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Geopolitics

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Just like the Balkan Wars before World War I, there are interesting lessons to be drawn from the conflict, and as such I find it rather fascinating - if not surprising, given the quality of our chattering class - that it has receiving such scant journalistic and analytical attention. This is not just an insurgency... Read More
The centrality of "pipeline diplomacy"/"energy blackmail" to Russian FP is a common trope amongst journalists and "geopolitics analysts", alongside more recent buzzwords ("hybrid war", "Gerasimov doctrine", dezinformatsiya...). But it's always useful to pin down some hard facts/stats. (1) Share of natural gas as percentage of Russian exports: 6%. Historically hovers between 5%-10%. This isn't altogether... Read More
Stunning age differential on Russian view of events in Belarus, according to VCIOM poll. 33% of 60+ y/o's believe Lukashenko's 80% result was fully authentic, vs. just 3% of 18-24% y/o's. General background note: The past couple of years have seen an awning divide in chronological terms. While Putin was actually marginally more popular amongst... Read More
Any Russian policy towards Belarus should take into account the following considerations: Lukashenko is not an ally or a friend. This does not describe a person who has accepted $100 billion worth of Russian oil/gas subsidies over the past decade, to end up doing military exercises with the Brits while denying Russian an airbase it... Read More
Night in Novogrudok, Belarus (2017) by Pavel Gamburg. Even though we tend to take it as a given, it isn't exactly obvious why Belarus should be so much more "Russophile" than the Ukraine. The lands of White Russia were "regathered" into the Russian Empire well more than a century after Left-Bank Ukraine (the lands east... Read More
Protest meeting in Minsk on July 30. The images of massive protests coming in from Belarus on the eve of their Presidential elections on August 9, in which Alexander Lukashenko is widely expected to rubber stamp himself another term, have provoked talk of a new color revolution/Maidan. The original social contract offered by Lukashenko since... Read More
In my review of Kroeber's book on The Chinese Economy, I identified why the CPC was treating the Hong Kongers with kid gloves (relatively speaking): Now it appears that China has taken the decision to reintegrate Hong Kong ahead of schedule; in the process, it will lose its position as a privileged entrepot within the... Read More
Broke: Globalism Broke: MAGA Woke: 14 Principles of Xi Jinping Thought *** Xi Jinping has just hurt the feelings of 6 billion world citizens: China isÂ
The data points keep getting better and better. We now know that 10/11 missiles hit (up from the initial estimate of 6/11). The damage they did has also been upgraded, with a Danish soldier speaking of many helicopters destroyed (as opposed to the US claim of one damaged) and 11 US soldiers reported injured. More... Read More
The Iran War has been called off for the time being, but the threat of a renewed crisis and future escalation remain. The Iranian missile strikes on two US bases in Iraq provide updated data points on how such a clash will go. 1. The most important adjustment we need to make is that Iranian... Read More
PS. Events overtook my writing of this blog post. Looking forwards to a resolution of the Stealth Question and the Aircraft Carrier Question. How would an Iran War be fought? I already addressed this question on several occasions, most notably on The Road to World War III (see 2.c. The Persian Gulf), as well as... Read More
I am not an Iran expert, and will not pretend that I have magically become one in the past few days. Nor do I see much point in a detailed chronicle of the latest developments and Tweets - for that, there is, say, /r/SyrianCivilWar. Instead, I think it would be more productive to highlight a... Read More
The joint air patrol between Russia and China - the first of its kind - was a further major development in the strategic partnership between the two countries. These have been getting closer for years, despite Western fantasies about an eventual break. However, the most interesting thing about this is Russia's violation of Korean/Japanese airspace... Read More
There are reports just coming in that Iran has seized 1 2 3 (?!) British-linked oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. This is in response to analogous British piracy off Gibraltar a few weeks ago. Anyhow I suppose we will soon see how special the "special relationship" between the US and the UK really is.... Read More
Discuss the recent Iranian attack (or "attack") on the oil tankers, and the recent Iranian shootdown of the $200 million American drone (allegedly over international airspace - Iran denies it) here. *** I have discussed the consequences of a major US - Iran war in previous posts. I don't have much more to add at... Read More
As I have blogged before (see "2.c. The Persian Gulf" in this article), Iran's best chance to substantially shut down the Strait of Hormuz is to lay mines, then target US minesweeping vessels. They are far less well defended than its capital ships, and more fragile than the double-hulled, compartmentalized behemoths that constitute modern oil... Read More
First, you have the obvious false flag in the Gulf of Oman, which Pompeo is already blaming on Iran. Even though one of the tankers in question was Japanese, with whose PM the Iranians were meeting on that very day. Plus there is the fact that the Japanese ship - which was coming from Saudi... Read More
Back in the mid-2000s, in a conversation with a Taiwanese exchange student, the topic somehow turned to international relations (proof that I am not making this up just because it's now a hot topic). I recall asking him what he thought would happen if China was to invade. His response? He thought that a good... Read More
Prokudin-Gorsky. Malorossiya, c.1905-1915. In the 24 hours since the results of the second round of the Ukrainian Presidential elections became known, there has been a strange convergence of views on Ukraine's course under President-Elect Zelensky from opposite sides of the barricades. Many "svidomy" Ukrainians are in tears over their "hoodwinked" or "stupid" compatriots electing a... Read More
The latest polls, jointly conducted by KIIS (Ukraine) and Levada (Russia), show that the collapse in Ukrainian sentiment towards Russia may be turning a corner. Legend: Ukrainian attitudes towards Russia [blue]; Russian attitudes towards Ukraine [orange] For the first time since April 2014, more Ukrainians have a positive impressive of Russia than the converse. Attitudes... Read More
It is pretty evident that Chinese naval power is growing by leaps and bounds, with a lot of qualitative literature about it: Chinese military procurement ($70 billion) now half the rate of American ($155 billion). Adjust for purchasing power parity, and it should be virtually equal. If China is ahead deploying Railguns, electromag catapults and... Read More
I just made my debut on Strategic Culture foundation with an article on US suspension of the INF Treaty. Here is what it boils down to, IMO: However, it is with respect to the balance of power in the West Pacific that the restrictions imposed by the INF on the US – but not on... Read More
Mitleser points to an interesting take on the Huawei Kidnapping: A great explanation of the Huawei Kidnapping, written by a comrade in the Deng Gang Central discord There may be a lot more than meets the eye in Canada’s shock arrest, at US behest, of Huawei’s CFO and heir apparent Meng Wanzhou (link below). Chinese... Read More
This is the third in a series of posts about the demographics of the coming Age of Malthusian Industrialism. In the decades and centuries to come, technological progress will slow to a crawl, as dysgenic reproduction patterns deplete the world's remaining smart fractions (assuming that there are no abrupt discontinuities in humanity's capacity for collective... Read More
Caracas, Venezuela. One curious thing about Venezuela that few people seem to have remarked upon is that Chavez and Maduro are not really all that hardcore about their class war. The latter assumed the powers of Congress in 2017, but didn't send armed men to round up the querulous parliamentarians. They continued to yack and... Read More
Latest reports that Kiev is planning to impose martial law. Anyhow. Poroshenko's only real hope of getting reelected is by having a short victorious war (as I suggested back in May). Though the "victorious" part will be really hard.
Here are some basic things worth bearing in amidst the various powerful takes floating around. Campaign rhetoric is one thing - the reality of navigating international geopolitics is another. It is worth noting that while Americanophilia started off high at the start of many Brazilian right-wing administrations, it never consistently stayed high - not even... Read More
PSA from Patriarch Kirill II on the Ukrainian question in Moscow. Just your normal billboard ad. :) INSOMNIAC RESURRECTED Longtime Russia watchers may recall the Austere Insomniac blog, which used to offer excellent analysis on the Ukraine and was first to introduce the term "svidomy" into the English language. Unfortunately, it later closed down, but... Read More
The INF Treaty was signed at a time when the US and the USSR were the world's dominant military powers and nobody else even came close. Today, it is China that is undoubtedly the world's second strongest conventional military Power. And while the US still retains dominance in the South China Sea according to reputable... Read More
I have more chilli peppers than I know what to do with (about 20 kg worth of it). Any ideas? My "Stupid People" post has been phenomenally successful, generating almost 1,000 comments and more visits than other post of mine at the UR since The Road to World War III this April. It also generated... Read More
Wei Geisheing (2013). Aerial Shanghai by Crane Operator 2. Let's take the standard assumption that national power consists of three main elements: Economic, military, and cultural ("soft"). Why can we be confident that China is on its way to superpowerdom? China has already overtaken the US in terms of GDP (PPP) in the mid-2010s at... Read More
Donbass is the heart of Russia. 1921 poster. Or so some people seem to believe and hope. So let's tally up these reasons: The Russian economy is getting increasingly desperate. Two percent GDP growth isn't anything to write home about, but neither is it particularly catastrophic. The budget is balanced, inflation is at record lows,... Read More
I don't think I have a reputation for panicking. But I do think that we are now at probably the most dangerous point in world affairs since Russian and NATO troops faced off at Pristina Airport in 1999, if not since the Cold War. It is now clear that there will almost certainly be strikes... Read More
Since the Russian election is taking place on the anniversary of Crimea's incorporation into Russia - an intentional play to increase turnout - now is as good a time as any to reflect on the complete failure of the Kremlin's Ukraine policy. The Adepts of Putin's "Clever Plan" have predicted all twelve of the Ukraine's... Read More
1. On February 7, the Americans destroyed a Syrian column moving in the direction of the Coneco oil fields with artillery, wiping up the rest with helicopters. There were at least 100 deaths in the SAA, versus one lightly injured SDF soldier. Although this could be viewed as a Syrian provocation, the fact remains that... Read More
So it's clear from /r/SyrianCivilWar and LiveUAMap that Turkey and the TFSA has begun a large offensive to take Afrin, the Kurdish pocket in the northwest of the country. 1. There's no real question over their capacity to do it - the main question will be to what extent they will need Turkish ground support,... Read More
I have long warned that Islamic State's defeat will be a double-edged sword. Positive: Syrian government-held territory effectively doubles, though mostly in terms of useless, depopulated desert. Negative: Status quo returns to that of several years ago, i.e. back when Assad was "killing his own people" so far as the Western press, without the superlative... Read More
Might as well get this out of the way now so as not to sully the New Year cheer. Here's a pessimistic (for some) but plausible (I think) way things will develop in the next couple of years. 1. Trump cedes key positions to globalists and neocons. This has already happened; for all intents and... Read More
So it's been a few days since the Syria Strikes, everyone and his dog have thrown in their two cents, and there has been a set of confusing and contradictory reactions from US officials and pretty much everyone else involved in this saga. The more the contradictions pile on, the less clear the picture becomes.... Read More
In the spirit of #SkinInTheGame, Taleb's idea that pundits should at least stake their reputations on the strength of their knowledge, last year I made some predictions about what has come to be known as The Current Year. Like Scott Alexander, I am calibrating my predictions by comparing the percentage of predictions I got right... Read More
Another August, another war scare. Intermittent reports of Russian military forces "staging" near Ukraine. Are the guns about to honor the title of a famous history book once again? Almost certainly not. Or at least, not by Russia's hand. (1) Though you could play a drinking time for every mention of "Gleiwitz" in conjunction with... Read More
Three hours after this story began to break it's increasingly clear that we are seeing the biggest Happening of 2016 to date, far overshading the Nice terrorist attacks yesterday. As Lenin purportedly said, "Sometimes decades pass and nothing happens; and then sometimes weeks pass and decades happen." The initial regime response was to blame the... Read More
Just a collection of completely random, not very important news snippets. (1) Diplomats’ Dissent Bolsters Calls for U.S. Assault on Assad: For now, the Obama administration seems inclined to agree. A U.S. official who did not sign the memo but read it told Foreign Policy that the document was unlikely to influence Oval Office policy... Read More
I like predictions. Part of that is related to my passion for quantifying everything, but another is philosophical, and borne of my antipathy towards charlatanism (I am extremely sympathetic to N.N. Taleb on this issue). In 2005, U.C. Berkeley psychologist Philip Tetlock published a study on expert fallibility spanning 18 years, 284 experts and 82,361... Read More
In The Clash of Civilizations, the late Samuel Huntington defined it as the area of Protestant and Catholic Christendom (minus Latin America). Frequently Greece, Japan, South Korea, Balkan countries in NATO, Turkey, Israel, are also tacked on to "the Western world" at various freequencies. The "core" (USA, Anglos, NW Europe) is pretty much set in... Read More
To this day, my most popular blog post ever by number of blog comments is Top 10 Most Powerful Countries In 2011, in which I tried to tally the power rating (Comprehensive National Power, as the Chinese would call it) of the world's Great Powers. It was rather unscientific, there being no particular method by... Read More
As Russian fighters begin their baptism of fire in Syria, it is worth pointing out there are at least three separate wars going on here. And they're all quite distinct. (1) The Actual War Once again I urge people to familiarize themselves with a map of the Syrian conflict (e.g. here). All of Assad's most... Read More
Source: Wikipedia. Click to enlarge. I admit to not having been following the Syrian Civil War anywhere near as closely the war in the Donbass. But with recent rumors of stepped up Russian involvement now being confirmed by videos - and even talk of China possibly sending troops (crazy, but a year ago you'd have... Read More
One of the more frustrating misconceptions Westerners have about Russia - including even many of the more well meaning ones - is that Putin is some kind of nationalist. He is not. Nor was he ever. It appeared he might be sort of leaning in that direction in the heady days after Crimea's return into... Read More
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.