Monday, October 22, 2018

Syria, Jamal, and nuclear test ban treaties

Lots has been happening since my last post. Russia is supposed to have deployed the S-300 in Syria on 20 October, but nothing in the news. Back in September, some Israelis wrote that Israel's US jets can easily evade and destroy the S-300 and S-400, and it's only a matter of time before all the S-300s and S-400s in Syria are destroyed by the Israeli Air Force. Those S-300s are supposed to be operational now, but no word from Russia about them, no S-300s shot at any Israeli jets, and no Israeli bombing raids on Syria in the news. Of course, the news isn't all that reliable, lots of Israeli bombing raids on Syria never made the news, because they're so common. But are Israeli bombing raids on Syria still as common as they were? No news I can find.

In Istanbul, Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Consulate. For more than 2 weeks, Saudi said he was only there for a few minutes, left, and no one knew where he was. Turkey said, officially, 'Investigation in progress. No comment.' But rumours by anonymous person or persons unknown said Turkey had tapes of Jamal's brutal murder on the orders of MbS. Jamal was sent by another prince to promote Saudi Arabia to the Western media, and he did a very good job of it, wining and dining and flattering all the top journalists so every newspaper said what a great person (and journalist) Jamal was. And all the Western media are furious that he was killed on orders of MbS.

Before, Saudi was run by a consensus of all the leaders in the Alsaud family and the senior muftis. Somehow, MbS got complete, dictatorial control of everything. He developed a dislike for Jamal and ordered his murder in such a way that he could deny it, but it would be obvious that he'd done it as a message to anyone else who was thinking of possibly saying something without MbS's permission. MbS had a man who resembled Jamal leaving the Consulate, but Turkey showed tapes of Jamal entering and said he never left (they recently showed the video of the agent leaving, looking much like Jamal). MbS didn't offer Turkey enough baksheesh, or maybe he wants to show he's strong enough the Turks can't touch him. Turkey and the Western media want the Western governments to force Saudi to get a new and improved Crown Prince and get rid of MbS, but it's not clear if Western governments agree. Trump keeps waffling, as do May, Macron, and Merkel.

In yet more news, the US has announced it's abrogating some nuclear test ban treaties since Russia was cheating (no proof Russia was cheating, all evidence classified TS/SCI/NOFORN/BBR). Theories abound: China isn't part of the treaty, so the US wants a new and improved treaty that limits the Chinese nuclear force. There's also the fact that, when Reagan started an arms race with the USSR back in the '80s, the result was bankruptcy and collapse for the USSR in '89, and Russia is much poorer and weaker than the USSR, so an arms race that forces Russia into bankruptcy and complete collapse should be easy. Or so the US seems to think.

Someone wrote that Trump should learn from Truman. Probably. In '45, Truman knew Japan was defeated and had nothing to throw at the US, so he ordered the US military to drop every nuke they had on Japan (they only had 2 in August '45). In '49, the USSR developed a nuke. In '51, MacArthur wanted to nuke China, but Truman figured the USSR was a close ally of China and would provide them with an umbrella, so he fired MacArthur (as well he should have done). Now the 'experts' are saying the lesson Trump should learn is the one from '45, not the one from '51, while Russia and China are as weak as Japan was in '45, before they get as strong as the USSR was.

Concerned Scientists say the Doomsday Clock is 2 minutes before midnight. Pollyannas, those Concerned Scientists.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Some serieous competitive marketing

Russia is a nuclear power that never wants to use MAD, so Russia backed down and said it would not challenge Turkey over Idlib. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli Air Force shot missiles at Syria from behind a Russian plane, the Syrians tried to shoot down the incoming missiles, and shot down the Russia plane. Israel was supposed to give Russia warning, but wanted to make sure the Iranians didn't have time to get out of the way of their missiles, and knew there was a good chance the Russian plane would get shot down, thereby causing the Russians to order the Syrians not to shoot at Israeli missiles. Didn't quite work.

Israel has been bombing Syria with complete impunity for many years, hundreds of bombing raids every year, and only one Israeli jet shot down (and the pilot bailed out unharmed). Syria only had Soviet air defences, by agreement between Russia and Israel. Russia thinks Israel violated the agreement, and delivered some of Russia's 2nd best SAMs. The US responded by upgrading the Israeli air force with planes that are sold to US customers as being able to evade the best Russian SAMs.

So it's competitive marketing. If Syria can shoot down the Israeli planes, Russian SAMs will sell like hotcakes, and US planes won't sell so well. If Syria cannot shoot down the Israeli planes, Russia will find it much harder to sell its SAMs, and countries will buy lots of US planes.

The Russian SAMs will be operational October 20. It's not clear how soon after that we'll see whether US or Russian weapons are better.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What's next in Syria???

Russia said they would support the Syrian Arab Army to liberate Idlib from the terrorists. However, when Turkey said the full might of the Turkish armed forces would defend the peaceful pro-democracy forces fighting the evil Syrian regime (not to mention getting rid of all the Kurds in the northern 5th or so of Syria) Russia backed down and said Idlib would return to its status as an Ottoman colony. Russia's logistics fighting Turkey are not good. Russia has two of the greatest defensive generals the world has ever seen: General January and General February, but they only defend Mother Russia, not the Russian armed forces fighting in Syria.

Then something happened. The Israeli version is that the Syrians, seeing the Israelis professionally destroying a legitimate target, fired S-200 anti-missiles in all directions. Meanwhile, the Russians had not activated their IFF device, even though they were given ample warning from Israel that a legitimate target would be destroyed. The result was that the Syrians destroyed a Russian plane, and Israel had nothing to do with it. The Russians lied that Israeli planes were shooting their missiles from behind the Russian plane, and that the S-200 had no IFF, so the Syrian attempt to shoot down the missiles destroyed the Russian plane and it was Israel's fault. Israel says all their fighters were in International airspace or flying over Israeli territory, and the Russian map showing the Israeli planes behind the Russian plane was completely fake.

Russia said it would therefore deliver some S-300 missiles sold to Syria many years ago. Israel and the US said this would be a grave violation of International Law, and if anyone--Russians or Syrians--shot down an Israeli plane, there would be severe consequences. I wasn't sure if the S-300s would actually be delivered, but the Russians showed them being unloaded in Syria. They will be operational on 20 Oct, and Russia says any Israeli plane that attempts to bomb Syria after that date will be shot down. The US says its intelligence shows no S-300s were actually delivered, but if they are, it could mean the total destruction of Russia.

And here we are.

Probably, the Russian video is not the Photoshop the US claims that it is, so one must believe that Syria will have the S-300 operational on 20 Oct, as promised. However, the Israeli Air Force is one of the most advanced in the world. Maybe they have ECM that can neutralise the S-300 just as they have neutralised the S-200. We won't know until sometime on or after 20 Oct. If Israel manages another of its bombing raids without losing a single plane, we'll know the S-300 is not as advanced as advertised. If an Israeli jet gets shot down, we'll have to see what, if anything the US does. The US cat has gobbled up mouse after mouse after mouse, but now it seems to be looking at what it thinks is just another mouse, but is actually a bear.