Monday, March 6, 2017

Bannon White House - Rebuilding the Soviet Empire

Staying "On Focus
The Russians, the President and the Republicans
Are Desperately Trying to Confuse Everybody
The Congress and the Media Aren't Helping.

Vladimir Putin and the oligarchs in the Russian Federation have been pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the "Trump Experiment" all through the 2016 election. While the entire collection of both methods and the goals tempting the Russians into this enterprise constitute a long list of mischief, there really is a "big picture" in play which supersedes all the distracting antics playing out "here and there" in the White House.

None of these matter much to the illiterate hill billies and bigots among Trump's voting base, but for the rest of us the stakes are high, indeed.

An estimate of the "secondary" goals for this Russian gambit is fairly straightforward. A few of the larger issues can be listed immediately.

1. Hillary Clinton and Future US Foreign Policy

In the beginning stages of this process Putin was afraid of the prospect of seeing a politically empowered Hillary Clinton in the White House. It is now clear that the Russian's initial plan was to pump resources into Trump's campaign in the hope of politically "wounding" a new Clinton President with the result of throttling some of her executive ability to reign in the Russian Federation's expansionist appetites.

Putin's first impulse was to simply weaken her by introducing a flood of character damaging propaganda during the campaign. Trump's victory apparently caught Putin by just as much surprise as it did Trump.

If there is a visible error in the Russian's geo-political strategy, it can be seen most clearly in the timing confusion which quickly followed this unanticipated turn of events. Putin was still focused primarily on inflicting damage to a newly elected Clinton, "confusing" what would have probably been a quick turn to exploiting Trump's win.

Nonetheless, Russian "cast iron" political strategy doesn't usually spend much time at all getting back on its feet after a miscalculation -- especially not when there is such a "rich pot" on the table.

2. Dreams of a New Soviet Empire

Since the rather ignominious fall of the old Soviet Empire, Russian expansionist plans have been constantly blocked by NATO and the United States. One particularly poignant "low point" in this -- for the Russians -- frustrating international military policy has occurred in Ukraine. Further, this recent set back occurred while the injuries of the previous set back were still raw. Yes, the fiasco in Afghanistan was during the entropic end of Soviet fever dreams of hegemony, but the damage the Russians inflicted upon themselves as a result of the over reach was severe and long lasting.

[The similar self-inflicted damage for the West from its own adventure in Afghanistan -- the longest war in modern history -- was also severe, yet somewhat less painful. The economies of the participating countries forced to absorb it were stronger than that of the Federation.]

In many ways the Russian military and political efforts to regain control of Ukraine are a direct result of this. [See item 3, below.] However, the Russian appetite for aggression is not limited to Ukraine. It is executing a slowly growing resurgence in several democratic nations along the old Warsaw Pact border. The Russian Federation's long term goal is to destroy the unity of European countries -- and the US -- currently supporting NATO. 

3. Internal Politics Within the Russian Federation

The current President of the Russian Federation deals with an internal politics not too dissimilar to Donald Trump's situation in the US. Within the widely diverse population of the modern Federation most Russians -- as is the case around the globe -- are primarily concerned with the events and challenges of day to day living. However, a staunch minority of Russian nationalists dependably support policies by the controlling autocrat, Vladimir Putin, directed at re-establishing the old Soviet Empire.

Russian oligarchs comprise an obedient gang of thugs obliged to carry out instructions from the Kremlin. The pay is great -- so long as you follow orders, you get to live as a billionaire. The penalty for not following orders is also extreme. When "top secret" correspondence between Trump and Putin had to be carried out, a Russian oligarch's hundred million dollar personal jet, in this case, one owned by Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev, repeatedly appeared as various airports around the US at the same time Trump was there. [Russian Billionaire's Secret Meetings With Trump/MSNBC]

Although Putin himself is already, most likely, the richest man on Earth, the ambitious crowd of Russian billionaire oligarchs surrounding him also stand to gain even more wealth if the Federation can expand beyond its present boundaries. This bunch "cheers him on" when he formulates schemes such as intervention in Ukraine...or in the US.

"Paying the Piper"
What does Putin Want From Trump?
Should we expect to see troops from the Russian Federation
 as "Peace Keepers" when the rioting begins?

The confusion being generated daily by the Trump Administration has a purpose, but that purpose has nothing to do with feeble gestures to gratify the unwashed, uninformed masses who served to elect him. Donald Trump could not care less about the any of his incendiary actions which have left the country is such a vulnerable dismay.

Trump's central purpose [All Russian assets have a "central purpose."] is to quit making US foreign policy which would stop Putin and the Federation from expanding into the recently liberated countries which used to be Soviet satellites. Everything else coming from the White House is simply a distraction -- a suspiciously convenient confusion.

Take a moment to read the CNN article.

Putin's aggression in Europe
should worry the US

By Richard Shirreff
October 21, 2016
[Visit the original article Russian Aggression and NATO/CNN]

(CNN)Since the formation of NATO in 1949 the defense of Europe and the free world has depended on the absolute certainty that whatever president is occupying the White House, the United States will come to the aid of a NATO member if attacked. Any doubt about the American commitment, and the credibility of NATO's doctrine of collective defense, is holed below the waterline.

At a time when the West faces a greater threat from a resurgent Russia since the most dangerous crises of the Cold War, NATO, more than ever, needs to stand strong, united and credible.

Russia's invasion of Crimea and Ukraine in 2014 may have already lit the fuse that could lead to the unthinkable: nuclear war with Russia in Europe.

Consider the words and actions of President Vladimir Putin, who has described the breakup of the Soviet Union as the "greatest geo-strategic tragedy of the 20th century." In his speech on March 18, 2014, the day Crimea was admitted into the Russian Federation, Putin majored on the threat the West posed to Russia by its continued encirclement and warned about the possibility of pushback: "If you compress the spring to its limit, it will snap back hard: something you should remember," while claiming the right to protect the interests of Russian speakers everywhere, "even if it will worsen our relations with some states."

Overnight, Putin became NATO's strategic adversary, starting a dynamic that could lead to a clash with NATO over the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia (which have significant Russian-speaking minorities).

Two years on and the threat is even greater. Indeed, the ratchet of tension clicks tighter on an almost weekly basis: Even this week we wake up to news of Russia sailing warships near the British coast in "a show of force and a show of capabilities," according to Peter Felstead, editor of Jane's Defence Weekly.

Unprecedented levels of military activity on the borders and in the airspace of the Baltic states, Finland and Sweden have been matched by the rapid buildup of military forces in Russia's Western Military District on the borders of NATO.

For example, in January, Russia announced the formation and deployment of three motor rifle divisions, about 60,000 troops, along the Russian frontier with the Baltic states. And the Russians have kept themselves busy with regular so-called snap exercises to test the readiness of their military, at least one of which was based on a scenario of invasion and occupation of the Baltic states.

Putin's strategic aim is clear: to re-establish Russia's status as one of the world's great powers and to dominate the former republics of the Soviet Union -- imperialist intentions that might have been acceptable to great powers in the 19th century but which are an affront in 2016. If the opportunity presents itself, he may well activate long-held plans to march into the Baltic states.

To paraphrase British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's 1938 comment on Czechoslovakia, why are events in these faraway countries of which we may know little important to Americans?
First, because if Russia puts one soldier across the borders of the Baltic states it means war with NATO.

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have been members of  NATO since 2004 and are therefore protected under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the founding document of NATO, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all. A Russian attack on the Baltic states puts America at war with Russia -- meaning nuclear war, because Russia integrates nuclear weapons into every aspect of its military doctrine.

And don't think Russia would limit itself to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Any form of nuclear release by the Russians would almost certainly precipitate nuclear retaliation by the United States, and the dreadful reality of mutually assured destruction and the end of life as we know it would follow.

Indeed, Russia is at war with America already. Russian hacking of Democratic Party email servers and, if confirmed, WikiLeaks publicizing of Clinton campaign emails to discredit the Democrats and propel Donald Trump -- arguably what Putin would classify as a "useful idiot" into the White House -- is classic maskirovka -- deception, aimed at undermining the intelligence and integrity of the enemy in a way that remains below the threshold of conventional warfare. In the words of Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center, and a man with close connections to the Putin regime, the Kremlin has been at war since 2014.

But although the clock may be ticking close to midnight, it is not too late. Maintenance of the peace we have enjoyed in Western Europe for nearly 70 years depends on effective deterrence. The bar of risk must be raised too high for Russia to consider any opportunistic move into the Baltic states. This requires forward basing of a credible military capability in the Baltic states and eastern Poland (rather than the token presence agreed at the NATO Warsaw Summit in July).

NATO reserves able to move quickly and effectively to bolster defenses in the Baltics will send a powerful message. It also requires Canada and European members of NATO to recognize that military capabilities lost from cumulative disarmament over the past two decades must be regenerated. This means increasing defense spending, almost certainly above the 2% of gross domestic product agreed -- but often not acted upon -- by NATO members (less the United States, UK, Estonia and Greece).

2017 is 100th anniversary of the first occasion the United States intervened in one of Europe's wars. The region's security is a matter of American security, and it means continued and close engagement in Europe and a continuation of the strong leadership that America has given NATO from the start.

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