What Will Putin Do?

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Ask yourself this: why did the stock markets rally today after Obama announced sanctions against Russians? I’ll get back to that, but first some background.

I’ve often said that Putin plays chess while Obama fumbles with checkers. I picture our president, chin resting on fist, brows squeezed in childlike concentration, as he carefully chooses between jumping Putin’s piece to end the game or getting another of his pieces “kinged.”

Of course, Obama goes for the kingship.

But my chess-checkers analogy misses a key ingredient: empathy. America’s political class doesn’t understand a key Russian strategic trait.

Money, Money, Money

Money rules the West. Central bankers dominate every decision in the United States. The single goal of Fed policy is to push up stocks. It doesn’t care about profits, employment, interest, or inflation. It cares about the S&P 500.

Fed policy makers, and their enablers in Washington, also take an classical economics view of people. They missed out on the science of behavioral economics. They believe everyone, everywhere decides solely on the basis of economic self-interest.

Sure, Yellen-Bernanke has played The Ultimatum Game. It found the game amusing, like a parlor trick. Yellen-Bernanke sees no connection between the game and real-life, though. It believes people  always choose economic gain for themselves. The Yellen-Bernanke believes Putin and the Russians will always choose the option that gives Russia an economic gain.

Yellen-Bernanke is wrong.

Russians Think Longer Than Money

According to STATFOR founder George Friedman, Russians think in 20-year cycles, just like generational historians William Strauss and Neil Howe. But I’ve observed a key difference between Americans and Russians. This observation leads me to believe that US sanctions won’t bother Putin.

Something struck me about the batch of Russian software engineers my company imported in the late 1990s. Unlike American engineers, the Russian engineers had deep interest in the humanities and art.

For example, I know several software engineers who graduated from Washington University. They took not a single class in English, History, or any other non-engineering subject. They were, like Yellen-Bernanke, pure numbers people. Engineering, to the Americans, seemed like a religion.

The Russians, on the other hand, seemed to treat engineering like a trade to support their real loves. One Russian engineer I knew was a published poet in Russia. Another had recorded an album of original music. A younger Russian coder was an accomplished painter. The Russians’ parties were full of vodka and music. And the tobacco smoke was filled with air.

Not all US engineers are blind to the humanities, of course. Many engineers I know buck the trend. But put 100 US engineers in a room with 100 Russian engineers, and the Russians will dominate the humanities and arts. At least, that’s been my experience.

I admit my example represents a small sample size. Still, I came away from that experience with a strong sense of difference between Russian and American engineers. Russian engineers empathize with human beings in a way American engineers tend to avoid. Let’s call it an empathy gap.

This empathy gap showed itself in software design. The Americans favored efficient algorithms and complex UIs that would give expert users maximum control. The Russians favored usability and user experience that gave the user maximum pleasure and convenience. More importantly, this empathy gap leads Russians to observe people for who they are, and it leads Americans to see people as mirror images of themselves. 

As Russia embarks on a mission to re-establish  its Warsaw Pact buffer and to extend  its sphere of influence, American strategists expect that Putin will think like an American bankster. I expect Putin will think like a Russian.

So What Will Russia Do?

First, let’s look at history. What’s Russia’s famous war strategy to repel invasions? Come on, you know the phrase.

Scorched Earth.

Russia sustains unimaginable damage when foreigners invade. Think of Muhammad Ali’s Rope-a-Dope. Russia hunkers down and lets its enemy punch itself out.

Russia will employ that strategy again, only this time the invasion and counter might not be military. Russia could adopt a scorched economy strategy.

Last week, a record $104 billion of foreign-owned US Treasuries was moved out of Fed custodianship. Some people jumped to the conclusion that Russia was dumping US Treasuries. But Russia did not sell the debt. She simply took it under her control.

The Econs explained that Russia wouldn’t dump Treasuries because doing so would hurt Russia more than it hurts the West. Those Econs were thinking like an American, not like a Russian. Russians will sustain damage in the short run for a win in the long run. And their long run is 20 years, while the American long run is the next fiscal quarter. The next election, at most.

While the Fed could easily buy up $100 billion in dumped treasuries, the Fed would have trouble absorbing $100 billion from Russia and, say, $500 billion from China. And if Russians think in 20-year cycles, Chinese think in 200-year cycles.

So I expect Russia will use its growing coziness with China to dangle the threat of dumping Treasuries over the West’s head. And it will scare the US Chamber of Commerce and the Banksters enough to limit Obama’s potential moves.

After Crimea and Ukraine

While the US and allies apply incremental sanctions against Russia, Russian tanks continue to roll. The Putin Doctrine says that whenever Russian-speaking peoples ask for help, Russia has the right to intervene. In other words, Putin has granted himself the right to take any land inhabited by ethnic Russians. Maybe even people who’ve reached Level 3 in Rosetta Stone’s Russian courses, who knows?

We all know Putin couldn’t care less about ethnic Russians. Putin cares about re-establishing Russia’s Cold War buffer zones in Europe, the Caucasses, and Asia. Pockets of ethnic Russians in those areas give Putin cover for invasion.

STRATFOR’s George Friedman on Ukraine:

A second, more worrying effect of the competition between the West and Russia over Ukraine extends beyond Ukrainian borders. As competition over the fate of Ukraine has escalated, it has also intensified Western-Russian competition elsewhere in the region.

Georgia and Moldova, two former Soviet countries that have sought stronger ties with the West, have accelerated their attempts to further integrate with the European Union — and in Georgia’s case, with NATO. On the other hand, countries such as Belarus and Armenia have sought to strengthen their economic and security ties with Russia. Countries already strongly integrated with the West like the Baltics are glad to see Western powers stand up to Russia, but meanwhile they know that they could be the next in line in the struggle between Russia and the West. Russia could hit them economically, and Moscow could also offer what it calls protection to their sizable Russian minorities as it did in Crimea. Russia already has hinted at this in discussions to extend Russian citizenship to ethnic Russians and Russian speakers throughout the former Soviet Union.

As I wrote on Saturday, Putin believes he needs to bring Poland and Baltic States back into the Russian fold.

The question then becomes, will the West’s plodding, careful, incremental sanctions stop Putin? Or will Putin press his advantage to stay ahead of sanctions?

The Problem With a Weak President

Like it or not, the US is the only western nation with the power to frighten Russia. That power means little when wielded by a president who lacks both the political and the intellectual capital to compete with Putin.

Barack Obama may have been an ace student in his Affirmative Action class at Harvard. He doesn’t do so well in the real world, though. He failed miserably in two of three debates against Mitt Romney, only to be rescued by “moderator” Candy Crowley. Obama was outwitted by the Syrian dictator and by Iran’s regime. He looks weak and confused by the aftermath of the Arab Spring, which he personally helped engineer.

At home, Obama has little support from Democrats in Congress facing re-election. His signature legislation, Obamacare, is unpopular even with the its initial champions, young voters. In fact, the President himself is becoming increasingly unpopular among Millennials, especially the younger ones who were still watching Hannah Montana when their older siblings powered Obama’s election in 2008.

It’s Putin’s Game

So Putin’s adversary is a weakened, unpopular, lame duck President who plays geopolitics like a chicken playing checkers, as Tyler Durden put it. Obama talks tough and carries a little stick–a stick to which China, Russia, Japan, and the Millennials hold the mortgage.

Back to the question of why markets rallied on Obama’s sanctions. The banksters realized Obama’s sanctions are too weak to hurt their schemes. Obama won’t let Russian military expansionism interfere with their Fed-induced bull market.

Returning one last time to the question “What will Putin do?” I can only assume the answer: if you were Putin, and you knew Obama was hostage to the banksters who want only for the S&P to rise, what would you do?

Firing John Kerry Is Obama’s Only Hope for Credibility

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John Kerry isn’t fit for Secretary of State, and the whole world knows it.

If Obama every had a strategy for Syria, John Kerry destroyed it in a matter of minutes Monday.

First, Kerry said any American response to unspeakable humanitarian crisis in Syria would be “unbelievably small.” Man, you know that fired up the Marines floating off the coast of Syria. I can see them, Mae Wests on, ready to charge the beach, hearing that dreadful command: “Fix bottle rockets!”

Then, with the entire internet still laughing at his first gaffe of the day, Kerry went further. He said Syrian president Bashar al Assad had one week to surrender his chemical and biological weapons.

Immediately, the State Department contradicted Kerry. But it can’t. The State Department reports to John Kerry. Only the President can overrule a diplomatic offer from the Secretary of State.

Obama-Kerry

But it was too late, and the Russians know their protocol.

Putin offered to oversee the inspections and control of Syria’s biological and chemical weapons. Then the White House tried to claim responsibility for the maneuver. The progressive press doctored up stories claiming this weapons surrender was in the works weeks ago.

The trouble is, everyone watched Obama’s Keystone Cop chief drooling through diplomatic hell. The truth was out there and obvious and disturbing. Shep Smith put it best: “we just got played.”

Barack Obama appointed Kerry to a very important job. And John Kerry has proven himself perfectly capable of accidentally launching World War III.

Obama owes himself, the United States, and the world relief from the risk posed by Kerry’s incompetence.

Until our Secretary of State is a sober adult, we have no business considering military action.

Little Wars Waste Lives. Go Big Or Stay Home

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War is too damn serious to fight in half-measures or for a president’s pride.

And I am sick of American troops leaving our shores filled with vigor and ambition and hope only to return disillusioned, scarred, maimed, or dead. On this, left and right are beginning to agree.

Here are just some of the wars we fought half-assed in my lifetime:

  • Vietnam
  • El Salvador/Nicaragua
  • Libya
  • Iraq I
  • Iraq II
  • Afghanistan

By “half-assed,” I mean sending troops into harms way with no better purpose than to stop fighting on some arbitrary date and time. A date determined by crusty old men and cracked old ladies in Washington whose net worth doubles every time the US flag drapes another coffin.

A calendar isn’t worth killing our kids for. You can buy calendars at Walmart for a $14.95, and they come with pictures of hot women or cute puppies, not dead Marines.

So if we’re going to have this debate, let’s go all the way.

I will support war with Syria if we are fighting for unconditional surrender of the enemy.

I will support a war resolution that tells the executive branch to any and all means to bring the enemy to his knees, including nuclear weapons.

I will support a war of massive proportions if we’re in it to win it and fight until the last enemy—or the last American—is dead or captured.

I will support a war in which every American suffers to some degree. No toilet paper, no Comedy Central, gasoline once a week, no new cars or computers, and no entertainment awards shows of any kind.

I will support a real war that meets the criteria I wrote about (with embarrassingly stilted language) in my 1993 book The Conservative Manifesto:

The United States seeks to be left alone. Therefore, when we are provoked to the point that force is required against a foreign country, the objective of the United States’ action will be total and unconditional surrender of the enemy. Likewise, the United States will not place its armed forces in harm’s way unless the objective of our action is total and unconditional surrender of the enemy.

My son Patrick, who just grabbed something out of the refrigerator behind me, was just a baby lying in his playpen next to my desk when I typed those words. He turned 20 this summer. When I wrote that, I was wearing my summer whites—the Navy’s summer office uniform. I was living in Navy housing in Groton, CT.

My position on war isn’t new. And it’s been consistent. Unlike Secretary of State John Kerry who opposed every action America undertook until he became Sec State and eligible to put his name on the trophy if we win.

So here’s my bill for Congress, the one I will support:

1. A state of war exists between the United States and Syria and shall remain until Syria’s government surrenders to American forces without condition.

2. The Executive shall prosecute this war to its successful end as defined in paragraph 1 using all weapons available—or that become available—including nuclear weapons.

Bring up that bill, Senator McCain. Have that debate with the American people. Say it! Have the balls to tell the American people and the world we mean business. Or shut up.

If you’re not willing to fight a total war, read up on the current conditions in Libya, Egypt, and Iraq.

Stop getting people killed and leaving messes for other people to clean up—or die trying.

It’s time to choose.

War or peace.

Defeat or victory.

No more Vietnams.

 

Am I Crazy If I Don’t Believe the President?

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John McCain and John Boehner believe him.

John Kerry believes him.

Nancy Pelosi, too.

But I don’t.

I don’t believe the US has irrefutable, indisputable proof that the Syrian government intentionally killed 1,500 people with sarin gas.

I don’t believe it.

Not yet.

And neither does Yossef Bodansky.

You’re probably thinking “this Bodansky guy’s some conspiracy kook, too.”

Here’s Bodansky’s Wikipedia header:

Yossef Bodansky (born in Israel) is an Israeli-Americanpolitical scientist who served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004. He is also Director of Research of the International Strategic Studies Association and has been a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University‘s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). In the 1980s, he served as a senior consultant for the Department of Defense and the Department of State.

He is also a senior editor for the Defense and Foreign Affairs group of publications and a contributor to the International Military and Defense Encyclopedia and is on the Advisory Council of The Intelligence Summit. Bodansky’s numerous articles have been published in Global Affairs, Jane’s Defense Weekly, Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy and other periodicals.

Bodansky’s more credentialed than Barack Obama and John Kerry combined.

Bodansky doubts the US official story–the story Obama, Kerry, McCain, and Boehner are advancing as justification for another war. His sources are affiliated with the Syrian opposition.

Those sources have evidence that the opposition launched the sarin gas attacks that allegedly killed over 400 children and 1,000 others.

But that’s not all.

Bodansky suspects the White House aided the deadly attack.

The extent of U.S. foreknowledge of this provocation needs further investigation because available data puts the “horror” of the Barack Obama White House in a different and disturbing light.

Bodansky’s article in World Tribune explains:

The mere fact that weapon storage sites under the tight supervision of U.S. intelligence were opened up and about a thousand tons of high-quality weapons were distributed to the opposition indicates that U.S. intelligence anticipated such a provocation and the opportunity for the Syrian opposition to exploit the impact of the ensuing U.S. and allied bombing. Hence, even if the Obama White House did not know in advance of the chemical provocation, they should have concluded, or at the very least suspected, that the chemical attack was most likely the “war-changing development” anticipated by the opposition leaders as provocation of U.S.-led bombing. Under such circumstances, the Obama White House should have refrained from rushing head-on to accuse Assad’s Damascus and threaten retaliation, thus making the Obama White House at the very least complicit after the act.

If true, Obama could spend time at the defense table at The Hague.

Call me crazy. Call me war-weary. Call me a kook.

I’m not ready to launch another war. I’m not ready send Americans into another civil war in the Middle East. I’m not ready to help Damascus to become the next Benghazi.

We’ve seen the chaos that ensued from our interventions in Libya and Egypt. We know that Obama is incapable of finishing a job. We know we’ve lost or damaged some of the best young people of the Millennial Generation with very little to show for it.

I know McCain’s a war hero who plays pocket poker during hearings on the war, but I know he’s wrong a lot.

I fear that if we jump into this war in Syria, the consequences could be huge. Russia will likely step up support of Assad. Al Qaeda will end up with more American weapons and intelligence. When cruise missiles prove inadequate, US Marines will die in someone else’s civil war.

I’m tired of watching flag-draped caskets with motorcycle escorts parade down I-44 past my office window.

I won’t vote for anyone who votes for this war unless they first convince me that war in Syria is the only thing that will preserve the republic. If Ann Wagner or Roy Blunt votes for war and survives their primary, I’ll vote for a third party or abstain from those votes. If the next GOP presidential candidate emerges from Congress, same there.

I’m ready for peace.

Are you?

Is Petraeus Taking Obama With Him?

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Note:  This is a flight of fantasy. If anything in this post is later shown to conform reality, it’s pure coincidence.  Nor am I accusing Gen. Petraeus of any crime or of compromising of national security secrets. (Just enjoy it, will ya?)

A sex scandal rocks the king of spies.

An email chain unravels the Pentagon high command.

A cover-up exposed.

It’s like the back cover of a Nelson DeMille novel.

Generals don’t forget they’re soldiers just because they crawl behind a desk.

david-petraeus-paula-broadwell-plane

Soldiers look out for each other.

General David Petrraeus’s nature is to have the back of every American in uniform. And every American assigned to some shit-hole consulate representing the USA.

When people under a general’s command die, the general dies a little with them. Maybe that’s why a fender-bender killed Patton at the end of WWII. He’d already absorbed a lot of blows by proxy.

So imagine David Petraeus’s fury at the Obama Administration’s handling of the Benghazi massacre. Good men left to die while the President raised money for his re-election.

Then the President’s people go on TV to blame to the CIA for the debacle.

“The f***ing gall!”

As pressure mounts from non-MSM journalists, and the White House continues to lie and stonewall, General Petraeus has had it. On October 26, Petraeus throws Obama under the bus by flatly contradicting Obama’s claim that the CIA gave the order to stand down in Benghazi.

Repercussions?  he thinks. Who cares. The Commander in Chief failed in his most basic duty, and the press is letting  him walk.

The media and Congressional Democrats didn’t give a damn about a few lives in Benghazi.  And there’s no way to get their attention on the matter. Even if Petraeus quit and shouted “cover-up” from the highest mountain, Brian Williams’s head is too far up Obama’s ass to hear a pound of C4 detonating 5 feet away.

paula-broadwell

And then comes the lady trouble.

Petraeus is smart enough to know that sex sells newspapers. And TV ads. Wrap a national security story inside a torrid affair with a ex-military hottie and a Tampa Troop Groupie and everybody suddenly knows everything about everything.

Jill Kelley: Troop Groupie

He knows that he and West Point graduate Paula Broadwell are going down at some point. Why not take the White House down with them?

So the general makes sure the mistress knows just enough about the Benghazi fiasco to rock the White House, but not enough to compromise sources, methods, or operations.

(There IS a new James Bond movie out, ya know.)

Tonight the FBI raided Broadwell’s house. They’re confiscating papers and computers—anything with a magnetic disk or SSD. They’re looking for classified information that Paula shouldn’t have.

Fox News reports that on October 26—the same day Patraeus contradicted the White House about Benghazi—Paula Broadwell may have included classified information about the attack in a speech in Colorado.

The White House, eager to destroy Petraeus, will leak all the nasty spy stuff they find on the little lady’s hard drives. Andrea Mitchell will breathlessly read the “secret” memos about that horrible night in September. Americans who through “Ben Ghazi” was a kid they sat begin in second grade, will learn all about the #7HoursOfHell.

(Did you know that Petraeus conducted his own investigation of Benghazi last month?)

Could It Be?

Could David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell have thrown themselves on a grenade to get the word out about Benghazi?

Regardless, Patraeus is ruined. But if this case ended as a complicated act of defiance over Benghazi, this affair could be his finest hour.

After all, they’re reporting on Benghazi now, aren’t they?

 

Obama the Reckless

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On Saturday, the United States suffered its highest human lost since the Afghanistan conflict began.  At least 38 elite, brave American warriors died in combat.

Flasback to May 23 of this year. That’s when Barack Obama made the surprise announcement that he would begin accelerated troop withdrawals in July.  That timetable meant beginning the withdrawal during the summer fighting season.

Current and former military experts advised the president against this reckless move. People who understand war knew that the President would place lives unnecessarily at risk for his own political gain.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, testified to the House Armed Services Committee:

The president’s decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept.

General David Petraeus, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, testified to the US Senate:

The ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation, if you will, in terms of the timeline than what we had recommended.

(source: The Telegraph)

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called the President’s decision “an unnecessary risk” and asked him to reconsider (The Daily Beast).

Then Defense Secretary Robert Gates justified the decision, saying it was based on the political situation in the United States, not the military realities on the ground in the theatre.

In the end. Mullen and Gates admitted that the decision was the President’s and the President’s alone. That should make it very difficult for Obama to pass the buck on this one. Still, you know he’ll try.

Eternal rest grant unto them o Lord, and let the perpetual light shine on them. May their souls and those of all the faithful departed, through Your mercy, rest in peace.