TOC Ready Room 17 Jan 2022: Rumors of war; Antisemitic attack in Texas

What’s wrong and right with the world.

This will be the roughest and readiest of Ready Rooms.  What I want to focus on is insights readers may not have gleaned from elsewhere on two important topics.

The first is Russia and Ukraine, and on that topic the initial observation must be that the subject is being comprehensively suppressed on Twitter, and may be on Google as well.  I can tell what’s being suppressed on Twitter, as I’m posting some of it and watching the reach of others’ tweets, as well as mine, be throttled.  Popular tweeps on the matter are posting updates and links, and the number of “likes” and retweets is abysmal, far below what you’d normally see.

If we were to read something into that, it would seem to be that someone expects something to happen soon. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 17 Jan 2022: Rumors of war; Antisemitic attack in Texas”

A downpayment on “Kazakhstan” and the coming perturbations

Interesting times.

There’s a better-than-even chance that the developments in Kazakhstan will have repercussions well beyond any that are currently imagined – and probably beyond the intentions of any outside actors who have been involved, as some evidence indicates.

This is not primarily because of Kazakhstan as a security issue for Russia, though that’s a factor.  It’s because there is no Pax Americana anymore; there’s been none since about 2011; the U.S. under Biden is not and will not be the guardian of stability that we’ve been since 1945; and actors like Russia, China, and Iran see now as the time to take maximum advantage of that.

The short version is that they perceive they can get away with things, and they’re going to do them.

Starting with Kazakhstan Continue reading “A downpayment on “Kazakhstan” and the coming perturbations”

December 2021: Russia making major strategic moves

Russia busting some big moves.

This will not by any means be a comprehensive treatment.  Time is a big factor right now, and it’s more important to enlarge the landscape image of what’s going on by presenting recent developments together.

In the latest TOC Ready Room, we looked at Russia’s announcement about being “forced” to deploy intermediate-range missiles to Europe, which would be an overt violation of the terms of the now-defunct 1987 INF Treaty.

That in itself is a major move; “tectonic,” we might say, using the adjective deployed by Dmitry Medvedev in 2011 about the Arab Spring.

As discussed on 15 December, I assess Russia’s move to be as much about a shifting orientation vis-à-vis China as about Russia’s relations with NATO Europe.  But it’s definitely about NATO Europe (and North America) as well. Continue reading “December 2021: Russia making major strategic moves”

War comes home: Russia v. Turkey; Jet shootdown; Rebels attack Russian helos with U.S. TOW missiles

Peace in our time.

Shootdown porn. (Image via rebel video on YouTube)
Shootdown porn. (Image via rebel video on YouTube)

The war in Syria is metastasizing, as long predicted by this author and others.  It’s perilously close to a direct confrontation of Turkey and Russia in combat — a situation that didn’t start with the warplane shootdown today, but rather seems to have culminated in it.  The ground picture in the area of the shootdown is the key.

What we know for sure today is that Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft, which the Turks say was violating their air space.  The Turks report that an F-16 fighter pair took out the Russian aircraft.

It also appears that Russian helicopters sent on a rescue mission for the Su-24 air crew were destroyed.  If a video posted by Syrian rebels (below) is valid – assuming it shows something the rebels pulled off today (24 November) – it looks like the rebels used TOW missiles to attack the Russian helos while they were on the ground at the Su-24 crash site.

These rapid-fire events raise questions that will not be answered at a leisurely pace.  The basic question is what Russia and Turkey will do now.  But there is also the question of “why now?”  Turkey has been closely tracking Russian air activity for weeks.  The two air forces have interacted at dangerous levels before; the Aviationist has a good summary here.  But today, instead of warnings and sword-rattling, the Turks shot the Russian aircraft down. Continue reading “War comes home: Russia v. Turkey; Jet shootdown; Rebels attack Russian helos with U.S. TOW missiles”

After Paris, post-NATO ‘solution’ for Syria blasts off without U.S.

War without leadership.

Tu-95 Bear bomber, one of several types used in Russian strikes on Tuesday, 17 Nov. (Image: UK MOD, SAC Robyn Stewart via Guardian, Oct 2014)
Tu-95 Bear bomber, one of several types used in Russian strikes on Tuesday, 17 Nov. (Image: UK MOD, SAC Robyn Stewart via Guardian, Oct 2014)

If you’re not convinced we are now in a “post-American” (and hence post-NATO) world, consider these events of the last 72 hours.

After the Paris attacks on Friday, the G20 leaders gathering in Turkey knew that both Syria and ISIS would top their agenda in Antalya.  On Sunday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron expressed the standard position of the Western allies, since late summer, that Russia should stop prosecuting what is essentially a unilateral war in Syria.

How odd that that position should seem antique a mere 48 hours later.  In the wake of the most recent events, one now has the sense that Cameron was speaking in another world and time.

Obama’s watershed moment Continue reading “After Paris, post-NATO ‘solution’ for Syria blasts off without U.S.”