Trump’s Tantrum At The G7

Trump’s performance at the G7 can only be considered a disaster. Trump showed up with a list of grievances for U.S allies and asked for the reinstatement of the Russian Federation, which was ejected for its invasion of Ukraine.

Like a petulant child, Trump demanded trade concessions, singling out Canada for punishment for Trudeau’s refusal to bow to his demands on tariffs. He refused to sign on the joint communique and then referred to Trudeau as “meek” and “dishonest”.

Trump ended his tantrum by announcing that he had “instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!“ A clear reference to his earlier threats against the German automobile industry.

Trump’s blow up at the G7 puts the international order in a very precarious position. The post-war western and international order was built around the protection of democracy and free trade in the mutual interest of the free world.

Historically, the United States has insisted on an end to abusive colonial economic practices and protectionism that gave empires like Britain and France monopolies on overseas markets; the British control over India’s textile industry is the most well-known example.

America insisted on freedom of navigation so that commerce could flow from every corner of the world. America had long seen tariffs and imperialism as barriers to its own economic power and growth. American capitalism thrived on opening new markets for American goods and allowing America’s advanced industrial economy to compete on equal terms with other great powers.

The United States would not stand for a world order where strong nations could claim parts of another by force. During the Suez crisis, the United States even threatened Britain and France with sanctions and the liquidation of British currency reserves and an end to IMF assistance.

The fabled China market is the archetype. From the beginning of the 20th century, the United States sought to open up the Chinese market by freeing it from colonial domination. The thinking went that if American manufacturers could sell something as simple as a toothpick to every one of China’s 400 million inhabitants the economic opportunity would be immense and a boon to America’s advanced industrial economy.

Throughout the past 100 years, the idea of expanding markets, combined with Wilson’s internationalism has laid the groundwork for American foreign policy. America’s rise to military and economic dominance after World War Two and the Cold War cemented America’s global hegemony and a global order based sovereignty, free trade and equality (in theory).

If Trump continues to spurn this legacy, American hegemony will end. The relationships that underpin this order are based on mutual benefit for all involved; not imperialism of old Europe or Trump’s ring-kissing gangster capitalism.

If the economic basis of the American alliance system falls apart the military alliances will crumble soon after. In the Clausewitzian sense, trade and war are on the same continuum of politics. Placing tariffs on another nation is an act of aggression just like placing troops on the border.

If this aggression continues, Trump will drive allies to seek accommodation elsewhere. One could imagine a scenario where Canada, Mexico, and the Eurozone enter a joint trade agreement rather than continue to engage with a belligerent United States over NAFTA.

One could also see the breakdown in trade relationships interfering with American military commitments. If an alternative exists, why would any self-respecting nation allow a nation hostile to their prosperity to base troops in their territory?

I cannot foresee NATO falling apart overnight as no alternative exists for securing Europe exists, or will exist in the near future. Germany, France, and Britain’s militaries are not capable of handling a full-scale war without the United States and even smaller operations like the one in Mali are reliant on American logistical assistance.

At the same time, the path forward in the East is far from certain. Shino Abe has long been suspected of harboring militarist tendencies. The remilitarization of Japan and the scrapping of the peace constitution would profoundly change Japan’s relationship with the United States, which has guaranteed Japanese security since it’s surrender in 1945.

At the same time, China is seeking accommodation from the current world order and the expansion of its economic influence across the Eurasian landmass via it’s “belt and road” initiative. The People’s Republic also has its sights set on Africa, challenging American dominance across the Eastern Hemisphere.

This is the situation we now find ourselves in. The world order that America sacrificed thousands of lives and trillions of dollars to build is now under threat by a reactionary imbecile who now heads the executive branch.

With no clear guidance coming from Washington the world order is likely to deteriorate further. No nation or group of nations has the capacity to lead to the world like the United States and it is unclear whether the world order can be pieced back together when Trump leaves office.

Currently, our only hope is for the U.S Congress to halt Trump’s economic and geopolitical rampage by restaining his ability to impose tariffs and speak out against his idiotic bashing of American allies. But even with millions of dollars from billionaires and business interests, getting Congress to do anything is going to be quite a feat, especially given how spineless they have been in the face of Trump.

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Russian Technology Failed in Syria

In the months following the Joint U.S, French, and British attack against the Assad regime’s chemical weapons facilities it has become clear that Syrian air defenses failed to meaningfully degrade the limited strike.

Assad was either incapable or unwilling to engage coalition with his air defense systems. He sent his fighter aircraft away from Syria before the strike and his missiles engaged only after weapons fired from coalition aircraft had impacted their targets. The missiles were not guided as Coalition forces did not detect any lock-on, reporting that 40 Syrian missiles were “fired at nothing” following the airstrikes.

Russia has continued to claim without evidence that 71 missiles were intercepted by Syrian Air Defense while the Pentagon holds that no missiles or aircraft were engaged successfully.

Russian MFA missile claim twitter

Russian media went on the claim the Pantsir S1 showed “almost 100 % effectiveness” yet goes on to claim that the sites struck were not protected by air defenses.

Here you can see satellite photographs of two of the target zones hit by the strike. In these photos, one can clearly see the effect of multiple impacts on several different buildings. Some buildings are no longer standing and others are hollowed out.

In this video of the strike (shot in Damascus), it’s clear that Syrian Air Defense did not effectively respond to the salvo of cruise missiles. At time mark 1:10 you can see several dozen cruise missile hit their targets in a very short period of time.

The intercept ratios the Russians are putting out also casts doubt on the veracity of their claims. Russian state news agency Tass claimed that the Syrians managed to down 71 missiles using a combination of 112 mismatched interceptors ranging from the 1960s vintage S-125 to the Strela-10 (a Stinger equivalent, sometimes mounted in pods on armored vehicles).

The success of either of these systems is unlikely because their age, design intent and the conditions they were operating in. The S-125 and S-200 for example were are not designed to hit low flying targets like cruise missiles and Strela is more suited to slow-moving targets like helicopters.

The ratio of hits is also unusually high( like Putin’s numbers during the last election). Western nations often fire at two to four interceptors to ensure target destruction, Syria is claiming that it’s dated air defense systems managed to achieve an 80% hit ratio firing less than two interceptors per missile, at midnight using air defense systems from the 1960s.

No video evidence of interceptions or crashed American missiles has surfaced either. The only videos we have are of dozens of allied missiles impacting Damascus.

Pictorial evidence also points to a complete failure of Syrian Air Defense. One photo seems to show interceptors being fired at a 45-degree angle and continuing skyward. While this would match an intercept trajectory for a bomber or fighter flying at high altitude, it doesn’t add up when you are trying to intercept a cruise missile designed to hug the ground.

Given the extensive damage, one can only conclude that even if the Syrians did manage to engage American missiles, the response was completely ineffective. All three targets were hit multiple times and many of the buildings were completely demolished. Those left standing look to be hollowed out.

The lying on the Regime is understandable. The Regime needs the propaganda to keep itself going. It has a well-known tendency to exaggerate numbers. It has claimed absurd success rates against Israeli aircraft and missiles despite having only a single confirmed kill against the IAF in the last 36 years.

Just a few weeks ago they the regime declared that it had intercepted nine Israeli missiles, only to redact the claim when it was relieved that there were no missiles and the regimes sensors had malfunctioned.

I believe Russia’s interest in perpetuating this lie is two-fold. First, Russia’s defense industry is vital for the functioning of the Russian state. They need to be able to sell weapons. The Russians then, are attempting to cover up just how badly outmatched some of their air defense systems were by legacy American, British and French aircraft using new missiles.

Second, the operational success of the American strike threatens Russia’s own conventional deterrence. Some systems like the Pantsir S1 are still in service with the Russian military, as are the Buk missile systems. The failure of these systems against a well tried, (even cliche) American mode of attack is not only embarrassing but undermines their conventional deterrence vis-a-vis NATO, which would be able to generate much more firepower in a war against Russia.

Add insult to injury, the Pentagon has claimed no stealth aircraft took part in the business end of the strike and that EA-6B Growlers provided electronic warfare support. B-1B Lancers, and French Typhoons, and British GR4 Tornados delivered all airborne munitions with F-22s sitting back to protect troops against possible retaliation.

When you add it all up it paints a dire picture for Russian air defense. Not even their propagandists have claimed that any of their legacy systems actually engaged an allied aircraft. With strike ranges on the order of 370 km for the JASSM and 1600 km for the TLAM. Allied aircraft and ships would be outside the range of even the S-400 air defense systems and most almost all anti-ship missiles.

In a war over the inability of the Russian made air defense systems to mitigate an American missile attack, let alone engage the airplanes that launched them poses a significant problem for the Russians. Supposedly, the S-300 would do better, but there a fewer of them and the capacity of the force has limits, especially when you consider that a full-scale attack would involve several hundred missiles. The invasion of Iraq involved 802 tomahawks alone.