Summing Up Russia’s Real Nuclear Fears

Exclusive: The mainstream U.S. media’s relentless Russia-bashing has obscured Moscow’s legitimate fears about Washington’s provocative nuclear-missile strategies, which could lead to Armageddon, explains Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

The conflicts between Washington and Moscow keep on growing: Ukraine and Syria, rival war games, “hybrid” wars and “cyber-wars.” Talk of a new Cold War doesn’t do justice to the stakes.

“My bottom line is that the likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War,” declares former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry.

A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

If a new Trump administration wants to peacefully reset relations with Russia, there’s no better way to start than by canceling the deployment of costly new ballistic missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. One such system went live in Romania this May; another is slated to go live in Poland in 2018. Few U.S. actions have riled President Putin as much as this threat to erode Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

Only last month, at a meeting in Sochi with Russian military leaders to discuss advanced new weapons technology, Putin vowed, “We will continue to do all we need to ensure the strategic balance of forces. We view any attempts to change or dismantle it, as extremely dangerous. Our task is to effectively neutralize any military threats to Russia’s security, including those posed by the newly-deployed strategic missile defense systems.”

Putin accused unnamed countries — obviously led by the United States — of “nullifying” international agreements on missile defense “in an effort to gain unilateral advantages.”

Moscow has reacted to this perceived threat with more than mere words. It is developing new and deadlier nuclear missiles, including the SS-30, to counter U.S. defenses. It has rebuffed new arms control negotiations. And it has provocatively stationed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad to “target . . . the facilities that . . . start posing a threat to us,” as Putin put it last month.

If a new arms race is underway, it’s not for lack of warning. The Russians have voiced their concerns about missile defenses for years and years, without any serious acknowledgment from Washington. From their vantage point, the apparent bad faith of successive U.S. administrations, Democratic as well as Republican, is a flashing red light to which they had to respond.

Russia’s Nightmare

From the earliest days of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense (“Star Wars”) Initiative to make ballistic missiles “impotent and obsolete,” an alarmed Moscow has viewed U.S. efforts to build a missile shield as a long-term threat to their nuclear deterrent.

President Reagan meets with Vice President George H.W. Bush on Feb. 9, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Presidential Library.)

In 2002, President Bush one-upped Reagan and unilaterally canceled the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. He did so after Russia’s foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, publicly pleaded with Washington not to terminate this landmark arms control agreement.

Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine, Ivanov warned that such a move would set back recent progress in Russian-U.S. relations and destroy “30 years of efforts by the world community” to reduce the danger of nuclear war. Russia would be forced, against its desire for international cooperation, to build up its own forces in response. The arms race would be back in full force — leaving the United States less secure, not more.

But with Russia still reeling from the neoliberal “shock therapy” that it suffered through during the 1990s, the neoconservatives (then in charge of U.S foreign policy) were confident of winning such an arms race. In 2002, President Bush adopted a National Security Strategy that explicitly called for U.S military superiority over every other power. To that end, he called on the Pentagon to develop a ground-based missile defense system within two years.

Since then, that program has lined the pockets of major U.S. military contractors without achieving any notable successes. Critics – including the U.S. General Accountability Office, National Academy of Sciences and Union of Concerned Scientists – have blasted the program for failing more than half of its operational tests. Today, after the expenditure of more than $40 billion, it enjoys bipartisan support mainly as a jobs program.

Russia fears, however, that it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. perfects its missile shield technology enough to erode the deterrent capabilities of Moscow’s nuclear arsenal.

Promoting U.S. Nuclear Primacy

That specter was highlighted in 2006 when two U.S. strategic arms experts declared in the pages of the establishment-oriented Foreign Affairs that the age of nuclear deterrence “is nearing an end. Today, for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike. . . . Unless they reverse course rapidly, Russia’s vulnerability will only increase over time.”

President George W. Bush in the Oval Office, Oct. 7, 2008. (White House photo by Eric Draper)

The authors, Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, added, “Washington’s pursuit of nuclear primacy helps explain its missile defense strategy.” Missile defense, they pointed out, is not the same as population defense. No conceivable defense could truly protect American cities against an all-out attack by Russia, or even China. Rather, a leaky shield “would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one — as an adjunct to a U.S. first-strike capability, not as a standalone shield.”

“If the United States launched a nuclear attack against Russia (or China),” they explained, “the targeted country would be left with a tiny surviving arsenal — if any at all. At that point, even a relatively modest or inefficient missile-defense system might well be enough to protect against any retaliatory strikes, because the devastated enemy would have so few warheads and decoys left.”

As if to make that scenario a reality, the Bush administration soon announced plans to install an anti-missile base in Poland and a radar control center in the Czech Republic — ostensibly to counter a nuclear threat from Iran. No matter that Iran had neither nuclear weapons nor long-range ballistic missiles — or that Washington had rebuffed Russia’s offer to cooperate on building missile defenses closer to Iran. No, Moscow was supposed to believe President Bush’s assurance that “Russia is not the enemy.”

Republican hawks in Congress didn’t get the message. Said Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, “This is not just about missile defense; this is about demonstrating to Russia that America is still a nation of resolve . . . and we’re not going to let Russian expansionism intimidate everyone.”

Yet when Russian officials reacted with alarm, and warned of the potential for a “new Cold War,” American news accounts accused them of being “bellicose.”

Obama Blows Up the Reset Button

Taking office in 2009, President Obama promised a new era of nuclear sanity. Again, the Russians pleaded for an end to the missile defense program in Eastern Europe. Privately, they expressed a new and genuine concern — that a future U.S. administration could secretly fit interceptor rockets with nuclear warheads and use them to “decapitate” Russia’s top leadership with “virtually no warning time.” Russia’s response: retaliate at the first sign of an incoming strike, without hesitating to check if it’s a false alarm.

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama and his team didn’t heed the warnings. Instead, they snubbed Putin — and the entire Russian leadership — by marching ahead with the missile shield deployment in Eastern Europe, still insulting Moscow’s intelligence with the pretense that it was a defense against Iran.

Obama’s “reset button” was the first casualty of his nuclear policy. In 2011, a despairing President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia would have no choice but to respond exactly as Putin has done, by upgrading the offensive capabilities of Russian nuclear missiles and deploying Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. Still to come may be a Russian withdrawal from the New START treaty, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed as her greatest accomplishment in the field of arms control.

President Obama never intended to expand his limited missile defense program into an existential threat to Russia’s nuclear deterrent, but he opened that door. Exactly as Moscow has long feared, hawks in Congress now are chomping at the bit to spend what it takes to build an all-out missile defense system, which former Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned would be “enormously destabilizing not to mention unbelievably expensive.”

One 2003 study pegged the possible cost of a full defensive shield covering the United States at more than $1 trillion. But that’s a small price compared to what could happen if a jittery Russian military command, armed to the teeth with nuclear missiles set on hair-trigger alert to counter a successful U.S. first strike, receives a false warning of just such an attack. Such a scenario has happened more than once.

One of these days such a mistake may prompt an all-out Russian nuclear launch — and then, not even a full missile defense will spare the United States, and much of the world, from devastation.

Jonathan Marshall is author of many recent articles on arms issues, including “How World War III Could Start,” “NATO’s ProvocativeAnti-Russian Moves,” “Escalations in a New Cold War,” “Ticking Closer to Midnight,” and “Turkey’s Nukes: A Sum of All Fears.”

63 comments for “Summing Up Russia’s Real Nuclear Fears

  1. Paul
    January 3, 2017 at 05:08

    And all this recent nuclear escalation while our government, media, presidential candidates, et al, perpetually repeat the mantra that “our 1st responsibility is to protect the American people”. From what…terrorism? Really? Less than 200 Americans have died from terrorism since 9/11, yet one nuclear explosion (as if only one could happen without a retaliatory strike) would kill 100’s of thousands. So who’s being protected here? The American people or the defense industry?

    While the neocons in government put all of our lives and the human race at risk of extinction, we are incessantly fed stories of terrorism–why we should be afraid and how we will be protected. Now is not the time to rekindle cold war tensions or create new demons to keep us in fear.

  2. Mark Thomason
    December 31, 2016 at 12:21

    First strike concerns are an outgrowth of two things, the policies of Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld, and the natural progression of precision guided munitions against efforts to harden fixed and known targets.

    The Cheney Rumsfeld team wanted to use strategic missiles in conventional warfare, for instant strikes around the world. They also wanted to so dominate Russia that it could never be a “peer competitor.”

    Added to that, the entire idea of hardening targets has been upended by the ability to hit with such precision that no practical amount of hardening would be enough. Iran has a place under a mountain, and that is not enough we are told. We have come a long way from coastal gun emplacements that could be hardened against attacks by ships’ artillery or near-random bombing attacks.

    Some of this is inevitable technology change, and some of it is deliberate use of that change to make the problem as seriously destabilizing as possible in the belief that only the other side is threatened by the resulting instability because we can make ourselves sooo powerful.

    What is needed is a deliberate effort to create stability, to make war unlikely, to make it unlikely we’ll be killed. You know, defense of us.

  3. Michael Kenny
    December 31, 2016 at 11:38

    If Putin had stayed within Russia’s national boundaries, Russia would have nothing to fear from any country, be it the US or anywhere else. He chose to seize part of Ukraine and foment “rebellions” in other parts of that country and has threatened war if Ukriane tries to assert its sovereignty there, thereby violating the Helsinki Final Act. And all that just to prevent Ukraine exercising its sovereign right to enter into an association agreement with the EU, more or less identical to the one Putin himself was in the process of negotiating at the time. Putin is thus the author of his own misfortune. As for a Russian first strike, would Putin’s military obey him? Russia is not the Soviet Union. Why would Russian soldiers die for Putin and the nasty neo-liberal oligarchs he fronts for? Why would such soldiers risk bring down nuclear retaliation on the heads of their own families for the sake of the very oligarchs who have been robbing them blind for the last 25 years? In a few months, the world will be marking the 100th anniversary of a mutiny of the Russian army, when soldiers were no longer willing to fight for a regime that treated them with contempt. Why would it be different now?

    • Fred
      January 2, 2017 at 10:20

      HAHAHA satire! I love it!

  4. bozhidar balkas
    December 31, 2016 at 10:31

    Imagine a God who gives Americans only America and allows Russia and China to not only diss and disobey it but to prevent it from destroying Syria?

    So, if Americans want the planet, they cannot ever obtain it unless they change their old and useless God and accept a new, improved one.

    As for ‘Jews’ they got from their old God only about 5% of what he allegedly promised to obtain for them?
    Surely, something is wrong here. Did their old God lie; did not exist, or exists but delays giving the ‘Jews’ all the lands between Tigris and Nile rivers or lands from Ur to Cairo and about half of Arab Peninsula?

    Yes, this is bad news! Worst ever i put out!
    But also got some good news for you: all ewes love you and you love all ewes; so, no eating ewe meat ever again!

  5. Greg Marlow
    December 31, 2016 at 08:03

    It wouldn’t take much to create a false alarm either. Suppose political tensions were elevated and one of our US communications satellites fell out of orbit near a major Russian city. How could they tell if it wasn’t a nuclear bomb? We are putting their finger on the trigger.

  6. Lee Francis
    December 30, 2016 at 07:34

    If this much vaunted US military preponderance would be victorious in any war against the Eurasian powers, then the question arises – why haven’t they gone to war already? After all this is how great powers usually settle irreconcilable differences when their interests are threatened.

    The simple answer is firstly because they can’t, and secondly because their core interests are not being threatened. The US/NATO is not going to commit what would amount to nuclear suicide over the fate of Estonia, no more than Russia can, or even wants to, invade Europe. The brute fact of the matter is that nuclear weapons have levelled the playing field and any full scale conventional war would soon turn into a nuclear exchange. Additionally a US/NATO first strike option is based upon the rather dubious notion that this would wipe out most of Russia’s land-based ICBMs and any remaining ones would be dealt with by the anti-ballistic missile system the US has placed on Russia’s borders. Easy peasy right?

    This seems all too reminiscent of the plans for the battle of the Somme 100 years ago. An Anglo-French sustained artillery barrage was going to smash the German front line and our troops would simply walk in unopposed. In the event, British casualties on the first day were almost 60,000 with 20,000 dead. This battle dragged on decisively for months with no clear winner and total British, French and German casualties in excess of one million. Such is the way with those usual hare-brained military theories which tend to come to grief in the fog of battle.

    The first-strike theory also makes no mention of submarine launched ballistic nuclear missiles which provide second strike capabilities. Both the Russians and Chinese have these nuclear armed submersibles. Secondly those land based missiles may well be mobile carried by train or truck, or based in super-hardened silos ready for a retaliatory launch. As of July 2009, Russia’s strategic arsenal reportedly shrunk to 2,723 warheads, including: 367 ICBMs with 1,248 warheads, 13 SSBNs with 591 warheads and 76 bombers with 884 warheads. Doing some arithmetic let us suppose, for the sake of argument, US air defences destroy 95% of Russian warheads; this would still leave 28 nuclear warheads hitting the US, with probably most of the big cities on the east and west coasts wiped out. The devastation in Russia would probably be even greater, but then of course there would be the rather unprepossessing prospect of a nuclear winter which would descend like a biblical nemesis on friend and foe alike. War could of course still happen by accident, but it is not a strategic option.
    Moreover the much-vaunted and feared US-NATO conventional military juggernaut has only succeeded when it takes on weak states which cannot or will not put up a fight. When the opposition fights back as in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan the performance of the west’s unbeatable military machine has been less than impressive. The strategic error which US theorists make is that they think their enemy is going to fight on American terms in a symmetrical conflict. However, the US’s adversaries have not fallen into this trap, and they fight asymmetrical wars on their own terms.

    Whilst The 11 carrier groups of the US Navy look impressive on paper, aircraft carriers and other ships have in recent times been extremely vulnerable to rocket attacks as the British discovered during the Falklands war. Prior to the Second World War Battleships were considered to be the capital ships in any navy. This view was comprehensively demolished at Pearl Harbour when the USS battleships Arizona and Oklahoma were sunk and a further 5 damaged. As if to rub in the point three days after Pearl Harbour two British battleships HMS Prince of Wales, and battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy off the East Coast of Malaya.

    Military/Naval men seem to be habituated to preparing for future wars on the basis of past wars, with disastrous results.
    All of which can be summed up in Von Moltke’s famous axiom: No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. The theory is untested and there is reason to suspect that it won’t work in the fog of war. A more realistic assessment of US hegemonic ambitions, however, is that of the conservative realist, Professor John Gray of the London School of Economics.

    “First, [Pax Americana] presupposes that the US has the economic strength to support the imperial role it entails. Second, it assumes that the US has the will to sustain it. Third, it requires that the rest of the world be ready to accept it. It is questionable whether any of these conditions can be met.”

    • MarkU
      December 30, 2016 at 09:09

      While agreeing in principle with what you are saying, your arithmetic is causing me some confusion. If 95% of 2,723 warheads were destroyed it would leave more than 28 to hit US cities. Perhaps you have omitted some key assumption regarding the actual targets of those missiles.

      • Lee Francis
        December 30, 2016 at 12:07

        Arithmetic was never a strong point with me! Moreover, I was only speculating, but you seem to haven taken my point, yes?

        • MarkU
          December 30, 2016 at 13:25

          Absolutely agree yes, if anything you understated the case. The remaining 5% of 2,723 nukes would be 136 nukes to hit the US and those warheads would be far more powerful than the comparatively puny, primitive devices dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  7. MarkU
    December 30, 2016 at 07:17

    Donald Trump has promised to spend lots of money on enhancing the US nuclear weapons arsenal. Against which potential opponent do the US nuclear weapons need enhancement? China has only a few hundred nukes, the US already has tens of thousands.

    I really hope that the Donald Trump supporters are not going to fall into the same cognitive dissonance trap that the Obama supporters ended up in, ie still rooting for the guy they voted for even after he betrayed pretty much everything he claimed to stand for. For me Trump was always a right-wing ***hole whose only real attraction was that he didn’t want to end life on Earth by starting a nuclear war with the Russians. Frankly, the very idea that a right-wing billionaire was going to genuinely be on on the side of the 99% was (and still is) quite ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong here, if I was from the US I too would have voted for Trump as the lesser of two evils but I wouldn’t have invested too much hope in the guy. So far the signs are ominous.

  8. David Schubert
    December 30, 2016 at 00:26

    It is my believe, that the Allies of the US are unreliable partners in the event of a US-Russian conflict. These so called Allies with their different cultures would be reluctant to shed their blood for the lofty ideas of US expansionism. The fact to co-ordinate these various nations into WW3 is a nightmare and will not work. Russia is a part of Europe and it would be this part of the world who would suffer the most.
    It should not be forgotten how dependent Europe is on the supply of Russian gas and many other goods.
    How important Russia is for commerce to European countries. They have lost billions through sanctions on Russia which hurt them more than Russia.
    Some governments there are quiet lukewarm but so far swimming along with the US economic system.
    Now Trump wants Nato to share a greater financial “responsibility”. This will not be enthusiastically embraced. Another nail into Nato’s coffin.

    • December 30, 2016 at 03:29

      “It is my believe, that the Allies of the US are unreliable partners in the event of a US-Russian conflict.”

      As a European I can confidentally say that most intelligent Europeans would regard the US as the most unpredictable and unreliable ally anyone could wish for. When you begin to regard an ally as someone who should support, you as opposed to you supporting them, it is time to get out and about a bit more. Though I realise you don’t really mean what you have actually written, even then, to see allies in the way you describe them is to have already fallen into the neo-con trap. Indoctrination and brainwashing by the coporate media is much more subliminal than most of us realise.

      Europeans are far more likely to remember Victoria Nuland’s “Fuck the EU!” than Americans. By beefing up US military presence in East Europe, that is exactly what the US is doing. Slavish allies such as Poland, the Baltic States and Romania are not representative of Europe as a whole, and many Western Europeans would rather they didn’t act as though they are.

      Despite lies to the contrary, Ukraine has been well and truly “fucked” and a good number of East European nations seem to have gladly pinned targets to their back to invite the same. To US neo-cons, Europe is just a convenient buffer zone. Most Europeans with even half a brain would welcome being relieved of playing the expensive – and potentially suicidal – role of remaining an ally of the US, if only their political leaders would let them.

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 30, 2016 at 15:07

        In my estimation Europe is the pivotal character who could change this American quest for world hegemony. If America were to lose Europe, at least as it stands with America today, everything would be up for grabs. This change in European subservience to America is going to change, it is just a matter of time of when the hange will come. America would be wise to join the world community, instead of trying to own it all. More isn’t always better.

  9. December 30, 2016 at 00:25

    The US has deployed its Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system in Romania and, as this article mentioned, the US is constructing another such BMD system in Poland. The Mark 41 launch system used in the Aegis Ashore systems can be used to launch a variety of missiles, including long-range nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

    In other words, the US has built and is building launch sites for nuclear missiles on the Russian border. In June, Russian President Putin specifically warned that Russia would be forced to retaliate against this threat

    Let us hope that President-elect Trump will reverse these dangerous US/NATO policies and establish a new detente with Russia.

  10. Ol' Hippy
    December 29, 2016 at 22:34

    As I’ve pointed out before a war with Russia would be an abject failure, one we’d lose for sure. Everyone knows that missile defense means 1st strike capability and that’s only a pipe dream in some demented general’s mind. Russia is ready and hopey changy Obama along with Bush II only stoked the fires of future wars. When are the damn neocons going to get off the war making high horse? Russia does not lose wars but inflicts heavy casualties on those that try. WW III is an immediate threat but global warming is a future threat that can’t be ignored, and the resources should be used to find serious solutions for the unfolding, albeit slowly, catastrophe that is upon us; after all peace would be a nice change for once with focus on people instead of war coffers. Cut the defense budget by 40% and fund social programs and help transition away from fossil fuels. After all the military is the US’s biggest polluter of fuel use that produce green house gasses by quite a large margin and nothing is ever mentioned about that. Nothing!

  11. irina
    December 29, 2016 at 22:04

    Mistakes can be so costly. Anyone not familiar with the ‘Tunguska Event’ should google it.
    We had a micro-Tunguska in February of 2013 near Chelyabinsk, Russia. What NONE of
    the media reported at the time was that there is a large military airbase, the Shagul airbase,
    nearby. What if the Chelyabinsk meteorite had been bigger, and had hit that airbase at a
    time of heightened international tensions (when is that not the case anymore ?). Would
    there be time to figure out it was a space rock, or would Russia retaliate ? These events
    are actually fairly common and I am sort of amazed that a space rock has not already
    triggered some sort of nuclear exchange. But then, as a child of the Cuban Missile Crisis,
    I see pretty much everything through the lens of that legacy.

    Recommended Reading — “By the Bomb’s Early Light” by eminent historian Paul Boyer.
    Available through Amazon used books. Excellent analysis of the immediate post-Hiroshima
    years. Conclusion : the most dangerous time was not the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the Cold
    War in general. The most dangerous time is NOW, when we have become accustomed to
    the nuclear ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over our heads, when there are more rogue players
    in the game, when weapons systems are becoming aged and unreliable, and when the mili-
    tary and political figures no longer fear a holocaust the way we did back in the 1950’s & 1960’s.

  12. Novus Ordo Seclorum
    December 29, 2016 at 21:39

    There is nothing to fear from the neocons by Russia. They are very good people who have turned EU into vassal states with Germany alone having 10-20 US military bases with nuclear weapons in the basement.

    Italy comes second after Germany with the entire peninsula covered with military bases and nuclear weapons.

    Turkey is lucky that after the OBAMA’s failed coup in July, nuclear weapons were relocated to Romania.

    All former communist countries in Eastern Europe are now being used as guinea pigs with radar microwaves cooking the Czechs and the Poles 24/7, ready to destroy a fictitious enemy that exists only in their heads.

    You can easily see which country will disappear first from the EU map when the neocons lunch their “First Strike” against Russia:

    first 0.5 seconds: the Neocons wipe Kaliningrad out of the map and start cheering
    0.75 seconds: they “First strike” Moscow and all Russian cities
    1 second: celebrations of the total victory start
    1.25 seconds: Only 5 Russian Tu-160s take off from a hidden Artic base and deliver only 10 SATANs on North America.
    (1 SATAN can wipe out Texas with just one strike)
    1.5 seconds: A Russian submarine delivers SATANs on the EU territories

    1.75 seconds: Life is gone from Russia, North America and Europe for the next 2000+ years.

    That’s the real M.A.D that Kissinger designed back in the 70s and is still in progress.

  13. rosemerry
    December 29, 2016 at 17:16

    “Nobody wins a nuclear war.” I remember all the posters and warnings, plus marches and discussions in the Cold War days. People took seriously the dangers, even when MAD meant that all the nuke powers pledged not to be the first to attack, which if kept to, would avoid war. Now, perhaps since the fatal decision by W in 2002 to cancel the ABM treaty, perhaps since the treatment of USSR in the 1990s and the encircling by US bases (against all agreement and trust) to Russia’s borders, we are in a worse position, yet nobody seems to worry.
    Practically every outlet calls Pres. Putin a bully, a tyrant, and fanciful terms ignoring his support by the Russian people and his diplomatic speeches and suggestions. The Russophobia is unjustified and politically motivated, but exceedingly dangerous.

  14. Bill Bodden
    December 29, 2016 at 16:30

    A study of the run-up to the First World War (aka The Great War and The War to End All Wars) reveals how a little human frailty here and gross incompetence there in national leadership can get a massive war underway. Barbara Tuchman’s “Guns of August” and “March of Folly” are among excellent resources.

    In “The Politics of War” Walter Karp explained why and how Woodrow Wilson maneuvered America into this war all the while he was pretending he wanted to keep America out of it. The book also shows President McKinley playing a similar game to get into the Spanish America War.

    • Chris Chuba
      December 29, 2016 at 16:55

      Someone who actually talks about the FIRST World War, Bodden, you are a man after my own heart. The Neocons are obsessed with WW2 where a war was allegedly started because we didn’t stand up to the bully but they forget that some pretty big wars have started because everyone expected the other person to back down.

      The think that amazes me about this topic is that when Russia merely tries to prevent nuclear domination, it is presented as an act of aggression. I really wonder why people in the U.S. are unable to think analytically. I think it is because we lack empathy. Perhaps that is a trait common to bullies.

      • Bill Bodden
        December 29, 2016 at 19:26

        I really wonder why people in the U.S. are unable to think analytically. I think it is because we lack empathy. Perhaps that is a trait common to bullies.

        Probably the main reason people in the U.S. (and other nations influenced by the U.S.) are unable to think analytically is the long-standing tradition of being lied to from their formative years until they die. The skids are greased incessantly with commercials encouraging them to be consumers instead of citizens to the point, according to psychiatrists, of being diseased. The pledge of allegiance begins the political lies, especially with the bit about “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Then its time for the movies and videos to get the message across, as General James Mattis, next SecDef?, would have us believe, “it is fun to shoot people.”

        When I look at some states and the politicians their people have sent to Congress I frequently say that I am glad I don’t live there. When I look at Congress, many people must wonder what the hell we are doing living here.

    • Ol' Hippy
      December 29, 2016 at 22:55

      WW I was as far as I can tell was the birth of modern propaganda. Sure it’s been around forever but the ‘modern age’ was born to get the US into WW I and hasn’t stopped for a moment, it’s just grown wings and flourished since, and the TV was the greatest tool ever to spread the dissemination of the ‘party line’ and it’s rife with half-truths and outright lies. Ah progress, and Trump wants to control it more than ever; we’re in big trouble as far as I can tell.

  15. Bill Bodden
    December 29, 2016 at 16:09

    Since then, that program has lined the pockets of major U.S. military contractors without achieving any notable successes.

    To the contrary, that program was very successful. It lined the pockets of major U.S. military contractors which would have been a primary object of the program.

  16. Mark Thomason
    December 29, 2016 at 15:39

    The relentless Russia bashing is just a continuation of the Hillary campaign’s thinking and excuses.

    It is less about Russia than about Trump.

    It is less about even Trump than it is about who will emerge as the leader of the post-Hillary Democratic Party. The Russia-bashing group want another Hillary figure, a liberal interventionist hawk, trade agreements, favoring Wall Street and big investors, compliant with all the status quo she promised them.

    They bash Russia to stop the Movement that followed Bernie and Warren from taking over the Democratic Party.

  17. Kozmo
    December 29, 2016 at 14:33

    “Russian expansionism” — pretty brazen words coming from an American whose country has 800 military bases across the globe. As opposed to Russia’s how many? Two?

    American hegemonists’ relentless desire to back the Russian bear into a corner, then poke him with sharp sticks, is going to end in disaster. Russians are used to hunkering down in survival mode, having done so as recently as the 1990s as well as big-time in WWII, while the US was partying and enjoying the fruits of a victory in an undevastated land. I don’t have much faith in the ability of today’s cosseted and infantilized Americans to cope well with a nuclear exchange or destruction of utilities, communications, and transportation networks.

    • Anna
      December 29, 2016 at 15:38

      The US deciders live in a la-la land, pampered by servants and lost in making money and playing with newest toys. They are not able to comprehend the reality. As for the war profiteers, the trifles of morality are beyond them.
      The deciders treat the whole world as disposable, as if hoping that a newer model is awaiting them next year.

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 29, 2016 at 18:09

      Kozmo the point you make regarding Russia’s triumphant history against warring invaders is well taken. I do believe that the real reason for all of this American intimation at Russia is a defense industry looking to profit from such a debacle of nerves. I would actually like to know, if American Neo-Types truly realize how dangerous they are making our world with all of their threats made against Russia. It’s one thing to poke at an enemy, and quite another thing to back up your words of aggression with a powerful enough punch to knock them out. Russia is known for not necessarily starting wars, but real well known for finishing them. My advise to those that pursue this line of toughness with Russia, is to be careful, to be very, very careful.

      • December 29, 2016 at 23:14

        Joe Tedesky, your reply to Kosmo is right on, I personally know having come through WWII in Europe.
        One more item you can put to your list about Russia is that their weapons being designed and manufactured in government owned installations and cost a hell of a lot less money than what is produced in the FOR PROFIT US and its lapdogs Europeans and Japanese Military Industrial Complex setup.

        As for the F-35 reports I have from test pilots who did fly that “fantasy performer” F-35 all are the same, a worthless aircraft at that sky-high price, whichever way you try to figure out what that abortion is costing.
        The only ones happy with it are the, you guessed it, Israeli Air Force who got them GIVEN to them at US taxpayers expense while the US infrastructure is collapsing around Americans’ knees.
        Other Air Forces who had signed on the dotted line, including US 51 State Canada, have put a hold on their purchase order to buy the F-35.

        • Joe Tedesky
          December 30, 2016 at 00:25

          Thanks for the reply, and the opinion you gave here, Doctor. You sound like a person who has seen, and experienced enough in life to know what you are talking about.

          It is a shame that there are those who wrap themselves up in the American flag, as they only know how to put on a show, while they rake in the profits. These scoundrels deep down inside don’t really give a damn about anybody except themselves. Funding a puppet politician to these treacherous creeps is just the cost of doing business, and they especially love that they can write it all off as a business expense.

          If the Russians are better at procurement than we are, well then they may have the better weapons. I would never underestimate any foreign military, let alone the Russians. The Russians have proved it to many times how they will fight you with spit and pitchforks, if they have to, but fight they will to protect their dear homeland Mother Russia. Yes, I have a great respect for the Russians, and if the NeoNuts were thinking straight, they would have this respect to.

          Consider the enemies we have been fighting ever since WWII. None of our foes have even come close to be as well armed as we are, but never the less they have given our military a run for their money. It isn’t the average soldier who is to blame, as much as it is the fault of America’s top leadership. Congresspeople love having a defense contractor in their district, because with a country always at war these fine legistors do very well thank you very much, and with that say that is how the cookie crumbles…and possibly the empire with it.

        • Charles Fasola
          December 30, 2016 at 11:50

          Great comment. Dr.

      • Peter Loeb
        December 30, 2016 at 07:23

        To Joe Tedesky:

        William Greider’s book FORTRESS AMERICA has a chapter
        entitled “From Plougshares into Capital Gains”.

        Peter Loeb

        • Joe Tedesky
          December 30, 2016 at 11:37

          Peter I have been in machine shops where they machine parts for the defense industry. To a machinist the next engineer drawing could be a part for anything. It would mean making a pattern for a farm tractor in place of stamping out a piece for a military tank. It would be rather easy to convert from making weapons to assembling plough shares. In fact, with the great need for infrastructure and environmental concerns to be met, it would seem quite profitable for those who’s livelihood depend on manufacturing such things to do this. The question is, what are our priorities? Good to hear from you Peter, have a great new year!

    • Tristan
      December 30, 2016 at 03:00

      I agree Kozmo, here’s part of a news program which shows Russia’s point of view,

  18. December 29, 2016 at 14:10

    Ultra mutual assured destruction.
    Complete insanity.
    Quite profitable to some however, until it isn’t for all.

  19. Brian
    December 29, 2016 at 13:28

    Nov 29, 2016 The Map That Shows Why Russia Fears War With USA – Mike Maloney

  20. Douglas Baker
    December 29, 2016 at 13:04

    The United States armed forces as foreign legionaries far from home at war (real, but undeclared) in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and else where on Earth, continue to use nuclear weapons discharged as the so called “depleted” uranium tipping instruments of destruction explode into tiny particulate matter that is long lived and continues to cripple, maim, deform, and kill those that live where employed. As this is useful now and well practiced, the war decision makers that engage the deployment of nuclear offensive/defensive capabilities that snuggle up to the Russian Federation’s borders cast a different shadow over the country than the American placement of tanks with their turret cannon barrels’ shadows crossing the Federation’s country lines. Once those that made our country’s war decisions loved M.A.D.–mutual assured destruction–with a minority holding to attack with nuclear weapons first. It seems now that more are committed to an Imperial surprise giving The Russian Federation and The People’s Republic of China a nuclear “Pearl Harbor” as American firsters with glowing eyes and flip button pushing numbers grow.

  21. Pablo Diablo
    December 29, 2016 at 12:51

    They don’t care if it works. The War Machine just wants the money and the accompanying “fear factor”.

  22. jo6pac
    December 29, 2016 at 12:18

    all-out missile defense system

    If it works as well as the f-35 then Russia has no worries. Amerikas merchants of death build weapons for profit and could careless if they work. Amerikas icbm still use 10″ flappy disks now that’s scary.

    I think after watching Russia weapons in Syria work so well Amerika might want to rethink it’s policy of madness. Oh sure;)

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 29, 2016 at 12:35

      Yeah, does it, or will it all even work if ever needed? I hope we never need to find out.

      • December 29, 2016 at 14:33

        With the state of the US nuclear arsenal, if launched, most will never make it out of the silos. That is how bad this weapon system has been maintained.

        • Joe Tedesky
          December 30, 2016 at 02:41

          I wonder what percentage is put on workability and effectiveness?

    • Josh Stern
      December 29, 2016 at 22:07

      One tries to investigate the actual cost of the F-35 and it’s very confusing. Wikipedia has some summary numbers in the right box: This at least makes clear that cost is analyzed in several distinct categories: research & development, “procurement”, the cost of building 1 at any given time – though for some reason they mostly discuss the cost of building incomplete fighters without engines! – and they the cost of using a plane, which naturally depends on how much its is used, independently of any sort of casualty or accident damage.

      I still want to ask, in some actually meaningful way, how much does it cost per plane, everything included! Yes, I understand that depends on how much fuel the plane uses and how many salary hours the pilot and the fix-it crew log, etc. But I still want a number I can understand. Can I get one, please? I think they are saying that, far, this looks like $1.508 trillion divided by 180 planes (some of which do not have engines) and a promise to keep them running in some unknown amount of activity until 2070. But don’t worry – these estimates are always wrong (and always on the low side). I might be wrong, in my understanding of those numbers, but that sure sounds like a bargain and only $8.377 billion per plane!!!

      It might actually go down in unit price if we build more or sell more to other war makers…

      Btw, I’m pretty sure that these fighters are only of use in conventional wars where the enemy is sending planes at us or we’re protecting our biggers planes or something like that. For ICBM war, you should visit aisle 2. For terrorism, aisle 3,….

      and then a discussion of batches. Many of the batch numbers don’t mean much because they

      • David Smith
        December 30, 2016 at 06:25

        Wikipedia is garbage, 100% propaganda. The Wikipedia article for the F-35 will be written by Lockheed. The GAO estimate is no less that $160,000,000 to build one F-35A. Then you’re on the hook for maintenance, which is the real scam, F-22 maintenance costs have been much higher than “estimated”. The rule if thumb is unit price is 20% of operating cost(peacetime tempo) therefore one F-35 will eat $800,000,000 minimum, and it won’t be flying in 2070. It is touted for its Beyond Visual Range kill capability, ability to hack any air defence system, and coordinate artillery from the cockpit. I’m just a “civie” so I can’t tell you if it can really do all this, but the touts are bellowing at maximum volume. One clue is the F-35C was designed for US Navy carriers, but the Navy doesn’t want it and is buying SuperHornets, and that speaks volumes.

        • Peter Loeb
          December 30, 2016 at 07:16


          That’s what we keep hearing when the talk is about
          “domestic” issues. Cut health care! Cut Medicare!
          Cut Medicaid! Cut programs for the poor (an old
          term, now we only speak of “middle class” at
          least in public).


          But we must remember the history that really was,
          not the ilusionary history of Democratic sugar plum
          fairies. What solved the Great Depression was NOT
          the alphabet soup programs of the New Deal.
          After the Federal Budget of 1941 everyone had a job.
          Making weapons that kill. “Rosie the Riveter” had a job.
          Until “the boys” came home. Defense contractors got
          their perks no questions asked:” cost plus guarantees”,
          plants made by the federal government and so forth.

          See: Gabriel Kolko, MAIN CURRENTS IN MODERN AMERICAN

          William Greider writes that workers in defense-related
          industries remember those “good times”. They dream of
          a World War III.See FORTRESS AMERICA.

          —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

          • Charles Fasola
            December 30, 2016 at 11:47

            The money is coming from pillaging other countries. Our cozy life style in the empire is born on the backs of those less fortunate. When the cash flow lessens they will be coming for you; more so than they are doing so now.

        • eric
          December 31, 2016 at 01:05

          The Russians have some new planes that we can not compete with . The F 22 and the F 35 are our only panes that could fly against the Russian planes . The reason our planes are so expensive is because of stealth .. Our Stealth is so good our planes can’t be detected by radar . Now days fighter planes shoot the enemy before they see the enemy . I don’t know how Russia expects to fight inviable planes . Maybe Russia doesn’t think there will be many planes to fight because they are to expensive to build . Or maybe Russia and China have other tricks up there sleeves . I doubt if Russia and China came to Syria with the idea they might be humiliated again like they were in Yugoslavia 17 years ago . They have been working and preparing for this confrontation for all 17 years . And you did not know this was happening , you don’t even remember what you did to them . But I will guarantee you they remember every dirty trick and lie you pulled .

          • Grumpy_carpenter
            January 2, 2017 at 12:19

            Stealth is a marketing term for low observability in aircraft design. There is no such thing as an invisible aircraft, there never was and never will be. “Stealth” is achieved at the expense of weapons load, range, speed and agility. “Stealth” aircraft have always been observable to a degree on low frequency radar, however radar in these bandwidths doesn’t (or rather didn’t) have the resolution to achieve weapons lock for radar guided missile seekers.

            Russia and China have been working on tactics to defeat “stealth” aircraft through improved low frequency targeting radars and multiple radars tracking aircraft from different angles which allows them to get an exact location through triangulation. Stealth aircraft also generate a lot of heat through friction as they move through the air and through the heat of their engines. IR missile seekers can lock on to their heat signatures just as easily as any other aircraft.

            Russian jets can carry a much higher weapons load than the F-35 or F-22. They can firs a salvo of 3 missiles to ever one the F-35 fires with each missile having different seekers. Russian Flankers in particular are extremely agile so they have a high probability of outrunning or out manuevering missiles in their terminal phase whereas the F-35 in particular cannot. Lockeed-martin say they have electronic countermeasure that can deal with Russian missiles (probably the best in the air to air world today) Russia doesn’t seem to be worried.

            One thing that should be noted in regards to the character of Vladimir Putin is that he has never gambled and he simply detests gambling. If he says or does something it’s almost certain that it isn’t a bluff. Anyone who believes Putin is bluffing when he says he’ll take out the US missile defence system in Poland when it becomes active this year are best advised to take the threat seriously.

    • Don G.
      January 1, 2017 at 02:00

      Just stop it! Russia has no intention of having a hot war with the US and it never did. It’s only sitting ready with a counter attack that will make glass parking lots out of your country if need be. Keep a close eye on Trump. Psychopaths know no fear and will not accept defeat. That’s concern

      • Fred
        January 2, 2017 at 09:56

        Psychopaths know no fear and will not accept defeat.

        As Hillary and her sycophants have aptly demonstrated.

    • Bianca
      January 2, 2017 at 19:18

      And in addition to using 10″ floppy, I do not know how exactly is the nuclear enrichment handled. It does appear that Russia is providing US with uranium enrichment. Do not know, though, for what uses. But it is still a mess. Just as it is US dependence on many special minerals and metals from Russia, quite necessary for both space and military technology. And getting military heavy payloads on orbit, still requires Russian engines, with still no date available for producing US equivalent. Who knows really what is going on. The manufacturers are salespeople that overpromise, and then take forever to produce duds. Both in aviation and the latest examples of navy rust buckets. I take no pleasure in such idiocy, because the combination of overconfident politicians and an underwhelming reality — is not comforting. It confuses both allies and adversaries. Hope they are both more mature then we are. We have been run way to long by people with limited life experience. The acting career of Reagan, the lawyerly penchant of Clinton, a questionable business acumen of Bush the younger, and then back to a lawyer. We need an executive power, and hopefully, Trump can provide it, and surround himself with executive powerhouses. Like the proposed Secretary of State, T-Rex.

  23. Drew Hunkins
    December 29, 2016 at 12:11

    Over at CommonDreams some Killary supporters mocked and ridiculed me and deemed me hysterical and delusional and a fear monger when I astutely pointed out how dangerous it is for Washington and the mass media to be constantly saber rattling toward Moscow. They said it was a cheap ploy on my behalf for me to bring up the potential for nuclear war, it was a “naked attempt to sway people to [my] side of the argument using scare tactics.:”

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 29, 2016 at 12:33

      At least you are not one of those limousine liberals who was suckered in by Hillary’s Neocon rants…good to read your comments here, so keep it up Drew. I say this not so much as to always agree with you, but to sharpen our debate on this comment posting board.

      • Drew Hunkins
        December 29, 2016 at 12:57

        Thanks for the kind words Mr. Tedesky. Sometimes fighting through all the fog and misinformation is an uphill slog. It’s always nice to know we have fellow soldiers by our side.

    • Annie
      December 29, 2016 at 15:58

      I use to visit Common Sense, read their articles, never commented though. When you look at their slew of articles in recent months you know it’s a site with a bias, with an agenda, and no longer worth visiting. Stay here and a few other places that try, and succeed in being objective.

    • Felix Navidad
      December 29, 2016 at 17:07

      Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats today.
      Russia vows to retaliate.
      Obama launches trillion $ nuclear weapons upgrade.
      Trump promises vast enhancements to US nuclear arsenal.

      NO hysterics, delusions, fear mongering or scare tactics. – JUST FACTS

      • Bianca
        January 2, 2017 at 19:05

        I am hoping that we may be entering an era of more sanity in nuclear armaments. Trump knows that our nuclear program is in fact broken. All the emphasis is going into so called “missile defense shield”, a rather flimsy pretext for short-range nuclear war — by surrounding Russia with such installations and adding the submarine capabilities, the intercontinental arsenal has been left to fall behind times, and is still managed using oldest style floppy discs. The key will be the status of the “missile defense”, a really Orvellian concept of short-range nuclear strike. There are no obstacles in fitting the nuclear weapons, and the whole few minutes to reprogram the coordinates. Obama’s plan will for sure be reviewed. And the issue will be — will the Congress try to run foreign policy and defense, or is Trump going to draw the line. Republicans in Congress are acting like THEY WON the election, forgetting that many of them got votes simply by Trump voters pinching their noses, and voting for those fossils, to give Trump Congress. But they are going to learn quickly not to stand in the way. Some dinosaurs, like McCain or Lindsey Graham, may not care about being reelected — so they will shill for the arms manufacturers. But Trump has those in his cross hairs, as they overcharged and underperformed in every contract thus far. He will not be generous, and that may tie hands of more generous Republicans. Either way, the clash over foreign policy and defense directions — is coming.

    • Neil Lori
      December 29, 2016 at 17:22

      I have an idea all members of all armed forces of every country should refuse any order to use nuclear weapons. Defy the sons of bitches. One nuclear blast is one too many. Any one that orders nuclear attack is to be disobeyed. All nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors must be dismantled asap

      • Charles Fasola
        December 30, 2016 at 11:42

        Automatons do not make decisions they follow orders. The majority of our armed forces are brain washed, mind controlled orks.
        Those here in the land of the hegemon those forces will go so far as to turn their weapons upon their own fellow citizens. Just following orders.
        Speaking from an experienced perspective that will not happen in a certain demonized country all of this bs propaganda from our government is directed toward.

        • Neil Lori
          December 30, 2016 at 20:12

          Thanks Charles Fasola for your remarks but I disagree with you. Many armed force members oppose war and even more oppose nuclear war. Military law allows for disobeying unlawful orders. Most service members have brains and use them

    • December 30, 2016 at 19:57

      Killary supporters = Common Nitemares.

    • Don G.
      January 1, 2017 at 01:55

      They’re just not gettin git yet Drew. I myself was too outspoken on that site and they banned me for it. They’re all tied up in their fantasies but they will eventually get it. And don’t worry about Russia, they couldn’t give a f–k about the US sabre rattling and dirty tricks blackmailing their economy. They are separating themselves from the West because they know the US isn’t going to stop. And they can do it successfully with the rising power and influence of the Brics. The US needs to tread lightly because it could find itself on the outside looking in.

      luv from Canada.

      • John
        January 6, 2017 at 21:53

        “Luv from Canada” tells me who you were on NeoCon Dreams. I’m banned from there for the next 100+ years as well. (Herdpoisoning was my name there)

        Did anyone else notice the purge of their commentors shortly before they were not included on ProPornOT’s list of reliable news outlets? I wonder how much of their funding comes from Soros….

        We live in intetesting times…

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