Gaps and Preventive Wars of Desperation.

More than four years ago I wrote my first piece for Unz Review and in it I advanced the thesis that extremely tense situation around Russia could be viewed as an approach to a preventive war of sorts.

for Washington, whose political discourse is based on American exceptionalism and foreign policy now is defined completely in terms of military power, emergence of a “peer” military power is absolutely unacceptable. While China is an economic giant and is now arguably the largest economy in the world, she still has a long way to go until she becomes a true “peer” to the United States militarily. This is not the case with Russia. It becomes also true when one begins to look at doctrinal and technological developments both in the US and Russia. The contrast is startling, even if one considers a very dubious US intelligence on Russia.

Many things have changed since then but the thesis of a preventive war against Russia by the combined West, led by the United States, not only didn’t lose much of its relevance but, in fact, increasingly accentuates the only framework the United States, as a formal leader of a combined West, uses when dealing with Russia and, increasingly, China. Preventive war, in all of its known  manifestations ranging from sabotage and  propaganda to various levels of military violence, is the only method of conducting foreign relations the United States knows precisely because the United States doesn’t know what real war is, nor is it abreast of a profound technological and operational change which is taking place in the warfare of the 21st century.

The obverse side of this de facto loss of the arms race by the United States is astonishing in its volume, in the last thirty years, stream of military and geopolitical concepts, doctrines, theories and ideas most of which never panned out and, in fact, played a baneful role in preventing the United States from facing a global reality described not in US establishment and academe platitudes but in tangibles. But, of course, you already know all that because that is what I do—I try to describe the world in tangibles. But here is the thing—the indicator of any loss or, otherwise, victory is always a gap. This is how we describe the state of play, in gaps—how large they are and what are the dynamics of these gaps. Recall how gaps factor in all that:

You see the gap, you see gap’s dynamics and you pretty much know who the winner of this particular race is. Easy. But that’s sports, where the means of objective control are the deciders of the outcome. While one can debate the validity of one or another referee call, such as shameless dive by Raheem Sterling against Denmark two days ago (not to mention two balls simultaneously of the field), which got England to Euro-2020 finals, in games, in races–it is more difficult. 

In the end, time and finish strip are irrefutable proofs of a victory. But that is not the case with international relations, geopolitics and military power. Especially military power. For starters they are infinitely more complex than any sports competition, hence their “rules books” are not books per se, but a gigantic variety of those and require years and years of a professional study. A layman can, and does, understand soccer or ice-hockey rules and tactics, a layman will have a really hard time understanding basic principles of Search Theory, as an example, and why the probability of detection (PD) of the target in search is: 

                                    PD=1- exp (-z(t))

Where z(t) is: 

Which is, actually, pretty straight-forward with U being the speed of the search object (e.g. submarine), p(rho) is a search area coverage rate (search productivity) and tau is a delay time (time late). Mathematically it is extremely simple but it is a physical essence of this whole “Search” thingy which requires many years of study and experience to grasp it and start thinking in images and concepts which describe all that. This applies to anything military be it basic use of ballistic tables for artillery to ships’ maneuvers on a tactical level to thinking in probabilities, required forces and combat effectiveness on the operational and strategic levels. How it is all related to the subject of this post, preventive war that is, you may ask. Here is a straight answer after this fairly long introduction. 


Ask yourself a question how the blob in D.C. thinks. I can tell you how: Washington never denounced the preemptive nuclear strike option and I don’t mean doctrinal statements about using nukes when there is a danger to the existence of the state, such as Russia’s military doctrine explicitly states, same as it is written in many US Nuclear Posture Reviews throughout the last 10 years. I am talking about loosening criteria for a preventive nuclear strike including obfuscated by the military lingo simple military expediency in killing the enemy just because it could be killed with a minimal own costs. Just recall a simple fact that the US is the only country which actually used nuclear weapons. Then recall such things as this in 2008:

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the “imminent” spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new NATO by five of the west’s most senior military officers and strategists. Calling for root-and-branch reform of NATO and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a “grand strategy” to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a “first strike” nuclear option remains an “indispensable instrument” since there is “simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world”. The manifesto has been written following discussions with active commanders and policymakers, many of whom are unable or unwilling to publicly air their views. It has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, over the past 10 days.  

Or, let’s recall immediate post-WWII plans for nuking USSR which were prevented not by non-existent then Soviet nuclear deterrent but by dubious effectiveness of American nuclear weapons in case of a large scale war in Europe with the Soviet Union. But the United States was always a nuclear-biased nation and even 2018 (Trump’s) Nuclear Posture Review included some bizarre things:

Really? We’re Gonna Nuke Russia for a Cyberattack? The Trump administration’s new nuclear strategy includes a provision that is truly bonkers.

In general, Russians were always aware of the US nuclear views and knew that any situation in which USSR/Russia would fall below a certain second (response) strike in nuclear capabilities had a serious probability of initiation of a decapitating American nuclear strike which would, in theory, settle the issue of the American economic and military hegemony once and for all, by means of destroying USSR/Russia. This is not an insane scenario, these things are constantly on the mind of a large portion of the American military-political elite and this is how it views the world. Russians know this and Russia was developing a second strike capability (response-headon, or otvetno-vstrechnyi udar) like there was no tomorrow. Well, Russians succeeded immensely in this field and, in fact, doing so redefined not only the rules for nuclear deterrent but for any type of the war as a whole. 

Let me explain. Just a few days ago the news about S-500 passing combat missile launches and of A-235 Nudol, evidently, being developed also in mobile variant, went largely in a matter-of-factly mode but there are some things which need to be understood in their ramifications. S-500 has a range of around 600 kilometers for aerial targets. That, as I already stated before, means that any NATO combat aircraft flying around Berlin, or more generally, over East Germany will be shot down. Same goes for any aerial target over Romania once S-500 are deployed in Crimea. Once one considers the fact that Russians are talking now about “one missile–one target”, it becomes clear that targeting for S-500 could be obtained from any source which allows higher uncertainties in targeting of aircraft and that means targeting from such radar complexes as Container, which can see the commercial and combat planes on runway in Netherlands. 

This capability alone has strategic ramifications because the only viable instrument in NATO’s war plans against Russia was its air-power which was considered “sophisticated” and numerous enough to fight Russia including delivering nuclear weapons. If S-400 wasn’t bad enough, S-500 effectively denies NATO air forces any crucial command and control function because any aircraft carrying this mission out will be shot down even before it will be able to detect anything and vector fighter aircraft towards any threat. Obviously, the fact that S-500 is designed to shoot down any hypersonic and ballistic targets with the speed of up to 7 kilometers per second, and low orbit satellites and is integrated with the rest of Russia’s AD is a strategic factor in itself which dramatically reduces probabilities of delivering a nuclear, not to speak of conventional, strike against Russia. With S-500 and A-235 Nudol coming on-line and both performing well in tests, Russia continues to develop not only always impressive air defense but the air defense of an immense power, including full blown anti-missile capability, including ICBMs.  

This is a gap and the dynamic of this gap is very simple–it is not static, it is widening. In fact, the speed of this widening only increases. At this stage, Russia has an overwhelming edge over the United States both in quality, quantity and combat experience with her air-defense systems and this has become a strategic problem for the United States. American conventional logic of SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defense) operations of throwing a bunch of TLAMs and turning on ECM against some outdated and not realistically integrated third world AD doesn’t apply here. In fact, Russia can do her own ECM suppressing and, as RAND’s big air operations honcho David Ochmanek admitted in 2019: 

“We lose a lot of people. We lose a lot of equipment. We usually fail to achieve our objective of preventing aggression by the adversary. In our games, when we fight Russia and China, blue gets its ass handed to it.”

This was two years ago, since then any mentioning of F-35 “being unmatched in the skies” can cause a hysterical laughter among air-defense and serious Air Forces professionals and even flag-waiving ignorant fanboys such as David Axe have to report that:

The U.S. Air Force Just Admitted The F-35 Stealth Fighter Has Failed

So, how do you fight Russia in the skies? Well, you cannot do that around Russia and in Eastern Europe without losing most of your air force. I omit here extensively discussed reasons for Biden Administration sudden urge to seek summit with Putin. But I have to advance the thesis here that Russia’s military edge over the US (and NATO) is much larger than most in the West would admit. There are gaps everywhere and they continue to widen. What are those gaps?

1. We already briefly discussed Air Defense capabilities–Russia’s technological lead here is gigantic;

2. Combined Arms capabilities, especially Russia’s mobilization and deployment capability, are significantly greater than those of NATO;

3. Missile gap is real and the United States is nowhere near Russia in terms of missile technology. It is not even fair to compare. In fact, it is down right ridiculous. US lag here is counted in generations, not years.

4. Surface fleets–this is the whole other story;

5. Lastly, nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Avangard, Sarmat, Poseidon, Burevestnik… do I need to say more? 

So, if you are in D.C. today and you are one of the representatives of a powerful school of thought that Russia delenda est by any means and anything, including preventive nuclear strike, must be considered to achieve this objective, and you see the dynamics of the so called “arms race” which is being lost and not by slight margin but by “50 lengths”, ask yourself a question what military options do you have? Right, only a massive nuclear preventive strike which will be three decades late and, in fact, the more time passes by, even this strike may fail to achieve objective of physical elimination of Russia other than triggering a second strike response which will destroy the United States.  

Am I overstating my case? Not necessarily, we can only guess the stakes in the power struggle in D.C. As the events of the last few years demonstrated, Washington is packed with insane people ready to go to any length in their lust for power and quenching their thirst for exceptionalism kool-aid in their delusional state. This insanity may metastasize into the very military-political top who in their desperation from recognizing America’s weakness may try to unleash unthinkable, especially knowing that the time is running out and that they will never be able to narrow, let alone close, any gap before America’s nuclear strategic arsenal begins to dramatically lose its deterrent effect and Russia will transition into the new military-technological reality as she did last decade with what can only be described as the REAL revolution in military affairs. The Pax Americana is already dead and these are Russia’s highly advanced weapons which for now keep relative peace on the globe. They are the guarantee against the preventive war. But will they be enough to prevent a desperation war which may originate inside increasingly chaotic, delusional and irrational American military-political establishment? These are the chaotic thoughts which visited me in the last couple of days.