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Ash Carter Accuses Russia of ‘Nuclear Saber-Rattling’ – ABC News

‘”Most disturbing,” Carter said, is loose talk by Russia about using nuclear weapons.’

Carter’s remarks reflect U.S. aggravation with Moscow on multiple fronts, including its intervention in eastern Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and what Carter called Russian efforts to intimidate its Baltic neighbors — which the United States is treaty-bound to defend because they are NATO members. “Most disturbing,” Carter said, is loose talk by Russia about using nuclear weapons.

“Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises troubling questions about Russia’s leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and whether they respect the profound caution that nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to brandishing nuclear weapons,” he said.

Ash Carter Accuses Russia of ‘Nuclear Saber-Rattling’ – ABC News

Kremlin Provocations Risk War | Observer

But does Russia actually want peace with NATO? While there is no evidence that Mr. Putin seeks great power war, much less a nuclear conflict with the West, it’s clear that he is willing to run truly serious risks to get what he wants. April’s aggressive games played by the Russian Air Force represent “an attempt to scare America and prove that the entire Baltic region, the whole Baltic, is ours” explained Pavel Felgenhauer, one of Russia’s premier defense experts. “This may ultimately lead to war,” he added, since this is a dangerous undertaking that risks death and armed conflict.

It’s frighteningly easy to see how an aerial collision between Russian and American warplanes could rapidly devolve into a genuine international crisis—one that Moscow seems unafraid of provoking. What happens then is anybody’s guess. What’s a near-certainty is that, if dangerous Kremlin aerial games continue, eventually some pilot, somewhere, will screw up and people will die.

Kremlin Provocations Risk War | Observer

If both sides already know that a small incident could easily escalate into a nuclear war, and one side doesn’t seem to care, then logically that side is prepared or preparing for nuclear war.

This logic applies to both Russia and China.

These incidents with Russian aircraft suggest that Russia is trying to push US intelligence/military vessels or aircraft outside of its sphere of influence, and failing that, start a war.

Trump-Sanders Phenomenon Signals an Oligarchy on the Brink of a Civilization-Threatening Collapse – Evonomics

“The collapse of urban cultures is an event much more frequent than most observers realize. Often, collapse is well underway before societal elites become aware of it, leading to scenes of leaders responding retroactively and ineffectively as their society collapses around them.” –  Sander Vander Leeuw, Archaeologist, 1997

The media has made a cottage industry out of analyzing the relationship between America’s crumbling infrastructure, outsourced jobs, stagnant wages, and evaporating middle class and the rise of anti-establishment presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Commentators are also tripping all over one another to expound daily on the ineffectual response of America’s political elite – characterized by either bewilderment or a dismissal of these anti-establishment candidates as minor hiccups in the otherwise smooth sailing of status-quo power arrangements. But the pundits are all missing the point: the Trump-Sanders phenomenon signals an American oligarchy on the brink of a civilization-threatening collapse.

The tragedy is that, despite what you hear on TV or read in the paper or online, this collapse was completely predictable. Scientifically speaking, oligarchies always collapse because they are designed to extract wealth from the lower levels of society, concentrate it at the top, and block adaptation by concentrating oligarchic power as well. Though it may take some time, extraction eventually eviscerates the productive levels of society, and the system becomes increasingly brittle. Internal pressures and the sense of betrayal grow as desperation and despair multiply everywhere except at the top, but effective reform seems impossible because the system seems thoroughly rigged. In the final stages, a raft of upstart leaders emerge, some honest and some fascistic, all seeking to channel pent-up frustration towards their chosen ends. If we are lucky, the public will mobilize behind honest leaders and effective reforms. If we are unlucky, either the establishment will continue to “respond ineffectively” until our economy collapses, or a fascist will take over and create conditions too horrific to contemplate.

Sound familiar? America has witnessed a similar cycle of oligarchic corruption[1] starting in the 1760s, 1850s, 1920s, and 2000s:

Trump-Sanders Phenomenon Signals an Oligarchy on the Brink of a Civilization-Threatening Collapse – Evonomics

The following table is from The 4th Turning. The argument of The 4th Turning is that England and the US go through four periods: High, awakening, unraveling and crisis. After a crash is over the society moves into a “high” period which lasts for about 20 years. After that there is the awakening. Then there is the unraveling and finally another crisis period again. Each period lasts about 20 years.

Effectively, society reaches a crisis period about the time that all (or vast majority) of the people who experienced the last crisis have died. The current crisis period is expected to last from 2005 to 2025.

Timing of generations and turnings

Generation Type Birth years Formative era
Late Medieval Saeculum
Arthurian Generation Hero (Civic) 1433-1460 (27) Unraveling: Retreat from France
Humanist Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1461–1482 (21) Crisis: War of the Roses
Reformation Saeculum (104)
Reformation Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1483–1511 (28) High: Tudor Renaissance
Reprisal Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1512–1540 (28) Awakening: Protestant Reformation
Elizabethan Generation Hero (Civic) 1541–1565 (24) Unraveling: Intolerance and Martyrdom
Parliamentary Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1566–1587 (21) Crisis: Armada Crisis
New World Saeculum (112)
Puritan Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1588–1617 (29) High: Merrie England
Cavalier Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1618–1647 (29) Awakening: Puritan Awakening
Glorious Generation Hero (Civic) 1648–1673 (25) Unraveling: Reaction and Restoration
Enlightenment Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1674–1700 (26) Crisis: King Philip’s War/
Glorious Revolution
Revolutionary Saeculum (90)
Awakening Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1701–1723 (22) High: Augustan Age of Empire
Liberty Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1724–1741 (17) Awakening: Great Awakening
Republican Generation Hero (Civic) 1742–1766 (24) Unraveling: French and Indian War
Compromise Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1767–1791 (24) Crisis: American Revolution
Civil War Saeculum (67)
Transcendental Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1792–1821 (29) High: Era of Good Feeling
Gilded Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1822–1842 (20) Awakening: Transcendental Awakening
  Hero (Civic)0    
Progressive Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1843–1859 (16) Crisis: American Civil War
Great Power Saeculum (85)
Missionary Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1860–1882 (22) High: Reconstruction/Gilded Age
Lost Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1883–1900 (17) Awakening: Missionary Awakening
G.I. Generation Hero (Civic) 1901–1924 (23) Unraveling: World War I/Prohibition
Silent Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1925–1942 (17) Crisis: Great Depression/World War II
Millennial Saeculum (age 73)
Baby Boom Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1943–1960 (17)[41] High: Superpower America
Generation X1 Nomad (Reactive) 1961–1981 (20) Awakening: Consciousness Revolution
Millennial Generation2 Hero (Civic) 1982–2004 (22) Unraveling: Culture Wars, Postmodernism
Homeland Generation3,4 Artist (Adaptive) 2005–present (age 11) Crisis: Great Recession, War on Terror

The Strauss–Howe generational theory, created by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, identifies a recurring generational cycle in American history. Strauss and Howe lay the groundwork for the theory in their 1991 book Generations, which retells the history of America as a series of generational biographies going back to 1584.[1] In their 1997 book The Fourth Turning, the authors expanded the theory to focus on a fourfold cycle of generational types and recurring mood eras in American history.[2] They and their consultancy, LifeCourse Associates, have expanded on the concept in a variety of publications since then.

The theory was developed to describe the history of the United States, including the 13 colonies and their British antecedents, and this is where the most detailed research has been done. However, the authors have also examined generational trends elsewhere in the world and identified similar cycles in several developed countries.[3] The books are best-sellers and the theory has been widely influential and acclaimed. Eric Hoover (2009) has called the authors pioneers in a burgeoning industry of consultants, speakers and researchers focused on generations.[4]

Academic response to the theory has been mixed—some applauding Strauss and Howe for their “bold and imaginative thesis,” and others criticizing the theory.[5][6] Criticism has focused on the lack of rigorous empirical evidence for their claims,[7] and a perception that aspects of the argument gloss over real differences within the population.[6]

Strauss–Howe generational theory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Storm clouds gather over South China Sea ahead of key UN ruling – The Boston Globe

A summer storm is brewing in the South China Sea.

Evidence appears to be mounting that China is pondering another bout of island-building in the South China Sea, and the United States administration and military is already on the alert.

The [Scarborough Shoal] shoal is the latest point of friction between China, the United States, and nations ringing the South China Sea over Beijing’s moves to build maritime outposts and other sites that could have potential future military use.

‘‘Thunderclouds are gathering over the South China Sea, and China is the lightning rod,’’ said Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Driving the rising tensions: a key ruling by a panel of jurists at a United Nations-appointed tribunal in The Hague that is expected soon.

Storm clouds gather over South China Sea ahead of key UN ruling – The Boston Globe

Putin’s downfall: Here are 3 possible outcomes for the Russian regime

“… the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin could fail within the coming year.”

Russia is facing a governmental crisis that could radically alter the shape and structure of the country in the coming years.

According to Nikolay Petrov, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin could fail within the coming year.

And this failure will have profound consequences for all of Russia, leading to at the very worst regime change and a proliferation of new institutions and states throughout the Russian Federation.

3 possible outcomes for Russian regime – Business Insider

Russia and China Are Starting a New Arms Race and the U.S. Has to Join | US News Opinion

However, all this talk of weapons platforms is meaningless in a strategic vacuum. The question should never be focused on when these weapons will be deployed, or how. The question is why? Why the pursuit of weapons that will inherently threaten the United States from an existential perspective? The threats here are not about degrading American influence in a region like the Middle East, the threat here is to topple America from a position of strategic primacy, which guarantees international stability. It will overturn the old concepts of Mutual Assured Destruction and lead to inevitable thoughts of preemption and prevention. The side that wishes the arms race would not happen has already been left at the wayside of history.

Russia and China Are Starting a New Arms Race and the U.S. Has to Join | US News Opinion

Putin’s Downfall: The Coming Crisis of the Russian Regime

Russia’s current regime will not last long. The tumultuous events in Ukraine in 2014 reduced the country’s possible trajectories to a single one – a path that will quickly lead to the collapse of the Putin government if there is no radical change in its course.

Before the Crimea–Ukraine affair, it looked as though President Vladimir Putin’s political regime was fairly stable and could last for several years without profound change. However, there was a qualitative shift in the regime’s character after 2014. Now, it draws its legitimacy from military action, rather than from the ballot box. The roots of this shift go back to the political crisis of 2011–2012, when mass anti-government protests and poor electoral results for the ruling party showed that the old form of politics was coming to an end.

Today, the regime derives its legitimacy not from the bottom up, through elections, but from the top down, by placing the country on a permanent war footing. Although Putin stayed in power, his role changed fundamentally – now, he is more like a tsar than the chair of a board. The regime has moved from a hybrid system that still maintained the outward trappings of a democracy to a full-scale authoritarian state, while the shifting balance of power has made the elites more dependent on the president.

Although Putin’s popularity skyrocketed after the annexation of Crimea, he has been trapped by his choices. His regime is addicted to military action and now needs a series of ever-stronger hits of foreign conflict in order to maintain its legitimacy. This position is unsustainable, given shrinking financial resources, the waning patience of elites who don’t want to live in a military camp forever, and Russia’s fast-deteriorating administrative and political systems. The country is being held hostage by the regime; the regime is a hostage of Putin, and Putin is a hostage of his own actions, which have drastically narrowed his range of options.

Given all this, Russia’s current trajectory is that of a plane in a tailspin. There are three possible outcomes:

Putin’s Downfall: The Coming Crisis of the Russian Regime [PDF]

The Post-Imperial Moment | The National Interest

WORLD DISORDER will only grow. The weakening and dissolution of small- and medium-size states in Africa and the Middle East will advance to quasi-anarchy in larger states on which the geographic organization of Eurasia hinges: Russia and China. For the external aggression of these new regional hegemons is, in part, motivated by internal weakness. They’re using nationalism to assuage the unraveling domestic economies upon which their societies’ stability rests. Then there is the European Union, which is enfeebled, if not crumbling. Rather than a unified and coherent superstate, Europe will increasingly be a less-than-coherent confection of states and regions, dissolving into the fluid geography of Eurasia, the Levant and North Africa. This is demonstrated by Russian revanchism and the demographic assault of Muslim refugees. Of course, on a longer time horizon there is technology itself. As the strategist T.X. Hammes points out, the convergence of cheap drones, cyber warfare, 3D printing and so on will encourage the diffusion of power among many states and nonstate actors, rather than the concentration of it into a few imperial-like hands.

We are entering an age of what I call comparative anarchy, that is, a much higher level of anarchy compared to that of the Cold War and post–Cold War periods.

After all, globalization and the communications revolution have reinforced, rather than negated, geopolitics. The world map is now smaller and more claustrophobic, so that territory is more ferociously contested, and every regional conflict interacts with every other as never before. …

Another thing: Remember that globalization is not necessarily associated with growth or stability, but only with vast economic and cultural linkages. These can amplify geopolitical disorder in the event of an economic slowdown. That’s what we are seeing now. …

In sum, everything is interlinked as never before, even as there is less and less of a night watchman to keep the peace worldwide. Hierarchies everywhere are breaking down. …

The Post-Imperial Moment | The National Interest

In my snowing mountain model, the snow falls for a very long time. There is an illusion of stability as everything seems OK. At the end of this period of stability, the snow on the mountain has reached a tipping point. It won’t take much to bring down a big wall of snow. The actual start of the collapse is the phase transition. You might not even notice the very initial phase of the collapse. Then very quickly the full collapse sets in and is unstoppable. Theoretically, one could stop the collapse in the very initial phase, but notice what this means: Thereafter, the mountain will remain unstable – on the edge of collapse.

The world is now in a state where things are starting to change – a phase transition. Previously, we saw an initial phase transition in the economies of the West. However, that collapse was suppressed, so we remain stuck in mid-transition where things don’t work right anymore.But what the big collapse showed us was that we have run out of time. The snow has fallen deep enough to cause a massive collapse. Just because we suppressed the collapse in one area does not mean that we do not have to worry about collapses in other areas. Now world disorder is increasing. We have entered a period of “comparative anarchy.” This is a phase transition for the entire planet.

Remember how all the experts told us that globalization was good? That lots of trade between the US and China would help to prevent war? Well, that’s all bunk. In the snowing mountain model, imagine that the slope of the mountain is divided up into sections with wide area of trees acting as dividers. Now let a collapse start on one part of the mountain. That collapse will likely only affect one or two sections of the mountain because of the tree separation. No trees means the collapse can spread far and wide. In the real world “no trees” means globalization. Globalization is precisely the thing you don’t want. You want to limit trade so that a crisis in one area won’t heavily affect you.

Thanks to the interconnectedness of globalization, problems get to spread all around the world. But some countries can’t handle a big disruption to their economy. And the likely result is an increased probability of war. Currently, a big war is building in the background between Israel and Hezbollah (plus Iran, Syria and Hamas.)  Then there are the concerns of war involving the US, Russia and China.

Israeli general warns of ‘devastating war’ with Hezbollah – The Washington Post

Golan said any future war will be “much harsher” than anything experienced in the past 20 years.

“In any future crisis, they are not going to see a small war in Lebanon. It’s going to be decisive. It’s going to be full-scale war,” he said.

“That could create devastating damage to Lebanon,” including in civilian areas, where he said Hezbollah hides and operates. “There is no other way to take out this threat without … creating large damage to the Lebanese infrastructure, to Lebanese houses and other civilian facilities.”

Israeli general warns of ‘devastating war’ with Hezbollah – The Washington Post

What do think Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are thinking when they hear stuff like this? Should they play nice?

Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are saying to themselves, we are going to launch an attack with chemical weapons that is so massive that Israel’s existence will be terminated. Israel will not get a chance to counter-attack, unless it uses its nuclear arsenal. And I think Israel will use nuclear weapons in response to a chemical weapons attack.

So, in the next war with Israel, I expect only one side to exist when the dust settles.

One Big Reason America Isn’t Ready for World War Three | The National Interest Blog

Today, however, many of those heartland factories that won World War II for America have been shuttered and moved to cities with names like Chengdu, Chongqing and Shenzhen. And here’s the obvious strategic problem:

If World War III does indeed arrive—triggered by some trigger-happy PLA captain in the South China Sea or a nuclear strike by Pyongyang on Seoul or America coming to Japan’s defense over some “rocks in the sea”—the United States will no longer have mass on its side.

So yes, we can all sit back and mainline popcorn on our sofas and continue to enjoy the nostalgia of World War II movies showing “good” triumphing over authoritarian, genocidal and hegemonic evil. However, the next war movies may well feature any one of a number of “new Nazis”—grindingly repressive regimes like China, Russia and Iran with dreams of regional hegemony, global empire and jihad; and these war flicks will almost certainly have a much different ending—unless America figures out a way to restore a manufacturing base that is withering before our very eyes.

One Big Reason America Isn’t Ready for World War Three | The National Interest Blog