Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 23, 2020

U.S. Threatens New Nuclear Tests To Push China Into A Treaty It Does Not Want

The Trump administration is hostile to any agreement that restricts its abilities to build, test and deploy nuclear weapons.

It left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement which limited nuclear missile deployments in Europe. It did so after accusing Russia of deploying missiles that exceed the range the INF treaty allowed. It has never shown evidence that the assertion was true.

Recently the administration announced that it will leave the Treaty on Open Skies which allowed for mutual reconnaissance flights for its 34 country members. It accused Russia of having limited U.S. requests for such flights over certain Russian areas. The Russian government rejected those claims.

The Trump administration is intentionally running out of time to renew the New START Treaty which limits the strategic nuclear platforms deployed by the U.S. and Russia. The treaty will expire on February 5 2021. Russia has offered to renew it for five years without any conditions. The U.S. rejected that. It says that China must be integrated into the treaty even as that makes no sense at all.

On top of all that Trump is now thinking about breaking the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty which the U.S. has signed but not ratified:

The Trump administration has discussed whether to conduct the first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992 in a move that would have far-reaching consequences for relations with other nuclear powers and reverse a decades-long moratorium on such actions, said a senior administration official and two former officials familiar with the deliberations.

The matter came up at a meeting of senior officials representing the top national security agencies May 15, following accusations from administration officials that Russia and China are conducting low-yield nuclear tests — an assertion that has not been substantiated by publicly available evidence and that both countries have denied.

The claims that Russia and China conducted low yield testing is almost certainly false and only an excuse to avoid the ratification of the test ban treaty.

The big joke though is that the the administration claims that it may need to again test nuclear devices to help with the renewing of the New START Treaty:

A senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive nuclear discussions, said that demonstrating to Moscow and Beijing that the United States could “rapid test” could prove useful from a negotiating standpoint as Washington seeks a trilateral deal to regulate the arsenals of the biggest nuclear powers.

There will be no 'trilateral deal'. The U.S. claims it wants to renew the New START Treaty by including China. But China has absolutely no reason to enter such an agreement. This graphic by the Arms Control Association explains why:


Russia and the U.S. both have some 6,000+ nuclear warheads. The New START Treaty between the U.S. and Russia  limits the numbers of platforms - missiles, bombers and submarines - that each side can use to launch strategic nuclear weapons to some 1,400. China has less than 300 nuclear warheads and even fewer platforms from which those could be launched. The U.S. claims that China will double the number of its warheads and platforms during the next ten years but there is again zero evidence to support that claim.

Why should China, with less nuclear capabilities than France and Britain, join a treaty that would limit is meager capabilities when the U.S. and Russia both have more than twenty times its numbers. That makes no sense at all.

It is obvious that the Trump administration is simply using the China card as an excuse to let the New START Treaty run out.

The administrations real hope may be to restart a nuclear arms race. That is how I interpret this circular argument:

U.S. President Donald Trump’s arms control negotiator on Thursday said the United States is prepared to spend Russia and China “into oblivion” in order to win a new nuclear arms race.

“The president has made clear that we have a tried and true practice here. We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion. If we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it,” Special Presidential Envoy Marshall Billingslea said in an online presentation to a Washington think tank.

The 'threat' of a new nuclear arms race is made to press Russia to bring China on board of a renewed New Start Treaty:

Marshall Billingslea, who was appointed last month as the president’s special envoy for arms control, said Thursday that he had his first secure phone call with his counterpart in Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Billingslea said they agreed to meet, talk about their objectives and find a way to begin negotiations.

“Suffice to say, this won’t be easy. It is new,” Billingslea said, adding that the U.S. fully expects Russia to help bring China to the table.
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, said in January that China has “no intention to participate” in trilateral arms control negotiations. Billingslea, however, is optimistic that Beijing will want to joint in and be seen as a world power.

Russia would never "bring China to the table" even if it could. The U.S. and Russia are first class superpowers. China isn't there yet.

Billingslea's threat of a new arms race is not credible. Russia has already preempted such a race by introducing a generation of completely new weapons which the U.S. can not counter at all. Trump's relaunch of Reagan's Star Wars will not change that.

Russia will not take part in a new arms race as it already has everything it needs to respond to a U.S. first strike with a counterstrike that is guaranteed to destroy the United States. This capability is independent from the number of nuclear warheads and launchers the U.S. deploys.

China did not take part in the Cold War arms race. It always believed that it had sufficient capabilities to threaten the U.S. with a counterstrike no matter what. That attitude can be discerned from this vignette:

Slightly over a decade ago at a U.S.-Chinese “Track II” meeting in Beijing, American participants were reported to have pressed their Chinese counterparts about the limits of China’s nuclear no-first-use (NFU) commitment. One of them raised the possibility of U.S. conventional strikes against Chinese nuclear forces: what would happen then? Would China adhere to NFU in the strictest sense, or would it use its remaining nuclear weapons to retaliate against a conventional counterforce attack? One of the Chinese participants, a retired senior military official, is said to have responded, “Try it and see.”

There is no sign that China's thinking has changed.

"Spending the adversary into oblivion", as Billingslea's threatened, is also rumored to have a certain cost. It is quite doubtful that the U.S. is capable or willing to finance that.

Billingslea is by the way a dangerous nutter. During the Bush administration he was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict and the civilian responsible for the war on terror and torture regime conducted by U.S. special operation forces.

If he believes that torture can help to fight terrorism, or that nuclear tests can further arms control negotiations, he might also believe that unrealistic threats of an arms race can push China into a treaty it does not want. In reality neither will work.

But that may well fit Trump's plans of pushing all arms control regimes into oblivion.

Retreating from arms control regimes has already a high a price even when no new weapons are bought. With each step the administration has taken in this regard it has won no new capabilities but lost insight into the capabilities of its presumed enemies. The INF, New Start, Test Ban and the Open Skies Treaty all had verification instruments and inspection regimes that allowed all sides to gain insight into the others capabilities and thinking.

In a few years the U.S. will have lost a lot of insight into Russia's weapons and thinking. The insecurity created by that may well come back to haunt it.

Posted by b on May 23, 2020 at 18:00 UTC | Permalink


Trump is mostly concerned with giving handouts to the MIC because he thinks "the economy" is based on jobs in the MIC since that is what they tell him is where US manufacturing is now based. This is probably just about that, he isn't a strategic planner for foreign policy and his people aren't either, except when it comes to making money. They want to make it socially unacceptable to do business with China to bring back manufacturing without making a law. For example Bernie Sanders has a bill to make outsourcing companies pay a tariff equal to what they would have lost by paying higher wages to American workers. That is a a way to bring back manufacturing. Trump and his people don't want to do that because it LOOKS bad, so they want to achieve the same thing by attacking China instead. But it will fail since at most the manufacturing will move to other low wage states.

Posted by: Kali | May 23 2020 18:16 utc | 1

I forgot to add, AFTER China is sufficiently demonized then Trump's plan is to make laws against doing business with China. As Pepe Escobar reported from contacts within Wall Street close to Trump back in 2016-17 that their plan was to being back manufacturing from China at all costs. So this is how they are doing it 1) Demonize China 2) Making it socially unacceptable to so business with China 3) After a while make it illegal or make it too costly do do business with China after manufacturing starts to move out of China to other countries.

Posted by: Kali | May 23 2020 18:21 utc | 2

@Huh or @1: I think the blog is probably against nuclear testing, the breaking of treaties that protect the whole world from the runaway rampaging egos of fat men who are stupid but think they'll be remembered by history, honorably, for a ball groping wind breaking evening at the opera so to speak. I think the blog is not pro-war. I think the blog is about a refined, well thought out, diplomacy. Me thinkest thou doth PROJECT too much. You know what they say about second rate thinkers, they can't find the good in anything. So thank you for your educational and pithy (I should say pissy but I'll give it a pass) insights. Please edify us further on your keen notions and insights with a better plan to bring peace to the earth.

Posted by: Madison James | May 23 2020 18:23 utc | 3

Aside from the many commenters who disagree with moon on Covid 19 but otherwise value his reporting like me, the comment sections was better when the hasbara trolls hadn't targeted moon.

Posted by: gepay | May 23 2020 18:24 utc | 4

Marshall Billingslea, Was he a rejected character from Gilbert and Sullivan? Too nasty even for the Victorians?

Posted by: R Z | May 23 2020 18:41 utc | 5

'spend their way into oblivion' pretty well describes how the US got into the current situation. With 0.5-1 trillion going to military and quasi military spending for decades, the economic impact was that weapons firms bid up the cost of engineering and manufacturing with no limit, and then buyers of these services for other vital industrial activity were priced out of the domestic market and that activity was easily offshored.

And that's entirely apart from a possible arms race with a country that has 5x the industrial capacity, and the biggest generation of 20 year olds entering the work force who were the first to grow up with internet as kids, and widely available cheap computer access and quality tech education. A qualitative difference vs the current generation of 30 or 40 year olds.

These policy makers live in their own world.

Posted by: ptb | May 23 2020 18:42 utc | 6

Trump is mostly concerned with giving handouts to the MIC because he thinks "the economy" is based on jobs in the MIC since that is what they tell him is where US manufacturing is now based.
Posted by: Kali | May 23 2020 18:16 utc | 2

To a degree, it is true. However, the problem with MIC as an economic stimulant is rather pitiful multiplier effect. For starters, the costs are hopelessly bloated. Under rather watchful Putin, Russia does its piece of arms race at a very small fraction of American costs. By the same token, pro-economy effects of arms spending in USA are seriously diluted -- the spending is surely there, but the extend of activity is debatable For example, in aerospace, there is a big potential for civilian applications of technologies developed for the military. Scant evidence in Boeing that should be a prime beneficiary. The fabled toilet seat (that cost many thousands of dollars) similarly failed to find civilian applications. Civilians inclined to overpriced toilets, like Mr. Trump himself, rely on low-tech methods like gold-plating.

A wider problem is shared by entire GOP: aversion to any government programs, and least of all industry promoting programs, that could benefit ordinary citizens. This is the exclusive domain of the free market! Once you refuse to consider that, only MIC remains, plus some boondogles like interstate highways. Heaven forfend to improve public transit or to repair almost-proverbial crumbling dams and bridges.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 23 2020 19:01 utc | 7

The US is so far behind Russia in its weaponry that when threatening Russia and China, nuclear weapons are about the only real threat left that it can fall back upon. Adrei Martyanov describes how US carrier groups have been made obsolete by Russian (and Chinese) hypersonic missiles, which cannot be defended against. US BMD is useless against non-ballistic delivery nuclear weapon systems. Russian electronic warfare and missile defense systems are generations ahead of anything the US has. The US is making a big deal out of a Mach 5 missile in development, while Russia has deployed the Mach 10 Kinzhal missile and Mach 20+ Avangard nuclear delivery system.

The US is collapsing in a variety of ways and its neocon ideologue "leaders" want to start detonating nuclear weapons to prove how tough they are.

Posted by: Perimetr | May 23 2020 19:02 utc | 8

There are a few points contained here that are interesting in view of events of the last decade or so. One of them is the idea of spending enemies into oblivion. This is something the United States is well on the road to doing to itself. Note the cancellation or scaling back of ambitious weapons programs such as the Zumwalt destroyer and Ford class carriers. Much crowing took place in the 90s alleging the USA had engineered the collapse of the USSR by such means. Then there is the notion of bringing manufacturing back to the USA. This will not happen in any substantive way because the cat's out of the bag already and crucial manufacturing can't be brought back by any means other than locking down the USA's economy and declaring autarky to be the law. Not likely to happen and hence standing up USA industry to be as it once was would fly in the face of the realities of non competitiveness. Much talk has been going on about "containing Chinese aggression" in China's own back yard. This is dangerous talk in light of evolving new realities. Culturally the Chinese are likely not inclined towards empire of the colonial variety such as we are inclined towards, having inherited it from the British, but they are inclined towards defending themselves against such ventures undertaken against them by the west. They are, after all, painfully aware of the price they paid in the last 2 centuries for having been supine in the face of western aggression. Any moves against them in the South China Sea would depend on control of the the sea, and that would in turn be dependent on the dominance of carrier born aviation. B52s from Diego Garcia and Guam won't cut it in face of likely advanced Chinese air defences. Tuned in as they (and Russia) must be to the importance of precision stand off weapons systems, it seems likely that a country like China doesn't need carrier battle groups like ours; they only need to be able to destroy ours. The loss of a couple carriers would be a rude cold douche to our notions of knocking out their island outposts and we'd have to be off our rockers to think we could use Nukes in such an event. What American leader would trade the LA greater metro area for that, much less a few other cities?
There's lots of bluster from our foreign policy goons. but I suspect it's all show. It'll be an interesting show to watch going forward as Covid 19 has caused the entire USA to throw all fiscal caution to the wind when the realities of our fiscal situation were already on the thin edge before "Rona" came to town. The fiscal pandemic will outlast the viral one...

Posted by: erik | May 23 2020 19:05 utc | 9

Marshall Billingslea, Was he a rejected character from Gilbert and Sullivan? Too nasty even for the Victorians?

Posted by: R Z | May 23 2020 18:41 utc | 5

Nowadays, you can think about MIKADO (USA) and KATISHA (Israel)

From every kind of man
Obedience I expect;
I'm the Emperor of Japan —

And I'm his daughter-in-law elect!
He'll marry his son
(He's only got one)
To his daughter-in-law elect!

My morals have been declared
Particularly correct;

But they're nothing at all, compared
With those of his daughter-in-law elect!
Bow — Bow —
To his daughter-in-law elect!

Bow — Bow —
To his daughter-in-law elect!

In a fatherly kind of way
I govern each tribe and sect
All cheerfully own my sway —

Except his daughter-in-law elect!
As tough as a bone
With a will of her own
Is his daughter-in-law elect!

My nature is love and light —
My freedom from all defect —

Is insignificant quite
Compared with his daughter-in-law elect!
Bow — Bow —
To his daughter-in-law elect!

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 23 2020 19:09 utc | 10

We have to ask cui bono - who benefits from a new nuclear arms race? General Electric, Boeing, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman et al. No one else really. Since these corporations also own the Congress and have zillions to fund Trump's re-election, they will probably get the go-ahead to spend the rest of the world into oblivion.

Posted by: Charles D | May 23 2020 19:19 utc | 11

Apart from the obvious fact that the MIC is the only viable engine of propulsion of the American "real economy" (a.k.a. "manufacturing"), there's the more macabre fact that, if we take Trump's administration first military papers into consideration, it seems there's a growing coterie inside the Pentagon and the WH that firmly believes MAD can be broken vis-a-vis China.

Hence the "Prompt Global Strike" doctrine (which is taking form with the commission of the new B-21 "Raider" strategic bomber, won by Northrop Grumman), the rise of the concept of "tactical nukes" (hence the extinction of the START, and the Incirlik Base imbroglio post failed coup against Erdogan) and, most importantly, the new doctrine of "bringing manufacture back".

The USA is suffering from a structural valorization problem. The only way out is finding new vital space through which it can initiate a new cycle of valorization. The only significant vital space to be carved out in the 21st Century is China, with its 600 million-sized middle class (the world's largest middle class, therefore the world's largest potential consumer market). It won two decades with the opening of the ex-Soviet vital space, but it was depleted in the 2000s, finally exploding in 2006-2008.

How many decades does the Americans think they can earn by a hypothetical unilateral destruction of China?

Posted by: vk | May 23 2020 19:42 utc | 12

Billingslea received a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Tufts University.[2] He began his career as an aide to Senator Jesse Helms,[3] serving as a Senior Professional Staff Member for National Security Affairs on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Jesse Helms...His ghost lingers on , to our dismay.

Posted by: donten | May 23 2020 19:49 utc | 13

Spending into oblivion is only possible if people continue to buy your debt

I think that is going to stop soon and there are already a few signs.

What a circus soap opera......too bad its our reality and not Hollywood

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 23 2020 19:54 utc | 14

Having a treaty that limits power (in this case nuclear) on the same level for the US and any other country is simply totally against the ideology of US Superority/Exeptionalism.
That seems to be the driving (psychological and ideological) factor behind this charade.
And like this sick ideology always ends: It too will backfire.

@gepay: another problem is people that disagree with Bernhard on COVID, but then use this disagreement to not read his artciles anymore.
So many people only want to read what they want to hear, and run away at the first real different view.
The narcissism, that our neoliberal societies inducded in its people the last decade shows.. And seeing both sides and everything in between is not possible anymore for a majority it seems.
And living in a bubble is so comforting and easy in todays world. On MSM and on Alt Media alike.

Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr | May 23 2020 19:58 utc | 15

It's drivel such as b has outlined in this post which strengthens my respect and admiration for Russian and Chinese diplomacy. If I was placed in a position of having to negotiate with such dopey, childish pricks, I'd laugh in their faces, tell them to F off, and have them escorted from the premises.
Hopefully, that helps to explain why Putin and Xi don't meet with them.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 23 2020 20:10 utc | 16

Like I said in the previous post, there's a big difference between what Trump wants and What the warmongers want. He likes economic war (against everybody), they want actual war. As long as Trump is in power, I don't see things changing.

There were some Brits, whose link I don't have, who have modellised that Trump is going to lose massively in November. If that's right, and if Biden remains the Dem candidate, then I guess war is what we're going to have.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 23 2020 20:17 utc | 17

Perhaps this proves that the Kissinger/Nixon theory of dividing Russia (USSR)from China is now dead.

Posted by: aukuu999 | May 23 2020 20:21 utc | 18

"...that may well fit Trump's plans of pushing all arms control regimes into oblivion."
It's not just arms control regimes, as the WHO business showed. This is the Roy Cohn agenda showing up again- the old GOP objection to the UN and all other international organisations. It is pure ideology-the US has gained immensely from dominating the organisations of which it is a part, leaving them makes no sense at all.

As to 'spending China to oblivion". This only works when every Pentagon dollar spent forces China or Russia to spend a dollar themselves. In such a contest the richest country wins. But that only works in the context of pre-nuclear warfare. With the nuclear deterrent it becomes possible to opt out of all the money wasting nonsense represented by the Pentagon budget, sit back and say, as the Chinese diplomat evidently did, "Just try it."
Which adds up to the conclusion that it is wholly irrational of the United States to denounce treaties designed to reduce the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used: it is to the advantage of Washington that other powers, potential rivals, are forced to build up conventional forces because they are bound by treaty not to rely on nuclear weapons.
So, again: pure ideology designed for domestic consumption and advanced by the most reactionary elements in American society- the Jesse Helms good ol' boys who make the neo-cons look almost human.

Posted by: bevin | May 23 2020 20:33 utc | 19

if the nuclear test is truly a "message" to the Sino-Soviets what prevents them answering in similar form viz "please provide the coordinates of your test-site as we would like to dig that hole immediately thereafter w our own similar"

Posted by: Jon Guillory | May 23 2020 20:34 utc | 20

He likes economic war (against everybody), they want actual war. Laguerre | May 23 2020 20:17 utc

Trump has a primitive mercantile mind. There is nothing inherently wrong about mercantilism, but a primitive version of anything tends to be mediocre at best. Thus he loves war that give profit, like Yemen where natives are bombed with expensive products made in USA (and unfortunately, also UK, France etc., but the bulk goes to USA). Then he loves wars the he thinks will give profit, like "keeping oil fields in Syria". Some people told him that oil fields are profitable (although they can go bankrupt just like casinos).

Privately, I think that Trump wanted to make a war with Iran, but the generals explained him what kind of disaster that would be.

One difference is that Democrats are aligned with uber Zionist of slightly less rabid variety than Republicans. A bit like black bears vs grizzlies. Unfortunately, like in the animal kingdom, when the push comes to shove, black bears defer to grizzlies, so on the side of Palestinians etc. there is no difference.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 23 2020 20:38 utc | 21

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 23 2020 20:38 utc | 21

Yemen was not Trump's launch, but Obama's. The Syrian oil-fields are not profit - he must have been warned, too little production - but rather preventing the Syrians from having their oil (Israel inspired no doubt).

Posted by: Laguerre | May 23 2020 20:48 utc | 22

Not to be a spoil sport-
But wouldn't the best place to test Nukes be right on top of D.C.?
Maybe toss in the Mother of all Bombs just for kicks?

...and the World would be a better place

Posted by: CitizenX | May 23 2020 21:12 utc | 23

Billingslea's "spending ... into oblivion" statement reflects the belief, still widespread among US neocon political / military elites, that the Soviet Union was brought down and destroyed by its attempts to keep up with US military spending throughout the 1980s. This alone tells us how steeped in past fantasy the entire US political and military establishment must be. Compared to Rip van Winkle, these people are comatose.

Spending the enemy into oblivion may be "tried and true" practice but only when the enemy is much poorer than yourself in arms production and in one type of weapons manufacture. That certainly does not apply to either Russia or China these days. Both nations think more strategically and do not waste precious resources in parading and projecting military power abroad, or rely almost exclusively on old, decaying technologies and a narrow mindset obsessed with always being top dog in everything.

Posted by: Jen | May 23 2020 21:17 utc | 24

Frankly, I think Russia and China should let the US spend itself into oblivion.

Posted by: Dick | May 23 2020 21:35 utc | 25

In theory, the NPT signatories are supposed to be eliminating their nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Edward | May 23 2020 22:07 utc | 26

Ladies and Gentlemen and all of you other bisexual transsexual creatures that were formally Human Beings. It is way past time to restart our Nuclear Test Program. While you may think I am joking, the reality is that we no longer know whether or not any of these weapons actually work. Think about it. Does the latest Multi-use platform military Aircraft work? No!. Does the latest version of the US Navy's Littoral Combat ship work? No! Does the most recently built and technologically wonderful US Navy Aircraft Carrier work? No!

So why do you think the Nuclear Weapons should work? These are new and high tech weapons that are cool and cost a phucking fem-nominal amount of money but they might not be any better than any of the other garbage designed by our Technological Engineering Geniuses that designed and built the latest Aircraft and Ships. How can I sleep at night, guarding my and other American's vital bodily fluids with weapons that might not work. I don't want to go to a gun fight with only a knife. Those Rooskies and Chinks play for keeps and they have not pissed away gargantuan amounts of money to buy useless non-working $hit. Besides, Vegas is closed down due to the Korona $hit so Nevada needs to get back to basics and start Nuclear testing again.

Just better do the first ones in Top Top Top Secrete in case they are duds.

Posted by: Gen. Jack D. Ripper | May 23 2020 22:16 utc | 27

@17 laguerre

Yes, it seems that way.

If Biden or another dem candidate wins, they will use the ire of the populace against Trump to wholesale fire all Trump admin appointees and administrators. Trump did not do this to Obama appointees and this hurt him bigly but was in his mind the right thing to do to demonstrate a fair-minded authority. Not so with a dem-elect. It will be that much easier to steer towards war with rank and file sycophants and true believers.


A poster above mentioned Trump may make it illegal to do business with China.

Does any China-lover here actually think this is a bad idea? According to their logic, the U.S.'s goose is already cooked, so with Trump isolating America, it would seem a boon for China to swoop in as it continually demonstrates it is capable of this. Any argument against such a decoupling by China-lovers indeed translates to them actually shittung their pants at the notion of China sans America. That's a fact, Jack.

But don't worry guys, Americans don't mind being left in the dust. Our land is bountiful enough that a purge of all the anational elites is all we need.

Sure, sure, sure..."rough times ahead..." blah blah blah.'s either a decoupling or full on globalist-faction war, dragging in the national armies of Russia and China.

If the dems win, I would imagine a reverting back to stirring up shit with Russia and inviting China to remain neutral. The opposite of the current strategy of separating Russia from China.

Posted by: Nemesiscalling | May 23 2020 22:17 utc | 28

'We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion.'

Good luck with that.

'Spending' means devoting 'resources' to the Arms Race.

From where will the U.S. get the 'resources' to devote to the arms race in quantities sufficient to outspend China and Russia?

China produces an order of magnitude more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) graduates, the key 'resources' for the Arms Race, than the U.S, and Russia produces an equivalent number!

Will they take them from other military programs? Outside of arms, the U.S. military is already stretched!

Will the U.S. divert the 'resources' from goods producing industries, the ones who use STEM professionals? The U.S. already consumes 20% more goods than it produces, all bought with borrowed money, that it will never repay! Will it slash the living standards of its population, most of whom are already in economic stress, in order to 'resource' this arms race?

Or will it in-debt itself even more, with money printed by the FED? Doing so will further undermine the status of the $US as the World's reserve currency.

Statements such as the above only hasten the day the China and Russia move do depose the 'Dollar', and end, once and for all, the ability of the U.S. to outspend anybody!

Posted by: dh-mtl | May 24 2020 0:12 utc | 29

A composite picture of TrumpCo conducting Foreign Affairs would be a Blusterbuss. As for beginning an Arms Race, don't tell Trump but it began long ago when Putin became Russia's Leader and was solidified in 2007. The Outlaw US Empire was so busy gutting its own economy and immiserating its own citizens that it failed to even get a hint at what Russia was doing. IMO, Russia and China have a 20 year lead time-wise which translates into roughly $100Trillion. AND current policy being set by Trump isn't even looking at trying to reestablish the strategic industrial base required to even enter the game. The Outlaw US Empire can't sit at the table because it lacks the ante. Let that sink in for a few minutes. Not even the Money Power with its trillions of fraudulently gained dollars can come up with the ante because that consists of the required industrial base that was liquidated to satisfy its parasitic desires. In terms of Geostrategic Assets, the Outlaw US Empire and its Money Power are Broke and are incapable of an Arms Race.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 24 2020 0:22 utc | 30

Once again, b, I am awed by the reading list you must have to embrace to put together such an appreciation as this one. And the Twitter link to Loren DeJonge Schulman was priceless. Very droll.

Many thanks.

One other thing the yanks missed was that Putin did say very explicitly in recent years that Russia would not be involved in an arms race.

Posted by: Grieved | May 24 2020 0:29 utc | 31

Posted by: Laguerre | May 23 2020 20:17 utc | 17 Like I said in the previous post, there's a big difference between what Trump wants and What the warmongers want. He likes economic war (against everybody), they want actual war. As long as Trump is in power, I don't see things changing.

The problem with that is that Trump is easily manipulated. He may buck and bolt frequently, just to keep his own narcissism satisfied that *he* is the one with the power. But he's still easily manipulated because he's ignorant of almost everything. He's not against war - like every other President he simply doesn't want to be *blamed* for starting another disastrous war. That's entirely different from being unwilling to *actually* start such a war. That was Obama's thing, too. He was happy to want to start a war with Syria in 2013 over a bogus "chemical weapons attack" - but once Putin and the US Senate pushed back, he ducked and covered. Trump will do the same. But whether that's enough to prevent a war *if* something actually happens to cause significant US casualties, that is another matter.

"There were some Brits, whose link I don't have, who have modellised that Trump is going to lose massively in November. If that's right, and if Biden remains the Dem candidate, then I guess war is what we're going to have."

Yes, that is the *other* main problem. What happens when Trump 1) loses, or 2) wins - and doesn't care any more about whether a new war will hurt his re-election chances? This has been my standard response to all those who say he won't start a war with Iran, despite his massive support for Israel and his antipathy towards Iran, because he doesn't want to hurt his re-election. So I say, "What about *after* the election?" The response is always crickets.

Regardless of what Trump "wants" - and a narcissist changes that with his socks - Trump *can* start a war. It just depends on the circumstances and what he perceives as his *personal* risk (of whatever nature.)

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 1:16 utc | 32

Posted by: Nemesiscalling | May 23 2020 22:17 utc | 28 A poster above mentioned Trump may make it illegal to do business with China. Does any China-lover here actually think this is a bad idea?

Nope. Let the US shoot itself in the foot...again.

Only problem is we'll start getting inferior US made goods. As a computer user, that would irritate me. But I suppose it would still be possible to buy good cheap Chinese goods from foreign companies outside of China. I doubt Trump will forbade US citizens from buying from China even if corporations can't. And all this will take a decade to put in place anyway.

So I'm worried at all. Let Trump hasten the destruction of the US. Works for me. I have no intention of being "caught in the middle" of anything.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 1:21 utc | 33

Here no love lost for US imperialism but the Chinese variant is also not pretty: "Tension continues on LAC between India and China"

Posted by: Antonym | May 24 2020 1:23 utc | 34

as is increasingly the norm, the usa is so full of shite and people are so used to it, some believing it - that the talk and the reality are a real disconnect... it is like what oldhippie was saying on the previous thread... something to the effect that one is better off not believing the talk, but paying attention to what is going on in reality... unfortunately usa is swamped in the msm swamp and the swamp creature or any of his cretins can say all they want.. talk is cheap.. smart people pay attention to actions..

Posted by: james | May 24 2020 1:27 utc | 35

Global warming, coronavirus, and now the threat of thermonuclear war again? I know we have about 6 billion people too many on this planet right now, but this is not they way to get rid of them.

Posted by: Robert S | May 24 2020 1:38 utc | 36

b wrote above
"Spending the adversary into oblivion", as Billingslea's threatened, is also rumored to have a certain cost. It is quite doubtful that the U.S. is capable or willing to finance that.

b provided a link to the last two words of that sentence which is an April, 2020 budget projection report that does not include the impact of private finance on the deficit/debt situation and the growth of the FED debt holding starting last September.

Wall Street on Parade has a recent article that explains how the private banks are privitizig the profits and socializing the losses.

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors consists of seven individuals appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As of today, only five of those Governor seats have been filled. As of last Wednesday, these five unelected individuals were overseeing a balance sheet of $6.98 trillion at the Federal Reserve, which is 28 percent of the $25.3 trillion federal government debt that is overseen by 100 elected Senators and 435 elected members of the House of Representatives.

Over just the past year, those five unelected Fed Governors have grown the Fed’s balance sheet by $3 trillion in order to bail out bad bets on Wall Street.
As of last Wednesday, the New York Fed’s balance sheet stood at $3.9 trillion or 56 percent of the balance sheet tally for all 12 regional Fed banks.

Why has the New York Fed run up such a monster balance sheet? It’s because the New York Fed is privately-owned by some of the largest, most dangerous banks in America which, since 2008, have been habitually propped up by cheap money from the New York Fed. Those mega banks include JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

If the New York Fed is privately owned by the member banks in its region (as are all of the 12 regional Fed banks) and has run up a $3.9 trillion balance sheet, its share owners should be on the hook for its liabilities, correct?

This is where another of those rarely discussed structural wealth transfer mechanisms for the one percent comes in. If the Fed and its rapidly growing $6.98 trillion balance sheet blows up, the U.S. taxpayer will be on the hook for 98 percent of the losses.

I have repeatedly written here about Trump taking the US into bankruptcy and I still see it happening as part of system crashing that Trump has been in high gear doing since entering office.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 24 2020 1:59 utc | 37

Billingslea was "Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for".....

What does that actually mean?

Was he really the main man to be tapped when someone needed a stand in for one of the SecDef many, err, assistants?

Principal. Deputy. Assistant. Let that sink in for a moment.

No wonder the US Military Industrial Complex is so very expensive. It isn't so much a war-winning machine as it is a make-work exercise for the largest number of ineffectual and incompetent nonentities to ever walk the Earth.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | May 24 2020 2:38 utc | 38

This is not all Trump is doing. There is evidence that the UAE transferred U.S. military hardware to Al-Qaeda in Yemen. U.S. military weapons transfer agreements strictly prohibit the transfer of U.S. military equipment to third parties. KSA and UAE were under investigation by Congress for such violations and the sale of U.S. military equipment was to be withheld to these two criminal states pending the outcome.

Well Trump just cleared the way and will be selling UAE hundreds of millions more arms as part of $2.5 billion deal that was on hold and fast-tracked billions in sales to KSA as well.

But that's not all Ziofascist Trump is up to. After imposing sanctions on the ICC for opening an investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan he is again threatening the ICC for taking up charges of war crimes against the Palestinian people by Israel.

I perused the ICC pre-trial judgment on the ICC's territorial jurisdiction in Palestine and read the victims charges and the inhumanity inflicted on them by Israel made me sick to the core!

The judgment dated March 16, 2020 is in PDF so I was unable to successfully link it.

Posted by: Circe | May 24 2020 3:22 utc | 39

And now for the good news...

Iran's first fuel flotilla tanker arrives in Venezuelan waters

Trump is seething.

Posted by: Circe | May 24 2020 3:43 utc | 40

Principal. Deputy. Assistant. Let that sink in for a moment.

No wonder the US Military Industrial Complex is so very expensive. It isn't so much a war-winning machine as it is a make-work exercise for the largest number of ineffectual and incompetent nonentities to ever walk the Earth.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | May 24 2020 2:38 utc | 38

Perhaps PDA in question is not on the payroll, instead it is one of the fist application of the Pentagon program to have robots fighting instead of human who need salary, food, family quarters, lifelong medical benefits etc. etc. It stands to reason that the functions that would be easiest to automatize are in diplomacy where the envoys do not have to exhibit any dexterity and may fail Turing test without adverse consequences. "Sounding like a broken records" looks like a perfect application for AI.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 24 2020 4:00 utc | 41

the comment sections was better when the hasbara trolls hadn't targeted moon.

Posted by: gepay | May 23 2020 18:24 utc | 4

The hasbara trolls have been there since the day the blog was founded, or at least a few months after. They're a constant pest you have to live with.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 24 2020 4:01 utc | 42

What is the point of signing any agreement with America, when they can simply screw it up and throw it in the bin when it suits them, as they have done, and are still doing ????????

Posted by: Eddy Schmid | May 24 2020 4:17 utc | 43

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 1:16 utc | 32

Trump is only manipulable to a certain degree. The warmongers can't get him to change face entirely. If Hillary had been in power, yes, the US would have been engaged in some new war already. But not Trump. Personally I don't think it's electoral, but maybe that's just me. Running a war would just take up too much time, when he couldn't be watching FoxNews and tweeting.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 24 2020 4:17 utc | 44

Thank you for the good news Circe!

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | May 24 2020 4:30 utc | 45

Eddy Schmid it is first and foremost the US (and anyone supporting or relying on them) who loses and this isn't changed by everyone else knowing in advance that the US isn't worth their word on anything. The US position becomes worse each time and the evidence and antipathy against them increases and spreads wider. Anyone wise takes appropriate measures.

The US government keeps acting like morons and as with the demise of Open Skies hurt their "allies" far more than anyone else by forcing their reliance upon an obviously increasingly unreliable US. The "allied" dunce politicians might not grasp any of that but the "allied" military and intelligence will.

As an example in this way the US is by their actions destroying NATO (and other similar structures and agreements) since there's absolutely no reason to believe US claims (words) that it would support any ally or that they truly would be capable of it (again mostly words) or that their intentions are what they say (again words).

The US has done enormous damage against NATO and other allies during the last two decades. They turn everything they touch into rubbish.

I can't muster any care about it any longer; let them defeat themselves if they so desperately want to, not going to miss them. They've devolved into a self-solving problem :D


…the US actions opens the door wide open for Russia and China to act sensibly and set higher standards for international relations or even perhaps provide amazing solutions.

For example what would happen if the Russians simply said "Okay, you can leave but we don't and Open Skies continues without the US". There might not actually be any disadvantage to doing that! It is of course only a possibility and entirely up to Russia to decide if something like that would make any sense at all or not, it certainly isn't something anyone could demand.

Who knows? :D

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | May 24 2020 5:10 utc | 46

Here's the comment I meant to write before getting sidetracked into replying to others XD

- - -

The strong have no need to bully others.

Confident people don't have to break deals to test if what they claim is really true (they would/should already know).

Psychological projection betrays the source.

I believe the US government thinks their own strategic nuclear weapons don't work, perhaps the tactical too. The US government might have actual proof they don't work.

This is what they're actually saying isn't it? "Our nukes don't work".

Sad that they're in a tizzy over something that does not matter, their only real enemy is themselves and their own actions, none of this is necessary.

Why can't the US be a "normal country"? :P

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | May 24 2020 5:19 utc | 47

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | May 24 2020 5:19 utc | 47 Why can't the US be a "normal country"? :P

There's no money in that. And no, "we're the most powerful country", and "I'm the most powerful leader of the most powerful country" egoboo..

It's that simple. In other words, as I've harped on constantly, it's human nature. The only reason *every* country doesn't behave that way is because due to historical accident, they aren't powerful enough to do so. Only the US, Russia, China, Europe have the kind of money and military size to do that. Everyone else is reduced to fighting with their direct neighbors. Unless you're Israel and can get the US to do your fighting with Iran for you...

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 6:09 utc | 48

Posted by: Laguerre | May 24 2020 4:17 utc | 44 Trump is only manipulable to a certain degree.

Yes, I did say he bucks and resists a lot. That's what a narcissist will do who wants to maintain a self-image of "the man who's really in charge." I've been watching three seasons of the TV show "The Musketeers", and the guy who plays King Louis is good at being both painfully weak and blustering. It could be Trump as the King of France. Louis is constantly being manipulated by his advisers, whether it Cardinal Richlieu. or Rochforte or someone else.

"Personally I don't think it's electoral, but maybe that's just me. Running a war would just take up too much time, when he couldn't be watching FoxNews and tweeting."

You're probably correct, but I think it's equally likely that Trump deep down *knows* he's a clueless ass and the pressure that would be put on him to actually *do something* "Presidential" in a war which he's incapable of doing would ruin his self-image of himself - something a narcissist like him can't tolerate.

And as I said, like most politicians, he's afraid of being "blamed" - publicly and unequivocally and historically and in his lifetime - for doing something horrendously stupid that he can't spin away as someone else's fault (like Obama tried to do in his famous interview with Jeffrey Goldberg).

The problem, however, is that *if* he's manipulated into starting a war (or worse, manipulated into responding to an event that should *not* justify war by attacking Iran), he's likely to react by trying to be "Presidential" and making even *more* horrific mistakes in the conduct of the war or failing to seek a negotiated end to it early enough. Or worse, escalating it into something that draws in the other Great Powers.

This is what you get when an uninformed, ignorant electorate operating entirely on emotion votes for an utter clown. Yes, Hillary would have been equally as bad in terms of end result - but more calculating about it. One's own choice as to which is worse. The real issue is why we're limited to that sort of choice in this country. And I've already said why that is.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 6:22 utc | 49

this proposed US legislation is just golden:

Legislation Sponsored or Cosponsored by Scott Perry

To authorize the President to recognize the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China as a separate, independent country, and for other purposes.

To authorize the President to recognize the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China as a separate, independent country, and for other purposes.

To prohibit all United States assessed and voluntary contributions to the United Nations until such time as the membership in the United Nations of the People's Republic of China is terminated and the Republic of China (Taiwan) is afforded full rights, privileges, and responsibilities as a Member State in the United Nations, and for other purposes.

To prohibit all United States assessed and voluntary contributions to the World Health Organization until such time as the membership in the World Health Organization of the People's Republic of China is terminated and the Republic of China (Taiwan) is afforded full rights, privileges, and responsibilities as a Member State in the World Health Organization, and for other purposes.

Posted by: occupatio | May 24 2020 6:43 utc | 50

Posted by: Circe | May 24 2020 3:43 utc | 40

"And now for the good news..."

The names of the five Iranian tankers are:
Fortune (in Venezuelan waters)

Their latest reported positions can be tracked here:

Posted by: krypton | May 24 2020 9:47 utc | 51

Richard Steven Hack:
except that the POTUS and US are much more like Idi Amin than Ghengis Khan. (US) megalomania being a mental disease not currently shared by either Russia nor China :D

Krypton and all:
for anyone else curious and wondering Clavel and Faxon are uncommon surnames, at least in English. The ship Forest is also most likely named after the surname rather than the meaning "forest".

Fortune is simply "fortune" and Petunia is a specific flower sometimes used as a first name or pet name.

All according to Wiktionary and Wikipedia but seems reasonable enough.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | May 24 2020 12:43 utc | 52

"U.S. Threatens New Nuclear Tests"

The only thing the US offers to the world seems to be threats, violence, hindrance, bullshit, embargoes , etc.

For this they seem to think the ROW will somehow go --" OK, you Da Man. Take whatever you want".,

Not gonna happen.

Posted by: arby | May 24 2020 13:20 utc | 53

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 1:16 utc | 32
As Reagan use to like to say, there you go again Richard. Another dribble. Get the paper towel ready (oh wait, non can be found in US). Just couldn’t leave this to be about China, Russia, and US. Had to bring Iran into it. No, war with Iran, into it.

Re starting a war with Iran, it is your cognitive dissonance and projection of it that does not allow you to see the ending: A nuclear holocaust of the entire planet.

The war hasn’t started, NOT because Iran is a powerful state, or price of oil will be sky high, or yada yada.
The war hasn’t started, because Iran will fight with all it’s might — whatever that is — and the only way to stop it from fighting is to detonate a nuke over Tehran. But you can’t just stop there. When you detonate one over Tehran, the fighting might not stop, and you’ll have to continue with Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz.
Once those are done, you’ll have to continue with Moscow, St Petersburg. When that’s done Beijing, and Shanghai.
I’m sure China and Russia will just sit there and watch.


China will defend itself fiercely. It’s not like they woke up one morning and forgot the Japanese invasion, or the opium wars, or war by other means, fought against them every day - tariffs and economic war, etc, etc.
Mao may have made mistakes along the way, but he left cohesive state behind that just did defeat a real enemy — the virus — not a paper tiger with phallus envy.
My rockets are bigger than yours, that is (George Carlin would have had much fun with this)
Everyone here agrees that Master Sun, Sun Tzu, was Chinese. His tenets’ current adherent — the Chinese — will win this war too.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | May 24 2020 13:43 utc | 54

Just a tiny selection taken off Zerohedge this weekend--

"The Spin War: US Military Planners Advise Expanded Online Psychological Warfare Against China

Elite US Marine Unit Conducts Live-Fire Drills In Persian Gulf "Message To Iran"

Iranian Tankers To Reach Venezuela In Next 24 Hours Amid "Threat Of Imminent Military Force By US"

White House Mulling First Nuclear Test In 28 Years As 'Message' To Russia & China

US Sanctions Chinese Surveillance Companies For Human Rights Abuses Against Uighurs

White House Weighs Economic Retaliation Against China As Hassett Warns "All Options Are On The Table""

Posted by: arby | May 24 2020 14:43 utc | 55

I believe that People's Republic of China likely possesses over 1000 nuclear warheads, upper bound 3000. If the public 290 figure is true, than it's likely because the Chinese nuclear strategy was to have just enough warheads to wipe out the US mainland twice, for insurance purposes. A larger stockpile would simply be wasteful for obvious reasons, seems reasonable if you check the public data of 260~400 warheads.

And if you rank the top 50 cities in US by population, population goes from 8 million to less than 500K:

The Chinese strategy avoids the ‘arms race’ trap the former Soviet Union encountered with the US; once the number of warheads was settled, the PLA would continue to work on the effective and accuracy of the delivery systems and their varieties to survive the first strike. Also, I heard the ‘no first-strike’ policy is also under re-examination given the current tensions, and the availability of current US military info.

Related comment from someone else:

Anyway, if you're asking about China's strategic nuclear posture. China doesn't need nor want a large nuclear arsenal. Their doctrine is primarily based on strategic deterrence. You don't really need very many nuclear warheads to achieve this. What's more important is miniaturization technology and delivery systems. Making the thermo-nuke is the "easy" part. Actually strapping it to a rocket is a whole different story. Much less a MIRV capable ICBM.

Those are sound reasons for China "only" possessing about 300 - 400 warheads. Now we look at why it may possess far more:

Don’t read too much into what the Chinese govt. announces about its nuclear arsenal. It’s plausible deniability because they have a public disarmament position.

Just during the 90th anniversary parade, there were 16x DF-41, 16x DF-31AG, 16x DF-5B and 16x JL-2. Together, even with decoys accounted for, that would be ~300 nukes put “off duty” for the parade.

It’s hardly reasonable that 3/4ths of the whole arsenal can be put off duty for just a parade.
Estimates based on nuclear infrastructure and nuclear power plant amounts are more accurate, although such estimates are very inaccurate too.

China did not just have America in mind when it built most of its nukes. The primary target was the Soviet Union, which was very roomy.

Some analysts have made the estimation 1000-3000, which seems reasonable, as 10% of all nukes leaving for vacation would not be a cause of concern. And since all of them are large yield warheads (China vows not to use nukes in conventional war), it would have been sufficient for both the Soviet Union and America during the height of Cold War tensions.

Related comments follow:

China officially doesn't disclose its number of nuclear warheads, but it's certainly more than 290. Just the missiles on parade last year could carry more than 290 warheads, and it would be ridiculous to have fewer warheads than launch vehicles since the launch vehicles are far more expensive.

China likely already has more than 1000 warheads judging from the expansion in launch platforms in recent years. Notice how there are no noises from the Chinese military for a nuclear build up, it's more civilians that want more nukes.

Given the lack of noise from Chinese leaders about a nuclear build up, I think they're comfortable with the status quo. The Chinese government has started a military build up in anticipation of worsening relations with the US long before the civilians started demanding it. Major weapon platforms have to be planned 10-20 years ahead, so all those major weapon platforms coming out today were funded before Xi even came to power.

Related comment:

Not to mention how many nuke bunkers and anti–missile defence sites there are, and that’s what’s publicly known through satellite photos. All of those are way more expensive than warheads.

Nuclear expansion is not a popular talking point for the average person in China so the govt doesn't want to talk about it.

China's official nuclear numbers is pretty much like a guy who owns a huge stable, race track and expensive saddle telling you he totally doesn't have horses.

Also, when war almost broke out in the 1970s between the PRC and the Soviet Union, the Soviets were sure enough that they would be destroyed in a nuclear exchange, that they decided to back off. The US likely has access to the same level of intelligence and knows approximately how many nukes there actually are.

The nuclear arms race is more or less just posturing. China will retire some decades old nukes and replace them with DF-41 but the status quo between the 3 major nuclear powers don't change.

I personally lean toward the PRC likely possessing at least 1000 nuclear warheads. Beijing is nothing if not good at subtle manoeuvring and playing the really long game.

Posted by: David | May 24 2020 21:57 utc | 56

Silly poster cannot imagine China having a need for missiles with conventional warheads.

Posted by: William Gruff | May 24 2020 22:36 utc | 57

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | May 24 2020 13:43 utc | 54 The war hasn’t started, because Iran will fight with all it’s might — whatever that is — and the only way to stop it from fighting is to detonate a nuke over Tehran

And there you go again, with the notion that since Iran will fight, no one else will...

I believe this is called "reasoning backward."

Everyone knew the Taliban would fight - and we're still in Afghanistan 19 years later. For 19 years, the Taliban proved what everyone knew. And we're still there. Why? Because war makes money for a select group of oligarchs. And Iran will do the same.

Posted by: David | May 24 2020 21:57 utc | 56

Uh, have you considered the possibility that those "rockets on parade" were just empty shells with no nukes, no electronics, and no propellant? The only things taken out of service for the parade were the missile carriers? So nothing serious had to be out of service?

That's how I would do it.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 23:33 utc | 58

Trump hasn’t made many friends in Washington, so the few he has (Israel and the Military Industrial Complex) he goes above and beyond for. Washington knows China will never agree to any deal which limits their ability to point missiles at Guam to ward off a potential US blockade of the seas. They’re looking for a reason to leave the Treaty and build overpriced equipment they’ll never use. It’s all about keeping the money flowing to the defense companies. It adds some jobs and most importantly, it keeps donor bucks flowing to Congress. I don’t believe the US really wants a war, the Pentagon realizes the costs far outweigh any short term gains. They just want to keep the cash party going

Posted by: Danny | May 25 2020 0:12 utc | 59

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 23:33 utc | 58
Well, I spelled it out for you. But comprehension is not your forte, is it? Now you want sully Iran by comparing it to the Taliban.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | May 25 2020 0:14 utc | 60

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 23:33 utc | 58
Now, you are the one who is bass ackward.
It's not the fight Richard. It's how do you stop it?

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | May 25 2020 0:48 utc | 61

@Gruff if you're referring to me, all I did was collect educated opinions from different sources. That's what the data says. If you want to second guess China's conventional missiles strategy, please, present some evidence that <400 nuclear warheads is a state of affairs PRC is happy with.

Posted by: David | May 25 2020 1:07 utc | 62

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | May 25 2020 0:48 utc | 61 It's not the fight Richard. It's how do you stop it?

And who says the US elites have any interest in stopping it, when they're making money from it? Sure, the US would like Iran to surrender and bow down. Sure, Iran isn't going to do that. But that's exactly true about the Taliban - and here we are, 19 years later, still fighting them. I notice you didn't want to address that fact - because you can't.

Face it, dude. You're simply enamored with Iran and can't accept the possibility that the US will start a war with Iran. You haven't responded to a single point I've made about that, which is common knowledge among anyone who's been observing US foreign policy for the last, oh, three decades at least.

I won't waste any more time on you. But I accept an abject apology from you once the Iran war actually starts.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 25 2020 2:07 utc | 63

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 25 2020 2:07 utc | 63
No points were raised by you.
Just that there will be war with Iran.
Forward going, we'll count the repetitions of this by you. Rinse, wash, and repeat.
Kids are watching Richard. Don't disappoint them.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | May 25 2020 2:14 utc | 64

Face it, dude. You're simply enamored with Iran and can't accept the possibility that the US will start a war with Iran. You haven't responded to a single point I've made about that, which is common knowledge among anyone who's been observing US foreign policy for the last, oh, three decades at least.

I won't waste any more time on you. But I accept an abject apology from you once the Iran war actually starts.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 25 2020 2:07 utc | 63

Question: despite unceasing efforts of neo-cons and pleading from "regional allies", USA did not attack Iran yet. There were some proxy actions, but on small scale and they seem to peter out. That alone suggests that an attack on Iran has some major obstacles. Then the study of small incidents strongly suggests that such an attack could lead to painful losses incurred by USA and "regional allies", enough to nix any "wag the dog" motivation. USA as the country and US armed forces as an organization would look bad. That much for "limited action".

A total war type of action, like destroying cities, would not prevent painful losses but it could provoke decisive intervention of Russia and China in the conflict, their fundamental strategic interests being at stake. Even "moral support" for blockade of Hormuz in the aftermath of destruction of important facilities of "USA and allies" would undermine the international position of USA, and the position of the decision makers within American politics could deteriorate too (important because "the shirt is close to the body").

Just to compare, Iraq,Taliban's Afghanistan, Syria and Libya had no such capabilities.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 25 2020 3:48 utc | 65

@64 & 54 Sakineh Bagoom

I agree with you that there will be no war with Iran. As you say, it's not the fight that matters but the problem of how to stop the fight.

Iran will not in the usual sense of the word "escalate". Iran will reciprocate, by causing as much pain to the US as the US causes to Iran. The difference here is that Iran can bear much more pain - or to say it more accurately, the US can bear practically no pain. Iran has already hit the bully once, and we saw the bully back down.

The bully knows that it will get hit again if it attacks Iran's sovereignty anywhere in the world. The US knows that it will get hit again, and again, and again, and again...forever, with no end in sight, and in equal measure to every one of its actions.

Long before the US in its madness of pain could even reach for nuclear weapons, it will be forced to stop the pain by ceasing to attack Iran.

Iran will fight to the death, never backing down and never pulling its punches. The US will be forced to acknowledge in public that the global reality of MAD compels it to stop short of nukes.

It will simply stop short. As it did when Iran hit it the last time. Simply stop. Walk away. Hope the world believes its face-saving reasons for backing away. Hope the US public believes the politicians of the moment - whoever they are - who explain how it is that the US has just won against Iran and now it will withdraw.

It's not a difficult prediction to make. We've already seen it. This is still the same world now as it was a few months ago. The US is essentially powerless to attack Iran because it simply cannot withstand the response.


And beneath the rhetoric, US planners may finally learn what Iran already knows - that there is a conventional-weapon response to nuclear attack that is devastating enough to stop a war, especially against an adversary with no tolerance for pain. Nuclear weapons are very close to becoming a thing of the past, but there has been no demonstration of this on the battlefield yet.

It's conceivable that we could see this very demonstration if the US makes a mistake and acts against Iran. I believe - for what it's worth - that the US will not make that mistake.

Posted by: Grieved | May 25 2020 4:14 utc | 66

With one Cold War treaty collapsing after another there is much talk of a “new Cold War”. This is dangerous: it could be assumed it will merely be a re-run of the original Cold War. But the period 1945-1991 was an era of peace – or relative peace. We are now in an era of war – total war. Humanity has been here before: 1914 and 1939. The only difference is nuclear weapons.

Posted by: peter mcloughlin | May 25 2020 12:20 utc | 67

Posted by: Grieved | May 25 2020 4:14 utc | 66

Thank you Grieved. And thank you Piotr Berman for a good question .

’Tell Me How It Ends’ is the refrain heard before all wars.

For over a decade Richard has been predicting this war. It’s become ideology for him.
Ideology, much like the Christian Zionist fundamentalists in US wanting to bring about Rapture.
Kinda like Neocon wishful thinking. Pushing Israel Hayom (yeah, you know, Adelson’s rag) line. They’ve got one today titled: Do America and Iran stand on the brink of war?

Oh, the tricks that solitude and cabin fever play on the mind. He needs to get out and walk this earth. It’ll do him some good.

His lust for this war is so intense that it jizes in every conversation (just look above in his response to China, US, Russia) like: Oh, did you know? There will be war a with Iran. Squirrel , I’m sure of it. It’s inevitable. There can’t be this much animosity between two states, and no war. You have to apologize to me when the war does start. And we wait and wait. Chirp, chirp.

As for the ‘Tell me how it ends’ refrain: I brought this war of yours to a logical conclusion, Richard.
But I guess, logic and conclusion are not your thing.

Oh, and for a sweetener, Iran just did shit on the Monroe Doctrine. You feel me (as they say) Richard?

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | May 25 2020 14:07 utc | 68

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