The United States is about to lose a key arms-control tool from the closing days of the Cold War — the right to station American observers in Russia to count the long-range missiles leaving its assembly line.
Monthly Archives: November 2009
Russia is building arms plants in Venezuela to produce AK-103 automatic rifles and cartridges and is finalizing contracts to send 53 military helicopters to the Andean nation, Moscow’s envoy to Venezuela saidMonday.
Chile, in particular, ties profits from its principal commodity – copper – to defense investment. Under a military expenditures law introduced in 1958, ten percent of the revenues derived from the country’s copper exports are funneled directly to the Chilean military for purchases of defense matériel. The quadrupling of copper prices earlier in the decade provided Chile with ample cash reserves through which to fund past purchases of F-16 jet fighters, Scorpene attack submarines and four second-hand Dutch naval frigates, along with recent ones of U.S.-produced Avenger fire units, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Sentinel radar systems.
Israel’s military says that since its 2006 war with the group, Hezbollah has tripled its prewar arsenal to more than 40,000 rockets, some of which can strike virtually anywhere in Israel — a dramatic improvement over the short-range missiles fired in 2006.
Nasrallah said the buildup was necessary.
It’s one of those numbers that’s so unbelievable you have to actually think about it for a while… Within the next 12 months, the U.S. Treasury will have to refinance $2 trillion in short-term debt. And that’s not counting any additional deficit spending, which is estimated to be around $1.5 trillion. Put the two numbers together. Then ask yourself, how in the world can the Treasury borrow $3.5 trillion in only one year? That’s an amount equal to nearly 30% of our entire GDP. And we’re the world’s biggest economy. Where will the money come from?
One thing we know about collapsing countries, they can limp along for years before the collapse suddenly happens for no apparent reason. Russia might be entering such a state.
…. Putin’s own system of power distinctly resembles a financial pyramid where the top crooks extract vast profits by cheating a great number of naive stakeholders; the moment of meltdown is hard to predict – but the collapse is typically very fast.
This instability has been escalating in the last few months along two parallel tracks: armed violent attacks and police brutality. Moscow had remained slightly concerned about the first trend so long as it was contained in the North Caucasus. The situation in this troubled region is indeed steadily deteriorating, particularly with a new wave of suicide bombings, and consequently Medvedev promised to implement additional measures in his address to the Federal Assembly on November 12, which has made little impression on the warring parties, as the assassination of the commander of a special police unit in Makhachkala, Dagestan showed (Kommersant, November 27). The real shock, however, was inflicted by the explosion that derailed the express train going from Moscow to St. Petersburg last Friday evening with more than two dozen casualties. This train is often used by politicians from St. Petersburg with careers in Moscow, who have suddenly discovered that this transport route cannot be made safe (Ekho Moskvy, November 28).
The crisis of law enforcement is unusual not in the scope of crime in which the police are implicated as in the sharp public criticism of brutality and corruption characterizing this criminalization. A polemical point made by a Duma deputy from the “ruling” United Russia party that the whole interior ministry system could not be reformed but only disbanded, has found surprisingly strong public support (www.gazeta.ru, November 25). Political commentators tend to interpret this media campaign as an attempt by several competing clans of siloviki to replace Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev, who is a firm Putin loyalist (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 27). Intrigues of this sort are ever-present but even the not-so-liberal professional elites were outraged by the death of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who received no medical treatment in the detention cell where he had been held for months in the course of a dubious investigation against the Hermitage investment fund (Vedomosti, November 24).
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had to answer some sharp questions during a business trip to France, but claimed unfamiliarity with the Magnitsky case, while comparing the shameful trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev with the conviction of Bernard Madoff for fraud (www.gazeta.ru, November 25). This parallel is clearly false, but Putin’s own system of power distinctly resembles a financial pyramid where the top crooks extract vast profits by cheating a great number of naive stakeholders; the moment of meltdown is hard to predict – but the collapse is typically very fast.
Iran has given the Revolutionary Guards Corps command over naval operations in the oil-rich Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz as part of a strategy to block access to vital sea lanes in the event of a war, according to a US intelligence study.
Rain on the streets of Bethlehem can’t cool simmering tension.
“The city seems a bit livelier than it was the run-up to last Christmas,” I said.
“Yes,” said Walid, who also happens to be a Palestinian weight-lifting champion (he dead-lifts 680 pounds). “But underneath, it’s very dangerous and everyone fears a Third Intifada.”
As US president Barack Obama informed senior military chiefs in Afghanistan Monday, Nov. 30, they would receive another 30,000 US and 10,000 extra troops from eight NATO countries, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar tried to get the jump on him by warning that the US and its allies faced defeat.
Obama briefed UK, French, Russian and Italian leaders on his much-awaited new strategy for the Afghanistan conflict before unveiling it in a speech Tuesday. Indian intelligence sources report he is hiding in Karachi after Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence helped smuggle him out of his secret headquarters in Quetta, Baluchistan.