What Democrats Are Ignoring About Russia

Vladimir Putin, President (for life?) of the Russian Federation

Vladimir Putin, President (for life?) of the Russian Federation
DailyPnut.com

While Democrats continue to obsess  over imaginary connections between Donald Trump and the Russian Federation, they seem to pay little attention to what the Russians actually are doing, and what their motivations might be. Yet, as current events involving North Korea and China remind us, allowing wishful thinking about our foreign adversaries to blind us to their very real threats is the height of folly. Chickens almost always come home to roost

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Past US Weakness Creates Heightened Tensions With China and North Korea

Launch of a North Korean Taepodong 2 ICBM
MissileThreat.csis.org

Just this Tuesday,  China’s minion North Korea claimed to have made its first fully successful test launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). By doing so, North Korea underlined the precarious U.S. position in the orient, created by the past eight years of the Obama administration’s foreign policy and national security weakness.

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Historical Lessons on Economics and Politics

Revolutionary Images: Lessons to be avoided like the plague!

Revolutionary Images: Lessons to be avoided like the plague!
Left: A barricade erected by revolutionaries in Moscow, 1905. Wikimedia Commons / Imperial War Museum
Right: People’s Liberation Army entering Beijing, 1949. Socialist Worker

How to further the conversation between progressives and neoliberals? That was the the question I left with you at the end of my last post. The fact we desperately need such a conversation is underlined by the almost hysterical reaction of the American Left to the election of Donald Trump. From their reaction, one would think Trump is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Either that or he is merely a Russian agent.

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How Should the U.S. React to Foreign Challenges?

Aspects of U.S. Foreign Relations
Top (Left to Right):
U.S. Army soldiers in Ramadi, August 2006   Wikimedia Commons / Air Force Tech Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock
Container ship from Asia     Flickr.com / Peter Kaminsky
Center: U.N. General Assembly Hall    Wikimedia Commons / Flickr (Patrick Gruben)
Bottom (Left to Right):
Russian Sukhoi Su-24M: Russian workhorse in Syria  Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Mishin, © A. Mishin
Obama discussing Syria and ISIS with Putin, 9/29/2015   Wikimedia Commons / Kremlin.ru

In my last post,  The U.S. Interactions With Other Nations, I presented the case for why the United States should remain fully engaged with the rest of the world, whether by trade, military alliances, or by actual combat against lethal adversaries. Such engagements should not and need not be for the cause of imposing our own ideologies or values on others, but to protect against hostile enemies or to enrich our own country by trade. Neither do we have to abandon our altruism in dealing with other countries, as we can certainly offer trade, knowledge and technology that would be as useful to other countries as they are for us.

Assuming the case for international engagement has been made, I wish in this post to offer a neoliberal (i.e. conservative) vision of how such engagements should proceed.

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The U.S. Interactions With Other Nations

United Nations Headquarters in New York City

United Nations Headquarters in New York City
Wikimedia Commons / Neptuul

Very little divides American citizens more  than questions about how the U.S. should interact with other nations. This has always been true about questions of national security for most of my not inconsiderable lifetime of 70 years. Lately, it has also become true about questions of international trade. What general rules should the U.S. follow in reacting and adapting to the challenges of other nations? It might be popular nowadays to assert the U.S. should not engage in nation building, but should that always be the case?

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A Nervous Face-off Against Chinese Imperialism

Naval vessel of the the People's Liberation Army Navy.

Naval vessel of the the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Center for Security Policy

In the United States over the past eight years, China has found its perfect enemy, more concerned with appeasing the People’s Republic of China than in confronting it. After the United States withdrew from the Philippines in 1992, China saw the opportunity to fill the power vacuum by claiming the entire South China Sea, a project discussed in the posts Is China a Threat?, The Weakening of U.S. Alliances and National Security, and Probability of War with China Increasing?. Despite some U.S. Navy “freedom of navigation” operations recently in the South China Sea, the Obama administration has consistently ignored Chinese provocations as much as it possibly could in hopes they could engage China and ultimately convert them into friends — an approach identical to the one they adopted with Iran.

Now, with the approaching administration of Donald Trump no doubt weighing heavily on their minds, the Chinese are finding increasing reasons to be nervous about Asian pushback against their imperial ambitions. One can only hope in the face of all this nervousness that the Chinese do not allow their trigger fingers to get itchy.

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Iran Stretches Its Offensive Cyber Muscles

The flags of bitter enemies: Iran left, Saudi Arabia right

The flags of bitter enemies: Iran left, Saudi Arabia right
Wikimedia Commons

Sometime in the middle of this last November,  someone, almost certainly the Islamic Republic of Iran, conducted destructive cyber attacks on key, vital computer systems of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The blowback is likely to be considerable and is also likely to be a considerable headache for the incoming Trump administration. Indeed, the potential for a military confrontation involving the United States should Iran and the Saudis come to blows is not at all negligible.

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Probability of War with China Increasing?

People's Liberation Army Navy sailors at the Qingdao, North Sea Fleet headquarters parading in 2000 for a visiting U.S. Navy delegation.

People’s Liberation Army Navy sailors at the Qingdao, North Sea Fleet headquarters parading in 2000 for a visiting U.S. Navy delegation.
Wikimedia Commons/Jiang

The probability of war with the People’s Republic of China has increased perceptibly due to last month’s ruling by a panel of jurists on the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Such a conflict can not yet be considered probable, nevertheless it has increased in probability.  Continue Reading…

The Decay of U.S. Armed Forces

U.S. soldiers in Ramadi, Iraq, 16 August 2006

U.S. Army soldiers in Ramadi, August 2006
Wikimedia Commons/Air Force Tech Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock

One of the major reasons for the weakening of U.S. alliances has been the decay of U.S. armed forces throughout President Obama’s administration. Indeed, if the U.S. ends up with insufficient strength to honor treaty commitments, there is no point to the alliances anyway.  Continue Reading…

The Weakening of U.S. Alliances and National Security

People's Liberation Army contingent at 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade

People’s Liberation Army contingent at 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade
Wikimedia Commons/Kremlin.ru

Probing of the U.S. alliance periphery is being done by more than just Russia and ISIS. In my last post I described the isolationist bent of President Obama’s administration and of the American electorate, together with the encouragement this has given to an expansionist Russia to probe NATO defenses. Russia, however, is a member of a de facto alliance along with the People’s Republic of China and Iran. All three are cooperating to find how malleable the U.S. assurances of allies’ security are. As related in my last post, Russia is mainly interested in re-aquiring the possessions they lost with the dissolution of the Soviet Union: the states of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.      Continue Reading…

U.S. Alliances: Will They Last?

U.S. Military Relations

States with U.S. military relationships: Dark Blue are the NATO members, Purple are major non-NATO allies, and Pale Blue are signatories of Partnership for Peace with NATO
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Sesmith

The short-sighted Obama administration seems absolutely determined to allow our foreign alliances, NATO in particular, to wither away through neglect. It would seem the only threat keeping us from withdrawing into a complete isolationist shell is the jihadist threat from ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran, and other jihadist organizations. Recoiling from the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American electorate, along with the Obama administration, would like nothing better than if the world would just go away and leave us alone.      Continue Reading…

More on HGV Defenses

YAL-1A Airborne Laser with mirror unstowed

YAL-1A airborne laser in flight with the mirror unstowed
Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Missile Defense Agency

This is the third post in a series on the threat of Chinese and Russian Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGVs), and prospective U.S. defenses against them. Traveling at Mach 10 (ten times the speed of sound, approximately 7000 mph) and maneuverable on reentry into the atmosphere, HGVs pose unique problems for defensive systems attempting to shoot them down. Continue Reading…

Defenses Against Hypersonic Glide Vehicles

Hypersonic reentry of an HGV

Hypersonic reentry of an HGV
Image Credit: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

In my last post I wrote about the unique threat against U.S. national security posed by the Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV) programs of China and Russia. The reasons HGVs pose such a threat are they go hypersonic (speeds greater than five times the speed of sound, Mach 5) in mid-flight, much sooner than a conventional Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM); and they have some capability to maneuver to evade Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) missiles. In my first post on HGVs I discussed the development programs of China and Russia, as well as some attempts by the U.S. to catch up. China’s program appears to have been particularly successful, and would appear to pose a near-term threat — possibly within a decade. HGVs would greatly enhance possible Chinese designs in the East China Sea and in the South China Sea. Continue Reading…

The Menace of Hypersonic Glide Vehicles

Deployment of U.S. Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV2)

Deployment of U.S. Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV2)
AFP Photo/Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

While Obama’s administration is cutting back on defense spending and futuristic defense development programs, both China and Russia are pressing forward with developments that could place us at their mercy. The fast developing capabilities they are trying to make practical are of hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs), particularly for the delivery of nuclear weapons. Hypersonic vehicles are somewhat arbitrarily defined as aircraft traveling through the atmosphere at faster than five times the speed of sound. Since the speed of sound depends on both air temperature and density (mostly temperature), this definition varies with altitude. At sea level the speed of sound is about 760 mph, at an altitude of 30,000 feet (where commercial passenger jets fly) it is about 680 mph, and at 60,000 feet it is approximately 660 mph. Since the hypersonic vehicles with which we are interested will travel at these rarified altitudes, hypersonic air vehicles of interest will travel at 3,300 mph or faster.       Continue Reading…

Globalization, Xenophobia, and Donald Trump

Fear of the foreign

Views that fuel Donald Trump’s Campaign
Image Credit:
Flickr.com/Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

The political reactions working in favor of Donald Trump, or for that matter, Bernie Sanders have been a long time building. I realize to say any movement has been building for a long time is true for almost any social movement and might seem somewhat trite. Nevertheless, it is especially true for the political movement that has seized on both Trump and Sanders, no matter what their characters are like or how outlandish their beliefs might be, to smash the repressive political elites holding the citizenry down.  Continue Reading…

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