Monday, May 2, 2016

Christopher Massie — Trump Says U.S. Should Shoot Barrel-Rolling Russian Planes “At A Certain Point”

“At a certain point, when that sucker comes by you, you gotta shoot,” Trump said of Russian planes barrel-rolling over U.S. Air Force planes.
McCain: ”This may sound a little tough, but should we make an announcement to the Russians that if they place the men and women on board Navy ships in danger, that we will take appropriate action?”
[General] Scaparrotti: “That should be known, yes.”
Donnelly: “Is there a point…where we tell them in advance enough, the next time it doesn’t end well for you?”
Scaparrotti: “We should engage them and make clear what is acceptable. Once we make that known we have to enforce it.”
For the Americans, the Russian flyby was “aggressive.” For the Russians, U.S. military forces getting within spitting range of their Baltic Fleet is the very definition of “aggressive.” What if someone on the destroyer panicked and shot down the plane?
Would the Russians have responded with an anti-ship missile? Would the U.S. have retaliated and invoked Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, bringing the other 27 members into the fray? Faced by the combined power of NATO, would the Russians—feeling their survival at stake—consider using a short-range nuclear weapon? Would the U.S. then attempt to take out Moscow’s nuclear missiles with its new hypersonic glide vehicle? Would that, in turn, kick in the chilling logic of thermonuclear war: Use your nukes or lose them?
Far-fetched? Unfortunately, not at all. The world came within minutes of a nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis and, as researcher Eric Schlosser demonstrated in his book “Command and Control,” the U.S. came distressingly close at least twice more by accident.
One of the problems about nuclear war is that it is almost impossible to envision. The destructive powers of today’s weapons have nothing in common with the tiny bombs that incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so experience is not much of a guide. Suffice it to say that just a small portion of world’s nukes would end civilization as we know it, and a general exchange could possibly extinguish human life.
Foreign Policy In Focus
NATO’s Dangerous Game: Bear-Baiting Russia
Conn Hallinan

Running with scissors.


Ryan Harris said...

Putin knows Obama is a weakling and is afraid of war, but needs to show strength by parading machinery to placate NATO members. So Putin can be as assertive as he wants, play games to chip away at the value of parading hardware by showing they aren't ever going to engage.

It's an information war, the US and Russian military are very professional, play well together and understand what they are doing. The politics are important part and Putin isn't going to stand by and let Obama count coup in his sphere of influence.

Michael Norman said...

This was the headline (i.e. Trump), however, what Trump actually said was that he'd call Putin and ask what was going on. In other words there'd be communication. Actually, Obama did call Putin and the subject of the flyby's did not even come up.

If the Russians had ships 40 miles off the coast of NY or LA doing military drills you can be sure that the U.S. would send a couple of planes out to send a signal.

Tom Hickey said...

The idea of calling Putin and asking him "what is going on" is nonsense. The Russian defense ministery already said what is going on.

Russian Defense Ministry responds to the Pentagon's statements

Regarding McCain/General wrt Russia aircraft and US naval ships in the Baltic and Black Sea, the ship in the Baltic was conducting a military exercise within 50 miles of a Russian military installation, and the US Donald Cook in the Black is an Aegis class frigate with a role in US first strike capability against Russia.

An American admiral already said that Russia was sending a signal.

Russians 'Trying to Send Signal' in Baltic Flyovers – US Navy Chief

Trump said what he said. That kind of talk doesn't make me feel safer. He was either blustering and throwing red meat to the crazies, or he is not fit to be US commander-in-chief. In any case, it was not only a provocative thing to say, but also stupid — unless the US is pushing for war with Russia and China while it still thinks it can win and Trump agrees with that strategy exposed by war walks like McCain.

The real question is why the US is rushing for war with Russia and China by moving up to their borders and testing their red lines. All the candidates should say where they stand on provoking war that is likely to go nuclear and if they back it, they should explain why.

It's not the Russians and Chinese that are acting "irresponsibly."

Oh, and inserting US boots on the ground in Syria is illegal. The US was not invited by the Syrian government, like Russia was, and there is no UN Security Council authorization. The US should explain the legal basis for it instead of accusing others of acting aggressively, especially when US allies are supporting the terrorists and the CIA is supplying them with US weapons.

This is getting insane and it cannot end well if this direction is pursued.

Sane politicians need to be throwing water rather than fuel on the fire that the US has created in pursuit of global dominance and military control of global resources to maintain empire.

Malmo's Ghost said...


You're overreacting to what Trump said, and reading far to much into it. Trump's issue is with the Obama administration's blundering in the region, which has in part been to provoke Russia. Trump has been vocally opposed to US policy in the region. All he is saying that if he were president, operating under his relative hands off approach, and Russia were to pull an aggressive stunt like that, he'd shoot the plane down. He's not saying that he thinks Russia would do such a thing were he president. And, furthermore, I don't see you condemning the Russian maneuver as being incredibly incendiary in the first place. What's up with that? At any rate, I guarantee you Russia would do no such thing under a Trump presidency, which is Trump's point.

...and I feel a boatload safer with Trump than I do with Obama.

Tom Hickey said...

Trump is on record as saying what he said.

OK, you like the guy and willing to discount it.

I don't discount it.

It's not presidential.

Matt Franko said...

Mal to the left when Dem Obama Fs up its "the US!" when GOP Trump Fs up its "GOP Trump!"

Malmo's Ghost said...


Context matters here. And define "presidential"? Is Putin presidential when ordering aggressive military maneuvers??

Matt Franko said...

Tom, Trump has said he intends to classify all of these activities.

How do we even know this happened? The military itself had to have put this out... Trump is going to blackout all of this stuff...

Tom Hickey said...

Context matters

Here's what happening operationally and in the information war.

Operationally, the US is probing Russia and China's defenses and their red lines. This is generally done in preparation for war. It's not "innocent passage" under the law of the sea and air. Everyone involved and looking on that knows anything knows this.

Russia and China are reacting predictably by sending signals to the US that it is acting aggressively and approaching a red line.

This is SOP (standard operation procedure).

The US and NATO are clearly the aggressor here and Russia and China are acting defensively, as any sovereign nation would.

Regarding the information war, Russia and China are alerting the ROW that the US and NATO are acting aggressively on its borders, and they are not to be trusted since they have a history of aggression. This is aimed at people in the US and NATO countries, putting them on alert that their masters are taking them in the direction of war. It is also aimed at the Russian and Chinese people altering them that the Cold War is now in full swing and the arms race is on again, and that they should be prepared for war. It is also aimed at non-aligned countries, letting them know that the US and NATO are acting up again and they should not be under any illusions about the true intentions of those who believe themselves to be the masters of the universe.

The president as commander in chief is assumed to back the actions of the military that ultimately reports to him (her in the case of Merkel).

Being presidential means being clear about intentions and not sending mixed signals, e.g., for political reasons, that can be misinterpreted. Typically, weak or clueless leaders send one message to the party intended, another to allies, another to the ROW, and yet another for domestic consumption.

Tom Hickey said...

The problem is that only works for the US. The Russians and Chinese will broadcast it widely and complain loudly, and the only around Americans learning about it through media suppression. The US already as low marks for press freedom.

Malmo's Ghost said...

The real story on the Russian maneuvers, and who's really at fault--hint: it's not Trump:

Malmo's Ghost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Malmo's Ghost said...

"...“Russia has not accepted the hand of partnership,” says NATO commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, “but has chosen a path of belligerence.”

But why should Putin see NATO’s inexorable eastward march as an extended “hand of partnership”?

Had we lost the Cold War and Russian spy planes began to patrol off Pensacola, Norfolk and San Diego, how would U.S. F-16 pilots have reacted? If we awoke to find Mexico, Canada, Cuba, and most of South America in a military alliance against us, welcoming Russian bases and troops, would we regard that as “the hand of partnership”?

We are reaping the understandable rage and resentment of the Russian people over how we exploited Moscow’s retreat from empire.

Did we not ourselves slap aside the hand of Russian friendship, when proffered, when we chose to embrace our “unipolar moment,” to play the “great game” of empire and seek “benevolent global hegemony”?

If there is a second Cold War, did Russia really start it?"

Malmo's Ghost said...


Come on. Trump has been pretty clear that he is no Obama when dealing with Russia. Again, you're taking his one comment and singling it out over the broader context of non intervention in the region he's laid down the past ten months and beyond.

Tom Hickey said...

Trump said what he said. That was not aggressive?

He should have either STFU or else said that as commander-in-chief he will handle matters on a case by case basis based on US national interests.

What he said instead was typical politician-speak shoot from the hip bluster. Trump is smart enough to avoid gotta-questions, or else turning them into assets. IMHO he blew this one as far as looking presidential. The only advantage in saying that was for political purposes. Overall, it tarnished his image further as being a loose cannon on deck.

As commentators pointed out, his foreign policy speech contained somewhat mixed signals. Different parties could read what they wanted into it.

This is also typically Trump. As Scott Adams has pointed out he understand persuasion, and others have posted out that his strength lies in negotiation.

So I read him as saying that he doesn't want a fight but if one comes his way, he will win it. Well, if you move your military up against red lines, then chances are a fight will come your way.

What he said could be read as meaning that he would shoot down a plane that was sending a signal that a red line is being approach. Generally, it is the aggressed that shoots down the plane, but here it is a case of the aggressor.

Turkey acted stupidly in shooting down the Russian plane that it claimed had violated its air space. But if that was the case, Turkey had a right to, and it was not an act of war. But shooting down a Russian or Chinese place will testing red lines is quite different.

It doesn't seem to me that Trump has thought this through, or if he has, he has decided that he can win politically by sending mixed signals even though they may be incendiary.

Great for whipping up the crazies though, and he still needs to take the nomination before the convention to avoid a floor fight.

Tom Hickey said...

Again, you're taking his one comment and singling it out over the broader context of non intervention in the region he's laid down the past ten months and beyond.

As I said, commentators have observed that Trump's policy speeches can be interpreted differently depending on what one wants to hear.

While I agree that Trump is the least hawkish, it has already made clear, in my understanding, this is only if negotiations go his way.

This is pretty much the standard US position — my way or the highway.

Bob said...

Barrel rolls are meant to be playful. Either get a sense of humor, or GTFO out of Russia's backyard.

In all this childishness, someone has to be an adult and consider the consequences of their actions. Hopefully the commander of the US warship would have refused orders to shoot down a barrel rolling Russian plane, regardless of what the "commander in chief" had decided.

Malmo's Ghost said...


Once more Trump's words here are more about Russia's lack of respect for Obama than they are about Trump's inner cowboy. And your claim that Trump is a shoot em up type if negotiations fail would only be possibly be meaningful if Trump wasn't the isolationist his detractors claim he is. But just sticking to the hypothetical he laid out that at some point you have to fight back if an aggressive act is taking place against the US, how pray tell is that red meat for the so called crazies? All he said, and quite reasonably so, is that at some point turning the cheek Neville Chamberlain like is really the crazy thing to do, and he's exactly right on that score..

Tom Hickey said...

Once more Trump's words here are more about Russia's lack of respect for Obama than they are about Trump's inner cowboy.

That's BS.

If that's what Trump thinks (and it is the way he thinks, for sure) then trump is clueless about how things like this work. The Russians were doing nothing out of the ordinary. So far, the Chinese are just lodging complaints but the US upping the ante and China is also going to have to respond more forcefully.

Trump's thinking in the case, Putin lacking respect for Obama, is also a tell. It shows that Trump tends to personalize things and he is known not only for taking offense but exacting revenge. Just what we need in a president. This is is an adolescent attitude about pissing matches.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Nothing out of the ordinary?

"The SU-27 intercepted the U.S. aircraft flying a routine route at high rate of speed from the side then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135," Baldanza said.
The U.S. considers this a very unsafe aerial maneuver and is expected to voice its concerns to the Russians, a U.S. defense official told CNN.

And you think Russia (Putin too) respect Obama? The Putin-- Obama acrimony goes back several years. They tolerate, but I doubt either respects the other. And the notion Trump tends to personalize things and takes revenge is based on what exactly? Political rhetoric? LOL. You don't think all power brokers screw their enemies (especially political enemies) when given the chance? You need to visit Chicago.

...Has he exacted revenge on the hordes of rioters and criminal agitators at his political events who exact third world behaviors to suppress speech and free unfettered assembly in our political processes? No, but he damn well should--legally that is--and hopefully will at some point.

You're just projecting, Tom, your dislike of the man, and you're personalizing to some extent too. It colors your view. Not knocking you for that. We all do it.

Tom Hickey said...

Nothing out of the ordinary?

"The SU-27 intercepted the U.S. aircraft flying a routine route at high rate of speed from the side then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135," Baldanza said.
The U.S. considers this a very unsafe aerial maneuver and is expected to voice its concerns to the Russians, a U.S. defense official told CNN.

IN the first place, that is the media BS department speaking as part of the information war.

In the second place, it's SOP to intercept aggressors. it's meant to be aggressive. It is sending a signal that we regard your actions as unfriendly, so turn back before things get really rough. You are on warning you are approaching a red line and will be dealt with accordingly if you proceed. If the action of the aggressor is regarded as particularly unacceptable, the ante is upped, as Russia has done but China has not yet other than by beefing up its military in the region.

Stratfor explains it.

Why Russia Harasses U.S. Aircraft
Analysis APRIL 20, 2016

The US is operating 5000 miles away from home here in ways that far exceed "innocent passage" under the law of air and sea. There is no question who is the instigator.

In addition, when the limits were established by the law of sea and air, military capability was far less potent and the speed and range of weapons had far shorter and slower reach.

The US positioning high tech weaponry on Russia's doorstep and then feigning outrage when Russia reacts in the way that would be expected based on prior military engagement as precedent. The US complaints are just shedding crocodile tears.

The US acts like they own the place and gets upset when someone has the nerve to call them on it.

Tom Hickey said...

BTW, this kind of asinine behavior on the part of the US a long history. The US through was fine putting missiles in Turkey, on the border of the USSR, and then went ballistic when the USSR put missiles in Cuba. That asininity almost blew up the world.

Malmo's Ghost said...


I do agree with you after further thought on the subject that Trump could have taken an explanatory approach such as in your 3:42 post. I'm not sure he'd disagree with your assessment.

Malmo's Ghost said...

...and it's understandable why his response would get under your skin.

Tom Hickey said...

Thanks, MG.

In my view, the one place that the president has virtually unlimited power is in foreign policy. These are parlous times and the American people need to hold the person serving that capacity to the highest standard for the sake not only of the US but also the entire world. Candidates really need to think things through in presenting their views if there is to be an informed electorate casting a meaningful vote based on the issue that are deemed most important.

jrbarch said...

Prem Rawat on peace in humanity:

John said...

The biggest problem Trump has is that he can't keep his big mouth shut. His mouth is not coordinated with his brain. His verbal diarrhoea will be a problem if he's even POTUS, which of course he won't. He sees it as a sign of weakness to admit that he said something utterly absurd and dangerous. Recall his contortions over his anti-abortion comments to "punish the mother". If by some miracle he ever became POTUS, the Joint Chiefs would almost certainly politely inform him to say utterly inane boilerplate until a strategy could be worked out.

Trump suffers from a similar problem that has debilitated Obama. Whereas Obama thinks that his alleged charisma and oratory can change the course of international politics and domestic policy, Trump believes that Washington is there to be ordered about just like the minions within his business empire. A pity that we'll never see a Trump presidency implode in acrimonious infighting because an arrogant, imperious president hunkers down in his lair, blaming everybody but himself. It'll be Nixon all over again but this time with bling!