sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, October 13, 2016

International Update


While the news only contains salacious (and generally false) information about this or that to discredit Trump, there is a lot going on that the mainstream media ignores. Hopefully this update brings you up to speed in part.

Yemen

On 9 and on 12 October, anti-ship missiles were fired at the USS Mason from a shore site in Iranian/Houthi-controlled territory. The US destroyer was located just north of the Bab el Mandeb, cruising a sea lane used in international commerce. In both attacks, the missiles failed to reach the US ship.

Following two missile attacks against the USS Mason, a guided missile destroyer (DDG-87), the USS Nitze (DDG-94) fired a salvo of cruise missiles against three coastal radar sites operated by the Houthis.

Iranian-backed Houthis denied that they were responsible for the attacks.

There is a lot of potential for intrigue in these attacks.  US backing of the Saudis in the Yemen civil war provides a strong incentive for the Houthis to want to damage a US naval ship or another US asset, but not at the risk of direct US military involvement. 

The Saudis have a strong interest in distracting the international community from the Saudi air attack against a funeral that killed 155 people in Sana’a. The Saudis also have a strong interest in contriving a reason for direct US military involvement to end the military stalemate in Yemen.

The US cruise missile attack is agnostic about who fired the missiles, but definitive about the destruction of the radar sites that tracked the US destroyer.

Russian Military Expansion

The Russian media company, RBK, reported on 10 October that the Russian defense ministry is considering the possibility of returning to “military bases” in Cuba and Vietnam, according to Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov.
In response to a question about returning to Vietnam and Cuba, Pankov said, "We are working on this. We see this problem." Subsequently Russian presidential press spokesman Dmitriy Peskov acknowledged the possibility of returning to the bases. 
Pankov told the Russian parliament on 7 October, “we are dealing with the issue of the two bases.” Russian media reported no other details. 
Peskov said, "You can see that the last two years have made appreciable adjustments to international affairs in general and to the international security posture. All countries, therefore, naturally, in accordance with their national interests, are assessing these changes and adopting certain measures in the channel which they deem necessary." 
In 2013 Russia and Vietnam signed an agreement on building a joint base for servicing submarines in Cam Ran. A year later, they agreed to simplified procedures for allowing Russian warships to have access. Russian Il-78 aircraft, supporting Tu-95MS bombers with mid-air refueling, have been serviced at the base since 2014.

Neither Pankov nor Peskov made statements that provide much additional insight into Russian intentions about foreign bases, but they feed the speculation. Russia’s announcements that its facilities in Syria will be converted into permanent bases apparently also are fueling speculation about the other bases. However, some Russian speakers may be dropping suggestions about potential or hypothetical base arrangements just to needle the US and NATO

The return of the Russian military to Cuba and Vietnam would be a logical continuation of Russia's foreign policy and another step on the path of confrontation with the United States and NATO.

President Putin envisions a resurgent Russia as the future great power rival to the US, but Putin’s Russia is not following the Soviet model. Putin’s plan seems closer to how the US has operated in the post-War era. 

The discussion of bases indicates that Putin is considering a world-wide military presence that the Soviets never had. He just needs a navy and a healthier economy to make it feasible. Nevertheless, he is determined and, with limited resources, has made a start in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Reliable information from sources that I have personally indicates that Russia is expanding its oil exports at the same time that OPEC/Saudis are curtailing oil production to raise prices worldwide. The Russians need hard currency to rebuild and to expand and oil is their vehicle to do that.



21 comments:

  1. Seems to me that high global oil production will keep oil prices low, low enough that Russian aggression can't be funded to the point it was when oil was $100+ per barrel.

    As Sarah Palin would say, drill baby drill. Keep Putin poor.

    Then again, I am long on oil stocks purchased at around $50/barrel, so I am personally torn on the issue. Additionally, I like $2.00/gallon gas, but don't like Russian expansion.

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    1. The Russians believe - and current actions show that they may be right - that the Saudis are working to get the price of oil up. They understand that by high production that they'll get a lower price but they don't care. With the Russians, it's all about respect, and they want it back, even if it means risking conflict. That's what Putin brings to the table.

      I don't think that spending national treasure on sword instead of plowshares is necessarily good for Russia, but with US influence in the Baltic States and the former Warsaw Pact nations growing, their natural xenophobia is fueled. What I suggest is that the cause and effect is to be expected given Russian history.

      From another perspective, America is creating an arms race of sort with the Russians to keep them weaker because they are focusing on weapons rather than building up the place. However I don't know that we have the capacity to do that in a long-game because of the vast expense of entitlements.

      We'll all watch it play out.

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    2. Yeah, entitlements are on the rise here in Illinois, the place that can least afford them. The senate race between Mark Kirk (R-kinda) and commie Democrat Tammy Duckworth (D-in every way) has Tammy running on the promise of free community college.

      She says that closing tax loopholes for rich guys will pay for it. I was never great at math, but even I know that kind of calculus just doesn't add up. But my fellow dolts here in the Land of Lincoln think it sounds just peachy.

      Another RINO bites the dust, and the seat taken by a commie.

      Yes, we will see it all play out.

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    3. That's not playing out all across the country. In California the legislature is all commie as are all branches of government. And they are spending and taxing and for some reason, the progs enjoy being taxed at obscene amounts.

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  2. War drums are certainly beating. Surely Hillary wouldn't be marching to the beat of her Saudi donors? Sorry, staunch US allies.

    But hey, why not go to war against Russia on behalf of our friends, Al Qaeda? The stomach churns.

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    1. The Russians might behave differently if the US had not left a sucking vacuum in place when GW Bush stepped down. There are things we have in common with them that Trump talked about. If everyone is honest, we can get much farther than we can going the way that Obama has and Clinton surely will.

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    2. The stomach churns.
      The veil grows thin.
      The horde advances.
      A narrative burns.
      The vacuum sucks,
      while Vlad is amused.
      The Limey's in H-Town.
      Bill, women, abused.
      The noose only tightens.
      The plot, it grows thick.
      Yemenis still wonder,
      how Barack screwed them so badly,
      with such a small dick.
      Kings and pawns,
      And dybbuks and fools,
      all end up drinking,
      bitter Styx Valley wine.
      Four horsemen are warmed up,
      and the fifth is in line.
      Where else can one go?
      This ain't news off the wire.
      The Mirage tells the story,
      That the Witch is a liar.

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    3. This sucks as verse, I know. (I'm an engineer, dammit, Jim. Not a poet!)
      But I'm so impressed by the wit and wisdom and cool stories and perspectives we see in this little corner of the interwebs, it just came out this way. It's a form of Tourettes, I know. I'm getting help...

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    4. You did well, expounding poetically, my friend!

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    5. Thank you! I used a very difficult and rare poetic device called Meandering Meter and Occasional Rhyme Device Or Random (MMORDOR).

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    6. You don't need the extra M - Mordor works...

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  3. Wonder if any of these "peace" loving (P)regressives ever look at maps? If they understand how much of the USA economy depends on the Gulf ports and the Mississippi River? How Cuba sits across the sea lanes to the Atlantic? Yes, I'm asking stupid questions.

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    1. They likely don't care. There are very few progs who view things geopolitically in all their complexity -- but there are some who do, that they are hard at work gaming the system to fill their pockets.

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  4. MASON did fire two SM-2s and one ESSM when they were fired on. And yep, CW ver. 2.0 is getting warmed up...

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    1. We need to teach lessons where we are able without spending years and billions doing it.

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    2. In response to an e-mail (and for the benefit of all) the ESSM that Old NFO refers to is a point defense missile carried in (a quad pack) in a vertical launch cell on the deck of a destroyer. "Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile" = ESSM.

      The original Sea Sparrow Missiles (referred to as "sea chickens") were not trusted by sailors, but the ESSM is a good system for use against maneuvering, sea skimming, anti-ship missiles. The fact that an ESSM was fired indicates that the enemy missiles were closing on the ship. They are not a long range missile.

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    3. So, the report that none of the Iranian/Houthi missiles reached the vicinity of the Mason was probably fudged to downplay the risk to the Mason. The risk must have been real if they threw away an ESSM.

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    4. I suspect that the Standard Missiles (SM2) were fired at the missile inbound at the Mason (I'm guessing a SS (N) 2 B or C) which carries a VERY large warhead - then the ESSM was insurance.

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    5. You are correct, based on the info I've gotten.

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  5. As Obama and Soros rub there hands together for reducing our military to scary low levels, the Russians except their invitation.

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