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Russia and the USA Both Finish the Year with a “Grand Finale” of Sorts
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The end of the year is often a time of relative calm when the various parties to a conflict take a moment off, even when they declare nothing of the sort publicly (there are, of course, exceptions to this rule of thumb, such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979). This year, both the Russians and the US ended the year in a climax of sorts which we shall look into.

Another rule of thumb says that, “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior”, and this turned out to be very true in both cases: the Russians did more of what they have done all year long, as did the Americans. Specifically:

• Uncle Shmuel decided to bomb five bases of the group Kata’ib Hizbullah in Iraq in retaliation for an attack on the K1 U.S. base in Iraq

• Defense Minister Shoigu announced that the first regiment of Avangard equipped ICBMs was fully operational and on combat alert.

Let’s take a look at the implications and consequences of these two events.

The U.S. airstrikes on Kata’ib Hizbullah units in Iraq

First, just to clarify, Kata’ib Hizbullah has nothing to do with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The word “Hezbollah/Hizbullah” simply means “party of God” and Kata’ib Hizbullah simply means “Brigades of the Party of God”. Yes, both groups have similar names and they are both Shia. Kata’ib Hizbullah probably aims at becoming an Iraqi version of Hezbollah, and while they even have a similar flag, Kata’ib Hizbullah is neither an offshoot nor creation of Hezbollah. Kata’ib Hizbullah was created as a direct response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq (whereas Hezbollah in Lebanon was blow-back from the Israeli invasion of Lebanon).

This being said, there is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. actions in the Middle-East, and especially the total and abject subservience of the US to Israel (and when I say “subservience” I am being polite, really) have greatly contributed to facilitating the alliance and cooperation of all Shia factions in the Middle-East. The best example of such cooperation is the support the Yemeni Houthis get from Iran (but “support” is not the same as “proxy”, and Iran had nothing to do with the devastating Houthi counter-strikes against the KSA).

I won’t go into the details of the recent strike, especially since “b” on Moon of Alabama already has done a very good job analyzing it. What I will do is simply suggest an answer to the rhetorical question “b” asks at the end of his analysis: “Yesterday’s attacks guarantee that all U.S. troops will have to leave Iraq and will thereby also lose their supply lines to Syria. One wonders if that was the real intent of those strikes”.

My personal opinion is that Occam’s razor and past events ought to suggest that the most straightforward explanation is much more plausible than any kind of “5d chess” strategy.

Furthermore, far from suggesting that this latest expression of the hatred of the Iraqi people for Uncle Shmuel will result in a withdrawal, we already see the exact opposite happening: not only has the US announced that it will send another 750 soldiers to Iraq, but it has also announced that another 4,000 troops might also be send to the region, to the immense joy of its Israeli overlords who can’t wait for a US attack on Iran (how nice that the “only democracy in the Middle-East” is always cheering for as much violence and wars as possible).

Does that look like a preparation for withdrawal to you?

Finally, there is also Donald The Great with his usual garden variety of empty threats like this wonderful tweet:

And, sure enough, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei quickly replied:


It sure doesn’t look like anybody in Tehran is taking Trump, or the US, seriously.

And, frankly, why would they?

As Ayatollah Ali Khamenei correctly pointed out – there is nothing much the US can do about what is taking place all over the Middle-East; except, of course, starting a war which the US will most definitely lose (Hollywood inspired delusions of invincibility notwithstanding).

I believe that the U.S. Deep State has no intentions at all of leaving Iraq (or Syria, for that matter). Furthermore, far from being a strike to justify a withdrawal, this strike was aimed at bullying the Iraqi people into submission and acceptance of the lawless and thug-like behavior of the US in their country. Simply put, Pompeo & Co. did what Uncle Shmuel always does when they do not know what to do: they crudely decided to use brute force with the goal of terrorizing their adversaries into submission.

You might object that this strategy has not worked in decades, and you would be right. But here is the catch: the weaker the AngloZionist Empire looks, the more the Empire feels that it ought to restore its putative ability to terrorize by doubling-down, again and again. This mental block is called, “la fuite en avant” in French, which can be translated as a flight forward: that is what you do when all you can do is what got you into serious trouble in the first place, because:

  1. It did work in the past.
  2. You don’t have the intellectual capability to imagine any other approach.
  3. Because you sincerely believe that violence always solves all problems (as in the German saying “Wenn es mit Gewalt nicht geht, dann geht es mit mehr Gewalt”)

Those familiar with Hegelian dialectics will immediately see what is happening; the Empire is being destroyed from within, as a result of its own internal contradictions and its inability to evolve to a higher level of functioning. This inherent corrosiveness within the Empire does not require an external enemy, it destroys itself due to its very nature.


There are rumors that Trump wants to get rid of Pompeo, but I don’t believe them. Assuming that these rumors are true in the first place, are they linked to the recent air strikes or is this an expression of Trump’s comparative benevolence? Again, I doubt it. Trump is already blaming Iran for the fact that the US embassy in Iraq was attacked by large crowds of US-hating Iraqis.

Finally, and just as pathologically dysfunctional, is the fact that the only “solution” the leaders of the Empire could devise to the current crisis is to send in even more forces to reinforce the huge embassy compound in Baghdad. Obviously, Uncle Shmuel can’t even begin to imagine a strategy not solely predicated on violence.

This clearly shows that the expression, “insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results” still fully applies to the rulers of the US.

Now let’s take a look at how Russia ended the year

Russia deploys the Avangard (and more)

Remember how after Putin’s famous speech, the so-called “Russia specialists” declared that all these weapons did not exist, that they were all just computer animations?

Well, now probably the most exotic and “incredible” weapon mentioned by Putin (the Avangard) is fully operational and on combat duty. The Russians went so far as to show that weapon to US inspectors. Still, there remains a tiny minority which do not believe the “Russian hype”, despite an unambiguous report by the GAO which clearly states that “There are no existing counter-measures” against hypersonic weapons, and who will only admit the existence of these weapon systems if they get vaporized by them. But what do these Russian weapons (especially the Mach 10+ Kinzhal and the Mach 27+ Avangard) mean for the rest of us?

One one hand, this is very good news because it it yet another sign that Russia is now fully prepared for war, including total nuclear war. To put it differently, all the hopes that the U.S. had regarding the development of an ABM system which could stop a Russian counter-strike (following a U.S. attack) are now gone. Not only have the new Russian weapons made the US carrier fleet obsolete, it also made the US ABM plans obsolete too. Thus, in theory, this new reality ought to deter even the craziest folks at the Pentagon, CIA, NSA and White House.

On the other hand, however, this is not good news, because now the U.S. has a factual basis to declared that it feels threatened. Why? Because of the tricky issue of first-strike stability.

I can state categorically that Russia will never deliberately start a war, least of all against the US (the Russians understand that Russia could never escape a US counter-strike, even if delivered by the comparatively old US nuclear triad), but that is not an assumption the Pentagon’s force planners can make. Simply put, the Avangard + Burevestnik (nuclear powered infinite range cruise missile) combo could seem rather destabilizing from the point of view of what is called first strike stability (for a detailed discussion see here). For the time being, only one ICBM regiment has been outfitted with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles while the Burevestnik is still in the late stages of testing. But we also know that three more regiments are scheduled to receive the Avangard in the near future while the testing and evaluation of the Burevestnik is near completion (in spite of a possible recent accident). Once ready, this missile will probably be deployed in large numbers. Right now U.S. defense planners will have to assume that both systems will be deployed in numbers sufficient to affect the first strike stability between Russia and the US.

The solution? To hammer out a new strategic arms treaty between the two countries. Alas, at this point in time, the U.S. leaders show no interest in any such treaty. Worse, the New Start Treaty will soon lapse.

I suppose that in the demented political culture of the US any kind of treaty with Russia is a “sign of weakness” and is therefore “unpatriotic”. Still, first strike stability is one of those things which, along with cooperation in space, self-evidently benefits both nations (not to mention the rest of the planet) and, therefore, almost any strategic arms limitation/reduction would be highly desirable (the one exception to this rule would be a dramatic reduction in the number of deliverable warheads, even by both sides, which would threaten also first strike stability; see here and here for a discussion).

Finally, Russia ended the year by launching the newest Yasen-M-class SSN/SSGN, the Novosibirsk. This class of subs, arguably the most advanced on the planet, can function as both a nuclear attack and a missile attack submarine: it has eight torpedo tubes as well as ten vertical missile launch silos which can launch all sorts of missiles, including hypersonic ones. Most amazingly, it has only 64 crewmen, which suggest an unprecedented level of automation (the latest Virginia-class sub has a crew of 134). The Yasen-M is truly an amazing submarine, the big question now is how many of those Russia will be able to build? Probably not enough to really please the Russian force planners, but probably enough to create yet another major headache for the USN.

What is crucial to understand here is that the Avangard, the Yasen-M and all the other weapons systems Russia has deployed (the Avangards, Zirkons, Bastions, Sarmats, Pereswets, Burevestniks, Poseidons etc. are only the ones discussed in the western media, in reality there are many more) are but the tip of a much bigger iceberg: for the past 5 years or so Russia has been preparing for total war precisely to try to deter the US from doing something literally “terminally” stupid. Will that be enough to shock the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire out of their delusions or grandeur and invincibility?

I honestly don’t know. I hope that it will. But, frankly, I am not sure. Listening to the likes of Trump, Pompeo, Bolton and the rest of these ignorant and self-deluded clowns, not to mention the English language corporate media, I don’t feel very reassured, to put it mildly. Let us pray that the actual deep-state decision makers can still discriminate between feel-good propaganda for the masses and the actual reality out there.

Conclusion: two diametrically opposed approaches to security

Trump is stuck in a position where he has no other choice but to continue to threaten anybody and everybody. This kind of manic aggression towards the entire planet is what passes for “looking presidential” in the current US political doxa. This, at least, is not Trump’s fault and it all began a very long time ago (remember Dukakis cruising around in a M-1 tank or Dubya landing on a carrier with “Mission Accomplished” in the background?). Not that I am excusing Trump in any way: no adult leader of a nuclear superpower should even think issuing such silly but nonetheless most dangerous threats towards any other sovereign country, never mind another nuclear superpower. But let’s be honest here: every single US President starting with Clinton and all his successors was a clown of one kind or another and Trump is probably not the worst of them. As I have said many times, at this point the problem is not the man (or woman) in the White House, it is the entire system which is both terminally dysfunctional and unreformable.

The year 2020 will be dominated by the (frankly treacherous) attempts of the Dems to subvert the US Constitution and overthrow Trump. Like many others, I predict that this will boomerang into the Dems collective face and will yield a landslide victory for Trump (the Democratic Party is at least as unreformable as the US political system). Externally, Trump will probably continue to simultaneously threaten the EU, Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Yemen, Lebanon, Venezuela, Mexico, Turkey, etc. and the entire worldwide Muslim community (keep in mind the following stats: there are about 2 billion Muslims out there, and make up a majority of the population in 49 countries around the world). Basically, the US believes that it can simultaneously threaten, sanction and otherwise bully (or even attack), most of the countries on the planet and prevail. To call this delusional is an understatement.

For Russia 2020 will be an important transition year. This is best illustrated by the compromise deal reached with the EU and the Ukraine on gas: Russia yielded to some of the Ukrainian demands solely in order to show support for the EU which is now slowly showing signs of truly getting fed-up with the endless stream of threats and demands coming from across the Atlantic. You could say that Russia agreed to a tactical concession in order to secure a strategic objective.

The Germans and the French, in particular, seemed to have finally(!) realized that they gained nothing and lost a lot in their subservience to the US . The Russian plan is quite simple, really: show the EU that Russia has more than enough force to smash any US/NATO/EU attacking force while, at the same time, indicating that Russia is more than willing to cooperate, and even compromise, to establish normal, civilized, relations with Europe. This being said, Russia will only agree to relatively minor compromises, simply because her real priorities, political and economic, are not in the West anymore, but in the South, North and East and, especially, China (quick reminder: the top exports of Russia are crude petroleum ($96.6B), refined petroleum ($58.4B), petroleum gas ($19.8B), coal briquettes ($16.1B) and wheat ($7.93B); the top export destinations of Russia are China ($39.1B), the Netherlands ($27.7B), Germany ($19.9B), Belarus ($18.5B) and the United States ($15.4B).] Yes, the EU is still important to Russia, but not a top priority anymore.

How can all this be summed up?

Well, and paraphrasing a famous quote by Foreign Minister Lavrov, we could say that

  • the US plan is to turn allies into friends, turn friends into partners, turn partners into neutrals and turn neutrals into enemies and
  • the Russian plan is to turn enemies into neutrals, turn neutrals into partners, turn partners into friends and turn friends into allies.

I will let you decide which of these two plans is viable and which one is not.

I wish you all the best in 2020, especially peace.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Donald Trump, Iran, Russia 
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  1. it is the entire system which is both terminally dysfunctional and unreformable.

    Neocons cannot learn;
    Therefore war is inevitable.
    Trust ‘Murka will not earn;
    All its bullying is laughable.

  2. Kali says:

    I recently made a joke about applying to Russia for assylum in The Pale of Settlement (sans Jews of course, who, having exploited and humilated the Russian pesants of the region, declared that this gift was part if their etenal “persecussion”).

    My little tongue-in-cheek joke doesn’t feel quite so funny (well I laughed!) today. In fact it’s looking more like an actual possibility.

    How many refugees from the west can Russia absorb I wonder?

    One good thing that may come out of an apocalyptic, 21st century, global “hot” (read thermonuclear!) war: “israel” may be wiped off the map and out of western politics.

    There’s gonna be a hell of a lot of cleaning up to do afterward though!

    Will future generation learn from all of this, that all government is insanity? I do fucking hope so!

    May sanity prevail!

  3. It is certainly right that “the Empire” follows the pattern of what worked for it in the past, but fails to see a deeper pattern: the ultimate fate of all Great Powers. It is always an honor to join in the Saker’s informative and interesting discussions. For my own small contribution:

  4. For Russia 2020 will be an important transition year. This is best illustrated by the compromise deal reached with the EU and the Ukraine on gas: Russia yielded to some of the Ukrainian demands solely in order to show support for the EU which is now slowly showing signs of truly getting fed-up with the endless stream of threats and demands coming from across the Atlantic. You could say that Russia agreed to a tactical concession in order to secure a strategic objective.

    Russia’s “tactical concession” will bring $10 billion in revenue to Ukrainian regime, of which $3 billion is the value of fine that has already been paid by Gazprom, and $7 billion is value of transit fees, Ukraine is set to collect between 2020 and 2024.

    In effect Russia and Putin have agreed to subsidize the Ukronazis for another 5 years: subsidize Russophobia, subsidize the Nazi militias and a war against Donbass. For this Russia was rewarded by an extension of EU sanctions against it and a halt to Nord Stream 2 construction.

    I’m from Russia and to me it looks like Putin lost his mind. Could be he is trying to appease the West as he prepares for a safe retirement…Or perhaps, old-age dementia is slowly creeping in – there is simply no logical explanation for this decision.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  5. Anonymous[207] • Disclaimer says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Please don’t assume that Putin’s mind is as limited as yours.

  6. Breeze says:

    There are other views too, if you know some russian. Most russian people do not approve of that deal, if you look at various comment sections all over the place people are against it.

    Russia will pay Ukraine 3 billion dollars fine and it will provide cheap gas to Ukraine (with 25 % discount). The Ukr population and industry will pay a full gas price and the 25 % difference will be collected by the Ukr government. Those money will obviously not stay in Ukraine, otherwise the population and the industry would have gotten the discount.

    A widely held view is that Russia was forced to prop up Ukraine so that it can return its debts to the West.

  7. Breeze says:

    Oh, and Russia is preparing to implement the Istanbul Convention by stealth in the form of new domestic violence law copied from it.

    Large parts of United Russia elites are supporting that law and there is massive campaign in Russian Media about men against women violence, how Russia is terrible country for women, etc. Matvienko and many others support it, Tolstoy and another group of UE MPs are against it, etc. So there is turmoil within the United Russa party.

    On the other hand, the Orthodox Chrurch, the Caucasus and other muslim areas and patriotic/conservative/parent organisations are against the law, who they believe will blow up the already poor russian demographics.

    Rumour has it that this is part of the price for removing personal sanctions against the russian elite, that along with the Ukr deal and other things. Sen Mizulina also said that this has to do with the sanctions.

    So it is good to be aware of the latest news from Russia, as it is clear that some shady deals between Russia and the West are going on, and there is lots of division and infighting within russian elite happening right now.

    Либо пойдут реальные, а не бумажные изменения, либо 2021 год станет годом если не попыток свержения власти, то годом массовых протестов и бунтов, как со стороны населения, так и со стороны «элитных групп», которые уже сегодня перестают подчиняться Кремлю.

    И массовые (более чем в 40 регионах) выступления против антисемейного законопроекта «О профилактике семейно-бытового насилия», лоббируемого феминистками и извращенцами. Последнее особенно важно –так как раньше власть считала что может опереться на патриотов, но попытка протащить состряпанный НКО – инагентами законопроект оставила власть без поддержки наиболее консервативных слоев общества, не говоря уж о населении республик Кавказа—где реализация подобных инициатив равнозначна развязыванию гражданской войны


  8. AWM says:

    The criminal regime in Russia ROARS AGAIN.
    Putin is probably worried about his retirement, maybe he has some hypersonics of his own stashed away in case his stolen fortune comes under threat.

    You really can’t make this shit up.

    • Troll: bluedog
  9. There is a bit more to add. The US is undertaking a Project Manhattan scale buildup. It’s asymmetrical and largely secret.

    What do you call this, for instance?

    You might think of this as really good shit. Or you might think of this as a CWC-illegal chemical weapon.

    CWC violations are the least of it. Bob Gates directed an enormous volume of illegal “defensive” bioweapons development. It blew up on him at UT, precipitating a rear-guard coverup that earned the CDC’s most drastic suspension ever, while Gates made a clean getaway to DoD. Similar lab screwups occurred at AU. Then there’s H1N1, breaking out in Mexico while Obama was wet behind the ears, which combined naturally impossible pig and bird genes and jumped to otters as WHO pandemic warnings were roughly suppressed. And everybody remembers the comically implausible coverup of that biologically miraculous ebola outbreak in the backyard of the Kenema lab where the US did its most atrocious illegal research. The Lugar Center in Tbilisi is notorious now too, for different outbreaks. The USG develops its illegal WMD with academic contractors and in countries that have not ratified the CWC or BWC.

    The intelligence apparats of the SCO know all about this. You might recall that early on in the Fruitfly malware debacle, researchers noticed that the software contagion centered on Batelle. Poof down the memory hole it went. The last BWC review conference turned into a treaty party mutiny as the US stonewalled measures to get its violations under control. You got wind of it in little fits and starts,

    but once you start paying attention it’s all around you. CIA has broken out of the conventional international law on WMDs. Chem/bio is poor man’s WMD, suitable for a broke corrupt kleptocracy with a degenerate industrial base like the USA. It’s also harder to attribute than a SARMAT strike. WWIII will start with US sneak attacks in the form of chem/bio epidemics and mass poisonings. The epidemics and ecocidal toxins will spread back here, but you’ll get vaccines and antidotes. If you’re important enough.

  10. As Ayatollah Ali Khamenei correctly pointed out – there is nothing much the US can do about what is taking place all over the Middle-East; except, of course, starting a war which the US will most definitely lose (Hollywood inspired delusions of invincibility notwithstanding).

    I’m not so sanguine about Iran’s chances, as unjust as their treatment by the US is. What will occur will be yet another neocon pyrrhic victory: The regime will be changed, but a predictable political vacuum will open up, and leave the country in perpetual chaos for the foreseeable future. American influence will be further eroded and laughed at. But at least we made the Middle East a (temporarily) safer place for our Zionist friends!

    Judging from the latest news out of Baghdad, it seems we’ll all soon have the dubious distinction of watching what happens next. Here’s to hoping that Russia can help cool heads prevail.

    • Agree: SeekerofthePresence
  11. Has the long-awaited Iran war just begun?

    US just assassinated top Iranian Gen. Suleimani and his deputy.

    Def. Sec. Esper says the attack was to deter future Iranian attacks.

    But on the other hand, severe Iranian retaliation is expected.

    Of course, consistency is not a strong point of US military or foreign policy.

    US foreign policy, except with bombs, not pies…

  12. vot tak says:

    “such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979”

    The USSR military help was requested by the Afghan government. Just like when Russia entered Syria recently, it was also at the request of the Syrian government. The saker is confusing reality with western propaganda here.

  13. Anonymous[289] • Disclaimer says:

    Might Khamenei’s tweet of “1st: You can’t do anything” have played some part in pushing Trump to give the go-ahead for the US (Israel) to assassinate Iran’s top military commander, General Qasem Suleimani? Or would the US (Israel) have carried out this state-sponsored assassination regardless of the “You can’t do anything” tweet?

  14. Soleimani got what he deserved. He had American, Arab and Iranian blood on his hands. When karma comes calling, it’s never much fun.

    As for Iran and its bluster, Dear leader has only bad choices in front of him. Not even proxies are of any use to him. If he does anything, then those 52 targets will cease to exist, right along with his regime and economy.

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