Monday, January 23, 2023

The Most Egregious Mistake — Alastair Crooke

The situation is more complicated than this but Alastair Crooke brings out some key factors. There were actually two big mistakes that he mentions. 

First is the mistake of overestimating finance and underestimating productive capacity. Andrei Martyanov had been writing about this for some years.

The second, which is related to the first, is the abject failure of intelligence to properly access the strength of the Russian economy. This is seldom mentioned but it is a huge factor. Alastair Crooke served in British intel so it is well aware of it.

These mistakes together constitute a blunder that is leading to disaster. The US and its allies either have not yet realized this or have backed themselves into a corner from which they cannot escape without climbing down, and that threatens bringing down their house.

The analysis is sort of a combination of Michael Hudson and Andrei Martyanov without mentioning either. It's not fully MMT-compliant but the thrust of the article is not dependent on this.

Strategic Culture Foundation (sanctioned by the US Treasury Department)
The Most Egregious Mistake
Alastair Crooke | founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, and former British diplomat and senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy


Peter Pan said...

At this point, the US is a winner and Europe is the biggest loser by far.

How long this will continue is up to Europeans.

Joe said...

The US is so far a winner by their subjugation of Europe (cutting off large portions of their energy supply) and by Europe emptying out their military cupboards to be replaced by US equipment (eventually, it'll take many years). But on a global net basis, is the US is winning? Does the subjugation of Europe fully offset the military humiliation the US is suffering in Ukraine and the moves away from US financial hegemony in other parts of the globe?

Can the US declare victory and go home somehow? This is my bet. Something along the lines of Russia takes what they want, sets up some sort of demilitarized zone, the fighting stops and western Ukraine declares victory. Odessa and Ukraine's access to the sea is the biggest puzzle piece in all of this.

Can this entire dirty affair just be memory-holed. Harder to see this happening, but maybe, elites can be made to believe silly things, surely they can forget things too. But if the Russian win is too big, this might be the only option, I can't see the west admitting defeat here. No one really cared about Afghanistan so we could more-or-less admit defeat there but against Russia?

What I wonder about is how many policy makers in the US actually believe their own propaganda? Scarface taught us, don't get high on your own supply, yet here we are with lies that are absolutely bonkers. VSP's repeat without blushing that Russia is about to run out of missiles (7 or 8 times already), Russia is kidnapping children (for the adrenochrome maybe? No word if there's pizza and a basement involved), Putin has 5 or 6 different terminal illnesses simultaneously and regular falls down stairs and shits himself, Ukraine has more tanks than they started the war with (yet need to beg for 300 more, strange math, must involve imaginary-imaginary numbers), or that Russia is taking microchips out of refrigerators and dishwashers to put in missiles (a nonsensical thing to do from an engineering pov). People can react badly when reality unexpectedly crashes in. Scary times.

NeilW said...

The spin at the moment is that Russia is going to overrun Europe right up and beyond the old Warsaw Pact lines, when in reality Russia will stop at the Dnieper river and probably before that at the accepted boundaries of annexed regions.

At which point the West will declare victory. Russia has been contained by their stunning and brave actions.

Both this and the Covid debacle tells us that most people easily see five lights when told. And that is scary.

Matt Franko said...

NATO setting up to cut off Crimea …

Matt Franko said...

Even Trump appearing with Lindsay Graham… turns out Russia was partly behind Russiagate and had turned a top CI guy at fbi NYC into an agent for Russia… Trump might be pissed at Russia too now they are even on Trumps hit list…

Joe said...

Contained? The irony is if the west hadn't torpedoed peace talks early on, or if it weren't for western perfidy from at least as far back as 2014, Russia would have been "contained" within its original borders. Well played west, well played.

Joe said...

From Crooke's article "Russia’s resilience, Todd attests, is due to the fact that it has a real economy of production. “War is the ultimate test of a political economy”, he notes. “It is the Great Revealer”.

Interestingly, the Center for Strategic and International Studies put out a report just yesterday titled "Empty Bins in a Wartime Environment: The Challenge to the U.S. Defense Industrial Base"

Basically, the west is simply outgunned and can't produce enough. The report offers a lot of recommendations for changes to be made, but considering how Russia spends a fraction on its military that the US does, maybe the best recommendation would be to examine how Russia does it and then do like they do.

Tony Wikrent said...

There are two crucial omissions in Crooke's post.

First, Crooke writes "The rest of Europe from the 19th century outset had been wary of Adam Smith’s ‘Anglo-model’." This is correct, but is less than half the truth. The other, more important half is that Adam Smith’s ‘Anglo-model’ was rejected and thoroughly repudiated by the "American school" faction of USA political economy, beginning with Alexander Hamilton, who basically served as George Washington's prime minister during the formative two administrations under the new Constitution and new government. The key here is to understand that the Preamble's committing the new government to the promotion of the General Welfare was NOT -- as today's conservatives and libertarians argue -- merely pretty words with no real significance.

The constitutional mandate to promote the General Welfare is what set the American republic apart from, and above, all other previous governments in world history. To promote the General Welfare at the beginning of the republic generally meant to improve and extend humanity's understanding and ability to control the powers of nature. "A machine that allows one man to do the work of one hundred" was emblematic of the time. And that mandate was fully carried out by the Army explorations of the west, the Coast Survey, the development of modern metal forming machine tools in the national armories (without which there is no possibility of modern industrial mass production), government sponsorship of research into steam engine and boiler design, especially by the US Navy just before and during the Civil War (and which created the modern profession of mechanical engineering), and dozens of other government programs and projects. If you don't know these historical facts, it's because they are simply not taught. Instead, textbooks are full of Adam Smith, comparative advantage, the benefits of competition, price theory, and the entire cesspool of Smithian sewage.

Crooke does mention Friedrich List, but omits any mention of the fact that List was a student and proponent of Hamiltonian economics, and the leading American economist of the 19th century, Henry C. Carey.

Whether Crooke deliberately omits the American School, or is simply unaware of it, no one but Crooke knows. But the general ignorance, among Western ruling elites, of the American School as an alternative to Adam Smith and the British imperial school, is the basic reason why Western ruling elites are so stunningly incompetent, no matter their political affiliation or tenure of experience.

Peter Pan said...

Not enough profit via mass production of armaments. Complex systems, requiring careful assembly by highly skilled technicians is the way to go (go i.e. $$$).

Joe said...

Peter Pan, you've hit the nail on the head. The US "defense" industry doesn't have the goal to produce effective weapons and actually defend the country, it's goal is to generate profits. Goes right to the heart of Crooke's article, real economy of production vs water vapor of gdp numbers... Even better if it's a fragile system that requires a lot of maintenance. Getting money for a one time sale is for suckers, continual revenue is where it's at.

Peter Pan said...

e.g. Patriot missiles, Abrams tank. More profit, more ways for Ukrainians to die.

Peter Pan said...

Realistically, these weapon systems will have to be operated by Americans - especially the Patriot.