Putin’s war planes approach Alaska and Canada 6

Is Putin testing Obama’s “flexibility“?

In Obamaspeak, “flexible” doesn’t mean compromising a little, bending to some extent; it means being willing to act in an unprincipled way, even perhaps to the extent of acting against one’s country’s interests.

Fox News reports:

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An F-22 fighter jet

Two U.S. F-22 fighter jets intercepted six Russian military airplanes that were flying near Alaska, military officials said Friday.

Lt. Col. Michael Jazdyk, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said the jets intercepted the planes about 55 nautical miles from the Alaskan coast at about 7 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday.

Tensions are high between the United States and Russia as the two countries are increasingly at odds over Ukraine, where Russian-backed insurgents have been fighting for control of parts of the country.

The Russian planes were identified as two IL-78 refueling tankers, two Mig-31 fighter jets and two Bear long-range bombers. They looped south and returned to their base in Russia after the U.S. jets were scrambled.

At about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets intercepted two of the long-range Russian Bear bombers about 40 nautical miles off the Canadian coastline in the Beaufort Sea.

In both cases, the Russian planes entered the Air Defense Identification Zone, which extends about 200 miles from the coastline. They did not enter sovereign airspace of the United States or Canada.

Jazdyk said the fighter jets were scrambled “basically to let those aircraft know that we see them, and in case of a threat, to let them know we are there to protect our sovereign airspace.”

In the past five years, jets under NORAD’s command have intercepted more than 50 Russian bombers approaching North American airspace.

NORAD is a binational American and Canadian command responsible for air defense in North America.

What is Putin’s intention? Why does he think he can do this?

We found answers to those question in this article by J. E. Dyer at Liberty Unyielding. Commander Jennifer Dyer is a retired US Naval intelligence officer who served for 21 years. Her articles deal with important military issues and are invariably well-informed and interesting.

Russian bombers proliferate today in the air space off North America and Europe, operating at an activity level not seen since the very height of the Cold War.  This isn’t something to shrug off.

Although it’s certainly attributable to Vladimir Putin’s current, proximate geopolitical intentions – to defy NATO, press his aggression against Ukraine, and intimidate the Baltic Republics – it’s also an expression of strategic posture harking back to the conventions of the Cold War.

Bringing out the Bears is a strategic signal.  In Europe, the Russians could use Tu-160 Blackjacks and Tu-22M Backfire bombers to fly aggressive routes around the northern perimeter.  The Blackjacks (sometimes called the “B-1-ski”) are understood to have a strategic role; the shorter-range Backfires, as dedicated bombers rather than multi-role aircraft, send a similarly aggressive signal.

But the Tu-95 Bear H bombers have for decades been the backbone of the airborne leg of Russia’s strategic “triad”:  ICBMs, ballistic-missile submarines, and nuclear-armed bombers.  When Russia deploys Bear Hs, the strategic signal is unmistakable.

Americans watching the drama unfold have a visceral sense of this, in part because the media routinely refer to the Bear Hs as “nuclear bombers.”  The Bear Hs are more properly called long-range bombers or strategic bombers; they may or may not be carrying missiles with nuclear warheads.  The aircraft are capable of carrying AS-15 “Kent” long-range cruise missiles, which were designed to be fitted with nuclear warheads, but they won’t necessarily have them mounted on a given flight. …

The post-Cold War status quo involved three fundamental features:  a mutual (U.S. and Russia) stand-down of constantly-ready nuclear forces, which occurred in the early 1990s… ; verifiable adherence by both sides to the basic elements of our arms control agreements; and continuity in the strategic postures of both parties.

The last feature was the first one to be decisively breached … Through a series of actions from 2009 to 2013, the Obama administration overturned the premise on which, for the preceding 25 years, the U.S. had negotiated for arms control and proposed to guarantee global stability.

In 1983, Reagan established missile defense, and not mutual assured destruction, as the basis for U.S. security and global stability. … Although Obama has not publicly repudiated the U.S. missile defense posture, he has dismantled it with a series of policy actions.  All but a few thousand Americans, at most, are unaware of this arcane reality – but Russian decision-makers perceive it quite clearly. …

The Russians for their own reasons have long disputed America’s missile defense-based policy.  Obama’s unilateral decision to give it up has cut the whole strategic stability situation adrift, and the Russians in 2014 are happy to take advantage of that.

Regarding the other two features of the post-Cold War status quo, Russia has been engaging in violations of both START and the INF treaty for some time now; the Bush and Clinton administrations made an issue of that, but the Obama administration has not given it importance, and violations by Moscow have become more egregious.

The US and Russia signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in 1910. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed by the US and the Soviet Union way back in 1987.

The weak performance of this one feature would be more tolerable if the other two were in line.  But in addition to the slow, bureaucratic collapse of the U.S. posture under Obama, Russia has since 2010 opened the door to breaching the third feature:  the stand-down of ready nuclear forces.  In 2010, Russia modified her national security strategy to permit preemptive use of nuclear weapons – a change to a policy that had stood since before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

Then, about three weeks ago, Russia publicly floated a threat through the common method of quoting a retired general in the state-run media.  This general, Yuri Yakubov (formerly the commander of Russia’s Far Eastern military district and a senior staffer in the ministry of defense), had an ominous message. Interfax quotes Retired Army General Yuri Yakubov as saying:

[The national military strategy] for the country should in the first place clearly identify the potential enemy of Russia, which is not in the military doctrine of 2010. In my view, our main enemy is the United States and the North Atlantic bloc [NATO].

In particular, in my opinion, you need to carefully consider the forms and methods of the operation of Aerospace Defence, in close cooperation with strategic nuclear deterrence forces, the Strategic Missile Forces, strategic aviation and the Navy. Thus it is necessary to study the conditions under which Russia could use the Russian strategic nuclear forces (SNF) pre-emptively.

The preemptive use of nuclear weapons implies readiness to employ them quickly, against preselected targets. …

Russia would feel much more constrained about nuclear tough talk if the United States were setting and enforcing boundaries.  But we’re not It’s essential to understand this.

Putin has his current, proximate reasons for wanting to convey threats to the U.S. and NATO – reasons having to do with perceived Russian interests in South Asia, the Far East, and the Eastern Mediterranean as much as with Eastern Europe.  But Russia wouldn’t be going high order with the overt strategic signals – the aggressive Bear flights – if Putin thought he was going to get real pushback from Washington …

Putin is pulling a really big weapon, with the accelerating implications that he feels free to break away from the post-Cold War strategic status quo.  This pattern, if nothing else, should be a clue to his seriousness.

But there are other gathering clues, such as the reports in just the last couple of weeks about frankly threatening comments he has made to European leaders.  …

Putin made [the following] statement during a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, who in turn, relayed his words to European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso, during the latter’s visit to Kyiv last Friday (12 September), in which Poroshenko briefed the EU chief on threats.

If I want, Russian troops in two days could not only be in Kyiv, but also Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest.

Putin is burning bridges by doing this.  He is clearly not trying to hold out hope of a restored status quo.

And that in turn means that the “push” has started: the push from a former stakeholder that will cause the status quo to fully collapse.

An F-22 from the 302d Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, AK intercepts a Russian Tu-95MS Bear H. (USAF image

An F-22 from the 302d Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, AK intercepts a Russian Tu-95MS Bear H. (USAF image)

Start worrying 0

It has been a pretense all along that the Obama administration wants sanctions against Iran to stop it (as if they could!) becoming a nuclear power. This does not surprise us. We have said before that we believe Obama actually wants Iran  to become nuclear armed – and America to lose its nuclear dominance.

Today DebkaFile, referring to a “surprising report and the confusing signals from Washington of the last week”, observes:

Rather than going all out to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Washington and London are intent on blocking the road to sanctions.

As to Obama’s determination to weaken America, read Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation discussing the new START agreement with Russia in this New York Post article, from which we quote:

Obama says he wants the Senate to pass the treaty before the November elections — most likely for fear that a shift in political power to the right might scuttle an already leaky arms-control proposal.

Yet, from the looks of it, sinking it in the name of our national security might be the best thing to happen to the Son of START.

The key flaws:

* To meet the new START-mandated warhead limits of 1,500, the United States must eliminate nearly 80 more warheads than Russia does.

* Worse yet, America needs to get rid of as many as 150 delivery platforms (subs, bombers or silos) to reach the 700 limit; Russia can oddly add more than 130 vehicles.

That’s right: Moscow can actually raise the number of its launch/delivery platforms under new START. In other words, the “reduction” in START applies mostly to us . . .

* US conventional warheads on ICBMs are counted toward the treaty’s nuclear-warhead limit. This would strangle Prompt Global Strike — a new ICBM armed with a non-nuclear payload that could be used globally on short notice. …

Then there’s missile defense: The White House insists the treaty doesn’t affect it, but the Kremlin’s official take is very different: “[START] can operate and be viable if the United States of America refrains from developing its missile-defense capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively.”

Not good news, considering Iran will have an ICBM as soon as 2015 — and we don’t have a comprehensive defense against it.

Plus, while treaty limitations may match this administration’s (misguided) missile-defense vision, the question is whether START will hamstring future administrations dealing with yet-to-be-determined threats.

A sea of experts is also expressing concern that, in a world that is arming, not disarming, these major reductions in the US nuclear-force structure may create (or feed) an image of American weakness and decline.

They worry about whether a US drawdown would undermine American deterrence, a bedrock of our defense policy, encouraging other potential rivals to bolster their current or planned arsenals.

But Obama sees it differently, believing US leadership on disarmament (even unilateral) gives us greater moral standing in battling proliferation. …

That’s what he says. But can we believe him? Is it a reason or just an excuse for the disarming of America?

Posted under Commentary, Defense, Iran, Islam, Israel, jihad, middle east, Muslims, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 14, 2010

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The view from the left 0

Hard as it is to believe, this Washington Post column by Fred Hiatt is not satire. He seems seriously to mean what he says.

Gays, immigrants, union leaders, budget hawks, campaign finance reformers, environmentalists, free-traders, human rights activists and civil libertarians all have had cause to wonder whether they were right to trust Obama. The list is familiar, but the explanation remains disputed.

My theory: The culprit is less ideology than Obama’s fidelity to a strategy he can’t, for tactical reasons, publicly acknowledge. Given the hand he was dealt, the evidence suggests he resolved that he had to choose only one domestic and one foreign objective for his first two years in office.

An ambitious set of goals motivated Obama’s candidacy, and early in his presidency the rap was that he was taking on too many. But the legacy of wars abroad and the Great Recession at home threatened his ability to accomplish any of them. Simply managing that bleak inheritance, he realized, might consume his entire term.

To avoid that trap, Obama had to govern with discipline. First, he would have to turn potential negatives into successes. At home, that meant not only engineering a stimulus program to end the recession but also designing financial reform to prevent a recurrence. In Iraq and Afghanistan, it meant charting a path to not just to withdrawal but stable outcomes.

Since both fronts would take enormous energy and political capital, Obama could not afford to squander whatever remained across an array of worthy electives. So over time he subordinated everything to just two: health-insurance reform and blocking Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Anything else, no matter how popular or deserving, had to give way if it interfered with those.

Obama has put enormous energy into repairing relations with Russia, for example, and relatively less into ties with allies such as India, Mexico or Britain because stopping Iran would require Russia’s support of sanctions. Without a new START arms-control treaty, Russia would not play ball on Iran, so Obama worked assiduously to negotiate a new START. The nuclear summit he hosted in Washington this month; playing down trade tensions with China; the relative reticence on North Korea’s nukes; prodding Israel toward peace talks — all of these were crafted with an eye toward Iran.

At home, the mono-focus is more obvious. Obama would like to close the Guantanamo prison, curb traffic of assault weapons crossing the Mexican border, reform immigration laws and reduce carbon emissions. But each would have carried a political cost, to Obama or Democratic allies he needed on health care, so they all had to wait.

I don’t mean to suggest that Obama would go to any lengths to achieve the main objective. He bargained hard on START, for example, insisting that the treaty meet U.S. military needs as well as serve the larger goal.

And it’s not that he has abandoned everything else: Where he could advance other objectives at minimal cost, he has done so, usually by executive action. He wouldn’t fight for labor law reform, but he promulgated regulations that favor unions. He hasn’t replaced No Child Left Behind, but he allowed his education secretary to spur reform by judicious granting and withholding of stimulus funds. There’s no climate change legislation, but the Environmental Protection Agency hiked mileage standards for cars and trucks. And so on.

Obama can’t acknowledge all this. You don’t tell allies, whether gay rights groups or India, that they’ve slipped down your priority list. (That’s especially true now, before an election, as immigration, education and energy advocates jockey to go next.) And the best negotiating strategy to get things you want isn’t always to show how much you want them.

So we may have to wait until Obama writes his memoirs to discover why he elevated these two goals. Was he set on health reform from the start, for instance, or did congressional politics nudge that ahead of, say, coping with climate change?

Abroad, the strategy, with its hope of turning autocracies such as China and Russia into long-term partners, remains at best unproven. At home, it seems to be paying off, with major health reform approved and financial reform in sight. For those at the back of the line — such as the District last week — the opportunity costs are sharply felt. But even at such times, it’s hard not to admire Obama’s focus.

Every statement cries out for exegesis. Some of them – Obama’s “ending of the recession”, his financial reform, his “charting a path to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan” – need at least a paragraph each. But there’s one that clamors for objection above the rest.

“Blocking Iran’s development of nuclear weapons” has been Obama’s foreign policy priority? Everything else except health care has been subordinated to that goal? He’s focussed on it?

Strange – we haven’t noticed that he’s done a damn thing about it. It seems to us that he’s perfectly willing to let Iran become a nuclear-armed power. A series of  “deadlines” have been allowed to pass without there being any penalty for Iran’s ignoring them. Talk of sanctions has been nothing but talk, and those talked of have been steadily weakened. No military option is “on the table”. Obama has begged Ahmadinejad for his friendship, and the poisonous little dictator has gleefully said no over and over again. How come Mr Hiatt hasn’t noticed all that?

How has the START treaty affected Iran? Russia is still not willing to vote for sanctions. And what US military needs have been served by it?  It is plainly to the detriment of the US and the advantage of Russia. Relations with Russia are in no way “repaired”. If changed at all, they’re probably worse. Nor will China vote for sanctions. And Obama’s “reticence” on North Korea’s nukes has resulted in – what?  As for the nuclear summit, Iran wasn’t even mentioned. And “prodding” Israel – that has made the world safe from Iranian bombs? What it has really done is tell Israel that it has “slipped down the priority list”, along with India and Britain and a number of other allies.

Well, we’ve recovered from being flabbergasted by Mr Hiatt’s quaint perspective and now we find it amusing. And it’s gratifying to know that numerous bunches of lefties (but surely “free-traders” and “budget hawks” do not belong among them) feel disappointed by the president of their dreams. From our perspective he has gone fearfully far to satisfy them, with the “executive action” and “regulations” and so on that Mr Hiatt tells us were thrown to them as mere sops or stop-gaps. So apparently he might have gone further and done even worse.

The implication of Mr Hiatt’s apologia for his hero is that when he has succeeded with his two chosen “electives”, he will go further. Now the health care legislation has been forced through, but there still remains the other goal Mr Hiatt believes Obama is focussed on: stopping Iran going nuclear.

If Mr Hiatt is right and the achievement of that goal really stands between Obama and the rest of the far left agenda he’s expected to foist on us, then we can rest easy. Or could, if dread of those bombs wasn’t keeping us awake nights.

But what if Mr Hiatt is wrong? We’ll get the bombs and the radical left agenda.

Too big to see 0

A shift of power from the United States to its enemies – chief among them China, Iran, and Russia – is being deliberately carried out by Obama and his gang.

China now wields economic power over America. Iran is being allowed to develop a nuclear arms capability. Obama has concluded a treaty with Russia whereby America will weaken itself while Russia will strengthen itself militarily.

What’s more, America will pay Russia to do it.

Why is there no protest, no outcry about this?

Is it too dreadful for most Americans to notice, so they turn their eyes away from it?

Is it too big to see?

Frank Gaffney at Canada Free press explains just how the new START treaty is to Russia’s advantage and America’s detriment:

President Obama announced last Thusday that he had concluded a follow-on to the 1989 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia. He characterized the cuts that it would make in the two nations’ nuclear arsenals as a major step towards his goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. In practice, however, the so-called “New START” accord will contribute primarily to the denuclearization of the United States and to making the world a more dangerous place. Accordingly, it would be more accurate to call it “False START.”

The first thing to note about the Obama treaty is that it confers real advantages on the Russians. For starters, the Kremlin will have to make essentially no cuts in the numbers of its deployed strategic launchers, whereas the United States will have to destroy several hundred of ours.

It is unclear at this writing whether such reductions by the U.S. will, as a practical matter, make it difficult – if not impossible – for America to preserve its strategic “Triad” of land- and sea-based ballistic missiles and long-range bombers. If so, there could be serious implications for strategic stability as the confidence of friends and foes alike in the robustness of our deterrent declines markedly.

What is clear, though, is that we will be obliged to cut back our arsenal to match the lower levels that the Russians can afford to maintain at the moment. The advisability of such a step would be debatable even if it produced a genuine equality between the two parties.

Unfortunately, the seeming equality thus established is deceptive in at least three respects:

First, the Russians are aggressively modernizing their strategic forces with both new missiles and warheads. They claim that by 2015 roughly 80% of their long-range arsenal will have been upgraded – an activity we are subsidizing by paying to dismantle their old weapon systems, freeing up funds for Moscow’s modernization programs.

By contrast, the United States has not introduced a new nuclear weapon in over fifteen years. Its missiles, submarines and bombers are, by and large, even older, with some dating back to the 1950s and ’60s. Today, the Nation has no capability to produce new nuclear weapons and could not manufacture them in quantity for many years – the only nuclear power of whom that can be said.

Second, the Russians are reintroducing multiple, independently-targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) on their land-based ballistic missiles. This step could enable a break-out capacity that would allow Moscow rapidly to deploy far more weapons than its forces are allowed to have under the new START treaty. By contrast, the United States decided back in the 1980s that such a capability was “destabilizing”; it has systematically de-MIRVed its underground silo-launched intercontinental-range ballistic missiles ever since.

Third, the newly unveiled START accord fails to take into account or otherwise limit several thousand Russian “tactical” nuclear weapons. The Kremlin has focused for twenty years on such low-yield devices; some with the explosive power of the Hiroshima weapon and fitted on submarine-launched cruise missiles are deployed off our coasts today. While the administration says such armaments could be the subject of a future, bilateral treaty that makes still deeper reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear stocks, don’t count on it. In any event, they will constitute a real, asymmetric advantage for Russia for many years to come. This is a particularly worrisome prospect to American allies in Europe who have long relied on America’s “extended deterrence” to counteract such threatening Kremlin capabilities.

Then, there is the matter of missile defense. The Obama administration tried to finesse Russian insistence on including in the new accord language that would capture American defenses against missile attack by confining to the preamble an acknowledgement of a “relationship” between such systems and offensive forces. The United States claims that, by its nature, such preambular language is not binding. Yet, a Kremlin spokesman has already served notice that Moscow will feel free to abrogate the START follow-on treaty if it believes that U.S. missile defenses in Europe are a threat to its deterrent.

The biggest problem of all with the New START treaty, however, is that it is a product of President Obama’s fixation with “devaluing nuclear weapons” and ridding the world of them. On these grounds, he refuses to take the steps necessary to modernize America’s deterrent. Even though he professes that a nuclear-free globe will not be realized any time soon, he is condemning the nation to unilateral disarmament by allowing the steady and unavoidable obsolescence of the U.S. stockpile, and the dissipation of the workforce and infrastructure needed to maintain it, to continue unabated.

The acuteness of this obsolescence has reached a point where the directors of the nation’s nuclear laboratories have felt compelled to express strong concerns about the continued reliability of the arsenal. …

These factors ensure that the New START treaty will contribute to U.S. nuclear disarmament alright, but do nothing to advance the ostensible purpose of the exercise – namely, enhancing the security of this country or the world.