Thursday, January 12, 2017

What could Russia possibly want?

There is a whole thread of news which points to the likelihood of xKGB elements of the Russian polity subverting Donald Trump's business and campaign for their purposes. People are even going so far as to say that Donald Trump might be a RIS provocation.

Let us suspend the question of whether all of this is true and focus on the "why" aspect of this.

Why would Russia want to plant their agent as the President of the United States?

As some of you might have seen Russia has the lowest GDP/nuke. The Russian GDP/nuke is even below North Korea. These numbers should make Russia jealous of China, India and even Pakistan.

This puts them in a precarious position economically.

This economic situation in Russia puts the focus on a very important aspect of nuclear deterrence - i.e. the cost of the deterrent.

In the game of deterrence, the key thing is to be able to maintain in the mind of the enemy an impression that any nuclear escalation will be met with unacceptable retaliation. If you can't do this - deterrence breaks down.

You certainly can't do this if you can't afford to maintain your nuclear warheads. Therefore the real game in the deterrence world is to maintain the total number of warheads at a level that is comfortable for your economy.

The Russians are quite far from that. As things stand, they were unable to keep their economic afloat during the Soviet era. When the USSR fell - the KGB moved  to secure itself in the collapse, but in doing so they made matters worse for everyone else in Russia. After regarbing themselves as "oligarchs" they basically robbed Russia blind to keep themselves in power.

Selling Russian oil on the open market outside of OPEC quotas worked for a while, but it could not keep apace with the cost of the warheads. When the Saudis dropped the price - the Russians were very unhappy and their economy began to slide. They tried to shore up their natural gas contracts in Europe, but found themselves working against powerful market forces and that didn't go as planned at all. The attempt at grabbing Ukraine didn't work out and the Russians found themselves facing even more sanctions.

This further exhausted their reserves and began to shake the ordinary Russian's faith in their xKGB ruling castes. That put pressure on the "System" to go to work.  In terms of popularity in Russia itself - any strategy that offends America is usually welcomed by the conservative sections of society, so at the very least - the xKGB dominated regime would buy itself some time.

So what would the logical outcome be of such a large and concentrated effort?

I think there are two distinct strategic directions, and I do not know which they will take

1) Get their agent in the US to reduce the pressures on the Russian economy. In doing so - the Russian GDP/Nuke ratio would rise.

2) Get their agent in the US to tank the US economy and in doing so reduce the American GDP/nuke ratio.

Both these strategies would cause Russia to enter the negotiations on arms reduction from a position of greater strength. 


At 12:15 AM, Blogger Wise_Ass said...

One day, the apocryphal story goes, Emperor Akbar asked Birbal to find him the biggest fool in the city. That evening Birbal set out for a walk. In a public garden, he found a man looking for something in the moonlight. On enquiring, he realised the man had lost his ring. “Did you lose it here?” Birbal asked, posing what appeared to be an obvious question. “No Sir, I lost it there,” said the man, pointing to a distant, secluded corner, “but the light is better in this area and so I’m looking here.” Birbal had found his fool.

How does one relate this story to American foreign policy and strategic choices? Over the past few years, and largely in the Obama presidency, America has identified Russia as its principal adversary. Public debate in that country, as well as policy discourse in Washington, DC, has tended to discount other challenges and paint Vladimir Putin as the United States’ uber opponent.

Trump would rather have Russia on his side than Iran. He would rather let Russia have some territory in the Crimea than allow Iran to make creeping progress to a nuclear weapon and regional paramountcy. Neither option is more or less moral.

Second, in popular perception and culture in the US, Russia is still the bad guy. A generation (or several generations) that came of age during the Cold War are still in thrall of nostalgia. There are concerns about Russian cyber-espionage but hardly any questions about Chinese hacking and threats to the internet. It is tempting to make retro Cold War movies (Bridge of Spies, The Man from UNCLE), while exploring the China challenge is limited to dense, hardcover non-fiction. Films about Islamism and the mess in West Asia are, of course, either politically incorrect or simply too hot to handle.

Russia is a convenient, easy enemy, much like the moonlit spot was for the man searching for the ring. America, to Trump’s mind, has ducked the hard issues. It hasn’t helped that Chinese economic interests are embedded in the American system, with influence in politics, business and thinktanks. China is a far greater economic force than Russia was in the 1970s (when Nixon shrugged it off) or the 1980s (when Reagan took it on). That makes Trump’s gamble tougher.

It is telling to compare Obama’s overtures to China in his first year to Trump’s relationship with Russia. In November 2009, Obama travelled to Beijing and became the first US president to offer China a “strategic partnership”. His spin doctors spoke of a “G2” world order. The idea went nowhere but it needs to be said that the liberal media did not denounce Obama or accuse him of furthering Chinese interests.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Let me phrase the question more directly.

Why should Americans be expected to sacrifice their health care and social security and pay for Russia's nukes while the KGB castes live the high life?

If we had a ton of money lying around - I'd be okay with paying Russia to clean up its situation, but we don't actually have money,


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