Inflating the Russian Threat

Continuing on the theme of the military industrial boondoggle, in my latest piece for RT (which you can read here) I discuss how the Western security community has long been inventing or exaggerating threats. The nature of the threat continually changes, but one thing remains constant – the claim that the world is becoming ever more dangerous. Having shifted from failed states to ethnic conflict to rogue states to terrorism to hybrid warfare, the threat generation industry has now returned to state-on-state warfare as the scenario designed to frighten people, with a focus on the allegedly military superiority that the Russian Federation enjoys over NATO. I look at some of these claims, and demonstrate why they are nonsense. The Russian army has improved in recent years, but an attack on NATO would be suicidal. Efforts to suggest anything else are scaremongering, pure and simple.

21 thoughts on “Inflating the Russian Threat”

  1. Look at the defense contract connections regarding the likes of Blinken, Austin and Ben Hodges.

    Have to makeup some kind of threat that includes this dumb as a rock comment:

    https://www.rt.com/russia/519708-general-world-war-disgust/

    The man has been making anti-Russian comments for quite some time. On par with denying the tragic fate of the Jews. Hodges does this in company where he isn’t challenged. This is okay with Joe Scarborough, who openly supports a selective fact checking when it comes to Russia.

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    1. Un-freaking-believable.

      Lieutenant General. Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

      We thought we had hit rock bottom when someone knocked from down below…

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      1. He was speaking before a pro-Bandera gathering:

        Yushchenko’s wife once headed the pro-Bandera influenced Captive Nations Committee. A pro-Russian/anti-Soviet view of that org and the holiday it helped put in place:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20050205051751/http://russian-americans.org/CRA_Art_Captive.htm

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      2. Crazy, indeed.

        To Steinmeier and me, as should be the case for every single German at least, matters are obvious. The question is to what extent do your institutional interests make the twisting of basic facts necessary.

        European Policy Analysis (CEPA), a Washington and Warsaw-based pressure group that promotes the agenda of US military contractors in Eastern Europe. In addition to arms industry interests, it is also funded by the US State Department and NATO.

        And maybe more interesting for me, maybe since I am getting a little tired of Trump-the-vicitimized-outsider. To what extent did the Trump administration change anything in the US approach to Eastern Europe and Russia?

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  2. Prof. Robinson: “Only a small fraction of the Russian army has acquired combat experience in foreign operations. Thus, as a whole, the armed forces can’t be called “battle hardened.”

    Maybe they are talking about the dedovshchina?
    🙂

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  3. Professor,

    I regard Russia to be roughly 1/2 to 1/3 as strong as the USA overall.

    I would however maintan that, in a conflict between the USA and Russia, Russia would be able to marshall a great fraction of her resources to the task at hand.

    In my view, there are plenty of conflict in history where the weaker power in such a situation received an outright military victory. The Russo-Japanese war being perhaps the prime relevant, if somewhat ironic example.

    Given US arrogance (the endless US hyping of Russias supposed hybrid war threat could have the result of making US officials believe that Russia is a “hybrid war threat” and solve this by escalating things to a conventional military exchange. This of course is sheer folly, Russia comparitive strength relative to the USA is lowest in a propaganda war setting in greatest in a setting of actual war), misallocation of resources, non existing air defens, long logistical supply lines, inept leadership and distances involved, a localized fight between US+ a coaltiion of the willing vs Russias armed forces could well end in a crushing US defeat on the battlefield.

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    1. One should also factor into the equation that Russia will be fighting on its own home turf, which gives a “home team” advantage.
      Due to the simple truth that Russia will not be invading the U.S., but the U.S. will be invading Russia.

      Like the sad saying goes, “First Napoleon, then Hitler, who’s next?”

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      1. The main reason why Vietnam prevailed was that Vietnamese cared a lot more about the war, which was of an existential conflict for them, then Americans did. This in turn caused the different “yield threshold”.

        I would maintain that a US victory was, short of Americans actually performing ethnic cleansing and settling in Vietnam en masse, not realistic.

        If one compares the Vietname war, a US defeat, to the KOrean war, a draw, the following differences spring to mind.

        1: In Korea, battlefield successes of the US on land where sufficient to get the Chinese directly involved. China was a fairly autonomous power, and made its own decisions. Not bordering the USA was an existential concern for the Chinese, establishing North Korean rule over the entirety of the Korean peninsula much less so. Similar things applied to the Soviet Union, which only got involved using “not that plausible deniability rules” in the air war but did not engange the UN armed forces on land or sea. The Soviets did not want to directly border a direct US colony close to Vladivostok, if they could avoid it, but while they looked favorably towards North Korea ruling all Korea, they were unwilling to risk a conventional, let alone nuclear exchange over it. A truce was thus acceptable to both of North Koreas patrons.
        Likewise, the US was willing to fight quite a bit to prevent South Korea from falling to the north, but its will to enforce southern rule over north Korea was far more restrained.

        2: In Vietnam by contrast, well, the US never pressured the NVA enough to make them cry uncle and ask China for direct military assistance (this would happen at a lower pressure point then the NVA actually seeking peace on US terms). USSR and China were both completely willing to fight America, in Vietnam, until the last Vietnamese. America was losing conscripts in Vietnam, the soviets occassionally lost anti air specialists in far lower numbers. USSR/CHINA/North Vietnam could fundamentally keep this up for ever, the US could not.

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      2. 2: In Vietnam by contrast, well, the US never pressured the NVA enough to make them cry uncle and ask China for direct military assistance (this would happen at a lower pressure point then the NVA actually seeking peace on US terms). USSR and China were both completely willing to fight America, in Vietnam, until the last Vietnamese. America was losing conscripts in Vietnam, the soviets occassionally lost anti air specialists in far lower numbers. USSR/CHINA/North Vietnam could fundamentally keep this up for ever, the US could not.

        You are a political analyst? You would insist on the commas above vs?:
        USSR and China were both completely willing to fight America in Vietnam until the last Vietnamese.

        Would you mind putting “2” into some kind of nutshell for me`, the nitwit?

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    2. If a small country like Vietnam could beat the USA what chance does the USA have against Russia ?

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      1. Within my highly limited mental horizon, I read Colonel Pat Lang’s references to Vietnam more generally as this: America wasn’t really defeated in Vietnam, it was defeated on the US home ground. Those misguided 1968ers, you know.

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      2. @moon, that’s one of the Great American Myths: that they did not lose the Vietnam war on the ground, but only because traitorous Fifth Column demoralized the American people and robbed the troops of their rightful victory.

        It’s a myth!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The Vietnam war is an interesting case. Based on various analysis one may point to three important aspects which had led to the final outcome as we know it:
    1. It was assumed at the time that at some level of attrition Vietnam would sue for peace. In fact it was American society which was much more sensitive to that factor.
    2. American war planners were projecting concepts of highly developed society onto poor, underdeveloped country where importance of the infrastructure was secondary to the manual effort by a significant section of the population.
    3. Blind faith in the “technology of destruction” as pointed out in “The Perfect War. Technology in Vietnam”.

    Are there any lesson to be learnt in view of possible military confrontation between NATO and Russia and/or China?

    Regards,

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  5. @ Moon,

    I like analyzing things, I also believe that all analysis are inherently wrong/flawed, however, some may still improve understanding (in geopolitical competition, the side with the less wrong analysis has a major advantadge).

    The Soviet Union liked to support both North Korea and North Vietnam as “deniably” as they could get away with, in the case of Korea this required the intervention of Russian air force (pretending to be Chinese) with a peak strength of iirc 3 fighter regiments led by Ivan Kozhedub.

    In Vietnam, the Soviets did send air defense specialists, officially to instruct and advice Vietname anti air personell but unofficially they also shot and got shot at. Chinas support for Vietnam was more important, particularly in terms of supplies/equipment. The main thing is, the overwhelming bulk of the fighting on the communist side was conducted by Vietnamese forces, while the western side already required the direct intervention of US (as well as some pretty effective South Korean) forces. Essentially, the Communist side could still climb up several meaningfull steps up the escalation ladder, such as directly introducing “totally Vietnamese” Chinese ground forces, establishing Mig Alley 2.0 over Hanoi etc., which where short of nuclear war. Meanwhile, the US only had nuclear war left as a threat which wasnt all that credible.

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    1. Analyzing things… however, some may still improve understanding (in geopolitical competition, the side with the less wrong analysis has a major advantadge).

      Yes, a necessary standard, true for a lot of fields not simply geopolitics.
      Strictly I understood, reading it more carefully, again. 😉

      Concerning Vietnam, I once stumbled across a senior here on my home ground, at one point in his earlier life he had served in the French Légion étrangère in Vietnam.

      Thanks for responding. Vaguely familiar with a lot of what you write, except for the Russian air force pretending to be Chinese. Earlier similar incidences?

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  6. “…The Russian army has improved in recent years, but an attack on NATO would be suicidal. Efforts to suggest anything else are scaremongering, pure and simple.”

    But an attack on the RF would also be suicidal. Therefore, it can’t be bullied. Therefore, it can act independently, not obeying the so-called “rules-based international order”. Therefore, it’s a threat.

    This is perfectly logical. It’s openly declared, and it’s pretty much the official line.

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  7. Я удивлен, что запад живет в страхе. Вспомните пирамиду потребностей Абрахама Маслоу. Потребность в безопасности это первый уровень этой пирамиды. Россияне уже давно перешагнули эту ступеньку. Мы жаждем самоактуализации, а не войны. Дайте нам эту возможность и мы будем самыми мирными на планете земля. Мы же давно уже впитали все ценности запада. Но не просто их проглотили, а разжевали и создали свое. Я психолог и очень много людей консультировал. Нравственность, совесть, доброта, любовь… Это для нас не просто слова. Это то к чему стремится Русский человек. Запад не поймет нас именно потому, что пытается нас понять через призмы эгоизма.

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