Analysis 06-13-2023

ANALYSIS

Ukrainian Counter-offensive Begins

 

After months of waiting, it seems as if the Ukrainian counter offensive has begun…probably.  The Ukrainian Defense Ministry doesn’t make announcements dealing with operations, so we can only guess based on the pace of operations.

At this point, it seems that Ukraine has begun preliminary operations.  There have been attacks all along the border between the two combatants, which resemble probing attacks.  It’s likely that the Ukrainians are looking for a weak point where they can break through Russian defenses.  At that time, Ukraine will probably commit their reserves, which contain much of their NATO heavy equipment.

One reason why it seems that Ukraine is waiting to commit its heavy units is that many of Ukraine’s heaviest brigades have NATO heavy equipment. Although the 47th Assault Brigade has joined battle with American M-2 armored vehicles, the 82nd Air Assault Brigade with its British Challenger tanks and American Stryker vehicles have yet to be committed.

There does appear to be some damaged or destroyed NATO equipment, including Leopard tanks and American Bradley vehicles.  However, this doesn’t reflect the total number of Ukrainian forces engaged.  Ukraine has reportedly formed 12 brigades – 9 outfitted with NATO equipment and three using Ukrainian equipment.  Most of this has yet to be committed.

Of course, the “Fog of battle,” applies, so there are many questions currently.  Satellite imagery shows the Ukrainians making slow progress, but there are reports that the Russians have caused many Ukrainian casualties; not unexpected given the fact that Russia has had months to bolster their defensive positions.

Although there is much ambiguity about Ukrainian goals currently, it is reasonable to assume that the Crimea is the biggest goal.  But taking Crimea will be a very hard task if history is any judgement.

The battlefront can be divided into three fronts: the Eastern Front – the Donetsk area, the Southern Front – the Zaporizhia area, and the Kherson area in the West.

The Kherson area was where the Kakhovka Dam was destroyed.  Satellite imagery indicates the explosions came from within the dam, in Russian controlled territory.  The blast flooded the Dnieper River, which prevents Ukraine attacks on the western front and allows the Russians to shift troops to the Southern and Eastern fronts.

The southern front, which includes Zaporizhia, is where the heaviest fighting seems to be occurring.  It represents the best route to cut off the land bridge to Crimea and the Russians have spent months building layers of defensive positions.  They have also fielded some of their best units in this theater.

Currently, these Russian units have successfully limited Ukraine advances and have destroyed some NATO equipment.  However, it’s important to realize that these Russian units are better than Russian units defending other areas.

The Eastern Front – the Donetsk area, has seen the best Ukraine advances – up to two kilometers in the Bakhmut area.  This theater has several lines of communications that support the continued Russian occupation of Crimea.

The results of the battle have been mixed.  The Russians in some areas have shown more doctrinal discipline, which has led to more Ukraine casualties.

The future remains uncertain.  The strategy of attacking several areas along the battlefront improves a chance to find a weak point, at the price of more casualties.  And, even if Ukraine does blow a hole in the Russian front, there is no guarantee that Russian air power and artillery won’t stop the advance and seal the break.  The Ukraine forces then find themselves with the same narrow lines of communications that Russia is currently tasked with defending.

Remember that taking the Crimea is a major effort with no guarantees of succeeding.  In World War Two, it took the Nazis eight months to take the Soviet naval base of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula.  The conquest took massive amounts of artillery shells, which the Ukraine is having problems supplying.

It’s important to remember that France, Britain, and Turkey were unable to capture Crimea in the Crimean War.

It is more likely that Ukraine may capture part of the peninsula, which could be a bargaining chip in negotiations and political disaster for Putin.

It is more likely that Ukraine could retake much of the area that Russia took over a year ago.  They could also cut water supplies off and force Russia to supply their garrison through cargo aircraft, naval vessels, and the Kerch Strait Bridge that connects Russia and Crimea.

 

Other Factors Impacting the Counter Offensive

There are several factors that could impact the offensive.  The first is additional supplies from NATO.  The Ukraine will lose tanks, and will NATO countries be able or willing to replace losses?

Will NATO start supplying fighter aircraft like the F-16?  Ukrainian pilots have proven to be able to master the F-16 and the only question is if they can hold their own against Russian fighters.

There is also the question of sending soldiers to Ukraine – something popular with Poland and the Baltic nations.  If the battlefront once again resembles a World War One network of trenches, Russia could try to bleed the Ukrainian Army – which could force some European nations to send some forces, probably technical teams instead of conventional infantry.

Even now there are NATO special forces training Ukrainian troops.

However, it may be best for Russia to remember that France saw its population decline during WWI, only to be on the winning side.  Russia could win the demographic war, only to lose the military war.

There is also the question of artillery ammunition.  Ukraine has used artillery to great effect in recent battles like Bakhmut, where the Ukrainians turned a potential Russian victory into a Russian pyrrhic victory.  With artillery able to fire many rounds a minute, an engagement of a few days can quickly wipe out artillery shell reserves.  Even with artillery reserves, the supply of high-tech weapon ammunition is even more questionable as contracts must be made and some of the electronics isn’t being produced now.

At this point, the Ukrainian counter offensive is still up in the air.  A victory may not be enough to force Putin to come to the negotiating table.  But it could regain much of what Ukraine lost over a year ago.

We will have to see.

Analysis 05-10-2023

ANALYSIS

Is America a Week Away from an Immigration Crisis?

 

Next week, on May 11, America may be heading to an immigration crisis that has never been seen in the US, despite the unauthorized immigration floods of the past two decades.

One stark way to look at it is that every day, the equivalent of one army division of people will flood the US southern border.  Currently, about 8,000 illegal immigrants are crossing the border every day.  Next week, it may surge to 14,000.

The new flood is due to the expiration of Title 42, which tried to limit border crossings due to the Covid epidemic.

The new situation is so important that even Democrats are warning about the crisis.  Jeh Johnson, who served as Homeland Security Secretary under Obama, said Biden’s plan to monitor, process, and release the immigrants is not feasible as there is expected to be chaos once Title 42 is removed.

The Biden Administration has made it clear they do not plan on focusing or deterring the influx of immigrants.  Rather they plan to absorb the unauthorized immigrants and process them faster.

“When you have people coming across our southern border in such numbers, even with the additional resources we have now, it’s simply not feasible to keep track of them all.  And the backlog in cases just grows and grows, and communities along the southern border are forced to absorb these larger numbers,” Johnson said.

Johnson once considered 1,000 unauthorized immigrants crossing a day a crisis as they strained border towns.  With 8 to 14 thousand entering, they are not only straining border towns, but cities thousand miles away.

Texas has started transferring immigrants already processed by the Customs and Border Patrol.  These new migrants are being transported to New York, Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.

Ironically, these cities, which once said they welcomed migrants are complaining that they too are seeing their services being overloaded by this influx of migrants.  Outgoing Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent a letter to Texas Governor Abbot asking him to stop sending any more unauthorized immigrants to her city.

“We simply have no more shelters, spaces, or resources to accommodate an increase of individuals at this level,” Lightfoot said.  Ironically Chicago once called itself a “sanctuary city” and refused to cooperate with federal officials in deporting unauthorized immigrants.

Texas Governor Abbot responded by writing, “As the mayor of a self-described sanctuary city, it’s ironic to hear you complain about Chicago’s struggle to deal with a few thousand illegal immigrants, which is a fraction of the record high numbers we deal with in Texas on a regular basis.”

Abbot is restarting the bus trips to Chicago this week.  He is also asking Lightfoot to call on the Biden Administration “to do its job.”

Other northern mayors like New York City are also finding it hard to cope with the migrant influx.

 

Deadly Influx

Anti immigrant’s hawks in the US are claiming that “this flood of migrants isn’t simply people who are looking for work and a better way of life.  The migration is controlled by the Mexican drug cartels.  Migrants, called “mules,” carry loads of drugs across the border”.

They also point to the Caterpillar Training Center just south of Tucson, Arizona was the scene of a drug gang gun fight when the site was closed for a weekend.

The President of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd, has said that when Title 42 is lifted, the drug cartels will have complete control over the border.

“Once Title 42 goes away and the explosion happens, they’re going to control our entire southwest border,” Judd said.  “When they do that, that’s when [the cartels] are going to be able to bring in all their products, such as fentanyl, the dangerous drugs, the criminal aliens, and the aliens from special interest countries.  All of that is going to go up and it’s going to be Americans that are going to pay for it.

 

Why do Politicians let this happen?

Although many Americans, including those of Hispanic descent, want strong border controls, the politicians in Washington DC don’t do anything about it.

Some blame political donors, of both parties, who find it in their interest to have cheap illegal workers, who can drive down wages.

Then, there are some who see the inability to manage the migrant crisis as the opening of a new revolution.

Anti immigrants are spreading fear and accuse pro immigrants that they intend to overload the welfare system, so that it would destroy the American economic system, creating chaos and violence in the street – leading eventually to revolution.

Analysis 05-03-2023

ANALYSIS

Looking at the 2024 Presidential Election

 

Usually announcing that you are running for president requires a lot of fanfare.  The presidential hopeful usually goes to his old hometown to make the announcement; followed by a day full of rallies in critical states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

This isn’t the Biden Strategy.  This week President Biden announced that he was running for reelection- although few noticed it because it came as a video sent out at 6:30 am.   And, instead of a positive note about lower gas prices, foreign policy issues, domestic situation, and a reduced risk of war – a necessity for an incumbent president, the ad opened with riots and protests and the message that a vote for Biden was a vote for freedom, while his opponent was a dangerous radical.

There was no mention that the US military was unable to rescue many Americans from Sudan.  Nor did he mention the higher gas prices and America’s new reliance on foreign oil. There was no mention about inflation, a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the unpopularity he is suffering in most polls.

How does he think he can beat Trump if his polling numbers are worse than Trump’s and he doesn’t want to talk about his accomplishments?

 

The Biden Strategy

Biden has a hard road to hoe.  Polls show that most Americans do not want Biden to run again (70%).  46% of Democrats have negative feelings about Biden.  Most Americans also think Biden is suffering from dementia.

So, how are Biden’s handlers planning on winning the nomination?

The answer is to rig the primary process with the help of the Democratic National Committee.  Instead of following the traditional schedule of Iowa holding the first caucuses and New Hampshire the first primary (where Biden did poorly) the first primary is South Carolina, which gave Biden a big win in 2020.  Pro Biden states of Georgia, Nevada and Michigan will have their primaries within that first week.  That should give Biden the momentum to win the nomination.

There will not be any Democratic primary debates where Biden can have one of his senile moments.

Biden’s team is also counting on a bloody Republican presidential primary battle.  However, that may not come to pass.  The Trump/DeSantis battle is fading as DeSantis’s support is eroding and there may not be the bitter feelings that will keep Republican voters away from the polls.

Another advantage for Biden is that the Democratic challengers to the president aren’t strong.

One candidate does have some name recognition – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. the nephew of President John F Kennedy and the son of assassinated Senator Robert Kennedy.

For decades, the Democrats have wanted another Kennedy at the top of the ballot.  However, they now have a chance, and they are avoiding RFK Jr. like the plague, partially because of his public campaign against vaccines as being dangerous.  Although he has a message that is reminiscent of JFK, which speaks of American greatness and freedom, he is disliked by the Democratic leadership (and even the Kennedy clan).  Like Tulsi Gabbard, he is too far outside the modern progressive Democratic mainstream.

The Democratic leadership doesn’t like RFK Jr., but he is gaining traction amongst many regular Democrats who don’t like Biden’s agenda.  A Fox News poll this week showed RFK Jr. with 19% of Democrats.  That’s not much, but it can grow into a serious challenge if Biden stumbles.

In many ways, he sounds like Trump.  When he announced he was running he vowed to “end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power.”

Despite the Democratic leadership preferring Biden, RFK Jr. has the name and message that could wound Biden in the primaries.  He is the candidate to keep an eye on.

Marianne Williamson.  She is 70 years old and an author and spiritual advisor.  She is the first to declare her candidacy this year.  She ran in 2020 but dropped out before the Iowa Caucasus.   She is seen as a very long shot.

Biden’s general election strategy is basically a rerun of 2020 – stay out of sight and paint Trump and MAGA Republicans as a threat to America.  Expect to see loads of videos of the January 6th demonstrations.

Don’t expect Vice President Harris to be taken off the ticket.  As Biden ages, there will be more pressure to invoke the 25th Amendment and make Harris the acting president.  Obviously, an ambitious VP would be likely to do that since the 25th Amendment gives the VP most of the power to unseat the president.

Since Biden (or his handlers) see that Harris is unlikely to make such a move, she remains the best choice for Biden to remain president if he is reelected.

 

The Trump strategy

Although regularly hit with negative news and indictments, Trump is heading towards another nomination.  Unlike Biden, he crosses the country on campaign trips, where he finds enthusiastic crowds although not like previous run.

While he campaigns, he gains in popularity polls and endorsements from influential Republican politicians.

Polls show that Trump is doing better than Biden – although that isn’t saying much.  An NBC poll showed that 70% of voters said Biden shouldn’t run.  60% of voters said that Trump should not run.

Trump does have a record to run on that compares well with Biden.  Trump’s lower inflation, lower gas prices, and a desire not to wage wars abroad, versus Biden’s declining respect for America, senility, military failures in Afghanistan, the unpopular LGBT+ agenda, and the radical anti-gun agenda.

There’s also the growing unease with the conflict in Ukraine.

Trump’s biggest problem is his brashness, which goes down well for a New York businessman, but poorly for a presidential candidate.  He also has a field of challengers that are solid contenders with good political credentials.

 

Challengers

Nikki Halley.  Haley is the former governor of South Carolina and US ambassador to the UN.  She was the first to throw her hat into the ring.

Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants and at 51 is one of the new GOP generation of politicians.

Although Haley has crossed swords with Trump, she would be a good addition to the ticket as a VP choice.

Vivek Ramaswamy.  He is a former biotech executive and worth about $600 million.  He is a long shot, but comes from Ohio, which is a critical state for Republicans.

Larry Elder.  He is a conservative talk show host.  His best credential is that he was a candidate in the 2021 recall effort to oust California Governor Newsome.  He received the most votes to replace Newsome, but Newsome retained his post.

Asa Hutchinson.  Former two term governor of Arkansas.  While in Congress, he was a manager for Clinton’s impeachment.

Hutchinson has said that a Trump nomination is “the worst scenario.”  That makes him a long shot with the Trump supporters who control the party.

Ron DeSantis.  The Florida governor is considered the best chance to take the nomination from Trump.  However, he has not done well in the last few months.  Although he has managed to push several pieces of conservative legislation through the legislature, several Florida politicians have endorsed Trump and DeSantis’ polling numbers against Trump have fallen. In a head-to-head matchup with Trump, he trails the former president by 33%.

DeSantis hasn’t declared yet that he would have to quit as governor according to Florida law.  Consequently, he may decide to wait until 2028 to take a shot at the White House. He is well financed and might jump into the race if Trump campaign faltered.

 

The 2024 Election

If the 2024 election is between Biden and Trump, expect an election that’s much like 2020.  Biden will stay out of sight and send out surrogates who will paint Trump as a dangerous radical.  That message will be repeated by the national media.

Trump will try to moderate his message so those who are wary about another Biden term will feel more comfortable with Trump.  He is likely to pick a woman as a VP nominee as there are many potential female Republicans who will boost his chances.

The electoral battlefield remains the same.  Trump will try to pick up some states that he lost like Arizona, which has the second highest gasoline prices in the nation under a Democratic governor.  There is also Pennsylvania, which is facing growing violence.  Virginia drifted back towards the Republicans in the year off elections.

Americans are downbeat about the direction of the US.  An NBC poll taken this year shows 71% of Americans believe America is on the wrong track.  That usually means the incumbent is in trouble.  Unless Biden and his team can tame inflation and high gas prices, along with erasing questions about his mental capability, Trump will have a good chance to return to the White House.

Analysis 04-26-2023

ANALYSIS

Crisis in Sudan

 

What began as peaceful protests on Sudan’s political future has now spread into fighting throughout the capital of Khartoum.  The fighting isn’t regional, so the center of the fighting is in the capital, for the moment.  More than 400 have died in the fighting, including one American.  3,551 have been wounded according to the World Health Organization.

The ferocity of the fighting is threatening the foreign embassy staff and foreign citizens in Khartoum.  However, the White House has no plans to evacuate all Americans.

The fighting is a result of the ouster of Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019.  The military seized power two years later, but then split into the two forces that are now fighting in Khartoum.

The Rapid Support forces have declared a 72-hour ceasefire for the end of Ramadan, although the other side, Sudan Armed forces haven’ confirmed that they will recognize the ceasefire.

The fighting is basically between the Sudan Armed forces (SAF) controlled by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) controlled by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Dagalo had served under al-Burhan as deputy head of state.

The RSF reportedly took over the nation’s radio and television studios (Media House) on Friday.

Most of the fighting is taking place on the north side of the city.

While the US has made it clear that it can’t evacuate American citizens, Saudi Arabia has managed to evacuate some of its citizens.

Meanwhile, White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said, “Americans should have no expectation of a US government coordinated evacuation at this time.  And we expect that’s going to remain the case.”

He continued, “It’s absolutely imperative that US citizens in Sudan make their own arrangements to stay safe.”

The US embassy estimates there are about 16,000 Americans in the Sudan, although that number is underreported because there is no need for Americans to register with the embassy.

The Sudanese Army has been in contact with other nations and has said that it is coordinating efforts to evacuate foreigners by military aircraft.  However, there are problems with that plan.

First, there aren’t any safe airfields in or around Khartoum.  In fact, they have been major battlegrounds in the last few days and runways have been damaged.

The second problem is that convoys are dangerous now and residential areas are scenes of serious fighting.  A ceasefire would be ideal, but several ceasefires have not been observed, even the one called to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

The third problem is that only the US has the airlift capability to evacuate large numbers of people.  However, using US aircraft to evacuate non-American citizens, while leaving US nationals to find their way out would be a political disaster as the presidential primary elections are just months away.

Finally, while the Sudanese Army has pledged its support, they are heavily engaged in this war in Khartoum.  They may be unable to help in an evacuation.  And they are certainly unable to establish a safe zone around any local airfield.

With the death of an American, the pressure to evacuate will grow.  However, political issues may cloud the issue as American heads into an election year.

Evacuating Americans can become a major political issue.  The White House doesn’t want a Sudan evacuation to look like the American evacuation of Kabul.  Americans remember the last-minute evacuation of the US embassy in Saigon in 1975, the botched rescue of American embassy personnel from Tehran in 1980, and the Kabul disaster in 2021.

No wonder the White House has told Americans not to go to the embassy.

So, what is the US doing to arrange an evacuation?  Defense Secretary Austin said the troop moves by the US military are intended “to ensure that we provide as many options as possible, if we are called upon to do something.”  He added,” We haven’t been called upon to do anything yet.”

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has said that they are monitoring the situation and, “conducting prudent planning for various contingencies.”

AFRICOM will be the command to manage the evacuation, not CENTCOM, which mismanaged the evacuation of Kabul.

A small number of US troops have landed in Djibouti, and more are expected to pre-position troops and equipment for a limited evacuation.  It is expected to be a low-profile evacuation to limit an embarrassing failure.  Communications will be limited to the evacuation forces and embassy personnel to limit the appearance of the American media.

Although we don’t know how the evacuation is currently being planned, it’s likely that the US Embassy will be a critical part.  The embassy is fortified and protected by a Marine contingent.  There is also space to land helicopters, probably CH-46 Sea Knights and CH-47 Chinooks.  Depending on the circumstances, they can carry 20-30 people each.

This is a low-risk operation, providing other Americans aren’t aware of it and are not trying to get into the embassy grounds.  If not, it will become a political bombshell for Biden as the press shows pictures of frantic Americans trying to reach the safety of the embassy.

If the embassy isn’t a good site for evacuation, a sports stadium is also ideal.  The field is large enough to land helicopters and the stadium stands and fencing will provide a perimeter that US forces can use to limit access.

The US State Department could negotiate a ceasefire to allow Americans to get out of Khartoum.  However, it has become clear that the US no longer has the political clout to impose a ceasefire. Any chance of a ceasefire will depend on the two sides and how a ceasefire will benefit them.

If the White House makes the politically dangerous decision to abandon the rest of Americans in Sudan, less than a dozen helicopters can evacuate the US embassy staff.  A trip of several hours can bring them to Djibouti.

If the White House decides to expand the evacuation, they will need an airfield near the capital that can handle cargo aircraft.  Then the helicopters would ferry the evacuees from the embassy or other evacuation point to the airfield, where the cargo aircraft would take them to Djibouti.

No matter how the evacuation goes, there will be political repercussions both in American and abroad.  A well-managed evacuation of all Americans in Sudan will demonstrate the military prowess and long arm of the US military.  The ability to quickly deploy sizable US forces to remote areas will make nations like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran think twice.

A successful evacuation of embassy personnel, while other American civilians are at risk will show that the White House is risk averse and encourage enemies of America to hold Americans as hostages.

A disaster in any evacuation will demonstrate to the world that the US is a “paper tiger,” that can’t defend its friends or confront its enemies.

The domestic political ramifications would be dire.  Failure to evacuate all Americans will be reflected in the upcoming elections, especially as 16,000 Americans probably have many voters that are friends or family.

A catastrophe of any size will probably doom Biden’s reelection chances just as the failure to rescue American embassy staff in Iran in 1980 doomed President Carter’s reelection campaign.

Analysis 04-18-2023

ANALYSIS

The Politics of the Recently Released
American Intelligence Documents

 

The recent hemorrhage of secret American documents was certainly a crisis for American foreign policy.  It showed the lack of faith in Ukraine’s final victory.  It showed that the US spied on its allies as well as its enemies.  And it gave insight into American pressure on some of its allies to help Ukraine.

Everyone was willing to put their spin on this American intelligence fiasco.  Russian bloggers changed some of the documents to show that the Ukrainians were losing ten soldiers to every Russian killed.  Ukraine used the information to show infighting inside the Russian government.  The Washington Post, referred to the group that the leaker belonged to as, “United by their mutual love of guns, military gear, and God.”

The latest report is that the leaker was a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.  Of course, the question is how a lowly airman from a second-tier military unit hundreds of miles from Washington DC managed to get his hands on such sensitive information.

It’s likely that the commander of the Air National Guard unit will be relieved within days.  He had probably been briefed by Pentagon officials along with other National Guard commanders and brought some classified information back home with him.

There is also the question of why an Air National Guard unit had to be briefed on all this information.  This goes back to the fact that the US gives too many people access to classified information.

Classified information is given to authorized people based on their “need to know.”  Obviously, the lowest rank in the Air Force doesn’t need to know what was in the documents.  And one wonders why even the commander of a second-rate unit needs to know the latest intelligence – at least until his command is scheduled to deploy to the European theater.

So far about 50 documents have surfaced among 100 documents reported to have been leaked.  Many concerns geopolitical subjects.  They were first circulated on Discord.  They are Department of Defense documents and include reports from the CIA and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.  They show how the US gathers intelligence and provides analysis on regional political developments around the world.

Before taking any part of the document leak as truth, it’s important to take any information with a grain of salt.  Here are a few:

One document that appears to be doctored shows Russian casualties at about 17,000.  The same document shows Ukrainian casualties at about 170,000.  Those figures are very suspicious.  In the type of attrition warfare taking place now, the Russians are probably losing five soldiers to one Ukrainian soldier since the Russians are on the offensive.

One piece of leaked information was that the Ukrainians were likely to run out of surface to air missiles by the end of May.  This assumes that these missiles are the heart of Ukraine’s air defense.  However, these missiles are out-of-date S300 missiles, and they haven’t been the real reason for the Russian’s failure to gain air superiority.

Although the Russians dramatically outnumber the Ukrainians in fighter aircraft, they have failed to gain air superiority, which is considered the key to winning a modern war. Russian aircraft take off, fire their long-range at Ukrainian targets and head back to their base.  Meanwhile, Ukrainian pilots are learning advanced NATO air combat techniques.

The reports also give munitions delivery information, which will be important for Russian leadership, who need to plan for any Ukrainian offensive. The analysis seems pessimistic on Ukraine’s chances for victory.

The documents show how that the US has penetrated the Russian leadership and has given the Ukrainians detailed information on Russian attacks.  It also showed American efforts to get munitions from Turkey, Israel, and South Korea.  According to reports, the US has promised to help Israel against Iran if they give Ukraine ammunition.

Leaked documents show that Serbia, which is neutral in the Ukraine war, has shipped munitions to Ukraine.

Although the leaked documents indicate Ukraine is weak, investigations show that much of that information was falsified by Russian Telegram users, not the Russian intelligence service.

 

What are the consequences of the publication?

The damage has already been done.  American allies are upset that the US was spying on them – although the allies are likely spying on the US too.  France has been especially aggressive in industrial espionage in the US.

The Ukraine has been forced to change some of its military plans.

Both Israel and South Korea have said the documents are false.

The impact will likely be short therm.

 

Additional leaked information

Here’s a summary of some leaked information.

The US doesn’t expect any Ukraine peace talks until 2024.  The DIA says a loss of territory by the Russians and unsustainable losses by the Russians will not lead to peace talks as Putin is determined to win.  The report also says that China hasn’t shown signs of sending munitions to Russia.

Although denied by the Serbians, a document shows that Serbia has the political will and military ability to arm Ukraine.

The US and its allies have 100 Special Forces on the ground in Ukraine.  The Pentagon has finally admitted that there are Special Forces in Ukraine but said they “aren’t fighting on the battlefield.”  Knowing how carefully the White House words these statements, this may mean they are behind Ukrainian lines advising on the use of long-range weapons.  There could also be US contractors, who aren’t considered US soldiers by the Pentagon.

The spying on South Korea’s government has softened their willingness to sell artillery shells to the US to resupply US stocks.  By selling to the US to restock their inventory, it allows South Korea to say they are not involved in the Ukraine War.

Ukrainian agents are responsible for the sabotage behind lines in Belarus and Russia.  They have hit oil facilities, air bases, and civilian infrastructure.

Egypt may be sending rockets and artillery shells to Russia.

Canada’s natural gas pipelines may be targeted by hackers, who are close to Russia.

The Pentagon published a paper titled “Israel: Pathways to Providing Lethal Aid to Ukraine.”  It looks at making third party sales to Ukraine, expanding sales if Russia starts to boost arms sales to Iran, US support for Israeli operations in Iran, and if Russia starts firing at Israeli aircraft in Syria.

Undoubtedly more information will come out.  Keep an eye on the news coming out from the Massachusetts Air National Guard.  There are more senior people involved in this.

Analysis 04-11-2023

ANALYSIS

Finland Joins NATO

 

While many eyes were on the courthouse in Manhattan, New York and the indictment of Trump, many others were focused on Brussels, where Finland officially joined NATO with the raising of the Finnish flag in front of NATO Headquarters.

The event was full of irony.  Ever since WWI, Finland had maintained its neutrality so as not to upset Russia, who had controlled Finland as part of the Russian Empire and had fought the invading Russian Army in the early days of WWII.  Now Finland sees the potential threat of Russia invading Ukraine.

“Finland has today become a member of the defense alliance NATO.  The era of military non-alignment in our history has come to an end,” the Finnish president said.  “A new era begins.”

The president continued, “NATO membership strengthens our international position and room for maneuver.  As a partner, we have long actively participated in NATO activities.  In the future, Finland will make a contribution to NATO’s collective deterrence and defense.”

Finland’s addition to NATO dramatically changes the strategic situation in Europe.  The NATO border with Russia has doubled, which forces Russia to at least put military forces on the border at a time when its military is stretched with the War in Ukraine.

As a neutral country that has relied on its own military to repel invaders, the Finnish Army is more powerful than many think.  Although the Finnish armed forces number 23,000, thanks to universal military conscription, that number can be boosted to 280,000.  And, though it is neutral, some Finnish soldiers have combat experience in Afghanistan.

Finland’s military is classed as the 51st most powerful in the world.  It’s artillery forces outnumber France and Germany combined.  Its ammunition production by Lapua is considered the best and its small arms ammunition is the ammunition of choice by NATO snipers.

Finland uses the German Leopard 2, which is considered one of the best Main Battle Tanks.  They also use the HIMARS missiles, which have been used successfully by the Ukrainians to hit Russian targets.  Their military spending meets NATO standards of 2% of GDP.

Finland’s top commander, General Timo Kivinen said, “On a per capita basis, we have probably the most firepower in Europe.”

Finland’s air force has 55 F-18s and in two years, they will start receiving F-35s.  Finland also has the world’s 12th largest navy, which along with Sweden and the NATO nations Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Germany, and Denmark, make the Baltic Sea a NATO lake.

With the Russian Black Sea fleet unable to sortie its ships into the Mediterranean and the Russian Baltic fleet unable to exit the Baltic, Russian naval power must rely on Murmansk to sail into the Atlantic.  However, both Norway and Finland are close to that strategic Russian naval base and could hinder any movement from there during a conflict.

The status of Swedish NATO membership is still open, but many think the situation will change after Turkish elections in May.  In the meantime, they will continue to hold military exercises with NATO nations and will only make the northern flank of NATO much more powerful, especially in anti-submarine warfare in the Baltic.

NATO has changed in terms of its key members.  During the Cold War, France and Germany were the major military powers on the European continent.  Now, the northern flank of NATO is strengthened by Poland, which is the major tank and armored NATO force outside the US.  Only the US and Greece are spending more, in terms of GDP, in defense.  The Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are also spending more than 2% of GDP, although their small economies force them to rely upon larger NATO countries to protect their borders.

Finnish NATO membership and the push to spend more on NATO defense has displeased Russia, who has seen its plan to discourage NATO membership of its neighbors to fail.  Its most serious response was to announce that it was deploying tactical missiles that can be used either tactically or with nuclear warheads to Belarus.

Russian Presidential spokesman Dimitry Peskov said, “the expansion of NATO is an infringement on our security and Russia’s national interests.”  He did separate Finnish membership in NATO from how they saw a potential Ukraine NATO membership.

Peskov said, “the situation with Finland, of course, is radically different from the situation with Ukraine…Finland has never had anti-Russian rhetoric, and we have no disputes with Finland.”

“With Ukraine, the situation is the opposite and potentially more dangerous,” Peskov continued.

The Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said they have shipped Russian aircraft and Iskander missiles capable of delivering tactical nuclear strikes to Belarus.

He said,” Several of Belarus ground attack aircraft received the ability to strike enemy targets with nuclear weapons…Besides, Iskander-M operational tactical missile was handed over to the armed forces of Belarus. It can use both conventional and nuclear missiles.”

How big is the threat posed by Belarus?  It appears that some aircraft and missiles have been moved into Belarus and made nuclear capable.  However, there is no information that the nuclear warheads or bombs have been stored in Belarus or that they have been given any authority to use them.

It is more likely that the nuclear weapons remain in Russia, under close Russian guard.  They are more of a potential threat if NATO invades Belarus, which is unlikely under current circumstances.

They are more likely to be deployed if NATO decides to invade the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which is separated from Russia and is nestled between Poland and Lithuania.

In the meantime, it appears that NATO will continue to supply munitions and more modern weapons systems.  Poland and Slovakia have sent former Russian aircraft to Ukraine to bolster the Ukrainian air force.  The US has also admitted that 2 Ukrainian pilots have been sent to Arizona to learn how to use the F-16.  Although the US insists that the pilots aren’t receiving any “flight time” on the F-16, they may be training on obsolete fighter aircraft owned by the American defense company Textron Aviation.

According to Air & Space Forces Magazine, Textron has the largest civilian supersonic fleet.  That includes 63 Mirage F1 aircraft.  Flight Global says on their website that the Mirage F1 will be used for “air combat training and aggressor squadron purposes.”  Some of the aircraft are at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona

Clearly, the escalation of the Ukrainian War is continuing.  Aircraft, once “off the table” are likely to find their way onto the battlefield soon.  Russia, which once tried to stop NATO expansion eastward now finds itself in a weaker position than before.

Analysis 03-30-2023

ANALYSIS

Putin and Xi declare the end of the American Empire

 

The key result of the Xi-Putin meeting was a series of articles declaring the end of the unipolar world controlled by the US and the beginning of a multi-polar world with China and Russian taking the top spots.

In a piece written by Putin in a Chinese publication, he advocated, “The shaping of a more just multipolar world order based on international law rather than certain rules’ serving the needs of the ‘golden billion.’”

“We can feel the geopolitical landscape in the outside world change dramatically,” Putin continued.

In an article written by Chinese leader Xi in the Russian media, he wrote, “the world today is going through profound changes, unseen in a century…The prevailing trends of world multi-polarity, economic globalization, and greater democracy in international relations are irreversible.”

Xi also wrote about the historically close relations between Russia and China in the recent past.

In an open challenge to American dominance, Xi wrote, “The international community has recognized that no country is superior to others, no model of governance is universal, and no single country should dictate the international order.”

Russia and China see an inevitable move to a multi-polar movement where China and Russia have a greater say in international affairs.

The best example of a successful, balanced world order was that coming out of the Congress of Vienna after the defeat of Napoleon.  It prevented a major European war for 100 years.  And it created a robust balance of power in Europe where no one saw a need for a major war.

Ironically, a doctoral dissertation on the Congress of Vienna was written by a young Harvard candidate for a doctorate, which focused on the balance of power coming out of the congress.  His name was Henry Kissinger and the principles outlined would guide American foreign policy for decades.

Rather than focusing on winning the peace and punishing France after the Napoleonic Wars, the leading foreign ministers of the era knew that a balance of power included recognizing the interests of France as well as the nations that allied themselves against Napoleon.  This included being willing to negotiate with Napoleon if that was the will of the French people.

Russia was a major player in the Congress of Vienna and establishing the post Napoleonic new world order.  The Russian Czar Alexander I directed his own diplomacy in Vienna.  Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain were the major players and reserved the major decisions for themselves.  Defeated France was later included and had an influence in determining the borders for all the nations north of the Alps.

The results were so good, that the only major war fought in the next 100 years was the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 -1871.

China wasn’t represented as they saw themselves as the “Middle Kingdom” and above other nations.

The Congress of Vienna was successful because 30 nations participated, but the critical negotiations were handled by the key powers, much like the permanent members of the UN Security Council represents the nations who have more influence in the world.

The vision outlined by Russia and China stresses a multipolar world.  Both countries are challenging Us influence in all continents, they are forging political and economic ties with many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The one strength for both Russia and China are the move towards a gold backed currency.  America has abused the privilege of having the world currency and there is serious talk about pricing many commodities – possibly even oil, in gold.  As many powerful nations have discovered, a sound currency is critical in both war and peace.

Creating a new world order that has Russia and China at the top will be difficult.  The closest Russia came to it was after WWII, when the USSR had captured most of Eastern Europe and had a large military powered by American Lend Lease.  But cracks started to appear as the captive nations like Hungary protested the USSR.  Even though Russia managed to quell the protests; just 20 years after the Czechoslovakian protests, the Berlin Wall fell.  Russia and China may talk about all nations being treated equally, but ethnic differences will collapse this new world order just as effectively as ethnic differences spelled doom for the Soviet Empire.

The reality is that the articles and statements made by China and Russia are more than political rhetoric. But the goal is to paint the United States, with a senile president, as in its decline.  The implication is that other nations should rally around the new coalition of China and Russia.

Many experts in Washington are worried that what will threaten the US isn’t the military power of Xi and Putin, but the growing fissures in American society.

Analysis 03-10-2023

ANALYSIS

CPAC and the Trump 2024 Agenda

 

This week was time for the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) annual meeting, labeled by most media as a group of Right-Wing Radicals.  Stories abound about who was refusing to attend and how the attendance was dramatically down.

Every announced Republican candidate for president was there (and a few who haven’t decided).  Attendance, based on how many participated in the CPAC straw poll, was the highest ever. Although many seats were empty during discussion events on Wednesday through Friday, the hall was full for the speakers on Saturday.

There were some surprising speakers, including former Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard and a former Obama spokesperson, who moderated a discussion on Ukraine.  Former Brazilian president Bolsonaro spoke as well as former British politician Nigel Farage.  The event showcased up and coming politicians – some who are surely being considered as VP possibilities.  These included Kari Lake, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, former governor Nikki Haley, and Congresswoman Lauren Boebert.

The media made much of Florida Governor DeSantis and former VP Mike Pence not attending.  However, they probably would not have done well if they had attended.  Governor DeSantis is not known as a “retail” politician type of politician, and he has avoided interviews with conservative media. And CPAC attendees like politicians who mingle with the crowd.  While DeSantis will probably benefit from the campaign money picked up at the Club for Growth event he attended, CPAC attendees are the grassroots people who will be working the streets in 2024.

Despite that, DeSantis came in second place in the straw poll as the attendee’s choice for president. Of course, Trump got 62%, while DeSantis got 20%.  Arizona candidate for Governor Kari Lake came in first place for VP, garnering 20%.  DeSantis got 14%.

Last year DeSantis received 28% last year and Trump got 59%, which indicates that Trump is still relevant in the GOP and DeSantis is seeing an erosion of support in the grassroots.

Tulsi Gabbard was a combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq, advocated a more restrained American foreign policy and pushed to end US financial support for Ukraine.

“I want a strong, well-funded, highly capable military that we rarely use,” Gabbard said.  “I think we need a focused foreign policy based on realism.”

Of course, the star of the show was Trump and the standing room only crowd proved that.  For those who wonder if he is running, he made it clear, when he gave a list of priorities when and if he is “elected 47th president of the United States.”

 

The Trump Agenda

Trump made his agenda clear both in his speech on Saturday and a video released on Friday.

The biggest priority is his fight against the federal bureaucracy, which he calls “the deep state.”  He said on Saturday, “If you put me back in the White House, their reign will be over, and they know it…I will obliterate the deep state.”

He continued, “I will fire the unelected bureaucrats and shadow forces, who have weaponized our justice system.”

Not all his promises are likely to come true.  He promised to close the Department of Education, something that has been on the Republican agenda since it was formed during the Carter Administration.  President Regan promised it, but never could get it through Congress.

Of course, as any politician, Trump also made big promises.  As part of what his campaign calls “Agenda 47,” he promised to bring back America’s boldness “in a very big way” and herald a “quantum leap” in living standards.

“Past generations of Americans pursued big dreams and daring projects…They pushed across an unsettled continent and built new cities,” Trump said in a video released on Friday.  “But today our country has lost its boldness.  Under my leadership, we will get it back in a big way.”

Trump also promised a “Strategic National Manufacturing Initiative” that will mean that the US will no longer have to import goods from China.  The American manufacturing sector is currently struggling through various challenges like inflation, talent scarcity, supply chain problems and economic uncertainty.   He also promised to eliminate China’s most favorite nation status.

In terms of addressing the growing crime in the nation, he promised more support for the police.  “We love and cherish our police.” He spoke.  “They will do the job the way they have to.”  He also promised to bring the National Guard into cities, “Until law and order is restored.”

To change the demographic time bomb that is making America older as the birth rate declines, Trump said he will ask Congress to support “baby bonuses” for young parents to encourage a baby boom.  In addition, he proposed a new initiative to lower the cost of a new car and the cost of building single family homes – high-cost items that discourage starting a new family.

Trump also promised to lower energy costs by once again encouraging oil and gas exploration and development in the US.

Trump ended his speech by advocating conservative social issues like parental rights.  “We will rename our schools and boulevards not after communists, but after great American patriots…We will dismantle the deep state.  We will demolish woke tyranny.”

Some may call this sort of speech extreme right wing, but polls show them popular with the republican base.  That is why Trump is leading his Republican competitors by a large margin and why polls show that Trump may do very well this time against Biden if the latter runs again for president.

Analysis 03-02-2023

ANALYSIS

The Ukrainian War a Year Later
Stopping START: does it raise nuclear war stakes?

 

A year ago, most military analysts thought that Ukraine would lose in a matter of days or weeks.

The Ukrainian armed forces have done well, thanks to a determination to fight and generous support from NATO and European allies.  But, at the same time, the world has moved closer to total war as the Ukrainians have had the strategic initiative for most of the year and President Putin has refused to back down.

Now the world must consider the possibility of nuclear warfare.  We saw that in Putin’s state of the nation address, which showed no compromise on the issue of using nuclear weapons. He stated that Russia was suspending its participation in the START treaty that limits the number of nuclear weapons that Russia and the US can field.

However, it was Putin’s threat to not abide by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that should be more worrying.  It is this treaty that prevents the testing and developing of new nuclear devices by stating that any nuclear test must be “zero yield.”  The US has never ratified the treaty, although Russia has signed and ratified the treaty.  However, the treaty has never gone into effect.

In his speech Putin strongly alluded to starting the development and testing of new nuclear weapon designs.  In a defense for such development, he reminded listeners that, “We remember Ukraine’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons (actually because of the breakup of the USSR, Ukraine did acquire some nuclear weapons that they gave up in return for assurances from the US and UK).

Putin also said, “If the US conducts [nuclear] tests, so will we.”

However, there are charges that Russia has already conducted small nuclear tests.  In 2019, the head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Robert Ashley, claimed that Russia had “probably been violating the test ban treaty by carrying out low yield tests in the Arctic Archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

Ashley continued, “Russia’s development of new warhead designs…have been enhanced by its approach to nuclear testing.”

Since fourth generation nuclear weapons can have yields of as low as 1 to 100 tons of TNT, these tests are much harder to detect.  But the designs have unique applications on the tactical battlefield since they reduce collateral damage.

Some of the technologies include petawatt-class lasers, micro-explosions, antimatter as a triggering device, and thermonuclear shaped charges.  Weapons could have enhanced electromagnetic pulse, high energy neutrons, reduced residual radiation, and nuclear drive jets and projectiles.

Bombs that use antimatter isn’t something from science fiction, small antimatter traps the size of an egg have already been developed for microgram amounts of antimatter.

The lower yields and enhanced effects of some aspects of the nuclear device will make them ideal if Russia feels it needs new technology to break through Ukrainian lines.  With the 1 ton to 100-ton yield, they offer an ideal fit between conventional weapons and nuclear warheads.

 

NATO and Russia: Then, Now, and in the Future

The Ukraine War has changed the NATO alliance.  In the days of the Cold War, the US was the major partner and West Germany was the major land army on the continent of Europe.  France under De Gaulle had withdrawn from the NATO military structure, although it was still a NATO member.

The United Kingdom was a former colonial power, who was rapidly reducing its military obligations “East of Suez” and reducing its once formable navy to green ocean navy (a misassumption that Argentina made).

Russia was seen as a major military power with nuclear weapons, a massive tank army, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of soldiers.

Much has changed in the last year.  Russia is seen today as a weaker great military power with nuclear weapons.  When the Germans invaded the USSR in 1941, the Soviets had 2.9 million soldiers in the Western Military District.  When they invaded Ukraine in 2022, they had 300,000.  Russia is facing a demographic problem and they can’t rely on the Ukrainian forces that were a large part of the Soviet WWII military.  This doesn’t include the losses over the last year that will make it hard to rebuild the army over the next few years.

It will take decades for the Russian Army to modernize and rebuild its forces and reputation.

Meanwhile, the US remains the major NATO partner.   But France and Germany are seen as minor NATO military partners: France is sending light, obsolete tanks to Ukraine and Germany, whose army is now a shadow of former size, is dithering on allowing other countries to ship Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Although the UK hasn’t much of an army, they have contributed frontline main battle tanks to the Ukraine.  They are modernizing their navy, which boasts the most powerful aircraft carriers – except for American super carriers.  They have also designed their carriers to operate seamlessly with the American navy.

The biggest change is in Poland, which has earned the reputation as one of NATO’s major partners.  They have a large conventional army with more tanks and armored vehicles than any NATO partner but the US.  They have become the major logistics and training center for NATO’s support of Ukraine.  They have given some heavy equipment like tanks to Ukraine.  And they are expanding their army and inviting the US to move some of its forces into Poland.

The Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have stepped up their participating in NATO, even though their economies are small.

Nations formerly under Soviet control are taking a more aggressive stance against Russia.

The future of NATO will have to consider Central and Eastern European nations as the key to stop Russian expansion.  Note that President Biden visited Poland and Ukraine.  Berlin and Paris were not part of the trip.

Future potential allies will strengthen NATO despite Turkey and Erdogen.  Sweden and Finland will help secure the Baltic Sea while manufacturing modern weapons and holding down the northern flank of NATO.

Today’s attitude towards Russia is much like it was in the coldest days of the Cold War.  It will remain if Putin stays in power.

So, what are the factors that will determine the war in 2023?

Logistics.  Ukraine has managed to substitute modern arms for the lack of soldiers.  Although everyone talks about aircraft and tanks, there are other requirements like longer range artillery and rockets.  To have more mobility, Ukraine needs anti-mine capability so they can break through Russian lines without taking major casualties.

Not all the munitions need to be high tech.  The US has increased the production of Javelin and Stinger missiles, but 155mm artillery shells are being used at a high rate and there is a need to manufacture more than are currently available.

Although the US and other NATO allies are loath to dip too deep into their war reserves, the fact is that logistical support is critical for the Ukraine and the reality is that NATO has two options – give them to Ukraine so they can stop the Russians or use them in the defense of their own sovereign territory.

Although they are controversial, the delivery of cluster bombs would help stop the Russian tactic of massed human waves.

A spreading wars.  The conflict appears to be growing outside Ukraine.  According to intelligence sources, Moldova, which is on the western border of Ukraine, may be attacked to open a western front in the war.  Putin has revoked a decree that recognized Moldavia as an independent nation.  Together with Transnistria, a pro-Russian, breakaway part of Moldova, it is possible that Russia may try to capture some airports in Transnistria and Moldovia and setup an air bridge that will create a second front that will take pressure off Russian forces in the east.

Another front on the Ukraine War is the Chinese threat.  Some analysts are saying that the US must step back in Ukraine, so the US has the resources to fight China.

That has been countered by some analysts.  First, the type of war in the Chinese theater is different from the one in Ukraine.  The Ukraine War is a land battle that requires tanks etc.  A war in the South China Sea requires naval vessels, aircraft carriers, anti-ship missiles, Marines, etc.  These are weapons systems not needed in Europe.

With the support of Japan, South Korea, and Australia, the US can hold while the Ukraine War goes on.  It’s important to remember that if the US pulls back to reinforce the Southeast Asia Theater, Putin will win by default.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping to gain ground in 2023, providing NATO continues to support Ukraine with munitions. But Putin and Russia may have some surprises in the battle fields.

Analysis 02-15-2023

ANALYSIS

Did the US destroy the Nord Stream Pipeline?

 

If this story had come from anyone else, it would have been considered a fictional plot for a Hollywood movie.  It had intrigue and action.  All it needed was a headline action star like a younger Sylvester Stallone.

The plot, in short, was that a top-secret deep-sea diving team, that was so secret that it wasn’t even part of America’s Special Forces Command, sabotaged Russia’s Nord Stream natural gas pipelines so Russia couldn’t pressure Western nations into ending support for Ukraine.

Most would have considered it pure fiction if it wasn’t for the author of the story – Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter who has revealed such stories as American war crimes in Vietnam, the secrets of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

But this is more than a mere story about a top secret military operation.  If true, it means that the United States has carried out an act of war against Russia and by shutting off the Russian natural gas, has threatened the lives and livelihoods of the citizens of its NATO allies.

It wasn’t the secret that was planned thanks to the elderly President Biden, who gave the operation away.  A year ago, at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Biden said, “If Russia invades [Ukraine]…then there will no longer be Nord Stream 2.  We will bring an end to it.”

When a reporter asked the president how he would do it, Biden responded, “I promise you we will be able to do it.

By the time Biden said that the US was well into the planning.  That had begun when the Nord Stream 2 was completed in 2021 and Russian troops were massing on the Ukraine border.   Norway was brought into the planning because they had deep sea diving experience from operating gas wells in the North Sea.  Norway is also a gas producer and could fill some of the shortage of Russian gas.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan formed a task force with officials from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the State department, and the Treasury.

It was agreed that a more vigorous action was needed because economic sanctions wouldn’t stop Putin.

Several plans were studied, but everyone agreed that secrecy was needed and the location near the Danish Island of Bornholm required the utmost secrecy.  Something like a bombing from an aircraft or destroying it with a submarine would be too obvious.

CIA Director William Burns assembled a working group to develop a plan to use deep sea divers to carry out the mission.

The team finally focused on placing shaped charges on the outside of the pipelines and then remotely detonating them weeks or months after the charges were laid.

The mines were laid during the NATO exercise BALTOPS.  The detonation would come after a sonar buoy was dropped that sent out a specific noise signal to trigger the blast.

The bombing went off when a Norwegian P8 surveillance aircraft dropped off the sonar buoy on September 26 during a routine flight.  A few hours later, three of the four pipelines were destroyed.

The US denied responsibility (and still does) and there were few who could contradict the White House.  Congress wasn’t informed and there was no briefing for the “Gang of Eight,” the heads of the intelligence committees.  The operation didn’t go through the Special Forces command.  Only a few national security people in agencies like the CIA were aware of it.  The US and Norway had covered themselves by briefing some NATO allies before the attack.

But who was really responsible is still a mystery.  Denmark and Sweden carried out investigations and determined that the blasts were a result of sabotage, but they were unable to determine which nation was guilty.

The Russians obviously had little interest in destroying their pipeline, which was the result of over a decade of work and billions of dollars.  It had also become the cornerstone of the policy to use the Nord Stream pipelines to pressure the Germans to stop supporting and sending arms to Ukraine.  The pipelines also allowed German companies to sell the additional inexpensive gas to neighboring countries.

Obviously, the one nation that could be suspected was the US.  The destruction of the pipeline helped bring Germany into line as an ally of Ukraine.  At the same time, US companies were helping to alleviate the gas shortage by shipping LNG to Europe.

 

What Happens now?

Attacking the Nord Stream pipeline is considered an act of war.  However, the US and Norway have denied the Hersh story and Russia doesn’t have any tangible proof.  Since some of Hersh’s previous investigative reports have been questioned like his story on Osama bin Laden, Russia can’t do any more than officially protest.

That, they did, even before the Hersh story came out.  Secretary of State for Political affairs Victoria Nuland said on January 26, “I am, and I think the administration is very gratified to know Nord Stream 2 is now… a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said, “This is not only the direct participation of the United States in the explosions of the Nord Stream pipelines, but Ms. Nuland has also made a confession.”

Aside from official protests, there is much that Russia can do.  The American attack on a Russian strategic asset has gone further than merely sending arms and intelligence to the Ukrainians.  Russia may decide to carry out sabotage that hurts the American infrastructure but gives them “plausible deniability.”

One logical option would be sabotaging the arms shipments.  There doesn’t have to be a dramatic act.  Russia could hack transportation networks in Europe so shipments of tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other supplies would be slowed down on their way to Ukraine.  Sabotage of American gas or petroleum refining facilities would also be tit-for-tat.

The biggest problem with these retaliations is that Russia and the West are slow walking into a real, not a proxy war.  The Nord Stream pipeline attack was a step further – a direct attack on a Russian asset by an American military unit.

This is more than merely sending arms.  It promises more escalations.

53 years ago, a young investigative reporter revealed an American massacre of Vietnamese during the VietNam War, which was a proxy war between the USSR and the US.

That reporter was Seymour Hersh.

It seems that the lessons of VietNam have been forgotten as American officials rush into a new war just like Lyndon Johnson and his advisors did 60 years ago.