The US empire may be history’s last.
The illusion of control that has sustained the US’s nominal government and its behind-the scenes power since World War II is fading both at home and abroad. In many areas the US military is no longer unquestionably superior and in some is demonstrably inferior. As military prowess goes so goes the American empire. Amplifying the decline and compounding its severity are the US’s perilous finances, deteriorating economy, and mounting political unrest.
That US military power was never all it was cracked it up to be was apparent to astute observers after the Korean War, and was obvious after Vietnam. Possible escalation and humanity’s extinction precluded use of nuclear weapons. However, in both Korea and Vietnam local populations, with assistance from outside allies, withstood mind-boggling barrages of conventional bombs and munitions to gain in Korea a stalemate and in Vietnam a victory.
Vietnam demonstrated the difficulty for invaders of fighting determined insurgents using guerrilla tactics—usually labeled terrorism—defending their home territory. The insurgents know the territory and the language and often enjoy the covert support of the local, ostensibly non-combatant population. In Vietnam they also received covert and overt support from China and the USSR.
The insurgents extracted such a price that eventually the American invaders, plagued by protests and political opposition back home, decided conquest wasn’t worth it. Vietnam illustrated a stark reality, never publicly stated by US military or political leaders: to win the war would have required genocide—essentially wiping out the population. Or to paraphrase the saying popular at the time, to save the country the US would have had to destroy it, inflicting far more damage than the gruesome toll it actually exacted.
Fiascos since Vietnam further confirm that guerrilla insurgency remains problematic for the US military. It stymies one of the US’s main geopolitical objectives—forcing smaller countries to toe the US line. Fighting the insurgencies that objective elicits goes hand-in-hand with subversion, propaganda, intelligence skullduggery, and regime change—whatever’s necessary to extract compliance.
If the US can’t defeat insurgents in smaller countries despite its overwhelming advantages in conventional military power, what would happen in a match with someone its own size, another superpower? Here the illusion of control is most deadly.
Nothing is more dangerous than the belief that the US military is second to none and that it can win whatever offensive engagements it is assigned while also protecting the US homeland and its people. Andrei Martyanov demolishes that illusion in his recently published and highly recommended book, The (Real) Revolution In Military Affairs.
On March 1 2018, Vladimir Putin announced new Russian weapons that had either been deployed or were in advanced states of development. Collectively, the new weapons’ most striking features are hypersonic speeds (ability to travel at five times the speed of sound, Mach 5, or faster) and nuclear power.
The Kinzhal missile has a top speed of Mach 10, and the Avangard hypersonic-glide projectile Mach 20. Both can be conventionally or nuclear armed, and are maneuverable throughout their flight trajectories, making defense against one such weapon problematic, a swarm impossible. The Kinzahl has a range of 2000 kilometers (over 1200 miles), while Putin said the Avangard’s range is “intercontinental.”
Putin claimed Russia has also developed nuclear-powered underwater drones and cruise missiles. The drones are faster than any currently deployed surface ship or submarine, have a range of 10,000 kilometers (over 6,000 miles), are cloaked by underwater stealth technology, and can carry both conventional and high-yield nuclear warheads. They can be deployed against surface naval assets like aircraft carrier groups, or placed in a coastal area, armed with a nuclear warhead, and detonated, generating a massive, radioactive tsunami wave.
The nuclear-powered cruise missile can carry conventional and nuclear warheads, is low-flying and highly maneuverable, and has virtually unlimited range. Like the Kinzahl and Avangard, stopping one would be problematic, a swarm impossible. If Putin’s claims about Russia’s nuclear-powered missiles and drones are true, they have achieved state-of-the-art advances in the miniaturization of nuclear power.
The US political establishment and its mainstream punditry, devout believers in American military superiority, either ignored or dismissed Putin’s announcement. Those that addressed it said he was lying without specifying their factual basis for saying so.
To its credit, the US military took the announcement more seriously. From its own efforts to develop hypersonic weapons it knows that such weapons are possible. It asked for and received a significant funding increase for programs to further develop and test hypersonic weapons and defenses against them. While reportedly not as far along as Russia, China is also developing these technologies, some of which are already operational. Among serious military thinkers, Putin’s announcement put a spotlight on the next leg of the arms race: hypersonic speed and miniaturized nuclear power.
To date, no prominent US political figure, even those who reluctantly acknowledge that the Russians may actually have what they claim, has delineated the vital implications of such an arsenal. Most disturbingly, the US has no effective defenses. Russia can also render much of the US’s offensive capabilities irrelevant. Martyanov persuasively makes both cases.
While the US still has its nuclear arsenal to fall back on, Martyanov argues that in conventional warfare, the US has deluded itself. The US’s vaunted air power is increasingly vulnerable to Russian anti-aircraft systems, notably the S-400, the world’s best. Stealth air technology is overrated, its cloaking ever more easily penetrated. High-powered communications, computer, and networking technologies upon which US air power relies are subject to disruption that would leave missiles and jets figuratively flying blind.
Aircraft carrier groups—along with submarines the heart of US naval strategy—are floating dinosaurs. While their proponents claim they can be protected from anti-ship missile clusters, there is no real world validation and given recent improvements in those missiles’ range, maneuverability, and power, reason to believe just the opposite. Demonstrations of antimissile artillery knocking out a single missile on a defined path under ideal conditions are risibly remote from what would be real world conditions in a confrontation with another major power: swarms of maneuverable missiles on random flight paths amidst the general chaos of war. It is foolish to assume carrier invincibility and to base naval strategy or foreign policy on that assumption.
Insurgents have repeatedly battled US forces to a standoff or worse. Two major powers have weapons that can stymie or destroy significant parts of America’s conventional offensive capabilities, that can be used offensively with devastating effect, and for which the US has no defensive countermeasures.
This set of facts is plainly incompatible with the control the US establishment believes it can and should exercise around the world. Russia and China appear to have no such hegemonic aspirations, concentrating their efforts in their own backyards and letting the US waste its blood and treasure on imperialistic adventures. The US’s unipolar moment began fading in 1949 when the Soviet Union detonated its own atomic bomb, but repeated encounters with reality have done little to shake the illusion of control. Economic, financial, and political developments at home render the illusion delusional.
This is Part One, Part Two will be posted next Tuesday.
I like digging up words like that and using them.
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Hypersonic missile + aircraft carrier = USS Artificial Reef.
That’s one way to replace dying reefs.
Reefs aren’t “dying”. Stop listening to the fake global warming propaganda.
What “dying reefs”?
AGW propaganda is not reality.
Good article, Robert. Korea and Viet Nam demonstrated the failure of US arms due to forced conscription and syphilitic political thinking. Having read TR Fehrenbach’s THIS KIND OF WAR, and Neil Sheehan’s A BRIGHT AND SHINING LIE, it is obvious the average American citizen has no wish to be forced to voyage and die for the realm. And, as more of the Sheeple, Cucks, and Normies start to wake up about the 9/11 anomalies, fabrications, and criminal mendacity, folks will become very reluctant to encourage their children to flock to the colors to fight “Terrorism”.
So the question now is why do legions of young men and women still march in lockstep down to the recruiter’s office after high school? Jobs with a steady paycheck. Money for college. Benefits vis-à-vis home loans and other perquisites connected with the status of being a military veteran. American Pols knew if they were to protect their overseas holdings after the Draft was eliminated, a large carrot would have to dangled in front of our clueless Mall Zombies to entice them into .mil.
The big question now is: Given their gimmie-my-freebies mindset, will they make good soldiers, sailors, and airmen when the balloon does go up? I do not have a ready answer. But, as a Viet Nam-era Army veteran(I did not go overseas) and active reservist for over seven years, I will not hold my breath or wager on dubious outcomes.
I wouldn’t bet a plug nickel on the mall rats being good soldiers, especially in light of the past where many US soldiers were lean, mean, tough kids from tough circumstances, farms and tenements and the like. As for differently gendered cupcakes and the otiose obese blobs that are so much of our youth, forget about it! They wouldn’t even know if the US was at war unless they read about it on their smartphones.
It seems you have a shallow and incompetent view of American youth. A view that seems to be a generalization based on assumption, not facts. I guess that helps your arguments?
I specifically picked on “mall rats,” “differently gendered cupcakes,” and “otiose obese blobs.” Time will tell if those labels characterize “so much of our youth,” or just some of them. I have seen articles saying the military is having problems recruiting young men and women who meet its weight and fitness standards, even after they’ve been relaxed, and that’s a fact, not an assumption. I don’t believe today’s youth as a whole are as fit to be soldiers as prior generations—that’s my generalization and I’m sticking to it—although of course there are numerous exceptions. SLL has consistently promoted policies that would keep the US out of interventions and wars and would presumably require far fewer military personnel.
The proof of the pudding about the “American Youth” will come when the Deep State useful idiots of the (((Wall Street Banksters))) reinstitute forced conscription after the upcoming False Flag. If they stand tall as a group and give their collective middle finger to the Leviathan, then my opinion and the opinion of many other cynics will change. Until then, I stand right beside Mr. Gore.
The Frogs have a saying: “…cynicism is just another definition of experience.” I have no idea how old you are, sir or what your life experience involves. But, I have seen the elephant. I have also watched this Constitutional Republic disintegrate into a moral, cultural, social, and political morass which makes Caligula’s Rome look like Romper Room. I watched it happen in the Army and on the streets of SoCal as a Peace Officer for years and years. If you still cannot see the forest for the trees, then go color in your coloring book and listen to Lee Greenwood.
So the NVA generals lied when they said Nixon’s bombing of North Vietnam essentially defeated them?
And the democrats didn’t sell out the South Vietnamese Army, who was successful in conjunction with our bombing in holding the NVA at the DMZ…
…by cutting the dough…to get back at Nixon?
And yet two years on from Putin’s announcement, no Russian hypersonic missile has ever flown…ditto for China’s carrier killer. Indeed, Russias nuclear powered underwater drone just blew up taking out most of the development braintrust.
Not sure why you are spreading falsehoods. I doubt you have the integrity to allow this post.
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SLL welcomes all comments, criticisms, and points of view, regardless of whether or not they’re in agreement with SLL. I think I’ve only nixed one or two comments in 5 years, and they were definitely nixed for good cause.
Excellent article. The Burning Platform blog also posted this SLL article. The comment section is worth looking at–to supplement the comments here, and as part of the anticipation for the upcoming Part Two.
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It is is a very oversimplified way of thinking to compare various weapons systems as the determiner of who will win any future conflict other than all out nuclear war . Throughout history the main reason of who wins wars is which opponent has the will to win . The victors will be who is most willing to suffer the most and continue to resist . This is what worries me for the US. In our modern era , most Americans expect instant gratification and as minimal effort as possible. The US doesn’t have the will to suffer large numbers of casualties, declined standard of living and loss of creature comforts, etc etc. at the end of the day it comes down to who wants it the most. Sadly I don’t think it would be Americans…….
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Have to agree with Mutha here. All of these out of this world new hardware being bragged about, but nothing successful has come to fruition. The US tries to keep its Skunkworks projects under the lid, while
Russia announces weapon projects before they have left the drawing board.
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if the missle can cruise at Mach 20 (15000 mph), why does it only have a 1200 mile range?
The Kinzahl has a reported top speed of Mach 10 and 1200 mile range. My guess is that it has that range because it would burn a lot of fuel reaching Mach 10, but that’s just a guess. The Avangard hypersonic-glide projectile, which has a claimed Mach 20 top speed, has a much longer range—”intercontinental” according to Putin—presumably because it “glides” rather than burning fuel. Most of the details of both weapons are not public information.
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