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Putin Mobilizes Forces Preparing to Fight With NATO and US | The Jamestown Foundation

‘In pursuit of a dream of the reunification of all the presumed Russian peoples, nuclear blackmail or “brinkmanship” may be used and sudden military exercises will be enacted that are, in essence, direct preparations for possible large-scale war in Europe.

The massive “sudden exercises” of the Russian military this week carry a clear message: Moscow is not ready to stand down and is threatening the use of force, including nuclear weapons. A ceasefire is holding in Ukraine at present, but it is wobbly, and the status quo on the ground does not satisfy Russian long-term aspirations. At a mass state-organized rally to commemorate Crimea’s annexation on March 18, in Moscow close to the Kremlin, Putin declared: “Russians and Ukrainians are one people” (odin narod) (Kremlin.ru, March 18).

In September 2013, the present Ukrainian crisis was still in the making, triggered by Kyiv’s desire to sign an association agreement with the European Union, which Putin utterly opposed. Speaking to reporters in the Kremlin, Putin announced: “No matter what happens, or where Ukraine goes, anyway someday we will be together [as one nation], because we are one people” (Kremlin.ru, September 4, 2013). Putin’s continued assertion of Russians and Ukrainians as “one people” sounds much alike one of the Nazis’ most-repeated political slogans: “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer”—“One People, One Empire, One Leader.” In pursuit of a dream of the reunification of all the presumed Russian peoples, nuclear blackmail or “brinkmanship” may be used and sudden military exercises will be enacted that are, in essence, direct preparations for possible large-scale war in Europe.

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

Putin Mobilizes Forces Preparing to Fight With NATO and US | The Jamestown Foundation

It appears that Russia is nearing a point where it will take a chunk out of the Baltic countries. That would mean war with Nato. Most likely it would quickly escalate into a nuclear war with the US. But this type of scenario doesn’t make a lot of sense because Russia would lose the element of surprise and lose its army too. I’m guessing that a more likely scenario is using the Russian military to provoke Nato. Once Nato reacts in a defensive manner, then Russia will have its excuse to nuke the US. Maybe Russia has to take a bloody nose, withdraw, then come back with nuclear weapons.

The great unwinding has created a world that is dangerously unpredictable

Sitting in the other day at a conference organised by two leading think-tanks — Aspen Italia and Chatham House — it occurred to me that when historians cast around for a title for the present chapter in global affairs, they might do worse than opt for “the great unwinding”. The backdrop for the gathering of business leaders and policy-makers was the glorious tranquillity of Venice. The talk was about the ruptures that have brought down the post-Cold War order.

The optimism in the West that greeted the collapse of Communism was rooted in a clutch of organising assumptions. The world has become a more dangerous and unpredictable place during the intervening 25 years because most of these suppositions have now unwound.

As they operate up their multi-nation supply chains and just-in-time production processes, businesses should understand that the world has changed. The cold war era was dangerous but stable. The great unwinding has created a world that is dangerously unpredictable. If there is money to be made in calculating geopolitical risk, there is money to be saved in understanding it.

Why the business of risk is booming | GulfNews.com

U.S. admiral raises alarm over Russian military threat – CNN.com

The ability of the U.S. and Canadian military to defend North America could be jeopardized by stepped up Russian military activity, according to the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Adm. William Gortney told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that Russia is continuing to work on its program to deploy “long-range conventionally armed cruise missiles,” that can be launched from its bomber aircraft, submarines and warships. This is giving the Kremlin “deterrent” options “short of the nuclear threshold,” Gortney said.

“Should these trends continue over time, NORAD will face increased risk in our ability to defend North America against Russian air, maritime and cruise missile threats,” he said.

U.S. admiral raises alarm over Russian military threat – CNN.com

The threat of nuclear war is higher than at any time in the past 25 years – Business Insider

The thought of “nuclear combat — toe-to-toe with the Russkies,” as Major Kong put it in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr Strangelove,” feels like a return to the cold war. But this is different. In the cold war the two sides were broadly committed to international stability, with nuclear weapons seen as a way to preserve, rather than challenge, the status quo. This did not mean there were no risks — things could quite easily have gone terribly wrong by accident or design, and the mutual interest in stability could have waned. But both American and Soviet leaders showed themselves highly risk-averse when it came to nuclear weapons. Protocols such as the use of the “hot line” evolved to defuse and manage crises, and great care was taken to prevent the possibility of accidental or unauthorised launch. The development of “second-strike” nuclear forces, which could guarantee a response even after the sneakiest of sneak attacks, bolstered stability.

The new nuclear age is built on shakier foundations. Although there are fewer nuclear weapons than at the height of the cold war, the possibility of some of them being used is higher and growing. That increasing possibility feeds the likelihood of more countries choosing the nuclear option, which in turn increases the sense of instability.

Many of the factors that made deterrence work in the cold war are now weakened or absent. One is the overarching acceptance of strategic stability. Some of today’s nuclear powers want to challenge the existing order, either regionally or globally. Both China and Russia are dissatisfied with what they see as a rules-based international order created for and dominated by the West. There are disputed borders with nukes on both sides between India and both China and Pakistan.

The threat of nuclear war is higher than at any time in the past 25 years – Business Insider

The problem here is that the progression into the future is not linear, even though it feels like it is. No, we move into the future in an exponential manner where the past heavily influences the future. This feedback loop process means long periods of stability will be followed by a crash. Now a few people are finally noticing that the problem called nuclear war is raising its head again. Only now the problem is much worse because the vast majority of people in the West still do not believe a nuclear war is possible. So the West is poorly prepared for one. And that means the probability of such an event is a lot higher than most people think.

Think of a nuclear war like you would a (big) avalanche. What is the probability of a (big) avalanche? Well, that depends on how much snow has fallen. What if snow falls the same amount each day? Then you would just need to know the time since the last big avalanche if you can’t take a direct measurement. You need to know time of stability. And from history you need to know how often the mountain has avalanches. But the probability of an avalanche lies near 0% for a very long time. After a long time the probability of avalanche then starts to go from near 0% to near 100% fairly rapidly. After a long period of stability, and noticing that an avalanche is becoming a threat, then the mountain has entered the period of rapid run up to avalanche where the probability goes from 0% to near 100%.

The primary reason you should be really worried about a nuclear war is the amount of time that has passed since World War II – 70 years. This time is the most important factor in predicting the next crisis. For the US, a big crisis happens about 60 to 80 years since the last big crisis. So the 70 years suggests that time is just about up. Both 9/11 and the 2008 crash also suggest that time is just about up. Big shocks can’t happen without big problems present. During this 70 years most of the US has fallen asleep concerning nuclear war. And that is a big problem.

 

Asia is stockpiling for war. Blame China.

Across Asia, defense budgets are rising at an alarming rate. The figures are in large part a response to China’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea. They’re a window into how China’s neighbors to view the world — and the view isn’t good.

What frightens China’s neighbors isn’t the size of its defense budget, but the Chinese government’s foreign policy.

China has territorial disputes with a dozen other countries. Some have been resolved peacefully. Others have not — at least not to the satisfaction of China’s neighbors. Beijing recently claimed a portion of the South China Sea defined by the so-called “Nine Dash Line.” China’s portion is 90 percent of the South China Sea, including territorial waters claimed by other countries.

In the last four years China has challenged Japan’s claim to the Senkaku Islands, sending ships and planes near what it calls the Diaoyu Islands. China has also squared off with the Philippines over the Second Thomas Shoal, stationed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, confronted the U.S. Navy, and demanded that the Indian Navy leave “Chinese territory” in what others considered international waters. China is even filling in a series of shoals and reefs in the South China Sea in disputed territory, both to bolster its claims in the area and expand the People’s Liberation Army’s presence.

The presence of more weapons or better trained troops on either side does not necessarily make war more likely. China’s defense budget won’t start a war, but how it treats other countries just might.

Asia is stockpiling for war. Blame China.

Vladimir Putin wants to destroy Nato, says US commander in Europe Ben Hodges – Telegraph

He accused Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, of seeking to destroy Nato, and warned that Russia could seek to use the sort of “hybrid warfare” seen in eastern Ukraine against a Nato member to test the alliance.

“I am sure Putin wants to destroy our alliance, not by attacking it but by splintering it,” he said in a speech to military and political leaders in Berlin.

He warned that Mr Putin could try to destabilise a Nato member by using a rebel militia as in eastern Ukraine, or other forms of “ambiguous” warfare.

In the absence of an overt Russian attack, some Nato members could be reluctant to invoke Article 5 of the Washington treaty, under which an attack on one member is an attack on all.

“Once Article 5 is gone, our alliance is over,” Gen Hodges said.

Vladimir Putin wants to destroy Nato, says US commander in Europe Ben Hodges – Telegraph

China Debates: Is War with U.S. Inevitable? | The National Interest

It has become quite common to use historical analogies to describe the complex Sino-American relationship. At the centenary of the First World War, the comparison between China’s rise and that of Wilhelmine Germany has been widely made. However, a path-breaking 2012 opinion piece by Harvard University’s Graham Allison reached back to Ancient Greece to describe the strategic dilemmas facing the most important bilateral relationship in the 21st century.

Pointing to what is perhaps the most important sentence in the entire Western cannon on international relations, Allison invited strategists and analysts on both sides of the Pacific to recall that “it was the rise of Athens and the fear that this inspired in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Moreover, Allison supplied disturbing evidence of the frequency of war between a rising and established power, as observed by Thucydides in the History of the Peloponnesian War. According to Allison, “in 11 of 15 cases since 1500 where a rising power emerged to challenge a ruling power, war occurred.”

China Debates: Is War with U.S. Inevitable? | The National Interest

Doomsday: Preparing for China’s Collapse | The National Interest

“China could be on the brink of collapse. Here’s how Washington can leverage that to its advantage.”

A couple of weeks ago, AEI scholar Michael Auslin published a column for the Wall Street Journal about a quiet dinner in Washington where a senior China scholar declared the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had reached the final stage before collapse. The political collapse of the world’s second-largest economy and a nuclear power is no small thing. What should Washington do? Go outside the Fourth Ring Road (a Chinese reference akin to saying go outside the Beltway), forge links to marginalized Chinese and speak out about Chinese human rights to show the Chinese people that the United States has “a moral stake in China’s development.” Even if the CCP’s collapse does not occur for years, these measures will help U.S. policy makers be “on the right side of history.”

Such measures appear trivial in the face of a problem the size of China’s potential political instability and the collapse of its governing structure. By Auslin’s telling, this anonymous China scholar and those nodding in approval think that these first steps constitute a genuine signal to the Chinese people that Washington stands and will stand by them. Rhetorical support, however, will not grace the United States in the eyes of the Chinese people if their discontent demolishes the CCP. Actions, rather than words, in the heat of another crisis at least on the scale of nationwide protests in 1989 will be the measure of Washington’s moral interest in China’s future.

Doomsday: Preparing for China’s Collapse | The National Interest

The Twilight of China’s Communist Party | WSJ

“I can’t give you a date when it will fall, but China’s Communist Party has entered its endgame.” So says one of America’s most experienced China watchers to a small table of foreign diplomats at a private dinner in Washington, D.C. The pessimism from someone with deep connections to the Chinese government is notable. Washington should start paying attention if it wishes to avoid being surprised by political earthquakes in the world’s second-largest economy.

The China scholar at my table is no conservative. Nor are the handful of other experts. Each has decades of experience, extensive ties to Chinese officials and is a regular visitor to the mainland. No one contradicts the scholar’s statement. Instead there is general agreement.

“I’ve never seen Chinese so fearful, at least not since Tiananmen,” another expert adds, referring to the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy student demonstrators in the heart of Beijing. When prodded for specifics, he mentions increased surveillance, the fear of being investigated and increased arrests.

Just as there is no dissent from these views, there is unanimity on the cause of the new atmosphere of fear: President Xi Jinping.

Michael Auslin: The Twilight of China’s Communist Party – WSJ

There is this problem with 70 years and one-party regimes. It takes approximately 70 years for problems to build up leading to a revolution.

Chinese Communism and the 70-Year Itch – The Atlantic

There is an interesting parallel in politics; specifically, the life span of one-party regimes, though in this case we might call it the “70-year itch.” The U.S.S.R. is a prime example. By the time Mikhail Gorbachev took command of the Soviet Union in 1985, the rot in the Soviet system, and the corresponding decline of its legitimacy, were well advanced. “Interest in the marriage” had long since begun to wane.  Gorbachev’s efforts to revive it with political opening and economic reform (glasnost and perestroika) only enabled the marriage to break up peacefully. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Communist Party had been in power for a little more than 70 years. Similarly, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ruled in Mexico from its founding in 1929 until its defeat in the 2000 elections—71 years.

Several of today’s remaining one-party authoritarian regimes have been in power 50 to 65 years, and there is good reason to think that they, too, are now facing the “70 year itch.” Part of the problem is that revolutionary one-party regimes like those in China, Vietnam, and Cuba cannot survive forever on the personal charisma of their founding leaders. Mao and Ho Chi Minh are long since gone, along with all the other leaders of the revolutionary founding generation, and in Cuba the Castro brothers are in their final years.

Chinese Communism and the 70-Year Itch – The Atlantic

Ex-MI6 Boss: The conflict in Ukraine is much more than just Ukraine – “much bigger and more dangerous”

The conflict in Ukraine is now part of a much bigger crisis between Russia and the West, MI6’s former head has said.

Sir John Sawers warned the crisis was no longer about just Ukraine, saying it was “much bigger and more dangerous”.

Any attempt by Western countries to arm Ukraine could lead to an escalation on the ground and even cyber attacks by Russia against the West, he warned.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels has continued, more than a day after a ceasefire was due.

Sanctions have already been imposed on Russia, and EU leaders have threatened Moscow with further measures if the planned ceasefire is not respected.

US President Barack Obama has said the US is studying the option of supplying lethal defensive arms to Ukraine – if diplomacy fails to end the crisis in the east of the country.

[Published on Feb. 16, 2015]

BBC News – Ukraine now a ‘crisis for Russia and West’, says ex-MI6 boss

I have talked about this kind of problem in the past. When something small can cause something big then you have reached a tipping point. Now we are hearing warnings about escalation and getting out of control. Clearly, we have reached a tipping point.

Recently my son (6-yrs) asked why the bad guys in the movies seem to often tell the good guys about their evil plans. Well, that’s to help out the audience (us), I said. But it often works out the same way in real life. The bad guys just plain tell us about their plans but of course we won’t listen.

Russia challenges west with nuclear overhaul | World news | The Guardian [Published Sept., 2008]

“This is very significant. Right now the present Russian leadership believes that a war with Nato is very much possible,” Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defence analyst, told the Guardian. “This is the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that the Russian military is actually preparing for an all-out nuclear war with America.”

He added: “I believe we [the Russians] are sending the west a serious message. The message is treat us with respect, and if you don’t go into our backyard we won’t go into yours. Russia wants to divide the world into spheres of influence. If not, we will prepare for nuclear war.”

Felgenhauer said Russia’s military was old but still effective. “Our military is backward in its development. But we still have a sizeable nuclear potential. It can kill a hell of a lot of people,” he said.

Russia challenges west with nuclear overhaul | World news | The Guardian

For some unexplained reason, the Russians are doing what they told us they were going to do. And it is an utter shock to the West. You mean you weren’t kidding, the West seems to be thinking. Well no, the Russians weren’t kidding.

What does this all mean? Let’s go back to the model(s).

The Model

There are three models that we can look to: Sandpiles, snow packed mountains or forests. All three of these models collapse like societies. A key point in all of these models is that the process never stops: Sand keeps falling, snow keeps falling and the forest never stops growing. That means once you have reached a tipping point after a long period of time then it is already too late. Since the process never stops, the future lands on an unstable past. Therefore, time makes things worse. That doesn’t mean a massive collapse will happen tomorrow but it could. It’s a little like a forest that is ready for a massive fire. Just because it is ready doesn’t mean there is going to be massive fire. It may takes several years before something actually happens. The most important point is to know that it is ready for something big.

If not enough time has passed since the last big crash (1945), then it is possible to suppress collapses. And we’ve seen that a lot in the economy. However, eventually you reach the end of the road where suppressing collapses doesn’t seem to work right (Japan). For the US, the historical time to crisis or collapse is 80 to 100 years since the beginning of the last crash period – 1925 to 1945. The new one runs from 2005 to 2025. Other indicators that we have reached the end of the road are 9/11 and the 2008 financial crash. When enough time has passed then big problems will start showing up. A big problem in one place means many more are present but just hidden from view.

The problem is not confined to Russia:

The problem is also not confined to conflict or war:

Roubini and Bremmer on Charlie Rose: Unveiling New Abnormal

“Our point is that this situation is one that is not a stable equilibrium, is not even a stable disequilibrium. It’s an unstable disequilibrium. Take for example the eurozone. You cannot have just a monetary union without banking, political, economic, fiscal union. Either you move towards more integration or you’re going to have more fragmentation and disintegration. So the situation we face right now in the global economy, same in the eurozone, is of a unstable disequilibrium, therefore a new abnormal, that cannot be sustained.”

EconoMonitor : Nouriel Roubini’s Global EconoMonitor » Roubini and Bremmer on Charlie Rose: Unveiling New Abnormal

So economically the world has reached an unstable disequilibrium. And what is that exactly? It is a place where something small can cause something big – a tipping point.

And how is that war on terror working out?

Lots of problems are present in the world today. Big changes are ready to take place. Those changes will probably not go smoothly. War and economic collapse are a real possibility within a few years.

Radio Station Ekho Moskvy Speaks About Nuclear War “… as if They were Discussing Increases in Parking Fines”

“Nuclear war is the ultimate, unthinkable catastrophe. But in some sections of the Russian media it is being viewed as a realistic possibility and even something to be embraced.”

Surprise! It turns out that nuclear war is no big deal. Well, at least to some in the Russian media.

You just knew that nuclear war was impossible because the Russians would be just as horrified as you. Apparently, that is a wrong assumption.

In fact, as liberal journalist Yuriy Saprykin recently noted, it has almost become “commonplace”.

Saprykin was struck by how presenters and listeners on independent radio station Ekho Moskvy now speak about nuclear war “more or less in the same way as if they were discussing increases in parking fines”.

On other radio stations, the tone of the nuclear debate can be much more alarming.

“Why are you all so afraid of nuclear war? Why are you afraid of nuclear war?” presenter Aleksey Gudoshnikov asked listeners to the pro-Kremlin station Govorit Moskva last month.

He went on to say that people had survived the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and that these were actually not as destructive as the bombing of Dresden some six months earlier.

“This fear of nuclear war is exaggerated, in my view,” the 26-year-old Gudoshnikov concluded.

BBC News – Russian media learn to love the bomb

Monitoring emerging risks.