Thursday, 21 February 2008

Why Russia is right to feel the sky may fall in on its head

As you may have noticed, it has all gone a bit Battlestar Galactica in the world right now. Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces blog is the hero of the hour, for nuclear holocaust hobbyists and those playing catch-up alike. Just brilliant.

Russia understandably kicks off a storm because, for all the post-Soviet rearmament rhetoric, the Russian space program is not what it wants it to be. Also, the Russian nuclear ICBM targeting system is satellite-dependent of course. Ivan-Ivanovich has some nice big, shiny, glow-in-the-dark, new city-killers – all of which are absolutely useless if, suddenly, the forefront of big boys’ war really moves into space.

Because remember:

- 1.5 million men under arms is irrelevant given that every play-book on the planet assumes that military conflict with Russia goes nuclear within the first 24-hours
- And 1.1 million of those men are sullen conscripts of uncertain efficacy, maybe over 25% of which even the most optimistic Russian commander reckons are utterly useless

No military satellites = Russia left defenseless. That’s the simple, brutal truth.

IMHO, Russia *talks* anti-US/NATO threats to Russian territory, but this is misdirection. It is just simply incomprehensible that NATO would ever be the aggressor; even if Moscow bombed Tbilisi (which I think will happen, anyway).

But China decides to invade east of the Urals? That is what the Kremlin really (rightly) fears, says I, one day hence. Russia is making way too much money out of the Chinese market right now to say so publicly, but it fears its eastern neighbour; just as the EU/NATO fears its, in turn. Why would China do that?

For China, finding fresh water is, by far, the biggest macro-political, or rather, civilization risk it faces. Oh yes – on just a “where is our fresh water” scenario – that has to be a meaningful statistical possibility that between now (OK, not 'now', but 'five minutes into the as-yet-unembraced future') and 2040 a desperate China seeing a demographically weak Russia just goes for land east of the Urals. And killing Russia's military saltellites is how they start to do it. Moscow knows that. This is what military planning is all about (and why it is so cool). You issue press statements attacking Washington DC, knowing Beijing gets the message too.

PS: What I heard last Friday, from a St Pete’s Siloviki clansman, in serious state employ, was 100% the complete opposite of the Moscow Times front page today. I shall – at risk of (more) ridicule – make this prediction: Mayor Luzhkov will retire by the end of 2008.

PPS: I posted before – actually, if I may say so within 8 hours of its release I think - about the Obama/YouTube song that may well be (wrongly) described in history as the zeitgeisty turning point in his campaign.

Don'tchajustluv this spoof? Pure, adulterated and wicked, splendid genius. I cried laughing:

PPPS: Apropos my last post, my long-suffering employer points out that, au contraire, in the event of crash-evac a private plane would have been guaranteed for me but, since “you are always prattling on in your blog about your fear of flying, we thought you would actually appreciate going overland! And - hello? - you’ve also blogged before about the wonderful security service we generously provide you”.

Point taken. They’re lovely. I'm indulged. Now feel like spoilt selfish git. Also must stop writing like male Bridget Jones. That ship may have sailed...

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