But the subtext is even more intriguing: The Pentagon never saw it coming. And they are absolutely terrified of the inevitable consequences.
The panic was palpable, as relayed by Dr. Strangelove, sorry, NATO’s top commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, a.k.a. Breedlove/hate, the man who announces every week Russia is invading Ukraine.
Although proverbially handicapped in his geopolitical analysis – Russia wants to hinder US and “coalition” operations in the region – Breedlove/hate is clearly puzzled by the new, unforeseen, intricate layers of Russia’s defense network.
In his own words: “We’re a little worried about another A2/AD bubble being created in the eastern Mediterranean.”
In Pentagonese, A2/AD means anti-access/area denial.
Translation: a mix of surface-to-air missiles and anti-ship missiles that can be deployed to prevent any player from entering or crossing a certain area.
Breedlove/hate goes as far as to admit this is Russia’s “third denial zone” around Europe. The first is in the Baltics – via the Kaliningrad base. The second – based in Crimea – covers the Black Sea. In his own words: “Their cruise missiles range the entire Black Sea, and their air defense missiles range about 40 to 50 percent of the Black Sea.”
He is convinced the deployment of these “very sophisticated air defense capabilities” is not about purging Syria from the Salafi-jihadi constellation. It’s about “something else.”
And the point about “something else” is that the Pentagon knows it, but cannot possibly admit it publicly. Neocons and neoliberalcons at best can transform their apoplexy into vociferous demands for a mega-upgraded Pentagon budget, or to force Obama into keeping troops in Afghanistan indefinitely – as if any informed observer would doubt there would never be an exit.
Here is just a sample of how the battlefield has been completely redrawn.
But the real game-changer, once again, has been the show-stopping performance of the 26 Kalibr-NK cruise missiles launched by the Russian Caspian fleet against 11 Salafi-jihadi targets 1,500 km away, destroying them all.
Breedlove/hate cannot possibly admit the Caspian cruise “message” was directed at NATO. The Kalibr-NK flew over both Iran and Iraq, at a maximum altitude of 100 meters – not to mention speeding by a US drone.
Translation: this spells out the absolute irrelevance of all – multibillion – elaborate plans for missile defense deployed in Eastern Europe. Remember, those US missiles which would be deployed against the “Iranian threat”.
NATO is also terrified that all its state-of-the-art C4i software – command, control, communications, computer, intelligence – has been totally jammed by Russian technology, all across Syria and southern Turkey. Essentially, reduced to sitting ducks. Imagine a similar, much amplified scenario in a hypothetic war on European soil over Ukraine which neocons never cease to itch for.
We have A2/AD too
No wonder these military breakthroughs translate, in terms of public opinion, into fabulous PR for Russia. Just check Putin the Hajji in Iraq. Incidentally, if one really wants to know how ‘Exceptionalistan’ destroyed Iraq in the first place – creating the conditions for the rise of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and then ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – might as well ditch Claire Danes in Homeland and check out: Iraq Year Zero, by Abbas Fahdel, which hits the screen in France next year.
As for the non-stop uproar in US corporate media, if this is the best American ‘Putinologists’ can come up with it, the Kremlin certainly does not need enemies.
Meanwhile, in the economic front, Russian domestic oil demand is growing. What this means is Russia is slowly but surely shifting from an import economy to a manufacturing center, replacing US and EU imports, moving towards self-sufficiency and focusing on domestic credit expansion for productive investments. The military breakthroughs are a “don’t mess with us” message inbuilt in a complex economic transformation process.
In addition, Chinese oil imports grew 8 percent for January through September year over year – especially in the petrochemical and transport sectors, outweighing any apparent slowdown in the use of industrial oil. Next week comes the crucial announcement of the next Chinese five-year plan. No, China is not crashing, as much as the China-Russia strategic partnership keeps expanding.
Beijing is following in close detail the “messages” sent by Russia in Syria. And don’t forget that in the A2/AD department, China has its own set of messages, including the bunker-busting DF15B, the DF-16 with a 1,000 kilometer range, and the DF-21D “carrier killer” – 2,500 kilometer range and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Expect many a naked lunch between Dr. Strangelove and his masters in the Beltway.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of ‘Globalistan’ (Nimble Books, 2007), ‘Red Zone Blues’ (Nimble Books, 2007), ‘Obama does Globalistan’ (Nimble Books, 2009) and a contributing editor for a number of other books, including the upcoming ‘Crossroads of Leadership: Globalization and the New American Century in the Obama Presidency’ (Routledge). When not on the road, he alternates between Sao Paulo, New York, London, Bangkok and Hong Kong.