2018 – war or no war?
[Note: this post of mine is temporarily located in the ‘guest section’ because of the current fundraiser. Once the fundraiser is over, I will place it back in the correct section. This analysis was written for the Unz Review. The Saker]
If the first months of 2017 were a time of great hopes following the historical defeat of Hillary Clinton, the year is ending in a sombre, almost menacing manner. Not only has the swamp easily, quickly and totally drowned Trump, but the AngloZionist Empire is reeling from its humiliating defeat in Syria and the Neocons are now treating our entire planet to a never ending barrage of threats. Furthermore, the Trump Administration now has released a National Security Strategy which clearly show that the Empire is in “full paranoid” mode. It is plainly obvious that the Neocons are now back in total control of the White House, Congress and the US corporate media. Okay, maybe things are still not quite as bad as if Hillary had been elected, but they are bad enough to ask whether a major war is now inevitable next year.
If we go by their rhetoric, the Neocons have all the following countries in their sights:
- Afghanistan (massive surge already promised)
- Syria (threats of a US-Israeli-KSA attack; attack on Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria)
- Russia (disconnecting from SWIFT; stealing Russian assets in the USA; attack on Russian forces in Syria)
- Iran (renege on nuclear deal, attack Iranian forces in Syria)
- The Donbass (support for a full scale Ukronazi attack against Novorussia)
- DPRK (direct and overt military aggression; aerial and naval blockade)
- Venezuela (military intervention “in defense of democracy, human right, freedom and civilization”)
There are, of course, many more countries currently threatened by the USA to various degrees, but the seven above are all good candidates for US aggression.
Let me immediately say here that listing pragmatic arguments against such aggressions is, at this point in time, probably futile. If anything, the recent disaster triggered by the US recognition of Jerusalem clearly proves that the USA is run by people as least as stupid and ignorant as they are evil and arrogant, possibly even more so. The sad reality we now live in is one where a nuclear superpower lack the minimal intelligence needed to act in defense of its own national security interests, and that is really frightening.
Last week I took a look at the mindset of what I called the “ideological drone“. If we now look at the mindset of the US national security establishment we will immediately notice that is is almost the exact same as the one of the ideological drone. The biggest difference between them might be that the ideological drone assumes that his/her leaders are sane and most honest people, whereas those in the elites not only know that they are total hypocrites and liars, but they actually see this as a sign superiority: the drones believes in his/her ideology, but his rules believe in absolutely nothing.
Take the example of Syria. All the US decision makers are fully aware of the following facts:
- Daesh/ISIS/al-Nusra/etc is their creation and they tried everything to save these terrorists.
- The joint Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah effort defeated Daesh/ISIS/al-Nusra/etc in-spite of AngloZionist support and attacks in Syrian forces.
- The AngloZionist forces are in Syria completely illegally.
Yet none of that prevents them from claiming that they, not Russia, defeated Daesh/ISIS/al-Nusra/etc. This is absolutely amazing, think of it – the entire planet knows full well what really took place in Syria, but Uncle Sam decrees that black is white, water is dry and what is true is false. And the most amazing thing is that they know that everybody knows, yet they don’t care one bit. Why? Because they profoundly believe in four fundamental things:
- We can buy anybody
- Those we cannot buy, we bully
- Those we cannot bully we kill
- Nothing can happen to us, we live in total impunity not matter what we do
Besides people with intelligence there is another type of people which now has completely disappeared from the US national security establishment: people with honor/courage/integrity. Let’s take a perfect example: Tillerson.
There is no way we can make the argument that Tillerson is an idiot. The man has proven many times over that he is intelligent and quite talented. And yet, he is Nikki Haley’s doormat. Nikki Haley – there is the real imbecile! But not Tillerson. Yet Tillerson lacks the basic honor/courage/integrity to demand that this terminal imbecile be immediately fired or, if that does not happen, to leave and slam the door really loud. Nope, the man just sits there and takes humiliation after humiliation. Oh sure, he will probably resign soon, but when his resignation comes it will have no value, it will be a non-event, just the sad and pathetic conclusion to a completely failed stint as Secretary of State.
The same goes for the US military: not one single officer has found in himself/herself to resign to protest the fact that the USA is deeply in bed with those who are responsible, at least according to the official conspiracy theory, for 9/11. Nope, in fact US special forces are working with al-Qaeda types day in and day out and not a single one of these “patriots” has the honor/courage/integrity to go public about it.
Imbeciles and cowards. I also happen to think that they are traitors to their country and their people. Patriots they are not.
Delusional imbeciles giving orders and dishonorable cowards mindlessly executing them. That is the setup we are dealing with. As Trump would tweet “not good”.
Alas, this is also a very hard combo to deter or to try to reason with.
And yet, somewhere, to some degree, these guys must know that he odds are not in their favor. For one thing, an endless stream of military defeats and political embarrassments ought to strongly suggest to them that inaction is generally preferable to action, especially for clueless people. Furthermore, one simple way to look at risks is to say that risks are a factor of probability times consequences: R = P x C.
I don’t think that US decision-makers actually formally think that way, but on a gut level this is rather straightforward, even for ideological drone types. If we assume that this is the case, we can now revisit our 7 countries listed above as seen by Neocon decision makers (not me! I already outlined how I saw the risks of attacking these countries in this article written this summer):
|Afghanistan (surge)||more body bags||high||low|
|Syria (military intervention & attack on Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria)||Iranian & Hezbollah counter-attacks||high||high|
|Russia 1 (economic attack: SWIFT & theft of assets)Russia 2 (shooting of Russian aircraft in Syria)||non-military responsemilitary response||highmedium||unknown for memedium|
|Iran (renege on nuclear deal)
|Donbass (US backed attack on Novorussia)||Russian intervention||medium||low|
|DPRK (attack; blockade)||Nuclear war in Asia||unknown||unknown|
|Venezuela (direct military intervention)||quagmire||high||high|
A couple of points here:
Afghanistan: is rather straightforward and least controversial: there will be a surge in Afghanistan, it will result in more body bags, it will achieve nothing cost a shitload and nobody cares.
Syria: very tempting, but the big risk is this: that US forces will find themselves face to face with Iranian and Hezbollah forces who have been dreaming about this day for decades and who will make maximal political use of the US forces they will capture or kill. Frankly, to engage either the Iranians or Hezbollah is a very scary option. Ask the Israelis 🙂
Russia option 1: rumors that the US would disconnect Russia from SWIFT or steal (that is politely called “freeze”) Russian assets and funds in the USA have been going in for a long time already. And the Russians have been making all sorts of menacing noises about this, but all of them very vague which tells me that Russia might not have any good retaliatory options and that this time around the hot air is blowing from Moscow. Of course, Putin is a unpredictable master strategist and the folks around him are very, very smart. They might hold something up their sleeve which I am not aware of but I strongly suspect that, unlike me, the US intelligence community must be fully aware of what this might be. I am not an economist and there is much I don’t know here, I therefore assessed the risk as “unknown” for me.
Russia option 2: the reaction of Russia to the shooting down by Turkey of a SU-24 in 2015 might well have given the US politicians and commanders that they could do the same and get away with it. In truth, they might be right. But they might also be wrong. The big difference with the case of the SU-24 is that Russia has formidable air-defenses deployed in Syria which present a major threat for US forces. Furthermore, if a Russian aircraft is under attack and the Russians reply by firing a volley of ground-to-air missiles, what would the US do – attack a Russian S-400 battery? The USA is also in a tricky situation in an air-to-air confrontation. While the F-22 is an excellent air superiority fighter it has one huge weakness: it is designed to engage its adversaries from a long range and to shoot first, before it is detected (I mention only the F-22 here because it is the only US aircraft capable of challenging the Su-30SM/Su-35). But if the rules of engagement say that before firing at a Russian aircraft the F-22 has to issue a clear warning or if the engagement happens at medium to short range distances, then the F-22 is at a big disadvantage, especially against a Su-30SM or Su-35. Another major weakness of the F-22 is that, unlike the Su-30/Su-35, it does not have a real electronic warfare suite (the F-22’s INEWS does not really qualify). In plain English this means that the F-22 was designed to maximize it’s low radar cross section but at a cost of all other aspects of aerial warfare (radar power, hypermaneuverability, electronic warfare, passive engagement, etc.). This all gets very technical and complicated very fast, but I think that we can agree that the Neocons are unlikely to be very impressed by the risks posed by Russian forces in Syria and that they will likely feel that they can punch the russkies in the nose and that these russkies will have to take it. Local US commanders might feel otherwise, but that is also entirely irrelevant. Still, I place the risk here at ‘medium’ even if, potentially, this could lead to a catastrophic thermonuclear war because I don’t think that the Neocons believe that the Russians will escalate too much (who starts WWIII over one shot down aircraft anyway, right?!). Think of it: if you were the commander of the Russian task force in Syria, what would you do if the US shot down on of your aircraft (remember, you assume that you are a responsible and intelligent commander, not a flag-waving delusional maniac)?
What will not stop is the full-spectrum demonization of Russia, thus the relationship between the two countries will further deteriorate. Putin’s Russia is a kind of Mordor which represents all evil and stands behind all evil. Denouncing and openly hating Russia has now become a form of virtue-signaling. Since the entire US political elites have endorsed this phobia, it is exceedingly unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Iran: Trump has announced that he wants out of the deal and while technically and legally he cannot do that, it’s not like he will care one bit. The USA has long given up any pretense at respecting any kind of law, including international law. Also, since Trump is clearly Israel’s shabbos-goy I think that we can safely assume that this will happen.
Donbass: will the Ukronazis finally attack? Well, they have been for many months already! Not only did they never stop shelling the Donbass, but they have this new “frog-jump” (pseudo) strategy which consists of moving in military forces in the neutral zone, seize an undefended town and then declare a major victory against Russia. They have also been re-arming, re-organizing, re-grouping and otherwise bolstering their forces in the East. As a result, the Urkonazis have at least 3:1 advantage against the Novorussians. However, we should not look at this from the Ukronazi or Novorussian point of view. Instead we should look at it from the Neocon point of view:
|Possible outcomes||US reactions|
|Option one: Ukronazis win||Russia is defeated, USA proves it power|
|Option two: Novorussians win||Russia is accused of invading the Ukraine|
|Option three: Novorussians lose and Russia openly intervenes||A Neocon dream come true: the NATO has a purpose again: decades of Cold War v2 in Europe.|
The way I see it, in all three cases the AngloZionist prevail though clearly option #2 is the worst possible outcome and option #3 is the best one. In truth, the AngloZionists have very little to lose in a Ukronazi attack on Novorussia. Not so the Ukrainian people, of course. Right now the USA and several European countries are shipping various types of weapons to the Ukronazis. That is really a non-news since they have been doing that for years already. Furthermore, western made weapons won’t make any difference, at least from a military point of view, if only because it will always be much easier for Russia to send more weapons in any category. The real difference is a political one: shipping “lethal weapons” (as if some weapons were not lethal!) is simply a green light to go on the attack. Let’s hope that the Urkonazis will be busy fighting each other and that their previous humiliating defeat will deter them from trying again, but I consider a full-scale Urkonazi attack on the Donbass as quite likely.
DPRK: that is the big unknown here. With some opponents, you know for an absolute fact that their people will fight down to the very last man if needed (Iranians, Russians, Hezbollah). But authoritarian regimes tend to have a pretty low breaking point unless, of course, they convince their own people that they are not fighting for a specific political regime, but for their country. I think that nobody knows for sure what the North Koreans will do if attacked, but I see no sign to simply assume that the North Koreans won’t fight. From what I hear, the memories of the ruthless attacks against North Koreans by US forces during the previous war on the Korean Peninsula are still very very real. Here is what an intelligence officer in the region wrote to me recently:
The Trump Administration’s bluster is pathetic. If this were a movie, and not real life, it would be funny (it’s still funny, but being in *******, I don’t fully appreciate it). The sad thing is that central casting couldn’t create a better foil for NK propaganda: in every way, including physically, he fits their caricature of the evil, imperial arch-capitalist Yankee businessman. It’d be like if Hitler came back to life and off-handedly threatened to destroy the US every other day (and had the capability to do so).
If this specialist is correct, and I have no reason to believe that he is not, then it is quite reasonable to assume that the possible dislike the North Korean people might have for their ruling elites is dwarfed by their hatred for the United States.
[Sidebar: he also had some interesting comments about my own assessment of the consequences of a war on the Korean Peninsula. Here is what he wrote to me:
Japan is a major target, for a number of reasons. The biggest is that there are a lot of US bases there that would be used to bring-in additional US troops/direct the war, but there’s also the fact that North Korea (and most South Koreans, actually), straight-up hates Japan. I won’t go into a history lesson (which you probably already know), but there is no love lost. Even if the war was confined to the Peninsula, which it won’t be, the global economy would take a major hit, because a ridiculous amount of global supply chain runs through South Korea (which on its own, bounces between the 15th and 10th largest economy in the world). Off the top of my head, I think Incheon (just west of Seoul) is the busiest airport in at least the region – it’s a major international hub, and Busan and Incheon are some of the busiest ports in the world – I want to say Busan is top 5, even busier than the Japanese ports. All the Chinese goods that go to America flow through the Sea of Japan – those will have to be re-routed. And a lot of the components that go in fancy electronics are actually made in SK, prior to final assembly in China – so that will be an issue. So even if we’re the only ones to go down, it’ll be bad news for the global economy. Your assessment of the artillery and special forces threat mirrors mine. One of the things I always thought was funny was how people disparage “World War 2 artillery.” As a whole, “World War 2 artillery” has probably killed more people than any weapon system in modern history (unless you say something really general like “knife” or “gun”). It’s not like you’ll be any less dead if your house is hit with a 152 as opposed to a J-DAM.]
And here is the deal, if you attack a small and defenseless country you can basically ignore the consequences of making the wrong guess, but when dealing with a country like the DPRK this is a miscalculation which no sane politician or military commander would ever take the risk of making. But delusional imbeciles giving and dishonorable cowards – would either one of them show the kind of caution needed when dealing with such a major threat?! I frankly don’t think so. In fact, I see no reason to believe that at all. Remember the “cakewalk in Iraq”? This term, coined by one of my former teachers at SAIS, Ken Adelman, is a wonderful illustration of the Neocon mindest: pure ideology and to hell with caution. We all know that this “cakewalk” ended up costing the Iraqi and American people: well over one million deaths for the former, well over five trillion dollars for the latter. Some cakewalk indeed… The truth is that at this point nobody knows what the outcome of a US attack on the DPRK might be, not even the North Koreans. Will that be enough to deter the delusional imbeciles giving and dishonorable cowards currently at the helm of the Empire? You tell me!
Venezuela: as much hatred as there is for Venezuela in the US elites, this country is not a lucrative target or, let me rephrase that, it is a great target to subvert but probably not a good one to intervene in. Violence in Venezuela is directly in the US interests but a direct military intervention is probably not. My contacts tell me that the Venezuelan military is an unholy (and rather corrupt) mess, but they also tell me that the popular will to resist the “Yankees” is so strong that a any military intervention will immediately trigger an ugly guerrilla war (not to mention a political backlash in the rest of Latin America). The truth is the US probably has the means to militarily intervene in Venezuela, but they also have much better options.
Now let’s sum this all up.
The chances are high that in 2018 the USA will
- Escalate the war in Afghanistan
- Renege on the nuclear deal with Iran
- Back an Ukronazi attack on Novorussia
It is quite possible that the USA will also
- Shoot down a Russian aircraft over Syria
I find it unlikely that the USA will
- Invade Syria
- Invade Venezuela
I am unable to evaluate whether the USA will:
- Disconnect Russia from SWIFT or seize Russian assets
- Attack the DPRK
Frankly, I am not very confident about this attempt as analyzing the possible developments in 2018. All my education has always been based on a crucial central assumption: the other guy is rational. That is a huge assumption to make, but one which was fundamentally true during the Cold War. Today I find myself inclined to think that psychologists are probably better suited to make predictions about the actions of the rulers of the AngloZionist Empire than military analysts. Furthermore, history shows us that the combination of delusional imbeciles and dishonorable cowards is what typically brings down empires, we saw a very good example of that with the collapse of the Soviet Empire.
With the latest Trump fiasco I have personally given up any hope of ever seeing a US President capable of making a positive contribution to the welfare of the people of the USA or the rest of the planet. The burden now is clearly on Russia and China to do everything they can to try to stop the USA from launching even more catastrophic and deeply immoral wars. That is a very, very difficult task and I frankly don’t know if they can do it. I hope so. That is the best I can say.