Saturday, March 3, 2007

Putin's Had Enough:
This Is Not Your Mother's Cold War

Three weeks ago at the Munich Security Conference, before the assembled heads of state of Western Europe and the US Secretary of Defense, Vladimir Putin let it all hang out. He's had more than enough and told the world in no uncertain terms that US aggression and military adventurism in the Caucaucus basin and the Middle East is provoking a new Cold War.

Sec'y Gates and other administration mouthpieces laughed off Putin's remarks, but it is simply extraordinary that this highly intelligent, ex-KGB head would give such a blunt warning in such a prominent setting. Putin knows something, and the US has pushed his hand.

So what's going on? What gave Putin the confidence to send such a major shot across the bow of the USS Cheney? Essentially, Russia's on the rise and the US is going down. Russia is now the world's number one producer of oil, and after nearly being dismantled with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the country under Putin has quietly rebuilt and consolidated its power.

At the same time the US is spiraling out of control. Staggering debt and staggering balance of payments deficits are sinking the American economy. The unenviable pillars of our supposed prosperity are debt, debt & more debt; a rapidly deflating housing bubble; and an inflated stock market that is about to collapse. And our sources of oil are not secure. The US wars in the Middle East are an act of desperation, an oil grab--the US is securing for itself Iraq's oil and Afghanistan to build pipelines that would allow the US to bring the oil from the Caucaucus basin to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea. The US is also trying to dislodge the former Soviet republics--the crescent of unpronouncible -stans ringing Russia's southeastern borders--from Russian influence, eager to base missiles there pointed at Russia and to lock in their oil reserves as well.

Putin is speaking up now because of Iran. He's drawing a line in the sand. And he's in a surprisingly solid position on the global chessboard.

And here's why: the SS-N-25 Super Sunburn, a missile so potent the US Navy tried to purchase its predecessor from the Russians. A few vital stats: it flies at Mach 2.5+ with a cruising altitude of 45 feet and a range of over 150 miles.

Okay, Putin's got a cool missile; what's the big deal? This missile flies so low and so fast that it is undetectable by radar, and has such an impact velocity that, even mounted with a conventional warhead, it could easily sink a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Putin has quietly offered them to Iran and Syria. Not only are the US carrier groups in Persian Gulf at grave risk from the Sunburn, but Israel's major population centers as well.

This is obviously known to the Pentagon, witness the current strife between the career military and the administration over Iran, with even Joint Chiefs Chairman General Pace undercutting White House disinformation about Iran's supposedly supplying advanced IEDs to Iraqi insurgents.

Simply put, the Pentagon knows it will pay a staggering and unacceptable price for unleashing an attack on Iran. Those huge carriers are now obsolete, at least against Russia and its allies.

Global chess. Watch out, the Russians are the Grandmasters.

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