Apparently not. Looking at the operations in Syria, the NYT says:
Taken together, the operations reflect what officials and analysts described as a little-noticed — and still incomplete — modernization that has been underway in Russia for several years, despite strains on the country’s budget. And that, as with Russia’s intervention in neighboring Ukraine, has raised alarms in the West.
In a report this month for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Gustav Gressel argued that Mr. Putin had overseen the most rapid transformation of the country’s armed forces since the 1930s. “Russia is now a military power that could overwhelm any of its neighbors, if they were isolated from Western support,” wrote Mr. Gressel, a former officer of the Austrian military.
Of course we’ve been advised, for years, that the Russian military was only a shadow of its former self under the USSR. And while it certainly isn’t as potent as when Russia was the USSR, it is apparently vastly more potent than we’ve been led to believe.
Another factoid from the article:
Russia’s fighter jets are, for now at least, conducting nearly as many strikes in a typical day against rebel troops opposing the government of President Bashar al-Assad as the American-led coalition targeting the Islamic State has been carrying out each month this year.
The bottom line, of course, is we still have a much more powerful military – but we’re in the middle of cutting back on it both in manpower and spending. And, of course, that sort of power is only important if your potential enemies know you’re willing to use it. Russia is demonstrating that willingness.
Russia is also “field testing” its equipment and it is “blooding” its troops.
Not to mention rallying “allies” to the Russian cause. China has sent forces to Syria. And the latest?
On Wednesday, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News that Cuban paramilitary and special forces units are on the ground in Syria, citing evidence from intelligence reports. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Cuban troops may have been training in Russia and may have arrived in Syria on Russian planes.
Isn’t normalization with Cuba wonderful? Isn’t that reset with Russia working out well? It sure has been rewarding so far.
Consumer Prices fell -0.2% overall in September, while the core rate, less food and energy, rose 0.2%. The CPI is unchanged on a year-over-year basis, though the core CPI is up 1.9%.
The Empire State manufacturing survey improved slightly in October, though still coming in at a poor -11.36 from -14.67.
The Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey stayed in negative territory rising to only -4.5 in October from -6.0.
With the 2015 US Government Fiscal Fear complete, a $91.1 billion surplus in September leaves the annual deficit down by 9.2% to $438.9 billion for the year. The annual budget deficit was 2.5% of GDP, versus 2.8% in FY2014.
Initial weekly jobless claims fell 7,000 to 255,000. The 4-week average fell 2,250 to 265,000. Continuing claims fell 22,000 to 2.201 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.4 points to 45.2 in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $18.5 billion last week, with total assets of $4.505 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $4.6 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $2.1 billion in the latest week.
Noting the obvious, Vladimir Putin pointed out that the US is in a very weak position concerning Syria:
Russian President Vladimir Putin continued a war of words with the U.S. over Syria, calling its policy weak and lacking in objectives as his air force carried out fresh bombing raids in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
“I don’t really understand how the U.S. can criticize Russia’s actions in Syria if they refuse to have direct dialogue,” Putin told reporters Thursday during a visit to Astana, Kazakhstan. “The basic weakness of the American position is that they don’t have an agenda, though we’re keeping the door open” for high-level discussions with Washington, he said.
Of course, the administration had an answer:
“We’ve said that we’re not interested in doing that as long as Russia is not willing to make a constructive contribution to our counter-ISIL effort,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday, using an acronym for Islamic State. “Russia has their own agenda and it’s an agenda right now that they’re pursuing on their own.”
I suppose that’s so … but so does the US and it is apparent there really isn’t any desire for “dialogue” unless the US can have its way. And it is a basic understanding in negotiations that the weaker party doesn’t have as many choices (if any) than the stronger party. The US is certainly in the weaker position having ceded control of the Syrian conflict to Russia. Also, don’t forget that the US withheld military aid to Iraq until Iraq made political changes it wanted to see happen. What did Iraq do? Well, it bought its fighter aircraft from Russia instead (likely with US money).
As for the possibility of talks. Well, it seems that NATO partner Turkey has figured out a way to have them:
Russia and NATO member Turkey are establishing “lines of communication between our militaries in connection with events taking place in Syria” amid tensions over violations of Turkish airspace, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Meshkov told a conference in Moscow on Thursday, Interfax reported. Turkey and Russia can find consensus on Syria, Umit Yardim, the Turkish ambassador to Moscow, said at the same meeting.
Interesting and telling.
Foreign affairs, for this administration, is a disaster. And they seem determined to make it worse instead of better.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -27.6% last week, with purchases down -34.0% and refis down -23.0%. This is the second week after the new disclosure rules were imposed. Last week, apps skyrocketed, so this week’s free-fall actually reflects a return to normalcy.
Producer Prices for Final Demand continued to fall by -0.5% in September, sparking new fears of deflation. Prices ex-food and -energy fell-0.3%, as did prices ex-food, -energy, and -trade services. On a year-over-year basis, PPI-FD is down 01.1% overall, but pieces ex-food and -energy are up 0.8%, and prices ex-food, -energy, and -trade services are up 0.5%.
Retail sales for September rose only a weak 0.1%. Sales less autos fell -0.3%, while sales less autos and gas were unchanged.
Business inventories were unchanged for a second month in August, while sales fell 0.6%, sending the stock-to-sales ratio up to 1.37.
The Fed’s most recent Beige Book on the economy reports that only 3 Fed districts reported “moderate” growth, with 6 reporting “modest” growth, 3 with “slowing” growth, and the Kansas City district reporting economic contraction.
Also known as a free prime time commercial for the Democratic party.
Much has been made of the Hillary “enemies” comment.
1. This should properly be considered a Kinsley gaffe in that she accidentally told the truth.
Absolutely … since the early days of HC, she’s always fallen back on the VRWC as a reason for her bad press. She just made it official last night … among others she considers Republicans “enemies”. Which, of course, would give any Republican that warm, fuzzy feeling if she were ever elected President – God forbid.
That said, here’s the important part:
2. Even though it was gaffe, it won’t get treated as one by the media because it doesn’t sound like one to their ears (for all the obvious reasons).
Indeed. And don’t forget it was a media type who asked the question. But again, enemies you’re most proud of having – Republicans? My goodness. Jim Webb made her and the others look petty and small. But that won’t play in the media either.
3. It wasn’t necessarily bad politics — in the primaries. The Democratic base largely shares her Manicheanism when it comes to the Republican party these days.
Exactly. She was singing to the choir last night and as far as the choir is concerned, the tune was perfect.
So don’t expect anything to come of that supposed “gaffe” except grumbling and mumbling among the right.
Instead of running around (and talking) in circles.
You’re going to say things that are going to offend and outrage some people (regardless of what you say – politically you’re on the other side, so that, in and of itself is “offensive”), even if what you say isn’t really offensive or outrageous.
[Ben] Carson’s response to the howls of the PC left is the right one: We’ll call it “apathetic conviction.” He’s not outraged by the outrage; he simply doesn’t care. The outrage bores him. And no response is better calculated to rob critics of their power than boredom. You’re offended by my comments? I’m trending on Twitter? Wake me when the shame-storm is over, and then let’s debate my arguments on their substance.
And that’s the way to handle it. As soon as you back down or apologize, they own you. When you jut your jaw out and essentially say, “welcome to the real world, now grow up”, they’ve lost their power. Carson’s response is an adult’s response.
Time to take these children’s pseudo-power away from them.
And it is fairly obvious from here:
Maybe Putin will save Assad, maybe he won’t. But people and governments in the Middle East will long remember that Obama’s definition of leadership meant abandoning our allies in Baghdad, showing the back of his hand to our friends in Jerusalem, cozying up to the liars and killers in Tehran, waging an effete air campaign against ISIS, and dithering while Syria descended into an almost unimaginable humanitarian crisis.
In the broader region, Obama’s leadership left Libya in ruins and wide open to ISIS penetration, alienated Egypt, decreased our leverage in Pakistan, and accomplished almost nothing in Afghanistan except to turn it into a safe haven for pederasts.
Obama’s disastrous failure to lead in the Middle East has helped to flood Europe with refugees and potential terrorists, encouraging the rise of Putin-like far-right parties throughout NATO and the EU. Meanwhile, Moscow appears set to flagrantly violate Obama’s New START agreement, building up its arsenal of deployed nuclear warheads above the impending caps. Our own arsenal continues to shrink, already well under the 2018 limits.
However, the president does see an opportunity coming soon to turn all this around, telling Kroft that “my definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris.”
Obama fiddled with the thermostat while the world burned.
So I’m off the grid for a few days (enjoyably so) and find not much has changed.
And, given that, now we’re in the middle of “reaping the whirlwind”.
Meanwhile, the dope in the White House is all about fighting “climate change” which apparently doesn’t deal with whirlwinds. His Secretary of State reminds us he’s “concerned” about the Russians and the Middle East, which, you know, is pretty proactive for this administration.
And our erstwhile or, perhaps “former” allies in the region?
They’re shopping for a new patron.
So, here’s the deal. While I love doing car reviews—and I fancy that people enjoy reading them—doing them is a bit of a burden. It’s a burden either financially, because I have to rent the car for a few days, or in time and effort as I have to acquire them by…other means.
What I really need is regular access to a press fleet, and I haven’t been successful in being able to do that. So, I’m wondering, do any of you, dear readers, have any ability to help me get into the press fleet pool, or otherwise get access to review vehicles? If so, contact me at dale-at-dalefranks.com.