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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The World as I See It: Russia, China, America and Maskirovka By Rich Kozlovich 

"George Friedman, is a Hungarian-born U.S. geopolitical forecaster, and strategist on international affairs and founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures, an online publication that analyzes and forecasts the course of global events."  While I'm not always in agreement with the views expressed by he, or those who publish there, I am a subscriber, and I think it's well worth it because I find their work, overall, to be well researched and timely.   They work hard at what they do and I recommend subscribing.  And no, I'm not paid by them, in point of fact they may find me to be a bit of an irritant as I comment on their posts, both positively and negatively.

On March 23, 2021 Mr. Friedman posted a "free" article entitled,  Russia, China and the United States: First Shots, and I thought someone is finally cutting through the clabber into the heart of reality discussing (in my words) the sophomoric approach of the Biden administration in their approach to both Russia and China, and what's real for both those nations.

One of the things we all have to understand is this.  Nothing is as it seems either in Russia or China, especially what's presented by the media.  Both are experts as what the Soviets called Maskirovka, which is defined as:  

"Russian military deception.  A military doctrine developed from the start of the twentieth century. The doctrine covers a broad range of measures for military deception, from camouflage to denial and deception."

"Theatricality and deception can make a man — or a country — appear to be much more than they really are in the mind of an opponent. The Russians have been embracing this approach for centuries in military and political showdowns, under a doctrine called “maskirovka.” The word means “masking,” and it’s a fitting name for a tactic that depends entirely on misrepresentation."

"Maskirovka is an insidious strategy that many Russian leaders, including President Vladimir Putin, have used over the years to mislead opponents, over-represent their strength and flat-out lie about what they have or have not done."

The Chinese add a slight component to this deception by practicing "object lesson" wars, as the Sino-Indian War - Wikipedia to intimidate their neighbors.  But starting a real war is a whole other thing.

In short, believe nothing the Russians or the Chinese say or do, all of which is most likely a lie, a distraction and a misdirection in order to gain on their adversaries, whether it involves economics or military might and aggression.

It seems to me that's the point Friedman is making regarding Biden and his band of bumblers. They simply don't get it.  While it seems to me Friedman does get it as he says Russia and China:

"are in no position to challenge the United States or attempt military action. But it is one thing to write and another to bear the burden of action. The question is what sort of action the Russians and Chinese might take. The logical solution is to form an alliance. The question is what it would look like and whether it would matter.

He goes on to note that any economic alliance would be seriously problematic, incapable of existing without friction, and making them both more vulnerable to economic sanctions by third parties.  But the real problem for these communist nations remains the same.  They're communists.  

I forwarded Friedman's article with my comments to a friend of mine, an international businessman, who has traveled there in the past and here were his observations:

Admittedly it has been some time since I visited Russia. GUM was supposed to be the pinnacle of Moscow shopping. It was great fun to be there, and have lunch outdoors overlooking Red Square ..... but I was both thrilled to be there and yet disappointed for the Russian people who would still be overwhelmed by the King of Prussia Mall outside Philadelphia. There wasn’t much evidence that Russia makes much of anything. The Soviet economy was not geared toward meeting the consumer needs of its people. The post-Soviet economy had not transitioned in a meaningful way.

I traveled by car outside Moscow and later Kazan. I was struck by the non-use of miles and miles of land. Who/what owns all that fallow/wild land? Why does no one even try to do anything with it?

He went on to note:

[In rural America] I can’t drive anywhere without seeing major usage of land. Growing up, there were perhaps 12-15 acres in a narrow rectangle between me and my grade school. A farmer planted corn there every year. Nothing much has changed. If the land has been cleared, it has been put to use.

In Russia, you can drive 50 miles along a major roadway outside Moscow (or Kazan) and see absolutely no evidence that any land is used for any purpose. Wild growth, ditches, whatever the cat drags home is the rule. Here, if there ain’t a house on it, some farmer has plowed and planted it.  Same thing at the GUM “mall”. You could buy suitcases with Sochi ad-tags, but there was little to buy that was home grown.

Russia has nukes, and many of them, paid at the expense of their people’s daily comfort. But that is a sad fact. Good Old Joe calling Putin a “killer” may be the dumbest and most unnecessary and gratuitous insult of ANY President in my own recollection. It served no purpose whatsoever. Friedman pretends that there was some kind of positioning message in that statement, but I believe without reservation that Biden did not expect the question and only wanted to appear as the “tough guy” in the moment. Certainly Putin recognized the gaffe, and ate Biden’s lunch with his response.

I have no personal experience with China, so I have nothing special to contribute there. But Biden has no understanding of Russia and Russians at all.

As for a military alliance, it's the same problem, neither can support each other as Friedman notes:

Neither Russia nor China can support the other’s strategic needs. The primary threat to China is naval. Russia’s naval capacity is limited, and its major Asian port, Vladivostok, requires passage through maritime routes that are controlled by Japan and the United States. Russia would be contained by the same coalition threatening China. The threats to Russia are primarily terrestrial. China’s ability to send forces to areas of Russian concern is limited, and Russia has no pressing need for additional ground troops. There are areas in which one could help the other, such as military hardware or cyberwarfare, but that isn’t a real alliance.

Furthermore, neither China or Russia can financially afford a real war, and that includes China launching a massive naval invasion at Taiwan or elsewhere in the South China Sea, which they claim they own. While initially China would prevail, the long term consequences would ultimately destroy China, not only economically, but physically.  And Xi isn't stupid.

And this fact remains.  Neither China or Russia has anything the other wants or needs, and make sure to understand this.  Both of their economies are paper tigers, stunningly fragile. Neither can stand too much interruption without crumbling.  Trump understood that.  

Neither Obama, Biden, Harris or any in their circular firing squads get that, or refuse to admit it for reasons I can't begin to fathom. And, unfortunately, having such a circular firing squad in charge in Washington is the real flaw in the scenario being painted here.  

Both Putin and Xi have taken Biden's measure and know he's weak, indecisive, incompetent and a not-so-bright stumble bum, and on the best of occasions, a leaky vessel.  As Anony Mee observed in her piece yesterday, Pity poor Joe? No:

We’ve just witnessed a notably cringe-worthy week from Biden and his administration – signing the $1.9 trillion boondoggle bill, then being sued by the State of Ohio; talking smack about Russian President Putin, who then pulled his ambassador back home; being baited by Putin and made to look like a fool when he refused to have a conversation with him; declaring in the face of all opposing evidence that there is no crisis at our southern border; and being threatened by North Korea on Monday only by Thursday to announce that we would be ready to fight them that evening. I hesitate to call it a catastrophe, as most likely the worst is not yet upon us.

It seems clear to just about everyone other than Biden, he'll soon be gone, and he'll be followed by an even more amazingly weak, stupid, selfish, incompetent and calloused woman. And I have no doubt both Xi and Putin believe she can be bullied.  And I also think they can kick her to the curb without breaking a sweat. 

 You will find this piece by Victor Davis Hanson interesting, The Nature of Chinese Contempt for Us, demonstrating the impact of an American foreign policy predicated on self loathing.

An adoring corrupt media allowed her to get away with playing the phony tough arrogant bully role in the Kavanaugh hearings, but that won't float with Xi and Putin. 

Trump could do it an get away with it because they knew they weren't dealing with a checkers player like Obama.  They were facing a multidimensional chess player in Trump, and neither Biden, Harris, or the teams of misfits surrounding them are capable of dealing with either Putin or Xi at that level.  They're not even playing checkers, they're playing 52 pick up. 

The media can't protect Harris from them, or the consequences of her failures, which I have no doubt will be monumental.  she will crumble like tin foil, even with the support of an excuse making media. 

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