the likelihood of a shooting war with Russia over Ukraine? What are
the military realities that the United States and it's NATO collaborators see when
they consider a real war in behalf of their proxy government in
Ukraine? Leading edge blogger, The Saker, provides an extended analysis that answers these questions convincingly. Along with OpedNew's George Eliason's superb analysis, The Saker is taking citizen journalism to new heights. (Image: Thomas Williams)
A short time before The Saker's post, we got a bit of good news. The official propaganda organ of corporate America, Associated Press, ran this headline at 12:38 PM PDT - AP: Ignoring Putin, Ukraine Insurgents to Hold Vote. It doesn't take much to read these tea leaves. Putin is being let off the hook as the evil genius behind the people of Eastern Ukraine. After a little bit of corporate media rehab, Obama will be able to accept Putins ongoing offer to negotiate a reasonable ending to the mess that they created (unless the neocons sabotage it).
Second, we have to remember that it is never possible to oppose to forces on paper and say that "A" is stronger than "B". Afghanistan and Iraq are perfect examples of the kind of misguided conclusions a self-deluding political leadership can reach when it begins to believe its own lies. So without committing the political "crime of crimes" and suggesting that the invincible US military is anything but invincible, let me suggest the following: if the Russian conventional forces were to be defeated you can be absolutely sure that Russia would have to engage its tactical nuclear capabilities at which point the situation would escalate into a well-known Cold War conundrum. The theory of deterrence suggests that you should reply at the same level, but not above, then your adversary's first move. So, a Russian tactical nuclear strike in, say, Poland or even the Ukraine would have to be met by a similar US strike. But where? Where is the Russian equivalent of Poland for the USA? Belarus? But that is much more like a Russian strike on Canada - really close to home. Kazakhstan? Ridiculous - too far. Obviously not Armenia. So where would the US retaliate? Against Russian forces in the Donbass, but that is right across the border. Maybe in Russia itself? But that would mean striking at the Russian territory proper. What will Russia do in this case - strike at Poland? Germany? The 'equivalent' response would be to strike at the US mainland, of course, but that would be inviting a full-scale US retaliation, which would inevitably be followed by a Russian one. And since neither side can disarm the other in a counter-force disarming strike, we are talking about a nuclear world war a la Dr Strangelove, with nuclear winter and all.
Some might find this kind of reasoning ridiculous, but anybody who has participated in the Cold War will tell you that the best minds in the USA and USSR were busy full time grappling with these issues. Can you guess what they concluded? That a nuclear won cannot be won. But that, in turn, means that no war opposing the USA to Russia can be won because any war of this kind will inevitably turn nuclear before the weaker sides surrenders. Let me put it to you in a somewhat silly but truthful way: the survival of the USA depends on Russia not losing a war. Yes, that's right. And the converse is also true: Russia's survival is contingent on the USA not being defeated either.This is why Foreign Minister Lavrov has been repeating over and over again that no one side can achieve security at the expense of the other and that security has to be collective and even mutual. But was anybody listening to him across the Atlantic?
It has often been said that the Russian and US nuclear forces have to be on high alert and that to avoid being destroyed in a counter-force (counter military) first strike they would have to launch on warning i.e., to launch while the other side's missiles are incoming and before they hit their targets. The fact is that both countries practice what is called "launched under attack" which is launching while some enemy missiles have already hit. But the truth is that both the USA and Russia could afford what is called "riding out the attack" completely and still have enough strategic nuclear weapons to destroy all the key population centers of the other side. This is due to their highly redundant strategic nuclear forces. The fact is that even if, say, the USA managed to destroy every single Russian bomber and every single Russia nuclear silo, and every single Russian strategic nuclear missile carrying submarine, even those in port (who can launch right from there if needed), Russia would still have enough road-mobile ICBMs to wipe off the USA a a country. The exact same can be said of a Russian first strike on the USA which, even if unrealistically successful would still expose Russia to a massive retaliation by USN strategic nuclear missile carrying submarines. And in the real world no first strike is 100% successful. Even 95% successful is not enough if the remaining 5% can still be shot back at you.
Civilians often complain that Russia and the USA have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the planet many times over as it that was a sign of insanity. In reality, it is exactly the opposite: it is because both Russia and the USA have the peacetime ability to destroy the planet several times over that in wartime neither side can have any hopes of achieving a first strike successful enough to avoid a massive retaliation. Yes, in the world of nukes, more is better, at least from the point of view of what is called "first strike stability".This what sets Russia and the USA really apart: no other nuclear power has a nuclear force whose first strike survivability is as high as Russia and the USA" for the foreseeable future all other nuclear-weapons possessing powers are susceptible to a disarming first strike.
Let me give one more example of how nuclear warfare is counter-intuitive in many ways. We often hear of alert levels (DEFCONs in the USA) and the assumption is that a lower level of defense alert is better. It is not. In fact, a higher alert level is better from the point of view of first strike stability. Here is why:
In complete peacetime (DEFCON 5), most bombers are sitting on the tarmac, most crews doing their training, most subs are moored in port and most critical personnel busy with normal daily tasks. This is exactly when these forces are the most vulnerable to a disarming first strike. At higher levels of alert, the crews will be recalled to their bases, at even higher levels they will be sitting in their planes with engines running and at the highest threat level the bombers will be airborne in prepared holding positions, submarines will be flushed out to sea, all personnel in wartime command posts and, in the USA, the President has his key aides either in the air in Air Force 1 or deep inside a bunker. In other words, a higher degree of alert means much less vulnerability to a first strike and that, in turns, means more time to negotiate, find out what is really going on, more time to avoid a war.
What I am trying to illustrate here is that both Russia and the USA have developed a very sophisticated system to make it impossible for the other side to "win" a war. That system is still there today, in fact Putin has just invited the other heads of state of the CSTO to be present during a large-scale test of the Russian strategic deterrence forces (not because of the Ukraine, this exercise was scheduled over a year ago).
Which leaves two possible explanations for the current behavior of the West, and neither of them is encouraging.
First, Obama, Merkel & Co. are lunatics, and they are hell-bent into starting WWIII. I frankly cannot imagine that this is true.