Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 28, 2008

Russia Fears an Imminent U.S. Attack

When the Russian Federation (RF) officially recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia I was quite surprised:

I had expected that Medvedev would wait, but the 'western' response to Saakashvili's splendid little war was probably too much to take.

When I wrote that I had the 'western' 'information operation', i.e. propaganda campaign, in mind as the reason for the Russian reaction.

I was wrong. The move to recognize those areas, and other Russian Federation since then, were motivated by something that is much more serious and dangerous.

The Russian Federation feels weak and is afraid that the 'west' might make another attempt to archive control over those factual independent areas.

To recognize those areas was a move to make sure that the 'west', i.e. the U.S., understands the consequences of challenging them.

Pat Lang, who sees a chance that this conflict might go nuclear, argues differently. He thinks, if I understand him correctly, that the Russians felt strong and believed the U.S. is weak. Therefore, he argues, they took those two areas because, simply, they could do so. He warns that the Russian underestimate the neocon's and that such 'miscalculation' could escalate.

I believe that the Russian Federation has a very different read of the situation.

It is NOT that the Russian Federation thinks the U.S. is weak, it fears that the U.S. is strong.

For some 12 days now, the U.S. has sent some 30-40 tons of equipment by plane to Georgia every day. It additionally unloaded 100+ tons of supply to Georgia from ships. It has some 50 Tomahawks (anti-land missiles) and some 50 Harpoons (anti-ship missiles) on 10+ NATO ships in the Black Sea. Those could sink the whole Russian Black Sea fleet and disable all RF airbases in the wider area within one hour!

There are also strategic non-nuclear U.S. air assets to consider. B1 and B2 stealth bombers could raid Russian airbases and hundreds of U.S. fighter jets stationed in Iraq and Turkey, with some routine refueling, could easily reach the relevant areas.

The Georgian military, with embedded U.S. and Israeli trainers, is still 27,000 men strong. The RF has less than 10,000 men in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If those hundreds of tons the U.S. unloaded over the last 14 days were Javelin Anti-Armour Missile, Stinger Block2 Anti-Air Missiles and similar stuff, how well would those Georgian troops do with superior numbers and superior weapons? Those pallets were labeled "humanitarian" but did any neutral source ever looked what they really carried?

The Russians really, really fear U.S. troops at their boarder. Never, ever forget: They lost 20 million people in their last big fight.

In their mindset they assume that if the Russian Federation would look weak now, the neocon nuts in the U.S. might feel free to use the recent capacity build up to retake the now independent areas and, after that, place a direct U.S. presence in the Caucasus. The U.S. empire at the soft belly of the Russian sphere.

The RF strategy to avoid that situation is to now look strong and decisive. Make sure that the U.S. understands that this will escalate if such plans get implemented.

Therefore, the RF acknowledged the independence of those areas and made sure that the world knew the cost of interfering there. The RF feared to look vague about the issue and that looking vague might entice some folks to try something aggressive.

As the last point obviously has not yet been sufficiently noticed, the Russians gave two more big signals today.

900,000 tons of yearly poultry and pork meat imports from the U.S. to the Russian Federation is from now on no longer welcome. Small point you think? Ask the relevant U.S. producer lobbies.

More seriously, the Russian Federation Army today launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

The Topol RS-12M ballistic missile, designed to defeat anti-ballistic missile systems, has hit a designated target at a testing range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, said Alexander Vovk, head of the Russian Strategic Missile Troops press service.

This is the really, really serious signal. The Russian Federation can go nuclear if needed. They do not threaten this because they feel strong. They do threaten this because they feel weak.

Pat Lang unfortunately seem to read the Russians wrong. If realists like Pat have a wrong reading of the 'enemies' motives and intention, the situation can get even more dangerous then when neocons rule with their usual delusions.

Now, please close that hatch.


Posted by b on August 28, 2008 at 19:58 UTC | Permalink



We are in the "Guns of August" roll up to a nuclear exchange where both sides are pathological incapable of reading the intentions of the other side and backing down is a sign of weakness.

Russia responded to Georgian provocation because they could. America is blustering because it cannot do anything else. In its zeal to elect John McCain the White House is egging on a confrontation where the only outcome is Mutually Assured Destruction.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Aug 28 2008 20:21 utc | 1

A nitpick, but some say the Soviet death toll in WWII was 27 million.


Posted by: Donald | Aug 28 2008 20:21 utc | 2

All them resource wars America has been pursuing in the Middle East?

They are opening moves in a drive on the Caucasus. Their end goal is to put US troops and military hardware right on the Russian Federation's southern border.

Like in Abkhazia, or in South Ossetia.

So the RF is absolutely right to push back, and will be justified in kicking the Americans in the teeth in exchange for every provocation offered from here on out.

If they don't stop America, no one will.

Posted by: Antifa | Aug 28 2008 20:35 utc | 3

@VV - where both sides are pathological incapable of reading the intentions of the other side and backing down is a sign of weakness.

That is what really scares me and what scares Lang too even while his diagnosis is different.

But the diagnose will be decisive and he is wrong on it. - Scary ...

Posted by: b | Aug 28 2008 20:36 utc | 4

Well, frankly, I don't know if it matters much that Pat Lang is wrong or not, or you're right or not.
I think that anyone with a functional brain knows deep down that if the US sinks the Black Fleet Sea, the Russians WILL GO nuclear, without any hint of a doubt.

At the end of the day, I think it's not about making sure you survive. It's about making sure the other guy doesn't have complete and total victory over the whole world. If they look close to it, or if they're close to become absolutely invincible, you use all you get to take him down. Because if the 2nd biggest badass can't win, then he'll make sure no one will ever be able.

Then, if US attacks directly the Russians, or if Georgians go back to the fight with far superior equipment, I'm not sure Western European countries will keep their ridiculous hate-Russia position that much. I mean, it's not Afghanistan with Russians occupying the whole country and killing thousands of local civilians. They're back in the 2 autonomous provinces by now.

By the way, I'm not sure going into actual war with Russia now would be the wisest, because then things would really go to hell in the Persian Gulf and probably in Afghanistan.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 28 2008 21:01 utc | 5

antifa speaks for me on this as s/he does on the 'theatre' of the elections in america

i'm frightened by imbecility. i always was. i am now

& for a nation of 'experts' - they know precious fuck-al about other nations, other cultures, other peoples

& i too am frightened that there are people within this administration who would welcome war with russia & who believe in nuclear arms & who think they can win. read the biography of edward teller - which shows clearly there are elements within the elite capable of configuring such a holocaust

& what must be never forgotten - is that the mentors of this administration - was not only strauss, or the chicago school - but were in facts scientists involved in trying to destroy detente, who were agressively against arms control because they thought such a war ought to be fought

whether its wolfowitz, perle armitage powell, cheney etc etc - these madmen were heavily influenced by madmen who were itchy on the trigger

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 21:15 utc | 6

Tonight on BBC Radio 4, 10.0pm “The World Tonight” the presenter Robin Lustig along with Brigit Kendall (the Russian speaking “Our Gal in the Kremlin”) did an “Omagosh—what is this silly Mr. Putin trying to say? Ya mean Dick Cheney would—I mean really, engineer a conflict in Georgia to get that nice Mr. McCain into the White House?!” Giggle, giggle. “Oh, really isn’t this just the stupidest, silliest thing ever? That Mr. Putin must be—well, I don’t know what—crazy?! I just cawnt believe it!”

There it is the BBC/Whitehall/No.10 Downing Street propaganda bum sucking minions of the media doing there “Lick the American’s Arse” jitterbug act right on queue. This sort of treatment of so serious a subject has all the ludicrous gravitas of a Buckingham Palace garden party— if it weren’t just so damn scary.

Posted by: Spyware | Aug 28 2008 21:44 utc | 7

we may see some big Russian fish (submarine species) loitering of the coast of Florida very soon.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 28 2008 21:50 utc | 8

relax, it's all about the benjamins


Posted by: a nonie mouse | Aug 28 2008 22:34 utc | 9

JFK, having read the Guns of August, recognized the importance of neither side misunderstanding the other during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

These jerks are not interested in understanding the Russians.

Posted by: lysias | Aug 28 2008 22:45 utc | 10

There is no "plan" here on the part of President Richard Cheney or anyone else in the present administration. This is pure adventurism. They're playing poker: "Let's try it and see what happens--I mean, hey, whatda we godda lose?"

Posted by: Spyware | Aug 28 2008 22:53 utc | 11

Very good post, b--but scary.

VV #1--Yes, guns of August. The hypothesis that the purpose of the Georgia war was get McCain elected was a good one, but seems weaker all the time. Looks more and more like it is rather the last roll of the dice--the final, blow-out, big gamble.

Restocking Georgia is the indicator here: If the US can "refloat" its fleet in the 2002 war games (when in the games they lost the Persian gulf fleet to an Iran-like country using primitive massed tactics they cried "foul" and actually did this) then why not--after losing the Georgia War--just "make their own reality" and re-arm Georgia and refight it?

The fact that the neo-cons, media, and the supposed oppositional Democrats are all solidly behind the Georgia War (and a renewed Georgia War) means that the powers that be really want this. Bold, dramatic, FINAL action is to be the cure for everything--for grinding, spiraling defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan . . . not to mention for the collapsing US economy!

Whether the Russians feel weak or strong, they have no place for further retreat, and thus have to react. At their own border they will not back down--that is reliable, and everyone can count on it, though Americans do not believe it.

The powers that be have adopted the old Nazi principle: "World rule or nothing!" And the US has come ever closer to adopting this view openly. It is inevitable that the US will eventually pick a final, nuclear fight. The trick and the need is to delay that fight. What is needed is a distraction, something to put those forward strategies on the back burner.

Posted by: Gaianne | Aug 28 2008 23:13 utc | 12

Well, someone knows when the coasts will go, but obviously not me. When coasts do go, armies/materiel/navies in place could be very useful to the prescient and calm. Nations are tools for sensible businessmen.

Posted by: plushtown | Aug 28 2008 23:37 utc | 13

This analysis is plain stupid.

If those hundreds of tons the U.S. unloaded over the last 14 days were Javelin Anti-Armour Missile, Stinger Block2 Anti-Air Missiles and similar stuff, how well would those Georgian troops do with superior numbers and superior weapons? Those pallets were labeled "humanitarian" but did any neutral source ever looked what they really carried?

Read your Ockham. You have ZERO proof that this was so. The case against Iraq was stronger than your so-called analysis.

Apparently those superior Georgian numbers didn't help them much.

The US does not have the capability to project military power into the Caucasus. Russia has and is showing everyone that this is their sphere of influence.

Posted by: Frank K. | Aug 28 2008 23:39 utc | 14

mr frank k

i think the situation is far from clear & it wouldn't be the first time the u s has given arms under the cover of 'humanitarian aid'

the situation remains very, very delicate

i hope saakshivili is shitting himself

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 23:49 utc | 15

Frank K. #14 Actually, seems likely Ockham, a man willing to call a>Pope a heretic, would think weapons a likely part of modern humanitarian shipments.

Posted by: plushtown | Aug 28 2008 23:51 utc | 16

I'm w/spyware @#11

And this isn't scary as much as it is terrifying...

Especially for those of us whom grew up under the cold war.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 1:09 utc | 17

Hmmm I just don't see the Georgian army do on the offensive anytime soon... they got bloodies too much and they know they were routed. Give it a year at least, and with plenty of US special forces advisors, who can prod the troops forward. Also, and offensive would require US air support to knock out Russian tanks and artillery positions. And the Russians have said (sorry no link) that if the US starts using PGM on them they will go nuclear. And then it's all over...

Regarding the McCain campaign and this war - I would not discount it. Remember the color coded terrorist alerts that used to pop up regularly in the US, at politically suitable times? Imagine this ; Russian forces at a first Chechen war level, and the Georginans manage to blow the Roki tunnel? Then they will succede in taking Tshkvali (they controlled almost all of it, just needed to mop up, according to what I have read), and just about all of SO. Then have big brother declare a seize fire...

Posted by: FkD | Aug 29 2008 1:41 utc | 18

the fondest of friends sent me an email with two citations of walter benjamin - i will post them here because as is usual with walter benjamin - his writng - both tender but made of steel :

A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. (Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin)

A war that you win cancels any other bad action of your doing. In the same way, by losing one, all the good things worked by you before become vain. (Niccolo Machiavelli) You would surely think with odds like that, anyone with any good intent and action to which they were truly committed, would never risk that good. Not in a battle. Of any kind. Perhaps not even in words. The gun is an appropriate analgesic when you don’t have words with which to counter. By winning, good becomes indistinguishable from and overwhelmed by evil. By losing, the good is forever lost. That’s not odds, it’s lunacy. The death of good. But then, good cannot be defended only people’s lives.
walter benjamin

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 29 2008 2:01 utc | 19

Posted by: b real | Aug 29 2008 2:53 utc | 20

The first quote comes from "Concept of History" in which Benjamin defends historical materialism. Benjamin sees HM as an antidote to the angel of history pushed forward into the future by "progress."

I don't know where the 2nd quote comes from.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 29 2008 3:45 utc | 21>angelus novus

Inside truth for DM: the painting confirms Lyndon LaRouche planned 9/11.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 29 2008 3:52 utc | 22

Even if from benjamin, that 2nd quote has nothing to do w/ the 1st.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 29 2008 3:58 utc | 23

So does the SCO support Russia on South Ossetia?
The NYT says no: Security Group Refuses to Back Russia's Actions.
The AFP says yes: Russia wins backing from China, Central Asia over Georgia.

Since Russia can credibly claim moral high ground in this dispute, it will be interesting to see if its allies and the uncommitted validate the claim.
It's conceivable the NYT would flat out lie about the SCO's position considering China's a major US creditor and that nip of autumn in the air means another winter's coming. Did those sailor's bring their thermal underwear? Wouldn't want to make a mistake like those last guy's who forgot their greatcoats.

Posted by: Pvt. Keepout | Aug 29 2008 4:50 utc | 24

from ROUTE, by George Oppen

There was no other guarantee

Ours aren't the only madmen tho they have burned thousands
of men and women alive, perhaps no madder than most

Strange to be here, strange for them also, insane and criminal,
who hasn't noticed that, strange to be man, we have come
rather far

We are at the beginning of a radical depopulation of the earth

Cataclysm...cataclysm of the plains, jungles, the cities

Something in the soil exposed between two oceans

As Cabeza de Vaca found a continenet of spiritual despair
in campsites

His miracles among the Indians heralding cataclysm

Even Cortes greeted as revelation...No I'd not emigrate,
I'd not live in a ship's bar wherever we may be headed

These things at the limits of reason, nothing at the limits
of dream, the dream merely ends, by this we know it is the

That we confront

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 29 2008 5:14 utc | 25

I don't know why people (us) are so on ease...
Now when I think about it I remember how for probably about 6 months or more after the conflicts started in ex YU we simply couldn't believe what's happening and we tended to rather go about our own lives then start to panic. Watching news was more like watching a movie...We definitely thought that it's going to eventually stop prior to the point where it will turn in to the catastrophe. I had a feeling that people felt about it most like about football match. Us vs. them...
Later I met a Serbian woman from Sarajevo that after Karadzic’s bombardment of Sarajevo started did not leave the city (all though they arranged for their two daughters to leave for Belgrade). They lived with a daily bombardment and simply couldn't believe what's happening. She told me how she thought: “It must stop in September; the school is starting in September". Talking about normal way of thinking that is resilient no matter what…
We in Serbia only realized how serious it is when they started to come and take our husbands, sons, nephews to the Army and sent them to front in Croatia.
Also me and my husband opposed Milosevic and his doing from the beginning but other people were not so sure what to think. State TV was talking one thing , traces of "free" media ( financed by west) were talking the opposite...reality was more and more gloomy and things progressed to the absurd point where some of the people were not able to further support the leader who is taking us to the abyss but on the other hand they couldn't believe this is happening. I remember a friend who was supportive of Milosevic being one of the editors of State TV news when confronted with absurdity of our situation told us : "I hope Milosevic knows what he is doing...he must know something we don't know..."
It happened so that Milosevic did not have any hidden agenda or agreement that would save Serbia.
I am afraid we are now in the same situation. As things deteriorate daily we can't believe that nuclear war is possible...we do believe that THEY (leaders on both sides) know what they are doing and that they will after some show of power come to some agreement and save the world of nuclear catastrophe. But is it so???

Posted by: vbo | Aug 29 2008 6:41 utc | 26

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff told the meeting it was a violation of the U.N. charter for member states to use force against others, or threaten to use it, and suggested that Moscow's claims to be protecting Russian citizens in Georgia's South Ossetia region were a sham.

Unbelievable...after invading Iraq, Afghanistan and threatening Iran...American politicians know NO shame. Bastards.

Posted by: vbo | Aug 29 2008 6:46 utc | 27

Inner City Press pointed out that several Security Council resolutions about Kosovo had referred to Serbia's territorial integrity, before that integrity was dismissed earlier this year. Wolff responded that Serbian territorial integrity was surrendered earlier, with Russia's approval, when resolutions were passed calling for the withdrawal of Serbian military forces from Kosovo, and turning over authority in Kosovo to the United Nations. Video here.

One really needs to be a bloody bastard to say this.I hope cancer will it him to the last cell.

Here is bloody resolution 1244 saying:

Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act and annex 2,

Reaffirming the call in previous resolutions for substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo,

Posted by: vbo | Aug 29 2008 7:16 utc | 28

Light infantry with MANPADs and antitank rockets can run one hell of a guerilla war, but they cannot prevent the occupation of their country. So if US supplies Georgians with weapons and they strike back, first thing that will happen is the occupation of entire Georgia by Russians, right away. And this time it's for good.

Unless US is prepared to enter war at this point, why would it be setting itself for a second slap in the face? Why would Georgians want to self-destruct in this fashion? They cannot win against Russians - what they can is hurt Russians alot, and have their country destroyed in the process. Nobody wants to be a second Chechnya.

Posted by: Andrey Subbotin | Aug 29 2008 7:30 utc | 29

If Georgia tries shit again, indeed it's pretty obvious that the Russians won't stop before Tbilisi and regime change.

"Imagine this ; Russian forces at a first Chechen war level, and the Georginans manage to blow the Roki tunnel? Then they will succede in taking Tshkvali, and just about all of SO. Then have big brother declare a seize fire"
I said it before, and it's quite obvious. If the tunnel is closed, the Russians will just go through Abkhazia, and there's nothing to stop them between Abkhazian border and the farthest Eastern villages.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 29 2008 8:54 utc | 30

Not sure which of the Russians-Gone-Wild threads this goes into best, but this one seems as likely as any other:

Turkey is refusing US naval ships access to Georgia via the Black Sea!

The Black Sea is the back yard of three big players Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Syria’s Assad has been billed as the first Arab leader to publicly support the Russians. And that was after nearly two weeks.

Is Turkey going to surprise the world? And continue to refuse the Americans? Is there is a pax Russia unfolding? And Ukraine for all its vitriol to Russia, transports about 90% of the Russian gas that goes to Western Europe. So there is clearly some interdependency between these 2 Black Sea neighbours. And if Georgia ends up a Russian dependency then Turkey is beholden to Russia for the BTC pipeline.

Public sentiment in Turkey for the US is still at rock bottom because of Iraq.

Also, fwiw...

Putin accuses U.S. of orchestrating Georgian war

I think the chance of a hot engagement within the next six weeks between US/NATO forces and Russia is pretty high...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 9:02 utc | 31

further to Uncle $cams post ... a little context and some background ...

There are a couple of overlooked US objectives here ... including US Navy access to the Black Sea, in support of those color revolution governments ? Or simply further threat of force or posturing/containinment re a resurgent Russia or seeking to ensure that flow of Central Asian oil (other than via Russia or Iran) ? Or perhaps all the above ?
The Great Game Revisited continues ... and a concerned (NATO) Turkey appears very troubled and torn indeed ... Turkey caught between arock andahard place ?

A background context primer re a little known convention (from Wikipedia):- Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Turkish Straits

Scuttling Montreaux

Turkey in tight spot between Russia and NATO

A precarious bridge between East and West

Posted by: Outraged | Aug 29 2008 9:23 utc | 32

Something I've been pondering recently, but my knowledge of US weaponry is so thin I just can't guess if it's a valid concern or not.
Could it be possible that this is first of all another positioning of US Navy and firepower for a future hit on Iran, most than a defense of Georgia or an aggressive manoeuvre against Russia? That the whole war is used as an excuse to move some more ships closer to Tehran and NW Iran? I'm just asking, because I don't know if it makes any sense - notably concerning US missiles' range.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 29 2008 10:14 utc | 33

I would suggest it wasn't by accident that Russia chose to test fire a Topol ICBM ... they are exclusively designed and manufactured only within Russia (not CIS) and have been specifically re-designed to be effectively practically immune to any medium term ABM system ...they've also recently gone MIRV ...

Russia is sending a VERY CLEAR message re US/NATO actions and especially the Poland/Czech/US ABM/Radar/Petriot deployments ...

From wikipedia RT-2UTTH Topol M

In late february 2008 the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces announced that 8 new Topol-M missiles would enter service in 2008, bringing the number of deployed Topol-M missiles to 62 by the end of 2008.[citation needed]

There has been work on new propulsion systems for the Topol-M which may enable it to evade an anti-ballistic missile.

The missile is designed to be immune to any planned US ABM defense. It is capable of making evasive maneuvers to avoid a kill by terminal phase interceptors, and carries targeting countermeasures and decoys. It is shielded against radiation, EMP, nuclear blasts in distances less than 500 meters, and is designed to survive a hit from any laser technology.

-- snip --

According to The Washington Times, Russia conducted a successful test of their evasive payload delivery system. [3] The missile was launched on November 1, 2005 from the Kapustin Yar facility. The warhead changed course after separating from the launcher, making it difficult to predict a re-entry trajectory.

Posted by: Outraged | Aug 29 2008 10:29 utc | 34

MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - A senior Russian military analyst said on Wednesday that the U.S. and NATO by arming Tbilisi used the conflict in Georgia as a dress rehearsal for a future military operation in Iran.

Col. Gen Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Studies, told a news conference at RIA Novosti, "We are close to a serious conflict - U.S. and NATO preparations on a strategic scale are ongoing. In the operation the West conducted on Georgian soil against Russia - South Ossetians were the victims or hostages of it - we can see a rehearsal for an attack on Iran. There is a great deal of "new features" that today are being fine tuned in the theater of military operations."

He said the likelihood of a war against Iran was growing with each passing day, "As a result, the situation in the region will become destabilized," and added "causing chaos and instability" was becoming Washington's official policy line.

Posted by: vbo | Aug 29 2008 10:35 utc | 35

"..."causing chaos and instability" was becoming Washington's official policy line. "

told ya... (couldn't help it after someone mentioned the told ys so crowd

oh, and ot but, there's this...

Air Force Searches For Lost Launch Devices

might wanna look in Cheney's bunker...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 10:49 utc | 36


Tomahawks have a range of 2500Kms, so they coulde asily be fired from US ships in the Black Sea and strike at Iran with relative (immediate, symmetric) impunity due to being in a seperate Sea with a number of buffer states in between (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey). A Black Sea Tomahawk launch could reach any Iranian location.

Such a scenario would avoid a direct Iranian response to the launching vessels, but would also require the cruise missiles to overfly one or more of the above countries enroute to strike Iran ... however, it would in no way prevent an assymetric response from Iran which would be virtually 100% certain.

From wikipedia:- BGM-109 Tomahawk

Posted by: Outraged | Aug 29 2008 10:50 utc | 37

Well, I was wondering if there was any advantage of having ships in Black Sea, since I suspected Tomahwak could be launched from the Mediterranean.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 29 2008 11:18 utc | 38

Hm, Russia is goin' for broke in the Caucasus ...some more tit-4-tat escalation, and given the accelerated timeframes here re sequence of events re decisive actions, they're taking a leaf out of the Israeli handbook in regard to creating irreversible 'Facts on the Ground' ...

Hm, so much for determining 'Final Status Issues' later on ... it's a fait Accompli whilst the West berates and blusters ...

Hm, what was it that anonymous Neocon said about 'creating new realities' whilst others analyse and debate ?

Seems the Russian leadership took note ...

Russia to sign accord for bases in South Ossetia: report

Russia will sign an agreement next week allowing it to set up military bases in South Ossetia, Interfax news agency reported Friday, quoting a senior South Ossetian official.

"The signing of an agreement with Russia on inter-state cooperation and the setting up of Russian military bases on the territory of South Ossetia... will take place on September 2," the report quoted the deputy chief of the South Ossetian parliament as saying.

Posted by: Outraged | Aug 29 2008 11:46 utc | 39

meant to say this the other day - welcome back, outraged

Posted by: b real | Aug 29 2008 14:33 utc | 40

I am glad to see Outraged again, too...

Posted by: vbo | Aug 29 2008 15:06 utc | 41

Russia & China are not pristine & angelic but they will never partake of the peculiar moral-superiority of the West. And China knows that if the West is able to dispose of Russia, they (China) will be next.

And its one thing to blame the Western media but the reality is that Western publics have (for over a thousand years) been willing consumers & custodians of the moral-superiority they are fed.

And the one thing that outrages the Russians more than anything else is the Wests insistence on asserting its "moral-superiority" over them. And its is a huge mistake by the West but at least the EU will know to tread very carefully. Especially since the USA cannot back it up. Even if it could, the Russians (and the Chinese) are not going to be intimidated.

The more failures the Western moral-superiorists can pile up around the world, the more of a siege-mentality they can create at home and hence the renewed sense of moral-superiority that inevitably blooms from it. Maybe thats what they are willing to settle for at this point.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 29 2008 15:52 utc | 42

Indeed it is nice to have outraged back among us.

thanks for sharing.

Yes, this could escalate into nuclear war. But I figure, there is so little to do about it. The leaderships are isolated and best chance for medition comes with knowing both groups, I know neither. The commands and the missiles are well-protected and in short term impervious to rants, demonstrations and handing out of leaflets. So I can not stop nuclear war, and if it comes to a fullscale nuclear war between US and Russia most of us will only have time to think "SHI" and then it is over.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Aug 29 2008 16:15 utc | 43

bhadrakumar's latest @ asia times online

Russia remains a Black Sea power

If the struggle in the Caucasus was ever over oil and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) agenda towards Central Asia, the United States suffered a colossal setback this week. Kazakhstan, the Caspian energy powerhouse and a key Central Asian player, has decided to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Russia over the conflict with Georgia, and Russia's de facto control over two major Black Sea ports has been consolidated.

At a meeting in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on Thursday on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Kazakh President Nurusultan Nazarbayev told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Moscow could count on Astana's support in the present crisis.
From Moscow's point of view, Nazarbayev's words are worth their weight in gold. Kazakhstan is the richest energy producer in Central Asia and is a regional heavyweight. It borders China. The entire US regional strategy in Central Asia ultimately aims at replacing Russia and China as Kazakhstan's number one partner.
These American dreams have suffered a setback with the Kazakh leadership now closing ranks with Moscow. It seems Moscow outwitted Washington.

Posted by: b real | Aug 29 2008 18:25 utc | 44


i'm happy you are here

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 29 2008 18:30 utc | 45

Calm down.

Nothing serious will happen except in the halls of power. And that will be a lot of histrionics. And some unexpected results. But later.

Since NATO bombed the shit out of ex-Yugo to support the secession of Kosova the Ossetians and Abkh. (sp) have *known* they would gain ‘independence.’

They have been waiting for it since Stalin.

Saak. did the pre-emptive strike thing, hoping to take the upper hand by assuming the aggressor role. Of course he is a dumb shit, and more, but within all this color revolution curtainy froth, he really had little choice, as an incompetent stooge, the US and Isr. (in some measure, that’s another story) yap at his heels, his wife moans about life, and he’s been locking up ppl since he is in power, bashing others, closing down the media, cutting social aid, barring roads and neglecting schools, nominating smarmy crony ass-lickers, and no doubt, not that I know anything about it, lining his pockets in the usual way, in that region its very much the big mansion route, and lording it over the neighbors, and going on TV to support foundations for cancer or abused children (the wife is actually supposed to do that) etc.

For what? It has to come to a head.

Ossetia is not Afghanistan...

Patsies have to perform, there is nothing else they can do. Even failure is honorable, better anyway than doing anything sensible or productive. (The big bear proved to be too tough, argh he tried, yada yada.) Create a huge mess, and sit back. It is small, despicable, stupid, a horror, the epitome of the international MacMafia.

People here are raging, life isn’t normal, we moan about the foreign minister, etc. So excuse my vocabulary.

Posted by: Tangerine | Aug 29 2008 20:00 utc | 46


I think you might be overstating Russian fears of US military power.

Putting US Naval forces in the Black Sea would be crazy. US Naval docrtrine is based around aircraft carriers that operate a long way out to sea. During the cold war their primary purpose was to keep the Atlantic open to shipping. The Atlantic is a long way from Russia, but despite that distance keeping carriers and US Naval ships safe from Russian Naval Aviation was very difficult. Russia has excellent anti-ship missiles, excellent airbourne radar targeting and brilliant aircraft to deliver the missiles. Giving Russain Naval Aviation a target on its doorstep would be like a training run. (NB: Russia has a different airforce structure with a very significant land based Naval Airforce dedicated to the task of hunting down enemy shipping)

That leaves the US Army and Airforce. THere is no US Army available, and I am not sure it would be able to fight Russia even if it was at 100% readiness and availability. Russia's army is just too big.

The Airforce should be the US's trump card, but I want to point out some things that contradict this. Firstly, the US has not gone up against a real air opponent in decades. Secondly, despite all the advances, the US airforce consists largely of aging equipment. The bulk of the fighting part of the airforce consists of F-16, F-18's, F-15, B1 and B52 bombers. Most of the US airforces plane's are decades old. They are only arguably equal matches or often inferior to the Russian counterparts. Russia has huge numbers of aircraft. Probably most importantly of all Russian air to air missile technology is ahead of the Americans and has been for a long time. Their air to air missiles often have longer range, can be launched in larger numbers from bigger Russian fighters. Russia's surface to air missiles are a generation ahead of anything America has. I'm not talking about shoulder launched manpads. I mean big systems like the S-300 or S-400 Grumble and Gargoyle with ranges of hundreds of kilometers that can turn an F-15 into a sitting duck. Russia has these in large numbers.

That leaves the US stealth aircraft and the airbourne radar AWAC's as the big difference. Russia has developed ultra-long range air to air missiles specifically to take out AWAC's. The F-22 might be a real threat but there are only tiny numbers of them. That leaves the F-117 and the B-2. The F-117 is being retired, probably because the Russians have figured out how to track them. Russia has developed low band radar technology (see here) that can track stealth aircraft. It could certainly track F-117, probably F-22's. It might be able to track B-2's. If it can the B-2's will be nothing more than a fleet of 20 (they only have 20) 2 billion dollar a piece targets for Russian ground forces and Air Forces to compete against in racking up the highest number of kills.

Posted by: swio | Aug 30 2008 1:18 utc | 47


i don't know if i'm totally reassured but i am thankful for the information on these not unimportant details

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 30 2008 1:31 utc | 48

Is heightening the world tension level unconnected, should one suppose, from the collapsing financial system?

Nothing like a war to distract from domestic failure.

Posted by: jim p | Aug 30 2008 4:54 utc | 49

Putting US Naval forces in the Black Sea would be crazy.

Well - U.S. Naval forces ARE in the Black Sea ...

Posted by: b | Aug 30 2008 4:57 utc | 50

Some interesting detail re the actual declarations from the SCO conference ... significantly different angle to the carp that the western media have been misrepresenting ... also some interesting observations re Russian Naval forces possible future dispositions in Black Sea and Mediterranian (& Syrian port) ... US/NATO just seem to be racking up more and more significant strategic repercussians well beyond Georgia as a result of thier little venture with sasha ...

Russia remains a Black Sea power

If the struggle in the Caucasus was ever over oil and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) agenda towards Central Asia, the United States suffered a colossal setback this week. Kazakhstan, the Caspian energy powerhouse and a key Central Asian player, has decided to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Russia over the conflict with Georgia, and Russia's de facto control over two major Black Sea ports has been consolidated.

Posted by: Outraged | Aug 30 2008 8:53 utc | 51

I think I should have been more clear.

Putting them in the Black Sea with the aim of surviving a military engagement against Russian forces would be crazy. The neocons are so drunk on belief in American military supremacy I doubt they are even capable of comprehending that. I really don't know if the American Naval commanders understand it. They seem to make decisions about future naval acquisitions as if they don't, but I suspect that having hundreds or even thousands of their seamen's lives facing squadrons of fully loaded Backfires bearing down of them will make them a bit more realistic. A bit like the British Navy with their battleships in WWII when facing enemy airpower.

Putting them in the Black Sea as part of a rashly thought out piece of gunboat diplomacy, well that's stupid rather than actually crazy. Normal BushCo operating procedure :-)

Posted by: swio | Aug 30 2008 10:03 utc | 52

I am Russian my self, reading this foolish crap from my house in Moscow, right after I've read info on US national debt :) Funny, you know, how will US and other NATO countries fight RF with your old crappy "Tomahawks", when they completely understand that every missile that will fall to our land or ship will be 10 times answered back with our nuclear weapon. US never had any clear and complete information on the development and disposition of such weapon in Russia. 10 years ago we already had system to fool your anti-nuclear program, and you still think that you are in safe there, in the middle of your "happy democracy". Don't trouble trouble before the trouble troubles you. All your major cities will be lost, think about it, you would have any chance to survive. We are not scared of NATO, and you know it better than I do, guys. We are people who got nothing to loose except peace. When US are the nation of the "Hollywood-style heros". Do not mess with us, let's be friends and business partners.

Posted by: Vlad Trouble | Aug 31 2008 17:53 utc | 53

We are people who got nothing to loose except peace.

That's a lot to lose and something we fear her because of the idiots in the lead.

When US are the nation of the "Hollywood-style heros".

At least since Reagen that is obvious :-)

Do not mess with us, let's be friends and business partners.

I agree 100% with that. Greetings from Germany.

Posted by: b | Aug 31 2008 19:19 utc | 54

Bin gespannt wann die USA Russland angreift.

Posted by: M.I. | Sep 2 2008 21:53 utc | 55

michael klare @ tomdispatch

Putin's Ruthless Gambit: The Bush Administration Falters in a Geopolitical Chess Match

To fully grasp the recent upheavals in the Caucasus, it is necessary to view the conflict as but a minor skirmish in a far more significant geopolitical struggle between Moscow and Washington over the energy riches of the Caspian Sea basin -- with former Russian President (now Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin emerging as the reigning Grand Master of geostrategic chess and the Bush team turning out to be middling amateurs, at best.

The ultimate prize in this contest is control over the flow of oil and natural gas from the energy-rich Caspian basin to eager markets in Europe and Asia. According to the most recent tally by oil giant BP, the Caspian's leading energy producers, all former "socialist republics" of the Soviet Union -- notably Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- together possess approximately 48 billion barrels in proven oil reserves (roughly equivalent to those left in the U.S. and Canada) and 268 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (essentially equivalent to what Saudi Arabia possesses).

klare provides a brief background on the geopolitics of the region, but takes the position that

Saakashvili, was not content to play the relatively modest role of pipeline protector. Instead, he sought to pursue a megalomaniacal fantasy of recapturing the breakaway regions of Abhkazia and South Ossetia with American help. As it happened, the Bush team -- blindsided by their own neoconservative fantasies -- saw in Saakashvili a useful pawn in their pursuit of a long smoldering anti-Russian agenda. Together, they walked into a trap cleverly set by Putin.

It is hard not to conclude that Russian prime minister goaded the rash Saakashvili into invading South Ossetia by encouraging Abkhazian and South Ossetian irregulars to attack Georgian outposts and villages on the peripheries of the two enclaves ... giving Putin what he long craved -- a seemingly legitimate excuse to invade Georgia and demonstrate the complete vulnerability of Clinton's (and now Bush's) vaunted energy corridor.

Posted by: b real | Sep 3 2008 3:41 utc | 56

Georgians Eager to Rebuild Army

Defense officials in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, said that at a minimum they hoped to re-equip the army’s four existing brigades with modern equipment, and increase the size of the country’s air force. Georgia’s military now includes 33,000 active-duty personnel.
Georgia also hopes to acquire an integrated air-defense system that covers the country’s entire airspace, to arm its land forces with modern antiarmor rockets, and to overhaul the military’s communication equipment, much of which was rendered useless by Russian jamming during the brief war.
He said that training and equipping new brigades, re-equipping existing forces and installing a modern air-defense network could cost $8 billion to $9 billion.
In the recent war, which was over in days, Georgia’s Army fled ahead of the Russian Army’s advance, turning its back and leaving Georgian civilians in an enemy’s path. Its planes did not fly after the first few hours of contact. Its navy was sunk in the harbor, and its patrol boats were hauled away by Russian trucks on trailers.

The information to date suggests that from the beginning of the war to its end, Georgia, which wants to join NATO, fought the war in a manner that undermined its efforts at presenting itself as a potentially serious military partner or power.

At the end of this piece, there finally comes a bit of truth about Saaks splendid little war.
In the recent war, which was over in days, Georgia’s Army fled ahead of the Russian Army’s advance, turning its back and leaving Georgian civilians in an enemy’s path. Its planes did not fly after the first few hours of contact. Its navy was sunk in the harbor, and its patrol boats were hauled away by Russian trucks on trailers.
Mr. Saakashvili and his advisers also say that even though he has no tactical military experience, he was at one time personally directing important elements of the battle — giving orders over a cellphone and deciding when to move a brigade from western to central Georgia to face the advancing Russian columns.

In the field, there is evidence from an extensive set of witnesses that within 30 minutes of Mr. Saakashvili’s order, Georgia’s military began pounding civilian sections of the city of Tskhinvali, as well as a Russian peacekeeping base there, with heavy barrages of rocket and artillery fire.

The barrages all but ensured a Russian military response, several diplomats, military officers and witnesses said.
One senior Western military official said that one of the country’s senior generals had fled the battle in an ambulance, leaving soldiers and his duties behind. Georgia’s Defense Ministry strongly denies this.

No one disputes that the army succumbed to chaos and fear, which reached such proportions that the army fled all the way to the capital, abandoning the city of Gori without preparing a serious defense, and before the Russians had reached it in strength. It littered its retreat with discarded ammunition.

Posted by: b | Sep 3 2008 4:59 utc | 57

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