Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Russia Today, The Country - Not The Television Network

This article is focused on giving readers a better understanding of Russia in 2018. It is the second of two articles dealing with how America and the world view Vladimir Putin and what Americans may or may not know about the country that America's "Deep State" continues to consider a major threat. To be perfectly clear it is not just neoconservative Republicans like Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham but Democrats and liberals are also painting Trump as wrong and misguided when it comes to our policy towards Russia. Fox News, NBC and the Washington Post have been promoting the same hard-line against any notion of normalizing relations with Russia.

One of the things we often forget is that many Americans don't really know very much about Russia or the Russian people and much of what they have been told has been filtered through a national security apparatus so entrenched in a cold war mindset they appear paranoid. Those who want war or are always pounding on the drums of fear endlessly demonize Russia as a major threat to America and our way of life. Some peace-hating beltway stalwarts were so upset about the recent meeting in Helsinki between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin which they viewed as "peace talks" that they took every opportunity to sabotage them.

It is clear the warmongering faction residing within Washington has declared Russia a major threat and sparked massive media coverage to convince us it is true. An example of what we are facing is revealed in an article published by The Intercept telling how a prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication. Apparently, Ken Dilanian enjoyed a close collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending entire drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, significant changes were made before the story was published. Documents show reporters for the Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other outlets also interacting with the agency.

The myth of Russia's strength has been amplified by journalists seeking to routinely curry favor with government sources and others by falsely hyping the official point of view. A read of The Intercept article generates a reason for concern. Another article is even bolder when it states, "The US intelligence community’s job to lie to you." It goes on to detail how two big Russia stories blasted onto the front pages loudly promoting Russia hysteria just days before the Trump-Putin summit were in effect an attempt to sabotage the meeting. The first was that Robert Mueller had issued an indictment of 12 Russians which was rapidly followed by America’s top intelligence officer Dan Coats who replaced Russophobic James Clapper declaring that the warning signs of future Russian cyber-attacks are akin to the warnings received prior to the September 11 attacks. The Washington Post bolstered this narrative with an article titled, “Trump hopes he and Putin will get along. Russia experts worry they will”.

Note Russia's Failure To Appear On List!
Now getting away from what shapes American opinion here are some real facts about Russia. For over half a century economic policy was shaped by the Communist Party and like the rest of the USSR, was centrally planned. The state-controlled virtually all investment, production, and consumption across the country. The transition towards a market economy in the 1990s was painful. The chart on the right shows even today Russia fails to place in the world's top ten largest economies.

  • Russia is the 9th most populated country in the world with 144.50 million people in 2017.
  • In terms of land area, Russia located across 9 time zones and is the largest country in the world. Russia shares borders with many countries, including China, Ukraine, North Korea and Norway. 
  • The official language is Russian but there are 27 other languages co-official in various regions of the country. It is located in Eurasia (the combined continental landmass of Europe and Asia).
  • Some sources estimate that Russia contains over 30 percent of the world's natural resources. 
Modest Skyline Downtown Moscow
If a picture tells a thousand words then people need only compare a picture of downtown Moscow's modest skyline with a picture of Beijing China which is rather overpowering. Clearly, the overwhelming mass, density, and number of sophisticated buildings in Beijing dwarf those in Russia's capital. Simply put, Russia is not the massive global power American media portrays it to be. Elevating countries like Iraq, Russia, Iran, and North Korea to "major threat" status has allowed money to pour into what President Eisenhower years ago aptly named the Military Industrial complex and lined the pockets of Washington politicians and their cronies for decades.

The fact is with all the bravado aside a person might call the military situation in Russia as a bit dire. For example, Moscow has ordered 132 T-14 Armata main battle tanks and T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicles, with the first nine to be delivered this year but the fact is this is only a drop in the bucket considering how many they need. An article recently published details how Russia has ordered the production of a new generation of tank but because it lacks the money for a huge number it will continue to rely on older equipment much of it dating back to the cold war. In 2015 the United States and NATO received a rude shock: The Russian Army unveiled a new main battle tank, known as T-14 Armata. The new tank together with a new heavy infantry fighting vehicle using the same chassis is slated to replace older T-72 tanks and its 1980s-vintage BMP-2s, infantry fighting vehicles. It seems, for now, Moscow will probably buy small numbers of T-14s and T-15s just to keep the production line open while waiting for the economy to improve.

Russia Spends Little On Weapons (Click To Expand)
Now that we have established Russia is not an economic powerhouse it is time to examine the real "bug-a-boo" and that is its military might. Those of us that have had the awesome experience of going deep deep down under a Russia city to ride the subway will testify that it is indeed worthy of being declared as a shelter during a nuclear attack. The fact is much of our apprehension of Russia stems from its massive nuclear arsenal dating back to the cold-war. Today nine countries have a total of over 15,000 nuclear weapons the U.S. and Russia together have over 14,700 of them. Like many people, I do not find what is known as the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction, or MAD to be reassuring. Still, the truth is the nuclear deterrent we hold is a hundred times larger than needed to stop anyone sane or rational from attacking America, and for anyone else, an arsenal of any size will be insufficient. Logic dictates Russia would be insane to launch an attack on America and would have little to gain considering its military spending and the weapons Russia stands ready to deploy, America has little to fear and most of the noise is from those wanting more money to enrich those producing weapons. 

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Footnote; The first part of this series appeared a while back and this follow-up piece was lost in the shuffle of more important matters. The link to the first part is located below and under that is a link to "Russia Today" its propaganda news channel which you may find interesting..


  1. Interesting read. I never put this level of thought into it, but I always wondered why we're so afraid of a country with a declining population and decreasing life expectancy. The economic data you provide confirms my suspicion it's like Iraq's WMDs, it's a hoax (or at least willful ignorance). It's an even better hoax for the intelligence community, since attacking Russia is a nonstarter with all those nuclear weapons they'll never need to pull the curtain on the hoax. Sadly, I guess much of the public buys it since they still have vague memories of the USSR being a superpower.

  2. For those interested I just published an article about how America's misdirected policies are driving Russia straight into China's open arms. This is a big problem and those directing such things could not have devised a more self-defeating pathway to take us down if they had made it their goal. The article below explores how expanding trade between China and Russia as a result of America's policy is akin to shooting itself in the foot.


  3. A good essay into the effectiveness of western propaganda. Few people seem to have the "skills or desire" to question anything from anyone in power. Once people become indoctrinated, there's no changing their mind even with facts... a la the Mueller Report.