Grand Strategy in the Age of Mass Destruction


What Is Moscow’s Game?
Commentary for 25 January 2015

In an article titled, Russian General Warns of World War 3, Russia’s Nuclear Plans for The World, we read that Moscow is engaged in joint defense projects with China, India and other countries. Colonel General Leonid Ivashov is quoted in Pravda as saying that the U.S. has “not upgraded one single ballistic missile, and they do not build new ones either.” He bragged of Russia’s nuclear advantage. “This situation has changed dramatically,” Ivashov noted, “and we are standing on the brink of a war – not a cold war, but a hot war. Therefore, today Russia hastily takes efforts to rebuild the defensive capacity of the armed forces and change military doctrine.”

On a related matter, a Ukrainian analyst privately commented on the allegations of Pavel Gubarev (in East Ukraine) that Putin’s man in Chechnya, Ramzon Kadyrov, was behind the terrorist attacks in France the week before last: “If Gubarev says Kadyrov is involved in the terrorism in France, it is probably true.” He then added, as an afterthought, “Russia is full speed on the war-threat model."

I said to my Ukrainian associate, “But Gubarev is Moscow’s guy. He is one of the separatist leaders. Why would he finger Kadyrov – another one of Moscow’s guys?”

The Ukrainian replied, “Because this is the new Russian strategy. They are not hiding anymore and they don’t care if people know. I am not the only one saying this. I read this same thing on the Illarionov blog. There is weakness associated with pretending. If they are going into conflict with the West they need to stop pretending. So they show their claws. They open their big mouth so we can see their teeth. I know this. I can feel it. When a BBC correspondent recently asked about NATO proof that the Russians shot down the Malaysian airliner, the Russian official said, ‘This is all lies. This is a NATO fabrication.’ So they are putting themselves in North Korea’s corner. ‘We are encircled,’ they say. ‘We are the only good people on the planet. The whole world is against us except Belarus and Kazakhstan.’ This is what they say.”

I asked what was motivating the Russian leaders.

My Ukrainian associate replied, “When I would argue with Dugin’s followers on the Internet in 1998, they would barrage me with emails that said, ‘Nuclear death to America.’ In those days they were a tiny unimportant sect. Now they are the most influential ideologists in Russia.”

My Ukrainian friend says there’s a rumor in Moscow. It’s about a nuclear war in June. There is no way to confirm such rumors. We have heard rumors before – like the rumor of a young Russian woman hiding in a Latin America. Her father was a Russian diplomat who had secreted her away before embarking on a dangerous errand to warn the West. Supposedly he was killed before his warning could be given. He had been part of a secret team negotiating with [Chinese?] officials in the Far East, or some such. He had told his daughter that under no condition was she ever to travel to the United States because the Americans were all marked for death. From another Russian source I heard about Russia’s future war plans. A former Russian military man said that after the defeat of the United States Russia would get Alaska and parts of Canada while China would occupy the lower 48 states.

An absurd fantasy, you say?

Only there is the secret 2005 speech of Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian, who said the plan was to annihilate the Americans. “In Chinese history,” noted Chi, “in the replacement of dynasties, the ruthless have always won and the benevolent have always failed.” He further stated, “It is indeed brutal to kill one or two hundred million Americans. But that is the only path that will secure a Chinese century, a century in which the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] leads the world. We, as revolutionary humanitarians, do not want deaths. But if history confronts us with a choice between deaths of Chinese and those of Americans, we’d have to pick the latter, as, for us, it is more important to safeguard the lives of the Chinese people and the life of our Party.”

Such an idealist! Such a humanitarian! The benevolent, of course, "always fail." Such is the raw stuff of Chinese idealism. It is a great shame that our ideals and our utopias remain largely unrealized, while the horrors of man’s inhumanity to man fill the pages of history from Herodotus right up to the New York Times of yesterday. And here we have the full explanation, from the horse's mouth.   

Why should we believe that anyone seriously intends mass murder against the American people? That is the question I am asked when Chi's words are presented. Why would the Russian leaders, or the Chinese leaders, contemplate killing 100 or 200 million Americans? I answer this question with a question. Have you not read Herodotus’ history, where is described the founding of the Persian Empire in treachery and blood? Have you not read Thucydides’ history, where is recounted the The Melian Dialogue in which the Athenians talk of the realities of raw power prior to exterminating the male population of Melos? Did these things never happen? Can these things never happen again?

Aha, you say. But right makes might.

To say this is to believe in the historical equivalent of the Easter Bunny. To believe this, a person must watch a great deal of American television where the “good guys” always win. Perhaps they always win in a larger sense, metaphysically, but not in historical terms. Being good was, most certainly, a great comfort to Sir Thomas Moore when he climbed the scaffold. Being good was, perhaps, a great comfort to a small handful of Stalin’s countless victims. But being good is not all-in-all sufficient for salvation in this world – unless by “good,” we mean the kind of “virtue” that Machiavelli wrote of (i.e., of being faithless and evil because others are faithless and evil.)

It is childish, I say, to believe that our good intentions will save us from Chinese and Russian atomic bombs. It is childish to believe that our good intentions will shield us from the next wave of Islamic terrorism. Have we become so weak, and so utterly naïve, as to believe that the meek have now inherited the earth, and that the ruthless lust for power is a thing of the past? The lust for power was, after all, the romance of the mass murderers of history. It was the romance of the Persian kings and of Alexander the Great. It was the romance of G. Julius Caesar and most of those who succeeded him. Oh yes, history is a dismaying subject, filled with evil deeds done for the sake of power. Have you not read of the severed head and hands of the Roman statesman Marcus Cicero, nailed to the Rostra in the Forum Romanum? And was not Cicero’s executioner the military tribune Popilius, who was once defended by Cicero’s eloquence in a court of law? And was not the betrayer of Cicero handed over to Cicero’s ex-wife, who forced the man to cut off and eat roasted pieces from his own body?  

Do not delude yourself that history is the story of good triumphing over evil. Such was the propaganda of the last war and will be the propaganda of the next war, regardless of which side wins. Already, today, one side is beginning to tell its story in advance (to its own people). Watch Russian television as it justifies "Nuclear death to America." Look also at what the Russian leaders are doing. Russia and Iran have signed a military cooperation agreement. Why have they done this now?

Consider America's leader, President Barack Obama. Recently he snubbed the Israeli Prime Minister so that he could meet with a woman who became famous for bathing in Fruit Loops and milk. (No, I’m not making it up.) Obama was too busy to meet with Netanyahu, but not too busy for the Fruit Loops lady. So it is important to see the kind of leadership we have. It is important to calculate the odds – not in terms of missiles, but in terms of stupidities. North Korea is readying for war. China is readying for war. Iran is readying for war. Only we cannot see their preparations as clearly as we can see the Russian preparations. Oh yes, Russia leads the pack and the pack is bound to follow. Of course, the Chinese dictator yet pretends that he is not in support of North Korea or Russia. Should we believe him? We used to believe the Russian lies. Today we can barely believe our ears now that the Russians brag about their strength and our weakness. Would they be bragging if they were unsure of their allies?

A prudent man would look to his defense. A brave man would speak truthfully about the danger that is approaching. A just man would not shoot the messenger who tells him that the party is over, that the enemy is at the gate (and inside the gate). And last but not least, a temperate man would have no problem accepting that the party is over.

But I do not see men of virtue in charge of America. I do not see prudent men, or brave men, or just men, or temperate men. I see "successful" men, and rich men full of self-deceit. These men are not innocent or "good" in any sense. They have no discernment because they are empty. This is what has allowed them to climb the slippery pole. They are not weighed down by virtue. They are light, nimble and shifty.

Gen. Chi Haotian said of Chinese history that “the ruthless have always won and the benevolent have always failed.” His belief system was the opposite of faith in God; that is, the perverted faith of “lusting for power.” This is the faith of the Great and Powerful. Such people hold sway in Beijing and Moscow, Pyongyang and Tehran. Perhaps even, in Washington and Brussels.

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” But even if there are good men, their intervention would not guarantee victory for the good cause. It would, however, guarantee a kind of immortality. And that is something to contemplate.