Sunday, October 16, 2016

About that Pucker Factor Dial

I week ago, I noted Russia's surge in hostile rhetoric. Let's recall a slightly less recent surge.

Is Russia's recent barrage of hostile language just militaristic masturbation (it feels good but accomplishes nothing else) or does it telegraph intentions? I recently asked that:

Sure, the Russians are just using mean words. That is in part a substitute for the generally inferior Russian military (apart from their growing nuclear arsenal) compared to America's military.

But Russia can deploy power superior to ours in regions close to Russia and far from our power. And unless we mobilize and deploy enough military power to reverse any gains Russia makes until we can do that, Russia will make territorial gains while they have a temporary advantage in the theater that they have chosen to fight in.

My worry when foes start to talk with hostility and contempt is that rather than being a substitute for action, the verbal tirades reflect behind-the-scenes decisions to use military power, and so telegraph military action.

And when looking for something else, I ran across this post of mine several weeks before Russia invaded and captured Crimea from Ukraine (quoting the Daily Beast):

Russian politicians and analysts have started using loaded language when talking about what to do with Ukraine and its intractable protesters. Recently, a former advisor to Russian president Vladimir Putin, political scientist Andrey Illarionov, opined that Russia is extremely eager to seize Ukrainian territory. According to Illarionov, Moscow’s propaganda machine is running at top speed in order to prepare for such an outcome. He quoted Kremlin sources as saying, “we should wait ‘til the Sochi 2014 Olympics start and then set about finding the solution to the Ukrainian Question.”

Yeah, in answer to my question, I should have dialed my pucker factor to 11 in early February 2014.

Russia hasn't renewed the war with Ukraine as I expected already, but Russia just might have different factors controlling their timing than I do.

And the Russian rhetoric out there really is rather shocking as we sit in our comfy peacetime America contemplating whether a clown or crook shall "lead" us for the next four years:

With tensions between Russia and the United States at their highest since the Cold War, there have been alarming signs coming out of Moscow that suggest the country is ready for war.

Almost no one believes the Kremlin is actually preparing for a military conflict with the United States. Most analysts instead see it as a show, intended to boost support at home and to deter Western countries from intervening militarily in Syria.

There are some unsettling things Russia has done, however, to give the impression that war is looming[.]

But don't worry, most analysts think this is all just ego stroking. The world will wait patiently while we sort out which unacceptable loser we will vote for to sit in the Oval Office. Oh the suspense! Will that symbol of American power have slot machines in it or coin-operated turnstiles at the door to get in?

So consider my Pucker Factor dialed up.

Remember that in December 1941, Japan's GDP was about a tenth of America's. When foes believe our lack of will is a decisive factor that reduces our superior physical power to levels close to zero, making for a temporary advantage in the correlation of forces, foes can and have chosen to strike.

Have a super sparkly day.