Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 04, 2019

How An Ever Sanctioning Superpower Is Losing Its Status

The Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke yesterday at the yearly Valdai Discussion Club meeting in Sochi. A video with English translations and excerpts of the transcript are here.

With regards to the global system Putin made an interesting historic comparison:

in the 19th century they used to refer to a “Concert of Powers.” The time has come to talk in terms of a global “concert” of development models, interests, cultures and traditions where the sound of each instrument is crucial, inextricable and valuable, and for the music to be played harmoniously rather than performed with discordant notes, a cacophony. It is crucial to consider the opinions and interests of all the participants in international life. Let me reiterate: truly mutually respectful, pragmatic and consequently solid relations can only built between independent and sovereign states.

Russia is sincerely committed to this approach and pursues a positive agenda.

The Concert of Europe was the balance of power system between 1815 to 1848 and from 1871 to 1914:

A first phase of the Concert of Europe, known as the Congress System or the Vienna System after the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), was dominated by five Great Powers of Europe: Prussia, Russia, Britain, France and Austria. [...] With the Revolutions of 1848 the Vienna system collapsed and, although the republican rebellions were checked, an age of nationalism began and culminated in the unifications of Italy (by Sardinia) and Germany (by Prussia) in 1871. The German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck re-created the Concert of Europe to avoid future conflicts escalating into new wars. The revitalized concert included France, Britain, Austria, Russia, and Italy with Germany as the main continental power economically and militarily.

Bismark's concert kept peace in a usually warring Europe for 43 years. If Putin wants to be the new Bismarck I am all for it.

Putin also made a rather extraordinary announcement:

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow is helping China build a system to warn of ballistic missile launches.

Since the cold war, only the United States and Russia have had such systems, which involve an array of ground-based radars and space satellites. The systems allow for early spotting of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Speaking at an international affairs conference in Moscow on Thursday, Putin said Russia had been helping China develop such a system. He added that “this is a very serious thing that will radically enhance China’s defence capability”.

His statement signalled a new degree of defence cooperation between the two former Communist rivals that have developed increasingly close political and military ties while Beijing and Washington have sunk into a trade war.

That is as good for China as it is for Russia. China has an immediate need for such a system because the U.S. is taking a significantly more bellicose posture against it.

The U.S. left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia to build a nuclear missiles force in South Asia that will aim at China. It is now looking for Asian countries in which it could station such weapons. China is using its economic might to prevent that but the U.S. is likely to succeed.

While China has capable weapons and can defend itself against a smaller attack the U.S. has about 20 times more nuclear warheads than China. It could use those in an overwhelming first strike to decapitate and destroy the Chinese state. An early warning system will give China enough time to detect such an attack and to launch its own nuclear deterrent against the U.S.  The warning systems will thus checkmate the U.S. first strike capability.

Over the last two years Russia and China both unveiled hypersonic weapons. Currently the U.S. has neither such weapons nor any defensive system that can protect against these.

Russia was smart enough to develop both - the super fast offensive weapon and a defense against it. Via Andrei Martyanov we learn of a recent Russian press notice:

Translation: Combat crews of S-400, in Astrakhan Region, held combat exercises against hypersonic target-missiles "Favorit PM" and destroyed all targets. The statement of the press-service of Western Military District announced. The crews of S-400 Triumphs were from the units of air-defense of Leningrad Army of Air Force and Air Defense of Western Military District.

And what this "Favorit PM" missile-target complex is? Very simple, it is deeply modernized good ol' S-300 P series which allows to use missiles of types 5V55 which have their explosives removed and are capable of atmospheric maneuverable flight with the velocities of Mach=6 (in excess of 7,000 kilometers per hour). These are genuine hyper-sonic missile-targets and, evidently, and I don't have any reasons to doubt it, S-400 had very little problems shooting them down.

On top of the missile warning system China will also want to have that most capable air and missile defense system. Russia will make it a decent offer.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's talked a day earlier than Putin. His speech and the Q & A with him are here. The talk was mostly about the Middle East and Lavrov's tone was rather angry while he passed through a long list of U.S. sins in the region and beyond. There were also some interesting remarks about Turkey, Syria and the Ukraine. The most interesting passage was his response to a question about U.S. sanction against Russia to which some senators want to add even more. Lavrov said:

I have heard that Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin are two famous anti-Russia-minded members of the US Congress. I don’t think that this implies that they have any foresight. Those with a more or less politically mature opinion of the situation should have realised long ago that the sanctions don’t work in the direction they wanted them to work. I believe that they will never work. We have a territory and its riches that were bestowed on us by God and our ancestors, we have a feeling of personal dignity, and we also have the armed forces. This combination makes us very confident. I hope that economic development and all the investment that has been made and continues to be made will also pay off in the near future.

The U.S. loves to dish out sanctions left and right and the Trump administration has increased their use. But sanctions, especially unilateral ones, do not work. The U.S. has not recognized that because it has never assessed whether those sanctions fulfill their aims. A recent Government Accountability Office report found:

The Departments of the Treasury (Treasury), State (State), and Commerce (Commerce) each undertake efforts to assess the impacts of specific sanctions on the targets of those sanctions. [...] However, agency officials cited several difficulties in assessing sanctions’ effectiveness in meeting broader U.S. policy goals, including challenges in isolating the effect of sanctions from other factors as well as evolving foreign policy goals. According to Treasury, State, and Commerce officials, their agencies have not conducted such assessments on their own.

The U.S. sanctions and sanctions and sanctions but never checked if sanctions work to the intended purpose. The efforts to sanction Russia have surely led to some unintended consequences. They are the reason why the alliance between China and Russia deepens every day. The U.S. has the exorbitant privilege of having its own currency being used as the international reserve. The sanctioning of U.S. dollar transactions is the reason why the U.S. is now losing it:

Russia’s Rosneft has set the euro as the default currency for all its new export contracts including for crude oil, oil products, petrochemicals and liquefied petroleum gas, tender documents showed.

The switch from U.S. dollars, which happened in September according to the tender documents published on Rosneft’s website, is set to reduce the state-controlled firm’s vulnerability to potential fresh U.S. sanctions.

Washington has threatened to impose sanctions on Rosneft over its operations in Venezuela, a move which Rosneft says would be illegal.

Iran has taken comparable steps. It now sells oil to China and India in either local currencies. Other countries will surely learn from this and will also start to use other currencies for their energy purchases. As the transactions in dollars decrease they will also start to use other currencies for their reserves.

But the U.S. is not losing its financial or sole superpower status because of what China or Russia or Iran have done or do. It is losing it because its has made too many mistakes.

Those states who, like Russia, have done their homework will profit from it.

Posted by b on October 4, 2019 at 18:03 UTC | Permalink

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Stephen t. Johnson @ 33:

No, Putin does not speak gibberish. He is contrasting the new concert of powers with the old. That means what you are telling us was indeed true but this is like FDR calling his economic program for the US 'The New Deal'. This is the new concert, not one of instruments blasting to get themselves heard, but one in which actual music is being made.

Thank you b, for linking to Putin's speech. His example for this concert is Russia, with all of its history, its present forging of new ties within the country which has overcome the challenges from outside and has come from near annihilation to its present role of superpower. All countries, the peoples of all countries, can take heart from this example.

And you know, it's ironic. Because what he is suggesting was at the heart of this country's, the US, beginnings. What else was the 'melting pot' idea that warmed my own heart into becoming a citizen? The same inclusion of different cultures like the instruments of a grand symphony - that's why the Statue of Liberty herself came. But what do we see? Instead of the inclusion that was promised, we have little pockets of disturbing and potentially warring factions - Cubans against Cuba, Ukrainians against Ukraine, Iraqis against Iraq, Persians against Iran.

What happened to the image of the Statue of Liberty? She isn't saying 'Bring me your potential warmongers, your instigators of violence against your home countries, your assassins, your phony new rulers, your civil war agitators.'

People, if you want this to be a country, make it so. I do. Can't wait until this country decides to stop making war and start making peace. The door to that has never been more open.

Posted by: juliania | Oct 5 2019 14:22 utc | 101

@ juliania who wrote
What happened to the image of the Statue of Liberty? She isn't saying 'Bring me your potential warmongers, your instigators of violence against your home countries, your assassins, your phony new rulers, your civil war agitators.'

Beautifully stated question. Thanks

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 5 2019 14:51 utc | 102

Paul Damascene @ 60:

"...Perhaps if that feature of our own systems were not so close to being lost, a glimpse of this quality of an international comity wouldn't come to me now as a revelation..."

Excellent post, Paul! This is how I see Russia. And I think it can be what any nation's citizens will see. That Russia itself has been where we are now and have been. Criminally ruled, excessively downtrodden, historically backward. A true microcosm (even though it is huge) of all the world's mischiefs and horrors, servitude, conquering hordes, the sufferings of war, famine, disease, pollution - you name it. The worst of the worst. Coming from, in the brief Kiev historical moment, a kind of Arthurian Camelot in the early days of its national existence.

And China too, though in a very different way. If these two countries, now under such different systems, can forge unity in creating their own harmonious internal systems, each not seeking absolute power striving for dominance over the other -surely there is hope for the rest of us. We can take heart from their friendship, and not belittle it. We can all be superpowers, down to the littlest nation. Based on where we have been as countries, where we are, and where we want to be going.

They, those new superpowers, even know the US history better than our young people know it today. That's been our saving grace, not the weapons. That they know we had good ideas that they have built on to better their own worlds. Not as slogans but as lived principles. As Putin says, the international rule of law.

So, it is not pretense: they, like me as a mother, want to see us, who have gone woefully astray, through the difficult times. Not as aggressive superpowers (as so many imagine God to be) but as loving companions on this tiny planet, trying to make it what it seems to be from space - a beautiful blue/green orb, a tiny jewel in the great sea of the immense universe. That's the beauty that can save our world.

Posted by: juliania | Oct 5 2019 15:01 utc | 103

"Helmut Schmidt's books on China are impressive, but it's striking that in the first one, "Nachbar China," of 2006, he totally failed to anticipate the economic collapse of 2008. - lysias @45

That wasn't Schmidt's only failure in economic judgement. He famously disregarded all warnings against stimulating inflation in his trademark arrogant and ignorant style: "I'll rather have 7% inflation than 7% unemployment". Well, soon he had both. To add context, 7% unemployment in those times were unthinkably high and the economists he ignored were the fathers of Germany's post-war economic miracle.

His political blunders were even worse. He brought the Pershing II missiles on German ground, upsetting the delicate nuclear MAD balance between the superpowers. This threat, combined with the 1983 "Able Archer" NATO exercise, nearly turned our planet into a radioactive cinder. Able Archer was so comprehensive and all-encompassing, that to the Soviets it looked indistinguishable from full preparations for a nuclear "decapitation strike", which the US military had been increasingly talking about and planning for as 'feasible'. It was Markus Wolf and the intel from his source "Topaz" at NATO HQ which narrowly convinced the Soviets at the last moment that it was was indeed only an exercise.

Schmidt was brought into power backed by forces which disliked his predecessor's conciliatory and peaceful overtures to the East. I wouldn't waste time on Helmut Schmidt's books, unless you're interested in his version of history and how it would look kindly upon him.

Posted by: Leser | Oct 5 2019 15:13 utc | 104

I disagre with people here flirting with the Huntingtonian doctrine of West vs East, religion vs religion. Huntington's doctrine doesn't pass the empirical test.

First of all, there's the great world contradiction: capitalism vs socialism.

The USA, as the headquarters of the capitalist economy and thus the purest capitalist country of all, is the historic actor of capitalism, and, as such, is waging a direct war to defeat the main socialist power of the 21st Century: China. Russia is just a means to defeat China, not an end in itself. Therefore, there's no contradiction between religion/tradition (Christianity) and postmodernism (multiculturalism): the USA couldn't give a damn about this. Russia is not being sancioned because it is Orthodox Christian: the Americans are allies with the Jewish State (Israel) and the Wahabbist State (Saudi Arabia), so it is patent it doesn't have a problem with very traditionalist, conservative Nation-States.

Thus, the great struggle of our times and of the next generations, for the forseeable future, will be capitalism vs socialism. The rest is propaganda, divide et impera obfuscation.

Second, the USA has domestic problems that reflect on foreign problems.

Before the 2008 crisis, the USA could stifle its inner social contradictions through debt expansion: wages were stagnant since 1978, but credit was cheap. Middle classes could then simply go to the nearest bank and borrow in order to buy a new house, a new car or pay for their daily bills. National unity could be achieved externally through wars of conquest which built upon the myth of American invincibility.

After 2008, this social contract was ripped apart: pension funds evaporated, credit became expensive (it is at 17% now), wages fell abruptly (they still haven't recovered from the pre-crisis levels yet, and probably never will) and those foreign wars became swamps. All the while the richest became richer than ever (after a temporary fall in 2009).

The USA is a capitalist economy. It depends on infinite growth to survive. To grow, it needs to exploit labor -- the only source of wealth. For the richest to continue to be ever richer, they need to intensify exploitation of labor. But that needs to be done without the threat of a socialist revolution. The solution, ancient Romans have already told us, is wars against foreign enemies. Hence the USA is doubling down, not backing down, on incursions in the exterior.

America's increasing aggressiveness is fruit of its own internal contradictions, not some kind of multiculturalist disease or some kind of Western natural inclination to greed. They are fruit of the inner contradictions of the capitalist system. Marx mistook the timining, but his theory about capitalism is scientifically true: America's capacity for expansion in the exterior has been exausted (it did so in 2008), so now it is devouring itself.

Posted by: vk | Oct 5 2019 15:16 utc | 105

Posted by: vk | Oct 5 2019 15:16 utc | 104

America's increasing aggressiveness

They used to be worse. US newsreel on the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima

Posted by: somebody | Oct 5 2019 15:25 utc | 106

@ vk who wrote
Thus, the great struggle of our times and of the next generations, for the forseeable future, will be capitalism vs socialism. The rest is propaganda, divide et impera obfuscation.
I would posit that it is you that is doing the obfuscation in your comment.

The struggle of our times is between public versus private finance

China is reportedly 80% "capitalistic" and 20% "socialistic" but the difference between them and the West is that they have public finance.

There is lots of socialism in the West as evidenced in the US by the interstate highway system, the BPA, TVA and my personal example in this area of Tacoma Power, as well as the national USPS and the Social Security Insurance program. Then there are all those state and local governments that are socialistic by definition and provide sewer systems, fire and police departments and such.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 5 2019 15:28 utc | 107

"Bismark's concert kept peace in a usually warring Europe for 43 years."

Hanging on to Alsace-Lorraine was a big mistake as it made France a 'permanent' enemy of Germany. The 1871 Concert was doomed to eventual failure as a result.

Posted by: wootendw | Oct 5 2019 15:34 utc | 108

Actually "melting pot" meant all cultures dissolve into one "Amerikkkan Culture" and each succeeding immigrant culture was exploited and brutalised as the price of admission. The darker the skin tone and the farther from English the immigrants were the greater the exploitation and brutalisation.

Today, much of the immigrant cultures are non-white, "illegal" and victims of political repression and the effects of environmental degradation occurring to the south of the US.

What we have is multiculturalism, which is closer to the "symphony" metaphor.

What we also have today is a large swath of racist xenophobes not a majourity and mostly aging out and white (though many hispanic Amerikkkans are just as xenophobic against hispanic newcomers as I've learned first hand).

Mutlicuturalism is still a melting pot especially over the course of 2-3 generations but of course the racist xenophobes ignore this nuance. They also ignore the fact that 2nd generation immigrants especially revitalise and bring tremendous energy to bear that has been a feature of Amerikkkan "grateness" since the beginning.

Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 15:45 utc | 109

American sanctions against civilian populations in Iran and Venezuela=American banality of evil, writ large!

Posted by: Thomas Minnehan | Oct 5 2019 15:48 utc | 110

psychohistorian @106 said: "The struggle of our times is between public versus private finance"

That is capitalism vs socialism.

As you point out the American working class has achieved quite a bit (at least our parents/grand parents in the immediate post WWII era did), with some publicly owned utilities and infrastructure and such, but that transition of productive capital from private to public hands must progress all the way to the top of the economic control pyramid and place finance under public control to solve the economic impasse we find ourselves in. It is nice to fantasize about going from here to there without also putting Boeing, General Electric, AT&T, Exxon etc under public control, but that is well-nigh impossible. Nationalizing finance without also nationalizing the big corporate industries wouldn't quite have the result that you are hoping for, even if it were possible considering the inter-relatedness of big finance and big industry.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 5 2019 16:00 utc | 111

There is lots of socialism in the West as evidenced in the US by the interstate highway system, the BPA, TVA and my personal example in this area of Tacoma Power, as well as the national USPS and the Social Security Insurance program. Then there are all those state and local governments that are socialistic by definition and provide sewer systems, fire and police departments and such.
Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 5 2019 15:28 utc | 106

You regard this as evidence of "lots of socialism"??? Breathtaking! Maybe you have never experienced another world.

Posted by: BM | Oct 5 2019 16:07 utc | 112

VK, I am agreement with many of your points but of course China is no longer a socialist country and in fact is trending more neoliberal as time goes on.

Central planning does not necessarily equal socialism, especially when the economy is built along market based and globalist imperialist investments (both incoming and outgoing).

The income inequality and debt fuelled economic growth endemic to the late stage capitalist societies.

I get that you believe China will someday harness the capitalist growth engine and transform to a socialist economy.

But that is wholly a belief on your part. The current evidence which you ignore or term "propaganda" even when it emanates from official Chinese media clearly shows the opening of financialisation and private investment

Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 16:11 utc | 113

Hit send to soon.....financialisation and private investment catering to the growing financial elitist class of high net worth individuals in a society marked by tremendous income inequality that continues to develop along the same lines as in the US: urban vs rural, highly educated vs lesser educated, high tech vs manufacturing.

Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 16:15 utc | 114

"Capital finding its own freedom" is the way of the present in China and likely the future of China too if the historical critique of capitalism makes any sense.

Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 16:19 utc | 115

@ Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 16:11 utc | 112

The same way, market economy doesn't mean capitalism. The market exists since at least the Bronze Age (including ultramarine commerce between empires and kingdoms).

I'm not equating centralized government with socialism. Socialism is the trasitory period between capitalism and communism. I'm using the scientific definition of the term, not the vulgar definition (public ownership) most commenters here are using.

And it's ironic commenters are using the vulgar definition against my argument, because this definitino defeats their own argument, not mine: if public ownership equals socialism, then China is actually 99% socialist already, since all the land and all the finance, plus the main means of production, are already publicly owned.

It is incorrect to use the term "mixed economy" to define a socialist country because socialism itself already presupposes a transition between two systems (therefore it is "mixed" by definition).

Now, the Chinese themselves define their country as "market socialism with Chinese characteristics". Ironically, it is the "with Chinese characteristics" part that they define as having a centralized government (as is the Chinese tradition since the Middle Ages, when it was at its apex), not the "market socialism" one. By "market socialism", they mean the most primitive stage of socialism, when the productive forces are not developed enough for an absolute socialization of wealth -- call it a "transition of a transition" if you will.

But, whatever, if you Western commenters in a blog think you know China better than the Chinese themselves, be my guest. Maybe Westerners really are arrogant.

Posted by: vk | Oct 5 2019 16:34 utc | 116

Do not speak to Putin!

Looks like there are more CIA spies in the White House:

Trump "fawning" to Putin and other authoritarians in "embarrassing" phone calls, White House aides say - Newsweek, October 5, 2019

The call was intended for Putin to congratulate Trump on his victory, but the new president was "obsequious" and "fawning," even apologizing to the dictator for not calling him sooner, anonymous former White House aides told the Post.

"He was like, 'Oh my gosh, my people didn't tell me you wanted to talk to me,'" according to one person with direct knowledge of the call. And in another Putin call, Trump is said to have asked his Russian counterpart for advice on how to deal with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

"We couldn't figure out early on why he was being so nice to Russia," a former senior administration official added.

Other sources say there is a second CIA whistleblower ready to file a complaint over Trump not yet going to war.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Oct 5 2019 16:49 utc | 117

Was watching Julian Assange's last tele-interview before his communication was cut off, answering i-gerbil peeps, while expounding on the origin of governance, and even the origin of Life in the Universe, ... here six years into his isolation, only a handful of inciteful interviews about why he was in lockdown: the Clinton-Podesta-Weiner emails reveal, ... prior to being disappeared into Deep State's Global Gulag.

It was so sad. I remembered Hugh Downes, master of the Call-and-Response interview, where he would play Everyman, interviewing some Nice Guy, but in fact was a crawl-under-a-snake sales pitch for some horrific new marketing scheme, like Feminine Hygiene Spray for your nether bits. "You can never be too Rich, too Thin, or too well P***y-Perfumed!"

And remembered that back-stage video of Jesse Jackson, after rousing the crowd with 'Keep Hope Alive! Keep Hope Alive! Keep Hope Alive!', then, back behind the curtain, fist-bumping backstage with his pals, belly-chuckling at the gullibility of the Sheeple.

So compare and contrast Putin's soliloquy last week on European History, never meant for an American audience, with the weeping and wailing over 'Trump's Great Treason' as the curtain is ripped away on the Clinton's and Biden's, on the McCain's and Kerry's, high crimes and misdemeanors in Ukraine, not only financing the illegal dual-Israiel Junta Coup in Kiev with $50B looted from the US Treasury, but then Pay-For-Playing in the $BILLIONS over the privatization of national resources looting that followed.

You might have thought, since Ukraine followed the Post-Soviet play-book, as a globalist mafia of oligarchs looted the Soviet resources, like lions over an ibex; you might have thought, Putin would abjure from pointless 18thC history tropes, and speechify instead about Modern Oligarchical Mafias, in the same odd way Assange spent his last free moment, talking about the Origin of Life, instead of wiping Clinton and Podesta off the map of history!! WTF?!

It's almost as though, Nothing Is As It Seems, that It's All Already Settled, and that we're just getting the Overlords' Fireside Chat!

American Revolution > Trump (or Clinton, same-same)
French Revolution > Macron
Russian Revolution > Putin
India Revolution > Modi
China Revolution > Xi

We all of us carry their Pyramids on our backs, while they pontificate about History.

Posted by: Jack Martin | Oct 5 2019 16:49 utc | 118

@ vk who wrote
I'm not equating centralized government with socialism. Socialism is the trasitory period between capitalism and communism. I'm using the scientific definition of the term, not the vulgar definition (public ownership) most commenters here are using.
Your characterization of any definition of either capitalism or socialism as scientific is quite humorous and further shows your ignorance of the concepts of the social science myth of those terms.

And to William Gruff that says that public versus private finance is the same as socialism versus capitalism I would say much the are conflating the reality of public/private finance with the mythological concepts of capitalism and socialism.

Further to William Gruff's point of having to nationalize all the big corporations I would suggest you search for video's about the history of corporations...I am too busy right now to provide such but what it will show you is that corporations were initially very restrictively allowed to exist and operate and only through the pressure of PRIVATE FINANCE over the decades has all that regulation gone away.

Stop conflating reality with social science myth, please and thank you

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 5 2019 17:12 utc | 119

re BM | Oct 5 2019 13:52 utc | 97 and others

Chinese hand-held cannon weapon ca 1400s.

This early hand-"gun" followed early "guns" firing lances and even earlier bamboo models.


Posted by: chu teh | Oct 5 2019 17:17 utc | 120

capitalism vs socialism. The rest is propaganda, divide et impera obfuscation
They are fruit of the inner contradictions of the capitalist system vk @ 104

Americans would love to see the return of capitalism

Will Gruff @110 comment supports that idea I think. "It is nice to fantasize about going from here to there without also putting Boeing, General Electric, AT&T, Exxon etc under public control, but that is well-nigh impossible. Nationalizing finance without also nationalizing the big corporate industries wouldn't quite have the result that you are hoping for, even if it were possible considering the inter-relatedness of big finance and big industry"

<= To make America great again the economic space must be returned to fair play capitalism.. As for Boeing we need 10 air craft companies not one.. and we need a costing system that gets the cheapest and best for less. In fair-play-capitalism, most every company that rises will fall but the efficiency earned as new products are invented will always improve the economic efficiency.

The current Chinese system looks interesting to me.. It might be on track.

Posted by: snake | Oct 5 2019 17:23 utc | 121

@ Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 5 2019 17:12 utc | 118

Except for the fact that the Chinese themselves say they are socialists.

Of course all that I'm saying is theory. But, in the abscence of anything better, that's what we have to use. So far, Marx's theory is the best we have available, so that's what I use as a man of science.

The official definition of the Chinese system is "market socialism with Chinese characteristics". That's not my definition, I didn't invent anything here: it's the official definition used by the Chinese government.

If commenters here still refuse to see the objective reality, it's not my fault.

Posted by: vk | Oct 5 2019 17:32 utc | 122

The problem is that "free market capitalism" always turns out to be monopoly capitalism, and once they go down that road they cannot compete, you cannot maximize both profit AND quality at the same time, quality tends to be expensive. With monopoly capitalism you get both high price and low quality since that is most profitable.

And so they cheat and sabotage competitors and go out looking for new ones to kill early, like we see.

And also, monopoly capitalism cannot compete with any well-regulated market/socialist hybrid either, since it is VERY wasteful, as we can see, and prone to booms and busts, since that is most profitable (for the monopoly capitalist) too. Unstable in other words. Stable economies perform better too.

And finally, you have to ask "perform better for whom?" The economy here performs spectacularly badly for the non-rich, it is class-based top to bottom, because that is most profitable for the upper classes too.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 5 2019 17:41 utc | 123

"People, if you want this to be a country, make it so. I do. Can't wait until this country decides to stop making war and start making peace. The door to that has never been more open."

Posted by: juliania | Oct 5 2019 14:22 utc | 101

Great post, thank you. From your thoughts, to the universal ear..

The debate over Capitalism vs. Socialism IMO, is a phony one designed to scare the uninformed public. The truth is, most working economies are mixed economies. Even the economies most Americans consider Socialist, are in reality, mixed economies. Even Cuba and China are moving towards mixed economies.

Posted by: ben | Oct 5 2019 17:50 utc | 124

From RT on Cuba's economy;

Posted by: ben | Oct 5 2019 17:58 utc | 125

On Venezuela ;

Overview of the Economy of Venezuela
Venezuela has a mixed economy, which means there are both privately-owned and state-owned businesses. Some of the state-owned organizations are run by employees under a co-management plan started by Hugo Chavez. With this work plan, employees develop management policies and annual budgets. These employees also vote for managers and department heads.

Full article;

Posted by: ben | Oct 5 2019 18:06 utc | 126

VK, "objective reality?"

The Chinese calling themselves socialist is of course by definition subjective reality.

The US calls itself the shining beacon on the hill. So then, that is also "objective reality"?

I'm in total agreement with your comment at 28. But your defense of China as delivered here is based entirely on nonsense. This discedits you as a commenter.

Rome had markets in pre-capitalist days? Of course, Rome was the very foundation of western macro economics leading to...capitalism.

China is socialist because the state (which consists of a single political party of roughly the wealthiest 10% of the population) owns the land? This isn't "public ownership" by any stretch. The aassignment of land to private interests is controlled by a tiny minourity of the population and the land is essentially leased to private individuals for life with automatic extensions granted to their heirs.

This is convoluted for sure but it ain't socialism.

I'm not equating central government with socialism either.

And just because I'm arrogant in your opinion also doesn't mean I'm wrong either.

You are a very smart commenter who completely falls apart on your propagandistic stance wrt China.

Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 18:09 utc | 127


First, there is no such thing as "free market" capitalism. This is a rightwing shibboleth used since roughly Reagan-Thatcher era to entrench the elites in a form of "socialism" for the rich (Too big to fail) and "free market" for the rest of us (declining income and wealth).

Second, by definition socialism is also monopolistic but doesn't care about maximising profits in a market-oriented economy. True socialism cares about relative income equality and ownership of all assets shared by the greatest number.

This is where any discussion of China falls off the rails. Chinese assets and income are not shared equitably among the population any more than in the "free market" US.

Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 18:32 utc | 128

Let me tell you about a more peaceful time in the US when I was coming back from a long visit to my parents and still not a US citizen. At customs there were two lines, one for US citizens and one for those who were not. I hesitated, because my two boys had an American dad and were born here, but they were little - which line?

The US side customs official(a big black man) saw my dilemma and grinned to my boys, "We'll let Mom in on our side, won't we?"

That's the America I want to have back.

I wanted to say that Putin's speech linked by b had one thing to say about the US President. He told how important and good was Trump's return to civility with respect to North Korea's President, instead of the insults that had been flying before that. Small acts of kindness and sensible respectfulness are what real diplomacy is founded upon. And they are more important when different cultures can thrive within a country, different ethnicities demonstrate their unique talents.

There is a Biblical saying: hold fast to the good. That's a defensive posture too.

Posted by: juliania | Oct 5 2019 18:33 utc | 129

@ Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 18:09 utc | 127

But markets existed much before Rome. It also existe in Ancient China (the origin of the Crisis of the Third Century probably being chronic trade deficits of Rome with the Chinese empire). Westernization of the idea of free market is pure anachronism, since the old civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean certainly didnt rationalized their world in East vs West terms.

China is socialist because that's how they define themselves and because there's ample empirical evidence and a solid theoretical background that substantiate their claim to be so.

After all, China had many historical oportunities to give up the word "socialism": they had Mao's shaking hands with Nixon (1972); Mao's death (1976); Deng's "reform and opening up" (1979); Deng's second stage of "reform and opening up" (1984) -- which was a huge moment for the capitalist world, since he allegedly privatized the SOEs, so that was the moment for China to admit they were actually capitalist, but they didn't; Tiananmen Square counter-revolution attempt (1989), where Deng could use the manifestations as an excuse to pass capitalist reforms (but not only he didn't, but he crushed the counter-revolution with the legendary Northeastern army); the fall of the USSR (1991); and its entrance in the WTO (2001).

In none of these very auspicious opportunities did China abandon socialism. Well, either socialism is a toxic word or it isn't -- it can't be both at the same time for the same observer.

And please, enlighten us with your definition of socialism.

Posted by: vk | Oct 5 2019 18:37 utc | 130

I'll add that it is October, always a beautiful month. And we oldies can remember the October confrontation between the US and Russia over Cuba. We should also remember how that was resolved. The military in the US were advocating pushback in terms of bombs. Two conflicting messages came from Kruschev - the first a conciliatory one, but the second confrontational. Robert Kennedy's advice was to accept the first and ignore the second, which the President did.

I can't think of more conciliation than Russia has been offering to the United States at present. This is a good month to think about that. We found out later from MacNamara that taking a different course would have resulted in enormous and tragic repercussions. (History is important; we need to study it.)

Posted by: juliania | Oct 5 2019 18:42 utc | 131

GDP (PPP) per capita growth since 1998.

Russia: 216%
Poland: 203%
Ireland: 201%
Turkey: 173%
Hungary: 141%
Sweden: 104%
Finland: 90%
Germany: 90%
Netherlands: 88%
Spain: 87%
UK: 87%
Belgium: 80%
Switzerland: 74%
France: 74%
Portugal: 70%
Norway: 67%
Greece: 58%
Italy: 49%

Posted by: Aziz | Oct 5 2019 18:45 utc | 132

Rania Khalek: "It’s crazy how many former spooks have been hired at corporate news outlets like CNN & MSNBC as “analysts”. After spending their careers serving the national security state, they get to shape the news under the guise of expertise. It’s like state TV."


Posted by: Aziz | Oct 5 2019 18:46 utc | 133

Athens welcomes Pompeo....

Go home #Pompeo' cry anti-US protesters #Athens

Posted by: Elora Danan | Oct 5 2019 18:46 utc | 134

VK, I just did take a shot at defining socialism at 128. I messed up a tag and it became italicised.

Yes of course the Chinese had markets. I'm pretty sure the peaceful exchange of items for other items of relatively perceived value among people for pretty much all time happened in mutual transactions we term "markets." This means nothing one way or other in the definition of China's economy as capitalist as opposed to socialist.

What is meaningful is China today operates and participates in equity, debt and currency exchange markets open to private trading interests across the globe. This of course is the definition not only of a capitalist economy but it is a global and imperialist capitalist economy as well. Chinese individuals and companies buy and sell other capitalist enterprises (for instance Thomas Cook Travel was majourity owned by a Chinese private equity fund) and global investors likewise buy and sell Chinese capitalist enterprises. Although the Chinese government restricts these transactions moreso than other world governments this fact alone also doesn't qualify as "socialism" but rather "protectionism."

And as we have seen recently, the Chinese are actually trending towards more openness to outside private investment banking, most notably opening up to private equity and other forms of wealth management to its burgeoning population of high net worth individuals.

"Capital finds its own freedom." Yes, Virginia, even in "Socialist" China.

Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 5 2019 19:01 utc | 135

b: How An Ever Sanctioning Superpower Is Losing Its Status
Example: The good impeachment news is that it's shaking out well on the Ukraine-Russia issue, with the US now out of the way and not able to do anything in Ukraine. Zelensky has agreed to an election in Donbass, after troop withdrawals now taking place, with Donbass as an autonomous zone, and peace may be possible if all that is done. A meeting is coming up (hopefully) including Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany. . .US need not apply.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 5 2019 19:02 utc | 136

@Posted by: Elora Danan | Oct 5 2019 18:46 utc | 134

In Athens, protesters occupied the main Syntagma Square, chanting "Americans, Murderers of Peoples", while playing music via loudspeakers, including in praise of famous revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

It seemed to me that mythical indignant dog Lukanikos was joining the crowd...

Posted by: Elora Danan | Oct 5 2019 19:20 utc | 137

Posted by: vk | Oct 5 2019 17:32 utc | 122

The Chinese economic system is pretty unique with a huge emphasis on equality.

Capitalism as in US capitalism is aspirational. If - big if - you manage to get rich you can do what you want/get what you want/you are free.

Most solutions I have seen for climate change in Western countries rely on making energy more expensive so people cannot afford it.

In China it is a lottery with a 1 percent chance of winning.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 5 2019 19:39 utc | 138

Americans would love to see the return of capitalism

Posted by: snake | Oct 5 2019 17:23 utc | 121

Isn’t that the truth. The US owns perhaps the worst form of socialism ever known. Losses forgiven for big corps funded by ‘free markets’ for the peasants and the coming generations of peasant offspring born into debt slavery. Theft is ok if it’s stolen from the future.

A fair attempt at capitalism would require the rule of law, indeed.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Oct 5 2019 19:47 utc | 139

"The problem is that "free market capitalism" always turns out to be monopoly capitalism.." Bemildred
You are right: dreams of mixed economies, regulated capitalism or market socialism are utopian.
RH Tawney told the Fabian Society "You cannot tame a tiger, claw by claw." By which he meant that to deal with capitalism it is necessary to abolish private property, starting with property in land. Leave the capitalists with the tiniest foothold and they will struggle to return to power- and, in doing so, roll back every social advance made by socialists.

It ought not be necessary to say this: the history of the United States, the UK, the EU and most of the world, since the late 1970s, has been a demonstration of this, practical proof of the theory. This is what Charter Schools mean, this is what the 'marketisation' of the NHS means, this is what welfare reform means, this is what laws restricting Trade Union action mean, this is what Pension Reform means. This is what Schroeder did in Germany -Hartz IV-, this is what Macron is doing in France. This is what Yeltsin was about.

Capitalism is incapable of doing other than attempting to dominate society and plunder the earth's resources. It cannot co-exist with democracy unless democracy is reduced to an empty formality in which 'The Few' hold ultimate power.
The realities of a planet with finite resources dictate that those resources must be allocated rationally and rationed morally. Capitalism cannot do either. Its essence is to exploit for profit and to ignore the implications of usurious exponential growth.
Capitalism is a form of barbarism tending towards its apotheosis, socialism is the only alternative. And what socialism is is the democratic (community) control of the economy for the common welfare.
It is very simple: Capitalism is our enemy. It must be eradicated. And the people must take the responsibility of self government.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 5 2019 19:59 utc | 140

Aziz @ 133:

After pretending to play journalists and analysts at newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, the CIA spooks get to play journalists and analysts for real on CNN and other corporate news networks.

The only things that change are the job titles and the salary packages.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 5 2019 20:26 utc | 141

b: How An Ever Sanctioning Superpower Is Losing Its Status (again)

I just transcribed some information on sanctions that Sally Snyder posted at #7 which indicates that sanctions are a form of warfare.

Back in December 2008, WikiLeaks released a relatively little-noted document "US Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare" here. This 248-page, nine chapter publication was the September 2008 revision of the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.130, the keystone doctrine for Army special operations forces operations in unconventional warfare. It includes an image: Financial Instrument of U.S. National Power and Unconventional Warfare. " Here is a screen capture of page 2-8 of the document outlining how the United States can use financial incentives to manipulate other nations (ARSOF = Army Special Operations Forces and UW = Unconventional Warfare, DOS = Department of State, IC = Intelligence Community)"

Here is my partial transcription from the image:

2-44. The agent controlling the creation, flow, and access to "stores of value" wields power. Although finance is generally an operation of real and virtual currency, anything that can serve as a "medium of exchange" provides those who accept the medium with a method of financial transaction. For both reasons, ARSOF understand that they can and should exploit the active and analytical capabilities existing in the financial instrument of U.S. power in the conduct of UW.
2-45. Like the economic activity, which all nation-states, human groups, and individuals respond to, ARSOF can use financial power as a weapon in times of conflict up to and including large-scale general war. . . .
2-46. State manipulation of tax and interest rates and other legal and bureaucratic measures can apply unilateral U.S. financial action to open, modify, or close financial flows.. . .
2-47. If properly authorized and coordinated, ARSOF can use -- or coordinate for other agencies to use -- measured and focused financial incentives or disincentives to persuade adversaries, allies, and surrogates to modify their behavior at the theater strategic, operational and tactical levels. . .
2-48. Like all other instruments of U.S. national power, the use and effects of financial weapons are interrelated and they must be coordinated carefully. Once again, ARSOF must work with the DOS and IC to determine which elements of the human terrain in the UWOA are most susceptible to financial engagement and what second- and third-order effects are likely from such engagement.. . .

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 5 2019 20:27 utc | 142

Interestingly, no mention is made of how the French Revolutionary Army ended up marching against Russia in 1812 in the first place or how the Napoleonic / Revolutionary Army solution to French international commercial policy was probably a direct consequence of the fully conscious, British bourgeoisie bankrolling the European powers from 1792 – 1815 to counter French Republicans in order to expand and protect British overseas commercial interests. In fact, was not the European Balance of Powers policy that was realized between 1815 - 1830, initially developed by Pitt's cabinet as early as 1793 / 94 to counter and contain the emerging French bourgeoisie?

As for Bismarck's contribution.... might I suggest Luxemburg’s “Junius Pamphlet”


This reaching for historical models, without also describing the social dynamics developing at the time, reminded me of an article I read last October in "Social Europe" by a German Intergrationist, Joschka Fischer. The author postulated the Westphalia Agreement (1618 -1648) as the backbone of the old declining order of Europe that collapsed during the European Wars of 1914 -1945, to be replaced by a Cold War bipolar order. []

“The old, declining European order of the nineteenth century originally emerged out of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). The medieval system that preceded it, based on a universal church and empire, perished during the Reformation. After a series of religious wars and the establishment of strong territorial powers, it was replaced by the 'Westphalian system' of sovereign states.”

No need for us to consider the systemically rising wages of labour for a hundred years following the plague of the mid-14th century and the push back from the landowner corporations during the mid-15th century, or the impact of the territorial expansion of Middle Eastern tribute systems and their taking of Constantinople (1453) on Venice's Far East trade routes, or the impact of new world gold and silver being brought into Spain on prices across Europe by the mid-16th century and the collateral destabilizing of political alignments leading to the forced emigration of unemployable labour and disaffected members of the emerging merchant classes to the new world under the supervision of crown corporation administrators, etc.

Suffice to point to a constellation which includes 1618 – 1648 and 1914 – 1945, rather than assess the socioeconomic dynamics driving the history of European financial expansion and socialization through to its exhaustion and hemorrhage.

Based on this, our scholarly intergrationist informed us that: “The EU was conceived as an attempt to regain European sovereignty peacefully, by pooling the national interests of European states. The goal of this effort has always been to prevent a relapse into the old system of power rivalries, reciprocal alliances, and hegemonic head butting. And the key to success has been a continental system based on economic, political, and legal integration.”

Again, no mention was made of the push to promote private banking over central state banks as the last resort for state budget appropriations --- a policy which was central to the EU initiative; or, the re-framing of social issues as market issues that required individual / consumer action as opposed to collective actions. So much for European sovereignty!

Interestingly, this solution, the "private banking / marketing / consumer" paradigm, which was the first step in the EU initiative, was also delivered by military force to the Chilean people in September 1973, before being repackaged and marketed to the populations of Britain and Canada as the “new social agenda” from the mid-1970s - 1980s.


Posted by: Alan Heffez | Oct 5 2019 20:31 utc | 143

GDP (PPP) per capita growth since 1998.

Russia: 216%
Poland: 203%
Ireland: 201%

Posted by: Aziz | Oct 5 2019 18:45 utc | 132


GDP is sometimes a bad way to measure economic growth, especially if one pretends that economic growth = job creation

Take Ireland for example. SanDisk SD card manufacturer directed all the revenue for it's SD card sales through its Irish office. A mere 5 people were employed there at the time.

Microsoft were able to direct much of its European or global WinXP revenues through its Irish operations because a mere couple of hundred lines of xp code (out of millions of lines of code) were written there.

Lately investment funds have channelled billions through what are tiny offices employing very small numbers of people, relative to the size of funds domiciled there.

So GDP growth does not automatically mean an increase in employment nor in living standards for the citizens

Posted by: FRS | Oct 5 2019 20:40 utc | 144

Don Bacon @ 96:

Libya might well have had a GDP growth rate of over 5% in 2018 but that may have started from a low base in 2017 and might not compare with what the country had been achieving under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's leadership from 1969 to 2011.

The inclusion of some other countries in your list also seems dubious. How do we know that Djibouti's growth is not due to the presence of US and Chinese military bases and their influence on the country's development? The Ivory Coast is part of the West African Franc zone and its economy is tied to the French economy through that currency zone. Several countries on the list are quite tiny and some have been through civil wars which destroyed their infrastructures and sapped their finances. So they're starting from scratch and any GDP growth will look very good.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 5 2019 20:41 utc | 145

@143 Jen

Hi Jen,

It's much worse than that.


Posted by: b4real | Oct 5 2019 20:45 utc | 146

FRS @ 146:

You could say much the same for Poland in that much of the economic growth that country has experienced comes from German and other foreign European companies moving factories there to take advantage of a highly skilled workforce on lower wages than their counterparts in the companies' home countries; and from tourism which doesn't need a large workforce.

Also a lot of Polish families rely on remittances sent by relatives working overseas to survive - because in the areas where they live in Poland, there has been no govt or private investment in industry or other activities that would generate work and employment.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 5 2019 20:58 utc | 147

#143 & 148
there was over 40 former intell or cia running for office in Amerika in 2016 and about 1/2 made it. Here's an ad for the latest one and sadly her husband just past away.

Posted by: jo6pac | Oct 5 2019 21:03 utc | 148

psychohistorian @119 noted: "over the decades has all that regulation gone away."

The regulations just went away? Ran away like a dog displeased with its living arrangements or something?

That isn't something that happened without cause or reason. Lobbyists for capitalists argue (and they are absolutely right, at least from within the capitalist paradigm) that regulations are stifling capitalist growth. Capital will always flee lesser profitable heavily regulated markets for greener pastures elsewhere. You cannot change that and have the result still be capitalism.

Sure, without the regulations capital will always concentrate into fewer and fewer hands until the whole system locks up, but it is that tendency towards wealth concentration that makes capitalism work in the first place. That is a contradiction inherent within capitalism that cannot be remedied. You regulate away that ability to accumulate wealth from the mere ownership of capital and the capitalist system will fail right there on the spot. Power and wealth accumulation from controlling capital is the heart and soul of capitalism... it is right there in the name: capitalism. Nationalize finance and you cut the heart out of capitalism and capitalism dies. I really assumed you understood that all along and you knew that nationalizing finance would kill capitalism, but that it was just a roundabout way for you to argue for socialism. Or perhaps you really are a socialist but are using the terms "socialism" and "capitalism" in some kind of opposite sense from how I understand them.

Also, don't get me wrong. The rise of big multinational corporations was actually a progressive thing for humanity. This allowed massively integrated global production, which leverages fantastic efficiencies of scale. No little mom-and-pop capitalist outfits could ever have achieved even a tiny fraction of that level of efficient production. It is only corporations' core motivation being to generate profits for private owners and having dictatorial management structures that causes them to tend to operate against humanity's interests. Those problems can be fixed, though of course not while adhering to capitalist paradigms. It is the capitalism part that makes them evil.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 5 2019 21:10 utc | 149

Jeez, maybe there is a glimmer of hope out there; this is an article by the co-founder of Code Pink about her confrontation with the Israeli First cretin who has been administering the sanctions policy for trump admin against Iran and Venezuela. She resigned shortly after the confrontation!

The woman Mandelker was also one of the lawyers who negotiated a slap on the wrist for Epstein in his case in FL in 2008.

Posted by: Thomas Minnehan | Oct 5 2019 21:22 utc | 150

couldn't have happened to a shittier empire. intelligence is vastly overrated but have heard a US politician open its mouth? no light escapes such a black ho.

but China & Russia will be singing a different tune than heavenly harmonies here on earth after the US has stopped playing 1st fiddle while the planet burns. it might be rather more Shylock bettering the instruction. having any faith in putin or xi is pretty stupid. they can afford to stand for "law" and a "prosperous future" when they are not in charge.

still, putin refers to Russia as "the land our fathers gave us." some of them have a reference to actual history when talking about the world. they don't speak of their country in purely ontological terms. unlike proudly dumbass know-nothing murkins.

Posted by: rjb | Oct 5 2019 21:32 utc | 151

Is Mandelker the superior of Acosta who told him that Epstein belonged to intelligence and was above Acosta's pay grade?

Posted by: lysias | Oct 5 2019 22:29 utc | 152

Excellent article b, and hit subject. This Russia-China move is also known as checkmate, SCO does work and this is an example of that. The US and allies are several steps behind the new world leaders, China & Russia, this partnership goes beyond a tight diplomatic relationship, it has stepped into "carnal" one, both countries are now bonded together in a global order, but it starts by denying Eurasia to the US. The world has changed for good, there is no way back.

Posted by: Canthama | Oct 5 2019 23:06 utc | 153

re lysias | Oct 5 2019 22:29 utc | 154

Curious and a tell, isn't it, that nowhere in the know-it-all media of truthseekers did anyone ask the most obvious and simple question of Acosta's "I was told..."

Who told you?

Posted by: chu teh | Oct 5 2019 23:48 utc | 154

@ lysias 43

"I suspect that America's increasing hostility to China reflects a fear of contagion from the more successful and fairer Chinese system. Just like Britain and Germany in 1914."

I doubt the Tibetan or Uighur people find the Chinese system fairer - I think there is a danger in thinking that just because a country or culture pushes back against the USA led 'western' agression it automatically means that culture/country is morally or materially better.

I applaud China's rise on the world stage, but if it actually gained dominance and could impose its system worldwide as USA does now, I think most people would not be better off. What is better for all of us if there are several competing centers of power who can keep each other in at least some kind of check.

Posted by: Lorna MacKay | Oct 6 2019 0:54 utc | 155

Peter AU 1 @ 44

Peter, I think you may have been looking at the target speeds in that wiki article, not the flight speed of the interceptor missile itself...

The top missile speed listed is 2,400 m/s, which is about Mach 8 at high altitude, where the cold temp drops sonic velocity [ie Mach number] relative to actual flight speed to about 300 m/s [from about 340 m/s at sea level].

Removing the warhead will of course enable the missile to fly faster and farther and serve as a target itself for these type of air defense interceptor tests...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 6 2019 0:58 utc | 156


I was looking at both but mainly in relation to listed target velocity that the missiles in the S-300 family were capable of intercepting. I should have also mentioned intercept missile velocities in that post.
I suspect the highest target velocities would be for ballistic trajectories rather than maneuvering.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 6 2019 1:11 utc | 157

donkeytale @128: If you look carefully there you will see that I quoted "free-market capitalism" too. I'm not a fan of capitalism, I think capitalist economics is largely bullshit, just to be clear. I think the problem is more with people, lots of people are assholes. We need to work on THAT.

And I don't see that there is any generally accepted definition of socialism, it's more like everybody hates it and thinks it means slavery, or loves it and thinks it means what they want to do. I think the basic question underlying all the dogma is: how much private accumulation are you going to allow when it is adverse to the interests of everybody else? E.g how many Bezos should we allow? I say zero, we don't need that at all.

bevin @142: I think it is human greed that needs to be constrained, capitalism is just greed made dogma. What is consumer culture but that? What is the billionaires utopia?, a world where they can buy whatever they want and are accountable for nothing. And we are 'spose to think that is somehow like a law of physics it has to be like that, assholes running everything. Right.

I think we agree, but I must say I think everybody has a right to some accumulation, some personal property, a place of their own, etc., but with some f**king limits on it, and for a limited term, and that you be a decent steward of if it it is important to the rest of us, etc.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 6 2019 1:25 utc | 158

Lorna MacKay @157: "I doubt the Tibetan or Uighur people..."

While your effort to appoint yourself representative of all peoples of Tibet and Xinjiang is commendably ambitious, your comment leaves me suspecting that you have never been to either province and are thus employing personal ignorance as a rhetorical strategy. That said, your backhanded effort at establishing false equivalency is somewhat more clever, though that equivalency remains false as I don't recall China bombing any countries into the Stone Age lately, or ever for that matter. Until your culture addresses its homicidal tendencies the Chinese will remain better human beings than you, and regardless of what you imagine, a world "dominated" by them would be at minimum marginally superior to the utter disaster that your culture is responsible for.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 6 2019 1:45 utc | 159

In response to Donkeytail @ 128 Bemildred said "I think we agree, but I must say I think everybody has a right to some accumulation, some personal property, a place of their own, etc., but with some f**king limits on it, and for a limited term, and that you be a decent steward of if it it is important to the rest of us, etc. "by: Bemildred @ 160

There are many forms of ownership, possession and right to use.. the problem to be Addressed is not private ownership or private right to use property pre se but the problem of wealth accumulation in the form of private property that is passed on to heirs in the following generations. which creates the Oligarchs. Property in corporations, trust and etc is passed on in the form of entity ownership or beneficiary entitlements.

you might be interested in this Usufruct

Posted by: snake | Oct 6 2019 1:57 utc | 160

Bemildred @160

Bevin's point is important as capitalism is a very specific and concrete approach to the organization of society's productive capabilities. This in turn defines the relationships between individuals in capitalist society and between those individuals and the environment/nature. Capitalism sets being an asshole as a requirement for success, or even just survival. If we change how we organize work in society we can change how we relate to each other and the natural world.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 6 2019 2:20 utc | 161

William Gruff @163:

If we change how we organize work in society we can change how we relate to each other and the natural world

Agreed, I think we can do whatever we want, we know of all sorts of systems and they can all be assumed to have worked well at some time and place. What matters is that everybody be satisfied with the arrangement, wants it to work, does not cheat or undermine it. Since capitalism is built on cheating and undermining it is relatively immune to that.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 6 2019 2:48 utc | 162

Bemildred socialism exists in Cuba maybe not many other places.

Socialism is sort of nirvana or heaven, a goal in our useage thus you are correct we all define in our own way.

For me the focus now should be on taxing the rich most and more down through the upper middle then redistributing to those below.

Posted by: donkeytale | Oct 6 2019 3:04 utc | 163

@William Gruff | Oct 5 2019 14:03 utc | 98

You only keep weapons systems secret that you intend to use in attacks in order to surprise your victims ... Weapons intended to discourage such attacks must be advertised loud and clear for their intended deterrence to succeed. This is why Russia openly announces their new weapons and why China shows theirs off in parades.


Posted by: Cyril | Oct 6 2019 4:29 utc | 164

Regarding the consequences of nuclear war, see the study Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe

A previous study predicted a war in which a total of 100 15-kiloton atomic bombs were detonated in the large mega-cities of India and Pakistan would cause 5 million tons of smoke/soot (5 teragrams) to rise above cloud level into the stratosphere, where it would block 7-10% of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere, creating the coldest average surface temperatures experiences in the last 1000 years. Medical experts predicted that the prolonged cold from this would decrease annual production of food crops enough to cause the 1 to 2 billion people to die from famine.

The new study goes far beyond this. It is much more sophisticated in terms of the military analysis (targeting and weaponry) and provides a couple scenarios based upon the increasing numbers and explosive power of the Indian and Pakistani nuclear arsenals. The average global land temperature (see fig. S6B) declines by as much as ~4° to ~8°C for the present war scenario over the range of yields between 15 and 100 kt.

The researchers predict 3 to 12 times more smoke/soot (16 to 36 million tons) would be injected into the stratosphere than the 5 million tons suggested in the first 2007 study on "regional nuclear war". The new estimates of stratospheric smoke deposition begin to approach the amount of smoke/soot that has been predicted for a war fought with some significant numbers of US and Russian strategic nuclear weapons (50 to 150 million tons of smoke/soot).

"Pakistan and India may have 400 to 500 nuclear weapons by 2025 with yields from tested 12- to 45-kt values to a few hundred kilotons. If India uses 100 strategic weapons to attack urban centers and Pakistan uses 150, fatalities could reach 50 to 125 million people, and nuclear-ignited fires could release 16 to 36 Tg of black carbon in smoke, depending on yield," the study said.

Posted by: Perimetr | Oct 6 2019 6:36 utc | 165


Thanks for the links. You have my earlier analysis so I will refrain from posting it.

in the late 1990s I attended a presentation by Dr. Toon and at the end commented that the best way to avoid nuclear war would be to place the nuclear weapons in our own cities as a reminder of the consequences of such an event. The weapons would be detonated upon a nuclear strike to humanely kill most of our own people. Under this strategy the attacker's population would more likely die a slow painful death. It approach would serve to make the reality of nuclear weapons a present danger raising awareness...

As one would expect Dr. Toon ignored this comment.

Posted by: Krollchem | Oct 6 2019 8:03 utc | 166

jack martin #118

YES. Loved your comments. Great metaphore - 'carry their pyramids on our back'

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Oct 6 2019 10:40 utc | 167

Capitalism is incapable of doing other than attempting to dominate society and plunder the earth's resources. It cannot co-exist with democracy unless democracy is reduced to an empty formality in which 'The Few' hold ultimate power. bevin @142
Capitalism is a form of barbarism tending towards its apotheosis, socialism is the only alternative. Bevin @ 142
It is just human greed that needs to be constrained, capitalism is just greed made dogma. Bemildred @160 irt to Bevin @142.

<=The fact that the few hold the ultimate power is today the most important problem for humanity.
Capitalism has never had a chance in a democracy.. government needs to be bottom up, capitalism top down.
but always its has been government is top down and capitalism is top down..

I agree socialism is the only alternative if government is top down.. but when the people control the government or if an oversight human rights government exist, such that the governed can bring charges, in an independent Human rights court, against official or party connected with or to government for corruption, fraud, theft, lying, negligence, or violation of a campaign promise.. in other words the biggest problem in our society today is not capitalism, socialism, communism or whateverism.. it is corruption, fraud, theft, lying <=pure and simple: lies in the media, false and misleading propaganda, electronic sorting (allow/deny) the viewing by the public of information and governments operating in secret. Technology has made it possible for every living soul to participate in their own governance.. to hell with the sophisticated financial thieves.. until humanity governs itself, or until a citizen can charge and a court (IHR court) can convict and punish human rights (those who engage in fraud, theft, lying corruption, etc.) offenders, nothing will change but the names economist and historians give to more and more sophisticated ways to steal.
Economics seems to be the science that develops sophisticated ways to hide commercial wrongdoings.

Posted by: snake | Oct 6 2019 11:13 utc | 168

Don Bacon | Oct 5 2019 2:55 utc | 63

Russia's strategy of giving foes a choice of fighting or being bused elsewhere, a choice they took, was a truly unique peaceful resolution. Never been done before, to my knowledge. Revolutionary. Wonderful. Peaceful. I liked it.

That was a tactic not a strategy. However, none the worse for that. I liked it too. The best of it was that the bastards who took the buses, mostly hated each other and large numbers of them killed each other in Idlib.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Oct 6 2019 14:34 utc | 169

Peter AU 1 | Oct 5 2019 8:47 utc | 82

As for the power corrupts part, take a look at the US prior to the fall of the Soviet Union and then what it has become during the time it held virtually absolute power..

It was well corrupt before then. Hell! It was planning the Cold War in 1942! At the same time(!) it was planning to drop 204 nuclear bombs on 66 cities in the USSR - for the minerals. Fortunately in 1945 it did not have 204 A-bombs to drop.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Oct 6 2019 15:38 utc | 170

Peter AU 1 | Oct 5 2019 8:47 utc | 82

About corruption in the USA read (If you haven't already) Ron Unz's The Power Of Organised Crime. It's a real eye-opener. I have never had a good opinion of the USG but that article really shocked me!

Posted by: foolisholdman | Oct 6 2019 15:44 utc | 171

BM | Oct 5 2019 13:52 utc | 97

Long before (2 generations before) Marco Polo Genghis Khan's armies were using cannon. before Columbus: Zheng He (Chinese: 鄭和; 1371 - 1433 or 1435) was a Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat, fleet admiral, and court eunuch during China's early Ming dynasty.He was originally born as Ma He in a Muslim family, and later adopted the conferred surname Zheng from Emperor Yongle. He used magnetic compasses.
You can probably find out all about the hand-held cannon from Joseph Needham's "Science & Civilization in China" Cambridge University Press. Volume 7.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Oct 6 2019 16:10 utc | 172

braindead | Oct 5 2019 14:07 utc | 99

There is only one source of wealth, and that is work. So the armies (and everything else) are funded by working people working. They have to be, because no one else can. No one else makes anything of value.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Oct 6 2019 16:16 utc | 173

I hate to be the one posting things like this, but several Google news articles (granted, pro-Israel sources) are saying:

"Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh says China's national petroleum company has pulled out of a $5 billion deal to help develop Iran's giant South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf.

The development, announced by Zanganeh on the ministry's SHANA website, comes amid economic pressure on both Iran and China from the United States"

Posted by: Schmoe | Oct 6 2019 17:38 utc | 174

@Paul Damascene #60
Russia has a lot of swords - nukes. There are quite a number of other nuclear-armed nations today as well, so it is much less clear that the world is mostly shields... This disregards the actual non-nuclear militaries.
IMO, it isn't the capability to wage war that causes wars, it is the belief that they can be "won", or that the stakes are high enough that it is worth trying anyway.

Posted by: c1ue | Oct 6 2019 18:45 utc | 175

@BM #97
The idea that China only used gunpowder for fireworks - because they're apparently stupid - is pure agitprop. As others have noted, there have been all manner of early cannons and firearms uncovered in archeological digs in China.
The big difference between China and Europe isn't technological, it is social: China has been unified for many thousands of years.
Europe, in contrast, was a morass of warring states after the Roman Empire collapsed.
It shouldn't be surprising that incessant warfare in Europe would lead to accelerated firearm (and other forms of weapons and tactics) development vs. China's much greater relative stability.

Posted by: c1ue | Oct 6 2019 18:49 utc | 176

Along the same line but I think adding to the discussion:

Posted by: jared | Oct 7 2019 0:18 utc | 177

@ William Guff 161

It is true I have never been to Tibet or Xinjiang, however I do have a family connection, as my son-in-law's parents fled Tibet in the 50's when the Chinese invaded.

While my Highland ancesters were in many ways quite warlike and sometimes bloodthirsty in war, as far as I know we have never bombed any countries into the stone age.

I hope capitalism and the current western organization collapses. But I do not want to live under a Chinese or Russian empire any more than I am happy living under an Anglo American one. I do not agree with overlooking problems in their home countries to paint their cultures as saviours. As someone here has remarked, 'power corrupts'. A multipolar world order is humanity's best hope as far as I can see.

Posted by: Lorna MacKay | Oct 7 2019 1:54 utc | 178

If you want a multipolar world, you should root for Russia/China, they'r the balancer, fukus is the destabiliser.

China doesnt pretend to be the 'savior', its fukus that claim to 'democratize' the world but end up destroying it.

While China didnt set out to 'save' the world, its win-win collaboration strategy is infinitely better than fukus zero sum , might is right dictak.

YOur claim that a China dominated world wouldnt be any better than pax murikka is wrong on two counts.

Firstly, China never aim to dominate the world like fukus.
its strategy is all about defence and survival under a brutal pax murikka hegemony.
Matter of fact, China is currently reeling from multiple hybrid wars instigated by fukus, including the current trade wars and color rev in HK.

Secondly, even if China ends up as the top dog., historical and contemporary evidences suggest that pax sinica would be infinitely more benign than the brutal pax Brittanica/murikka.

YOur claim that 'absolute power corrupts absolutely' is pure western projection devoid of any substances regarding China.

Posted by: denk | Oct 7 2019 16:46 utc | 179

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