Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 02, 2018

Note To NATO - You Don't "Take Out" Missiles Without Having A War

Earlier today the U.S. ambassador to NATO threatened to "take out" a new kind of Russian missiles:

The U.S. envoy to NATO on Tuesday said that Russia must halt development of new missiles that could carry nuclear warheads and warned that the United States could “take out” the system if it becomes operational.

The U.S. and Russia have for some time disagreed about the INF treaty. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987 between the Soviet General Secretary Gorbachov and U.S. President Reagan. It prohibits land based (not sea based) nuclear capable systems with a range of more than 500 kilometers and less than 5,500 kilometers. The agreement came to pass after the Soviets stationed SS-20 missiles in East Europe. NATO responded with the Pershing II deployment. The problem with these missiles was warning time. Fired at a relative short range they threatened to overwhelm one side before it could respond. The missiles thus destroyed the equilibrium of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). The INF treaty banned these missiles.

Russia said for years that the U.S. broke the INF agreement when it stationed missile defense systems in Europe to allegedly take out North Korean and Iranian intercontinental missiles. The missile defense missiles could be armed with nuclear warheads and could probably be used in a surface-to-surface mode. Previously deployed U.S. Nike-Hercules 'air defense' missiles had such capabilities. The National Defense Authorization Act for the year 2018 calls for (pdf, pg 240):

... evaluating existing U.S. missile systems for modification to intermediate range and ground-launch, including Tomahawk, Standard Missile-3, Standard Missile-6, Long-Range Stand-Off Cruise Missile, and Army Tactical Missile System.

Any such modification would be undetectable from the outside, especially when the missiles are stored in launch canisters or silos. It would also clearly be in breach of the INF treaty.

The U.S. denies that its current missile defense systems break the INF and accuses Russia of breaking the treaty by testing a land launched version of its sea launched Kalibr cruse missiles. Russia denies that it is testing anything that is not compatible with the INF treaty. If there is a land launched version it is likely confined to a range below 500 kilometers and thus in compliance with the INF. The sea launched version has a reach of up to 2,500 kilometer, but its export variant is limited to 300 kilometer. The possibly land launched version, which is said to be shorter than the original Kalibr missile (see comments), might well have a much shorter range than the sea launched system. The missiles have, as far as is publicly know, non-nuclear warheads.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO is Kay Baily Hutchinson, a long-term Republican politician with no military experience. Her choice of words in today's press briefing was clearly unprofessional:

Question: [...] Ma’am, can you be more specific what kind of new information that you are bringing to the table regarding the breach of the INF Treaty? And more explicitly also, what kind of countermeasures that you are considering.

Ambassador Hutchison: The countermeasures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty. So that would be the countermeasure eventually. We are trying not to do anything that would violate the treaty on our side, which allows research, but not going forward into development, and we are carefully keeping the INF Treaty requirements on our side, while Russia is violating. ...

The reporters in the room were in disbelieve over such aggressive wording and followed up:

Question: Thanks, Ambassador. Lorne [Inaudible], Associated Press. Just to clarify a little bit when you said to take out the missiles that are in development, we are a little excited here. Do you mean to get those withdrawn? You don’t mean to actually take them out in a more [inaudible]?

Ambassador Hutchison: Well, withdrawing, yes. Getting them to withdraw would be our choice, of course. But I think the question was what would you do if this continues to a point where we know that they are capable of delivering. And at that point we would then be looking at a capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries in Europe and hit America in Alaska. So it is in all of our interests, and Canada as well, I suppose. So we have our North Atlantic risk as well as the European risk.

So what is the ambassador going to do? Bomb Russia over a disagreement about the technical specification of a potential new missile that is not even deployed yet?

This nonsense comes just days after the U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke suggested that the U.S. Navy might blockade Russia's energy trade.

When the INF treaty was signed NATO was far from Russia's border. Now it is directly at it. The Russian government takes such threats seriously. Its spokesperson was not amused (Ru, machine translation):

The North Atlantic Alliance does not realize the degree of its responsibility and the dangers of aggressive rhetoric, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Tuesday when commenting on the words of US Permanent Representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison about the possibility of shooting down Russian missiles.
"It seems that people making such statements do not realize the degree of their responsibility and the dangers of aggressive rhetoric. Who authorized this woman to make such statements? The American people? Are the people in the US aware of the fact that so-called diplomats are paid aggressively and destructive? It is very easy to break and destroy everything. It is difficult to repair and repair. American diplomacy has a lot to do to recover from the consequences of its inherent errors, "Zakharova told reporters.

One hopes that the ambassador erred in her "take out" response. Otherwise Russia will probably consider to "take out" the ABM assets the U.S. deploys over Europe. That would surely produce a lot of frightening content for the Express' "World War3" category.

Posted by b on October 2, 2018 at 02:15 PM | Permalink

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The only court Putin should become familiar with is the one at The Hague. He is a war criminal who murdered women and children to start the Second Chechen War and assure his rise to power. Four buildings were blown up in Buinaksk, Moscow, and Volgodonsk in September 19, 1999. Chechen terrorists were blamed. Russian tanks rolled across the Terek River the next day.
The whole thing was a sham, Russian agents were caught placing a bomb in a fifth building in Southeast Moscow and Gennady Seleznev, the leader of the Russian legislature, announced the bombings three days before the bombs blew.

Posted by: ALAN | Oct 3, 2018 4:51:36 PM | 101

@101 alan.. just remember what obama said when asked about accountability... it would apply in spades to the exceptional warmongering nation, their leaders and their good buddies israel and ksa...

Posted by: james | Oct 3, 2018 5:01:56 PM | 102

a lot more then buildings were blown up in iraq, afganistan and more recently in raqqa by the exceptional warmongering nation...

Posted by: james | Oct 3, 2018 5:02:56 PM | 103

ALAN--A Lazy Asinine Neocon troll and worthy candidate for Jim Jones Koolaid.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 3, 2018 5:50:13 PM | 104

Come on, barflies, don't let the tag team to divert discussion from the essence and topic of American Foreign Policy into emotional and thrilling but offopic sideways of "Putin's crimes".

They do not need people to agree with them, they need people to abandon the reall issue for their bait.

Posted by: Arioch | Oct 3, 2018 11:55:59 PM | 105

@Pft | Oct 3, 2018 7:56:07 AM | 72

BTW I meant 4-6 SD above the mean. They are not dumb

The oligarchs who made their fortunes honestly are quite intelligent, but they are only a tiny minority of our rulers. (If they were a majority of the powerful, I would have few fears for the future of the human race.) Nearly all the rich obtained their wealth the usual way -- by picking the right parents -- and are probably not much smarter than most of us. The evidence they are not is how seldom they make any notable contributions, in spite of their vast inherited advantages.

Now the people working directly for the upper economic stratum may have very high IQs, but these people are limited in what they can do to stop disastrous policies because they do not have true power, and because they need to stay employed.

Posted by: Cyril | Oct 4, 2018 1:13:32 AM | 106

Bitter words from Vladimir Putin...
Vladimir Putin called former GRU officer Sergey Skripal a “scumbag” and a “traitor to his homeland,”
Spoken like someone who knows he was caught lying about the attempted assassination of Skripal by the GRU.
Posted by: craigsummers | Oct 3, 2018 12:27:28 PM | 87

When I read that comment from you, it sounded so un-Putin-ish that I didn't bother pointing out why. However a few hours after your #87 comment appeared, the same story with video of Putin and translated voice-over was reproduced on the edition of CGTN (China Global TV News) which we get in Oz.
I still don't believe it and am now wondering what has changed if he did make the remarks attributed to him?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 4, 2018 1:24:51 AM | 107

Hoarsewhisperer 107

There seems to be a couple of different takes. Some have it as scum and some as scumbag.
In the RT voice over it is scoundrel. No transcript as yet that I can find. Mercouris and Christoforou at the Duran also have a video where they are having a long winded discussion on Putin calling Skripal a scumbag. At the end they play the RT video for everyone to see. I listened to it about five times and the voiceover clearly said scoundrel.
Mercouris video

RT video

Sounds like the Russian word Putin used can be translated into anything along the lines of scoundrel, scumbag, ratbag whatever in the English language.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 4, 2018 2:37:57 AM | 108


Not everyone with a fortune is a member of the ruling elites club. Either because they did not inherit the smart genes from the fortune makers or they are not motivated. In such cases they are not invited to join the “club” of the ruling elite or at least do not make the higher echelons of the club.

To my understanding only the most intelligent, committed and least empathatic make it to the highest levels. It is not possible for a klutz to be a member of the ruling elite. Money is not enough , but those who make it tend to have money, lots of it, some of it inherited, and some members like Gates self made.

The various secret societies and not so secret societies do the recruitment. Not everyRothschild or Rockefeller is invited. Those who are initiated are subjected to real world tests for capability and loyalty. Likely some of the set backs come due to failures of these initiates who are then demoted or at least go no higher in the club, no matter how rich they may be.

The organization structure of the “club” of the ruling elite is likely pyramidal, like in the military and corporate world. Only those at the highest level whom are the brightest and most capable know all of the plans and operations. Need to know for the rest.

Of course, not being in the club, and perhaps not even knowing any members, I am just speculating

Posted by: Pft | Oct 4, 2018 2:59:51 AM | 109

b, you misrepresent Aegis Ashore. It can *already* fire Tomahawk missiles, or launch Standard Missiles in a ground-to-ground mode, with no modifications being required to make those missiles compatible with the Aegis Ashore vertical launch system.

Further efforts to make missiles suitable for ground launch probably centers on adapting them to trucks or tracked vehicles.

Posted by: Qwertyuiop | Oct 4, 2018 3:10:57 AM | 110

Re Ruling Elites, The Shadow World and Smedley Butler.

There's a fascinating recent TV doco called Shadow World. It's loosely based on a book by Andrew Feinstein called The Shadow World: Inside The Global Arms Trade. A few minutes in from the beginning the doco introduces a poignant factoid with a quote from Smedley Butler "After WWI there were circa 20,000 new millionaires in the U.S.A."

Smedley Butler is the ex-warrior who spent/wasted a big chunk of his life trying to persuade everyone who can read that War Is A Racket. He asserted that the bulk of these new millionaires were manufacturers or bankers. He was also fond of insinuating that some among them were less than forthright in their interactions with the Tax Man.

Anyhow, if one were to become interested in tracking down the origins of The Swamp and the Military-Industrial Complex, then WWI's new profit-conscious, tax-averse, morality-challenged millionaires would seem as good a starting point as any...
I wonder what the List Price of a Privatised Politician was in the 1920s?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 4, 2018 4:47:36 AM | 111

To my understanding only the most intelligent, committed and least empathatic make it to the highest levels.
No,as was said earlier, remember to pick the right parents. I would refer you to George W. Bush.

Plus in many cases the ruling elites who have clawed their way are are not the most intelligent but the most committed and driven for power.

Unfortunately this commitment and power-hunger often makes them very limited in other ways--like knowledge of the world outside a narrow range of the power structures they must deal with which leaves them unable to set or evaluate policy out side of this narrow range.

Posted by: jrkrideau | Oct 4, 2018 5:27:06 AM | 112

Putin to visit India, sign contract on S-400 missile systems delivery

India ok for S400 apparently, not Syria that is attacked repeatedly...

Posted by: Zanon | Oct 4, 2018 12:12:28 PM | 113

zanon.. you seem to be running out of steam, lol...

Posted by: james | Oct 4, 2018 12:48:45 PM | 114


Since Israel itself have already claimed that they will keep attacking Syria there are of course more rational to put S400 in Syria.
You do not think Syria should be protected against israeli attacks?

Israeli Minister: S-300 Systems 'Cannot Detect Our Stealth Fighters'

Posted by: Zanon | Oct 4, 2018 1:15:04 PM | 115

zanon - i wouldn't believe anything out of israelis mouths, especially when it comes to these kinds of topics..

Posted by: james | Oct 4, 2018 3:33:33 PM | 116

That the overwhelming majority of the nations of the earth have US embassies on their soil speaks to the perfidy and stupidity of the human race. America and its capital, Israel, are a disease.

Posted by: The Lowdown | Oct 4, 2018 4:30:46 PM | 117

The Lowdown

Of some strange reason, most people seems ok with this, the pro-US propaganda is everywhere these days.

Posted by: Zanon | Oct 5, 2018 6:58:17 AM | 118

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