Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Difference Between Russia and Italy (Even Though They Have the Same Size Economy)

There is a comment I see regularly on the internet concerning the size of Russia's economy and linking it to its threat capability.

At the post, HOT US Intelligence Leak: Russia Has Videos of Prostitutes Performing Golden Showers For Trump, a commenter writes in this vein:
And who gives a hoot about Russia?! The Cold War's been over for a generation. The Russian economy is about the size of Italy's! 
But this is like writing that when going down the street one should be more concerned passing the 86-year old multi-billionaire Warren Buffett as opposed to a street hood with $5.00 in his pocket.

Note to the slow: Cross the street when the hood is approaching you on the sidewalk, not Buffett.

Wealth does not translate directly into potential force.

Italy has no nuclear weapons. Russia has 7,300 nuclear warheads. That makes Russia a player even if its economy were only the size of Zambia.



  1. Sure, you'll hear this from Trump supporters and libertarians trying to be reasonable or objective. You won't hear it from U.S. intel community or MSM or McCain or any of the war hawks and neocons or NATO.

  2. RW: Note to the slow.

    I'm supposed to resemble that remark? Thanks! ;)

    RW, Russia's not going to use nukes against the US. Doing so means their own certain destruction. Get a grip, dude.

    The only context that makes sense in the real world is conventional war... more particularly, proxy wars. Russia can't go toe-to-toe with the US in regional conflicts. It doesn't have the resources does it? Can it even afford to maintain its nuclear capability?

    As much as Russia has tried to help Syria rollback ISIS, ISIS is still there. The US can start proxy fires in every Russian client state (think Ukraine). What does Russia do to respond? Nuke the US? Not. Foment an insurgency in Mexico? Not.

    It seems Turkey is the far greater threat to US national security than Russia. Oh, and Turkey is a nuclear power (thanks to the USG). And so is Israel... another f'ing crazy theocratic supremacist nuclear timebomb (and again, thanks to the USG).

    And no, I'm not a Trump fan. Or Hillary fan. My vote was not to vote.

  3. RW, to give some context here... the US spends an average of $20B per year to maintain its nuclear arsenal. The entire Russian military budget was $70B in 2014.

    Think about that. Do you believe Russia is going to spend almost 1/3 of its military budget on nukes? And if it does, what's left for proxy wars? Not much.

    OTH, the US spent $600B or so (2015 est)! And with only $20B going to nukes... The US MIC can do a LOT of mischief with the other $580B and that's just what's on the record. How much does the CIA spend "off the books" on regime change?

    Yeah, I'm not afraid of Russia. If anything, they become *more* dangerous the more the USG treats them like an actual threat! That's just backing the Bear into a corner.

    1. This does not address my point at all that Italy has no nukes and Russia has 7.300.

    2. Then you're just being ODD!

      Nukes are irrelevant. How does Russia leverage their nukes to push the US around? The nuke threat is last ditch only. It's an empty threat. They will never use them and the US knows it. Doing so is ensured suicide!

      So warfare in the 21st century is regional, incremental, asymmetric and attritional... i.e. war-by-proxy. The USG is fighting proxy wars in Africa, M.E., Central Asia and Ukraine. Like Italy, Russia doesn't have the resources to fight those wars without bankrupting itself.

      And Russia ain't going to nuke the US until it thinks it has no other choice and is certain the USG is about to make a final move... checkmate!

      Your Buffet vs thug analogy is not correct. What if Buffet is walking toward you surrounded by Blackwater mercs who're shooting people randomly (which they did in Iraq btw)? I'd take my chances with the thug...

  4. The US military industrial complex has been pushing for a massive and expensive nuclear weapons modernisation program. This item on its own is a likely source of current official Russphobia. There is historical precedent with the Bomber Gap and Missile Gap in the late fifties and early sixties. It's deja vu all over again. Russia has a large nuclear arsenal and needs to be negotiated with. The real risk is that Russia will interpret American expansion on its borders as aggression and shift to a Launch On Warning nuclear hair trigger policy. The expansion of US "missile defense" systems into East Europe and seaborne into the Black Sea (probably a motive for US regime change operations in Ukraine, thankfully check mated by the Crimea secession) would put a sizeable part of Russia's nuclear deterrent (second strike) capabilities under US first strike threat. Russia fears a nuclear attack from the US. The mentality of the US political class is not something that can be relied upon. Back under communism, ordinary Russians in large part respected the US and the west despite massive anti-American state propaganda. Today popular sympathy for the US within Russia is rock bottom despite major progress to multi-party politics, Internet access, international travel and competitive media. The reality is that the US is pursuing a hegemonic or globalist foreign policy and they want other regions to kow tow to their economic and strategic policies. Just as mises demonstrated that state socialism must fail, so to will US governmentvpursuit of hegemony fail. During the cold war the US leadership from Nixon on had the wisdom to seek to divide China and Russia. This simple strategy made US "win" in the Cold War. Current US leadership has arrogantly assumed US "victory" in the Cold War was due to their inherent superiority. They are now encouraging the development Sino-Russian geopolitical cooperation. This is an incredibly stupid policy from Washington. Maybe they should check out the writings of George Kennan, the author of the original Containment strategy that was the long term foundation of US victory in the Cold War. He predicted during the Clinton administration that NATO expansion east of Germany would restart the Cold War. He was right.

    When NATO was formed it was originally formed it was about "keeping the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down." Now it is about "keeping the Americans up and the Germans and Russians apart."