....a social media war with Russian paid and unpaid trolls and troll companies numbering in the thousands of individuals....our own Congressmen have received tons of election funding coming from Russian paid US lobbyists and the list still is growing....

YES we are a tad under a "hot war" in eastern and central Europe especially though in the Baltics.....with countless RuAf probes of NATO defenses and Russian naval challenges in the Baltic and Black Sea....a single mistake here by Russia can in fact trigger WW3.

YES we are in a true "political war"....which is the inherent basis for the Russian non linear warfare.....AS if one really rereads their non linear doctrine is what supports political warfare...

You forgot to take into consideration Putin himself and what drives him...I have posted extensively on the "Third Rome" ideas coupled with a number of posts on Dugin Putin's ideological inner ear....

I knew of Putin from his KGB Dresden days...Putin did not graduate high in his KGB class thus missed an overseas spy assignment into the he eneded up in Dresden....there he failed in even recruiting spys to watch the US SOF stationed in Bad Tolz GE....and when the Wall fell...he returned to St. Petersburg relatively poor some say with only 500 USDs in his pockets and a wash machine when other KGB members retunred with thousands....

THEN watch his climb after tapping into the Russian mob in St.Petersburg.........

I was going to post here that one has a pressure point on Putin...that is the wealth he has "grown" since assuming control of Russia....initially I had thought in the range of 40-50B USDs.....

BUT then this was posted today by US intel sources......

BREAKING USA Intelligence, during investigation of #Russian hacking on USA election, concluded Mr. #Putin's net worth be $85B of assets.

Putin has no appreciation of the development that the US IC has made in the field of "threat finance analysis" in tracking AQ/IS/Iranian funds worldwide....

NOW watch the reaction to this announcement which is now ongoing out of Moscow...all Russian media sites are trying to make fun of the report....

BUT they are focusing on the single fact that Putin was not behind the hacking AND totally flying over the alleged 85B USD....

EVERYONE who has been following me on the Ukrainian and Syrian threads knows that when Russia denies something THEN in fact what they are denying is in fact the truth....

So yes the author here is correct...we are at war....just this war has a new definition and we the US simply have not figured out just how to define it.....

BUT remember Russia has defined their geo political goals since 2006 very explicitly...

1. a new Yalta 2.0 giving Russian influence over the area from Portugal to the Russian Far East
2. discredit and damage NATO
3. discredit and damage EU
4. disconnect the US totally from Europe and ME

AND that my friend is a declaration of war in anyone's terms....

COUPLED all the while by a not so subtle rebuilding of the former Soviet Union focusing on eastern and central Europe...

Russia's trolling the latest @NBCNews revelation that #Putin personally ordered US election hack, using same language for Aleppo evacuation

AND eastern Ukraine and Syria are not intertwined via non linear warfare???

Velez-Green is plain wrong.

The United States and Russia are in a rivalry, not at war. Whereas Putin has sought to make the Russo-American rivalry the main focus of American defense and foreign policy (mirroring Russia’s), the United States has sought to compartmentalize the rivalry and relegate it to equal or lesser status with various other American concerns, such as China, nuclear non-proliferation and counter-terrorism.

The United States government is well-acquainted with using a whole-of-government approach short of war to strike at its rivals and adversaries. During the era of Eisenhower’s First Offset/New Look doctrine, which lasted well into Johnson’s tenure, the United States relied upon nuclear deterrence and was unable to effect either conventional deterrence or power projection. For instance, a Warsaw Pact capture of West Berlin could only be met with increasingly severe nuclear strikes. In 1962, the US military was unable to mount an amphibious invasion of Cuba to neutralize the Soviet missiles there, and any air campaign would have been forced to use tactical nuclear weapons. Yet the Soviet armed forces could have smashed through West Germany to the English Channel if the war was conventional-only. So how did the US compensate for its weaknesses and sidestep Soviet strengths?

1. Prolific use of the CIA to engage in espionage, albeit the Soviets and Russians prefer HUMINT. Putin has significantly expanded GRU/SVR activities in the West

2. CIA assassination and attempted assassination of political opponents abroad (e.g. Lumumba, Castro). Putin has assassinated Litvinenko and possibly Berezowsky and others

3. Enlisting organized crime to assist with intelligence and paramilitary operations (e.g. Cuba, Italy). Putin has done the same in Donbas and fused organized crime and intelligence networks in the West

4. Use of economic warfare to coerce foreign governments (e.g. Guatemala, Chile, Cuba, Iran). Putin has done the same to Ukraine, Belarus and others

5. Interference in foreign elections (e.g. Italy, Chile). The Soviet Union was less successful in these types of influence operations, but did fund anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons movements throughout the West in order to encourage disarmament within NATO. Technology permits Putin to engage in the type of information warfare that was not possible prior to the internet and social media

6. Financial aid and arms to various authoritarian states that were anti-Soviet (e.g. South Vietnam, Pakistan, Turkey). Putin has done the same with respect to Venezuela, Belarus, Iran

7. Widespread use of insurgents and mercenaries (e.g. in Africa and Latin America). Look no further than Ukraine and Syria…

8. Direct military intervention if necessary, but always with an unconventional/paramilitary/intelligence approach first (e.g. Vietnam prior to Johnson’s escalation, Laos, Cambodia). Putin has operated in a similar fashion in Ukraine and Syria

While the internet and social media did not exist in the 1950s-1970s, they are a double-edged sword. The United States can easily conduct information warfare in Russia via the internet and social, despite the latter’s attempts to control the internet.

Russia is in no position to “fill” any “void”. As much as the United States protects its allies, it also ensures peace among them and prevents them from engaging in unilateral aggression, therefore protecting Russia from a polity forming in Central Europe on the order of the German Empire. Washington believes that if Moscow is not kept busy, it will play spoiler wherever US interests are at stake. Conversely, Moscow believes that if Washington is not kept busy, it will focus on prizing Central Asia and Belarus from Russia’s grasp. Yet neither believes that the other is an existential threat or archenemy as during the Cold War. Moscow knows that too much provocation can turn containment into rollback and even regime change, and Washington knows that the failure of the Russian state could result in Eurasian warlords with ICBMs, a frequent fear during the 1990s.

However, Moscow takes this rivalry very seriously and will keep pushing the bayonet until Washington does too. After all, how else is Russia going to receive attention?