Replacing Assad, Part 2

The promised question, “Could Assad be useful in a solution?”, will follow this necessary preliminary.

Imagine that you are a bank robber on the run. But the law has closed in. You’re in a shack surrounded by cops, who have shouted, “Come out with your hands up!”  But you don’t, even though you’re outnumbered, outgunned, and without a friend in the world. By trying to live for a few more moments on your own terms, you commit suicide by cop.

Too extreme? How about a paternity suit, in which DNA would declare you the responsible loser, yet you refuse to settle out of court. Still too much? How about a petty argument that could end with your admission? All of these examples involve ceding an element of control. In the case of the robber, it’s control of the few square yards you occupy, and with it, the illusion of personal freedom. With the paternity suit, it’s control over money. With the argument, it’s control over a true/false variable. Given the frequency of arguments that last forever, control over the declaration of a fact has value.

The above are common occurrences of human behavior,  replicated on all scales of intensity and  numbers. The common element is refusal to cede control of an item that may be anything from land to a mere abstraction. Entire societies can participate.  There is a remarkable similarity between the behavior of nations and infants. Only in the West have nations matured to adult social responsibility.

In United States to press Russia on Syria’s Assad, the argument is made that the real question is  not whether Assad should remain president, but  whether the president should be an Alawite or Sunni, which is equivalent to, “Should the Alawites give up control?”

The position of the Alawites is similar to that of the bank robber. The ruling Alawite political class is collectively responsible for genocide against the Sunni majority. With 250,000 deaths in the current conflict, mass murder on a smaller scale has a continuity back to the regime of Assad’s father, Hafez, as with the 1982 Hama massacre, this handy massacre list, and any time a possibly subversive Sunni landed in the clutches of the Alawite Mukhabarat.

It takes a peculiar kind of thinking to excuse any of this with the thought that in this region, the maxim “Do unto others before they do unto you” has real  survival value. Perhaps  if the Alawites had never ventured out of their homeland of Latakia to claim a whole nation with different demographics, all this could be avoided. But most readers would not consciously author a Syria settlement that reverses the  arrow of genocide.

Analogous to the plight of the robber, the Alawites are surrounded by a demographic sea of Sunnis. Only the disorganization of the Syrian Sunnis, favored by the lack of hierarchy of Sunni Islam, permits the projections of Russia and Iran to achieve significance. The Alawite preoccupation with control is analogous to the robber’s fears of capture.  If the robber surrenders, he faces a prison sentence. The Alawites face dispossession, degradation, and death.

The Alawites know that the international response to genocide has always been weak. Before World War II, there was nothing to speak of.  The U.N. has been ineffective. Genocides that could have been halted by modest yet timely military interventions include Rwanda and Bosnia. The current example is Syria itself. Control in the present, the essential barrier against genocide in the future, is equivalent in the Alawite mind to continuance of Assad’s regime.

Some points start out as nonnegotiable, but become negotiable. Others lack the possibility. Suppose the Alawite mind were like a see-saw,  in which two alternatives balanced exactly in desirability:

  • Russian force protection
  • International guarantees in return for relinquishment of control.

If it were possible to balance this mental see-saw,  the Alawite presidency would become negotiable. In balance, the two items become equivalent, and therefore exchangeable.  If the Russians were willing, they could try to use their military to achieve detailed balance. But unlike physical problems of weights and measures, equivalency is rarely possible. It is a nonlinear problem. There is no point of balance. To wit:

A child insults a parent, and tries to avoid a spanking. They run around the house. The child is caught, and the spanking administered. The child is released, and then…? The child insults the parent again, the chase repeats…ad infinitum. Eventually, both tire. Perhaps upon reflection, the child learns something.

But learning, and evolution of the behavior of the individual or society, is not the equivalent of a point of balance. The strategy of micro-managing military intervention  to balance the see-saw, motivating the Alawites to cede power, would likely result in the robber’s miscalculation, suicide by military means. The Alawites would not be sufficiently self-aware of their imminent collapse to exercise the political option before collapse became fait accompli.

So in the context of a unified Syria, the removal of Bashar-al-Assad is in the category of the nonnegotiable. It cannot be transformed to the negotiable. It can be externally imposed, or it could simply happen. For example, it could happen if for reasons of future internal instability, Russia is unable to continue their intervention.

“Could Assad be useful in a solution?”  will be covered in the next post.




United States to press Russia on Syria’s Assad

Reuters. United States to press Russia on Syria’s Assad, as in, “Can we please get rid of him?”

This blog tries to preserve the distinction between modes of action, such as diplomacy and military interventions, and intelligence, which, in the purest form, is understanding things as they are. Since no one at one of these poles is immune to the pull of the other, it helps to recuse one’s self from the other pole. In lieu of that, you have to make a conscious effort to separate the two. This post, and more so the next, will tread the verge. Complicating this, the two poles are connected by something that might be called understanding the situation as a whole. The 60’s word, grock, is a perfect fit.

The two negotiators, Kerry and Putin, carry mental frameworks shaped by different academics and different environments. Kerry is a lawyer who studied and practiced law in a country where the law is not dependent upon any particular individual. In the U.S., the law is a living thing, but its growth is framed by strong institutions that moderate and contain the biases of individuals and the age. Since in western countries, it is widely held that law was the greatest invention of man, it is natural for Kerry’s mental framework to put it in the forefront of the problem. The solution to this interpretation of the Syria problem calls for creation of a government with western style institutions. If the institutions are strong enough, or become so by appropriate nurturing, then, the theory goes, the problem is solved.

This worked in India. The emergence of democracy has been largely spontaneous and unpredictable.  India, and a few smaller remnants of British colonialism, may be the only successful impositions.

The background of Vladimir Putin is different. Putin’s U.S.S.R., and now, Russia, has never been a state of impersonal law. The Russia of today is seriously threatened, both from within and without. Putin has never explained why he dismantled Russia’s democracy. Perhaps he feared it could not withstand future cataclysms. Admittedly, it didn’t work very well. But it could have been braced and splinted, rather than replaced by the fake of that perfect Russian phrase, “Potemkin village.”

But this is what he did, and the reasons are probably more correct than the solutions applied. All of the nondemocratic regimes fear disorder. Putin’s claim that U.S. foreign policy has resulted in the destruction of functioning, if despotic states, with no apparent benefit to the inhabitants, is not without merit. So it’s legitimate to ask if the western recipe for Syria, if it actually existed, would result in more of the same.

Kerry and Putin embed Syria in different “thought containers”, a term coined to mean an individual’s personal “box.” A popular phrase for creative thinking is “thinking outside the box.” But the attempt usually results in merely touching the walls. Their communications are hampered by differing domains of discourse. Sharing a limited set of formal definitions, every implied meaning is different.

So it is no surprise that continuance of Bashar al-Assad as president of Syria is a point of contention. Assad is a very evil man. Beneath the surface of evil, many distinctions exist. He could be the author, executor, pliant tool of his clan, or Faustian bargainer. Regardless, drag him to the Hague court, and his guilt is certain. But the question has been curiously misstated.

The real question is not whether Assad should remain president. It is whether the president should be an Alawite or Sunni. The history of Alawite Syria has been characterized by almost complete opacity of the ruling Alawite clans. Signs of dissension are so questionable that the ruling clans might be distinguished by the most hermetic information barrier in the world, save for North Korea. An example of the quality, or lack, of information is the death of Assef Shawkat, Assad’s brother-in-law. It’s dissected by EA Worldview, with focus on the paucity of information.

The hermetic information barrier of the Alawite clans is reinforced by a  custom of the religion. The Alawites constitute not only a set of closely related clans, but also a syncretistic religious sect, meaning that the beliefs, tenets, etc. are inherently contradictory. The laws of the sect are secret, closely held by clan elders. With secret laws as the norm, it’s that much easier to impose the information barrier as an extension. But this means that to the Sunni opposition, all members of the Alawite political class are indistinguishable. In the absence of a public record of dissent, there is no reason for the Sunni opposition to accept another Alawite in Assad’s place.

Next: Could Assad be useful in a solution?

Russian Troops Withdraw from Syria (for now)

This post has been retitled because the former title, “Congratulations President Putin!” might give the impression of prejudice towards an outcome desired by the Russians.  This is not my desire. The best of all possible worlds would be a harmonious state in which the Alawite minority lived in prosperous co-existence with the Sunni majority. Unfortunately, such a rosy outcome would be unprecedented for the region. The second best would be a partition of land based on ancestral origins and economic viability. There is a natural expectation, based upon past experience with the Russians during the Cold War and Ukraine, that they will try to provide their Alawite clients with something more than that. I cannot contradict the possibility.

Nevertheless, Putin is to be congratulated, perhaps sardonically, for his tactical agility and consequent lack of predictability. It provides the effect of a force multiplier by  diminishing the abilities of Russia’s adversaries to combine. For example, if Turkey and Saudi Arabia were in the process of attempting to constitute a ground intervention, Putin’s withdrawal, however temporary it may be, constitutes an obstacle. It does so by denying a sense of urgency to Russia’s adversaries.

How temporary could the withdrawal be? Consider these news headlines:

Perhaps Putin should have added this.

The original post follows.

The recent announcement (Reuters), “Putin says Russians to start withdrawing from Syria, as peace talks resume” is a demonstration of tactical agility the West would be hard pressed to match. It is particularly impressive considering the likelihood that Russian engagement and disengagement will have to happen many times before a stable situation is reached, if ever.

The West currently lacks this kind of tactical flexibility.  To achieve the same effect, legions of policy-makers would have to be dismissed, rotated, elevated, and demoted, with a time scale irrelevant to the situation in real time.  We must look back to the tenure of Henry Kissinger to find it.

The lack of Western agility is a remnant of Bloc-World thinking, where the abstraction called  “influence” acquired the status now accorded to digital currencies. In those days, when “influence” was imagined to be an almost bankable commodity, a monotonic foreign policy “push”, supported by ingrained “policy” did not seem absurd. After all, Containment did work.

But since Bloc World has vanished, and unless convincing symptoms to the contrary arise, what were formerly called proxies and pawns have become truculent beasts that their former sponsors struggle to nudge and push around the Middle East chess board. Instead of player against player, black against white, it’s players against the board.

While Putin’s move is hard to match, the U.S. game is getting better. U.S. support for the Kurds in northern Iraq, possibly in contradiction of NATO spirit if not letter, is equivalent to thinking more than one move ahead:

The Russians will be back. But they seem determined not to let the tail wag the dog.

The Russian SVP-24 Bombsight

The U.S. has sufficient industrial capacity to make precision guided munitions like the JDAM the exclusive choice. But due to the vast expenditure of ordinance against ISIS, stockpiles are becoming depleted. For the Russians, this has never been a choice, because they don’t have the money. An indigenous electronics industry is almost nonexistent,  with the curious exception of pocket size Geiger Counters (a domestic need like Chernobyl is a powerful incentive.) So, supplemented by small quantities of smart weapons, a modernized version of the stabilized aircraft platform with dumb bombs, denoted SVP-24,  remains the backbone Russian delivery system.

Russia Insider hypes  it. Oddly, a website registered in Iceland, but with an apparent Russian focus, hypes the capabilities of the system. Quoting,

In practical terms this means that every 30+ year old Russian “dumb” bomb can now be delivered by a 30+ year old Russian aircraft with the same precision as a brand new guided bomb delivered by a top of the line modern bomber

The SVP-24 then computes an “envelope” (speed, altitude, course) inside which the dumb bombs are automatically released exactly at the precise moment when their unguided flight will bring them right over the target (with a 3-5m accuracy).

At high altitudes, which the claim includes, it’s pure bosh. At low altitudes, it is within the realm of possibility. If true, it is a respectable improvement over the comparable U.S. system. “LALD” bomb delivery by F-15 and F-16 aircraft, discussed in RAND report RGSD147.chap5.pdf, page 56, offers a CEP of 85.6 meters, or a little better with practice, with an unspecified altitude. Quite simply, this approach has been abandoned by the U.S. in favor of smart weapons.

A minimum altitude for release of the bomb is required for the aircraft to be safe from the explosion.  For a 500 pound bomb, a typical number is 3000 feet, which is close enough for this discussion.

Are Russian claims about the SVP-24 at all true?  With a  release altitude of 3000 feet,  5 meters corresponds to Norden’s goal in the late 1930’s of a CEP 2% of altitude.  But the ancient history of the Norden bombsight is instructive. In 1931, in demonstrations during development, the Norden Mark XV achieved a CEP of 11 meters. In 1940, Norden co-partner Theodore Barth claimed that “we do not regard a 15 square feet (1.4 m2) … as being a very difficult target to hit from an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,100 m)”. But in World War II combat, it degraded to 1000 meters.

A Newsweek opinion piece, Syrian Rebels Change Tactics to Outsmart Putin’s Air Onslaught, is suggestive. Quoting,

“When Russian aircraft stop striking heavily contested areas to avoid inflicting collateral damage on regime forces, [italics mine] opposition fighters, in particular those from groups such as the Nusra Front, Jund al-Aqsa and Ahrar al-Sham, immediately seize the initiative.”

Read that closely. A bomb can miss in several ways:

  • It leaves a crater in the middle of nowhere.
  • It doesn’t hit the target, and blows up a cow.
  • It hits friendly forces.

Unlike a smart weapon, the distance by which a dumb bomb misses the target is a broad statistic. This means that if you drop enough bombs anywhere close the “regime”,  some of your bombs will blow up your friends. The Newsweek information is of unknown provenance, but it suggests that in a sortie with the SVP-24, the bombs behave more like dumb bombs than some Russian miracle.

You may be tired of all this, eager to return this question to the human perspective. But we owe it to the question to mine the issue of Russian military limitations for all it’s worth. This discussion allows us to convert part of the question to one of Russian bombing tactics. Altitudes of bomb runs fall into these unofficial categories:

  • Low, below 8000 feet.  A lower limit in the range of 3000 feet is required for the aircraft to avoid the blast of the bomb. This is within the range of MANPADs (man-portable antiaircraft missiles), and some guns.
  • Medium, between 8000 and 15,000 feet, the maximum altitude of most MANPAD systems.
  • High, above 15,000 feet, reachable by fixed antiaircraft missiles.

Factoring out the propaganda, the accuracy of the SVP-24 is almost, but not quite plausible at low altitude. At higher altitudes, with the free fall of a bomb subject to the vicissitudes of wind and weather, the claims are ridiculous. In an attempt to appear disarmingly candid, relished by any serious propaganda organ , Russia Insider confides, “In fact, the company producing the SVP-24 had to sue the Russian Ministry of Defense for unpaid money and there was a great deal of opposition inside the MoD to the SVP-24…”  This sounds like the Russian equivalent of the classic American boondoggle.

If the Russians feel obliged to bomb from medium altitudes, they might invoke Item 3 from the Loophole List, military necessity. Sticking still with military limitations, the question is converted to one about altitudes of  Russian bombing runs. The U.S. has been closely observing Russian tactics, but altitude estimates, provided by trained observers or remote data collection, have not appeared in open sources. Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guards, of which some veterans figure importantly in ISIS, were drilled in bringing down aircraft with massed rifle fire. Perhaps the Russians wish to avoid arousal of a latent capability of small caliber ballistic weapons by flying a little higher than uncontested airspace requires.

The analysis so far suggests that Item 3 of the Loophole List, military necessity, is an important part of Russian thinking.

To be continued shortly.

Gen. Breedlove, Syria Refugee Crisis & Russian Military Technology

Continuing with Gen. Breedlove: “Putin weaponizing migrant crisis to hurt Europe”,  to what extent are Russian atrocities in Syria intentional? The first factor to consider is limitations of Russian military technology. To a reader of humanistic mindset, it may seem needlessly mechanical. But ours is a world of physical limitations, which, incorporated into the psyche, become disguised, their origins lost.

But we should attempt to distinguish as much as possible what proportion of collateral civilian deaths are tactically desired, and what are considered acceptable costs. To  humble ourselves, this is an excerpt written by a survivor of the Dresden bombings between 13 and 15 February 1945:

We saw terrible things: cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and fro, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from.

I cannot forget these terrible details. I can never forget them.

These were the acceptable costs of our fathers.  The extent to which the terrible civilian toll was intentional, versus acceptable collateral, is still argued. American and British bombers dropped dumb bombs, the only ones in common use at the time.   Quoting from Environmental Information for Naval Warfare, where “gravity” equates with “dumb”, Table B-1 offers:
Accuracy of Air-Delivered Weapons Since World War II
  • World War II       Gravity bomb                   1000 meters
  • Korea                      Gravity bomb                      300 meters
  • Vietnam                Gravity bomb                       100 meters
  • Desert Storm     laser guided                                8 meters
  • Desert Storm   Tomahawk  Block II               10 meters
  • Bosia                      Tomahawk Block III                 3 meters

These are the numbers of interest to the West. One category is missing, the stabilized aircraft platform, still used by the Russians in combination with dumb bombs. It was last deployed by the West in Desert Storm. Then, as with the current Russian case, there was a huge stockpile of dumb bombs, a leftover of the Reagan buildup.

The myth of the Norden bombsight, that it could hit a pickle barrel, is exposed in the table: 1000 meters. Anyone who has flown knows that air has bumps. An airframe flexes, vibrates, and twists. The aircraft pitches, yaws, and rolls. Engine output varies. Wind and air density shift constantly.  Requiring a human bombardier as the temporary pilot, with aircraft position subject to the crude navigational methods of the time, the claims of Norden were vitiated.

The stabilized aircraft platform is an evolution of the Norden concept taken to the nth degree. Stabilization does not actually mean that the aircraft is flying straight, level, and at a constant speed. It’s a blanket term, meaning that  that not only is the aircraft controlled by autopilot, but also, every variable is known: the position by GPS, velocity, and all the deltas, computed by the aircraft computer which releases the bomb. Modern control theory, with Kalman filters, makes this possible. It’s the stuff of textbooks.

By western standards, this is very obsolete. An aircraft can’t really be stabilized, and, once the bomb is released, every error in the calculation, to say nothing of the winds and the weather, make the impact point a matter of chance. All dumb bombs miss. Table B-1 gives the expected distance of the miss, “circular-error-probable”, or CEP.  The chance that any one dumb bomb would actually hit the target are, statistically, minuscule.

The U.S. solution to the huge legacy stockpile of dumb bombs is the JDAM, one of the greatest stories of cost effective weapons systems. It’s a cheap (around $50K) kit that bolts onto a dumb bomb, with a choice of GPS, inertial, and laser seekers.  It guides the bomb in flight by moving the vanes on the back of the bomb. The bomb has no rocket, only an intelligent algorithm to adjust the  glide so that the altitude of the bomb happens to be zero at the point of impact. For this miracle, we can thank Rudolf E. Kálmán, whose math is omnipresent in modern industry and gadgetry.

Next, the Russian SVP-24 “super” bomb sight.


Gen. Breedlove: “Putin weaponizing migrant crisis to hurt Europe”

CNBC. This is the claim of Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Given that one mind can contain only so many points of view, it’s good that Breedlove has the kind of mindset that fosters hyper vigilance. This, along with leadership, analytic capability, and capacity to act, are the marks of military excellence and good generalship.

It could be true. If a robotic fly operated by western intelligence, flitting around Putin’s dacha, overhears such conversation, a fact unknown to open sources would be established. But working from open sources, we cannot presuppose the fly. And we must avoid the indulgence of imagined insight, the mind-ware flaw of conspiracy enthusiasts.

Discerning the motives of the adversary, or frenemy, as the current case may be, is not the province of generalship. In these practical times, it may not be anybody’s job. In World War II, axis leaders were psychoanalyzed by members of the intelligence community. The current license holders are the “policy mavens”, who are remarkably bad at it .

Breedlove’s statements of the facts are informed by the best intelligence about ISIS infiltration and general strain on the social and economic fabric of Europe. But even if Russia is responsible for the symptoms Breedlove describes, “weaponization”, which in this instance is synonymous with intent, does not follow. Neither does it follow if we decide that at this moment, Russia is an adversary, not a frenemy. Establishment of cause-and-effect is more difficult than mere association.

If you are an open source maven, this is important. Unless producing intelligence is part of your job description, your insights are not driven by demand, but by opportunity. For the maven, the occasional astonishing insight is the result of a mental network, a composition of facts, opinions, and prior insights, all maintained with exquisite mental hygiene. Every so often, it will gel, but for this to happen, you have to keep your mental house in order.

To professionals, it applies in a different way. The game of nations is not football, where concentration on team spirit, and short-term vilification of the other team gets the adrenaline going. In the perpetual game, the best blood is ice water. Human lives are a terrible thing to tally, but even in Syria, distinctions must be made.

In August 2014, the UNHCR reported 3 million refugees. The Russian intervention began on September 30, 2015. The current UNHCR tally is 4,194,554. Numerous knowledgeable observations attribute to the Russian bombings the characteristics of atrocities. So it can be assumed that Russian bombs made the problem worse. But they did not originate it. It began with the original Assad regime barrel bombs, the tool of the minority Alawite regime with long tradition of control by massacre of the Sunni majority.  And note, if the Sunni majority had the upper hand, it is likely, given the traditions of the area, that they would indulge in the joys of massacre.

This is an opportunity to accumulate intelligence capital. Make your moral judgment, and then clear your mind. Two closely associated questions serve to focus.

Two Questions

  • Breedlove’s assertion, put as a question, is “Are the Russians weaponizing refugee flow?”
  • To what extent are Russian atrocities in Syria intentional?

The short answer to the second question is, entirely. But that answer negates all the complexities of Russian decision making, which, if refined to the probable, are valuable capital for future insights. Russians, including the elite, are not immoral people. Possibly conditioned by history and the present, they make choices currently considered by the West as immoral. Yet most of them, excepting those brutes in the middle and the bottom who “are merely following orders”, must rationalize their actions with their consciences. Unlike the Axis of World War II, the Russians are not so different from us.

The historical record of the not-so-distant past contains loopholes-of-record. Keep the Loophole List handy:

  • Will “it” shorten the War?
  • Will “it” save our lives?
  • Is “it” a military necessity, i.e., to win versus lose?
  • Is “it” necessary to Save the World?
  • Übermensch — It’s the right thing to do so because the leader’s morals are his own creation.

The worst of the above is Übermensch, for whom an atrocity can be a mere matter of convenience. It would be the worst indictment. For Syria, which of the above would come closest to exculpation? There  may be a solution that reads like a waterboarding memo.

Undoubtedly, these blend. If, in comparison to the occasional and unintentional but bloody accidents of Western forces, the Russians are capable of systemic atrocities, the difference between us can be measured in years. In 1919, a British leader wrote (towards the bottom of the page):

I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas.

I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected. 

This is from “(Churchill papers: 16/16) 12 May 1919 War Office.” The word lachrymatory, implying tear gas, has been used to exculpate Winston Churchill from the serious charge. But close to the top of the page, his World War II memo,  list item “3”, contains:

3. I want a cold-blooded calculation made as to how it would pay us to use poison gas, by which I mean principally mustard. We will want to gain more ground in Normandy so as not to be cooped up in a small area. We could probably deliver 20 tons to their 1 and for the sake of the 1 they would bring their bomber aircraft into the area against our superiority, thus paying a heavy toll.

Since many readers are probably partial to Churchill versus current Russian personalities, it’s a good mental exercise to try apportioning the elements of the Loophole List to Churchill’s imagined mental processes. It will help with the Russians.

Harry S. Truman has been treated well by history for the use of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Which elements of the Loophole List apply? It is probably disturbing to compare this to Russian bombing in Syria.  But the comparison is too educational to avoid. The acts then and now are similar in consequence. Moral differentiation relies entirely on motive. Is the difference that the Russian involvement in Syria is purely elective, while World War II was not?

In evolution of moral values as they apply to war, the West and Russia are separated by a maximum of 70 years. Vietnam may reduce it. If “failure to act” is valid, the years become a handful.

In the minds of the Russians, the Loophole List, and these factors combine to answer the two questions:

  • Limitations of Russian military technology.
  • Rules of Engagement and the Laws of War.
  • Geopolitics.
  • Desperation and demographics.

What are the Russians thinking? Construct for maximal coherence. Winnow for the simplicity of Occam’s Razor.  If we can avoid our own prejudices, we can get close.

To be continued shortly.