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Factors Determining Russian Response to Current Provocations by USA

As most of you must have heard by now, clever idiots belonging to the deep state in USA, UK and maybe France want to “punish” the current Syrian government for allegedly using “chemical weapons” against civilians in some part of Ghouta. In addition to the timing of this alleged “attack” being highly suspicious, it is worthwhile to note that all “evidence” presented so far has come from an extremist Islamist group funded, armed and trained by the USA and UK. In fact there is good reason to believe that this particular “attack” was either stage-manged by UK, including the fact that this extremist group was on the payroll of certain Sunni gulf states with the tacit approval of UK and USA.

Then there is the multi-billion dollar question as to why the Syrian army would use a chemical weapon as ineffective as chlorine gas (and just once) in the conflict for Eastern Ghouta which it effectively won yesterday. Also, why is the allegedly “humanitarian” anglo-american west are so desperately willing to believe a group which openly believes in killing non-Sunni Muslims? And what about the continued support for Saudi Arabia by the “west” in its ongoing genocidal (and unsuccessful) war in Yemen. And let us not forget all the civilian deaths that occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan due to actions of the “humanitarian west”, though they ended up losing both wars.

Clearly, this reeks of extremely high levels of bullshit and solipsism on part of the west. But a more detailed discussion on that topic is best left for a future post. Instead we will focus on how Russia, which is helping the Syrian government and has a legitimate military presence within that country, would respond to any large-scale military attack by the anglo-american countries against Syria and its own troops stationed in that country. More importantly, is it possible to predict how bad things will get if the anglo-american west is stupid enough to do something along those lines.

To understand the factors which will determine Russia’s response to any half-assed military adventurism in Syria by the anglo-american west, it is worthwhile to start with a quick lesson in history.

1] Most of you must be aware of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. OK, it wasn’t so much a crisis over Soviet missiles in Cuba as it was the USA throwing a fit that USSR was doing to it what it had done to the USSR. More specifically, installing Soviet nuclear-tipped IRBMs in Cuba by Khrushchev was a response to USA installing similar IRBMs in Tukey. After much posturing, a back-channel agreement between USA and USSR was reached that resulted in USSR withdrawing its missiles from Cuba in exchange for USA doing the same for its missiles in Turkey in the next few months- and global nuclear war was averted. At least that is where most historians in the west seem to stop.

So why is this incident relevant to the current events in Syria? Well.. it comes down to public perception of who “won” in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the effect of that perception on internal party politics within USSR. To make a long story short, secrecy surrounding the back-channel deal made between Khrushchev and JFK made the former look like the loser even though he achieved almost everything he wanted. The public loss of face was a major factor behind Khrushchev’s ouster in 1964. All of his successors, up to Yeltsin, took great effort to make sure that they would never be publicly perceived as weak in face of USA. You can be certain that Putin knows his Russian history very well.

2] Part of the reason that the Cuban Missile Crisis ended the way it did was that USSR in the early-1960s possessed significantly fewer long-range nuclear weapons than USA. Remember that this was the era when ICBMS and nuclear submarines carrying SLBMs was brand new technology and most long-range nuclear strokes were supposed to carried out by large bombers like the B-52 and Tu-95. Also spy satellite technology was in its infancy. All those issues were fixed by the late 1960s and since then there has always been a rough parity of nuclear warheads and delivery systems between USA and USSR and now Russia.

But what does that mean for any Russian response to nay large-scale anglo-american military action in Syria? Well.. a lot. For one, Putin in 2018 is not constrained by the limitations experienced by Khrushchev in 1962 while dealing with USA. Also, unlike his predecessors he has real leverage over many NATO members since Russia is a major supplier of gas and oil to those countries. It helps that he has been quite successful at nudging Turkey out of the NATO alliance. The fact is that “sanctions” or no sanctions, many NATO countries need to purchase Russian oil and gas (in addition to some other commodities) to keep functioning.

3] And this brings us to the issue of the almost continuous low-grade economic and PR warfare that the decrepit anglo-american west has been trying to wage against Russia since at least 2012. As I have stated in previous posts, I have a theory that many elites (of all countries but especially the west) lack a theory of mind. In other words, they believe that people all over the world think and act the same way for the same reasons. That is why these sad idiots believe that economic sanctions against Russia or “oligarchs close to Putin” would make him more amenable to USA. The events of the last few years have not supported this belief- to put it mildly.

As I wrote in a previous post, the military capacity of Russia is far stronger than its GDP (as measured in USD) would suggest. In fact, I wrote a short series on why comparing incomes and GDP across countries in USD has no relation to reality. My point is that all the “oligarchs” in Russia derive that current status from closeness to political power. Unlike USA, its is political leaders who control rich people in countries such as Russia and China. Consequently, their policies are far more insulated from corporate profit margins than in USA and other western countries.

It helps that the very obvious and overt campaign to demonize, humiliate and hurt average Russians since 2008 by the anglo-american west has increased support for Putin. Many of them also remember how oligarchs supported by the west looted and raped Russia in the 1991-2000 era, under the guise of “economic reform and liberalization”. Then there is the even bigger issue of world trade and commerce being increasingly centered around Asia rather than the stagnant and decaying societies of North America and western Europe.

To summarize, Russia and Putin are in a much better position to respond in kind to any large-scale anglo-american military adventures in Syria than most people realize. They also figured out, some years ago, that the anglo-american west is not (and was never) interested in an equal relationship with Russia. My guess is that they will make sure that their inevitable response to such stupid adventurism is seen as a response rather than as adventurism. Also, they might respond to the anglo-american west in more than one part of the world.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. April 13, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Russia has been preparing for this since Trump sent 56 or so missiles into Syria right after he won the elections. I believed at the time that Trump did it to prove that he wasn’t Putin’s bitch and to differentiate himself from the toothless Obama. But I’ve come to believe that he really does think that Assad is a monster that needs to be eliminated no matter what the costs. As you’ve said Russia has been maneuvering Turkey so that hopefully (for Russia) they will at least be neutral which will limit the attack vectors somewhat. But they have also beefed up their anti-aircraft capabilities substantially. I don’t think that Putin wants a war but I also think that he can’t afford to ignore the massive attack that the US/UK/France seem to have in mind or he’ll appear weak at home as you’ve said.

    Personally if I were Putin I’d be holding some massive military exercises on the Ukrainian and Estonian borders which would force NATO to respond and hopefully pull some of the forces away from Syria. If that didn’t work then start an invasion of Ukraine just as they start firing missiles into Syria. No matter what though I think that we are going to find out just how good the wests military is against a peer rather than third world slag.

    If Russia manages to bloody the nose of the US forces it will be a significant shift in perception worldwide and I expect China to start to move in the South China Sea even more aggressively than they have been. It just seems that the US has a lot to lose with this and not much to gain.

    Also, no matter what Iran will almost certainly start back up their nuclear bomb program as they’ll see that the only way to limit US action is going to be with a nuclear threat. Not sure that there will be any real winners out of this.

    We have reached the stage where accurate critiques of the american empire are now part of pop culture. Have a look at this clip from a game released in 2013.

  2. MikeCA
    April 13, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Hmmm … you seem to know an awful lot about Russian history and politics. Co-incidence??

    The thing you left out of all of this was the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea and invasion of Eastern Ukraine. Now Russia has the base for its Baltic fleet in Crimea and the Western European countries were talking about bring Ukraine into NATO after the overthrow of the pro-Russian government. One can see where Russia would be upset about its Baltic naval base being in a NATO country. The Western Europeans were crazy to talk about bring Ukraine into European Union and/or NATO. That said, the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea was a serious provocation and some response was justified.

    Crimea has been part of Russia for almost as long as USA has existed as a country.

    https://dissention.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/a-brief-overview-of-historical-facts-behind-the-russian-claim-to-crimea/

    In February of this year, a Syrian government column with hundreds of Russian mercenaries attempted to attack a base and oil refinery being held by American and Kurdish forces. The US forces called in air support. It is thought that about 100 Russian mercenaries were killed and several hundred more were injured. Some estimates of the Russians killed have been higher. US commanders were talking with Russian officials using the Syrian hotline during this attack and were told that no Russian forces were operating in the area. It is not clear who ordered this attack. It could have been a rouge operation. The Trump administration has been fairly quiet about this attack, perhaps because there were no American casualties.

    Sadly, that is not true. If it was really the case, many more american special forces types in Syria would have returned in body-bags by now. Less than two dozen is not hundreds.. or maybe it is in american jingoistic math.

    The USA really has no side in the Syrian civil war. The Syrian government is Shiite and supported by Iran and Hezbollah. The rebels are mostly Sunni. The effective rebels are either ISIS or Al-Qaeda linked groups. There were some other small groups US hawks kept wanting to train and arm, but these were actually local tribal leaders, who were highly respected by their tribe and hated by everyone else. The Kurds were the only militarily effective force in Syria that the US could work with, but Turkey did not want the US arming the Kurds. The US using the Kurds against ISIS has pushed Turkey towards Russia. The US just doesn’t have any business being in Syria.

    And it is stuff like this which makes me say that you are a paid shill. Of course, USA has been trying to put its own puppet regime in Syria since at least 2008. And yes, it has to do with oil pipeline transit rights.

    Obama was very reluctant to get involved in Syria until ISIS started staging terrorist attacks mostly in Europe. Then he decided he had to act to do something about ISIS. The Kurds were the force he picked to support because they were militarily effective. Trump hesitated to follow through with this plan, but in the end he authorized it. ISIS was clearly attacking western targets (and probably will continue to inspire attacks for some time) but now that they have lost effective control of most of Syria, who will control those areas. The Kurds? I doubt they could control and Sunni Arab parts of Syria for long. There are no Sunni leaders that could unify the country that are not ISIS/Al-Qaeda linked.

    Obama was not dumb enough to go into a conflict where there would tons of american body-bags and no resolution. He cared a bit too much about his public image to look like Bush43. Also, it ceased being a viable option once Russia got involved.

    Russia has chosen to support the Bashar al-Assad Shiite government forces. It remains to be seen if they can retake control of the whole country and hold it without Russian air power. Russia has its own problem with Sunni terrorist groups, so it is happy to join forces with the Shiite governments to fight the Sunni terrorist groups.

    And it is also about oil and gas pipeline transit rights. They have already taken back the populated regions and they are let Turkey bash USA-allied Kurds in the north of that country.

    • MikeCA
      April 13, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      “Sadly, that is not true. If it was really the case, many more american special forces types in Syria would have returned in body-bags by now. Less than two dozen is not hundreds.. or maybe it is in american jingoistic math.”

      My figure of a hundred or more comes from the Senate testimony of CIA Director Pompeo. The less than two dozen is the official Russian statement. I have seen a number of reports from people in Russia who have talked with survivors and say the actual number is closer to two hundred.

      And you believe stuff said by american politicians “under oath”? Are you that naive?

      Are you saying that if a hundred Russian mercenaries had been killed, the Russian government would take revenge on the American forces? How do you know something like that?

      Supplying weapons to local groups who hate other local groups aligned with USA is pretty easy. Also, it is quite easy for Russian missiles to accidentally hit the “wrong” targets in Syria.

      This attack looks to me like a total cock up. Some middle level Syrian government military deciding since they have Russian mercenaries, why not go attack the US forces. No sane commander would do that without air cover.

      “Crimea has been part of Russia for almost as long as USA has existed as a country.”

      Like I said, you sure seem to know an awful lot about Russian history.

      This is true, but the foundation of post WW II stability in Europe is the principal that countries borders should be respected and territorial disputes are not settled by military actions, but through negotiations. The Russian annexation of Crimea is a violation of this principal.

      I know a lot about many fields..

    • MikeCA
      April 13, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      “And it is stuff like this which makes me say that you are a paid shill. Of course, USA has been trying to put its own puppet regime in Syria since at least 2008. And yes, it has to do with oil pipeline transit rights.”

      I get accused of being a paid shill all the time. Do you know anyone that would pay me for this?

      The truth is I’m just a retired computer programmer, and I’m not even collecting social security yet. I would be happy to accept payments for my comments, provided no one tells me what to say.

      So who is paying you to write the blog?

      Given the wide variety of topics I write about.. nobody.

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