Category Archives: Military

The Saker Interviews Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov’s perspective on Russia and its environs is both provocative and probably far closer to the truth than anything promulgated within the US government. This interview is long but well worth the read. From the Saker at unz.com:

“I think that the American empire is very much over already, but it hasn’t been put to any sort of serious stress test yet, and so nobody realizes that this is the case”

If I had to characterize the current international situation using only one word, the word “chaos” would be a pretty decent choice (albeit not the only one). Chaos in the Ukraine, chaos in Venezuela, chaos everywhere the Empire is involved in any capacity and, of course, chaos inside the US. But you wouldn’t know that listening to the talking heads and other “experts” who serve roughly the same function for the Empire as the orchestra did on the Titanic: to distract from the developing disaster(s) for a long as possible.

I decided to turn to the undisputed expert on social and political collapse, Dmitry Orlov whom I have always admired for his very logical, non-ideological, comparative analyses of the collapse of the USSR and the US. The fact that his detractors have to resort to crude and, frankly, stupid ad hominems further convinces me that Dmitry’s views need to be widely shared. Dmitry very kindly agreed to reply to my questions in some detail, for which I am most grateful. I hope that you will find this interview as interesting as I did.

The Saker

* * *

The Saker: How would you assess the current situation in the Ukraine in terms of social, economic and political collapse?

Dmitry Orlov: The Ukraine has never been viable as an independent, sovereign state and so its ongoing disintegration is to be expected. The applicability of the concept of collapse is predicated on the existence of an intact, stand-alone entity capable of collapse, and with the Ukraine this is definitely not the case. Never in its history has it been able to stand alone as a stable, self-sufficient, sovereign entity. As soon as it gained independence, it just fell over. Just as the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), it had reached its peak of economic and social development just as the USSR was about to collapse, and it has been degenerating and losing population ever since. Thus, the right model for discussing it is not one of sudden collapse but of steady degeneration and decay.

The Ukraine’s territory was stuck together by the Bolsheviks—first by Lenin, then by Stalin, then by Khrushchev. It was Lenin who lumped in its eastern regions (Donetsk and Lugansk specifically) who previously were part of Russia proper. Stalin then added eastern lands, which were at various times Polish, Austro-Hungarian or Romanian. Finally, Khrushchev tossed in Russian Crimea in a move that was unconstitutional at the time, since no public referendum had been held in Crimea to decide this question as was required by the Soviet constitution.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight, by Philip Giraldi

The US is now the most belligerent country in the world. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.com:

Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

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Diego Garcia: The ‘Unsinkable Carrier’ Springs a Leak, by Conn Hallinan

What does the US military do when it thinks a small, foreign island would make a nice base? It leases it from the British, who took it from its inhabitants. They then moved them out. From Con Hallinan at antiwar.com:

The recent decision by the Hague-based International Court of Justice that the Chagos Islands – with its huge U.S. military base at Diego Garcia – are being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom (UK) has the potential to upend the strategic plans of a dozen regional capitals, ranging from Beijing to Riyadh.

For a tiny speck of land measuring only 38 miles in length, Diego Garcia casts a long shadow. Sometimes called Washington’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” planes and warships based on the island played an essential role in the first and second Gulf wars, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the war in Libya. Its strategic location between Africa and Indonesia and 1,000 miles south of India gives the US access to the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the vast Indian Ocean. No oil tanker, no warship, no aircraft can move without its knowledge.

Most Americans have never heard of Diego Garcia for a good reason: No journalist has been allowed there for more than 30 years, and the Pentagon keeps the base wrapped in a cocoon of national security. Indeed, the UK leased the base to the Americans in 1966 without informing either the British Parliament or the US Congress.

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Pentagon Obsession: China, China, China, by Pepe Escobar

While the US is geared for permanent war around the globe, the military strategies of its main adversaries, China and Russia, appear defensive and mostly centered on their home territories. From Pepe Escobar at strategic-culture.org:

Chinese nuclear bombers. Chinese hypersonic missiles. Chinese carrier killer missiles. Chinese cyberattacks. Chinese anti-satellite weaponry. Chinese militarization of the South China Sea. Chinese Huawei spying.

So many Chinese “malign intentions”. And we’re not even talking about Russia.

Few people around the world are aware that the Pentagon for the moment is led by a mere “acting” Defense Secretary, Patrick Shanahan.

That did not prevent “acting” Secretary to shine in the red carpet when presenting the Trump administration’s 2020 Pentagon budget proposal – at $718 billion – to the Senate Armed Services Committee: the top US national security threat is, in his own (repeated) words, “China, China, China”.

“Acting” Shanahan has been in charge since Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis – the original butcher of Fallujah in 2004 – resigned last December. His former employer happened to be Boeing. The Pentagon’s inspector general is still investigating whether Shanahan was in fact acting as a no holds barred Boeing commercial asset whenever he met the Pentagon top brass.

That, of course, fits the classic Beltway “revolving door” pattern. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a Washington-based group, actually filed a complaint around the fact that “acting” Shanahan blasted Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s competitor, in every top-level Pentagon meeting.

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With Friends Like These: Abusive Frenemies and American Mideast Policy, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

Our so-called friends in the Middle East do the US no favors. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Pop quiz: name the two largest (by far) recipients of U.S. foreign military aid and one other country which recently negotiated the biggest American arms sale deal in world history. Let’s call them the Big three (beneficiaries of largesse, that is). Need some hints? One is ruled by a dictatorial general who came to power in a coup and subsequently ordered the slaughter of some one thousand civilian protesters. Another regularly defies international law, has annexed conquered territory, and boasts a military that has shot to death 250 civilian protesters along its border over just the last year. Finally, the last country fatally starved upwards of 85,000 foreign children and still decapitates women for the crimes of “witchcraft” and “sorcery.” By the way, all three are rather tight with old Uncle Sam – regularly described as “partners” in Washington. Which reminds me of the old saying: with friends like these, who needs…well, you get it.

Ready for the (not-so) shocking answers? So, the military dictatorship is Egypt – recipient of $1.3 billion in military aid per annum. The nation that conquered and annexed adjacent territory is Israel – the donee of some $3.1 billion in military aid each year; and, ironically, the state that US leaders regularly (if incorrectly) tout as the “only democracy in the Mideast.” And the charming, child-starving, woman-beheading regime: that’s the theocracy and absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia – future owner (maybe) of a record $110 billion in US military equipment. Now that’s a proud lot!

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At Its 70th Birthday, NATO Is Militarily America’s Fifth Wheel, by Gilbert Doctorow

America doesn’t really need NATO. Of course, neither does the rest of the world, including Europe. From Gilbert Doctorow at antiwar.com:

As the 70th anniversary of the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization approaches on April 4th, Belgium’s Royal Higher Institute of Defense has published an article which will bring little cheer to staff at the luxurious NATO headquarters situated on the outskirts of Brussels, 15 kilometers away from my home office downtown.

The birthday present in question is entitled “NATO and American technological superiority: a risk for Euro-Atlantic solidarity,” e-Note 26, 18 March 2019. Coming from the pen of an associate of the Institute, Alain De Neve, this article in French has been researched and set out with high professionalism. It merits wide circulation in the English-speaking world which I alone cannot assure, but let us start the ball rolling here and now.

In this brief essay, I will summarize the reasoning of the author. Why this is worth your reading time comes down to the two main points which follow from what he is saying:

  1. That “America First” is not a policy that began with Donald Trump’s inauguration in office. It was long the underlying principle of US military and foreign policy, only it was generally concealed under the ideological coating of Liberalism within the political dimension of the Alliance that was puffed up in the 1990s to justify its role as provider of stability to the swathe of Central Europe of the former Warsaw Pact countries. NATO was first and foremost the platform for shared values of democracy and rule of law.

Trump, as we know, has no patience either with the values jargon, or with the soft power, political dimension of multilateral institutions like NATO, preferring to stick to the military and Realpolitik side of things. And so America’s naked and selfish pursuit of its interests, always present in the past, is now laid bare.

America First has been the guiding hand in the new military doctrine for the United States called the Third Offset Strategy which Barack Obama authorized in 2014. De facto it dispensed with the need for America to have allies, their being only encumbrances for reasons we shall see momentarily.

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Trump Should Close NATO Membership Rolls, by Patrick J. Buchanan

Thanks goodness they’ve ginned up the Russian threat, or NATO wouldn’t even have no figleaf at all to hide the fact that it was obsolete after the Soviet Union dissolved. From Patrick Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Among neocon and GOP interventionists, there has also long been a vocal constituency for bringing Ukraine into NATO…”

When Donald Trump meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today, the president should give him a direct message:

The roster of NATO membership is closed. For good. The United States will not hand out any more war guarantees to fight Russia to secure borders deep in Eastern Europe, when our own southern border is bleeding profusely.

And no one needs to hear this message more than Stoltenberg.

In Tblisi, Georgia, on March 25, Stoltenberg declared to the world: “The 29 allies have clearly stated that Georgia will become a member of NATO.”

As for Moscow’s objection to Georgia joining NATO, Stoltenberg gave Vladimir Putin the wet mitten across the face:

“We are not accepting that Russia, or any other power, can decide what (NATO) members can do.”

Yet what would it mean for Georgia to be brought into NATO?

The U.S. would immediately be ensnared in a conflict with Russia that calls to mind the 1938 and 1939 clashes over the Sudetenland and Danzig that led straight to World War II.

In 2008, thinking it had U.S. backing, Georgia rashly ordered its army into South Ossetia, a tiny province that had broken away years before.

In that Georgian invasion, Russian peacekeepers were killed and Putin responded by sending the Russian army into South Ossetia to throw the Georgians out. Then he invaded Georgia itself.

“We are all Georgians now!” roared uber-interventionist John McCain. But George W. Bush, by now a wiser man, did nothing.

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