Looks like this situation is the one that will dominate the last days of a helluva year, 2016…..Did or did not Russia do some unauthorized hacking?
As usual there are two sides to every story…..those that are outraged and those that are trying desperately to ignore the reports with the hopes something else will materialize to capture the attention of the public…..
This whole Russia hacking thing is unusual and I just had to offer my historical perspective on the situation…..
It fascinates me to see how many Americans are lining up on the side of the defense of Russia….a decade ago I would have called these people idiots and morons…..
I think many Americans are too distracted with the election to care or read about something other than the “great” job Trump will do for this country (another bit of fantasy….IMO)…..
I read a piece in VOX that actually tries to explain the situation with the Russia hack…
National security has been the focus of virtually all of my professional life. I was in Washington on 9/11 and saw the smoke rising from the Pentagon. I arrived in Iraq shortly after the 2003 US invasion and spent several years living in Baghdad and writing about what had quickly become a bloody civil war. I covered the Bush administration’s decision to surge troops into Iraq in 2007 and the Obama administration’s decision to surge troops into Afghanistan in 2009. I’ve written about US spying efforts abroad and foreign spying efforts inside the US.
But I’ve never covered anything quite like Russia’s hack of the Democratic National Committee’s servers and the email account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, moves designed to steal and then release information damaging to the Democratic presidential nominee.
True, we will have to wait an see just what tack our new president will take on this situation….I believe we are in for a long 4 years….and this could well be the opening salvo of a new Cold War.
There should be more attention to what Russia is doing with the Military…….
We began the forecasting process with Russia by looking at the country’s military capability. Russia has intervened in Syria to great fanfare, and while it has demonstrated undeniable improvements in some of its capabilities, the Russian military is far weaker than most make it out to be. Our 2016 forecast predicted a frozen conflict in Ukraine, and we came to the conclusion that this frozen conflict will be formalized in 2017 by answering a very basic question: What is the Russian military capability in Ukraine and in general?
The answer is found not by looking at events pertaining to the Ukrainian revolution in 2014, but rather the performance of the Russian military in the 2008 Georgia War. Russia achieved all of its strategic objectives in that five-day war, but serious deficiencies in Russian capabilities were revealed. Operational and tactical logistics left much to be desired, as the Russians had serious difficulties maintaining supply lines for food, fuel, and ammunition. Much of Russia’s military equipment was old and falling apart, Russian suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) and electronic warfare capabilities were deficient, and use of precision-guided munitions was rare. Joint operational planning between different services was either nonexistent or ineffective.
After the war, Russia set out on an ambitious and vast military modernization program, reforming everything from doctrine to training to weapons. Russia set clear goals for reducing the number of conscript soldiers to professionalize the force. The 10-year State Armaments Program, announced by President Vladimir Putin in 2010, allocated 19.4 trillion rubles (worth $698.4 billion at the time) to revamp the equipment and weapons used by the Russian armed forces, and Russia’s military expenditures have been increasing both in absolute terms and as a percent of Russia’s GDP ever since.
Russia has taken some impressive steps forward. In 2008, it is unlikely Russia could have fielded a force and deployed it in Syria as it did in 2015. Of all the weapons Russia used in Syria, roughly 20% have been precision-guided munitions, which shows progress… but it also shows how much room Russia has to grow. Russia has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to help with intelligence gathering, and both SEAD and joint inter-service operations have improved. According to Russian military officials, conscripts in the military have been reduced from roughly 600,000 in 2011, to 200,000 by the end of 2016.
These improvements and the media campaign around the Russian intervention, however, obscure the two most important elements to consider in evaluating the Russian military. First, despite these improvements, Russia has neither the military capability nor the political capital to conquer Ukraine, even if it wanted to. Russia beat Georgia because Georgia is a small country and Russia could overwhelm the Georgians with larger numbers. Ukraine is eight times the size of Georgia in terms of total land and can field a much larger infantry force. Many of Russia’s Rapid Reaction Forces that would be mobilized in such an action still consist of significant numbers of conscripts. Even if Russia could blitz its way to Kiev, it couldn’t hold the country, considering the long supply lines and Ukraine’s large, hostile population. And if the US or NATO decided to intervene, Russia would require even greater forces.
Second, Putin and the Russian government are aware of these limitations. Since 2008, they have been doing everything possible to modernize the Russian armed forces and to reach, if not parity, then a level of strength that could give them more strategic options. That has meant increasing military spending.
While Russia was flush with oil money, that was a perfectly logical plan. But Russia was not expecting oil prices to collapse in 2014. Russia had planned a budget on the then-conservative estimate that oil wouldn’t fall below $82 a barrel. Oil has averaged between $34 and $35 a barrel in 2016, and there’s no reason to expect the oversupplied market to give Russia significant relief in the coming year. Modernizing Russia’s forces is one of the top priorities for the government in the next three years, but it’s not clear if Russia has the money to spend.
(excerpt from a report issued by Geopolitical Futures)
Like I said…it is starting to smell a lot like 1949.