Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Is this the new Warsaw Pact?

The Asia Times says:

As far as Iran is concerned, the Georgia crisis is not confined to South Caucasus and has broader implications for region, including Central Asia and the Caspian area, that are both positive and negative. That is, it is a mixed blessing, one that is both an ominous development signaling a new level of Russian militarism as well as a crisis of opportunity, to forge closer ties with Russia and enhance its chance of membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the grouping dominated by Russia and China.

I’m somewhat skeptical that Islamic Iran and Russia and China can form a stable bloc.  I’m skeptical that Russia and China can even do so, even given their similar post-Communist neo-Fascist governments.  But like so many in the world, they are united in one thing: their opposition to the United States and its Empire.

It’s time to wake up, America.  Our little hunting of Arabs for sport must end, and we quit playing this 21st century version of cowboys and indians.  The world is turning.

As The Poet put it

if you knew how much we loved you
you’d cover up
you wouldn’t fuck around
with the passion 
that killed three hundred thousand people
at Hiroshima
or scooped up rocks from the moon 
and crushed them to dust
looking for you
looking for your lost encouragement

—Leonard Cohen

Russian Bear Now Growls At Poland

Just as the ink was drying on the Georgian cease-fire, a Russian general has now threatened possible nuclear attack against Poland, due to their recent agreement to install an anti-ballistic-missile system.

The US position has always been that our ABM systems would never be able of stopping a Russian attack, and, therefore, its use is not aimed at Russia.  That is probably true.  But the problem is this: if it is effective enough to eliminate a credible second strike, then the MAD doctrine fails. (I don’t know that one based in Poland could do this since submarines—not missiles—are the largest component of a second strike.  Those rail-based launchers, maybe?)

In other words, even if our ABM systems are incapable of destroying all inbound Russian missiles in a first strike, if they erode or eliminate the Russians’ ability to retaliate in a second strike, then the entire nuclear strategic balance is destroyed, and the most effective deterrent is gone.

Under MAD, a first-strike nuclear attack is deterred.  It would most likely only occur, if, say, a NATO country were invaded.  But without it, such an invasion would have to be coupled with a first strike, because the invader would know that it could not survive a first strike in retaliation. 

Without MAD, there is almost no way that a war involving major powers on opposing sides would stay conventional—that is the risk.  And given that the nuclear stockpiles have been drastically reduced since the end of Cold War I, it wouldn’t take a super-effective ABM system to unbalance MAD.

If our hunter-killer submarines have a beat on every Russian missile sub, and our air force can shoot down their bombers, and the ABM system can eliminate their second strike capability, we would likely survive a retaliatory strike.  I’m confident of all of these except the ABM system—it has not been shown to be effective at all.

It wouldn’t be pretty, but it wouldn’t be as bad as it would have been 30 years ago.

In any event, if it is true that our ABM system was never designed to stop a Russian first or second strike, Russian provocation has effectively made it necessary to design it that way.

Let’s not forget: even though “Star Wars” was imaginary, and Ronald Reagan was delusional about it, it did in fact play a role in the downfall of the Soviet Union, who cracked under the pressure of believing their conventional and nuclear forces would need to be built up in order to restore the balance lost through a potential “Star Wars” system. It destroyed their economy.

So, what would I, the liberal, say we should do?

  • Immediately pull out of Iraq.
  • Immediately begin production of ten new aircraft carriers, ten new attack submarines, and increase the army based in Europe by several divisions.
  • Station some B-2s in Afghanistan, and some in northern Norway.

If this is Cold War II then its time we get our shit together and quit playing Arab killer.  The nuclear game is one that matters—it’s real; it’s not just an excuse to go to war for oil.

The Republicans Can't Fun a Foreign Policy Without Hate

From the one semi-non asshole at Slate, Fred Kaplan:

In the long term, the best way to take Russia down a notch (along with Iran, Venezuela, and other hostile powers overflowing with oil money) is to pursue policies and fund technologies that slash the demand for oil. The Georgia crisis should make clear, if it isn’t already, that this is a matter of hard-headed national security. 

That’s practical. It doesn’t involve us dehumanizing the Russians (isn’t it easy to just slip back into hating them?) or calling everything they do terrorism. It’s coordinated with energy policy, and has many moving parts. The GOP can’t handle that.
I don’t think Russia should be allowed to snuff out fledgling democracies just because they happen to be next to them any less than the United States should snuff them out, as we have, in Latin America. But this brings us to our next point:
Not only is the US incapable of running a practical foreign policy based on achieving something practical and meaningful, but we are now incapable of using moral suasion to do so. For whatever reason, we were able to keep our moral leadership through Iran, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Viet Nam, Grenada, and Chile. But not this time. This time, the world lost its trust in us—with Iraq.
So, what to do? As I suggested below, we might want to fast track other eastern European states entry in NATO. Contrary to what Kaplan suggests, the Russians will not invade a NATO country. Georgia wasn’t in yet. If it had been, this would have been a negotiation.
But other than that, and defanging the oil nations, I would recommend that it’s finally time for the European Union to take some leadership on its own regional security. Sarkozy apparently did negotiate the cease fire here. Good. But instead of being mediators, they need to quit relying on the US and Israel to cover their asses.
Israel has its own problem and eventually will stop being such a focus and work something out. The US is overextended. We protect Europe, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Israel again, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Japan.
South Korea has taken some steps toward self-security. But could Europe alone repel a Russian invasion? Just barely. And “just barely” in wars between nuclear states is extremely dangerous, because the urge to go there and tip the balance is greatest.
It’s time for America to stand down, and start taking care of itself. But if there is such a think as “Europe” it needs to stand up.