Adam Schiff’s Senate speech, a part of the impeachment charade, encapsulates the Washington’s ginned-up Russia hysteria. From Daniel Lazare at antiwar.com:
All the usual suspects are praising Adam Schiff’s marathon two-and-a-half-hour Senate speech on Wednesday to the skies. Neocon columnist Jennifer Rubin calls it “a grand slam” in the Washington Post. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin describes it as “dazzling” on CNN. New York Times columnist Gail Collins says it was “a great job” and that Schiff is “a rock star” for pulling it off.
But in fact it was the opposite – a fear-mongering, sword-rattling harangue that will not only raise tensions with Russia for no good reason, but sends a chilling message to dissidents at home that if they deviate from Russiagate orthodoxy by one iota, they’ll be driven from the fold.
What is that orthodoxy? It’s that Russia invaded poor innocent Ukraine in 2014, that it interfered in the US presidential election in 2016 in order to hurt Hillary Clinton and propel Donald Trump into the White House, and that it’s now trying to smear Joe Biden merely because he had allowed his son to take a high-paying job with a notorious Ukrainian oligarch at a time when he was supposedly heading up the Ukrainian anti-corruption effort.
Many of the factors responsible for the fading of US military dominance are directly attributable to US actions and policy. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:
Starting from the presidency of George W. Bush to that of Trump, the U.S. has made some missteps that not only reduce its influence in strategic regions of the world but also its ability to project power and thus impose its will on those unwilling to genuflect appropriately.
Some examples from the recent past will suffice to show how a series of strategic errors have only accelerated the U.S.’s hegemonic decline.
ABM + INF = Hypersonic Supremacy
The decision to invade Afghanistan following the events of September 11, 2001, while declaring an “axis of evil” to be confronted that included nuclear-armed North Korea and budding regional hegemon Iran, can be said to be the reason for many of the most significant strategic problems besetting the U.S..
The U.S. often prefers to disguise its medium- to long-term objectives by focusing on supposedly more immediate and short-term threats. Thus, the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and its deployment of the Aegis Combat System (both sea- and land-based) as part of the NATO missile defense system, was explained as being for the purposes of defending European allies from the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles. This argument held little water as the Iranians had neither the capability nor intent to launch such missiles.
President Trump must be impeached because the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! From Daniel Lazare at antiwar.com:
Jason Crow, the ex-Army Ranger turned congressman whom Nancy Pelosi has named as one of seven impeachment managers in the trial of Donald Trump, has dropped a broad hint about what angle Democratic prosecutors will pursue: it will be about national security and protecting our troops.
“This is about the abuse of power, it’s about jeopardizing our national security, our troops, it’s about undermining our free and fair elections,” Crow told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. Withholding some $391 million in military aid, he argued, didn’t just harm Ukrainian defense, but that of the US as well.
It’s a theme that Democrats have sounded repeatedly since the impeachment process began in September, and it’s one that Crow also stresses at nearly every opportunity. In late September, he and six other Democrats who are military or intelligence-agency veterans co-authored a Washington Post op-ed declaring that the hold on military aid amounted to nothing less than “a national security threat” – not against the Ukraine, but against the US. A week later, he told MSNBC that US-made weapons like the Javelin missile “are needed to prevent T-72, Russian T-72 tanks, from moving forward and invading Ukraine. We have tens of thousands of US troops in Europe that are in harm’s way if that would happen, so I take this very personally.” A week after that, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper:
What does Vladimir Putin’s recent shakeup of the Russian government mean? From Dmitry Orlov at cluborlov.blogspot.com:
Two days ago Vladimir Putin delivered his annual address before the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and since then I have received a flurry of emails and comments from people asking me to explain what he meant. I don’t want to make assumptions about the depth of your interest in Russian affairs, and so, to save you time, let me start by providing a very short executive summary: Putin will step down as president after his current term, which will end in 2024 unless an early election is held, but the system he has put in place will stay in place. Essentially, life after Putin will be more Putin under a different name. If that’s all you care about, you can stop reading now.
To delve deeper, we need to draw a distinction between Putin the man and the system of governance he has built over the past 20 years. There is always plenty to complain about, but overall it has been quite effective. During Putin’s period in power, Russia has solved the problems of separatism and domestic terrorism, reigned in the predatory oligarchy, paid off virtually all of its foreign debts including ones it inherited from the USSR, grew its economy by a factor of six (vs. China’s five and USA’s one), regained Crimea (which had been part of Russia since 1783), rebuilt its armed forces to a point where international security is no longer a major concern, and achieved an overall level of societal well-being that is unparalleled in all of Russian history.
As long as Russia and the US can wipe each other out with nuclear weapons, Russia’s vaunted hypersonic weapons don’t really change the strategic calculus. From Michael Brenner at consortiumnews.com:
The West is out of practice when it comes to serious strategic appraisal of the U.S.-Russian arms race, writes Michael Brenner.
Part of an exhibition of advanced weapons and equipment that President Vladimir Putin visited in December 2019. (The Kremlin)
Deployment of Russia’s hyper-sonic missiles is causing heartburn in the West. Media headline the news as a dramatic breakthrough on a par with the first Sputnik. “Experts” are rushed into play like those self-styled pundits pronouncing when the initial exit polls appear on Election Day. Pentagon officials assure us that the United States is at the top of the nuclear game and able to respond to (if not exactly match) anything that the Russians can put out there.
Ninety eight percent of all this instant reaction is “fog-horning.” It simply signals that something big and important is out there even though we don’t have a clear picture of its actual shape or dimensions — or its significance. That’s normal. What counts is moving swiftly to the “searchlight” stage of close observation and hard thinking.
Whether analysts, official or otherwise, get there is problematic. We’re out of practice when it comes to serious strategic appraisal. After all, we’ve been flailing about in Afghanistan for almost two decades with no realistic aim or evaluation of the chances of achieving it by whatever means at whatever cost. The disorientation on Syria is even greater. There, we haven’t as much as figured out who are the “bad guys” and who are the “good guys” — except for ISIS.
The US sees a huge challenge to its power coming from Russia, China, and Iran and it’s going to do everything it can to stop it. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:
Iranian seamen salute the Russian Navy frigate Yaroslav Mudry while moored at Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman during Iran-Russia-China joint naval drills. The photo was provided by the Iranian Army office on December 27, 2019. Photo: AFP / HO / Iranian Army office
Coming decade could see the US take on Russia, China and Iran over the New Silk Road connection
The Raging Twenties started with a bang with the targeted assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani.
Yet a bigger bang awaits us throughout the decade: the myriad declinations of the New Great Game in Eurasia, which pits the US against Russia, China and Iran, the three major nodes of Eurasia integration.
Every game-changing act in geopolitics and geoeconomics in the coming decade will have to be analyzed in connection to this epic clash.
The Deep State and crucial sectors of the US ruling class are absolutely terrified that China is already outpacing the “indispensable nation” economically and that Russia has outpaced it militarily. The Pentagon officially designates the three Eurasian nodes as “threats.”
Hybrid War techniques – carrying inbuilt 24/7 demonization – will proliferate with the aim of containing China’s “threat,” Russian “aggression” and Iran’s “sponsorship of terrorism.” The myth of the “free market” will continue to drown under the imposition of a barrage of illegal sanctions, euphemistically defined as new trade “rules.”
Putin is apparently trying to ensure that Russia has reasonably good governance even after he has stepped down. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
It came as the biggest shock of the day on Wednesday. The Russian government resigned. The day before President Vladimir Putin gave his State of the Nation address and outlined a slate of constitutional changes.
That speech prompted an overhaul of Russia’s government.
Putin’s plan is to devolve some of the President’s overwhelming power to the legislature and the State Council, while beefing up the Constitutional Court’s ability to provide checks on legislation.
In Wednesday’s State of the Nation Address, Putin put forward a number of initiatives changing the framework of power structures at all levels, from municipal authorities to the president. The initiatives particularly stipulate that the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, including the Constitutional Court, will be expanded. The president also proposed to expand the role of the Russian State Council. Putin suggested giving the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) the right to approve the appointment of the country’s prime minister, deputy prime ministers and ministers.
The bigger shock was that in response to this Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev dissolved the current government willingly and resigned as Prime Minister.
Within hours Putin recommended Federal Tax Service chief, Mikhail Mishustin as Prime Minister. The State Duma approved Putin’s recommendation and Mishustin was sworn in by Putin all within a day.