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Thread: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    I'm not advocating anything close to trillion dollar annual budgets. I do believe a budget that maintains the military's manpower at current levels and is at least stable as a share of GDP at current levels would be a better approach than the sharp reductions that have been proposed.

    With respect to Iran, both the U.S. and EU have significant differences and concerns with Iran. Whether Iran is willing to accommodate those needs in exchange for a peaceful civilian energy program remains to be seen. Moreover, Iran has shown little indication that it will cease supporting its proxies e.g., Hezbollah, who pose threats to strategic U.S. Mideast allies.
    At this point Iran would be totally nuts to not pursue its nuclear weapons program as its #1 national priority. Ukraine - potentially militarily as powerful towards Russia as Iran is in relation to the USA - gave up the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world - - and it cost them military defeat otherwise impossible with the nukes. The result is a trillion dollars in oil, gas and natural resources have been stolen from them, their most critical defensive territory taken, and their now perpetually in economic dependency on Russia.

    There is no deal we can make with Iran since it is known that deals made with the USA, the EU or anyone else are absolutely worthless and basically just trickery. A rational view of Iran for what has happened to Ukraine is to believe "we're next without nuclear weapons."
    Last edited by joko104; 03-18-14 at 11:59 PM.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Ukraine isn't just some country. It is THE country that gave up the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world in exchange for a promise from the USA, UK, Russia and many other countries that Ukraine's borders would be secure. It was a lie, a trick to disarm Ukraine leading to permanent massive harms and risks to the people of Ukraine basically forever. Every person in Ukraine will suffer for them and Ukraine has been reduced to beggars of Russia in lose of Crimea.

    The lose is about the same as if the USA lost California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska to China - only worse because China isn't also right on our border.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    It is true that the dollar expenditures on defense are very high. However, one should note that the cost structure of U.S. defense is higher than it is in other countries. The equivalent of a dollar in spending might purchase more elsewhere. For starters, wages for American soldiers are higher than those in some other countries. The development of weapons systems also cost less in other countries.

    At the same time, there is considerable lack of cost control that does need to be addressed. The Pentagon simply cannot function as it currently does where there is little predictability in costs of developing new weapons and cost overruns are par for the course. Budgetary mechanisms need to be developed and enforced to assure that projects such as the Joint Strike Fighter project are completed both on a timely basis and on budget. Given the delays in the project and costs involved, it is somewhat uncertain whether the new fighter jet will, in fact, be qualitatively superior to anything else available once it finally goes into service.

    The military also needs to improve its costs relative to waging war. It cannot maintain a cost structure where it consumes $300 million per day in Afghanistan (https://www.google.com/hostednews/af...JvsAlNkA?hl=en) without limiting its capacity to sustain a war effort. Otherwise, enemies will attain a competitive advantage from a strategy of waiting out the U.S.

    Also, I'm not arguing for an unrealistic goal of military preeminence. I am arguing that the U.S., along with its allies, should pursue a position of maintaining a relatively stable balance of power so that their major interests are safeguarded. Preeminence is not required for deterrence. One only need sufficient strength that the perceived costs of an enemy's pursuing an objective are prohibitive relative to the objective it is seeking.

    All in all, I'm not calling for a dramatic increase in military spending. I am suggesting that the planned cuts should be reduced. In the longer-term, the Pentagon needs to do much to improve its cost structure and such improvements will yield savings.
    The USA needs to STOP defending our allies and let them spend their own money to defend themselves - and then have an alliance with them. To date, Germany has never backed up the USA on anything. How many gbillion dollars have we spent defending Germany - the wealthiest country in East and West Europe? It's absurd.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by joko104 View Post
    The USA needs to STOP defending our allies and let them spend their own money to defend themselves - and then have an alliance with them. To date, Germany has never backed up the USA on anything. How many gbillion dollars have we spent defending Germany - the wealthiest country in East and West Europe? It's absurd.
    As noted earlier, I do believe our allies should also take measures to strengthen their defense capabilities. At the same time, I don't favor a policy of abandoning allies for numerous reasons:

    1. The benefits that have flowed to the U.S. from a stable, prosperous, and peaceful Europe have repaid the costs of U.S. security investments and the Marshall Plan many times over. The dividends continue to flow to this day.

    2. Had the U.S. essentially left war-ravaged Europe on its own and returned to neo-isolationist policies, that situation would almost certainly have been exploited by the Soviet Union. Consolidation of western Europe in the Soviet sphere might well have laid the foundation for a different ending to the Cold War. An alternative scenario might have been the re-emergence of nationalist elements. Such elements might have creating a dangerously divided Europe and there's no assurance that new conflicts might not have reignited. IMO, President Truman and his administration showed extraordinary foresight and courage in launching NATO and pursuing the Marshall Plan. They put the nation and all of Western Europe on a trajectory that would ultimately lead to a peaceful conclusion of the Cold War.

    3. Germany has contributed manpower and equipment to U.S. conflicts, including in Afghanistan. So, Germany has been actively backing the U.S., and even losing lives in the process.

    4. Had the U.S. listened more carefully to German and French reservations about Iraq and chosen not to go to war, it might have saved some $2 trillion or more in direct and indirect costs, not to mention avoided human war casualties.

    All said, the U.S. is fortunate that it has a large number of dependable strategic allies with broad and enduring shared interests. Not many countries enjoy such relationships and partners whose efforts have proved mutually beneficial in economic, political, and security realms. Without a prosperous and stable Europe, it is very unlikely that the U.S. economy and U.S. standard of living would be what it is. It is probably more likely than not that the U.S. would have been confronted with far more security threats than it has and just maybe the Soviet Union would have won the Cold War, creating a vastly different world than the one in which we live.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    I'm not advocating anything close to trillion dollar annual budgets. I do believe a budget that maintains the military's manpower at current levels and is at least stable as a share of GDP at current levels would be a better approach than the sharp reductions that have been proposed.
    What you said you would like to see is this

    It needs to tighten its integration with existing NATO members so as to make clear that NATO members will be safeguarded under any circumstances, even if the use of force is required. In Asia, the U.S. needs to strengthen ties with its leading allies. Japan and South Korea need to know that American commitments to their security are reliable.
    In order to do that, it's going to require spending at least at current levels, which all total is about one trillion dollars. The US simply can't afford that. It's not going to be possible to maintain, for the reasons I mentioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    With respect to Iran, both the U.S. and EU have significant differences and concerns with Iran. Whether Iran is willing to accommodate those needs in exchange for a peaceful civilian energy program remains to be seen. Moreover, Iran has shown little indication that it will cease supporting its proxies e.g., Hezbollah, who pose threats to strategic U.S. Mideast allies.
    The US and Saudi Arabia have significant differences in the way they view Israel. It doesn't stop the US from working constructively the Saudi Arabia. The will to do it has to be there. Moreover, I think the US may be able to exploit the fact that Russia essentially threw Iran under the bus not to long ago to accommodate the US. If the deal is right, Iran may be persuaded that they have a better future with the US rather than Russia.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    As noted earlier, I do believe our allies should also take measures to strengthen their defense capabilities. At the same time, I don't favor a policy of abandoning allies for numerous reasons:

    1. The benefits that have flowed to the U.S. from a stable, prosperous, and peaceful Europe have repaid the costs of U.S. security investments and the Marshall Plan many times over. The dividends continue to flow to this day.
    The question is how to allocate the costs of a stable world order. Obviously we benefit from a stable system which allows ME oil to flow to industrialized nations friendly to us. Absent oil from the ME it's hard to articulate a national interest for the US which would warrant our involvement in the region. There is a "security charge" that could be assigned to each barrel of oil and those costs should be borne by the nations that benefit from the oil, the secure transit routes and the stable international commercial environment created during Pax Americana. All those shoulds amount to nothing because the cost of providing the system falls on us.

    3. Germany has contributed manpower and equipment to U.S. conflicts, including in Afghanistan. So, Germany has been actively backing the U.S., and even losing lives in the process.
    And the US interest in Afghanistan is what exactly? Sure, sure, it benefits us to not have them be a terrorist base from which future attacks on the US could be launched, but beyond that why are we there trying to stabilize and modernize? Why is Germany there? Why was Canada there? We see that drone strikes into Waziristan work fairly effectively at disrupting terrorist operations, so if an Afghanistan absent western military presence ever began to move back towards being an Al Queda launching pad, the same drone policy could be rolled out there. Why are we wasting blood and treasure there?

    4. Had the U.S. listened more carefully to German and French reservations about Iraq and chosen not to go to war, it might have saved some $2 trillion or more in direct and indirect costs, not to mention avoided human war casualties.
    Let's keep in mind that the issue was never "go to war" versus "not go to war" for there still remained the issue of what to do with Saddam and the fraying sanctions regime. The alternative was "don't go to war and keep Saddam in power." I'm not saying that this would have been the wrong choice, just that the decision wasn't as simple as "don't go to war."

    Without a prosperous and stable Europe, it is very unlikely that the U.S. economy and U.S. standard of living would be what it is. It is probably more likely than not that the U.S. would have been confronted with far more security threats than it has and just maybe the Soviet Union would have won the Cold War, creating a vastly different world than the one in which we live.
    This is an extension of past policies being used to justify present policies. We can dispense with the past because that's a sunk cost. We have a stable and prosperous Europe now, so the justification for keeping up the military strength by appealing to Europe seems kind of weak. The issues today are different than in the immediate post-war era and during the Cold War. American strength vis a vis the world has declined in the intervening years. Secondly, as the years have progressed the allocation of budget resources in the Federal Government has changed as well. There has been a relentless increase in the social welfare component of the budget and this has been crowding out the growth of other functions. Defense is next on the chopping block because a.) people like free stuff and b.) our population is aging and they want their free Medicare.

    The cost of maintaining American supremacy is high - what costs are we willing to bear in order to do so? Why should the cost of maintaining Pax Americana fall solely on the shoulders of the American taxpayer? Frankly, I can't see a way to reconcile what you suggest with both an aging population and the thirst for increased welfare dependency in the US.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    Russia understands that there is no effective military response without the parties to the conflict incurring prohibitively high costs relative to the military objectives involved. Hence, it has calculated that it has the strategic flexibility to act as it has.

    As noted elsewhere in this thread, I support providing economic and financial assistance to Ukraine. Hopefully, that assistance can help it overcome its substantial economic and financial problems, begin developing a stable and response political system, and improve the living standard of its people.
    Economic and financial assistance, really the same thing, won't help much at all against the force of the Russian army. There has to be a counter attack, though not necessarily militarily. The Russian economy is weak and they cannot take a sustained hit for very long. Get them where they are vulnerable as well as moving forces into the area, and they will settle with the Crimea. Anything less than that and they will naturally advance.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    I'm not advocating anything close to trillion dollar annual budgets. I do believe a budget that maintains the military's manpower at current levels and is at least stable as a share of GDP at current levels would be a better approach than the sharp reductions that have been proposed.

    With respect to Iran, both the U.S. and EU have significant differences and concerns with Iran. Whether Iran is willing to accommodate those needs in exchange for a peaceful civilian energy program remains to be seen. Moreover, Iran has shown little indication that it will cease supporting its proxies e.g., Hezbollah, who pose threats to strategic U.S. Mideast allies.
    It seems a given in some quarters that Iran will side with Russia but that ain't necessarily so. If Iran can sell their oil to Europe, to make up any Russian shortfall, it would likely be welcomed.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by joko104 View Post
    At this point Iran would be totally nuts to not pursue its nuclear weapons program as its #1 national priority. Ukraine - potentially militarily as powerful towards Russia as Iran is in relation to the USA - gave up the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world - - and it cost them military defeat otherwise impossible with the nukes. The result is a trillion dollars in oil, gas and natural resources have been stolen from them, their most critical defensive territory taken, and their now perpetually in economic dependency on Russia.

    There is no deal we can make with Iran since it is known that deals made with the USA, the EU or anyone else are absolutely worthless and basically just trickery. A rational view of Iran for what has happened to Ukraine is to believe "we're next without nuclear weapons."
    You may be right but I doubt Iran fears a nuclear attack from anyone. The question Iran must ask themselves is what will benefit them in the shorter term. Would a nuclear race and threats to Israel be a priority to them right now? I rather doubt it, not the way the world is on edge at the moment.

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    Re: Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    This development also speaks anew of the need for the U.S. to develop a clear and coherent foreign policy doctrine and relearn how to engage in contingency planning (military and broader foreign policy). It needs to tighten its integration with existing NATO members so as to make clear that NATO members will be safeguarded under any circumstances, even if the use of force is required. In Asia, the U.S. needs to strengthen ties with its leading allies. Japan and South Korea need to know that American commitments to their security are reliable.

    Finally, to maintain military credibility in a world in which the balance of power is dynamic, the President and/or Congress need to abandon planned drastic cuts in military expenditures and manpower, even if that means reducing other expenditures, larger budget deficits than would otherwise be the case, or some combination of reallocated spending/larger budget deficits. Otherwise, the U.S. will be perceived as a great power, but one with declining capabilities. That outcome would rightly worry American allies. It could invite challenges to peripheral American interests by hostile actors.
    None of this will happen with a Congress interested more in scoring political points and Europeans who refuse to spend their Euros on defense. A lot of partisan hacks don't seem to realize that part of the reason why the President is stickless is because a sizable number of one party in Congress will not support any action that would result in favorable light for the President. They hark back to Reagan but utterly fail to understand that when push came to shove, Congress had Reagan's back on holding the Soviets, it was a Democrat Congress under Reagan who shared in the near bankrupting of America in the Cold War. We have a Congress that doesn't care about anything but making the other party look bad. Every leader on the planet knows this. It doesn't matter if we spend the money on additional military if our political structure hamstrings any actual action. And let's not forget that coming up on 1.5 decades of foreign adventures the American public is tired. We simply do not have the political will to support the kind of Cold War mentality. It's quite frightening how the US is starting to resemble its depiction in World War Z. What you describe is a superficial fix that does nothing to solve the underlying problems America has in taking the lead. I don't doubt for a second that a sizable number of both Democrats and Republicans would throw obstacle after obstacle in the President's execution of NATO obligations should they come due. America is tripping on its own shoelaces and its politicians keep making the knots tighter and tighter.

    And let's not forget those Europeans. Most of whom are far from their required NATO spending obligations. The Europeans have mooched off the US for decades, relying on us to protect them as they curtail spending after spending on military. And the whole integration and shared equipment makes it worse. When the Dutch and Belgians share artillery, what happens when one gets cold feet and doesn't want to partake in the conflict? As much as it does save money, it hamstrings the Europeans in ways worse than our own Congress.

    I don't doubt that the military post planned cuts could take Russia without trying. It's just that the politics are our biggest problem. Romney was wrong in saying Russia is the biggest threat. We are our biggest threat. I'd never thought this was a sane comment before, but we need to remove gerrymandering in the name of national security.
    "If your opponent is of choleric temperament, seek to irritate him." - Sun Tzu

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