Between 1405 and 1431 Chinese Admiral Zeng
He led 7 voyages to various areas of the Indian Ocean, Indonesian archipelago,
as far afield as the Red Sea Persian Gulf and as far south as equatorial Africa.
He was dispatched by the third Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (generally referred
to as the Yongle Emperor)These were not small
deployments. Records indicatethat the first of these expeditions
consisted of more than 250 ships with a combined complement 27,000 personnel or
more.The purpose of these exceedingly expensive
deployments was multifaceted. They had their inspiration in the foreign policy
of the Yuan Dynasty, which sought to extract tribute from foreign countries. However, the Ming
treasure fleets were somewhat more subtle than their more modest antecedents.
While the huge fleet contained an impressive number of troops, they also
carried a surfeit of goodwill gifts for exchange as well as ambassadors,
consuls and merchants. This resulted in a
"carrot and stick” approach, with the huge size of the vessels as well as
"friendly” demonstrations of China’s advanced gunpowder weaponsand the sheer size of the
ships themselves providing an intimidation factor that was effectively combined
with the gifts and exchange of pleasantries.Additionally, the sheer size of the fleet as well as its component ships
was not just intimidating to the locals, it was tantalizing to local leaders
and would-be leaders as the Chinese were seen as potentially valuable allies to
be competed for
addition, more kinetic operations were undertaken in which local pirates were
eradicated, countries eager to ally with China were supported in ways both
military and monetary, ethnic Chinese populations were recognized as ruling
polities, other citystates and small nations that were less enthusiastic about the Chinese presence were
"persuaded" (or nudged into the end of their histories) and, there were annexations
of strategic locations such as Malacca.
UPDATE: There is a good discussion of this process in a paper by Dr. Sen Tansen which I just belatedly realized is not link-able without a Research Gate
account, but the abstract and application to download it can be found here. :END UPDATE
However, the whole affair has
considerable similarities to the treasure fleets of old. The main difference is that, mercenary and
indirect adventures aside such as those in Myanmar, there has been little in
the way of outright military intervention thus far. There have, however, been
analogies to the carrot / stick approach noted above.
From Malaysia to Maldives, China has sought to dominate critical infrastructure across sea lines of communications, gradually building a global network of access and dependencies, often at the expense of smaller nations’ sovereignty. Under this approach, Chinese companies—most of them state-affiliated if not state-owned enterprises—zero in on prized infrastructure projects in critical sectors like electricity, telecommunications, police surveillance projects, and, most recently, major port facilities.
The article also brings up two examples of note. China (or at least state-affiliated Chinese companies) recently began attempting to assume control of a
Korean shipyard in the Philippines located in the former U.S. naval base at
Subic Bay. This follows on the heels of the 2017 assumption by China of control
of the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota. This latter affair is of particular interest and is one example cited by those
alarmed about this endeavor. In short, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative,
China has been liberally handing out loans to developing countries for
infrastructure development. In the Sri Lankan case the construction was performed
mainly by Chinese firms and when the loans came due and Sri Lanka was unable to
pay, China took a majority stake in the port that they had built. It is unclear
how the Subic Bay situation will play out, but this sort of thing is happening
to a greater or lesser degree in a great many areas.
context of the Sri Lankan and Pakistani situations this raises the possibility of
more ports being completely operated by China in the near to mid-term.
situation is developing on the subcontinent. For instance, Pakistan’s Gwadar port is part of a subset of the Belt and Road Initiative called the Chinese Pakistan
This transnational entity deals with the integration of both the rail, road and
sea aspects of the Belt and Road Initiative as they relate to Pakistan
Gwadar is a large container port in the province of Balochistan that
is being constructed virtually from scratch with considerable Chinese, financial, technical and military assistance. That
last type of help is not typically expected in a construction project but it
does highlight another similarity between the Chinese Treasure Fleet strategy
and this new endeavor. Balochistan is a rather restive region, ethically and
historically distinct from Pakistan until well after the end of the Raj, it has been the scene of considerable unrest in recent years and
due to concerns regarding the local militants, mercenary and PLA assets are being used to guard the P.E.C. facilities.
The $62 billion project will link Xinjiang Province of China with Gwadar
port on the Makran Coast west of Karachi. China is extremely concerned
about the safety and security of its workers engaged in construction
work in CPEC projects. Though Pakistan is raising a Special Security Division comprising approximately 15,000 personnel to provide security for the CPEC against terrorist attacks, the
experience of Chinese dam construction in Gilgit-Baltistan has shown
that eventually PLA soldiers are inducted for this purpose. The presence
of PLA personnel in Pakistan in large numbers will further vitiate the
security environment in South Asia.
This Gwadar situation bears considerable
similarities to the Ming Dynasty’s elevation of Cochin from seaside village to
major trading port, In that case (which is described i detail in the aforementioned paywall blocked paper) the purpose was to bypass Callicut. Likewise the Ming virtual annexation of
Malacca was under the pretense of developing a major port from a small coastal
city. However, by contrast, in both of those antecedent cases the Chinese military pressure
was used in support of therecalcitrant locals
rather than the established political entities. The Ming Dynasties virtual
annexation of Malacca in 1403 as a naval base is certainly similar in principle
to the establishment of the PRC’s first overseas base, in Djibouti. This has
raised some concerns, in some quarters, which are in part reflected in this
excerpt from a recent Washington Post article:
"The Djiboutians are up to their neck in debt to China,” Reuben Brigety,
former U.S. ambassador to the African Union told The Washington Post. Brigety
said he expects this leverage to be used to force the Djiboutian government to
hand control of the port to a Chinese company within the next six months. The
Chinese will eventually use that enormously important strategic position to
crowd out U.S. military operations,” Brigety said.”
Naturally, the one example that is getting attention from the American Press, while developed similarly to the Chinese
establishment of Malacca, has established in a very different context which the Chinese can point to for propaganda purposes. For one
thing, China is joining other nations in the area as France, Italy, the United
States and even constitutionally constrained Japan have established naval bases
in Djibouti to monitor the confluence of trade routes, as well as act against
the endemic piracy of the region. China
is more dependent on the trade through this bottleneck than any of the other
countries listed except Japan, and the fact that legally pacifistic Japan has
an overseas military base in the same locale gives some measure of the
importance that the horn of Africa has for the PRC.This African facility is, therefore,
potentially less adventurous in scope than its Ming Dynasty predecessors and China will no doubt point to this when the alarm is raised. That THIS is the port that has gotten attention is somewhat infuriating.
However, the alarm noted by Ambassador
Brigety above is not unique. This is especially true in the context of the
Hambantota situation noted above. Recently the Center for strategic and
International Studies did an assessment of ports in Africa and found that:
”There are at least 46 existing or planned port projects in
sub-Saharan Africa, which are funded, built, and/or operated by Chinese
Read the whole thing but this one graphic (of several) is illustrative.
Several of these ports are fully operated
while most of the rest were, or are being constructed by, Chinese firms with
close ties to Beijing.
to the article, currently, 11 of these 46 Chinese affiliated African ports are
operated by the PRC! Usually this is done through PLA adjacent corporations. Do note that the
division of responsibility between locals and the Chinese on many of these ports is subject to change as the
Hambantota affair demonstrated.
capacities of Indian Ocean ports mentioned earlier are illustrative: Gwadar has
a channel depth of 18.5 metersHambantota 17 meters, both have berths up to 600 meters long.
By contrast a Nimits class aircraft carrier is 333 meters long and draws 11.9 meters at full load in an undamaged state.The potential for accommodating the world’s
largest warships is at least theoretically impressive. given the speed with which China can throw together construction projects and the CCP's ability to persuade local governments via rickshaws full of cash, the potential for several of these ports to be developed into at austere but serviceable forward bases in a remarkably short time is a very real variable o be considered.
There is less information readily available about the inland nodes of the Belt and Road Initiative, along and parallel to the old Silk Road, but those, particularly the airports are likely to have similar contractual arrangements. Suddenly appearing PLAA aerodromes in sub-Sahara Africa or countries ending in "-stan" could be an unwelcome surprise for the US or other nations in the event of a crisis.
Nor are Africa and India the only location
where this dynamic is playing out.
China’s biggest and most visible projects in the Caribbean include the development of port facilities and highways.
In Jamaica, hundreds of Chinese workers have completed a $720 million
four-lane highway stretching from north to south across the island.
Meanwhile, the China Harbour Engineering Company has agreed to build a
deep-water port in Jamaica that will serve as a transshipment hub for
giant Chinese container ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal.
The small island nation of Dominica lacks a good natural harbor but its
position at the juncture of the Leeward and Windward chains makes it a fairly
strategic location. This is of particular interest now that the Chinese and
Dominica have signed an agreement similar to the one initially signed between
China and Sri Lanka.
"Dominica and China have signed a new 300 million dollars
cooperation agreement that includes the construction of a hotel, construction
of an international airport and building a new hospital. The sum involved is equivalent
to a third of the small Caribbean island GDP, which could mean Beijing
virtually is 'purchasing' the small territory.”
Shades of another October, 57 years ago. No missiles yet though.
On the Domestic U.S. front the Trump administration only last week managed to pry the former Long Beach naval shipyard out of Chinese control after it had ended up owned by COSCO, which is de-facto owned by the PLA. during the previous administration*. What information the PLA gained and what parting gifts might have been left behind in the form of discreet signals intelligence infrastructure is unclear but an interesting thought exercise for the reader.
Far beyond any use by naval assets, having
entities controlled by the PLA in charge of such ports might, in the event of a
crisis, present a thorny strategic problem to any number of countries via such mundane things as the passage of trade goods.
These worrying assessments all assume that
China will have the desire and ability to cause mischief, and to be sure, there is
an argument against the claims of imminent Chinese
has been noted that has only recently manifested itself. The amount of money
going into the belt and road initiatives has, this year, started to dry up.
In the second half of 2018, the 10 nations of the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) only recorded 12 China-funded
megaprojects with a total worth $3.9 billion, down from 33 projects
worth $22 billion from one year earlier.
This is a precipitous decline. Much of this is due to concerns of local
polities about situations like that which befell Sri Lanka, but it is also may
reflect a weakening of the Chinese economy.
Accurate info about the Chinese economy is
fiendishly hard to come by but if true this could represent another parallel
with the Ming Era Treasure Fleets of Admiral Zeng He.
Yes we're back to that.
Admiral Zeng He’s 7
voyages may have massively changed the trade patterns and economics of the
South Asian Maritime region, and was setting up area knowledge infrastructure
and diplomatic relations to facilitate a massive maritime trading empire. Then
the government of China became concerned with the expense and distracted by
other affairs. Given the expense of the Belt and Road Endeavor, aneconomic downturn would qualify as an affair that might distract the CCP, as
might domestic unrest such as is currently manifesting in Hong Kong.The fact that pork, the most consistent expression of the absolute baseline acceptable diet in China is about to become as rare as Waygu Steak does not bode well for China's domestic tranquility. The trade war with the U.S. is a further distraction; China having gotten used to the idea that the U.S. was always going to sit down and "take it" until it was too late.
The scale of the infrastructure projects that
China has already completed will materially change commerce worldwide going
forward just as the voyages of Zeng He forever altered trade and culture in
southern Asia. If they continue the changes will indeed be profound, though
that is as the saying goes "a very big if”.
of course,limits to parallels that can
be made between Chinese policies 600 years ago and today's, but there are
similarities and the main difference is in scale. The matter of where the situation will
most profoundly diverge is the question.
event, much rests on China’s intentions and the strength of their economy. Going from 22 billion to 4 billion as noted above is such a dramatic re-alignment that
it smacks of desperation, and that is not necessarily cause for relief.
Many a despotic regime looking to distract from its domestic woes has
tried to do so via a short sharp war.
Note too though, that predictions of Chinese economic
collapse have been circulating in academia for over a decade now as have
predictions of their global omnipotence. Neither have come to pass, and indeed
few predictions made by experts in this field that passed peer review have
passed observation over time. China is a singularly difficult nation to analyze
for western experts as their cultural outlook is vastly different and even
those native to the culture of the oldest society on Earth, can be stymied in their
analysis as China’s actions are directed by conflicting forces. Legalism,
Confucianism, Communism, Realpolitik, International Relations, Game Theory, and the
hard to quantify concepts of honor which are, to varying degrees, philosophically at
odds with one another. This is all acted on through the cultural framework of
the Han and with information that outside observers are simply not privy to.
This is is not a formula for reliable analysis.It is, however, something that must be attempted given the potential and
peril of the middle kingdom.
One final thing, scarcely worth mentioning;
This post has focused mainly on property and infrastructure acquisitions with an eye to physical logistics and their similarities to the methods used by the Middle Kingdom over half a millennium ago. Perhaps not enough attention is being paid in our think tanks to less kinetic influences such as the "rickshaws full of money" briefly mentioned above.
I can see how that would have been an annoying post to lose due to a network hiccup!
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Mon Oct 28 18:55:30 2019 (PiXy!)
I spent two and a half years in Panama just as we were firing up the process of shutting down and handing over most of the facilities and infrastructure. Up until we really started shutting things down and moving out, the Panamanians didn't seem to believe we would really follow through and do it. And when we did, there was a lot of dismay at the loss of what wasn't really much of a cash injection into their economy. It wasn't long before the Chinese moved in, and I've seen photos that family and friends have sent back from the area or from canal transits. The Chinese did exactly as described here, big investments in the port facilities, roads related to their operations, etc. They established a "Chinese enclave" where most of their workers and such live, and built a whole new, fully modern set of roads and bridges to get to that location. I understand that they included some schools, and basically bought out the administration of the few local schools, hospitals and such in the area.
The result is a fair amount of "wow, the gringos never did this much for us" but also a fair amount of grumbling from the poor who are just as poor as ever, and see even less chance of that changing. And any of the upper/commercial class who didn't get a rickshaw of cash are quite upset.
Posted by: David at Mon Oct 28 21:43:38 2019 (wXI5i)
A Little Story That's Getting Little Coverage That's About Little Things
This is a little troubling as the little things are nuclear warheads.
Russia has likely been secretly carrying out nuclear tests with very low explosive power to help it upgrade its nuclear arsenal, according to a new U.S. intelligence assessment that challenges Moscow’s claims that it is faithfully adhering to an international treaty banning nuclear tests.
Wow!Jerry Miculek takes his trusty Barret M-82 "Light .50" against body armor. This seems pretty pointless, as an anti material rifle against a foam chest plate light enough to be used in a life preserver is not even a....Wait. What!
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!? I could have understood 1 or 2 F-22s not moved for maintenance reasons, but 1 or 2 DOZEN? Either we have a lot of hanger queens in F-22 fleet, or somebody was derelict in their duty to move them to a safer part of the US until the storm passed. This storm wasn't a surprise.
If we really lost 1 or 2 dozen F-22s, Congress should be giving a full galaxy's worth of general's stars the Klieg lights, and Trump should be thinking of getting some new generals.
Posted by: StargazerA5 at Sun Oct 14 10:59:55 2018 (Q7Wqc)
Just to clarify, I know the F-22 spends an inordinate amount of time in the hanger, but in this case we're talking between 6-12% of the entire fleet not even being capable of a ferry flight under optimal conditions.
Posted by: StargazerA5 at Sun Oct 14 11:26:35 2018 (Q7Wqc)
Yeah, when I first saw the report (Mainly from Ace of Spades, not known for either loving the F-22 or understanding the importance of air supremacy/superiority; i.e. Ace honestly does not understand what it is like to not control the skies.), my first thought was that someone from Air Combat Command was going to lose their job and rank. Anything that could fly should have been gone - and it felt too much like someone forgot to get that done.
Posted by: cxt217 at Sun Oct 14 12:28:06 2018 (2ZW6Y)
I heard third hand that the original plan was for all the aircraft on that base to shelter in place, but the new commander decided to err on the side of caution and moved everything that could be moved. Clearly it could have been a LOT worse.
Posted by: Mauser at Sun Oct 14 14:05:08 2018 (Ix1l6)
Regarding that Bloomberg Story about the hardware hacking that is alleged to have affected 30 companies and the U.S. military.. Here's a video of Jordan Robertson, one of the story's authors, being interviewed by...Bloomberg.
Interestingly, one of the Bloomberg anchors asks Robertson some very pointed questions regarding various details in the first two minutes or so.
For a story as potentially explosive as this is, it hasn't been getting a lot of coverage over here past the initial flurry of interest, but it is reportedly making some waves in Asia. Note, that to the best of my Googling however, as of 4 days later, no one has produced a single rice grain sized spy chip.
Everything is proceeding exactly as I have foreseen, as the wall of denials is starting to crumble.
"The security expert, Yossi Appleboum, provided documents, analysis and other evidence of the discovery following the publication of an investigative report in Bloomberg Businessweek that
detailed how China’s intelligence serviceshad ordered subcontractors
to plant malicious chips in Supermicro server motherboards over a
two-year period ending in 2015."
And attacking the credibility of Bloomberg isn't going to help.
Are we Surprised? No. (UPDATED)
Are we terrified concerned?
It appears that there has been a hack involving at least 30 companies, as well as the D.O.D and C.I.A.
Worse, it's a hardware issue.
Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers.
During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.
This attack was something graver than the software-based incidents the world has grown accustomed to seeing. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating, promising the kind of long-term, stealth access that spy agencies are willing to invest millions of dollars and many years to get.
One can assume that this is NOT an isolated incident. This is probably one of many, and one can infer that very little is now beyond the reach of the CCP. On a global level, it is very likely that all those Chinese funded infrastructure projects in Oceana, Latin America, Africa and South Asia are riddled with similar, and perhaps more hard to detect bugs, possibly embedded into the very structures of the facillities.
Pretty much every technical advancement made by compromised companies as well as state and military secrets can now be assumed to be in China's possession.
This doesn't mean they know them all yet. The sheer quantity of data that China must now have to sift through is daunting, and to be useful needs to be looked at by people who have enough knowledge in the given subject matter and sufficient imagination to be able to recognize something's merits. Encryption is a further obstacle. However, they probably have at least as big an edge on our Military as we had over the Japanese and German's after breaking or acquiring their respective codes in WW2.
This turn of events should not be the least bit surprising given that our self anointed aristocracy has off-shored much of our electronics manufacture to China (because slave labor is so cheap). Well, as we learned from Google & Facebook, if one finds something exceedingly cheap, one might well be the product.
Of course, knowing is the first step to fixing, so it should be pretty straightforward to correct this right?
Fixing this is beyond daunting. The expense of pulling out all the old circuit boards is going to be phenomenal and replacing them is subject to the same issue. The complexities of the global supply chain means that tracking down not just the manufacturers, but subcontractors, will be next to impossible.
Going forward, we may need to have some blockchain certification for all our electronic components, certainly for D.O.D. related applications. This is a sufficient breach of trust with sufficiently troubling ramifications that it ought to remove some of the opposition to restrictions on imports from the Middle Kingdom.
If oughts were dollars though we would have no debt.
This is outside my ballywick, so I eagerly look forward to the perspectives of commenters on this mess.
Now. Answer the following question. Did you read Pixy's post?
No: Go back and read it.
I found the story credible because I already have concerns about China and spying. That something like this could be done seems completely plausible.
However, all other sources I've looked at since posting this have been either rewritten versions of, or link back to, the Bloomberg article with no additional info. The Bloomberg article is anonymously sourced.
One thing I had not fully grokked, but Pixy mentions extensively, is how LONG this story has been in development.
To Wit: The following excerpt from the article on the nuts and bolts of the alleged hack sounds plausible to me, partly because it comports with my limited understanding of how these systems work, but mainly because the words, Dilithium, turbo-encabulator, and Midichloreans do not appear anywhere in it.
Officials familiar with the investigation say the primary role of implants such as these is to open doors that other attackers can go through. "Hardware attacks are about access,” as one former senior official puts it. In simplified terms, the implants on Supermicro hardware manipulated the core operating instructions that tell the server what to do as data move across a motherboard, two people familiar with the chips’ operation say. This happened at a crucial moment, as small bits of the operating system were being stored in the board’s temporary memory en route to the server’s central processor, the CPU. The implant was placed on the board in a way that allowed it to effectively edit this information queue, injecting its own code or altering the order of the instructions the CPU was meant to follow. Deviously small changes could create disastrous effects.
Since the implants were small, the amount of code they contained was small as well. But they were capable of doing two very important things: telling the device to communicate with one of several anonymous computers elsewhere on the internet that were loaded with more complex code; and preparing the device’s operating system to accept this new code. The illicit chips could do all this because they were connected to the baseboard management controller, a kind of superchip that administrators use to remotely log in to problematic servers, giving them access to the most sensitive code even on machines that have crashed or are turned off.
This system could let the attackers alter how the device functioned, line by line, however they wanted, leaving no one the wiser.
In the comments, Pixy (who, again, does IT for a living) seemed spectacularly unimpressed with the plausibility of this scenario.
Over at Medium, one of those linked to in Pixy's piece on the subject has objections , but they are mostly about how on earth this would have been detected, as it would have been an insanely comprehensive audit to detect this. However, he closes with this...
For me, Bloomberg’s article could go either way. The logic of backdooring the BMC makes a lot of sense. Whether it happened in this case — given all the categorical denials — I have no idea.
I will go so far as to say that I think something along these lines is likely to happen at some point, however, if this story does turn out to be bunk then Bloomberg will, via the cry wolf effect will have facilitated the very thing they pretended to report on.
This story is looking sketchy, but for now, we await more info....
I'll see what I can find, but a couple of thoughts:
1. If the network is secure, this doesn't matter. If the server can't make unauthorised connections to the internet, that's it.
2. There's a limited amount of functionality you can put on a chip that size. A keylogger, sure. Which is great if you want to hack laptops, but servers don't have keyboards. Snooping on a 100GbE connection? No chance.
3. The companies named - including the victims - have very explicitly denied it.
4. The sources are anonymous.
5. The chief selling point for the story is Bloomberg's credibility.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thu Oct 4 20:17:55 2018 (PiXy!)
Each time, we have conducted rigorous internal investigations based on their inquiries and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them. We have repeatedly and consistently offered factual responses, on the record, refuting virtually every aspect of Bloomberg’s story relating to Apple.
To translate: Bloomberg is full of shit.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thu Oct 4 20:21:57 2018 (PiXy!)
Well...I can't let all those keystrokes go to waste, so I'll resort to special pleading.
Everyone denying it has considerable incentive to do so. If this were true this could be their end.
Special Pleading Ends:
The sheer capacity issues of the chip were something I hadn't the expertise to consider, though the logistics of sifting through the Yotabits of data are daunting on their own.
I am concerned, perhaps unwarrantedly so, about back doors and such in our millitary IT, C4i, and fire control hardware.
As we shared with Bloomberg BusinessWeek multiple times over the last couple months, this is untrue. At no time, past or present, have we ever found any issues relating to modified hardware or malicious chips in SuperMicro motherboards in any Elemental or Amazon systems. Nor have we engaged in an investigation with the government.
On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations” or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server. Apple never had any contact with the FBI or any other agency about such an incident. We are not aware of any investigation by the FBI, nor are our contacts in law enforcement.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Fri Oct 5 03:35:48 2018 (PiXy!)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Fri Oct 5 21:23:53 2018 (PiXy!)
Actually, for the story to be developed for a long time is a good thing, IMHO. I remember how National Enquirer developed John Edwards story. It dragged on for months before they ambushed him in the hotel lobby. They had anonymous sources. This prompted people to share what they knew. Finally, they managed to buy photos of Edwards holding his love child. And even that was not enough for most, so they had to stage the operation to get him. I'm sure Bloomberg marshalled resources in a similar fashion.
As for the chip being small, puleeeeeeeeeeeze. The important part is what trace on the mobo it taps, and the power consumption in doing so. I think it probably goes into an I2C EEPROM that boots one of stupid Intel controllers.
So, my bet is it's almost certainly true.
Devil's Advocate here, but comparing Bloomberg's coverage of the nano-spychip vis-a-vis the National Enquirer's coverage of John Edwards' affair not of state is not quite an apples to apples comparison.
The love affairs of a politician with someone who is not his or her significant other is something that most newspapers and periodicals would be suited to cover. That is the kind of story the gossip pages are for - except that the subject in question would make it to the front page.
Bloomberg's coverage of cyber-warfare, on the other hand, causes one to wonder if they know what they are talking about. Have they demonstrated they are well-equipped to report a cyber-warfare story?
Or are they pulling a Stephen Glass on us?
Posted by: cxt217 at Sun Oct 7 21:46:22 2018 (2ZW6Y)
Reports on this system are somewhat contradictory. The Russians seem to be giving 2027 as the date it is fully operational, while it appears that the system is in service now aboard RFS Belgorod, which has the capacity to carry 6 of these devices. The press reports also report that this thing has a yield of 2 megatons, (down considerably from 100MT)but that makes exactly no sense.
Unlike the U.S. the Russians never stopped designing new nukes. They are at least as advanced as us in this regard. In 1963 the U.S. had a one megaton warhead that weighed only 600-680 pounds and was less than 18 inches in diameter. A 21 inch torpedo like the MK 48 has a 650 pound warhead. The Russians use 660mm torpedos. I have no idea what their warhead weight is but the smaller 610mm Japanese Type93 (Long Lance) had a maximum warhead weight of over 1700 pounds in its mod 3 version. Thus one could conceivably put a 1-4 Megaton warhead in their submarine's standard tubes and carry a dozen or more with no expensive mods to the sub. This weapon has been photographed (in its tube) and is bigger than a WW2 Japanese midget sub. Modern 21 inch Torpedoes already have a 140 kilometer range, and one can assume that the 660mm russian weapons are longer legged still, so it seems unlikely that the entire Russian sub force could be stopped from tossing a dozen of these into major US ports, which aren't moving targets after all. This weapon on the other hand is limited to one boat at the moment, with 1 or 2 more in the pipeline. The only reason to add that vulnerability is if there is a huge increase in capability. This blog has explored cratering and seiche effects on a port before. Now let's look at secondary effects.
Belgorod reportedly carries six of these things, What happens if ONE sub fires a full spread and positions them for maximum effect?
This is 6 x 100Megaton groundbursts in 5 deepwater ports and a Fishing harbor (Bangor, Astoria, Crescent City, San Fransisco, Sacramento, Long Beach) plus a 2 megaton groundburst for perspective in a salt marsh next to Vandenburg AFB. I had the fallout pattern from the smaller blast go south to make it stand out.
Note that the orange circles are the zone of burnination. At the outer edge of those circles, on a clear day, people outside go blind, get third degree burns, leaves, hair and dark clothing can catch fire, everything inside of that gets steadily more combustible. This means that EVERYTHING inside the inner orange ring is on fire. Recent headlines have implications for that effect, and how hard it might be to get under control.
The light grey bit just inside that is the outer limit of smashed windows and associated lacerations of people who might already be blind and on fire . Damage, gets worse in from that, the darker grey circle on each blast pattern is the 5 PSI limit. The effects of 5 pounds per square inch of overpressure can be seen in this helpful .gif .
(The .gifs on the right actually.)
Everything inside that circle gets progressively more unpleasant. None of those effects save the outer burn limit are visible at this scale on the 2mt bomb, which is the smallest that really shows effects at this scale. Still, I very much would not want to be at Vandenburg in this instance.
I picked the west coast not because I hate J.Greely, and Mauser nor because I think that my home next to the largest naval base in the world is not a target, but because of the orange and yellow pointy bits coming out of the blast radii.
Fallout. This is how the Nukemap site explains the visuals for the streamers coming out of the circles.
Fallout contours for a 100 megaton surface burst (52% fission) with a 15 mph wind:
Fallout contour for 1 rads per hour:
Fallout contour for 10 rads per hour:
Fallout contour for 100 rads per hour:
All of those fall under the category of "bad", with10 rads per hour giving acute radiation syndrome in about half a day.
The fallout contours vary in length because I varied the wind speed. The mushroom cloud from a full yield RDS-220 is estimated to get over 30 miles high so it's going to be blown east by high speed upper level winds, especially if it intersects the very high speed winds of the jet stream(s). The wind speeds in the above image vary from 10mph to 180mph.
In practice such fallout patterns would follow a lazy s curve well into Canada (I would not want to be in Saskatoon or Winnipeg) before arcing down intothe U.S. breadbasket and possibly (depending on wind speed) looping up through the northeast and poisoning New England & the Maritimes. This is, of course highly dependent on the time of year (things like is the subtropical jet stream active as well as effects of North America's comparatively mild continental Monsoon pattern).
Here for comparison are three different fallout estimates from the federal government.
Note that these all date from the '80s or earlier and are all based on cold war scenarios involving a thousand or more bombs. The estimate in the first image is for 6.
So a full spread of 6 high yield weapons from Belgorod killed or poisoned at least half of North America and probably killed a majority of Canadians as an afterthought. That is a capability that makes the huge scale and complexity of this system actually make some sense, in exactly the same way that the 2megaton yield being reported doesn't.
I strongly suspect that IF this is not a Potemkin torpedo, that the yield is much higher than the 2 megatons that has been surfacing in news reports lately. I'm sticking with between 50 and 150 megatons.
Even given space and weight restrictions in the torpedo, 100 MT doesn't seem unreasonable. It seems like a middle of the road estimate.
If you take the parachute, and lay down casing off the old, 1963 Tsar Bomba the actual 'splody bits should just fit into a Poseidon. That weapon fit into the T-15 torpedo designed for it with just fine and its dimensions are similar to Posiedon's (albeit it was a tad shorter). It's been a long time since 1963...a lot of progress has been made.
Nuclear war is hideous to contemplate, but we lived unbder its spectre for decades. However, 'total atomic anihilation' used to require hundreds or even thousands of warheads. An EMP is a real threat, but doesn't involve direct damage or any meaningful fallout. Of course, in the unlikely event they ever use these things then the Russians will be hitting us with everything they have. Even if only to make the rubble bounce.
It would sure be nice if the US Navy had not decided to let its' ASW capability whither since the end of the Cold War...
Admittingly, the Navy has not done a good job making its' case since the end of the Cold War...
Posted by: cxt217 at Sun Aug 19 22:23:29 2018 (BcQU4)
I'll be honest: this doesn't concern me in the least.
The nuke torpedo doesn't really do anything an ICBM can't do other than be sneaky. But if a whole bunch of coastal cities go kablooey it's pretty clear that there'll be half a gazillion missiles launching out of the midwest in response.
So as a first strike weapon, it's really pretty weak. Yes, a 100mt warhead will ruin a city's whole day, but not really any more than a MIRV'd missile would. There'd just be a big hole in the harbor, more fallout and a really impressive water column climbing towards the stratosphere.
If it takes out a sub base or two, well... unfortunate, but there's more at sea.
The nuka-torp doesn't really imbalance anything.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Mon Aug 20 22:58:14 2018 (CWc/p)
Yeah, I've got a huge target painted on me, Naval Station Everett, Whidby Island NAS, Bremerton (Subs and carriers!). That thing would scrub Boeing and my house off the map, because they're both basically line of sight from a likely explosion.
Posted by: Mauser at Mon Aug 20 23:21:20 2018 (Ix1l6)
Now for the second time in three years there are large numbers of troops involved. Unlike the 2014 crisis, this is complicated by a third party and the fact that the diplomatic exchanges between the two most powerful players consist mainly of ultimatums.
OK. What happened? China also claims a parts of Bhutan. India has a defense agreement with Bhutan. While the China Bhutan border dispute was being reviewed by international bodies China marched into a Bhutanese mountain pass called Doklam (which borders India and China) and began building a highway (part of their NewSilkRoad project). India then sent in troops (as per their agreement with Bhutan) and forcibly removed the Chinese contractors and escorting soldiers out of Bhutan. Both sides have been moving troops into the area ever since and diplomatic exchanges have gotten more heated.
While this was going on, India has been rocked by a spy scandal involving their perpetual rival (and China's ally) Pakistan. In the last few days, Pakistan has just started poking along the Indo-Pakistani border and Kashmir is heating up again which is likely further unnerving India as they send troops north to Sikhim.
A hypothetical war between India and China would be one of the largest and most destructive conflicts in Asia. A war between the two powers would rock the Indo-Pacific region, cause thousands of casualties on both sides and take a significant toll on the global economy.* Geography and demographics would play a unique role, limiting the war’s scope and ultimately the conditions of victory.
The estimated short term impact of soot from a very limited exchange between India and Pakistan (low yields and only 100 detonations) is visualized here. It's comparable to a big volcano and could affect crop yields for a year.
An exchange that went all out between China and India or just India and Pakistan would be worse of course. This doesn't even touch on the extent of fallout affecting nearby countries or the incomprehensible suffering and slaughter that will result from a couple going off over Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai or Hyderabad.
Mizokani's piece above notes that this could turn on naval action. (Ironic given the location of the dispute). A good chunk of China's trade passes through the Indian Ocean and India has a sizable navy. Furthermore, Aridhaman and Arihant, (India' two SSBNs) would be high priority targets for China, so you'd expect the Chinese to be taking measures in that direction if things were going to get serious.
There's more on this situation and the strategic incentives in play for both India and China here.
In other words, control over the Doklam plateau constitutes a "win-win” for the PLA; both a knife to India’s jugular and shield to blunt its sharpest spear. With existential stakes for Delhi, and Beijing posturing growing more uncompromising by the day, there’s no end in sight to the longest standoff at the China-India border in over three decades.
Big Bomb is Big, but The Tautology is Not the Story
The news today has been abuzz with reports that the U.S.A.F. dropped a GBU-43/b bomb on an I.S.I.S tunnel network in Afganistan. Much of the reporting has been breatlessly reporting on the fact that this bomb is REALLY BIG. Some reports have implied that this is like nothing ever used before and is as big as a small nuke.
The bomb in question is about the same sizer as a British Grand Slam bombs used in WW2.
This bomb has a much higher percentage of explosive to its total weight but its not anywhere near even the smallest nuke.
A Kiloton is the explosive equivalent to one kiloton (that is one thousand TONS) of TNT. This can be chamically simulated (minus flash and radiation) with....one thousand tons of TNT.
...in which the U.S. Navy wanted to test the effects of nuclear blasts on its ships without actually popping a nuke. They stacked up a pile of explosives big enough to simulate one half a kiloton of TNT, that is, one 30th the yield of the Hiroshima bomb. Naturally, this assembly consisted of a detonator and 500 TONS of TNT. Note the sailor in the lower right hand corner for scale (and the fire extinguisher...'cause they REALLY didn't want a fire there.)
Here's the GBU-43/b.
Much smaller than the bungalow sized bundle of boom above
It's also called MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Burst) which is a somewhat tortured application of the G.I. Joe system of acronyms that enables it to be unofficially referred to as the Mother of All Bombs.
It is NOT in the same ballpark as even the smallest known nuke.
It is a very good weapon for delivering a huge concussive force to a mountain and collapsing tunnels, which is what it was used for here. The target seems to be a massive underground system of tunnels and caves that is part of a chain of such fortresses set up by the Taliban and AlQuaeda in Nangahar province stretching from the northeast to south of Jalalabad of which Tora Bora is the most well known. that complex was well equipped with hydroelectric generators, and other equipment one would associate with the Maginot Line rather than a terrorist cave.
Note though the buried lede in this story.
The operation in Nangahar not only warranted the use of a concussion weapon of this size, the weapon in question was targeted against an ISIS stronghold.
Not Taliban, not Al-Quaeda, but ISIS...in Afganistan. There have been several islamist groups around the world that have sworn aliegence to ISIS, and the their operations in Africa have been known for some time. The scale of the operation in Afganistan, very near the Pakistan border, on the heels of numerous terror attacks inside Pakistan should give everyone pause.
Pakistan is a nuclear power and its arsenal consists mainly of tactical nukes, that while small are multiple orders of magnitude more destructive than the very impressive firecracker we just dropped on a mountain fortress. They also have dubious security.
In the past five years there have been at least half a dozen attacks on the facilities that reportedly store Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. The Kamra Air Base near Islamabad has been attacked three times by terrorists belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
This bomb strike, or more correctly the battle that it was part of, therefore, may well be consequential indeed. Not so much for what was dropped, but who it was aimed at.
Having ignored it until it got dangerous, it appears that we waited too long to cut the cancer that is ISIS out of Iraq....it seems to have metastasized most alarmingly.
It's been fairly widely reported that Centcom assets tracked the bombers and there is no doubt that Syrian air force bombers hit the area where people were exposed, at the time reported. It's also been widely reported that the observed cloud and area exposed are inconsistent with any dispersal method other than air drop, and that the story of "the rebels had a stockpile that the bombs hit" is not technically possible, Sarin would be degraded by such an event, and would not disperse over the size of the area effected.
Posted by: David at Sat Apr 8 06:49:26 2017 (JMkaQ)
Most of the articles linked in the NBF post are from last year and the post focuses on the tsunami aspect of the weapon, which is not likely to be that much of a strategic threat.
For those unfamiliar with this most clickbaity of weapons, "Status 6" is a new Russian torpedo carrying a nuclear warhead. Nothing new there except that this torpedo is over 5 feet wide and nearly 80 feet long and the warhead is between 50 and 150 megatons, with 100 megatons being the general consensus. The torpedo is big enough to carry the 100 megaton "Tsar Bomba" or RDS 220 physics package which was tested at half yield back in the 1960s producing 57 megatons of 'splody and cracking windows over 200 miles away.
It is designed to be fired into harbors, rendering them unuseable due to cratering and radioactive contamination. In the semi-enclosed waters of San Fransisco and San Diego bays, Puget Sound and possibly the Chesapeake Bay seiche effects would likely result in impressive wave heights, but the energies released by this weapon pale in comparison to what an earthquake releases and you can't just blow one up offshore and devastate the coast.
However, the effect is not nonexistant.
Table from here. A 22-74 foot wave 100 miles away is kind of scary.
The bigger concern is the blast and radiation, even if not salted with cobalt 60 or something a high yield version of the old RDS220 would be horrifically radioactive. From the Nuclear Weapon Archive article...
The effect of this bomb at full yield on global fallout would have been tremendous. It would have increased the world's total fission fallout since the invention of the atomic bomb by 25%.
Since the effects of a ground burst are orders of magnitude worse for radioactive contamination than an airburst, the effect on the targeted harbors and those downwind is likely to be so dreadful that cobalt is unnecessary.
There are 2 operational carriers of this delightful piece of technology, one is an experimental submarine that has one monstrous torpedo tube for this weapon. There is also a converted cruise missile submarine that reportedly has six tubes, though it is a combination spy- sub and work boat. In a year or so, the purpose built Khabarovsk comes into service, which will carry at least 6 tubes.
Assume 1 is hitting Pearl Harbor, 2 were used n Puget Sound because of the geography, the SSBN base OR the cities can be hit, but not both. Targets are major commercial ports and the most important naval bases. I assumed that no subs were in the gulf of Mexico, but they do have one addition sub to shoot at New Orleans. Additionally, certain Inland ports like Sacramento or Albany might be fairly easy shots for this weapon if maximum fallout is desired.
..the thing that is most striking is the sheer size of the affected areas, even not taking into account the fallout. The fireball that plasmaglobe of utter destruction in the center of a nuclear blast is 10 miles across. The orange area is where fires would be started on a clear day and the lightest shade of grey is the 1.5 psi area where all the windows are blown out, the darker shades of grey has most homes demolished and inside that it's...unpleasant.
For scale I nuked Washington DC with a B-83, the most powerful weapon in the U.S. arsenal. It doesn't really show up at this scale.
Of course if the Russians actually used these, they'd be using their other nuclear weapons too, but the sheer amount if devastation caused by 11 of these things on CONUS ports is kind of sobering.
Foreign Policy has more on the simmering water conflict between India and Pakistan. Pakistan is threatening to use nuclear weapons on India in response to an Indian raid that killed numerous Jihadists which the Pakistani's claim to have nothing to do with. India is still pondering a redirection of the Indus river and now China is threatening India over an Indian state that China claims under the principle that if Chinese pottery has been found by archeologists...that region is part of China. this has been going on for a while, Foreign Policy points out that China is looking at cutting off the Brahmaputra ...which would be rather more challenging than closing the flow gates on the Indus but would screw India good.
More history than news now and not representing any direct threat, this story is,, nevertheless, sufficiently horrifying to be included in a Monday news dump.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton turned away a high-ranking Chinese defector who sought political asylum after the communist police chief sought refuge in a U.S. consulate in southwestern China four years ago.
That is sickening. What could possibly be worse than....OH MY GOD! Fortunately we have another option hopefully with the perspective and maturity to...Oh for frack's sake.
I started to type something very terrifying in this space, but upon tracking down the source for the story, all references to it led back to Zero Hedge. Whew!
I just looked at the map of the Brahmaputra river, and I don't see any way China could stop it or redirect it. If anyone is making that threat, it's an empty one and I can't see India being afraid of it.
Amidst growing tension over Uri attack by Pakistani terrorists on Sunday, a video of the country’s Defence Minister Khawaja M Asif threatening to use nuclear weapon against India is doing the rounds on social media. The video shows the Pakistani defence minister telling Geo News: "If Pakistan’s security is threatened, we will not hesitate in using tactical (nuclear) weapons.”
I'm sort of worndering if we could belive the fallout models. The climate models turned out to be utter bunk, since we're emitting top of the line CO2 and the warming is way below the most favourable projections. Like literally stopped basically. Of course the fallout is much shorter term.
True, but these are very short term and based on observed phenomena like wind patterns, volcanic eruptions and the Iraq Oil fires of the early 90's so there is at least decent data going in. I don't think it's as accurate as the tenths of a degree temperature gradient makes it appear, but it gives a good ballpark figure.
Meanwhile: The Ceasefire in Syria Continues Apace
The U.S. may or may not have hit a Syrian army unit. The Russian's, who hit a U.S. airbase back in July have probably hit an aid convoy. The Russian carrier is en route to the area, the Chinese have gotten involved. We have troops on the ground, in Syria, a country whose government we have said we are going to overthrow, which is an ally of Russia who also has troops on the ground protecting Syria by shooting at the Jihadists we are ostensibly backing while we fight the mostly different crazy-nuts jihadis in ISIS which Russia is also fighting without any coordination with us so Russian and U.S. troops are on opposite sides of a civil war, armed and shooting at people who are trying to kill them in an area in which at least twofactions are using poison gas.
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!?
(As an aside, the King of Spain technically carries a subsidiary title of Archduke, so we should probably guard him quite closely...just as a precaution.)
Remember The RememberanceOn September 11, 1683 the Ottoman forces besieging the city of Vienna were on the verge of victory. The City, under siege since July 14, was starving, Ottoman engineers had greatly weakened the city's walls and its collapse appeared imminent. However that evening relief arrived in the form of an army from Hungary and one from the confederation somewhat misleadingly known as the Holy Roman Empire...They brought with them roughly 40,000 troops, not good odds against a force of 90,000 Caliphate troops that included a large number of Janissaries. However, the situation was dire and this was a final desperate attempt to turn the tide of this months long battle, for with the loss of Vienna the Islamic armies would have free reign throughout Europe. The enlightenment was about to be snuffed out.
Early on the morning of the 12th the allied armies were reinforced by 27,000 fresh Polish troops under John Sobieski, who bolstered the European forces as they pressed their attack against the Ottomans. Even with the reinforcements, Europe and had only a bit more than 2/3 of the Ottoman forces, however the Ottomans were also having to deal with the guard of the city they were besieging, which astutely chose this time to get very frisky.
By the end of the 12th, the Islamic forces were routed. Along with the Battle of Lepanto, the siege of Vienna is generally regarded as the end of the large scale Islamic expansion into Europe. September 11th, 1683 thus marks the end of the period when the threat of Jihadi conquest was a constant threat...over the previous thousand years, Western civilization had been pushed into a small peninsula on the ass end of Asia which, for reasons of self esteem is still referred to as a "continent". This erosion was sometimes slowed, occasionally reversed for a time, but it was inexorable until 333 years ago today.
Islamists do not take these reversals lightly, particularly since this geographically tiny exception to their civilizations expansion turned out to be (for a time at least) annoyingly consequential to their efforts to fufill their faith's demand that they kill or convert...everyone. This date marked a profound slowing (for a time at least) of a thousand years of expansion and the halt, (for a time at least) of their expansion west. It is the date that, to their mind their civilization lost its way.
They, quite unlike our cultural trendsetters, have a keen sense of history, and so 15 years ago, this was the date was chosen to kill Westerners,. in remembrance of the day that, to these murderous fiends, the course of history went off the rails.
15 years on, nearly all of those who put together this celebration of butchery are dead, but their inspiration has worked better than one might have expected. The enemy of the west, and reason itself is again on the march. What it lacks in wealth, it makes up for in verve and they have lost none of the habitsthatEuropefoughtsohardanddesperatelyagainst for a thousand years.
Stories of great evils; dark, malign forces, which threaten civilization itself and that, even if defeated, bide their time, perhaps for centuries awaiting a chance to crawl forth again thirsty for vengeance...these were once parables told by adults to their children to instill in them on a profound level that monsters are real and even when out of sight may still bide their time. Today, we are ruled by children who use such tales to reassure themselves that such things cannot possibly happen...even as the ancientenemyisinsidethegates.
The greatest advantage that these people have is that they have long memories, and we tend to forget all that we have learned through the blood and terror of our ancestors.
So do not listen to those who would have you "move on". Remember it, for the atrocity that was inflicted on 3,000 of our own 15 years ago, was itself a memorial service performed by those who thirst for our blood, and who themselves never forget.
It’s not clear, however, that even well informed Americans realize how dire the situation is. It’s time they paid better attention, because China’s lawless pursuit of resources and territory is coming to resemble nothing else so much as the behavior of the Japanese empire before World War Two—a disconcerting comparison I have heard more than once from analysts and government officials here...
North Korea on Wednesday test-fired a submarine-launched missile 500 kilometres (around 300 miles) towards Japan, marking what weapons analysts called a clear step forward for its nuclear strike ambitions.
The flight distance, which was tracked by South Korea's military Joint Chiefs of Staff, far exceeded any previous SLBM tests, suggesting significant progress in technical prowess....
... If fired at the optimum angle, it could cover more than 1,000km, the source said.
Do note the neighborhood it it would have landed in if it had fired at optimum angle.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and allied tribal fighters recaptured the Waleed Border Crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi Border on August 3. ISIS mounted a counterattack on August 8 - 9 against the Waleed Border Crossing as well as the Tanf Border Crossing in Syria, which is held by the U.S.-backed New Syrian Army. Both attacks were repelled. ISW is thus changing the status of Waleed Border Crossing to ISF Control.
Iraqi Peshmerga affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) launched clearing operations southeast of Mosul on August 14 - 15, seizing at least twelve villages in the Ninewa Plains. The operation originated from positions near the Khazir Military Base between Mosul and Arbil, and progressed south towards the town of Gwer. ISW is thus changing the status of this area from contested to KDP Peshmerga Control.
The ISF recaptured the city of Qayyarah on August 25 following more than a month of operations to secure terrain on the southern and western outskirts of the city after security forces seized the Qayyarah Airbase on July 9. The ISF breached the city limits of Qayyarah on August 23, encountering limited resistance in the southern neighborhoods. The ISF secured the city center and government complex on August 24 and Joint Operations Command announced full control over the city on August 25. ISW is thus changing the status of Qayyarah to ISF Control.
The deal with the bananas is that the current banana we get doesn't have seeds, right? That means it cannot reproduce. Nearly all the bananas in plantations in the world are clones and clones of clones of the original mutant that lost its seeds, and as a result they are all genetically identical.
That kind of situation leaves the cultivar extremely vulnerable to diseases. Which can burn through them like wildfire.
It happened one time here in the PNW. The Forest Service had the bright idea of coming up with a super-tree to use to replant clear-cuts, and they ended up with one, which they cloned and planted tens of thousands of acres -- all of which were genetically identical. And then there was a moth attack (IIRC) that seriously devastated that particular cultivar. In a genetically varied population the destruction wouldn't have been as bad, of course, and these days when they reforest they use seedlings which are not genetically identical.
But the current banana is itself favored precisely because the previous one encountered a fungus problem. So it's not like we're looking at the End of All Bananas, just that this particular variety's probably had it. (And, to hear tell, it's no loss - what this variety gained in disease resistance and long shelf life, it lost in flavor...)
Instapundit commenters are having a barrel of laughs at the expense of John Schindler, who is apparently a real person, and produced the following headline: "Married US Naval War College professor put on leave after nude photo he allegedly sent to woman was posted on Twitter". Twitter is clearly his bane... as well as the truth.
Yeah, Schindler face-planted hard several years ago when he pulled an Anthony Weiner. He's a historian of some note and a former spook and been building up his "days since epic failure of judgement" ever since.
Schindler is taking tremendous heat now (265 comments as I type this) because he's spoken ill of Trump, which is an unforgivable sin for Captain Combover's myrmidons. I do note that Schindler has been quite critical of the Republican establishment's treating the rank and file like retarded children...which eventually resulted in such intense (and generally justified) frustration that many turned to Trump.
For all that I generally like Schindler however, I'm deeply, deeply skeptical of coup talk. Trump's statements regards nukes and mercurial personality are probably quite a concern to a lot of GOFOs. Thus there is likely to be some discussion of contingencies for what to do if a nut-bar president decides to launch nukes willy nilly. "Discussion in some circles" is updating contingencies, not plotting a crossing of the Rubicon. Schindler, like so many other people this year is spun up and probably overstated the situation....to such an extent that he probably ought to reset his fail counter to zero.
Also, Pete: your comment preceded the Instapundit post. What set you off about Schindler and/or his analysis? I do not speak or read Russian and the perspective of another Russian speaker on these matters is always welcome.
Arguably Less Disturbing Than The Previous Post
It looks like the Russians are commissioning not one, but two classes of big submarines to carry their new heavyweight torpedoes, which we've blogged about before. These torpedoes, which are variously referred to as KANYON or Status-6, are believed to have a warhead with a yield somewhere between 50 and 150 megatons. This sounds like a plot point from a summer blockbuster or comic book, but as a practical matter, these would be fiendishly hard to stop and they would utterly destroy (and render uninhabitable for years) the ports upon which we rely for our Navy and trade.
One of these submarines, a brand new ship believed to be named KHABAROVSK appears to be a dedicated carrier for six or so of these port busters and basically would serve much the same function as a ballistic missile sub, doing deterrence patrols. The other one is something of an oddball....
BELGOROD is a Russian cruise missile submarine being refitted as a sort of research vessel/spy sub/ underwater support ship. Yet this vessel is also reported to have six of these weapons fitted. While this contradictory set of requirements is perplexing, Covert -Shores is a fairly well regarded site and was way ahead of the curve on their analysis of the North Korean Ballistic Missile sub. Why an underwater reconnaissance vessel/work boat is carrying strategic weapons is unknown, but the vessel seems to be designed to support nuclear powered underwater sensor arrays in the arctic and conduct reconnaissance. This may simply be a second large hull that can get the weapons out to sea so they can start "deterring". After all, a navy needs at least three ships to keep one on patrol at all times. Alternatively, the extensive spy sub equipment might have applications for sneaking these weapons into U.S. ports.
Obviously our European allies would be vulnerable to this weapon too but
I can't see the Russians setting off something that dirty in Europe.
Japan might be a target as the jet stream and currents would carry the
contamination East, but Japan is not a threat to Russia, so this is
probably only aimed at the U.S.
Of course, there is actually a bigger story here than just operationalizing some doomsday torpedoes, and that is the ongoing construction of a series of nuclear powered sensor arrays in the Arctic. This is after all purported to be the primary function of this new submarine. Such a sensor array is reminiscent of the old SOSUS but it has the potential to be far more capable thanks to the raw power available from the underwater nuclear reactors associated with it. When completed, this sensor net has the potential to very much turn the Arctic into a Russian lake in which US or Canadian subs will exist only at Russian indulgence.
In a related story (related in that it involves Russians, submarines and breathless, apocalyptic clickbaitery) here is an AEI article that has been making the rounds in the consevosphere. It attaches some considerable significance to the names of Russian Strategic submarines. Note though, that the author's premise does not hold up with regard to the name KHABAROVSK .
1nuclear powered underwater sensor arrays in the arctic
If the people who gave us the Chernobyl disaster start installing nuclear power plants pell-mell in the Arctic, there might be some detrimental impact to the fragile Arctic environment. I'm sure Greenpeace will condemn Russia for this Real Soon Now.
This might be wishful thinking, but some of the Belgorod's gizmos look like vapourware to me. For example, the Paltus midget sub appears to be a rough equivalent of the US Navy's NR-1; does Russia have the technical capability to build it? (Note that the US Navy only managed to commission one NR-1, and they scrapped it in 2008 with no replacement.) OTOH, the basic premise of the Kanyon nuclear-tipped torpedoes seems disturbingly plausible to me.
Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Tue Jul 26 23:08:47 2016 (iohoY)
They've had nuclear powered midget subs in service for decades. The Paltus, is I believe, the Russians second generation nuclear powered midget sub. The newest is a super deep diving bathyscaph type thing called the Losharik.
The Kremlinology is strong with that one. But he forgot to account for the fact that the Losharik the cartoon character only had 3 legs (the front legs walked like a normal horse and the rear one jumped like a horse with one of hind legs amputated).
There are many crazy theories, but this one is mine!
The Democrats are about to nominate a singularly repulsive candidate for president. Hillary Clinton is a fractally-corrupt-Mandelbrot -Set of malfeasance, who has seriously endangered the country and even if one ignores the venal corruption the sheer incompetence of her tenure as America's Chief foreign policy officer caused untold suffering in North Africa, the Middle East and now Europe by destabilizing the area and creating a refugee crisis and this doesn't even get into the general weakening of the international order that happened on her watch. She's also a petty, abusive and singularly unlikeable politician, which begs the question....wHY did the democrats go all in for her.
Well, my theory is that their reasoning was along the lines of "BWAHAHAHAHA!!!! Those republicans will NEVER be able to lose to us now!" (dancity dancity dancity dance).
Which dovetails into the rest of my theory...that the Republicans did not take this lying down. The establishment kept multiple of their favored sons in the race to split the vote, ensuring that Trump would get the nod. Remember above, when I said that Hillary was SINGULARLY repulsive?
Well....perhaps dually is a better word....if it's a word.
One possible explanation for this is that the Republican Party hacks are sitting in a Potpourri filled room congratulating themselves and saying things like "Those Democrat bastards, don't stand a chance. They'll never loose to this asshole!"...and yet they might.
Why the inversion this year?
Well that is the crux of my crazy theory.
Neither side actually WANTS to win, because neither side wants to be in the White House during the next four years. They do not want to be the ones tasked with the Sisyphean and possibly impossible task of dealing with the fire breathing hydra with rabies that is the deteriorating world situation. Their best case scenario is to loose, and in the unlikely event there are any survivors, come out of their bunkers and pick up the pieces, while blaming the other party for the catastrophe that they fortuitously dodged having to deal with.
I base my crazy theory in part upon the following:
At the office I ask a Russian employee about the mood in his working-class Moscow neighborhood. The old people are buying salt, matches and "gretchka,” (buckwheat) he tells me - the time-worn refuge for Russians stocking up on essentials in case of war.
In the past two months, I’ve traveled to the Baltic region, to Georgia, and to Russia. Talk of war is everywhere.
...the possibility of nuclear war between America and Russia not only still exists, but is probably growing. And the place where it is most likely to begin is in a future military confrontation over three small Baltic states -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.