The first thing you need to realize about warfare in the 21st century is that it is not all about who has the most weapons, or even using those weapons. Due to the interconnected nature of the world, through communications systems and the economy, warfare can be carried out for months and even years by advanced nations without ever resorting to the use of traditional weapons systems. Through the use of currency and market manipulations, cyber warfare, and information warfare, together with political and diplomatic machinations, it is possible to bring about revolution, regime change, and isolation without ever sending one weapons system into the battlespace. Look at the various color revolutions that sprung up in the former Soviet republics in the early 2000s, the Arab spring, and the Ukraine crisis that is still ongoing and you see how the use of full spectrum dominance can be implemented, especially on smaller and less advanced countries to astounding effects. The same can be said for larger and more advanced countries, though those effects come at a slower pace and they are able to use their own advanced techniques and full spectrum power to defend and counterattack, placing the powers in a position of confrontation and war for a long period of time before weapons systems are brought to bear – and generally it is the power that blinks first and therefore loses, that brings those weapons to bear first.
I have spent the better part of my life as a student of the Russian language, culture and history. I have visited places in the former Soviet Union that only a handful of Americans have ever gone to (or heard of, for that matter), and that even Soviet citizens were restricted from. I have spoken to Russian soldiers, officers, base commanders, and high level Russian military and intelligence leaders. I have been on Russian and former Soviet military bases conducting arms control inspections and witnessed their troops in exercises in the field. At the same time, I have seen our own troops in the field and witnessed American firepower firsthand. I have interfaced with high level American policy makers and military leaders. When it comes to the history of Russian-American relations and conflict, as well as capabilities, I have an understanding far deeper than most Americans, including those at the highest levels of our government. Since before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 90s, we have witnessed the bringing to bear of the full spectrum dominance of the United States against first the Soviet Union, and then Russia. It has all been a part of one long campaign that is now drawing to conclusion in what may very well become a hot war. In order to fully understand what is playing out now, one must understand what led us to where we are now and what could very well happen next, because the beginning of World War III has already begun.
The case could be made that World War III is just a continuation of World War II with the names and players changed. Just as Western intelligence and players behind the scenes were behind the rise of the Third Reich, they also funded and facilitated the rise of Lenin in Russia. Although the Soviet Union and the United States were allies during World War II, geopolitical movements during the close of the war and immediately following the war would lead to the Cold War that “concluded” with the collapse of the Soviet empire into 15 separate countries in 1991. Russia was declared the loser of the Cold War, the world celebrated the end of an era of fear of thermonuclear annihilation, and everything seemed right in the world. However, despite public concessions to a humiliated Russian bear that had been brought to its knees by the pioneers of the new warfare in the United States, American policy was developed to ensure that another world power would never develop in the Eurasian area that Russia occupies. As demonstrated by the Soviet Union and the creation of a bipolar world construct, a world power centered in this geographical location rivaled US power because it also had naval outlets to both the Atlantic and the Pacific, thereby being able to affect global maritime trade routes, something the US holds as vital to its national interests and wants a monopoly on to retain hegemony. This is also critical in understanding the movements of the US following the Cold War.
The first of those movements, and it continues today, was to move to expand NATO into what was considered the Soviet satellite states. Even now, Ukraine and Georgia are continuing on their paths to membership in the alliance. As this was happening, and Russia and many of the former Soviet states continued to slip deeper into economic stagnation (which was highly predictable when you look at the Soviet economic and production model which designated certain regions for production of certain goods to be transported across the super-state – and many of those regions now existed in separate countries) some areas of these newly formed states began to try and break away. From this moment, Russia developed a strong sense of national sovereignty for itself and the other former Soviet states, almost out of a drive for self-preservation and to stave off a complete collapse. Russia was engaged in Chechnya, Armenia and Azerbaijan were fighting over a small piece of land called Nagorno-Karabakh, and uprisings were happening in many areas of the Central Asian states even as civil war erupted within the former Soviet satellite state of Yugoslavia (despite most of the areas of the former Soviet state gaining independence and while weathering uncertain times, kept the peace for the most part between the different ethnic groups within their borders).
Yugoslavia was a nation that was created after the break-up of the old Ottoman Empire following World War I, and was made up of four main ethnic groups – the Serbs (Orthodox Slavs), the Croats (Catholic Slavs), the Bosnian Serbs (Muslim Slavs), and the Albanians (Muslims). Now, I could go into a lengthy background of all of these groups and why they hated one another, but that would detract from the point of this article – the main thing you need to know is that they all pretty much hated one another and they all committed war crimes against one another. There were no good guys in this conflict. The Americans and Western Europe backed the Muslim groups (I guess that one could say it was out of habit of automatically choosing the opposite side of the Russians, but I suspect there were other elements at play) and the Russians backed the Serbs. As the stories of the atrocities were streaming across world media, international outcry (and a torrent of refugees streaming from the Balkans to Central and Western Europe) led to the insertion of a joint NATO-Russian peacekeeping force into the area. However, the issue was not fully resolved and the current borders drawn until years of peacekeepers, talks between the groups, and NATO bombing the Serbs into submission (many of the same jihadis that led the KLA in Albania and Kosovo also fought in Chechnya, and then turned around and fought in Afghanistan, so while many people point to the Reagan administration building Osama bin Laden, Bill Clinton is just as guilty of building the rest of the terrorist group and the Taliban).
The key issue to keep in mind in regard to Russian and American policy during this is that Russia continually insisted on the retention of the territorial integrity of as much of the country as possible (likely due in great part to their own ongoing problems with Chechen separatists) while the US supported the partition of the country and the creation of separate states (from which we get the term “Balkanization”). It became apparent to the world during the conflict in the Balkans just how far the Russian military had fallen in training, their equipment outdated, and the discipline of their troops has declined. This culminated in the incident at the Pristina airport, when Russian troops that heard of a deployment of NATO forces to the airport, pressed ahead in an armored column and seized the airport before the NATO forces could arrive. A tense standoff occurred but it was resolved peacefully. I say that it culminated in this event because the Russian military was highly demoralized by the economic restraints of their government and they themselves knew they were a lesser force before the NATO peacekeepers. They needed “a win” in the face of the NATO troops, and this provided just that, and some morale was renewed. However, both Russian politicians and troops from this point forward knew that the Great Russian Bear had been knocked to his knees, and the entire focus of the country, especially once Vladimir Putin replaced Boris Yeltsin, was aimed at bringing the country off of its knees, and for it stand once more.
The second Chechen conflict kicked off at around the same time as the Pristina incident and as the Yugoslavian war was drawing down. Vladimir Putin was in power now, not Boris Yeltsin, and he wanted a definitive victory over the separatists. I would urge you to read the full account of this war, but the important points to take away from this are that the Russian military acknowledged that they had learned some tactics, especially air tactics, from NATO forces in Yugoslavia (they particularly pointed to learning the use of air power to debilitate an enemy before sending in ground forces). While the war is listed as having lasted from 1999-2009, Russian military involvement was turned over to interior paramilitary forces, pro-Russian paramilitary forces, and Russian security services in 2003. There were certainly setbacks for the Russian military during this conflict, but they prevailed in returning the breakaway republic to the fold. Tensions increased in the early part of the war, still high after the Pristina incident, when Chechen separatists appealed to NATO for aid. The Russian government has at times made accusations of Western support for the separatists, and this could possibly be true.
For the most part, the presidency of George Bush Jr. was a time of increased cooperation with Russia. Russian troops began to train together with US troops. Russian and NATO relations recovered from the Pristina incident and Russia was given special access as a partner state. Personally, I fully believe that the West missed out on an excellent opportunity to bring Russia into the fold after the attacks of 9/11, when Putin called Bush on the phone and offered assistance, and military support in pursuing those that attacked. However, the arms control treaties that were signed by previous administrations of both nations were something that neither particularly had interest in maintaining. Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to pursue the missile defense shield in Eastern Europe (a sticking point in relations ever since) and Putin first called an Extraordinary Conference of the signatories of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty to lay out his case for suspension of activities of the treaty (he stated that continued activity in the treaty threatened Russia’s national security because of the growing threat that NATO presented by expansion to their borders and through the missile defend shield) and then indefinitely suspended activities. In addition, it was during the Bush administration that the majority of the color revolutions took place in former Soviet states, most notably in Georgia and Ukraine, both of which soon petitioned for NATO accession and both of which soon faced repercussions from Russia.
In 2003, the Rose Revolution would sweep through Georgia as the people there disputed the elections and it would ultimately result in the replacement of Eduard Shevardnadze with Mikhail Saakashvili in new elections held the next year. Saakashvili was a very West-leaning politician that would put Georgia on the path to accession to the NATO alliance. However, Georgia had two breakaway regions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. As relations worsened between Georgia and Russia because of Georgia’s pursuit of NATO membership, conditions in the two breakaway regions worsened, as well. It resulted in the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, the initiation of which is still disputed to this day. It is clear that the Georgian government expected more support from NATO that never came, and Russia occupied both regions and set up unrecognized republics.
In 2004, the Orange Revolution struck Ukraine, and just as in Georgia, it was the result of disputed elections and the election was overturned. The election of Viktor Yanukovych would be annulled and Viktor Yushchenko was declared the new winner. Again, Yushchenko was a Western-leaning politician who pushed for Ukraine to begin the path to membership in NATO. However, in 2010 Yanukovych would win election and again begin to steer Ukraine back into the good graces of Russia. This culminated in the more recent 2014 Ukrainian civil war, which still rages to this day, as the Maidan protests led to Yanukovych’s ousting and Russian-leaning forces in eastern Ukraine revolted. By referendum vote, Crimea, which had historically belonged to Russia and still maintained the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, joined Russia. The Western world balked at the annexation of Crimea and tensions between Russia and NATO began to escalate.
Recent activities of the Russian military in support of the Assad regime in Syria have added to this escalation of tensions, as have expanded military exercises on both sides and the projected increase of NATO troops in Eastern Europe. However, this is only looking at the battlefield in the 1-dimensional aspect of purely conventional military forces, and as I pointed out at the onset of this article, 21st century warfare is conducted through what is termed as full spectrum dominance, meaning bringing to bear all sources of power, not just military. So let’s break events down a little further.
- The Color Revolutions – Russia has long maintained that the color revolutions of the former Soviet republics were the handiwork of the CIA, and that the Maidan revolution was, as well. They do certainly seem to have a standard playbook that they are run from, and that same playbook was used (although updated to use social media) in the Arab Spring events (and some would say the American Spring is being instigated now…shhhh!). It is entirely plausible, especially when one looks into the results of the successful color revolutions, that these are indeed the work of US and Western intelligence agency operations.
- Cyber Attacks – Russia is one of the more dominant countries in the cyber-attack game, whether by lone-wolf patriot hackers or through attacks coordinated by their security services. While many articles point to events such as the take down of the Ukrainian and Baltic power grids and the recent hacking of the Finnish Ministry of Defense site as the sole Russian-backed attacks, if one does a little research they will see that a good deal of financial and personal data attacks here in the US are from Russian hackers, as well. Again, these could be simply cyber-criminals in the traditional sense, but it could also be coordinated activity driven to weaken the US economy (a 2013 report estimated that cyber-crime cost the US economy between $24 and $120 billion annually, and it has no doubt gone up from there).
- Diplomacy – While the unpopularity of the Bush administration globally was replaced with a love affair with Obama, this was short-lived as the Snowden leaks revealed what many feel is an over-reaching intelligence apparatus. Added together with what many observers see as dwindling American power, a resurgent Russia has been the beneficiary of a growing sucking sound that leads to a vacuum of power on the world stage. It is clear that while Obama is an amateur at diplomatic and geopolitical dealings, Putin is an experienced journeyman. With each bungle of this administration, he reaps the rewards in global trust and a history of strong-arm deals on the side of the Americans have driven many of the sideline nations directly into the waiting arms of Vladimir Vladimirovich.
- Economic and Market Manipulation – As the US realized that continued revenue from Russia’s vast oil production capabilities would only quicken the pace of the bear once again standing on his feet, they began manipulating the oil and other markets and together with sanctions from the West for the Ukraine situation, these have caused a loss in the value of the ruble and financial woes on the part of the Russian government. However, they may be miscalculating as Russia’s government has been stockpiling money in times of plenty to pay for lean times, and they have also invested in precious metals, which continue to rise in value.
- Modernization – The Russian military is on pace to complete its modernization project (which will replace older generation equipment with modernized equipment in 70% of units) in 2020, to include not just new ground forces equipment, but also naval and air equipment and new strategic missiles. This is at a time when the US is drawing down its military forces to pre-WWII levels, reports are coming in from combat units that they don’t have the funding to properly train, and it seems almost every modernization project is placed on the backburner. It is telling that Michael Carpenter, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia has said that Russian forces could defeat ill-prepared NATO troops in a matter of hours.
What is becoming evident as we look at what is going on, is that the US is behind Russia in terms of full spectrum dominance. We continue to fight the last war and our intelligence services are using the same playbook for inciting revolution all over the world. The US has become predictable and we are still playing the Great Game on the level of amateurs in comparison to Putin’s Russia. We are still more powerful than Russia at the moment, but that point of conversion on the chart is rapidly approaching, and much more rapidly than what our bought and paid-for media will admit to you openly. So what happens next?
It is my theory in this new warfare environment that when a nation is losing in the non-traditional warfare elements, they will switch to traditional warfare and the war will become one by the old definition of warfare. This is why NATO is becoming more erratic and beginning to saber-rattle a bit towards Russia. This is why Pentagon spending for operations in Eastern Europe is slated to go from $800 million currently to $3.4 billion in 2017. And there are plenty of analysts out there that are betting their bottom dollar on Russia invading the Baltic states. I don’t agree with that assessment.
While I fully believe that we are already engaged in World War III in various spectrums, I think there is a tiny area in the North Caucasus (and I did briefly mention it above) that will lead to an actual shooting war between NATO and Russia – and will suck in the rest of the world. We have already seen the battle lines forming, and I think NATO will stay together for the most part, if for no other reason than they fear Russian and Chinese rule more than American. They may despise America, but at least there is a common cultural heritage.
This region is Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that is a declared an autonomous region by Armenia (and is rumored to declare full independence soon) and is officially a part of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a conflict in the 90s over the Nagorno-Karabakh region with Armenia coming out slightly ahead before a cease-fire. However, the cease-fire is violated by both sides on a near daily basis. Azerbaijan, fueled by oil reserves in the Caspian Sea, has been buying military equipment like mad in the past few years. Azerbaijan, a majority Muslim country, has ties to Turkey and is loosely supported by NATO through them. Armenia is a Christian country that is tied to Russia and even hosts a Russian military base on its territory. I don’t think I need to go into Armenia’s hatred of Turkey following the Armenian genocide. Azerbaijan hates Iran, where it claims 2/3 of “greater Azerbaijan” lies.
Turkish and Russian relations are strained to the breaking point already by the downing of the Russian fighter near the Syrian-Turkish border. Over the past six months, tensions have been growing between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well (I have visited Azerbaijan and Armenia on several occasions, and all Azeri officers always repeated the same thing – once they had the equipment to do so, they would go back into Nagorno-Karabakh). Recently, Azerbaijan assaulted positions in the region with armor, a serious escalation, and then there is the rumored soon declaration of independence on the part of Nagorno-Karabakh which I feel will be the final straw on the back of this ceasefire.
I am not one for predictions, but I think this region and this issue has a far greater possibility of becoming the catalyst for World War III to go hot. Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, goes into Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia and Iran support Armenia. Georgia jumps into Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and suddenly the region goes hot. Turkey activates its alliance with NATO, and a new front opens. China and the Central Asian republics jump in on the side of Russia…Japan and South Korea try to tackle China with Australian and American Pacific assets…and you have a war that has been years in the making that will seriously impact the global order. It will be devastating in the weapons that are used and very well could lead to events of Biblical prophecy, though that would be a topic for a different article if events do indeed begin to play out in this way.
The bottom line here is that by analyzing events as a whole rather than in pieces as they are presented within the media, and placing them together into a timeline, we see that we already have been in World War III for a while now, it just hasn’t yet entered the stage of troops on the battlefield. Through the manipulation of events other than war, vast changes have been made across the geopolitical landscape on both sides. But it is once all options other than traditional warfare are off the table that we have to seriously look at the issue that in the next few months to next few years we could very well be embroiled in a conflict with an opponent that presents an existential threat to the US. Who do you want to be in the White House when that time comes? Are we making the proper decisions right now based upon this knowledge?
Sgt Tim, Outlaw Patriot News