Category Archives: Military

Rule Five Nuclear Threshold Friday

Russia Matters’ analyst Kevin Ryan thinks Putin may order the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine:

Many Western experts say they take the threat of a Russian nuclear strike in Ukraine seriously but make the mistake of asserting that the odds are low. The result is that many officials view the problem of tactical nuclear weapons as serious but not urgent. Earlier this month, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a Senate hearing that Putin’s weakened conventional force would make him more reliant on “asymmetric options,” including nuclear capabilities, for deterrence, but that it was “very unlikely” that Moscow would use nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine. Speaking at the same hearing, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, also assessed the chances as “unlikely.” 

In fact, the evidence is strong that the problem is urgent and I argue that Putin will use a tactical nuclear weapon in his war in Ukraine. Western leaders need not wonder about Putin’s nuclear-use red lines and how to avoid crossing them while supporting Ukraine, in my view. Putin is not waiting for a misstep by the West. He has been building the conditions for nuclear use in Ukraine since early in the war and is ready to use a nuclear weapon whenever he decides, most likely in response to his faltering military’s inability to escalate as much as he wishes by conventional means. This article will not consider exhaustively what may prompt Putin’s decision, but we should not fool ourselves by thinking we can prevent it. Instead, we should prepare responses for a new world in which the nuclear genie is out of the bottle.

I’m not sure I agree.  Putin is a creature of the Cold War, and while apparatchik he has been and apparatchik he may be, but the use of nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War was a big, shiny red line that nobody wanted to cross.  And I’m skeptical in the extreme that Putin has any notion that once that bottle is uncorked, there will be anything much left in the way of control – and the nuclear-armed world, I remind you readers, includes such wildly unstable regimes as North Korea and, in the near future and thanks largely to Barack Obama, Iran.  Indeed, if Iran manages to build a working nuke, I think they will use it in short order, with Tel Aviv the likely target – and any reservations they may have about that will be off the table if Putin has given them a precedent.

Skeptical as I am, though, I’m reluctant to say that this is an impossible scenario.  If Russian forces are being pushed back, and Putin sees the necessity of a win for his political (or maybe even physical) survival, well, desperate men are known to take desperate actions.  And Putin isn’t the most stable guy on the table.  As for the U.S. response, if any?  Well, Putin isn’t the most dementia-raddled guy on the table, either.  I suspect the response of the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration will be no more than a strongly worded letter.



Speaking of that, Mr. Ryan concludes:

As soon as Russia uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the “fallout” will begin and spread. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians will be dead, suffering or dealing with the effects of the nuclear explosion. Hundreds of millions of Europeans will be bracing for war. But 7 billion others around the globe will go about their business, alarmed to be sure, but physically unaffected by a nuclear explosion in Ukraine. This last outcome of a Russian tactical nuclear strike may ultimately be the most dangerous to the international order. The image that many people have of nuclear arms as civilization-ending weapons will be erased. In its place, people will see these weapons as normal and, although tragic, acceptable in war. Just a “bigger bullet.” It is in this dramatically changed context that the United States will have to decide how to respond.

In this Mr. Ryan is correct.  If Putin pops a nuke, even a low-yield tactical nuke over, say, a big assembly area or a major logistics base, then it may well be Katie-bar-the-door, and the world as we know if irrevocably changed.  I would not care to be in Seoul or Tel Aviv were this to happen.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Best headline of the year so far:  Giant phallus-shaped iceberg floating in Conception Bay surprises residents of Dildo, Canada.  Image from story:

Yes, it’s true, my sense of humor has not changed significantly since I was twelve years old.  On that subject I am not only unapologetic, I embrace it.

Now then…

On To the Links!

There’s a first time for everything.

This, however, is nothing new.

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson weighs in.

I’m pretty sure cartels have control of a lot of the border now.

And everyone on the Left yawns.

To each according to his needs.

Tell him to demand in one hand, shit in the other, and see which hand fills up first.

That would be a mistake.

Dunning-Kruger rides again!

No.  No, he cannot.

We can hope.

Fuck off, slaver!

Don’t mess with Texas.

I love a happy ending.

Or, you could just mind your own damn business and leave me alone.

This Week’s Idiots:

The daffy old Bolshevik from Vermont goes full Commie.

MSNBC’s Zeeshan Aleem is an idiot.

Paul Krugman (Repeat Offender Alert) remains a cheap partisan hack, and an idiot.

Natural Stupidity appointed to oversee Artificial Intelligence.

Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy is an idiot.

Salon’s Amanda Marcotte (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

MSNBC’s Michael Cohen is an idiot.  Sure, let’s just keep borrowing, and borrowing, and borrowing, world without end, amen.  What a dipshit.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

While I was a bit on the young side for most of Cream’s work, having older siblings exposed me to a lot of stuff from the late Sixties I may not have readily picked up on otherwise.  My older brother had several of Cream’s albums, and that combination of Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker produced some neat stuff.

I always thought their 1967 album Disraeli Gears had some good songs.  One of my favorites is the side 1 opening tune Strange Brew.  Hearing this song always takes me back to when I was a kid hanging out with my big brother.  Here, then, is that tune; enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Royal Navy News

I’ve mentioned British historian Mark Felton before.  He runs two excellent and very informative YouTube channels on military history, Mark Felton Productions and War Stories with Mark Felton, and has written several excellent works on military topics; you can find those books on his web site, linked above.

Recently he released a video I found alarming, as it addresses the military status of the United States’ closest ally:  The United Kingdom.  Have a watch:

I knew, as does anyone who is paying attention, that most of the countries of western Europe have been drawing down their military forces since the Cold War ended, and I (and many other folks) have been concerned that they are drawing down too far.  Mark Felton shares that view.

But I was startled to see the actual numbers presented in this video.  From having a Navy that once controlled the sea lanes of the entire planet, a task now taken over by the troubled US Navy, the once-Great Britain now fields what is little more than a coastal-defense frigate navy.   The Royal Air Force and British Army have likewise been badly compromised by cuts in equipment and personnel.

A country, to remain free and independent, should be able at minimum to protect itself from attack.  It’s not clear Britain can do that now, today.   Are they counting on their former colony to come to their aid if attacked?  Well, we are obligated by NATO treaties to do so, but that shouldn’t be construed as giving them license to hamstring their own armed forces.

Britain has gone, in the space of one long lifetime, from a nation that defiantly stood alone against the Third Reich, to a self-absorbed, insufficient country that can’t even protect itself.  That, True Believers, is a tragedy of the first water, and it’s almost certainly not going to improve any time soon.

Rule Five Mexican Drug Cartels Friday

A while back, over at the New English Review, Roger L. Simon (a writer I admire and often, but not always, agree with) wrote about the possibility of turning the U.S. military loose on Mexican drug cartels.  Unsurprisingly, I have some thoughts.  Excerpts, with those thoughts, follow.

If Putin attacks Poland or other NATO members, I reserve the right to change my view, but for now, call me a Ukraine war skeptic. That we are making the world safe for democracy is risible. More likely, it’s a kleptocracy.

Most importantly, no American lives have been threatened by this border conflagration that I can see.

But if you’re worried about American lives, we have a genuine ruthless enemy on our own soil that is murdering our people on a literally unprecedented scale —the Mexican drug cartels.

They do this, as has been widely known for some time, in cahoots with the communist Chinese who send fentanyl—which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than heroin— in raw form to the cartels, which repackage it in colored pills attractive to children or used to lace other, supposedly less dangerous, drugs.

I’m with the author so far.  The border is a festering sore, Mexico is a failed narco-state, and if we leave things as they are it’s just going to get worse.  But then:

At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, former President Donald Trump reiterated that he will shut down the border, presumably finishing the wall, and increase the number of border personnel in various divisions.

New candidate Vivek Ramaswamy went him one better, advocating, at his CPAC speech and elsewhere, that the U.S. military should be called upon to annihilate the cartels.

Ramaswamy is implying that the cartels are basically at war with us, certainly arguable, and should be treated as a military adversary, on our soil and Mexico’s.

I have some questions.  It’s one thing for a civilian politician to advocate for sending American troops into a situation where they will be killing people and breaking things – that is their job, after all – but this instance we are asking them to operate in a foreign country that, almost certainly doesn’t want them there.  There’s a word for that, and the word is “invasion.”

Is Mr. Ramaswamy advocating for an invasion of Mexico?  If so, what’s the exit strategy?  What are the rules of engagement?  How to we identify the bad guys who, one must assume, we are trying not to arrest but to terminate with extreme prejudice?  What will the force structure look like?  Will we send armor and close air support into Mexico? Will we remove the current (failed) government of Mexico and set up something in its place?  Mexico, I would point out, is not Japan; the occupation and reorganization of Japan after World War II largely succeeded because of the culture of respect for and obedience to authority, and because the Emperor supported the reorganization.  Mexico?  Not so much.  Or will we just annex Mexico, give it territorial status, appoint a (military?) governor, and move on from there?

It’s not a matter of military prowess.  The cartels have some modern tech, but what can they do if we identify a compound and send over a couple of B-52s to rain their own particular brand of hell on them?  And I’d love to see a bunch of cartel gun-hands stand up against the 82nd Airborne.  Even as degraded as our military is today, they can handle a bunch of armed thugs – in a straight-up fight, but I doubt the cartels would play it that way.

I’m not terribly surprised to see Lindsey Graham backing the idea – for now.

The reason I’m not convinced by this plan is simple.  Let’s assume Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination next year, and then the Presidency, and is lucky enough to gain a friendly Congress that will authorize all this.  So we invade Mexico – because that’s what we’re talking about – and, halfway through our drive  to the Guatemalan border, halfway through the occupation of Mexico City and the establishment of what will honestly be a puppet government, the balance of power flips and a new Democrat Congress, egged on by President Gavin Newsom, defunds the operation.  Then the President orders the campaign to stop, withdraws the troops, recalls the air support and abandons the mission.

If anyone thinks that can’t happen, I’d ask you to look at what happened in Afghanistan, not all that long ago.  Think hard on what the results of our catastrophic abandonment of Afghanistan were – and picture that on our southern border.

If we were to do anything like this, we’d have to be in it to win it, and that means a long, brutal haul with tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of people dead.  And I have precisely zero faith in the Imperial government to stick it out.

Rule Five Civil War Friday

I’ve talked about the possibility of a second civil war in the United States several times.  But what I haven’t gone into much (aside from taking a look at other people’s guesses) was this:  Who would win?

Here’s the tl;dr version:  In a civil war between Red and Blue, as we understand the terms in American politics today, the Reds would win.  Overwhelmingly, quickly, decisively.  Here’s why.


Look at who is having babies.  It’s not the left.  People in red states have more kids, and while that’s not a one hundred percent correlation to “people on the political right have more kids,” it’s a pretty good broad indicator.  Utah is (perhaps unsurprisingly) the state with the highest number of kids per household, with our own Alaska (a tad more surprising) coming in second.  Texas is fourth; New York, forty-second.

Why is this important?  Because a higher birthrate translates into more young men of military age.  If we are to have an armed conflict, this is the single most important demographic, as these are the people who will do the bulk of the fighting, whether in the regular military or in more-or-less organized militias.  While blue states have higher populations, the red states are more adept at sustaining those populations.  But aside from numbers, a state must have the right attitude for victory, and that’s largely cultural.


Look through the history of humanity, and you won’t see many wars fought over pronouns.  Young men – the demographic described above – are generally more motivated to fight for love of home, hearth, and country than for ‘social justice’ or other nebulous terms.  Denizens of the red states, people on the right of center, are more likely to hold attitudes that would serve well in conflict:  Self-reliance, thrift, courage, mental and physical fortitude.

The rank-and-file military would be key players.  The military leans right, except for some senior officers who are often as much politician as soldier; it’s likely, though, that most ordinary soldiers, especially combat arms soldiers, would side with the right, in many cases even taking their weapons and supplies with them.

Add to that the fact that the left, especially the radical progressive left, tends to badly overestimate the popularity of their policy positions.  The vast majority of the population does not want drag queens wiggling their crotches in front of children, or allowing twelve-year-olds to make decisions to undergo life-changing “gender-affirmation” surgeries and treatments.  The very lunacy of the progressive left will tip a lot of fence-sitters, people who would otherwise support liberal positions like same-sex marriage, into supporting the right if things come to open conflict.  And, finally, two words:  Second Amendment.  The rural/suburban right are far, far more likely to own/use/maintain proficiency with firearms.  Who has the guns can make a huge difference, and in America today, the right has almost all the guns.

Honestly, look at the progressive left’s track record.  Every time they have attempted to run a society, even on a small scale, the result has been abject failure.  Example:  Seattle’s “CHAZ” attempt, where leftist radicals seized control of several blocks of a major city.  Within days, they were out of food; within weeks, the zone had devolved to a dictatorship led by a warlord, backed by a gang of armed thugs.  This is not a formula for the kind of cohesive society that wins wars.


Examine these maps, based on the 2016 election.  The first is Trumpland; the second, the Clinton Archipelago.

The implications of these maps are enormous.

Look at this from a strategic sense.  By and large, the left is concentrated in a few small geographic areas.  For the most part, these areas are heavily urban, and dependent on the outskirts – red country – for electricity, gasoline, food and clothing, indeed most of the requirements of a modern lifestyle.  It would not be terribly difficult for a military force or even a well-organized militia to shut down imports into even a large city.  The blockage wouldn’t have to be leak-proof, but even preventing fifty percent of a major city’s food and energy imports would have that city melting down within a matter of days.

Indeed, in any hypothetical second civil war in the United States, that’s the main advantage the right would have; penned into their cities, deprived of internet, electricity, and food, the big blue cities would very rapidly destroy themselves; all the right would have to do is wait.

Now, I’m not advocating the idea of a civil war.  The likely result of this, regardless of which side wins, would be deaths in the hundreds of thousands at a minimum, more likely in the millions.  It would mean trillions in economic losses because of the infrastructure loss and the collapse of the big cities, which in all honesty remain great centers of economic activity and innovation.  It would engender hatreds and ill will that will last for generations, and may very well damage the Republic beyond repair.  America as we know it would almost certainly be no more.  This is something nobody should want and an outcome that we should take great pains to avoid.

But if it comes down to it – these are the reasons that the right would win, and quickly.  Agitators on the left, some of whom (I’m looking at you, Anderson Cooper) have been calling for “economic civil war” should take this into account.

Rule Five Ukraine Friday

The Hoover Institution’s David Goldman has some interesting things to say about the United States’ strategic interest (or lack thereof) in Ukraine.  This is a couple of weeks old, but it’s still worth reading and taking a little time to digest.  Excerpts, with my comments, follow.

In furtherance of what strategic interests has the United States acted in Ukraine? Is Ukraine’s NATO membership an American raison d’état? Did American strategists really believe that sanctions would shut down Russia’s economy? Did they imagine that the trading patterns of the Asian continent would shift to flow around the sanctions? Did they consider the materiel requirements of a long war that is exhausting American stockpiles? Did they consider what tripwires might elicit the use of nuclear weapons? Or did they sleepwalk into the conflict, as the European powers did in 1914?

I would argue that it’s largely sleepwalking, although not on the part of the European powers – and yes, it’s a bit ironic these days to call any country in Europe a “power” as they can now exercise very little of that.  But in this case it’s mostly sleepwalking on the part of the Biden(‘s handlers) administration, partly through incompetence, partly wanting to preserve the flow of grafter dollars from Ukraine (one of Europe’s most corrupt nations) to the Bidens (one of the United States’ most corrupt political families.)

Regime change in Russia has been on the agenda of some senior Biden Administration officials for a decade. As Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, head of the State Department Eastern European desk, told a Congressional committee on May 6, 2014: “Since 1992, we have provided $20 billion to Russia to support the pursuit of transition to the peaceful, prosperous, democratic state its people deserve.”

Bribes, in other words, to another of Europe’s most corrupt governments.  None of this money went to any sort of “pursuit of transition,” but rather into the Swiss bank accounts of Russian oligarchs.

What Moscow saw was not the America of 1983, which pursued peace through strength, but rather provocation from weakness. It miscalculated on an invasion with just 120,000 troops. If regime change was not Washington’s agenda before February 24, it became so explicitly afterward. On March 26, President Biden declared that Putin “cannot remain in power,” defining America’s goal as regime change. This was a grave miscalculation. The Russian elite has rallied behind the regime, aware that its privilege and position will disappear if the regime falls, and the Russian people stoically follow their orders. December opinion polls show near-record 81% support for the regime.

This shouldn’t be too surprising.  If you look back to, oh, September 12th, 2001, you’d notice that for a while the United States was, briefly, a pretty damn united country.  George W. Bush, a mediocre President at best, was riding pretty tall in the saddle in the days following the attacks.  It didn’t last – but attacks from outside powers, be they real or perceived, tend to make a nation’s citizens rally behind their leadership, for better or worse.

The most likely outcome is a humiliating armistice. Paradoxically, that may redound to the long-term benefit of the United States. North Vietnam did the United States a favor by humiliating us before the Soviet Union did. It destroyed the limited-war illusion that possessed American military planners from the late 1950s onward. Our humiliating withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975 made possible a radical re-thinking of American military strategy, beginning under Defense Secretary Harold Brown in 1977 and continuing through the Reagan Administration. The United States undertook a revolution in defense technology that produced modern avionics and precision weapons, reversing the advantage that Russia enjoyed in conventional weapons in the early 1970s. The Russian military concluded after the 1982 Beqaa Valley air war and the initiation of the Strategic Defense Initiative that it could not keep pace technologically with America.

Utopian illusions about exporting democracy motivated America’s great blunders of the past generation, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria, and ultimately Ukraine. Perhaps we require another national humiliation on the scale of Vietnam to bring us back to the drive for technological superiority that ultimately won the Cold War.

I’m skeptical about that last.  It’s true that the humiliation in Vietnam, even though it was much more a failure of political will than a failure of arms, did result in a reshuffling of our entire military culture that resulted in a peaceful and successful (for us) end to the Cold War.  I was in Uncle Sam’s colors at the end of the Cold War, served with a lot of Vietnam vets, so I can affirm having seen this happen.

But I’m not assured that it will happen again.  The US in the late Eighties and early Nineties was a much different place than it is now, culturally and economically.  The country was in the later years of the Reagan boom, race relations were frankly better than they are now, and the cultural was much less, well, loony.  I’m skeptical that the US has the cohesiveness to make this transition in military culture again, at least not while invertebrates like General Milley are involved.

Read the whole thing.  It’s thought-provoking and presents some great analysis, whether you agree with the conclusions or not.

Animal’s Daily Balloonery Buffoonery News

The Biden(‘s handlers) Administration has come into a lot of well-justified criticism over their handling of the Chinese spy-balloon issue.  That has been beaten to death on any number of news and opinion sites, so I won’t assault that dead horse any more here, other than to say that it’s just another demonstration of incompetence from the Imperial Mansion.

But boy, howdy, has the speculation over these balloons gone crazy.  Take a look (I’m breaking one of my own rules, here) at some of the comments sections on any story about this topic.  You’ll see speculation as to the sources of these objects ranging from aliens to demons, and frankly, a lot of it crosses well into the nutball range.

Just for the record, here’s my take:

These objects are not aliens.  They are not demons, nor are they angels.  They are Chinese surveillance balloons, launched for what could be any number of reasons (including weather; knowing typical weather patterns over a potential target could be important in intelligence-gathering.)  The Chinese are scoping us out for something, likely as not just poking us to see how we’ll respond.

And the response has been, frankly, crap.

No alien civilization advanced enough for interstellar flight would be likely to be interested in us.  Why?  What could we possibly offer?  Earth’s resources?  Earth has nothing that does not exist in vast quantities elsewhere, mostly in places where you don’t have to haul it up a gravity well.  Contact with Earth’s inhabitants?  Compared to a Kardashev 1 or 2 civilization capable of interstellar flight, we’d be of no more interest to them than ants are to us.

As for the other ideas:  I’m not religious and don’t accept the existence of demons or angels, so that’s a non-starter with me – and if I did accept the mythology, I don’t quite see how a supernatural being of that type could be taken out with a human-made Sidewinder missile.

This kind of loony speculation distracts from the real issue:  The Chinese are up to something, and we don’t know what it is, and the current administration is utterly and totally incompetent to deal with it in any meaningful way.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

I got a chuckle out of this:

Meet Ace Biden.

The Original Lying Dogfaced Pony Soldier now has a new title. Ace Biden – fighter pilot legend equal to Pappy Boyington and Chuck Yeager. It’s a well-known fact in the Air Force that a Chinese Spy Balloon is worth five fixed-wing aircraft. God’s truth. It’s a fact, man.

Cartoon at link.

Reminds me of someone else:

Ace Rimmer, from the great BBC comedy series Red Dwarf, was a parody.  We can’t even say that about the President any more.  He’s gone well beyond parody.  Joe Biden always was a legend in his own mind, and now his mind is going.  It’s downright embarrassing at this point.

Well, it’s been an eventful week, lots of ground to cover, so…

On To the Links!

Bigfoot may be bears.

When looking for causes, you always watch for a common theme.

Fuck off, slavers!

The mistake is letting Biden speak in the first place.

Actual headline from Iceland ReviewPolice Called Out to Investigate Sound of Resident Pounding Pork.

How much is that worth in pieces of silver?  Also, how the ever-loving hell does Biden(‘s handlers) have any authority to offer any part of Ukraine to Russia?

Gotta love the guy.

I have no problem with ugly people wearing masks.

A bit of good news.

The earliest fossilized brain.  As opposed to the fossilized brain that sits in the Imperial Mansion.

Auto insurance costs are another inflation marker.  Honestly, this isn’t one that would have occurred to me; as Mrs. Animal and I are in our late fifties and early sixties, respectively, with stainless driving records and living in rural Alaska, our auto insurance cost is pretty damn low.  Two of our kids live in a small town in Iowa, and there’s still isn’t terrible, but our youngest two live in a suburb of Denver and now that I think on it one of them mentioned to her Mom that their car insurance had gone up noticeably.

I love Japan.

Scientists grow human mini-guts inside mice.  Now if they could only grow some in the RNC.

Speaking of:  Ted Cruz on guts, and President Biden(‘s handlers) lack of them.

Don’t mess with Texas.

Dems have lost hope for Heels-Up Harris.  What, just now?

The U.S. military is literally out of ammo.

Someone broke ChatGPT!  It reminds me of the old Star Trek bit where Captain Kirk talked the androids into shutting down.

Talk about henpecked.

This Week’s Idiots:

David Frum is an idiot.

The Hill’s Brent Budowsky is an idiot.

Salon’s Chauncey DeVega is an idiot.

AOC beclowns herself again.

Ilhan Omar likewise beclowns herself.

Paul Krugman (Repeat Offender Alert) remains a cheap partisan hack, and an idiot.

USAToday’s Anna Kaufman is an idiot.

The New Yorker’s Amy Sorkin is an idiot.

MSNBC’s Hayes Brown (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

The New Yorker’s Amy Sorkin is an idiot.

Well, the White House is staffed with morons, so…

Robert Reich (Repeat Offender Alert) remains a sawed-off little runt, and an idiot.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

From 1972 to 1979 the Grateful Dead counted among their number Donna Jean Godchaux, their only female member.  Reviews of her singing voice when in support of the guys in the band were mixed, but she had a wonderful voice on her own.

The best example of her work I can find was on the 1977 album Terrapin Station, in which she had the lead vocals role in the great song Sunrise.

But hey, don’t take my word for it – listen for yourself.  Enjoy!

Rule Five Japan Defense Friday

Japan (as we’ve discussed before) is continuing to dial its military in, and unsurprisingly, that’s provoking some responses around eastern Asia.  Air Force Intel officer Ryan Ashley has some thoughts.  Excerpts, with my comments, follow.

Japan’s new defense vision is laid out in three strategic documents: a National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy (formerly known as the National Defense Program Guidelines), and the Defense Buildup Program (formerly known as the Medium-Term Defense Program). In conjunction, the documents commit Japan to gradually increase its defense spending to meet 2 percent of gross domestic product, mirroring the NATO target for defense spending. Within that vision would come 5-year investments of $7 billion in cyber warfare, $7 billion in space, and $6 billion towards a combined sixth-generation fighter aircraft development program with the United Kingdom and Italy, known as “Tempest.”

The highest profile investments in the documents are those for “counterstrike” or “counter-attack” capabilities, referring to the acquisition of long-range missiles capable of hitting ships or ground-based missiles from potentially 1,500–3,000 kilometers away. This would be a significant upgrade from Japan’s current supply of missiles, which are limited to a range of a few hundred kilometers and are predominantly designed for short-range defense. The documents correctly identify that Tokyo’s current missile arsenal and questions about the legality of so-called “left-of-launch” (striking an adversary’s missile before it can be launched itself) strikes have created gaps in Japanese deterrence.

Now consider the implications of this missile-capacity upgrade.  Japan will now have not only a new sixth-generation fighter that may well be on a par with the F-22 and F-35, but they will have a new capability to carry out missile attacks on their neighbors – like, say, North Korea.  They have, correctly, identified a gap in their defense structure, and now they mean to fill that gap.

Diplomatically, the documents pull few punches, declaring that “Japan is finding itself in the midst of the most severe and complex security environment since the end of [World War II].” The NSS unequivocally calls China “the greatest strategic challenge” facing Japan, labels North Korea “an even more grave and imminent threat to Japan’s national security than ever before,” and reiterates Tokyo’s strong stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Indeed, few countries face a harsher strategic environment than Japan, in close proximity to China, North Korea, and Russia, and perceived as a threat or adversary by the governments of all three. The new strategic documents reinforce what Japanese security experts have long argued: Tokyo is on the front lines of conflict with two adversarial nations, and at a key vulnerable flank for another.

In other words, Japan is sitting out there alone, and they are concerned with the increasing instability of some of their neighbors – like, say, North Korea.  Here’s the onion:

Observers in the United States should draw three conclusions from this new NSS. First, Japan is indeed committing to its most meaningful boost in defense capabilities since the end of World War II. The three strategic documents identify and attempt to address deterrence gaps that have long plagued Japanese security. Until recently, Tokyo proved unwilling to fill these gaps themselves, preferring to depend on the United States as its security guarantor. For several reasons, including the fear of American disengagement and an increasingly harsh strategic environment, the era of dependence on the United States appears to be over. The Japanese government still wholeheartedly supports its alliance with the United States, yet is simultaneously seeking to couple that relationship with the development of indigenous capabilities.

In other words, Tokyo no longer feels that the USA has their backs, for the first time since the post-WW2 treaty structure went into place.

It’s hard to fault Japan on this estimation.  While the Trump Administration had very good relationships with then-Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, the subsequent Biden(‘s handlers) Administration has been marked with incompetence and indecisiveness.  Add that to the increasing tendency towards nationalism in the USA, and you can see how Tokyo may be concerned that the USA no longer has Japan’s back in the event of a conflict.

But, to my thinking, there’s a much simpler reason for Japan to continue to dial their military in, and that is the fact that a nation should not have to  rely on any other nation for their own defense.  Japan is  no exception, and it’s rapidly becoming apparent to the Japanese that they shouldn’t rely on the USA any longer.  Also, if you read the referenced documents, there’s no indication that Japan is returning to the bad old days of imperialistic ambitions; they are remembering their martial traditions but their aim is still defense and vigorous response, not first-strike.

It should come as no surprise that I’m glad to see the Japanese taking more responsibility for their own defense.  Mrs. Animal and I have spent a fair amount of time in the Land of the Rising Sun; we’re very fond of Japan, and hope to see it remain the unique place it is now.

Animal’s Daily Dying Giant News

I’ve posted videos from Peter Zeihan before (ever noticed how many brilliant and impressive people come from Iowa?) and always find them interesting.  Here is one on the current state of affairs in Russia, both from an economic standpoint and with regards to the war with Ukraine.  Give it a watch:

Thumbnail:  The outlook for Russia isn’t good.  And by “not good” I mean, “potentially catastrophic,” if you take Peter Zeihan’s view.

Now then; Peter Zeihan touches on this, and of course you should watch the entire video to get his take on this, but here’s my concern:  What happens when a dying former superpower, one that has a big stockpile of nuclear weapons, approaches collapse?  What happens when the leaders of that country approach desperation?

There are a number of possibilities, and most of them are bad.

But here’s the upshot:  While it was inconceivable only a few short years ago, it’s beginning to look like the collapse of Russia as a nation and as a culture may be beginning.  Now it’s possible that some new Russian nation may arise from the ashes, but I’m wondering about the likelihood of any such resurgence; the whole thing will depend on how ugly and destructive the collapse is.

It also depends on demographics.  As the saying goes, the future belongs to those who show up for it, and the Russians seem to have opted out.  But then, most of Europe and big swaths of Asia (China and Japan, among  them) seem to be doing the same.

Either way, the next couple of decades are going to be very, very interesting.