Oil is power

By Obadiah Shoher, Sampson Blinded

Russia creates a Third world opposition to the West, a giant peripheral conflict. Western hemisphere is burning from Brazil to Mexico. Socialist regimes spring to power like thirty years ago. Western and Eastern Europe are addicted to Russia’s gas pipeline. Way smarter and more aggressive than Saudis, Russians use their energy reserves as empire-building tool not deficient to military tools. The North Korean axis of evil is bleak compared to rogue energy axis of Russia, Iran, Algiers, and Venezuela. Oil- and gas-rich economical dwarfs like Algeria, Iran, and Venezuela buy cheap Russian weapons to boost their rulers’ egos. Russia far outsells the US – the largest arms supplier in dollar terms – in terms of quantity.

Russia is a country of individual geniuses and lackluster industry; it cannot build consistently good complex systems. Russian best-selling MIG-29 planes, for example, are perfect in dogfights and incorporate some top-of-the-line features, but shortcomings such as insufficient range, low engine quality, and others doom them as strategic fleet. Russian weapons, though indigenous and sometimes excellent, are inferior to high-tech American weaponry. Russian arms sales, accordingly, go predominantly to the Third world whose countries only expect to fight equally barbaric neighbors. Thus the renewed military cooperation of Russia with Libya, Ethiopia, and Angola. In the vicious cycle, dregs of international community depend on Russia for cheap arms, and Russia stirs them to sell more arms. The Russian policy is not very different from the American policy: recall, for example, how the US pushed its arms to Saudi Arabia in 1990s; the problem is, figuratively, that America is a respectable owner of an upscale liquor shop while Russia sells booze to drunkards. The drunkards’ dependency on the shop owner turns into political alignment with him.

Though Russian sales of aircraft are minuscule and of light arms – strategically unimportant, Russian defense systems come closer to the revolver ad, “God created men; Colonel Colt made them equal.” It takes a dozen of $1,000 rockets to destroy a $5 million tank. In the endless offense-defense cycle, options always exist; Israel has a 98% effective Trophy anti-RPG system. Trophy doesn’t work that well in urban environment where it lacks enough time to react to flying projectiles, but then Israel doesn’t need to engage in urban fights; Americans fire-bombed Tokyo instead of storming it. Besides, supplemental pain ray (millimeter wave) systems keep RPG operators at sufficient distance for Trophy to work.

Russian defense missiles provide a perfect excuse for Israeli defeatists: Oh, how would we fight Syria full of Russian anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles? Tank losses in the Second Lebanon war prompted the government to announce an ostensibly earlier decision to scrap Merkava production. Instead of avoiding urban warfare and refraining from sending tanks unsupported by helicopters, Israeli establishment opt for the easiest choice: scrap expensive tanks and send cheap soldiers instead. Russian missile threat is a perfect companion to the US military-industrial complex’ pressure on Israel to stop her military production lines. Trophy is the direct competitor to Raytheon’s Active Kill anti-RPG defense and impedes the mammoth rearmament program of the Future Combat Systems. Merkava production doesn’t allow Israel to buy twice more expensive US Abrams tanks. Russian missile sales to Muslim countries, though of moderate significance strategically, unleash a rolling ball of corruption and political considerations.

Complying with international restrictions on rocket sales, Russia decreased the range of its SS-23 series to make a 280km-range Iskander-E missile. In regards to Israel, that is an equivalent of strategic ballistic missile. When Russia asserts it complies with international regime of arms exports, that’s irrelevant for Israel. Russian Iskander-E missiles with 480kgs payload of cluster bombs or improved conventional munitions (high-power explosives) are capable of striking any target in Israel with several meters’ precision. Reportedly, Iskander missiles bypass Arrow-2 and Patriot defense systems deployed in Israel (astonishingly, Israel lacks SS-23 to test and adapt her missile defense against them). No less important, Syrians can easily adapt the unique Russian navigational systems to their other needs.
Russia re-arms itself with SS-27 (Topol-M) ICBM with split nuclear warhead whose prime target is the US. Russia claimed Start-II treaty that prohibited split nuclear warheads expired when America resumed work on missile defense system. The US Administration evidently expected the cash-starved Russians to swallow the pill and do nothing. Russia sold some oil to the West and built ICBMs with the proceeds.

SS-27 boasts bypassing American missile defenses. America, accordingly, sought to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and Czech Republic, launching a crisis with Russia. The number of new Russian ICBM is still minuscule, but can swiftly expand and anyway form a clear threat.

To buy Russia off is impossible. That country won’t stop working on a $1 billion Bushehr reactor in Iran if the US compensates the lost profits. An opportunity to stir a conflict is more important to Russia than money. But – money is more important to individual Russians. Much like the US brilliantly bribed Iraqi commanders before the invasion, it can bribe top bureaucrats in Russia’s security services. A billion dollars is nothing to Russia, but a meaningful amount to KGB/FSB bosses.

Containment is the only efficient policy to counter the Russian threat. If Russia delivers MIG-31 interceptors to Syria, shoot them when the Syrians take the planes off for training. Detected Panzir missile defense radars? use some anti-radar missiles immediately. Syria only needs these weapons against Israel, so why not take them off now instead of during a war? Such response would preclude Russian-sponsored arms race in the Middle East. Again, that’s not panacea; proliferation of American weapons is no less dangerous. Nothing precludes Israel from similarly treating Arab weapons purchases from America: UAE’s F-16s can be destroyed on the ground. And at least, the US doesn’t arm Syria or Iran.

America wants limited Russian involvement in the Middle East. This way, Saudi Arabia and Egypt will lean closer to America. The resulting arms race will bankrupt Israel.

Russia is not a Soviet-age military superpower. For all the recent increases in military spending, Russia purchases hardly $5 billion worth of new weapons annually. In purchasing power parity figures, that’s about $12-15 billion of Israeli spending, and cutting edge weapons account for hardly a quarter of that amount. Israel was bogged down in Lebanon, and Russia – in Chechnya. The two armies are not incomparable in offense capabilities, and Israel needs not give way to Russia’s bullying.

Israel will find it hard to contain Russian influence in the Middle East now, but containing armed-to-the-teeth Russian clients later will prove altogether impossible.

August 11, 2007 | 9 Comments »

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9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. Per: what you are saying here is essentially what OBADIAH SHOHER said in his article that you described as un informed depressing garbage. But I am taking it a step further and granting that most Russian arms are inferior to American but even inferior arms can be Lethal even in the Hands of the Arabs some of whom in the past acquitted themselves very well. Need I remind you that a Chinese or Iranian clone of a cruise missile came within inches of destroying Israels most modern and Newest flag ship costing almost half a billion dollars. the missile and radar cost in the thousands and it was only 1 cruise missile. Israel also had at risk 200 hundred sailors at risk. The IDF is taking the acquisition of Russian latest and best Anti Aircraft Missiles and Systems, VERY SERIOUSLY.
    Unlike all of our past conflicts;all of Israel becomes front line against Missile and rocket attacks. New and powerful Russian,Iranian,Chinese,N.Korean weapons including Pakistanian Nukes, all combined in the hands of all our Enemies can be a formidable array and I for one take the individual and combined threat even if it is theoretical: Seriously.
    Primitive Kassams have all but rendered Sderot a Ghost town, non functioning, half its population have left and it economy is non existent. Primitive Katushas shut down the whole North of Israel and created a million refugees of one sort or another for a whole month.
    What Shoher is saying is that this scenario cannot be allowed to happen and to counter it we must without consideration of any other factors destroy pre emtivly Beruit, and Damascas, and Tehran if necessary without any moral regard for so called innocent civilians.
    I cannot see any fault in this logic as I might be one of the targets and victims of Russian Backed Arab threats and aggression against us.

  2. I happen to know Russia and Russian hardware quite well. There is no reason to be scared by it. Russia is militarily not even a paper tiger and there is no reason to believe Russia will engage in any kind of warfare in the Middle East. As a considerable oil exporter Russia has an interest in keeping political tensions in the ME high, and they like to sell more of their weapons. Their most successful and efficient piece of weaponry is still the WW2 Kalashnikov.

  3. Per: you are dreaming we have fought two wars due to Russian interjecting its quest for global hegemony. The Russia of today is richer, leaner, just as ambitious, and has advanced light years in technology competence.Besides the quantity and quality of weapons now being resupplied to our enemies as well as a permanent naval base in Syria: I do not consider such moves as nonsense. It is 1 thing to have to fight the Syrians with there large quantity of possible WMD war heads it is another to fight the Syrians while the Russians give them a mil. umbrella. The Americans stil have almost 50,000 troops in S. Korea to give a messege to N. Korea that an attack by the North against the South is an Attack against the USA. Likewise it can be taken as a given that an attack by Israel against the Syrians might draw the Russians in against us as well. That translated is called DETERENT!

    Where do you get the ridiculous idea that no amt. of Russian mil. hardware in the hands of the Arabs can not do us Harm? I seem to have more respect for their ability and intelligence than you. But I have fought against them and I dont believe you have. The Russian People have rejected Democracy for dictatorship. Who cares about regime change if it means more of the same or worse?

  4. Israel will find it hard to contain Russian influence in the Middle East now, but containing armed-to-the-teeth Russian clients later will prove altogether impossible.

    This is nonsense.

    If Israel keeps the IDF and her strategic and tactical doctrines up to date, no amount of Russian hardware in the hands of the Arabs will do her any harm. The only documentable effect the Russian arms sales to the Arabs and Iran will have, is to weaken the economy and public welfare of these countries. In all likelihood it will hasten a regime change just as it did in the 1960s. The acute problem for Israel is that her present government may forfeit a historic opportunity by establishing a “Palestinian state” in her midst.

  5. Ted in Hebrew we call it changing the diskett or conception. Without a major shift in political and military conception we are I fear in BIG TROUBLE DOWN THE ROAD OR LANE; EVEN! From the early ninties we have largely wasted our resources and time to not only revamp what did not work in the past, see the future as best we cans and employ and deploy all our resources and brainpower not in bringing Arafat or Abbas to the table but to have destroyed totally their capacity to threaten us in any meaningful way. We had all the provocations and reasons to do so and did not respond properly to this challenge. We refused to concede the threat from Egypt, The re entry of the Russians in ME, The reemergence of Syria of a threat to be taken seriously. The weakening og America as a Global Power. etc. We are always playing catch up and allowing others to set our Agenda, Policies, and mil. doctrine! ENOUGH ALREADY!

  6. I originally published the piece because it made sense to me but I wasn’t sure of the author though I knew he was the author of Sampson Blinded.

    Your summary of what he is arguing stresses the point he was making. We can’t afford to abandon pre-emption except at out peril.

    This is another kind of asymmetrical warfare. We must fight on our terms, not theirs.

    We must favour the lives of our soldiers over the lives of their civilians. The IDF Code of Ethics must change to enshrine this.

  7. Per I agree with you that it is depressing but where is the garbage?

    Ted I think you agreed to readily! The writer is in this business and I believe to be also Russian with a bit more Knowledge than me.

    What he is saying from point of view of a Russian who knows Russia and Russians, is that they are back to make trouble for everyone and that this servers their National Interests. That Israel besides the Iranian THREAT has more on its plate and this looks like an arms build up that between the Americans and the Russians we will never be able to compete. A thousand dollar cheap advanced powerful anti tank rocket can knock out a tank worth several million dollars not to mention of course loss of life by our sons. I think that the whole concept of aiming just for Hi Tec solutions for massive primitive (they are just as deadly just less accurate and needs to be in closer contact than Hi Tech very very expensive weapons). He is also saying it is much cheaper to carpet bomb them so to speak and level towns and cities than it is to send in ground troops to be ambushed and killed on uneven playing field. He is also saying that aggressive pre -emption can change the balance in our favor at least temp. for a number of years. When all of our enemies are armed to the teeth with conventional and semi Hi Tec weapons given or purchased cheaply from the Russians we will eventually reach a critical mass that will extract suicidal concessions by us without the enemy firing a single shot.

    For the Russians the way back to position of Global Power is to stir up the Global pot and the middle east is at the center of their objectives. It makes them money increases some Arab dependency upon them and keeps oil and gas prices high and each increase weakens the west and improves their global positions.

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