Monday, August 15, 2016
There seems to be some pressure to put Russia back in the role of threatening adversary. The powers that be want us to fear somebody. Perhaps ISIS hasn't been getting us worked up enough lately? After all, how many nuclear bombs do they possess? At least Russia is a nuclear power.
We are in a couple of proxy wars with them right now. They took back the Crimea and are heavily supporting pro Russian areas in revolt against the Ukrainian government. It's a pretty low cost operation for them. There are a lot of ethnic Russians in the area, the Crimea was part of Greater Russia, and they have short supply lines. If they had to pick a fight, that's the one to pick.
While the Western Powers are supporting Ukraine, we don't appear to be going all out. Western Europe is quite aware that it needs Russian fuel supplies to get though their winters.
Syria is more complicated. Russia scored some diplomatic points by getting their Syrian allies to renounce the use of chemical weapons. They found they could support their ally by claiming to attack Islamic extremists -just like the West. Never mind that Russia and the West don't have exactly the same definition for who the bad guys are.
There is also a lot of talk about new Russian weapons. They are retrofitting another battleship or two, a couple high tech submarines are coming into service, they have new fighter air craft. There is even talk about a supersonic space plane bomber.
On the surface, it looks pretty threatening. Looks can be deceiving. The battleships are hold overs from the Soviet days. They had four of them and only one is currently in service. Another will probably get fitted out. They are pretty good at projecting Russian power, allowing them to claim to have a blue water navy. The ships have been upgraded, and are threatening, but there are no more of them in the pipeline. Their special submarines are basically hand made and only a tiny number will ever see service. Russia lacks the industrial might to mass produce them. Their new jet isn't as stealthy or as powerful as they hoped it would be. The space plane will most likely never get built. It's easy to announce wonder weapon designs. It's a lot harder to actually build and field them.
That's not to say that Russia lacks punch. After all, they still have nuclear weapons. However, it's important to keep the threat in perspective.
I'm more concerned about the reasons behind our leaders wanting us to live in fear.