This is depressing; I don’t blame you if you just click ‘Next’.
As if we haven’t already got enough problems, the US appears to have decided to position itself to win a nuclear war against any other power on Earth. I know that’s a pretty sweeping analysis, but it’s becoming unavoidable, especially when you observe the US’ response to North Korea.
First off, let’s dispense with the basic stuff. There are other countries with nuclear weapons but, other than Russia, they are generally not threats. Their weapons are generally a deterrent – a deterrent against US aggression mostly, though India and Pakistan form their own private deadly embrace. [If either of those countries started researching a long-range delivery that could reach North America, the shit would hit the fan and their lights would go out pretty fast] China has a substantial deterrent but does not have an offensive strike capability that is capable of neutralizing the US’ forces. China’s got about 60 ICBMs, which would be enough to either destroy millions in US cities, or disable about 1/10 of our nuclear forces. In other words, it’s pretty obvious to anyone who thinks about it that China is interested in making itself immune to US nuclear blackmail, and maintaining its regional power, but otherwise it’s not planning on ‘winning’ a thermonuclear war.
That leaves Russia.
Back in the USSR days, there was a fair threat that there could be a successful USSR first strike. That was back when Curtis LeMay was incompetently running the SAC, and everyone except the CIA (who knew, and propagated the meme) believed that there was a “bomber gap” – i.e.: that the soviets had 4-5 times as many bombers as they did, that the bombers were much better, that they were all carrying H-bombs, and that they were interested in starting a nuclear war. Then there was the “missile gap” which was also a great big lie, but sure, through most of the cold war the USSR had the capability for a suicide-strike on the US. I suppose there was some chance that they might have launched one, but the USSR’s worst leaders were never the kind of suicidal nihilists who would have done that sort of thing. It’s important to remember that when Gorbachev met with Reagan, the first thing he put on the table was a complete disarmament, which Reagan rejected after his advisors took him aside and gave him “noogies” or something. There’s a story that Reagan really wanted Star Wars but I believe that is mythical; Reagan was afraid what would happen to the US economy if he leaned away from global warfare. He was probably terrified of what the nuclear/congressional/military/industrial complex would do to him. [Answer: they would have disclosed his Alzheimers’ and nullified his actions]
Because of the “Mutual Assured Destruction” posture the US and USSR adopted, it was unreasonable through most of the cold war to fight a victorious nuclear war. That was because the cold war was a bilateral world.
That has changed. There is just the US, and the rest of the world.
The US has been trying with relatively little success to push China or North Korea into the role of global counter-weight to US military might, but that is absurd. As I have mentioned elsewhere: the Chinese clearly have no interest in trying something as expensive and pointless as “conquering” the USA. For one thing, if they thought that was desirable, their military would have a completely different logistical set-up. They’d have a much much much bigger navy. Bigger than every navy, ever, because otherwise how would you get enough military to North America to subjugate the smoking wreckage of a gigantic piece of real estate like the USA? The same applies the other way: the only war the US is remotely interested in being able to win against China is to protect its colonies and, if pushed to a wall, to wipe China off the map. The Chinese know this, too; their concern is to keep US forces at enough of a distance that it’s not likely there will be an accidental engagement, and to effectively power-share with the US until the US collapses under the weight of its military and the cost of climate change. That’s a great strategy, so long as the US does not suddenly wise up.
Russia is in a pickle. The US reneged on its promise not to push NATO right to the borders of Russia, and also began cheating on non-proliferation treaties by declaring that weapon-sharing with NATO was not proliferation. So the US stationed Trident missiles in England, nuclear-armed F-16s (and probably a damn sight worse) in Germany and Turkey. The next move was to station Aegis missile batteries in Italy and probably other places nobody knows about except everyone who is cleared for that knowledge [the Russians certainly do!].Note that the antiballistic missile treaty, which the US and USSR signed in 1972 specifically restricted the ability to deploy missile defense systems against long-range ballistic missiles. That was an important part of the doctrine of mutual assured destruction because it meant that if either side launched on the other, the target would have 15-20 minutes to respond to the attack – thereby making the attack suicidal.
George Bush removed the US from the treaty in 2002, which was around the same time that the US started fielding systems like the THAAD and the Aegis missile systems. That move was hugely destabilizing but very few people got upset about it because maybe they were hoping Obama could control-Z that bit of Bush craziness, or something, but Obama was also an imperial president, who vastly expanded such programs and exported the technology to Israel for testing and South Korea to soak money out of the South Koreans. Meanwhile, the US clearly [as disclosed through Wikileaks] was planning on trying to loop Ukraine into NATO, which would actually be a “dagger pointed at the heart of Russia.” Putin’s response was resolute; he could not afford to have a US client state on his southern border, 5 minutes missile-flight from anywhere in Russia, hosting Aegis missiles and US medium range ballistic missiles.
Fortunately, thought Putin, the US and Russia had a treaty against developing medium range ballistic missiles.
I’m just kidding. Putin knew the US was cheating on it, and probably cheated as well. The cheating is not really the point; the question is “why cheat?” So far as we know, the US cheating took the form of enhanced accuracy warheads and improved medium-range cruise missiles. AKA: “Hey it’s not a ballistic missile amirite?” The Russian cheating appears to have been mostly a continuation of advanced research in scramjet engines suitable for making long-range cruise missiles.
Now, let me break it down to you: the US strategy is to forward-deploy more accurate, faster, harder to block delivery systems. Because the US can do that in Italy and Poland, etc., they can place weapons where they can disintegrate Russia’s command/control systems before Russia can issue orders to do anything useful. I am going to re-emphasize that: these are first-strike weapons.
Second-strike/deterrent weapons need to be able to survive and first-strike weapons need to be fast and accurate.
The Russian advanced ultra-fast cruise missiles (which clearly do not work, yet!) are not first strike weapons until Russia starts staging them in Venezuela or on submarines sitting off Cuba. Note that, in the past, Soviet attempts to do anything like that resulted in the US engaging in serious nuclear war brinkmanship, threatening a global conflagration which the Soviets wisely backed away from. [Because the Soviets realized that our shit really was better than theirs and we actually are such vicious horrible bastards that we might try to win a nuclear exchange] The Russians are trying to position their aspirational ultra-fast cruise missiles as a counter to things like the Aegis and THAAD: maybe they can get past anti-missile batteries and be useful in a theater nuclear war. Russia’s strategic deterrent remains semi-intact, except now the US has faster, more accurate cruise missiles parked right near them, ready to destroy them in their silos with less than a 5-minute warning. Who “cheated” first is irrelevant; in chess terms, the US has the Russian king boxed in with both rooks downfield and queen in the center of the board, and the Russians have a knight and some pawns and they know it’s checkmate if the US is willing to do a little sacrifice play. For the sake of argument, let’s call one of the rooks that would get sacrificed, “Washington, DC.” But the US has said, “let’s take a break from the game for an unspecified while, we’ll resume when I’m ready.”
The strategic picture has shifted away from mutual assured destruction to a really lopsided victory in which the US takes some damage, utterly freaks the fuck out, and completely obliterates any survivors in Russia and probably other places, besides.
This strategy was not devised by that dim bulb Bush, or class traitor Obama – it has been part of an ongoing strategy that dates back to the late 90s, probably around the time the Soviet Union collapsed (in chess terms: fumbled a move and gave away their queen and both bishops) If the strategy ran back further than the late 90s, that would mean that Reagan’s refusal to do the right thing for humanity was actually him being manipulated by the forces that put this strategy in train. That is a scary idea, full of deep conspiratorial thinking, but when you look at US nuclear weapons policy, it is not being driven by the dipshits in Washington. It’s almost as if Dr Strangelove was a documentary.
I know it sounds conspiratorial, but the US “deep state” or whatever the hell we’re looking at is moving very carefully and very rationally. This is not a series of accidental moves. Look, for example, at the propaganda that is printed in the New York Times, presumably by either a public relations goon, or someone who has only a surface knowledge of the strategic situation: [nyt]
Russian cheating requires a strong response.
No, actually, it does not. This is not a game of “you poke me I poke you” it’s a deadly serious issue of maintaining balance, and the US has been moving the global nuclear balance decidedly in its direction since the early 00’s.
The history is worth remembering now that the U.S. has formally exited the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (I.N.F.) treaty, following many years of cheating by Russia and failed diplomatic efforts to bring it into compliance. Moscow has secretly fielded an estimated 100 ground-launched cruise missiles “designed to target critical European military and economic infrastructure, and thereby be in position to coerce NATO allies,” according to Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence. Russia is also believed to be violating the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Note how precisely that is worded: “to coerce NATO allies.” It can’t touch the US. Sure the Germans might take a dive, but the US will be fine, and so will England (probably) and, uh, are there any other NATO allies that we care $5 about? Turkey? Don’t make me laugh.
What’s amazing is that the propaganda campaign ignores the fact that the US openly designed a new generation of warheads, built and began deploying them and began fielding antiballistic missile systems – all the while saying “The Russians are cheating!” EVERYONE is cheating. The issue is not who is cheating, it’s whether the cheating is shifting the metastable balance of terror in one direction or another. And, it’s shifted dramatically toward the US being able to launch a successful first strike against Russia and possibly not take much damage in response.
This is happening while the U.S. is being challenged on multiple nuclear fronts. China is modernizing its nuclear forces and is expected to double its nuclear stockpile within a decade, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In other words, China is expected to increase its stockpile from within 1/200th of the US’ to 1/100th. These measures are squishy because the US has been cheating on how it counts warheads, too. Do the ones in the Trident missiles we gave England count as “English” or “American”? What about the ones that are presently disassembled while they are being upgraded? One of the ways the US counts a warhead is: if you have 2 warheads, one in a missile and one partially disassembled being ‘renovated’ to replace the first one, then you have 1 warhead. No doubt Russia is pulling similar tricks but none of this alters the strategic fact that the US is slowly ringing Russia with a curtain of highly accurate first-strike weapons, while screaming that Russian cheating requires us to maintain “parity.”
Note that the alleged problem is Russian cruise missiles (a technology they learned to make from the US, who invented the damn things to get around ballistic missile treaties!) – but the US has been dramatically upgrading its cruise missiles all along. The new ones can be launched from submarines; that makes a US ballistic missile sub both a terror-deterrent second-strike weapon and a first strike weapon. And, since we’re freaking out about cruise missiles, the US had been gaming the system by producing cruise missiles that had a limited range, where the limit was how much fuel the damn thing was loaded with. So the US was not “cheating” on the medium range missile treaty because the cruise missiles could only fly exactly as far as the treaty allowed. As soon as Trump was duped into withdrawing from the treaty [They probably told him it was Obama’s treaty] the US launched a cruise missile at a target ~1000km away. The old treaty specified 500km as the maximum. Remember: the US withdrew from the treaty 3 weeks ago so it beggars the imagination that a whole new missile was designed, built, and deployed in 3 weeks. Of course, they just took a plain old missile and “fill ‘er up let’s see how far it’ll go!”
[npr] Both Russia and the US were openly talking about longer range theater missiles for quite some time; including the US Army openly discussing its desire for a longer range “PrSM” – Precision Strike Missile. Here’s what I want you to do: whenever you hear people talking about “precision strike” regarding large warheads, substitute “first strike.” Because you don’t need a high speed precision strike capability to hit a medcins sans frontieres hospital.
The actual situation is worse, still, than I have described so far. The new missile they tested was launched from a land-based Aegis missile system. That means the missile is compatible with the launchers on the “Aegis Ashore” system or an Arleigh Burke-class missile boat. It is exactly the cruise missile that terrified Gorbachev into trying to talk Reagan into backing off the pressure: it’s the kind of thing that is designed so that the American Empire can launch a multi-point simultaneous strike on every likely nuclear facility and launcher in a country like North Korea. My bet is that the North Koreans were a few hours one way or another from finding out, before America’s tenuous sanity re-asserted itself.
Let’s talk more about cheating: [quartz]
“[The Aegis defense system] had to go through a legal arms control review and because it doesn’t have the necessary software to launch a Tomahawk cruise missile or any offensive systems…the determination was the Mark 41 launcher was treaty compliant,” Jon Wolfsthal, then a member of Obama’s national security council staff, told Quartz in February.
Let me translate that for you: the missiles were designed to be capable of doing something that violates a treaty, but we didn’t load the software upgrade that allowed that to happen therefore we weren’t violating the treaty. That’s mincing words so precisely that a jesuit would weep with admiration.
What this points to is a consistent program by the US to unbalance the balance of terror – to win a nuclear war as though it’s a chess game. I imagine that somewhere in these vile human beings’ minds they have a scenario in which Putin knocks his king off the table and resigns and stalks off the world stage. But, for what? To what end? At this point the balance is so out of whack that the US can dictate to anyone except Russia and maybe China. If that isn’t victory, what is? Whatever it is, it’s not good enough for the sick bastards that run this motherfucker.
Welcome to the era where every major weapons project has its own web site with handy infografics and neat pictures: [raytheon]
Notice that its “maximum range” is 499km? As of 3 weeks ago, they need to update that. I bet that the new range will be 1000+km and maybe closer to 2000km. Does anyone want to seriously try to say that it won’t be nuclear-capable?
First strike weapons are on trucks and ships and things that move around, and are miniaturized so that you can’t tell if that wave of missiles coming in at you are nuclear or just plain high explosive. Do you wait and find out, or try to launch something? It doesn’t matter any more: you used to have 20 minutes to make that decision and now it’s 2 minutes. You may as well say a quick prayer.
Traditionally someone will say “you can’t win a nuclear war.” Actually, you can – ask the Japanese. The US is capable of winning a nuclear war at the cost of catastrophic environmental damage (like we give a shit) and committing genocide (like we give a shit about that, either) – the US first strike capability is getting so good that there is a 100% chance the US would win at the cost of what I’d guess is a 25% chance of losing a city, a 10% chance of losing 2 and a 2% chance of losing 4 or 5. Ask someone from New Orleans or Flint if the US gives a shit about losing a city.