Category Archives: Eurasian Axis

Ten Percent, by Robert Gore

Putin has spoken softly, but he’s carrying a big stick.

During his State of the Nation address on March 1, Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia had developed six new weapons. For Putin’s descriptions of the weapons and more details about them, please read the above-linked article by Alexander Mercouris, which was posted on SLL.

Four of the six weapons Putin mentioned are, if Putin is to be believed, already developed: the Sarmat heavy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), a nuclear powered cruise missile, a nuclear powered underwater drone, and an aircraft launched Kinzhai hypersonic missile. They are breathtaking for their speed, range, maneuverability, undetectability, and miniaturization of nuclear reactor technology. The other two, the Avangard hypersonic projectile and laser weapons (which Putin only cryptically mentioned), are believed to be still under development.

Hypersonic means a minimum of at least 5 times the speed of sound (Mach 1 or 741 mph, Mach 5 is 3705 mph). Putin claimed the Kinzhai hypersonic missile travels at Mach 10 (7410 mph). The Avangard hypersonic projectile may hit Mach 20 (14020 mph). Intercepting missiles traveling at supersonic speeds (Mach 1 to Mach 5) has proven difficult enough. Even in the limited, controlled tests that have been conducted, present technology has not been 100 percent effective. Presumably, in real world situations they would be even less effective. The difficulties of intercepting weapons traveling at hypersonic speeds are obvious and daunting.

Compounding those difficulties are the weapons’ range and maneuverability. The Sarmat ICBM is believed to have range of at least 10,500 miles (Putin said it has “practically no range restrictions”) and can attack targets via either the North or South Pole (US missile defenses are oriented towards the North Pole). It is able to constantly maneuver at a speed of what is believed to be Mach 5 or Mach 6, and to carry 15 warheads with yields estimated at 150 to 300 kilotons (the Nagasaki atomic bomb had a yield of 23 kilotons).

Powering cruise missiles and underwater drones (both of which can carry nuclear warheads) with miniature nuclear reactors gives them virtually unlimited range. Putin claimed the Kinzhai missile, “can also manoeuvre at all phases of its flight trajectory, which also allows it to overcome all existing and, I think, prospective anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems.”

The underwater drone deserves special mention. Here’s Putin’s summary.

Now, we all know that the design and development of unmanned weapon systems is another common trend in the world. As concerns Russia, we have developed unmanned submersible vehicles that can move at great depths (I would say extreme depths) intercontinentally, at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, cutting-edge torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels, including some of the fastest. It is really fantastic. They are quiet, highly manoeuvrable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them.

Unmanned underwater vehicles can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications and infrastructure.

In December 2017, an innovative nuclear power unit for this unmanned underwater vehicle completed a test cycle that lasted many years. The nuclear power unit is unique for its small size while offering an amazing power-weight ratio. It is a hundred times smaller than the units that power modern submarines, but is still more powerful and can switch into combat mode, that is to say, reach maximum capacity, 200 times faster. The tests that were conducted enabled us to begin developing a new type of strategic weapon that would carry massive nuclear ordnance.

Putin, State of the Nation Address

According to Mercouris, the “massive nuclear ordnance” could create a tsunami wave 500 meters tall, which would radioactively contaminate a large swath of any coastal area where it was detonated. Equipped with conventional warheads, the underwater drone renders aircraft carriers (which cost $13 billion apiece, the US has 14 on order), and perhaps submarines, obsolete.

You can call a bluff if you can take the loss if you’re wrong. Some policymakers and media are saying Putin’s bluffing, but acting accordingly would be gambling with the security of the American people. The US can’t afford to be wrong.

Putin said the new weapons were defensive and retaliatory, but their potential offensive capabilities are obvious. He offered talks and negotiations. That should be explored, but sanguinely accepting his assurances that his weapon’s are purely defensive would be psychotically suicidal. The only rational course is to assume that he is, as he said in his speech, not bluffing, and further, that these weapons could be used offensively.

!n 1949, the Soviet Union’s unexpected atomic bomb detonation necessitated the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD): any offensive use of nuclear weaponry would be met with retaliatory nuclear strikes that would destroy the attacking side. That was the cornerstone of both countries’ nuclear policy, enshrined in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. The ABM Treaty banned defensive missile systems that might have given one side the ability to attack, then stop the other’s incoming nuclear missiles and consequently, their ability to retaliate against that offensive strike with assured destruction.

The US withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002. This was reportedly the impetus for Russia’s decision to develop the weapons that have, according to Putin, rendered US missile defense systems “useless.” George Bush and Dick Cheney thought American military and economic “superiority” would bury Russia. They were disastrously wrong. It’s too bad there are no pictures equivalent to Bush landing on the aircraft carrier with the Mission Accomplished banner to commemorate this folly, which far surpasses his Iraq misadventures.

Russia has discredited the last several decades of US foreign and military policy. With a defense budget about 10 percent of the US’s, the Russians now have developed weapons for which we have no defense (unless the US has already developed an undisclosed defense, which is unlikely). This of course puts to rest the insane idea, floated recently in some neoconservative circles, of a “winnable” nuclear war with Russia. It also junks the concept touted in the recent Nuclear Posture Review of lowering the threshold for which the US will use nuclear weapons.

That 10 percent number brings into sharp relief just how much money the US has squandered on the military. Since the turn of the century Russia has pursued an essentially defensive military policy and used its limited resources to develop these sophisticated new weapons. The US has wasted many trillions of dollars making war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and other remote and irrelevant-to-the-defense-of-the-US plots of third world real estate.

One trillion dollars would fund Russian military spending at current levels for about 14 years. The recent increase in the US defense budget is greater than Russia’s annual spending. Yet they have the weapons that are only “under development” in the US. No doubt when the US finally develops them, their price tag will be many times what the Russians have paid. It’s a good bet the Chinese—the US’s other geopolitical competitor and Russia’ ally—will also have them before the US does. But here’s a nifty idea. While we’re waiting on the president, Congress, the Department of Defense and its contractors to play catch up, why not attack Iran…or North Korea?

Maintaining its faltering empire, the US spends billions each year on an estimated 800 bases in over 150 countries. The profligacy is such that precise numbers for spending, the number of bases, and the countries in which they are located are publicly unavailable, although such information surely resides in the bowels of the Pentagon somewhere.

Waste in the military-industrial-intelligence complex is legendary, rivaled only by waste in the welfare-education-medical-pensions complex. The Pentagon has never been audited, undoubtedly because of what any competent team of auditors would uncover. Putin (and the Chinese) must be hoping that the US warfare-welfare state falls later rather than sooner, continuing its massive drain on American resources.

These weapons put yet another nail in the Russia collusion fabrication. With this kind of arsenal, why would Putin care one whit who’s president of the United States? He’s been more than happy to let Americans waste their time, money, and energy on trivialities, internal bickering, and useless foreign wars. Meanwhile, he has overseen a Russian leapfrog of the US’s military capabilities and assuredly made the price of any attack on Russia the attacker’s complete destruction.

The question of whether the US political system can rise to Putin’s challenge just about answers itself.

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China Steps Into The Middle East Maelstrom, by James Dorsey

Will China get stuck on the Middle Eastern tar baby like everyone else has? From James Dorsey via

The Middle East has a knack for sucking external powers into its conflicts. China’s ventures into the region have shown how difficult it is to maintain its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

China’s abandonment of non-interference is manifested by its (largely ineffective) efforts to mediate conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan as well as between Israel and Palestine and even between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is even more evident in China’s trashing of its vow not to establish foreign military bases, which became apparent when it established a naval base in Djibouti and when reports surfaced that it intends to use Pakistan’s deep sea port of Gwadar as a military facility.

This contradiction between China’s policy on the ground and its long-standing non-interventionist foreign policy principles means that Beijing often struggles to meet the expectations of Middle Eastern states. It also means that China risks tying itself up in political knots in countries such as Pakistan, which is home to the crown jewel of its Belt and Road Initiative — the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Middle Eastern autocrats have tried to embrace the Chinese model of economic liberalism coupled with tight political control. They see China’s declared principle of non-interference in the affairs of others for what it is: support for authoritarian rule. The principle of this policy is in effect the same as the decades-old US policy of opting for stability over democracy in the Middle East.

It is now a risky policy for the United States and China to engage in given the region’s post-Arab Spring history with brutal and often violent transitions. If anything, instead of having been ‘stabilised’ by US and Chinese policies, the region is still at the beginning of a transition process that could take up to a quarter of a century to resolve.

There is no guarantee that autocrats will emerge as the winners.

China currently appears to have the upper hand against the United States for influence across the greater Middle East, but Chinese policies threaten to make that advantage short-term at best.

To continue reading: China Steps Into The Middle East Maelstrom

How regional rivalries threaten to fuel the fire in Syria and Iran, by James M. Dorsey

Proxy wars are not over in either Syria or Iraq. This article illustrates why the only way the US is ever going to “win” in the Middle East is to get out. The Middle East is centuries-old rivalries that have seen many outsiders have their heads handed to them. The US is not exempt. From James M. Dorsey at

Turkish allegations of Saudi, Emirati and Egyptian support for the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) threaten to turn Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds aligned with the PKK into a regional imbroglio.

The threat is magnified by Iranian assertions that low-intensity warfare is heating up in areas of the Islamic republic populated by ethnic minorities, including the Kurds in the northwest and the Baloch on the border with Pakistan.

Taken together, the two developments raise the spectre of a potentially debilitating escalation of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as an aggravation of the eight-month-old Gulf crisis that has pitted Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar, which has forged close ties to Turkey.

The United Arab Emirates and Egypt rather than Saudi Arabia have taken the lead in criticizing Turkey’s incursion into Syria designed to remove US-backed Kurds from the countries’ border and create a 30-kilometer deep buffer zone.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the incursion by a non-Arab state signalled that Arab states would be marginalized if they failed to develop a national security strategy.

Egypt, for its part, condemned the incursion as a “fresh violation of Syrian sovereignty” that was intended to “undermine the existing efforts for political solutions and counter-terrorism efforts in Syria,”

Despite Saudi silence, Yeni Safak, a newspaper closely aligned with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), charged that a $1 billion Saudi contribution to the reconstruction of Raqqa, the now Syrian Kurdish-controlled former capital of the Islamic State, was evidence of the kingdom’s involvement in what it termed a “dirty game.”

To continue reading: How regional rivalries threaten to fuel the fire in Syria and Iran

Behind Korea, Iran and Russia Tensions: The Lurking Financial War, by Alastair Crooke

Several countries who do not consider themselves friends of the US are moving away from US economic and financial dominance. That’s fueling tensions. From Alastair Crooke at

What have the tensions between the US and North Korea, Iran and Russia in common? Answer: It is that they are components to a wider financial war. Russia and Iran (together with China) happen to be the three key players shaping a huge (almost half the global population) alternative currency zone. The North Korean issue is important as it potentially may precipitate the US – depending on events – towards a more aggressive policy toward China (whether out of anger at Chinese hesitations over Korea, or as part and parcel of the US Administration’s desire to clip China’s trading wings).

The US has embarked on a project to restore America’s economic primacy through suppressing its main trade competitors (through quasi-protectionism), and in the military context to ensure America’s continued political dominance. The US ‘America First’National Security Strategy made it plain: China and Russia are America’s ‘revisionist’ adversaries, and the US must and intends to win in this competition. The sub-text is that potential main rivals must be reminded of their ‘place’ in the global order. This part is clear and quite explicit, but what is left unsaid is that America is staking all on the dollar’s global, reserve currency status being maintained, for without it, President Trump’s aims are unlikely to be delivered. The dollar status is crucial – precisely because of what has occurred in the wake of the Great Financial crisis – the explosion of further debt.

But here is a paradox: how is it that a Presidential Candidate who promised less military belligerence, less foreign intervention, and no western cultural-identity imposition, has, in the space of one year, become, as President, a hawk in respect to Korea and Iran.  What changed in his thinking?  The course being pursued by both states was well-known, and has offered no sudden surprise (though North Korea’s progress may have proved quantitatively more rapid than, perhaps, US Intelligence was expecting: i.e. instead of 2020 – 2021, North Korea may have achieved its weapons objective in 2018 – some two years or so earlier that estimated)?  But essentially Korea’s desire to be accepted as a nuclear weapon state is nothing new.

To continue reading: Behind Korea, Iran and Russia Tensions: The Lurking Financial War

The Petro-Yuan Bombshell and Its Relation to the New US Security Doctrine, by Pepe Escobar

Surprise, surprise, the countries the US’s latest National Security Strategy calls revisionist powers and rivals are moving away from the US dollar as a reserve currency. From Pepe Escobar at

The new 55-page “America First” National Security Strategy (NSS), drafted over the course of 2017, defines Russia and China as “revisionist” powers, “rivals,” and for all practical purposes strategic competitors of the United States.

 The NSS stops short of defining Russia and China as enemies, allowing for an “attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries.” Still, Beijing qualified it as “reckless” and “irrational.” The Kremlin noted its “imperialist character” and “disregard for a multipolar world.” Iran, predictably, is described by the NSS as “the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism.” 

Russia, China and Iran happen to be the three key movers and shakers in the ongoing geopolitical and geo-economic process of Eurasia integration.

The NSS can certainly be regarded as a response to what happened at the BRICS summit in Xiamen last September. Then, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on “the BRIC countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies,” and stressed the need to “overcome the excessive domination of a limited number of reserve currencies.”

Yes, this is photoshopped, but still very apt – the whole world is wondering what his next move will be …

That was a clear reference to the US dollar, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of total reserve currency around the world and remains the benchmark determining the price of energy and strategic raw materials.

And that brings us to the unnamed secret at the heart of the NSS; the Russia-China “threat” to the US dollar.

The CIPS/SWIFT face-off

The website of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) recently announcedthe establishment of a yuan-ruble payment system, hinting that similar systems regarding other currencies participating in the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will also be in place in the near future.    

Crucially, this is not about reducing currency risk; after all Russia and China have increasingly traded bilaterally in their own currencies since the 2014 US-imposed sanctions on Russia. This is about the implementation of a huge, new alternative reserve currency zone, bypassing the US dollar.

To continue reading: The Petro-Yuan Bombshell and Its Relation to the New US Security Doctrine

Iran to Join EAEU – 45 Years of Foreign Policy Down the Drain, by Tom Luongo

The US has tried to isolate, pressure, and sanction Iran since the Iranian revolution in 1979. The policy has failed. From Tom Luongo at

Iran is joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). By early next year, February by this account, Iran will join the five founding members of the Union and open the door for Turkey to do so later in 2018.

Between this and the end of the war in Syria, it’s not hard to declare the Brzezinski Doctrine of U.S.-led Central Asian chaos as gasping its last breaths.

Iran finally joining the EAEU is a response to a number of factors, the most important of which is the continued belligerence by the U.S. Expanded economic sanctions on Iran and the EAEU’s leader Russia has created the need for greater coordination of economic and foreign policy objectives between them.

And it is creating the new realities in the region that will reshape the word for the next hundred years.

The Nuclear Gambit

In the dying days of the Obama administration it looked like the goal was to placate Iran to stop its pivot towards Russia and China. I believe that was the driving force behind Obama’s negotiating the controversial nuclear deal.

In effect, Obama tried to trade unfreezing Iran’s hundreds of billions in assets held in Western banks for Iran to ignore our atomization of Syria and the creation of a complete mess there.

When you stop to think about it like that how venal are we? After putting Iran under economic lockdown, having frozen its accounts, barring them from interbank communication with customers (SWIFT removal), inducing hyperinflation to sow regime change they would agree to allowing its ally, Syria, to be handed over to Wahabist animals.

In exchange they would repudiate Russisa and be thankful for the opportunity to get their money back by signing a deal which forbade them from obtaining nuclear weapons?

Such is the ‘logic’ of the mental midgets running our foreign policy under Obama.

So, now, having assisted Russia and the Syrian army in defeating ISIS Iran is making the smart move by further integrating its economy in need of diversification and investment by joining an economic union which should align all of Central Asia’s interests along a similar path.

Chaos no longer. Zbigniew Brzezinski isn’t just dead, his strategy is as well.

Left to the likes of Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and the dimbulbs of the Bush the Lesser administration before them, these buffoons were outplayed at every turn by Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

And the world will soon be a better place for it.

To continue reading: Iran to Join EAEU – 45 Years of Foreign Policy Down the Drain

Gold dealer’s testimony puts Erdogan on shaky ground, by M. K. Bhadrakumar

Turkey is always interesting by virtue of its geography at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It is especially interesting now; it may be switching its allegiance from the US and NATO to Russia. A corruption scandal may reach all the way up to Turkish President Erdogan. From M.K. Bhadrakumar at

As on the soccer field in his youth, so in a tumultuous political career spanning four decades: Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has consistently shown his mettle as a fighter who won’t be satisfied with anything short of total victory. But in the battle that is now unfolding around him, and which is besieging him, there isn’t going to be a winner.

What is at stake is survival – the chance to live another day, even if in some ignominy. That much is clear from the opening testimony in a federal courtroom in New York on Wednesday from the Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who allegedly helped Tehran sidestep US sanctions to export oil with the connivance of corrupt Turkish high officials and then to launder the income.

When the principal accused becomes the star witness in a US court, he has possibly struck a deal with the authorities. The remaining ambiguity is with regard to when it was that Zarrab struck the deal – was it when he landed in Miami 18 months ago, ostensibly to show his young son around Disneyland, or before he was spirited out of Turkey to America on the express understanding that he’d get clemency for providing hard evidence to nail Erdogan.

Zarrab explained before the court the elaborate scheme he orchestrated to free “a few billion euros” of Iran’s sanctioned oil using funds deposited in the Turkish state-owned Halkbank which were used to buy gold that was subsequently smuggled to Dubai and sold for cash. (The FBI also nabbed a senior functionary of Halkbank, Hakan Atilla, who is on trial.)

Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab is shown in a court room sketch as he appears in Manhattan federal court in New York. Photo: Reuters / Jane Rosenberg

Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab is shown in a court room sketch as he appears in Manhattan federal court in New York. Photo: Reuters / Jane Rosenberg

Zarrab named a confidant of Erdogan, the former Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, as having taken bribes amounting to over US$60 million and also implicated Turkey’s Aktif Bank, which is part of a holding company headed at the time by Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak (the current energy minister). Zarrab is due to testify again. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

To continue reading: Gold dealer’s testimony puts Erdogan on shaky ground