What’s Next In Arms Race? Or, The Forms Must Be Obeyed

25 August 2019 — Reminiscence of the Future…

Daniel Larison arrived three days ago to a conclusion that Donald Trump Doesn’t Know How to Negotiate. Well, we have known that for quite some time now. As Larison notes:

As we have seen, Trump’s bullying, maximalist approach does not work with other governments, and this approach cannot work because the president sees everything as a zero-sum game and winning requires the other side’s capitulation. The result is that no government gives Trump anything and instead all of them retaliate in whatever way is available to them. He can’t agree to a mutually beneficial compromise because he rejects the idea that the other side might come away with something. Because every existing agreement negotiated in the past has required some compromise on our government’s part, he condemns all of them as “terrible” because they did not result in the other party’s surrender.  

Of course, the foundation of this lack of negotiating skills–yeah, let’s say it is just that, for now–is common for pretty much majority of US power elite–it is a malignant belief in own exceptionalism. Trump is flesh and blood of this culture, it is just that not having any serious scholarly nourishment or life experiences beyond the NYC real estate hustling, he delivers the message in the most crude and risible form. So, Trump is merely a cruder, less sophisticated form of US elites. He, most likely after brainwashing by his very own so called national security team, simply finished off INF Treaty. He, quite naturally, blamed Russia for violating this Treaty and, in two weeks after INF Treaty’s demise, the United States launched the missile outlawed by this very treaty, thus creating a variety, of mostly sarcastic, reactions in Moscow, who, as we all know from the ever truthful US media, was blatantly violating the said treaty. The whole situation could have been really comedic, if not for it being very serious and that was precisely the mood with which Vladimir Putin responded to, what we all knew for years now, inevitable deployment of American TLAMs in the Aegis Ashore installations and other places in Europe.
First, let’s recall what the INF Treaty was about and why the United States decided to kill it. As was stated not for once, INF Treaty was extremely favorable to the United States for a while because it didn’t cover sea-launched intermediate range weapons–a precise domain in which in the end of 1980s the United States had a vast advantage over Soviet Union, whose main intermediate-range strike capabilities were land-based. Cretin Gorbachev and his “team”, in the moment of utter insanity, unilaterally threw in, for a good measure, Operational-Tactical Missile complex (OTR-23) Oka to be eliminated. Then, the USSR collapsed and Russia has unilaterally, again, this time through the will of alcoholic Boris and his team of thieves and robber-barons turned herself into the door mat for the combined West. In fact, by the end of 1990s it was difficult to see how Russia’s military could recover at all, granted it was sabotaged every step of the way by Russia’s “liberal” political top. Yet, here we are in 2019 and one has to wonder if Russia is realistically sorry because of INF Treaty demise. I don’t think she is.
I kept my focus on this issue for years now. Recall my series of posts  titled The Perils of Mosquito. Or, for that matter, my prediction (even before Putin’s historic speech to Federal Assembly on March 1, 2018) that, at that time (2017), Russia’s existing cruise missile arsenal was more than enough to provide for what Russian Military Doctrine of 2014 called a “power (as in force) strategic containment by conventional high-precision stand-off weapons”.  Remember this?
Iran knows for sure that should the unthinkable but not improbable happen, such as an American attack on the Russian forces in Syria, Iran will not be left standing on the side—she gets immediately “involved” whether she wants it or not. So, the logic goes, why not make the best of it when all bets, other than nuclear, will be off. Iran may as well have Russian forces on her side and in her airspace, which, obviously helps significantly. But that also opens another serious operational possibility in case of a real conventional conflict in the area between Russia and the US—a scenario Neocons, due to their military illiteracy and overall detachment from the strategic reality, are dreaming about. Putting inevitable emotions aside and looking at the factual side of things, Russia’s Military Doctrine since 2010, reaffirmed in 2014 Edition, views the use of stand-off High Precision as a key in strategic force containment, as Article 26 of a doctrine clearly states. Russia doesn’t want war with the US, but if push comes to shove Russia is totally capable of not only reaching US ground assets, such as CENTCOM’s Qatar forward installation but, what is even more significant, also the naval ones in the Persian Gulf.  
Then came the Speech and a tectonic shift in the warfare which pushed warfare beyond present capabilities of the American military-industrial complex. One of many hints that (real) professionals in the US understand what they are facing now was this, four days ago:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is pulling the plug on a billion-dollar, technically troubled project to build a better weapon that would destroy incoming missiles. The move is aimed in part at considering new approaches to missile defense at a time of rapid technological change. The announced reason for canceling the Boeing contract, effective Thursday, was that the project’s design problems were so significant as to be either insurmountable or too costly to correct. Beyond those immediate concerns, the Pentagon is considering whether it needs to start over with designing a defense against intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, such as those North Korea aspires to build, as well as newly emerging types of missiles.

Pay attention to text highlighted in yellow. Those “newly emerging types of the missiles” are precisely those hyper-sonic maneuvering quasi-ballistic and cruise missiles which Russia developed for all three domains (land, air, sea) for her armed forces and those are already deployed. The only “response” the United States has at its disposal is to go for quantity of good ol’ subsonic iterations of venerable Tomahawk and all kinds of other slow variations of TLAMs such as JASSM or allegedly super-pooper “magical” weapon such as CHAMP. All this is fine and dandy, but the issue for the United States is two fold:

1. She doesn’t have hyper-sonic weapons and is years, if not decades, away from fielding a working prototype, forget IOC or fully deployed weapon system.

2. Unlike Russia, American anti-missile systems are….well…let’s recall what Publius Tacitus wrote about that:

S-500 is already in serial production. What’s coming next is simply a matter of speculation but it has to be understood that Russia not only is capable to match and then over-match greatly any strike capability of NATO in Europe or in US proper, Russia has means to blunt if not to completely repulse a massive strike of slow subsonic or theater ballistic missiles on her territory.  Numbers should help.

Putin and his advisers continue to express concern with TLAMs being loaded into the MK-41 cells of Aegis Ashore in Deveselu, Romania, and Redzikowo, Poland. Even the brief glance on the map allows to conclude that Polish site will be primarily a threat to Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia, due to a relatively short flight time of about 15 minutes (140 miles between Redzikowo and Kaliningrad), while missiles launched from Deveselu would have to be airborne for at least 40 minutes, including half of a path over water, to strike Sevastopol. 40 minutes is a very good time to not only have anti-missile complexes completely engaged (well, 15 minutes is also fairly generous) but to have response delivered to European facilities and to launch at North America. Strategically, in military terms, for Russia very little changes in terms of ratio of forces. In fact, as I write non-stop for years, Russia has qualitative edge over the United States in missile technologies for at least a decade, if not more. Russia’s protestations, expected as they are, and having in them a very sincere component of traditional Russian aversion towards any kind of hostilities and arms races, are, nevertheless, primarily of the Frank Herbert’s Dune Landsraad’s tradition of “The Forms Must be Obeyed”.

But, diplomatic and media-PR posturing apart, military balance sheet between Russia and NATO in Europe in case, God forbids, of the serious escalation is very clear. NATO (US that is) has a salvo and has no defense against the response to put it in layman’s lingo. NATO can launch at Russia and hope that some of it’s salvo, most of it subsonic and fairly easily defended against, will leak through multilayered state-of-the-art anti-missile defense. What comes in response against Europe and US cannot be defended against–US has nothing in its arsenal that can meet and blunt dramatically the salvo of supersonic weapons, against hyper-sonic weapons–zero defenses and this will stay such for a long while in this strategic tic-tac-toe game in Europe. Of course, this is European contingency, there is also a Chinese, of Far East, one, but Russian response will be about the same–new anti-missile complexes and new strike weapons on the Far East.

Meanwhile, Russia continues to evolve as Eurasian primary military power pole and new massive military exercises Center-2019 are yet another proof of that:

These maneuvers will involve a wide use of Russian Armed Forces’ combat internet and all those gizmos and gadgets of what came to be known as Net-centric Warfare. I guess Russia is getting ready to defend subcontinent after Mr. Trump declared that US defeated ISIS and it is now up to…well…read for yourself:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that other countries will need to take up the fight against Islamic State militants, citing Russia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran as examples.Earlier this year, U.S.-backed forces reclaimed the last remaining territory once held by Islamic State militants in Syria. Since then, however, there has been concern about the militant group gaining new strength in Iraq and Syria.”At a certain point Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, they’re going to have to fight their battles,” Trump told reporters at the White House, later saying India should also get involved.”All of these other countries where ISIS is around … all of these are going to have to fight,” he said, adding that the United States did not want to spend “another 19 years” fighting the Afghan war.

Sure. United States wouldn’t have spent those 19 years in Afghanistan if it wouldn’t have aided those very mujaheddin in 1980s who, together with the remnants of a demolished Iraqi Army and other jihad-minded humanitarians, constituted the core of both Taliban and ISIS. But we all know that hindsight is a 20/20 vision and one has to think now how the new “arms race” initiated by the United States will be viewed in the hindsight twenty or so years down the road, granted we all survive Mr. Trump’s lack of negotiating skills, including skills in recognizing that he surrounded himself with militarily incompetent neocon fanatics and Israeli-firsters who, together with Wall Street Neo-liberal economic fundamentalists, are behind America’s demise in military, economic and geopolitical senses. One may add a mental one, too.

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