The Quality of Mercy

Uncle Volodya says, "The darkest secret of this country, I am afraid, is that too many of its citizens imagine that they belong to a much higher civilization somewhere else.”

Uncle Volodya says, “The darkest secret of this country, I am afraid, is that too many of its citizens imagine that they belong to a much higher civilization somewhere else.”

“Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time everywhere”

-George W. Bush

The western press, and the political systems it serves, are rousing themselves to a frenzy of effort to stop the Syrian government forces from re-taking the Syrian city of Aleppo, which the west would very much like to see the ‘rebels’ retain as the capital of a federalized opposition state within Syria.

The Washington Post is a good example of the outrage flooding the net, chucking out articles like it was a snowball fight, each vying with the last to explore new heights of this-must-not-stand noble fury at the Russian/Syrian military operation to drive Islamic State from  the last major city in Syria in which it has a significant presence. If Assad’s forces are successful, as they will be without a direct western military intervention on behalf of the al Qaeda affiliates, the IS insurgency will be reduced to terrorizing small villages and spray-painting its tags on mailboxes.

Consider Richard Cohen, figuratively dancing with rage, beside himself with fury at the Russians’ temerity in supporting Assad – who is the democratically-elected leader of Syria, who retains the loyalty of a convincing majority and who would win easily in free elections.

According to Cohen, what is going on now in Aleppo is murder, plain and simple, and that it is being allowed to continue is a symbol of American weakness. Cohen implores the United States to gird itself for battle, and issue forth and save the al-Nusra Front, Islamic State and whatever other al-Qaeda splinter groups might be in Aleppo, from defeat. Well, them, too – but he’s mostly concerned about the civilians, especially the children. Because, in the end, it’s for the kids, right?

This is not Kerry’s failure. It is Obama’s. He takes overweening pride in being the anti-George W. Bush. Obama is the president who did not get us into any nonessential wars of the Iraq variety. The consequences for Syria have been dire — perhaps 500,000 dead, 7 million internal refugees, with millions more surging toward Europe like a tsunami of the desperate.

Syria had a pre-crisis population of just over 21 million, so according to Cohen, a third of the Syrian population has either been killed or internally displaced. But the west is just now getting extra-concerned. Cohen’s anguish certainly speaks well of him; I will do what I can to put him in touch with an agency that will send a Syrian refugee family to share his accommodations. I sure hope he doesn’t live in one of the states that has refused to take Syrian refugees, especially considering the death toll appears to have doubled in less than a year; in November 2015 it was guessed to be around 250,000. But Richard has shown us how to arrive at a more sensational number – you just put ‘perhaps’ in front of it. In reality nobody has much of a clue, since the UN takes its numbers directly from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. As I have pointed out many times before, this is one guy working out of his living room in England, funneling figures from his network of activists in Syria. Nobody checks anything, and the one time the UN tried to verify the numbers it was successful in doing so for less than a dozen casualties.

Nor is Cohen the only one, of course; just the Washington Post alone is alive with articles damning the Syrian government and the Russian Federation, and imploring western leaders to do something, anything, just doitnowtheresnotimeforanalysis. We’ll sort it out later, which might make a dandy epitaph for western policymaking as a whole. International news sources likewise bewail western stasis, while the French have arrived at an ecstacy of choler, a new altitude for dudgeon, and are demanding a UN resolution ordering a cease-fire – anyone who doesn’t vote for it is a war criminal. No, I’m not kidding.

Say – does anyone remember the war in Libya, when the French war criminals were airdropping weapons to the Benghazi rebels? Without consulting any authority, or even their allies? Airdropping weapons to the outfit, eventually victorious once NATO agreed to act as its Air Force, that raised the al Qaeda flag over Benghazi the instant NATO pulled out of Libya? How’d that turn out? Prosperous western-leaning market democracy? Not so much. Oh, well; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, right, France? You cannot make ze omelette wizzout you break ze eggs, n’est-ce pas?

The serving French government is a dick pudding whose main ingredient is dick, sans doubte, and Francois Hollande has earned the right to have the next newly-discovered invertebrate named after him. The French seem to have forgotten already how the US State Department screwed them over with the Mistral Amphibious Assault Carrier sale to Russia, which cost them a quarter of a billion Euros. And then Egypt – the eventual buyer – outfitted them with new Russian helicopters. But here comes France, carrying Uncle Sam’s golf clubs again; I guess they never learn.

Well, as much fun as it would be to talk about French fumbling all day, that Cohen thing is still bugging me. General Cohen’s insistence that Washington stop futzing around and get in there and stop Putin from slaughtering innocents strikes a jangling chord with me. And I just realized why.


Starting in November 2004 and over the course of a month and half, the British and United States military hammered the shit out of Fallujah, in Iraq. Oh, they didn’t say that, of course – they called it Operation Phantom Fury, because that sounds more organized and neat than simply blasting the city to rubble. And you know the funny thing? American accounts of the battle in the popular press do not mention civilian casualties. Or bombing hospitals. Or cutting off all electrical power, or turning back Red Crescent humanitarian aid or turning back all ‘military-age males’ attempting to flee the city. The US military served notice that everyone who was not an insurgent should get out of Fallujah, and about 80% of the population, according to some estimates, left. The remainder were treated as if they were all insurgents.

Before the offensive commenced, the population was estimated at more than 250,000. That suggests that at least upwards of 50,000 people remained in the city during the ensuing bombardment. But American reports reflect that there were at most 4000 insurgents among the population in the city. Simple mathematics resolves that if those figures are accurate, more than 45,000 civilians remained in Fallujah.

What was it like for those inhabitants, once the offensive commenced? Bear in mind that the offensive itself followed weeks of aerial bombing. But once the Marines and soldiers started going block-to-block, house-to-house, what was it like for them?

“Burhan Fasa’a, an Iraqi journalist, said Americans grew easily frustrated with Iraqis who could not speak English. “Americans did not have interpreters with them, so they entered houses and killed people because they didn’t speak English. They entered the house where I was with 26 people, and shot people because [the people] didn’t obey [the soldiers’] orders, even just because the people couldn’t understand a word of English.” Abu Hammad, a resident of Fallujah, told the Inter Press Service that he saw people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the siege. “The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore. Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their head to show they are not fighters, they were all shot.” Furthermore, “even the wound[ed] people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed.” Former residents of Fallujah recall other tragic methods of killing the wounded. “I watched them [U.S. Forces] roll over wounded people in the street with tanks… …This happened so many times.”

Preliminary estimates as of December of 2004 revealed that at least 6,000 Iraqi citizens in Fallujah had been killed, and one-third of the city had been destroyed.”

Many people will not want to believe this happened, that people who might be their neighbours could do such things. And there’s a tendency to assume the speaker must be lying, must be, because he is an Iraqi with an incentive to make the west out to be wicked and depraved. And you know what? This is the wages of deception, of constant spin and fabrication in the effort to twist public perception of events. The end result is that people will only believe what they are comfortable believing. Because there is no group or entity upon whom we can rely to tell us the truth. Here’s a great example – a video clip which most likely originates with the lyingest group of individuals in Syria – the White Helmets. It is purportedly a scene of chaos in an East Aleppo hospital, one of the few surviving, because the Russians carefully seek them out and bomb them because they love killing people. The atmosphere is chaos, with women wailing loudly and what appear to be orderlies trying to deal with the flood of casualties. Keep your eye on the guy on the right, pretending to nurse a head wound. Since he is around the corner from the ‘action’, he figures it’s safe to laugh at the absurdity of it all, until he realizes the camera is on him – whereupon he quickly adopts the mien of suffering victim.

Anyway, back to Fallujah. British officers professed themselves to be appalled at the wilful destruction carried out by American forces.

“In the assault US commanders largely treated Fallujah as a free-fire zone to try to reduce casualties among their own troops. British officers were appalled by the lack of concern for civilian casualties. “During preparatory operations in the November 2004 Fallujah clearance operation, on one night over 40 155mm artillery rounds were fired into a small sector of the city,” recalled Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, a British commander serving with the American forces in Baghdad.

He added that the US commander who ordered this devastating use of firepower did not consider it significant enough to mention it in his daily report to the US general in command. Dr Busby says that while he cannot identify the type of armaments used by the Marines, the extent of genetic damage suffered by inhabitants suggests the use of uranium in some form. He said: “My guess is that they used a new weapon against buildings to break through walls and kill those inside.”

The legacy of the siege of Fallujah continued long after the battle had ended, with a 12-fold increase in cancer in children under 14, likely due to the use of depleted-uranium ammunition. After months of denials, Washington finally admitted in 2005 that its forces had used White Phosphorus (AKA ‘Willy Pete’) as an incendiary weapon against Iraqis in Fallujah, which is a war crime and was so assessed at the time although nothing – repeat, nothing – was ever done about it. If White Phosphorus makes contact with skin it will continue to burn independent of oxygen all the way to the bone. But Washington insisted it had only used it against enemy insurgents, wink, wink. Why the hedging?

Because using White Phosphorus against enemy troops is not a crime. As a matter of fact, American lawyers have penciled in an escape clause for occasions when American troops kill civilians. And it is ‘They didn’t mean to’. That’s right – how does it go, Samantha Power? “There is a moral difference between setting out to destroy as many civilians as possible and killing civilians unintentionally and reluctantly in pursuit of a military objective.”

Ah; of course there is. And so now you see how simple it is to argue that forces of the Syrian government and the Russian Federation always do the former – because they get a thrill out of killing civilians – while the forces of the United States and its allies always do the latter. And while proving it would be virtually impossible, proving otherwise would be just as impossible. Moral victory, United States.

Somebody was so reluctant and unintentional about killing 21 people in Fallujah, whose bodies were unearthed from a mass grave found in Al-Maadhidi cemetery, that they took the trouble to blindfold them, tie their arms and legs, shoot them and then place the corpses in body bags with English letters and numbers on them and bury them. The mayor and the Chief of Police both said the bodies were from the 2004 Fallujah offensive, and that they had been killed by US forces. But the aforementioned US forces declined to comment, so I guess nobody knows.

US forces unintentionally and reluctantly bombed a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad, unintentionally killing some civilians, including those who burned to death in their cars.  The US Air Force reluctantly bombed a chicken shack in Baghdad with four satellite-guided ‘smart bombs’, but they must not have been top of their class, because they hit houses near the restaurant and killed 8 civilians, including 3 children. None of them were Saddam Hussein and his two sons,  whom a tipster had apparently told the US military were inside enjoying a chicken dinner. I hope that’s how it went, and that they were not just guessing. At any rate, the super-high-precision bombs missed the restaurant, only blowing out its windows with the blast. The people it did hit were pretty dead, though.

Anyway, you see how it works. You just make up the name of some bad guy you were trying to get, and you can safely bomb the shit out of anything you want, while keeping your moral authority unsullied. You didn’t mean to. The USA always has an excuse (bad people have celebrations, too) when it kills civilians in the pursuit of some military objective, but it will accept no excuses whatsoever from its enemies when they kill civilians in pursuit of a military objective, and their intent to deliberately kill civilians is consistently assumed.

Let’s put this in perspective. The United States not only had no business in Iraq at all, it deliberately fabricated the excuse it used to invade Iraq. Various studies estimate Iraqi deaths in the Iraq war at 1 million. The US Defense Secretary characterized the resistance to American conquest as ‘a few pockets of dead-enders’, probably not more than 10,000 fighters. Either the USA killed each of them 100 times over, like something out of Blackadder Goes Forth, or  it killed a lot of civilians. You can minus off a few who were likely killed by other Iraqis, but the main target of Iraqis was US forces. You can cut the figure down by, let’s say, 100,000, for Iraqi soldiers who were killed in the initial war, while there still was an Iraqi Army. That still leaves about 850,000 unexplained civilian deaths. The USA announced that it was in total control of Iraq, and exulted over the way the Iraqis had to coordinate everything with their American occupiers. After the Fallujah offensive commenced, US forces fired indiscriminately into the city although it still contained thousands of civilians, used prohibited weapons against the civilian population and did not provide safe exit corridors for those fleeing the barrage. The US military cut the power to the city so that medical facilities which did not have a generator capability had no electricity.

Syria is fighting a foreign-backed insurgency in Aleppo, in which many of the fighters are Islamic extremists recruited from abroad who are not Syrians. It is a war to return Syria to the unified, secular country it was before the western-instigated regime-change effort commenced. Syrians who lay down their arms and surrender may be amnestied under Syrian law, and even foreign fighters may leave by safe corridors, with their weapons. Those civilians who fled Aleppo are being housed and provided for as best the government can manage under the circumstances, and will be provided with assistance to return to their homes when the fighting is over if their homes are not destroyed in the violence. The Islamic extremists Syria and Russia are fighting are trained, armed and supported by Washington and its allies, and Washington refuses to differentiate between ‘moderate’ rebels and al Qaeda affiliates as it has agreed to do in cease-fire agreements. The USA is in Syria at its own insistence, ostensibly to fight Islamic State, although circumstantial evidence demonstrates it is actually supporting  extremist groups as proxy forces in the hope they will topple the Syrian government. Anyone who doubts this should read the interview between the German newspaper Focus and the commander of al Nusra, published two days ago.

Richard Cohen sees Aleppo as Guernica, because – he claims – Guernica, like Aleppo, was bombed by fascists deliberately seeking to inflict as many civilian casualties as possible. Let’s be clear; Washington does not give a tin weasel about civilian casualties except for those killed by its enemies, and has written legalese which guarantees civilians killed by American forces will always have been killed as a result of a reluctant accident. Those killed by Washington’s foes will always have been murdered for no justifiable reason. Fallujah was more like Guernica, but those deaths don’t matter, because nobody meant to kill them.

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes

This entry was posted in Economy, Europe, Government, Law and Order, Middle East, Military, Politics, Russia, Strategy, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2,542 Responses to The Quality of Mercy

  1. et Al says: US Threatens Military Hacks on Russia’s Electric, Communications Grids Over Election

    This US has publicly threatened ‘retaliatory’ hacks against Russia for weeks now, based on allegations that Russia may have been involved in certain hacks related to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Russia denied involvement and the US government has been unable to produce any concrete evidence of Russian involvement.

    Vice President Joe Biden went so far as to confirm the US had informed Vladimir Putin that the US would conduct revenge attacks “at the time of our choosing.” The time may ultimately be America’s election day, according to officials familiar with the situation.

    NBC News has reported seeing top secret documents from these officials detailing potential US plans to launch military cyber attacks against Russia’s civilian infrastructure, with the documents claiming advanced US cyber weapons were prepared to take down Russia’s entire electricity grid, all telecommunications networks, and the Kremlin’s own command systems…

    Has someone told the US that they are a member of the UN or that you are not allowed to wily nily target civilian infrastructure? I know they don’t mind or even care as this is what they have already done in Serbia, I-rak and elsewhere, but threatening to shut down Russia’s power grid, really? Biden (gobshite that he is) had just put himself on the hook, not that anything will happen to him. I guess it is much like any outgoing administration (sic UNSG Ban Ki-Moon) suddenly finding some balls and letting their officials spout off as once out of office, there will be no come back. Except this is Russia.

    • et Al says:

      Speaking of Ban Ki-Moon…

      Neuters: Russia says U.N. South Sudan mission ‘in ruins’ after firing

      Russia on Thursday criticized U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon’s decision to fire a Kenyan peacekeeping commander in South Sudan as premature, saying the mission there was now “in ruins” after Kenya vowed to withdraw all its troops in response to the move.

      Ban dismissed Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki after a U.N. inquiry into the response by peacekeepers to several days of violence in the capital Juba in July found a lack of leadership and that U.N. troops failed to protect civilians.

      Kenya said it would withdraw some 1,000 troops deployed with the 13,000-strong peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, where U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed since 2011 when it gained independence from Sudan…</i?

      But I thought South Sudan was save by the Hollywood literati? Where are they now?

    • Chinese American says:

      Sounds like a huge false flag coming on Monday or Tuesday. And of course, recall that Hillary herself had stated that military response are justified in the case of cyber attack or claimed cyber attack.

      They are literally and openly threatening–in exactly these words–to start a war with Russia if the votes do not go the way they want.

    • Chinese American says:

      Or maybe they won’t even need a real major false flag. According to the NBC report:

      [i]U.S. officials continue to express concern that Russia will use its cyber capabilities to try to disrupt next week’s presidential election. U.S. intelligence officials do not expect Russia to attack critical infrastructure — which many believe would be an act of war — but they do anticipate so-called cyber mischief, including the possible release of fake documents and the proliferation of bogus social media accounts designed to spread misinformation.[/i]

      So it sounds like they are gearing up to create a rather extreme definition of “cyber attack” and “disrupting the election”.

      • marknesop says:

        I really believe this is entirely directed at a domestic audience, with the intent of spooking people to vote for Clinton because of fears that some of her current votes will be discounted by Russian cyber-tampering with the vote itself. That voting machines are not even connected to the internet seems not to be a factor in the unrelenting fearmongering, because fearmongering is all Clinton has left and is her only real shot at the presidency.

        So, in short, I don’t believe the USA is really contemplating going to war with Russia, and if it were it could not pick a worse time than the changeover of power from one leader to the next to do it.

    • yalensis says:

      The American threat should be taken seriously.
      Recalling that their client state, Israel, was able to shut down Iran’s nuclear program and set it back years, using a cyber-worm attack.
      The same cyber worm could be used to attack Russia’s nuclear energy industry and electrical grid.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Is this for real? Like – for real?

      Okay, give me sec.

      [Reality check….. conducted!]

      Huh, looks like I’m still in a real world – and not in, you, know “Wag the Dog” (1997) movie. Because it all feels like a scene from that film!

      – Dastardly Russians hacked our dear darling Madam (former) Secretary! No, we won’t show you how they did it or how did we determine that. But, let’s face it – if millions of screaming morons, eh, I mean – our honorable voters believe that, how it couldn’t be a reality?

      – You demanded that – and we will do it! What, you ask? We will retaliate against Vlad Putin, who wants to destroy our democracy – which will happened, should you vote WRONG! We will hack Russkis back! Happily, you are too idiotic and uneducated (thanks to the wonderful Murikan Ed system!) that you know jack shit about Russia, it’s network systems (which are still more or less full of Soviet style redundancy, failsafes and, you know, not interconnectability) and about hacking itself (even if you know, it’s more likely a Hollywood version of the thing) that you won’t recongnize, how we are owning you. Right now. Owning. You. Oh, yeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!

      – Should Hillary win – we won’t do a thing to Russia. See, we can be grateful. Should she lost – well, we will take credit for any accident happening in Russia as if it was a form of our retaliation. Car crash in big city? We hacked the traffic lights! Blackout? No, it’s not because of the heavy snow and wind – we hacked it! And Russians are denying, but who will believe them?

      Finally, as an ultimate form of our revenge we will unleash the most terrible thing possible! We will BLOCK DMITRY MEDVEDEV’S TWITTER ACCOUNT! And every single one other member of the Regime!

      Feal our Wrath!

      Murika. Firetrack, yeah!

  2. et Al says:

    Vice News: How I got Clinton’s emails

    Two years ago, a VICE News reporter helped set the Hillary Clinton email scandal in motion

    By Jason Leopold on Nov 4, 2016

    It started out innocently enough.

    On Nov. 4, 2014, exactly two years ago, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. State Department seeking all of Hillary Clinton’s emails during her four-year stint as secretary of state…

    …So I made a deal. James told government lawyers I wouldn’t challenge the redactions in the 52,000 pages of emails if State would agree to turn over what’s known as a Vaughn index. It would describe, in general terms, the content of the classified emails — this email pertains to a covert drone program, this email pertains to troop movements, and so on. The deal would save State quite literally years of work….

    …When it arrived, however, it was immediately apparent how badly the State Department had fucked me…

    …Minutes after State gave me the index, Clinton announced her vice presidential pick was Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

    And shortly after that, James told government lawyers that I was backing out of the deal….

  3. shargash says:

    There are a couple of interesting posts over at Pat Lang’s place.

    First, there are reports that Egypt is going to send troops to Syria to help Assad ( I hope it is true, if only because it would mean the US’s grip on the middle east is weakening. However, Egypt gets a lot of money from the US and KSA, so I’m skeptical that al-Sisi would jeopardize that.

    The second article has Gen. Petraeus shooting off his mouth ( I was especially worried that Petraeus thinks that “Putin always stops, the moment he runs up against any immovable object.” I think that is a grave misreading of both Putin and Russia. I would not be surprised if Petraeus wound up with a position in a Clinton administration. I mean, it’s not like mishandling classified information is going to come between them.

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t know where Petraeus would come up with obviously unsupported conclusions such as that Putin always stops when he meets an immovable object, or that the United States is capable of generating an immovable object. It seems glaringly apparent to me that that is precisely the position Washington tried to take – that of the immovable object – on Syria. Otherwise, why all the blather from Kerry that Assad’s moving on in favour of a ‘truly elected leader’ was not negotiable? But instead the USA was made to look silly, indecisive and ineffectual.

      Petraeus was a great soldier once, well worth every dime they paid him. But that was when he did what he was told, whatever he thought; they set him an objective and ordered him to achieve it. Now that he is in an arena which encourages him to think for himself, to interpret events and frame them in political terms, it develops that he is really not that good at it. In the end, he is just another exceptionalist, and every scenario has a US win built in. Once the world kind of worked that way, but the fulcrum of power has shifted since then. The USA can no longer be sure of either victory or even popular backing for a win.

  4. Patient Observer says:

    Still have not found any Hillary for President signs, while Trump signs number in the scores. Some of the Trump signs look homemade showing an unusual level of passion for such matters.

    BTW, watched NBC news coverage of the campaign this evening The Hillary segment replayed a campaign video, featured numerous holiday stars in support of Hillary, claimed over 1 million volunteers and with nary a mention of the latest email scandals. The Trump segment was centered on an alleged error in the immigration paperwork of Trump’s wife followed by 4-5 sound bits of Trump saying illegal immigrants should not be allowed in the US. The bit also featured several statements indicated that Hispanics will not vote for Trump.

    It is difficult to imagine what more could have been done to make the coverage more pro-Hillary and anti-Trump. Oddly, it left me more convinced than ever that Trump must be elected. I will vote for the first time in a Presidential election after a 20 year absent. They should let us accumulate unused votes I say.

  5. Patient Observer says:

    I never thought that the destruction was about cheap oil but this is a new rationale and it seems credible:

    It was, according to Assange, part of a masterplan formulated months before the NATO bombings in March 2011..much like the Iraqi invasion was also planed months (and years) prior to the actual military invasion.

    The goal was to make it the cornerstone conflict of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as US Secretary of State, for which she could parlay into a presidential victory.

    It blew up in her face with the Benghazi thing:

    But the scheme not only failed on a personal level, after Clinton was largely blamed for allowing a jihadist ransacking of a US compound in Benghazi in 2012,

    So, 40,000 civilians died and a country torn to shreds but what is that to an exceptional nation and the more exceptional Hillary? Verily, she is the beast.

    • Jen says:

      That document alone not only would be enough to send Killer K to jail but also gives the FBI a reason to open a probe into Victoria Nuland’s conduct as Assistant Secretary of State during that year, as she is one of two recipients of the email and it asks her for an opinion and suggestions as to how the draft plan might be improved. Perhaps with any luck, any such probe will also uncover Nuland’s involvement in overthrowing the Yanukovych government in Ukraine in 2014 and the identities of the snipers who shot at the protesters and police alike on the Kiev Maidan in mid-February 2014.

    • Jen says:

      Great find, PO – that email is addressed to Victoria Nuland and asks her for an opinion and suggestions on how to flesh out that plan. That might give the FBI a reason to open a probe into her conduct as Assistant Secretary of State in 2011 and with any luck that probe will extend into her conduct during the Maidan events in Kiev from late 2013 onwards.

  6. Moscow Exile says:

    Man the barricades!!!!

    UK military intelligence issues warning over Russian super tank threat

    Hang on though!

    I thought everything the Russians made was crap.

    And also, they don’t make anything — according to Obama.

    So what they don’t make would be crap even if they made it?

    Lord Shithead of Spithead gets a word in above as regards Russian rearmament:

    Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, said he was “very concerned” about Russian rearmament. “At the moment, their economy is a war economy”, he said. “They have got the GDP of Italy and they are trying to spend the same on defence as America. What they are doing is unsupportable and when something is unsupportable, then anything could happen”.

    USA GDP:

    Gross National Product in the United States increased to 16757.60 USD Billion in the second quarter of 2016 from 16668.30 USD Billion in the first quarter of 2016. Gross National Product in the United States averaged 8134.59 USD Billion from 1950 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 16757.60 USD Billion in the second quarter of 2016 and a record low of 2098.40 USD Billion in the first quarter of 1950. Gross National Product in the United States is reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.


    The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Italy was worth 1814.76 billion US dollars in 2015. The GDP value of Italy represents 2.93 percent of the world economy. GDP in Italy averaged 909.75 USD Billion from 1960 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 2390.73 USD Billion in 2008 and a record low of 40.39 USD Billion in 1960. GDP in Italy is reported by the World Bank Group..

    Russia GDP:
    The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Russia was worth 1326.02 billion US dollars in 2015. The GDP value of Russia represents 2.14 percent of the world economy. GDP in Russia averaged 876.86 USD Billion from 1989 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 2230.63 USD Billion in 2013 and a record low of 195.91 USD Billion in 1999. GDP in Russia is reported by the World Bank.

    Source for above GDP information: Trading Economics

    Five days ago:

    According to a draft budget seen by the Financial Times, President Putin’s spending programme on defence is likely to be cut from £50bn to £37bn in 2017.

    That would bring Russia’s defence allowance in line with the spending in the UK.

    That’s in a British Daily Express article on an FT report:

    PUTIN’S HUMILIATION: Russia braced for huge cuts to defence as financial crisis looms

    VLADIMIR Putin’s ability to wage wars around the world could be severely curtailed after a draft budget submitted to parliament set out swingeing cuts of 27 per cent to Russia’s defence programme.

    Wage wars?

    Around the world?

    Over to you, Lord Shithead of Spithead.

    • marknesop says:

      It’s comical that he pretends to be concerned efforts by Russia (unsubstantiated and therefore valueless) to spend (proportionately, one assumes) the same on defense as America does, on Italy’s GDP, might result in economic collapse in Russia. I suspect economic collapse in Russia would invoke a collective western orgasm the like of which has never been seen – there wouldn’t be enough cigarettes to support the post-orgasm lassitude. It’s what they’ve been trying to bring about for the best part of two years through economic sanctions, yet he plays the concerned impartial figure who would be really sad if it happened.

    • kirill says:

      These nominal dollar based comparisons of GDP are pure nonsense. At the very least purchasing power parity (PPP) adjustment has to be made so that apples are compared to apples and not sand grains or any other non-fruit. But even the PPP correction will fail to properly paint an accurate picture in certain sectors of the economy. In particular, the military component of Russia’s GDP. Although consumer prices have equilibrated rather quickly, military prices are still grossly understated. So Russia can produce world class diesel-electric submarines for 1/6 of what Japan can. It appears that if a sector-level PPP adjustment factor was calculated for the Russian military and associated industry, then it would be well over three.

      Using the 2013 Russian military budget of $88 billion nominal, a more accurate reflection of its proper size is $88 x 3-4 = $264 – $352. So Russia’s military spending is on the order of $300 billion US. The industrial capacity associated with this spending has a multiplier associated with the fact that many military producers also make products for the civilian sector. But that is true in the USA as well.

      Remove the imperial costs borne by the US of maintaining hundreds of bases around the world, and Russia’s military spending ends up being almost the same. Someone will trot out the number of ships that Russia has deployed. The annual budget is not going to reflect legacy investments and accumulation. Aircraft carriers in the US were not built on the previous year’s military budget. Between 1991 and 2004 Russia spent much less on its military and could barely continue work on submarines and ships laid down after 1991 and before.

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