## Friday, March 14, 2014

### Russia will nuke U.S. if tensions run too high

I have been amazed by the degree of anti-Russian warmongering by the U.S. and other Western politicians who are willing to ignite an economic conflict because of events in Little Russia, a territory that they don't understand at all.

Despite the devastating global economic consequences, we cannot really exclude that a trade war against Russia will occur. But things are worse. War games are taking place near the NATO-Russia borders, Ukraine is asking for U.S. weapons, and the U.S. tends to suggest that they will help the "people of Ukraine" (a category that clearly explicitly removes the citizens who find the influence of Russia beneficial).

There's no major shooting or bombing yet but things are getting quickly ugly at the diplomatic level. The U.S. and some allies hypocritically declared themselves the "teachers" who have the credentials to "punish" a naughty schoolboy, Russia, for his bad behavior.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do think that Russia still has some things to learn from the West although this set is far more limited than the PC folks and Russophobes in the West like to imagine. But whether a Czech blogger – or a U.S. politician – thinks that Russia could sometimes learn something is not important for the events in the near future.

What is much more important is whether Russia will voluntarily adopt the role of a submissive schoolboy who shall be spanked because he didn't like when the Western interests were encouraging anti-Russian sentiments and anti-Russian political developments (and a violent coup) in the cradle of the Russian civilization which is still Russia's strategic march or borderland, or at least this is unquestionably how a majority of the Russian nation understands the territory.

And will Russia voluntarily accept this role? Be sure that it won't. Sometimes in the 1990s, a defeated Russia could but now it will not. It won't really give up an inch. It seems to me that those Western politicians who are escalating the threats every day don't seem to understand this elementary point. Russia is by far economically weaker than the Western countries but it is a military superpower, one that actually wouldn't lose the arm races today. The resources that may be (and are) directed to defense (and offense) are much greater than they were in the Soviet times. And the percentage of the GDP that may be sent to the military is arguably higher than what is politically acceptable in the U.S. – although both figures stand at 4.5 percent right now.

Equally importantly, the West is richer so it has much more to lose. This is an elementary rule that many folks, including top politicians in the West, all these Kerries and Obamas, don't seem to grasp, either. A poorer side of a conflict is naturally much more willing to accept the city-for-city reciprocal game of destruction because it destroys much more (on a wealth-based basis) than what is destroyed to it. The price of a human life in a richer country is higher, too.

Russia's territory is larger which is also an advantage. It is harder to bomb the whole country.

Three most important men in the world. ;-) A nuclear war seemed much further just 4 years ago when Medvedev and Obama would be signing a nuclear reduction treaty in Prague.

OK. Will Russia use nukes in the case of a strike? The answer is certainly Yes. This is not a "speculative accusation" directed against Russia. It is an official, publicly available and proudly proclaimed doctrine of the Russian military. In the case of a strike, Russia will use nukes.

Now, words and actions may differ and much of the life in the West is based on the people who "talk the talk but won't walk the walk". But if there is such a discrepancy in Russia, it goes in the opposite direction. Russia may be expected to use harsher tools that it a priori admits.

Some politicians in the West seem to assume that Russia wouldn't use the nukes – partly because they wouldn't. But they seem to forget that they are just liberal sissies (and John McCain is a liberal warmonger who won't hesitate to sacrifice his life and the life of millions of other Americans for a silly reason) while Putin is definitely not a liberal sissy. In 2013, both Russia and China publicly revealed their preparations for a global war and the will to defend its interests even if it meant the Third World War.

When I was a kid, I was officially educated to be hugely scared of a potential nuclear conflict. Sometimes the "evil imperialists" would be preemptively blamed as the culprits; sometimes the fearmongering was unusually "neutral". Most of this anti-war rhetoric was overblown, and the claims that the "nuclear weapons we have would divide the Earth into two" was just the tip of the iceberg. But I am still sort of afraid of a global nuclear conflict and I am bothered by the observation that various Obamas and Kerries are apparently not.

Theirs is a strategy that can only lead to two outcomes: a major global conflict against Russia that they are unlikely benefit from; or their "blinking" and surrendering which will, in combination with their current daily threats, make their political incompetence self-evident to most of the electorate, too. There is no conceivable positive outcome that may arise out of these threats. The West-supported coup that has threatened the status of Ukraine as Russia's buffer zone has undoubtedly crossed a Russian red line and even without yellow hammers and sickles, red lines are treated rather seriously in Russia, much more seriously than the declared "red lines" that Obama presented to Iran.

Obama's and Soros' (et al.) strategy could have worked if it were directed against some cowardly and spineless folks in the U.S., or the truly harassed, "politically incorrect", groups in the West, but it just didn't work and couldn't work when applied against Putin.

Russian politicians and Russian citizens don't think that the West has a defensible case here. They won't blink. They have prepared retaliatory actions for various scenarios of "sanctions". Those will hurt us, the innocent people in the West (and in Russia, too). After all, the original sanctions by the West will hurt us, too.

I just don't like these scenarios. I don't think that assorted Obamas and Kerries have the moral right to threaten our – and my – economic and security interests. I am not happy that they are threatening the fate and existence of Boston, the New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, and so on. I've been to all these cities, created some emotional bonds (especially) to some of these cities and people in them, and I just don't want them to resemble the picture at the top.

There are millions of innocent civilians in the U.S. cities – and similarly in Russian, European, and other cities – who don't want to be sacrificed in this way. It seems clear to me that the only path that will more or less guarantee that we will avoid the scary scenario is that Obamas and Kerries realize and admit that they were just wrong to support geopolitically relevant anti-Russian movements without any considerations of the Russian red lines that could have been crossed and without any genuine plans how to solve the messy situation if they wake up and irritate the sleeping Russian bear (which they already have). They didn't understand that this pro-Maidan provocation was the kind of a gift that Russia was waiting for – it became an excuse to reorganize Ukraine in a way that suits Russia's interests better, that is safer, more controllable, and more sustainable from a Russian perspective. Such a reorganization isn't something that directly helps the U.S. or other countries' interests but it isn't "clearly" going against these interests, either. I am not endorsing the "waiting for excuses", if this is what Russia was doing; I am just saying that it is immensely important to understand that such things are going on if they are going on.

During the Cold War, we would think that the "mutually assured destruction" (MAD) would be the argument that protects everyone from a global nuclear war. Was it real? It has worked throughout the Cold War. Or something else did, with the same outcome. Since the fall of communism, we wouldn't think about nuclear wars much. The world looked relatively friendly, peaceful, and compatible with itself.

Now the tensions are running high again. Can we rely on MAD? Is it as symmetric as its basic ideology suggests? I doubt it.

Russia's official doctrine is to use nukes in the case of a strike. Given the controversial situation in Ukraine, the precise meaning of a "strike" is unknown and even if it were known, it would be fuzzy, flexible, and adjustable. It may very well mean an attack of U.S.-supported Ukrainian troops against some interests in Russia's Crimea that will be considered a justification of a warning, e.g. nuclear detonation of San Francisco (so that Russia earns some hardcore G.O.P. allies in the U.S. – sorry for this black humor, yes, it is beyond the pale).

Just imagine that. San Francisco is gone because of some stupid provocation. Note that a San Francisco erased from the map is megasad but it is far from being the end of the world. What will be the next step? Were the people in the West courageous enough to think about these questions at all? I am pretty sure that both Russian and Chinese strategists have been thinking many moves beyond such a step.

Will the U.S. bomb St Petersburg in retaliation? I have doubts about it because the U.S. decisionmakers would be able to figure out that Atlanta would go on the following day – because unlike their threats, the Russian threats actually mean something. They would come back to their senses. Maybe, their thinking would be slower. So St Petersburg and Atlanta would be sacrificed, too, but then the U.S. decisionmakers would finally blink while the Russian government convinces everyone that the sacrifice of St Petersburg was important and Yekaterinburg should get ready, too. The opposition to the war would be efficiently moderated in Russia. Millions of people in the U.S. would rally to convince the U.S. government to stop the war and surrender.

At the end, the expectation value of the number of destroyed U.S. cities is greater than the expectation value of the number of destroyed Russian cities exactly because of the more relaxed political atmosphere in the U.S. Everyone who has played Sid Meier's "Civilization" PC game and was annoyed by the Senate while switching to "democracy" knows what I am talking about. The U.S. will also lose if the fight reduces to the question who has more warheads. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that Russia has 4,650 active nuclear warheads; the U.S. only possess 2,468. Russia wins. It is extremely dangerous for America to think in terms of their (superficially visible) economic and technological superiority while the "criteria of the contest" are changing to something else where Russia is relatively stronger.

(Ukrainian post-coup politicians' comments about their "need to go nuclear" are particularly amusing. These bold proclamations seem to be derived in the vacuum – they seem to assume that Russia will be OK with anything and won't react. I think that it is less likely that Ukraine will be allowed to reacquire nuclear weapons and direct them against Russia than that the whole Ukrainian territory will be nuclear carpet bombed.)

Now, Crimea and a big part of the Eastern Ukraine is de facto a Russia-style territory regardless of the passports that the citizens over there possess. Even a full-fledged annexation of a bulk (or whole) Ukraine by Russia wouldn't change their lives too much – and the rare changes would be comparably likely to be positive or negative. Are the Ukrainian passports of these relatively poor people whom the U.S. folks don't really understand so important that they would really like to sacrifice San Francisco and its inhabitants in order to restore the Ukrainian passports even in Crimea where virtually no one wants them? If I tell you that the sacrifice of San Francisco wouldn't really achieve the stated goal, anyway? Are you serious? Where is so much irrational fanaticism coming from? Incidentally, San Francisco's GDP is approximately equal to that of Ukraine.

The West should get rid of the hypocritical talk that "the West is a just teacher who may spank the naughty schoolboy Russia" because 1) Russia just won't accept that this is a legitimate attribution of roles to the nations, 2) Russia will be willing and able to present harsh retaliatory steps in any scenario, 3) the Western politicians are really just talking the talk, not walking the walk, and they will stop spanking the Russian schoolboy once the boy uses its electrically powered whip against the arrogant teacher. (And I haven't even mentioned that the schoolkid is 1,000 years old while the teacher is just 250.)

"Yats", the post-coup prime minister of Ukraine, shouldn't be openly supported by the U.S. because some American laws say that the U.S. politicians aren't allowed to back foreign leaders who gained power after violent coups. But OK, laws are only respected if someone likes them. So "Yats" was treated as a friend in the U.S. During the Obama-Yats press conference, some journalists were banned because they were Russian.

I view this as a striking example of a real discrimination based on nationality (if journalists are Russian, it doesn't even imply that they agree with the attitude of the Russian government, and some fraction surely doesn't) in a country that would almost like to prevent you from calling black people black because it is "discriminatory". I am not directly involved in this stuff because I am not Russian and I think that my nation is "elsewhere", ahead of Russia, if I say it openly, but I surely could understand the anger of a Russian person who finds this discrimination of the Russian journalists offensive.

There are other things that the U.S. government is deliberately doing to harm Russia and these things are just not viewed as a legitimate punishment by a bulk of the Russian nation. Do they understand this "detail"? So every act like that is a justification for a retaliation that, as we were told, doesn't necessarily have to be symmetric.

I am amazed and scared of the escalating attempts to harm Russia because of its so far moderating activities in the post-Soviet space – if I avoid the term "Greater Russia". They just can't lead to anything good – except for a temporary masturbation of the egos of liberal sissies among Western politicians who will finally blink and lose, anyway. Sadly, we will lose a big deal with them, too.

1. I can only marvel at the apparent lack of thought that is apparent in the so-called foreign policy of the Obama Administration. To say it is divorced from reality is not an exaggeration.

2. Don't poke the Bear!

3. Lubos,

Well, your analysis in this post is certainly something you don’t see in the US, but I think you make very strong points. Your characterization of the West’s political leaders via "the West is a just teacher who may spank the naughty schoolboy Russia” is absolutely perfect, especially apt for the demeanor of Obama. Such attitudes must surely infuriate the Russians, and surely illuminate the weakness of Western diplomatic thought.

One question I have on the nuclear scenario is whether the US military leaders would continue to back Obama in the event of a strike. I think the US military leaders a few decades back would instantly have dismissed such a nugatory leader in a nuclear war and shown a doughtiness giving pause to the Russians. Today, I suspect the PC rot has left a military leadership in the US that Russian generals probably scoff at (recall that US general babbling on about “diversity” after that Muslim terrorist killed a dozen or so of his soldiers).

4. One of my favourite radio journalist (a liberal) said the following thing this morning: he thinks that the US are stronger to fight on an economically plan against Russia thanks to their shale gas. He says that the US might start exporting their shale gas to the EU in order to bother Putin. So the US are doing an economic war and Putin a military war.
One thing we mustn't forget is that the budget assigned by Russia (and China) for their military force is going up big time (they want to modernize their army) whereas for the US it is going down... by a lot (same for France).
I guess both Russia and the US are now playing on this antagonist view of the new world we are in. One is the military deterrent, the other is the economic war.

5. Though it must be said that the U.S. military budget is literally an order of magnitude larger than Russia's. I cannot see Russia overcoming U.S.A.'s logistical capabilities.

6. Thanks, Tom. And right: the "stringent teacher role of the U.S." is something I couldn't overlook. In the case of Russia, it looked weird to me not because it has to be believed that Russia is on the wrong side of everything - I understand that many people were led to believe in this black-and-white picture of the reality that still persists (and that has some points) - but because this thesis must also assume that Russia is as easy a target to be beaten as e.g. Saddam.

But Russia's military power is stronger than Iraq's.

Iran is approximately the "marginal case" for which the U.S. has a sufficient power to credibly behave as a "teacher" because a victorious war against Iran could still be a relative non-event for the U.S. But I just studied some proclamations of China that they could defend Iran in the case of an attack. I have trouble to believe that - and to believe that Iran is such a close friend of China LOL - but if it were the case, of course that a strike on Iran would have to be eliminated fron the strategies, too. At any rate, Russia is behind the threshold and whether one feels to be just or not, a rational politician's planning simply has to take this fact into account because it might determine the outcomes.

Generally, I think that any danger for a nation unifies everyone who is at least partly a patriot, and it's true in every country. So generals would probably back Obama even more than today, and so would the GOP base etc. On the other hand, there is a powerful "peace movement" that isn't really patriotic in the conventional sense, and it could undermine Obama in such a case. Just a guess.

7. Good point, Shannon. Our Visegrad group (Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary) has officially "ordered" some shale gas from the U.S. Looking forward to see it LOL.

Europe is already importing (mega)tons of U.S. coal which is unused because the U.S. starts to use lots of shale oil recently. There could be an excess of fossil fuels in general (but there will still be an excess of Alexander Ac's blog posts about peak oil - the last one is about that bullshit, too LOL, see ac.blog.sme.sk).

8. McCain is having flashbacks again to those good old days when he spent time in the Hanoi Hilton after bravely ditching his jet and parachuting rather than shooting it out with the Vietcong.

John, go strap on your flight suit and prepare for some real action and drop yourself head first into the Black Sea, why don't ya? Chickenhawks never die, they just serve in the Senate for way too long.

9. The defenders of President Obama are blind as bats because he has committed a huge political blunder by treating Russia like Libya and Putin like Gaddafi. Well, Russia is not Libya and Putin is not Gaddafi. Who in the White House has the guts to tell Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry these facts?

10. LOL, he is a brave guy but sometimes in politics it is not enough.

A land-based war in/near Ukraine would probably be hopeless for the U.S.

11. In the bygone days when national leaders viewed Power without illusion your comment “So even if Russia were wrong, its strength just shouldn't be overlooked while making threats.” no doubt was always in the forefront of their minds. Today’s trend of disregard of reality, even at the level of national leaders, makes me wonder if Obama even considers such points.

My point on Obama if San Francisco was nuked assumed he would respond with calls for some kind of conference. US generals of old wouldn’t have accepted that, today’s probably would. Otherwise, yes, patriots always rally behind leaders, whatever their caliber.

12. I was looking forward to Yatsenyuk fielding some tough questions here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, the city on the hill, the beacon of democracy, etc. but apparently he cancelled his appearance this evening at the National Press Club. There is a talk (see link below) he gave at the Atlantic Council this afternoon. He did take questions. I haven't had a chance to watch to see if there were any hostile ones. But I doubt it. The Atlantic Council is 100% pro-putsch.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?318265-1/ukrainian-pm-russian-intervention

13. John McCain is a laughable POS with a life built on cowardly lies. He is a disgrace to the uniform he wore, and to the country he claims to serve. He is living proof that the more gas in a turd, the higher it floats.

14. Maybe, maybe not. I don't think that every spent billion is an efficiently spent billion and that this numerical advantage automatically translates to a physical one.

Many people in the U.S. are just 10-fold overpaid so the difference is immaterial for them. And even in places where it matters, the extra spending goes to some sort of "luxury" in the war that isn't necessarily relevant in a particular conflict.

Often it works, sometimes it doesn't. FC Olympique Lyon is much richer than Viktoria Pilsen and it won 4-to-1 last night. But Shakhtar Donetsk was also richer than Pilsen by an order of magnitude and we eliminated it. ;-)

It's an interesting question - not a fact - which sorts of activities really become superior under the higher budgets. It's clearly not about the total number of nuclear warheads - Russia leads almost 2-to-1. It could be in the reduced probability of failure of some aircraft etc. During the war with the Nazis, the Russian airplanes were like wooden ones.

But these days, the probability of failure could be low enough for the Russian products. For the American ones, it could be even much lower, but this extra improvement won't make any real difference in a conflict even though it is very expensive.

You say that the main advantage is in logistics. Maybe. Interesting. Why do you think so? The U.S. could have a cool logistical technology but it may fail due to some misunderstandings of geography and other factors. Moreover, if you imagine the Ukrainian army in the hypothetical war, it's a joke because the army would surely be heavily fragmented, with significant probabilities of defection of whole units to Russia, and so on.

15. When historians study this crisis 50 years from now, 95% of the blame for it will be placed on the US and its cronies in the "international community." Everything we've done, including the sanctions, has been based on miscalculation, provocation and escalation. I also imagine that historians will credit Russia’s incursion into Crimea as possibly having saved lives. The US is completely in the wrong here.

16. It is nice to feel that both Russia and the US will compete to serve the EU in gas. Thanks mates! ;-)

17. Mark Bingham died on September 11, 2001 trying to save UA Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, PA. Bingham and three other passengers did keep it from its target, which likely was the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. at a time when the Senate was in session.

Six days later there was a memorial service for Bingham in Wheeler Auditorium, UC Berkeley’s largest auditorium. Bingham was a remarkable man and a grad student at Berkeley.

John McCain flew out to California to honor the man who may have saved his life. So did Barbara Boxer, our most liberal of Senators. This was not reported in the national press; it was not a political stunt.

I suggest that you be a bit kinder in your assessment of those with whom you disagree. McCain is wrong here but he his an honorable man.

18. You are welcome, Shannon.

19. US thermonuclear armageddon is a viable alternative to Obamacare, $50/hr minimum wage, and employers paying treble overtime if anybody works during lunch. Add the Vatican, Mecca, and Jerusalem to the target list (ground pounders!) to win my vote. 20. Lubos: "equally importantly, the West is richer so it has much more to lose. This is an elementary rule that many folks, including top politicians in the West, all these Kerries and Obamas, don't seem to grasp, either." Completely wrong: the trade with Russia for the EU and the US amounts to about 1% of their GDP whereas Russia's trade with the EU is closer to 15%. So any economic sanctions or disruptions int he West-Russia economic relations will hurt Russia immensely more than the West. Tageted economic sancions agaisnt Putin and his cronies and oligraches could be extremely effective because those oligarchs keep their insane wealth int the West and any talk of economci sanctions makes them extremely nervous. They would dump Putin like a garbage the moment they realize that their yachts, financial assets and investments on the West, as well travel abroad could be jeopardized. 21. ..and it already began even before any sanctions are formally authorized, only because of the mess Putin is creating in Ukraine : Goldman Sachs revised its prediction for Russian economic growth this year down to 1 percent from 3 percent, blaming the tension over Ukraine for capital flight that would cripple investment. It said$45 billion had already left Russia this year,

The Russian stock market hit a four-and-a-half-year low on Thursday and is down 20 percent since mid-February. The cost of insuring Moscow's debt against default rose to its highest level in nearly two years.

The crisis has already forced several Russian firms to put plans on hold for public offerings to raise cash abroad.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/03/13/uk-ukraine-idUKBREA1H0EM20140313

22. Dear Ivan, Putin was demonstrably detached from any events in Crimea up to very recently, so it is impossible that "Putin's actions in Ukraine" would be causing something *before* the anti-Russian talk etc. that came almost immediately once Russia became a player in this story.

The Russian stocks etc. are losing because the attacks are focused on a single country, Russia, but the trade always has two sides and both sides of a canceled transaction suffer about the same. So the aggregate amount of losses outside Russia pretty much matches the losses in Russia.

Moreover, Russia may rightfully view this assault against its economic interests to be a deliberate attack that may be responded by another attack, possibly a military one.

23. US/EU impose economic sanctions on Russia.

Russia cuts off gas and oil deliveries to Europe causing European recession.

Turkey/NATO close Bosporus to Russian shipping.

Russia mines Bosporus closing it to all shipping.

US/EU invite Ukraine to join EU and NATO, and Ukraine accepts.

Russia invades Ukraine and drives all the way to the Polish border.

NATO masses troops in Poland and Baltic states.

Russia begins submarine warfare against oil tankers sailing from Persian Gulf to English Channel

NATO launches air strikes against both Russia and Belarus.

Russia nukes Berlin.

etc.

24. Unfortunately, it sounds plausible to me. All the responses might be "remotely adequate" according to the side that responds.

The main escalation in your story arguably occurred when NATO entered it. NATO should be a defense organization - guarateeing mutual defense of its members. Even if Ukraine were directly attacked in Russia, it would still be true that no NATO member has been threatened, so the NATO - a treaty - shouldn't imply any participation of all NATO members in any operations. It's just not a part of the damn treaty.

Some people might think that Ukraine is "effectively" a NATO member but it's just damn important that de iure, it's not, and Russia would probably never allow Ukraine to join NATO. So a conflict that would result from this divergent understanding of the relationship between Ukraine and NATO would be the fault of those who live in a virtual reality.

25. We'll take the best price! ;-)

Hmm, the figures I found say the U.S. is leading.

http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/nukestatus.html

And it is true that much of U.S. military spending does not contribute to a superior military (a lot of it is a glorified jobs scheme), but much of the funding is on genuine capabilities to project power. Russia's limited nuclear strike policy was largely a reaction to seeing conventional NATO capabilities in Yugoslavia. In this context, it is safe to say the U.S. has the infrastructure to support significant second-strike capabilities. A decapitating strike would be impossible for Russia to carry out, and a decapitating strike is Russia's only means of avoiding M.A.D..

I would find it hard to imagine, given the psychological impact of nuclear weaponry, the U.S. tolerating a nuclear war of attrition, especially if such a war was sparked over U.S. interference in Crimea. Much of the complacency from the U.S. is due to the fact that the conflict is far away. If it is brought to their door in the form of the destruction of San Francisco or Atlanta, a historical event that would easily eclipse Pearl Harbour, then I would not underestimate their tenacity.

27. Dear Lubos,

Agree it's hard to believe NATO would get involved unless there was a direct military threat to a member state. Many frightening gaming scenarios can be imagined, but it is really the unpredictable provocations on the ground that determine events. Crimea is already gone to Russia in one way or another. If this is all, the west will express its dissaproval by diplomatic and some mild economic measures to save face and it will all eventually calm down unless eastern Ukraine descends into chaos and Russia invades. Things would get quite interesting, but even then it is unlikely that NATO would intervene without serious provocation aginst a member state.

It seems to me that the west should condition it's support for the interim Ukrainian government on it accepting complete autonomy, if not independence, of Crimea, immediately and formally to ensure legal protections for the Russian population in Ukraine, including it's language, property and culture, and ask Russia for assistance provided it acknowledges the territorial integrity of the rest of Ukraine and its right to extend its economic and cultural relationships with Europe.

So the responisbility should be put on Ukraine to justify with its own actions the high stakes of defending any principle of territorial integrity.

Maybe this is too optimistic, but all this talk of nuclear war just ruins my day.

Do you really think I'm an obsessive propagandist?

Cheers

28. Nuclear weapons are the great equalizer. It's why we would never go to war with Russia unless it were invading a very strong ally. It's also why if Iran were to ever get a nuke, we would pretty much stay out of the Middle East. It's also why we probably knew Iraq didn't actually have readily available nukes.

29. Why have some of the more sane countries in the world not intervened with Obama and Putin (at least publicly)? What are they waiting for? Do they think nuclear war comes with a warning period? Where are the public offers of mediation?

Has anyone asked Kerry whether averting global war is more important than salvaging spiritual meaning from a little "book of words" borrowed from the united nations library?

30. The US never attacks anyone who can fight back, Lubos. The sardonic joke is that Saddam Hussein wasn't attacked because he had WMD. He was attacked because he did NOT have WMD.

The key to the situation, as far as the Americans are concerned, is the Europeans. The only reason the US can do what it does is because of its European enablers. If Germany and France (and maybe the UK) were to stop fellating the Americans, there isn't anything the US could do but whine about it.

The former Communist bloc countries are a lost cause -- except for the Czech Republic, of course. They'll never see Russia as anything other than the former Soviet Union, so they'll piss and moan and stamp their feet, but they are bit players and can mostly be ignored. But the rest of Europe needs to grow a pair and act like sovereign states with their own interests. Unfortunately, that's not likely, as Europe has adopted the American model in which they are ruled by transnational elites who mainly care about their portfolio of stocks and bonds and where they are seated at Davos.