By Mark Chapman, columnist, Russia Insider, April 23, 2015
The claim Russia is not waging conventional war in Ukraine but a new type of “hybrid war” comes in very handy to western propagandists who can therefore establish Russian aggression without having to prove it
The western media is abuzz with a new term that seems to be on the lips of every State Department staffer, every western journalist, every compliant NATO puppet and cheerleader abroad, and of course in Kiev, ground zero for Russian hatred on the planet. Hybrid Warfare.
This, we are told, is how Russia is managing the battle in the east of Ukraine so that the Ukrainian capital – despite its highly professional, well-equipped and motivated army – cannot work its will on the easterners and bring them to heel as productive and happy contributors to a new European Union state and aspirant to NATO membership.
It must strike the thinkers among the greater public – and there are some – that “hybrid warfare” is an awfully convenient term which allows the west to prance about and yell that Russia is in the war up to its eyes…without ever having to offer any proof. What? Of course we don’t have any pictures, you dolt: it’s hybrid warfare, ever hear of it? Well, then – pay attention to current events, try and keep up, and don’t be such a Kremlin apologist.
The big-forehead types do not tell us how Russia can be foiling the Forces of Love and Understanding in Kiev so that they cannot crush the east – through hybrid warfare, naturally, in which their troops remain invisible – but does not take advantage of pivotal decisive defeats like Ilovaisk and Debaltseve to push the eastern salient to the doorstep of Kiev itself.
God knows a flock of armored budgies would be as effective at stopping them as the Ukrainian army if they chose to commit their allegedly limitless Russian reserves, and you would think an invisible army would be quite a useful asset. Yet for some reason they choose to fight only when attacked.
It would probably not require much of a strategic imagination to proffer a solution whereby the Ukrainian army stopped attacking, and it seems reasonable to conclude that this would result in fewer deaths.
Now, I had a point when I came in here….Oh, yes. Hybrid warfare. This concept was discussed at length in a clip one of the readers posted (thanks, Warren), which is a recording of a presentation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.
It is moderated by Paul Schwartz, a Senior Associate in the organization’s Russia and Eurasia Program. Mr. Schwartz is well-known in Washington circles, having been employed at various high-level IT positions in the Defense Department, including the F-22 program, and an attorney with international law firm Hogan & Hartson.
His guest needs no introduction – co-author of the Clark-Karber Report, purveyor of fake photos of advancing Russian tank columns to the Senate Armed Services Committee and author ofresearch on China’s nuclear weapons capability in 2011 that has been referred to alternately as a “goat rodeo” and “lazy and incompetent” which was apparently traced to an article plagiarized by a student from a single posting on a Usenet forum in 1995.
I would not want to create the impression that Dr. Karber is some kind of pompous nut, while Mr. Schwartz is a more or less sensible fellow who just got dragged along by the undertow. Both are zealots for American dominance of every corner of the globe, and each is as nutty as a pistachio plantation.
Listen, perhaps with your mouth agape in awe at the sheer effrontery, as Paul Schwartz – under the guise of “providing context”- reels off a laundry list of Russian crimes. Russia, he tells us, is challenging the west in Eastern Ukraine with a “bewildering mix of military and non-military tactics”. Russia, he says, launched a “stealth campaign” in Crimea. Uh huh; it’s called “polling”.
Russia determined through opinion polls that a great majority of Crimeans wished to rejoin the Russian Federation, and provided some forces to ensure the process of declaring independence, conducting a referendum and making application for acceptance into the Russian Federation was conducted peacefully, as Kiev demonstrably would have attempted to prevent the transition by military force. Russia did not have to teleport any troops in, as many were already stationed at Sevastopol and an agreement between the two countries permitted Russia to quarter 20,000 troops. Nothing like that number was used, while the Crimeans have an indigenous defense force as well whose participation, if any, was not accounted for.
He acknowledges the presence of volunteers from Russia in Eastern Ukraine, but slips in that they are “dispatched” to Donbas, thereby implying they are not volunteers at all but are being sent on orders from their government. No evidence has been provided at all of a regular Russian army presence, none.
The USA boasts of a worldwide communications snooping network that renders secrecy obsolete, yet cannot provide any communications intercepts which prove the presence of regular Russian forces – not unit callsigns, military brevity codewords or operation names; nothing, while the clumsy attempts of the Ukrainians to cobble together incriminating conversations between the rebels such as those admitting to having shot down MH-17 are frankly embarrassing.
That this is so is witnessed by their having been quietly dropped and never formally introduced as evidence other than the occasional trial balloon by Jen Psaki in State Department briefings.
The USA has a photo-reconnaissance satellite capability which is able to deliver astonishingly detailed photographic evidence of whatever was seen by the satellite – frankly ludicrous “evidence” introduced by U.S Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt came from Digital Globe, and was released on his Twitter account.
The attempt to cement them as hard evidence in the minds of the public, attempted as usual by Jen Psaki in the comedy roadshow that has evolved from what used to be State Department pressers, had to be seen to be believed. Well, anyone with an IQ higher than room temperature would not believe it, but I guess I should have said it had to be seen to be appreciated.
What else you got, Paul? Oh, yes, this one was my favourite – Russia is using “economic measures” such as threatening to cut off oil and gas to Ukraine and western Europe, and denying its markets to the flow of Ukrainian goods.
At the same time as Russia is under siege by the west in the form of sanctions which are designed to wreck its economy, Moscow is despicable for threatening to cut off oil and gas to Ukraine and Western Europe. Ukraine flatly refused to pay for oil and gas, Russia bent over backward to accommodate it, and never threatened Western Europe with a gas shutoff at all, not ever. Show me.
Russia warned Western Europe that if it continued to support Ukraine’s shenanigans in the negotiation process, it could not answer for the reliability of gas flows through its chosen transit country, and Brussels’ response was to kick up such a big stink about South Stream that Russia was forced to cancel it. We’re not imbeciles, we haven’t forgotten already.
Washington and the west said not a word against Kiev shutting off water and electricity to Crimea and Eastern Ukrainian cities. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a western idea.
Denying Ukrainian industry access to its markets; yes, there was one that made me laugh out loud. After Yanukovych broaching the possibility of Ukraine striking some sort of trade deal which would allow it to be a bridge between the European Union and the Eurasian Union and being flatly told by Brussels “It’s us or them” – after volumes of information being made available that warned Russia was not going to be trapped into a position whereby it had to finance the birth of Ukraine as an exclusively European partner, after clear studies that showed not only Russia’s importance as a trade partner but the manifest unwillingness of the EU to buy more Ukrainian goods, it is now dastardly behavior on Russia’s part to close its markets to trade with a country whose government has identified Russia as its existential enemy, put together Maidan rah-rah beat poetry that insists the two countries cannot be allies and vowed to put up a wall along the entire common border. To approving noises from the USA, playing the part of the Roman audience in the stadium, watching gladiators tear each other to pieces for its amusement. Announced by a stuffed-shirt know-nothing from a U.S. think tank which apparently does not know or care that cutting off a civilian population from its water supply is a direct violation of international humanitarian law.
Last, but not least, Russia attempts to throw sand in the gears with “endless ceasefire negotiations”. At just about that point, Schwartz’s tongue should have erupted in boils, torn itself out of his mouth and run away yelping. What a piece of grotesquerie, laying bare for all to see the martial juggernaut the USA has become, that prefers war to the death to any form of negotiation. When its surrogates are winning, of course – the USA was all about negotiation when the hapless Ukrainian conscripts and pressed men, many with barely any training, were “cauldroned” at Ilovaisk and Debaltseve.
I’m not even going to get into that silliness about Russia launching cyber-attacks against Ukrainian government sites; not only does the USA offer no proof of Russia being the originator of such an attack, it does not even offer any proof that such attacks occurred, and has picked up the lazy habit of simply repeating verbatim whatever Kiev tells it.
I am likewise not going to cover “Doctor” Karber’s contribution in any detail – suffice it to say he is as incurious a fool, as a researcher, as the most staggeringly obtuse display by the pride of The Guardian’s stable, Shaun Walker or Luke Harding. But they are only reporters; they’re supposed to report what they discover, and it’s up to you what to make of it. Karber is supposed to be an academic and an expert, and he is regularly called upon to provide assessments upon which U.S. foreign policy turns.
If a reporter made a complete nonsense of determining the number of nuclear weapons held by China, for example, inflating the actual total by a factor of 10, he would just be laughed at. In the case of analysis, though, the USA might unnecessarily spend billions countering a threat that was never there, based on the advice of a partisan hack – and there is nothing funny about that.
It’s also worth repeating that the Clark-Karber Report, co-authored by Karber, recommended that NATO allies immediately start shunting ex-Soviet military equipment in their inventories – such as MiG fighters and T-72 tanks – on the down-low to Kiev as of April 8th (the date of the report), when the Donbas had only declared itself independent the day prior. So much for negotiation.
Mind you, the U.S. government wants to be fooled, provided that being tricked lets it do what it wants, so that it can afterward ruefully admit it should not have done what it did – ah, well; no use crying over spilt milk, what? All water under the bridge now.
Symptomatic of this is the blather by “scholars” in “research papers” like the one Tony Blair used to substantiate the urgency of the UK’s joining with the USA in the invasion of Iraq.
This one, for example. It’s authored by Alexander Golts and Heidi Reisinger. Alexander Golts is an “independent military expert” who specializes in sneering at and mocking every piece of military hardware Russia makes, snickering that it is built by alcoholics and pseudo-engineers with fake diplomas. Heidi Resinger needs no introduction other than the previous research papers she has written or co-written for NATO, such as “Ukraine and its Neighbor – How to Deal with Aggressive Russia“. Right up front, they drag out the popular trope:
The successor states of the Soviet Union are sovereign countries that have developed differently and therefore no longer have much in common.
Some of them are members of the European Union and NATO, while others are desperately trying to achieve this goal.
Contrary to what Professor John Mearsheimer may suggest. In his article, “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault” he argues that NATO has expanded too far to the East, “into Russia’s back yard” against Moscow’s declared will, and therefore carries responsibility for recent events; however, this seems to ignore that NATO was not hunting for new members, but found them knocking at its door.
Just like a puppy that followed NATO home – who can resist a puppy? Everybody who’s not in NATO wants to be in NATO, and we have to take them in if they ask. Except we don’t.
Article 10 is quite specific on the subject, and I’ll repeat it so you can judge for yourself:
The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty.
Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America.
The Government of the United States of America will inform each of the Parties of the deposit of each such instrument of accession.”
Says you have to be invited. By unanimous consent. Knock on the door all you like. Russia indicated it was interested in joining NATO, and was told not in your wildest dreams, not ever.
Despite the arguments that it was a massive military power which, with its military weight thrown behind NATO, would have ensured the security of the North Atlantic area one hell of a lot more than Latvia, with its 1,250 soldiers, 3 tanks and zero aircraft. Not to mention Russia’s material wealth and bountiful resources. Latvia, welcome aboard – Russia, beat it.
It seems to me broadly apparent that the Baltic states were not admitted to NATO under any apprehension that they would contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area, and in fact Europe now wrings its hands day in and day out over what a liability they are, and how it is helpless to protect them unless it immediately embarks upon a massive rearmament program costing billions upon billions.
That notwithstanding, NATO announced – apparently with a straight face – that it was satisfied the admission of Latvia would enhance the security of the North Atlantic area. I’d like to know how. That wasn’t a very sensible decision, was it? Whose idea was that?
Bill Cinton’s. In 1999, Johanna Granville – an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Clenmson University, wrote an article entitled, “The Many Paradoxes of NATO Enlargement“; it was a pros-and-cons piece which made clear, among other things, that on April 30th, 1998 the United States Senate ratified the Clinton Administration’s decision to enlarge NATO by a vote of 80 to 19.
Please note this was not a vote by all the NATO states, but a vote by the U.S. Senate, and please further note it took place in 1999 and the Baltic States did not join NATO until 2003. In case it is not clear to even the least perceptive, the argument that NATO must admit states who are knocking at the door and is in no way hunting for new members is just one more lie in a veritable tapestry of lies.
Ms. Granville’s article points out, significantly, that deliberately antagonizing a nation which possesses a dangerous ability to project military power far beyond its own borders “violates a key strategic principle, which is that one should never take on more enemies than necessary at any given moment”.
As if that were not enough, there were wide discrepancies between the polling conducted by the United States Information Agency (USIA) and national polls. A USIA poll found that 60% of the Czech Republic’s population supported NATO membership, while a Czech poll reported only 50.1%, well outside the margin of error, were supportive.
Poland joined NATO near the end of 1997, but the USA was conducting polling of the electorate in 1996. This found that 83% supported membership in NATO. But support dropped off precipitously when specific questions – such as “Would you be willing to spend more money on the military in order to meet NATO standards” – were asked; in that instance, 74% said “No” compared to 16% “Yes”.
And the Poles were the warriors of the bunch; in Hungary 87% said “No” to 9% “Yes”, and in the Czech Republic it was 84 to 11. It was abundantly clear that, just as in the more recent case of Ukraine, people wanted to join the European Union, not NATO, and their reasons were almost entirely motivated by a desire for economic stability and well-being.
The idea to expand NATO arose perhaps more from the threat of extinction than from the need to counter a significant, identifiable adversary. NATO planners realized that if they did not find some larger raison d’etre in this post-cold war era, they might lose their jobs; “expand or die” was the slogan. But NATO may very well expand and die.
Russia’s role, consequently, is to play the threat, the bogeyman; perrennial whipping boy used by NATO to harangue its member states to spend more and more on defense budgets to buy more and more tanks and planes and artillery pieces.
Russia will never be regarded as anything but an adversary by NATO because it is too big and powerful for NATO to control – and in the end, all NATO members serve the will of Washington and Brussels.
Russia might even agree to do that, but the point is that Washington and Brussels could not force it if it did not agree to comply. The present feeble posturing over sanctions is a ringing testimony to that reality.
Mark Chapman lives in British Columbia, Canada and publishes the blog, The Kremlin Stooge.