Since I research and write on what I have begun to think of as  “Deep History”, I normally don’t get involved with the temptation of predicting the future.  However Creating Chaos (now available for preorder on both Amazon and at OR Books) led me much further into contemporary events and those events are playing out in such an obvious fashion that I can no longer help myself.

There is going to be a Trump/Putin Summit meeting in the near future, Putin has already proposed it and Trump will follow up on it before the upcoming American elections. The primary discussion at the meeting will be moves to address the dramatic “rebuild” of the Russian and American nuclear arsenals, not just in regard to megaton class weapons systems but the rebirth of the type of tactical nuclear weapons which had essentially been taken off the table during the first Bush presidency and seemed about to totally be eliminated under Obama.

If you have been following my blog posts you know that during the last three to four years, Putin has returned tactical nukes to the forefront of Russian weapons development (announcing hyper-sonic delivery systems and most recently displaying an aircraft carried, long range atomic cruise missile).  Russian Federation military doctrines have also begun to publicly tout the use of tactical nukes in a number of scenarios.

While most of Putin’s military announcements have been in regard to weapons of mass destruction – new ground and mobile ICBMS, new Russian ballistic missile subs and ICBM’s, an atomic powered global cruise missile and even “continent” killer fusion torpedoes – his touting of the unique unstoppable, inter-continental cruise missiles is something else entirely, suggesting Russia can remotely intervene anywhere on the globe it chooses. It is actually quite reminiscent of Nikita Khrushchev’s initial announcement of Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

All this nuclear sword waving is rather different than the current Chinese military initiatives which are very much focused on the China Sea resources and its land route into Africa.  China clearly has strategic resource control as its primary strategy, and its growing military presence in Africa reflects that.

Putin’s tactical goals are something else entirely. Given that Russia’s financial resources are actually far more limited than China’s, his tactical moves and successes suggest that he is actually both highly focused and amazingly skilled (or lucky, either counts).  There is simply no way that Russia’s economy will support the large scale deployment of the advanced weapons he is developing and touting – even given his immense success in working with OPEC in raising the price of oil over the last few months, oil prices being his greatest political exposure.

However in working with OPEC and by making what was actually a very modest investment in aircraft and manpower in Syria, he reinserted Russia’s role in the Middle East with minimal expense (although the cost in Russian military contract employees was considerable, such shadow warfare is generally a low risk political gambit and the Russians have always been better at it than the U.S.).  The following story gives a bit more detail on what Russia can and cannot afford in the terms of real world military force projection:

So…Putin has proposed a nuclear summit to Trump and I predict it will happen. And as with Putin’s proposal some months ago that the best way to engage with North Korea would be to suspend U.S. / South Korean military exercises, I suspect Putin is already floating some very attractive “deals”.  Deals which will in truth give up nothing (since Russia can’t afford to build all the highly advanced weapons Putin has been showcasing) but will give Putin more of what he truly wants.  Which will be the subject of Part 2 of this series of posts.


2 responses »

  1. Anthony M says:

    It’s quite interesting watching what seems to be a recent increase in news articles about Chinese and Russian high tech military developments. It reminds me a bit of the ‘missile gap’ worries in Cold War v1.0, although it would be wrong to be complacent I can’t help but feel that the reality of national wealth and the dynamism of the US technology sector. compared to the economic realities for Russia and to some extent China and the historical tendency for more totalitarian regimes to stifle innovation, are perhaps not fully factored into these discussions. China might prove to be an exception to this if it can keep going on its recent trajectory, of course.

    In terms of Russia, back in 2016 there were a lot of noises from Trump about a broad alliance with Russia (in public at least blocked by the ongoing election interference investigations). He did however very decisively double down on the US alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Both those countries have been developing their links with Russia. Within this group you have the top three oil producers in the world (US, Russia and Saudi Arabia) and a US administration claiming it wants to achieve energy dominance.
    I always thought Peter Dale Scott’s arguments around the centrality of oil to US policy were a useful insight although there is always a lot more going on at any one time. Perhaps I am just a old cynic and overinterpreting some of this (Saudi could well be looking to diversify it’s options and put pressure on the US, for example) but (particularly as someone living in Europe) I can’t help being somewhat sceptical about what might lie behind any such summit.

    Hope I’m reading too much into it and there isn’t such a Machiavellian plan behind the chaos.

    • larryjoe2 says:

      Well there is definitely something Machiavellian going on – I reference his concepts and doctrines a good bit in my hopefully imminent new book – but in regard to contemporary events oil is primarily of interest only in the strictest sense of funding the Russian and Saudi economies. The real driving factor is the desire and need for a much broader Russian and Saudi economic hegemony.

      The leaders of both nations have consolidated their power, Putin over the last four years and inside Saudi only within the last year or two. Both leaderships face internally challenged economies driven largely by oil and gas exports. And both now face the US. as an oil exporter and potentially a major gas competitor in sales to Europe with liquefied natural gas.

      Any move to raise the price of oil is critical to both Russia and Saudi economies and military spending, and at least something of a delaying tactic against the feared impact of American oil shale production.

      But in therms of overall goals and President Putin, there are more fundamental issues in play and I will try to briefly address them in my next couple of posts. Its a deep story so I can only sketch the surface here, I’m impatiently awaiting the publication of Creating Chaos because it provides the details and history for a meaningful discussion…did I say “impatient”, that would be an understatement.

      Specifically, in regard to President Putin’s priorities – and his seemingly inexplicable obsession with developing and touting Russian nuclear weapons – matters have much more to do with what he perceives as an existential threat to Russian sovereignty. A threat which can only be resolved by forcing both Western Europe and America to concentrate on themselves and their own problems rather than democracy initiatives and regime change. Its very important that America worry about itself first and that “color revolutions” need to be occurring only in the west.

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