‘Iran is placing guided warheads on Hezbollah rockets’ – Jerusalem Post

Iran is placing guided warheads on its rockets and smuggling them to Hezbollah in Lebanon, a senior Defense Ministry official involved in preparing Israeli air defenses said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Israel Air and Missile Defense Conference in Herzliya, organized by the iHLS defense website and the Israel Missile Defense Association, Col. Aviram Hasson said Iran is converting Zilzal unguided rockets into accurate, guided M-600 projectiles by upgrading their warheads.

‘Iran is placing guided warheads on Hezbollah rockets’ – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Russia Again Flight Tests New ICBM to Treaty-Violating Range | Washington Free Beacon

Russia conducted a flight test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month that some U.S. officials and security analysts say is a new violation of Moscow’s arms control treaty commitments.

The March 18 flight test of a new RS-26 missile is part of a large-scale nuclear arms buildup by Russia and is raising concerns about treaty compliance, said U.S. officials familiar with details of the missile test.

The RS-26 missile carried a dummy warhead from Russia’s Kapustin Yar missile facility, located about 80 miles south of Volgograd in southern Russia, to an impact range at Sary Shagan in Kazakhstan.

The distance between the launch facility and the impact area is approximately 1,248 miles, far less than the threshold of 3,417 miles required by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Russia Again Flight Tests New ICBM to Treaty-Violating Range | Washington Free Beacon

Putin ignores Russia’s structural problems at own risk

Putin keeps promising that the situation will improve for Russia—but only if the country remains strong in resisting Western “containment.” This all sounds righteous and proud, but the country is in fact growing weaker—and not because of Western conspiracies but due to Russia’s incurable petro-dependency, which is aggravated by rampant corruption. Putin cannot afford for this plain truth to come to the surface from under the foam of “patriotic” propaganda, and the first signs of reckoning with the reality of sustained stagnation in the opinion polls may prompt him to resort to more than just demonstrations of military might. Real action would become necessary, and the gradual acceptance by society of the blatant lies and brutal violence of the “hybrid war” as a new normal makes it possible to plan strikes and offensives just inside the ever-rising threshold of acceptable risk. Putin is now experimenting with forgetting the risks inherent in nuclear brinkmanship. And apparently, few are firmly demanding that he remember his responsibilities as the leader of a nuclear-armed state. Those in the Kremlin who think that the “decider” has gone too far prefer to stay mum, while seasoned courtiers find it opportune to entertain the “not far enough” proposition. In this anxious crowd, his next disappearance may be for real—a risk that he is unlikely to forget.

Putin’s Conveniently Imperfect Memory | The Jamestown Foundation

China May Build a Naval Base in the South Atlantic

The Chinese regime has been shaking things up with its neighbors by building new islands in the South China Sea, then building military bases on them. It now appears that the Chinese regime has much broader ambitions in this push, and is turning its sights to the South Atlantic.

The Namibian, a local publication in Namibia, reports obtaining a confidential letter on China’s alleged plan to build a naval base in Namibia’s Walvis Bay. In a Jan. 20 article, it writes the letter was sent from Namibia’s ambassador to China, Ringo Abed, to Namibia’s foreign ministry.

The letter states, according to The Namibian, “[Chinese] delegation will visit Namibia … for discussions … on the way forward regarding plans for the proposed naval base in Walvis Bay.”

China May Build a Naval Base in the South Atlantic

DOE Advisors Warns Of Arctic Energy War With Russia, China | The Daily Caller

The Arctic is home to vast oil and natural gas reserves that Russia and China are eager to tap into, meaning the U.S. needs to start drilling in the north pole to keep ahead of its economic rivals, according to Department of Energy report.

The DOE’s National Petroleum Council is urging the Obama administration to allow for oil companies to develop the Arctic’s vast oil and gas reserves for the sake of national and economic security.

“Internationally, other countries such as Russia are moving forward with increased Arctic economic development during this time of change,” the NPC reported. “Russia is drilling new exploration wells in the Kara and Pechora Seas and is expanding its naval and transportation fleet. While China does not have Arctic territory, it is investing millions of dollars in Arctic research, infrastructure, and natural resource development.”

DOE Advisors Warns Of Arctic Energy War With Russia, China | The Daily Caller

US Cites Growing N. Korea Long-Range Missile Threat

President Obama’s National Intelligence Director recently told the U.S. Congress that North Korea has made advancements toward developing a long-range ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. At the same time, a possible deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea is being debated, but for officials in Seoul, these two issues are not necessarily related.

In written testimony to Congress, James Clapper, the U.S. National Intelligence Director, last week said that North Korea has taken steps to deploy a long range, inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) called the KN-08 that will be capable of reaching the U.S.

US Cites Growing N. Korea Long-Range Missile Threat

North Korea Advances Along The Nuclear Path: Washington Should Switch From Coercion to Engagement

North Korea continues along the nuclear path. A new report warns that Pyongyang could amass a nuclear arsenal as large as 100 weapons by 2020. With that many warheads the North would move from marginal local player to significant regional power in the same league as India, Israel, and Pakistan. Iran’s potential program, currently the subject of frenzied negotiation, suddenly looks much less threatening.

Washington has no realistic strategy to deal with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Some policymakers have advocated offensive military action, but that likely would trigger a war which would devastate South Korea. In contrast to Iran, U.S. presidents long ago stopped intoning that “all options” are on the table. The price of war simply would be too high.

North Korea Advances Along The Nuclear Path: Washington Should Switch From Coercion to Engagement

‘Influx of advanced weapons flowing into Syria, Lebanon unprecedented,’ navy source says – Jerusalem Post

Describing the quantity and quality of surface-to-sea missiles in Hezbollah’s possession as “unprecedented,” the source said there are dozens of such weapons in its keeping, covering around 10 different kinds of such missiles.

“The types of warheads and their ranges are many,” said the source. “We are in a completely different situation. The sector has changed.”

In Hezbollah’s view, the naval arena is becoming central, the source continued, and the organization’s chief, Hassan Nasrallah is planning offensive moves against Israel in the next clash, rather than just waging a lengthy war of attrition.

‘Influx of advanced weapons flowing into Syria, Lebanon unprecedented,’ navy source says – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Israel Sees Another War With Hezbollah Soon – Israel Today | Israel News

Israel’s next war is likely to be fought against Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist militia, according to Israeli military sources who spoke to the Walla news portal.

The sources cited Hezbollah’s increasing boldness of late, pointing in particular to the fact that armed terrorists now openly patrol and monitor the border region. Hezbollah gunmen also walk the streets of southern Lebanon, unconcerned by the presence of the Lebanese Army or UN peacekeepers.

Israel Sees Another War With Hezbollah Soon – Israel Today | Israel News

Living in a Free-Lunch World | Mauldin Economics

This report was underscored by a rather alarming, academically oriented paper from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), “Global dollar credit: links to US monetary policy and leverage.” Long story short, emerging markets have borrowed $9 trillion in dollar-denominated debt, up from $2 trillion a mere 14 years ago. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard did an excellent and thoroughly readable review of the paper a few weeks ago for the Telegraph, summing up its import:

Sitting on the desks of central bank governors and regulators across the world is a scholarly report that spells out the vertiginous scale of global debt in US dollars, and gently hints at the horrors in store as the US Federal Reserve turns off the liquidity spigot….

“It shows how the Fed’s zero rates and quantitative easing flooded the emerging world with dollar liquidity in the boom years, overwhelming all defences. This abundance enticed Asian and Latin American companies to borrow like never before in dollars – at real rates near 1pc – storing up a reckoning for the day when the US monetary cycle should turn, as it is now doing with a vengeance.”

Ambrose’s parting takeaway?

[T]he message from a string of Fed governors over recent days is that rate rises cannot be put off much longer, the Atlanta Fed’s own Dennis Lockhart among them. ‘All meetings from June onwards should be on the table,’ he said. [This is from a regional president whose own research suggests GDP growth in the first quarter of 1%! – JM]

The most recent Fed minutes cited worries that the flood of capital coming into the US on the back of the stronger dollar is holding down long-term borrowing rates in the US and effectively loosening monetary policy. This makes Fed tightening even more urgent, in their view, implying a ‘higher path’ for coming rate rises.

Nobody should count on a Fed reprieve this time. The world must take its punishment.

Ouch! Please sir, may I have another? Punishment indeed. Ask the Greeks. Or the Spanish. Or… perhaps there is punishment coming soon to a country near you!

I began a series on debt a few weeks ago, and we return to that topic today. I believe the fundamental imbalances we are seeing in the world (highlighted in the two papers mentioned above) are the result of the massive increases in global debt and misunderstandings about the use and consequences of debt. Too much of the wrong kind of debt is going to be the central cause of the next investment crisis. As I highlighted in my February 24 letter, the right type of debt can be beneficial. However, as the McKinsey Report emphasizes,

High debt levels, whether in the public or private sector, have historically placed a drag on growth and raised the risk of financial crises that spark deep economic recessions.

Read that again. This isn’t the Mises Institute. This is #$%%*# McKinsey. As establishment as it gets. And they are clearly echoed by the BIS, the central banker’s central bank. Unless this time is different, they are saying, the high levels of debt are the reason for slowed growth in the developed world, a point we have highlighted for years in our research. There is a point at which too much debt simply sucks the life out of an economy.

Living in a Free-Lunch World | Mauldin Economics

Here is one of my rules of life: As long as blame is correctly assigned then everything is OK. Oh, and that blame should never go to you.

Economists have cleverly decided to use monetary (quantitative) easing in order to monetize debt. Then governments get to pay back debt with currency that is worth less. This a great deal for governments. However, it is a lousy deal for savers and retirees. Here, blame is being assigned to the people who did no wrong. Those who are doing the right things are being punished, and those who are doing the wrong things are being rewarded. Actually, this kind of thinking fits in perfectly with the rise of modern liberalism. Here’s a reminder about the rules underlying modern liberalism:

  1. Nobody is better or worse than anyone else.
  2. If some people get ahead it is because they cheated.
  3. If some people get behind it is because they were victimized.

It is the job of the modern liberal to right those injustices: Those that get ahead will be punished, and those that get behind will be rewarded. Punishment comes in the form of progressive income taxes. Reward comes in the form of free stuff from the government (if you will just vote for me.) In effect success is punished and failure is rewarded.

I think we can see how the modern liberal is going to be in favor of racking up debt then monetizing it. This all fits perfectly into their little “flat-earthers” model of how the world works.

Why Is Russia Deploying Nuclear Weapons to Crimea? | The Jamestown Foundation

One reason is surely connected with the recent snap exercises embracing virtually all of Russia’s western fronts, from the Arctic to the Black Sea. These exercises were meant to signal to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that Russia is not backing down and is, indeed, capable of waging a general European war that could include nuclear strikes from Crimean- and Ukrainian-based systems (see EDM, March 19). Second, Moscow has repeatedly verbally reaffirmed—including through the recent celebrations of the first anniversary of Crimea’s annexation—that the Crimean peninsula is irretrievably Russian land, and that it is folly to pretend otherwise. As Vladimir Yevseyev, a retired army colonel who now directs the Center for Social and Political Research, declared, “The question of [Russia’s] sovereignty [over Crimea] is shut. It is non-negotiable” (The Moscow Times, March 16). President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, echoed these sentiments (RIA Novosti, March 17). Moreover, Yevseyev observed that Moscow is also signaling Russia’s readiness to resort to nuclear war to hold on to Crimea (The Moscow Times, March 16).

Russian foreign ministry officials, as well as President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, are telling their counterparts in the West the same thing. In particular, Lavrov’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov reiterated that “Moscow decides for itself what military presence it will have in the region (RIA Novosti, March 16). But these statements, along with Russia’s overall conventional land, sea and air buildup in and around occupied Ukraine—and specifically, Crimea—may be serving two immediate tactical objectives. First of all, the inflamed rhetoric and arms buildup is likely a response to recent NATO exercises in Central Eastern Europe. However, the second reason may be that Russia is preparing for a new offensive against Ukraine, which might soon take place.

Why Is Russia Deploying Nuclear Weapons to Crimea? | The Jamestown Foundation

Monitoring emerging risks.