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How The Empire Might Strike Back

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

All those focusing on the West's lack of leverage are forgetting that the Empire retains multiple way of striking back.

Many observers have focused on the relative paucity of the West's diplomatic and military options in Ukraine. Others focus on Russia's sources of leverage: cutting off natural gas to western Ukraine and Europe and/or dumping its reserves of U.S. dollars: Putin Adviser Urges Dumping US Bonds In Reaction to Sanctions.

That applying such leverage could backfire on Russia receives less coverage. Does anyone doubt the Federal Reserve's ability to print $200 billion to buy the entire Russian holdings of Treasuries? What's another $200 billion on top of $4 trillion?

Recall that Russia holds those Treasuries/U.S. dollars as reserves for its own benefit. Dumping the dollars simply creates the need for an immediate replacement, especially as the ruble craters.

All those focusing on the West's lack of leverage are forgetting that the Empire retains multiple way of striking back. For example, bringing the costs of misadventure home to Russia's politically influential 1/10th of 1%.

A knowledgeable correspondent submitted these observations:

1. After Edward Snowden the entire "intelligence community" is looking for major payback. Here is a heavy weight added to Ukraine's side of the scales. This is leading edge satellite and electronic intelligence, plus a detailed order of battle on actual Russian forces available and their locations. NATO can also provide access to advanced command and control facilities and advanced battle planning cells. In addition to numbers and morale the Ukraine will be able to mass their forces at the right spots and ignore unthreatened areas.

2. Are you a heavy hitter 0.1%'er New Russian supporting Vladimir Putin? Your entire financial and personal history could soon appear on internet social media, too. In Russian.

US and British agencies have collected many millions of dirty selfies almost by accident. Imagine what they've collected on purpose against major intelligence targets. For instance, every member of the Russian Duma, the cabinet and all their top staffers.

3. Precision guided financial and visa sanctions applied throughout the entire western world. This is not the USSR in 1979 anymore. The entire upper strata of Russia's elite, including all of Putin's United Russia Party, are now extremely international. They and their extended families travel frequently to all the world class watering holes to sun, dine and shop. They have offshore bank accounts and credit cards (as witnessed in Cyprus). They own vacation homes in Spain, Miami, Italy, the Greek Aegean Islands et al. Their children by the tens of thousands attend western universities on student visas. They have massive investments in stock and real estate throughout the entire 'west'.

As a result, they are personally vulnerable to sanctions pressure in a way the Soviet nomenklatura never was. This Ukrainian adventure could carry uniquely painful and personal high price tags.

The media would not be alerted; the targets will simply start getting messages like this:

"Your passport and visa are invalid for entry. Please follow this officer..."
"I'm sorry ma'am, your credit card was declined."
"Invalid PIN number."
"User ID & Password are invalid. Please reenter correct user ID and password".

Massive materialism and corruption is the basis of Putin's elite domestic support. Once he can't deliver the goodies anymore they'll drop him.

The EU previewed this class of soft weapon when it began compiling blacklists of Ukrainian officials deemed responsible for the shootings on the Maidan in late February.

Consider the massive personal financial corruption on Yanukovych's part that was subsequently exposed. It seems likely the tailored sanctions threat played a major role in disaffecting his key political lieutenants and allies. That band of thieves also all had significant offshore assets at stake.

Yanukovych's government was a scale model of Putin's own political patronage and government system. It is more robust but has many of the same weaknesses.

Thank you, A.C. Discussions of modern warfare often revolve around asymmetric warfare in which the side with few conventional assets is able to leverage unconventional assets against a conventionally superior force. There are all sorts of asymmetric advantages that can be pressed home, and those targeting the wealthy will not be mentioned in speeches.

This is not to suggest this kind of asymmetric leverage is being applied or will be applied or should be applied; I am simply pointing out that it could be applied, and with very little fanfare or effort.

Others have referenced the same capabilities: U.S. has options for Russia’s declaration of war on Ukraine.


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Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:12 | 4512597 fightthepower
fightthepower's picture

What a silly article!  Who gives a crap about any of that when you face the threat of the USA having 1st strike nuclear capability because they have missle defense on your borders. 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:17 | 4512617 Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

I was giving it a Google, but had no luck.  It seems to me that the DOD has been trying to get missile defense systems into that area for a few decades, no?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:33 | 4512706 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

seems to me, that if we plan to get asymmetric over there, perhaps some american computer whizzes need to get asymmetric here at home



Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:42 | 4512754 Aaaarghh
Aaaarghh's picture

WTF! OFF TOPIC HERE...I am so glad i am in the uk...

The israelis are going to share their desalination tech with california bods to ease drought......lets hope the tech removes radioisotopes huh, most of the food in the us will end up contaminated surley. Anyone know more about this?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:48 | 4512761 Isotope
Isotope's picture

Not likely. Economies are too fragile and connected today.

Oligarchs can't buy anything in London and luxury vacation spots around the world? Unfortunate that your city or island has an instant depression.

Rich Russians can't purchase, lease, or even buy a ride on a business jet? Sorry about all those aircraft your company had to park in the desert to rot away.

Tens of thousands of Russian kids can't attend college in the US? Too bad about that gaping hole in your school's budget for lack of those "cash on the barrelhead" students.

Unintended consequences are a bitch. But that's always the last thing the elite in the US government thinks about. Like the song writer said, "It's so easy to hurt others when you can't feel pain."

Edit: Do you think the FSB has no compromising pictures or information on US politicians? They practically invented that game.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:54 | 4512798 SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

Rumer has it that Snowden has names and addresses, personal phone numbers of Senators, Congresspersons, ATF/FBI/CIA/IRS, etc.

I am guessing the higher ups value their privacy more than the rest of us, the mundanes.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:43 | 4513035 Manthong
Manthong's picture

The Chinese market in the west is shrinking thanks to austerity, contracting consumerism and what’s left of the middle class furiously delevering.

The Chinese can build a 30 story hotel in two weeks.

How long do you think it will take them to install a half dozen pipelines headed east/southeast?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:37 | 4512995 SilverRhino
SilverRhino's picture

I can just imagine what the FSB has collected on Obama, ketchup boy and Idio-Biden.

Hillary would be easy to discredit.  Just pull up her KGB file and print it. 



Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:50 | 4512785 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

Good info, but I am not so sure about being glad to be in the UK. I would be much happier to be living with an undiscovered indigent tribe in the Amazon.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:12 | 4512870 Aaaarghh
Aaaarghh's picture

totally with you there, looking to emigrate to rural nz asap!!!! UK is a dump-hole, its just further away from water borne radionuclides than calif.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:25 | 4512663 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

Yes, and Ukraine has a long border with Russia.  And Ukraine is not a member of NATO.


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:47 | 4512776 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

I am pretty sure that Ukraine's nato membershit would last about 3 days at most.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:56 | 4512801 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

I say we find out.  Recognize Russian conquest of Crimea and new government of Ukraine, and admit remainder of Ukraine to NATO.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 22:49 | 4515090 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Let's hold off on that for a while until they shake out their government - see if they are on the level or just the next wave of criminals. 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:27 | 4512675 BorisTheBlade
BorisTheBlade's picture

Now we are talking, ban Russian oligarchs from Western financial system and physical entrance into land of the free. Oh wait, what is considered money laundering and outright theft in so many emerging economies is finally recognised as such by the Imperial administration? I would be mildly impressed if that indeed happenned, which would spell end of dollar funeling back and forth with emerging economies and perhaps we would finally found out how much of the dollar reserve status is based upon money laundering schemes.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:44 | 4512757 Herd Redirectio...
Herd Redirection Committee's picture

The idea that Western banks don't want the oil money from Russian oligarchs, hahahahahahhhhhaahaaa....

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:48 | 4512725 thunderchief
thunderchief's picture

I don't think the the west will be able to confiscate individual peoples money, unless like Cyprus, which effects all account holders.

To target Russians abroad would be like turning every passport holder into an enemy, very, very, very fascist.

Hold on, that kind of sounds like what the USA is gunning for.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:09 | 4512849 ChanceIs
ChanceIs's picture

We know what happened when the Cypriots (should I say IMF?) tried to bail in the Russian oligarchs.  The Russians didn't lose.  They took some quid pro quo, but didn't loose.  Probably came out ahead.

Now will you get some quid pro quo when Obama myRAs your IRA?  Don't hold your breath.

Hmmmm.  Come to think about it, Obama probably started myRA as a backup if his regime change in Ukraine failed (as it has) and he needed something other than the Fed to buy Putin's soon to be dumped bonds.

One of CHS's worst articles BTW.  This is stocks and flows.  Yes the Fed has $4 trillion in the pantry so what if it is required to put Putin's $200 billion in there to boot.  What about the flows?  As in...what if mom and pop think it is a good idea to run for the exit and the flow turns from a stream into a torrent?  Didn't George Soros do something like that to the British pound way back when?  He has no scruples about doing that to the US.  And then there are the algos.  Never discount the algos.

Memo to Charles Hugh Smith:  Chuck.  I know that you are a bright guy.  I read your stuff all the time.  But....unless you have been asleep, you would have noticed how much gold Russia has been buying.  You make the point that Russia has to turn that $200 billion into some other sort of reserve. if they already have, and it be golden?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:50 | 4512783 bsdetector
bsdetector's picture

Hold on a moment fightthepower, are you suggesting the events in Crimea could cause a nuclear war? That suggestion is silly. If any government official in the US, the EU or any other sovereign makes such a suggestion they should be tarred, feathered and then ostracized. 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:58 | 4512813 Xploregon
Xploregon's picture

To say nothing about the potential impact of shorting borscht.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:00 | 4512820 Levadiakos
Levadiakos's picture

How 'bout we fire Elijah Cummings out of a cannon

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:24 | 4512924 Grosvenor Pkwy
Grosvenor Pkwy's picture

Truly a silly article! Just consider one aspect:

"US and British agencies have collected many millions of dirty selfies almost by accident. Imagine what they've collected on purpose against major intelligence targets. For instance, every member of the Russian Duma, the cabinet and all their top staffers."

These kind of tactics may work against the average American lower-middle-class husband, but are ridiculous when applied to upper-class foreigners.

First of all, porn is for chumps with no money, so forget that. These guys probably have a wife, a mistress, and a few servant girls taking care of their needs, and they're not going to get blackmailed over something so inconsequential. The wife knows everything, the mistress eats dinner with the family, and the servants help the wife with shopping and cleaning.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:52 | 4513075 DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

The US missle defence on the borders won't stop the sub-launcehed missles. Four nukes detonated in the atmosphere on the corners of the country and one for each of the major naval bases and the only decision for Obama to make before the masses start to starve is whether to strike back and bring the whole world to ruin. Putin's big question before a first strike would be about whether the Kenyan guy would bring the pillars of the temple down around himself for the sake of a crippled country he secretly despises. The infrastructure of the US is very vulnerable to an EMP first strike and two months after the grid and every electronic device (banks, communications, cars and trucks, among others) Americans will be more concerned about where their next meal is coming from than who is top dog in the Ukraine. I haven't found any reliable estimates on how much food is stocked in the cities but I've heard it's about a month's supply.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 23:08 | 4515164 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

The main concern would be truck and tractors...  no food.  Even if you have stockpiled to last a few weeks or months there will be no groceries the next year.  No refigeration either.  Medicines would run out fast, especially those that need to be kept cold.  Anyone relying on medication to stay alive would die.  Anyone relying on medication to keep them from being raving dangerous lunatics would become raving dangerous lunatics.  Addicts would have a bad trip.  Law and order would become a very local issue fast.  Justice would probably be inconsistent from locality to locality, if at all.  Fuel would be a problem for northern cities.  Southern cities would swelter without AC.  Just how many people died in Paris during heatwaves the past decade due to power outages and no AC?  Nuke plants, munitions factories and stores, and borders would be left unguarded.  Countries with large armies (Russia, China, and pals) would intervene in the name of humanitarianism but it would just be someone else building an empire.

At least we aren't French, which is nice.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:19 | 4513194 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

putting "Czar Bomba" on the table actually isn't a bad idea...UNFORTUNATELY WE HAVE SPETSNASZ INSTEAD.

In other words I take one look at the Russian General (was his name Zhukov?) securing the Games and then conducting the massive Russian military excercises and voila! "i have an Army of One"...and he simply flies off to Crimea and secures the bases HIMSELF....PERSONALLY. "No problema" and NO MEDIA COVERAGE.

Now we have "problema" however.
We're BEGINNING this conflict with "assymetrical warfare."

Now we send in Marshall Zhukov "to clean up the mess"?
This man is a General...he doesn't just "go in."
This man has an entire STAFF gathered around him "feeding him information" and that is (if we go by the book here) "normally" how these things "go Forward."

That doesn't look like the case this time and "KGB Colonel Putin" will order his "Big Guns" for a major attack.

This is more than just "escalating quickly" but is a "moving target" as well.
Why a situation that was all hunky-dorry literally just a few weeks ago (hello...Olympics anyone?) has become "this" is...well, quite stunning actually.

There is one way to find out if President Putin really is crazy or not...and that's to race to Kiev and start providing for a defense of the City "asymmetrically at first" and quite possibly "in a highly formalized and ritualized way" thereafter.
Certainly the PEOPLE of Kiev are preparing said defense.
And "we just lit the candles" to honor their dead in an "emotional ceremony."

"You have orders" seems pretty obvious.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:26 | 4512598 IridiumRebel
IridiumRebel's picture

"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

-Leia to Grand Moff Willhuff Tarkin

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:37 | 4512703 ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

Tarkin - "Allow me to demonstrate the full power of this space station as I ... CHANGE ALL YOUR REBEL CREDIT CARD PIN CODES!!  HA HAAA!!"

I'm sure that breeders of miniature giraffes all over the gilded halls of Oligarchic Russia are quaking in their velvet slippers as we speak.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 17:04 | 4513471 teslaberry
teslaberry's picture

say what you will but that miniature giraffe was one of the most excellent displays of a genius idea human beings have been actively pursuing for thousands of years: breeding animals smaller to domesticate them. 


ostriches, catlle, goats , etc...many an excellent small breed has been created, let alone, dwarf breeds , let alone pets---how many mini dogs and mini cats are out there"?


now a mini giraff. a mini elephant, a mini ---whale. 


can you imagine breeding a dwarf sperm already not much bigger than a donkey---- to a smaller size to fit in your fish tank?

never say never! if i were a russian oligarch, i'd have mini giraffes AND mini whales.


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 19:21 | 4514052 caustixoid
caustixoid's picture

speaking of tiny giraffes:

Rich Russian Guy - "Opulence, I has it"

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:14 | 4512602 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

"What's another $200 billion on top of $4 trillion?" - Full faith and credit, that's what.  i. e. NO faith, NO credit motherfucker.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:23 | 4512649 Vampyroteuthis ...
Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

The Fed might want interest rates to rise on Treasuries. There really is no excuse to buy more when real rates are negative.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:33 | 4512705 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

It was that way prior to starting the direct monetization of 85 billion per month.  honestly I was surprised they kept buying then.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:44 | 4512759 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

"honestly I was surprised they kept buying then."

You and me both. The fed is crucifying a major voting block, as in the 55 yrs and up age group, for the benefit of the financial sector scum. I was equally surprised that AARP remained silent as they did so. I contacted the AARP, after they attempted to recruit me into thier useless org, about that topic and got a spew of nonsense about how that was not an important issue for retirees. LOL!!! Another non-profit on the .gov teat I guess. Readers should keep this in mind when they get that never ending flow of AARP spam.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:51 | 4512790 BigJim
BigJim's picture

 Recall that Russia holds those Treasuries/U.S. dollars as reserves for its own benefit. Dumping the dollars simply creates the need for an immediate replacement, especially as the ruble craters.

Janet: Hello? Who's this?

Vlad: It's me! Vlad!

Janet: Vlad? Oh, Vlad! Er... how are you, Vlad?

Vlad: I'm very well, thank you. More to the point... how are you, now that we sold $200B of treasuries and bought physical gold with it?

Janet: I think the main door will keep the zombie hordes out before we run out of hollowpoints. Thank goodness for the DHS!

Vlad: Gold, bitchez! 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:56 | 4512803 SDShack
SDShack's picture

The Fed now controls about 1/3 of the bond market, and has effectively kept ZIRP in place for 5+ years, with no real end in sight. The Fed has learned from their mistakes, especially the ECB and the EU, where the bond vigilantez caused all sorts of issues and were the only real threat to banker power. The only thing that makes sense is to continue to buy bonds at ZIRP to get to the 51% threshold. The bond vigilantez become powerless at that point. They can dump treasuries all they want, and the Fed will just buy them, or have their proxy's buy them... like Belgium. Will it work? Hell, I don't know. History has always shown that debt based fiat always fails eventually, so history is against them. But if you put yourself in the mind of a sociopath banker, when winning is all that matters, you come up with some crazy ass ideas. Buying all bonds is one of them that fits the mindset of a sociopath. Especially when you can do it at ZIRP, using printed fiat. That's why I keep saying, in their twisted mind, the Ponzi becomes perpetual in this environment. It's the only thing that makes sense because debt is the only thing they live for. It's been their MO for as long as there have been bankers. They will never reduce their balance sheet. They can only expand it to keep pace with the ever expanding debt. They do it, because they don't know anything else.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:38 | 4512728 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

"The Fed might want interest rates to rise on Treasuries."

Say what? What the hell are you smoking, and where can I get some?


"There really is no excuse to buy more when real rates are negative."

Ummmmmmm...........monetizing the national debt? Duh.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:41 | 4512750 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Yes, nothing more than taking title to real assets in exchange for keeping an insolvent government running a bit longer.  Not good.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:38 | 4512727 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Correct. +1.
As I've said numerous times in recent days: "Dumping" USTs and Bonds, without a significant sell-off already in process, is for financial morons.

But causing/starting such a trend, by demanding payment in Gold (as some ZHers have suggested), is another matter. It's pure genius and it's ballsy.

When the EU pays for black gold with yellow gold (the Russians already export the White gold, aka Platinum), then "Faith" in fiat Euros and Dollars gets rather shaky.

Game on, Bitchez!

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:18 | 4512609 Tracerfan
Tracerfan's picture

Someone hasn't read the history of World War II.  Russia sees this as an existential issue.

Putin doesn't give a crap about this stuff, and he has the full support of the security services and armed forces. 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:19 | 4512628 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

That too. The russians understand poverty and hard work.  They would be quite prepared to survive (and have been surviving just fine) in the absence of many things.  Having all the paper bullshit in the world blow-up will be no big deal to these people.  for all those unfunded liabilities in the west, not so much.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:33 | 4512701 Bioscale
Bioscale's picture

Not only russians, the former Ostblock gives more sympathy to Russia than USA, France or UK. Officially the central and eastern europe belongs to NATO, the political talking heads have no choice, but the regular people do not like that much. Several generations have grown up with comunist propaganda everywhere and now they see it comming from the West..

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:36 | 4512719 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Yes, most 'mericans have no long term memory or thinking (by design).  The Russians and Chinese most certainly do.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:27 | 4512670 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

If Putin is trying to increase Russia's security, poking a stick in the eye of the West seems like a backwards way of doing it.  It might provoke a response that makes Russia less secure.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:32 | 4512699 Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

I do seem to remember that the one that poked this bear first was teh US Government at their "support" of protestors in Kiev.  Then again, maybe that whole telephone conversation was simply edited and fake...

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:45 | 4512766 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

Supporting, even "supporting", protesters in Kiev is a far cry from invading a country.  Russia would not have been in any particular danger from a "pro-Western" government in Kiev.  The economics are too compelling for Ukraine.  Now, however, the West is galvanizing, after a fashion, to "contain" Russia.  That has happened once before, with the end result being a reduction in Russian status.  I think this is ultimately counterproductive for Putin.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:02 | 4512833 the phantom
the phantom's picture

God damn, you moron, God damn.--- Rustin Cole, True Detective

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:22 | 4513206 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

If only you would be clearer and more emphatic in your posts, I could understand you better.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:48 | 4513052 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

And how many countries has the US invaded?


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:19 | 4513196 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

Yes, the US is hypocritical, but that does not change the security calculation.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:37 | 4513304 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

And why did Russia make its move?

Was it because of someone "supporting" protesters in Ukraine, as has been done in dozens of other countries?

 The fucking problem is the US.


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 23:58 | 4515366 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

That's stupid like blaming Jews.  It's the .01% first.  The sheep second.  Like basketball, you don't fire the team, you fire the coach. 

Kill every American and you will have missed the target and your problems will persist.  If you mean to address the problem then address it.  Their numbers are so few that their only security is by deception.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:05 | 4513111 SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

Someone hasn't read the history of World War II.  Russia sees this as an existential issue.

+1, Tracerfan.  When this thing started I plainly stated "Russia will not give up Sevastopol.  Period."  Russians have been fighting foreigners / neighbors in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov for a couple of centuries.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:24 | 4512630 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Having been profiled at the US airports and borders, I say "Hell Yes"  profile the shit out of those "Orange Haired" Oligarch families....

Give them a taste of some good old 'Merican Freedom....  Just like we get....


And while yur at it, why not point some of those "Freedoms" at those "Burka wearing" Saudi's as well.

Smiles, everyone, "Freedom for everyone".

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:20 | 4512633 NaiLib
NaiLib's picture

Russia has no National debt to collect upon.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:23 | 4513214 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

one look at the USA says "financing a unprovoked aggression isn't cost free either."

Ummm..."calling General David Petraeus."

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:22 | 4512642 Racer
Racer's picture

Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil's Dictionary (1842-1913):

'War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.'

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:08 | 4512858 ThirdWorldDude
ThirdWorldDude's picture

"Russia is that place where western imperialism goes to die."

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 00:03 | 4515380 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

"Predictions are difficult. Especially about the future." - Yogi Berra

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:22 | 4512645 Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

Loan exposure of Western banks to Russia is 400 bln Dollar. 

Russia already said: won't service that debt in case of sanctions.

Good luck!

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:55 | 4512741 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Honestly, I thought it would be higher, that isn't squat in the terms of the big picture.  more importantly, to what extent are they bypassing the dollar already in terms of economic output?  The vast ajority of the world's debt is bogus and will be defaulted on, we all know that.  The question is always one of current trade accounts and what you have to offer the world.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 18:03 | 4513734 Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

Lehman liabilies were in the same range and there were only rumors.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:23 | 4512647 dannyboy
dannyboy's picture

This article is so milk toast its almost unbelievable, they are gonna release selfies and block them from going on holiday to south of  france. big woop 1/10 article.


Try staging bombings / false flags inside Russia as the Saudis have warned with chechyn rebels. Try shutting down the MICEX and the other stock markets in russia with both their techno web shut down systems alongside other things like EMP and shutting down electric grids. Try weather weapons and tectonic weapons that now exist, that last time there was a drought russia accused the US of using them which I don't think the US did however this time they may actually use things like HAARP if Putin truely has gone rogue. There is a whole range of things they can do at this stage: False flags, activating terror cells, they can put agriculture halts on russian imports and cause food shortages.

People underestimate the bankers if they think they are just gonna let Putin steamroll them again like Syria if he truely has gone rogue.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:26 | 4512665 Bonapartist
Bonapartist's picture

 Bitcoin and weather manipulation are neck-and-neck for the dumbest ideas on ZH.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:28 | 4512678 dannyboy
dannyboy's picture

This isn't CNN, weather weapons have existed since the Vietnam war. Also if you think cheap tactics like comparison association is going to work on an audience like zerohedge you are sorely mistaken.

Please take your horse shit back to huffington post where retards might fall for your shit.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:38 | 4512729 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

thanks for saving me the trouble

bonapartist, 1 week 5 days

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:54 | 4512799 Bonapartist
Bonapartist's picture

If you haven't been kicked off of ZH at least once you must be doing something wrong.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:01 | 4512806 Bonapartist
Bonapartist's picture

"weather weapons" - what a fucking dumbass- are they fired from the Death Star? sight specific example of man's influence over the weather Mr Gore. I can't believe all of the fucking morons that upvoted your bullshit.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:42 | 4513027 SilverRhino
SilverRhino's picture

Fuck off you cum guzzling ass napkin n00b.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 18:33 | 4513874 Pullmyfinger
Pullmyfinger's picture

Here's your specific example. After that, try to read a book or two before posting again.

Weather As A Force Multiplier: Owning The Weather In 2025 (1996)

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 18:37 | 4513884 Pullmyfinger
Pullmyfinger's picture

United States Patent 4,686,605
Eastlund August 11, 1987
Method and apparatus for altering a region in the earth's atmosphere, ionosphere, and/or magnetosphere

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 00:07 | 4515399 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

+1 for the bitcoin chop.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 00:06 | 4515397 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

It sure was nice in Bejing for the Olympics wasn't it?  Weather can be manipulated.  That which can be manipulated can be thrown at the enemy.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:52 | 4512788 angel_of_joy
angel_of_joy's picture

Every one of your "threats" can happen across the ocean, too. Ask yourself who would suffer more ?

Besides, you have no clue what HAARP is, or what it does...

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:16 | 4512896 Xploregon
Xploregon's picture

What's up with Vlad canceling orders for 450k tons of soy beans I heard about today? False flag food shortage or ?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:23 | 4512650 icanhasbailout
icanhasbailout's picture

So the top option is to do exactly what the spy agencies said they weren't doing - using the information they collect for blackmail.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:35 | 4512711 Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

I can't wait to hear the Snowden revelation that all Droids and iPhones have a notification feature for when porn is accessed on the devices.  The alert opens up both sides of the camera and begins recording in earnest.  Gotta get everyone's Ohhhh face for future posterity. 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:10 | 4512871 RockRiver
RockRiver's picture

I'd like to know what Snowden had to give for Russian safe haven.....

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 17:02 | 4513460 Real Estate Geek
Real Estate Geek's picture

The only reason that Hero Snowden ended up in Russia is because the US was dumb enough to turn off his passport while he was passing through.

Do try to keep up.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 00:10 | 4515403 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

He was free...

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 20:04 | 4513707 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

CHS's buddies aren't too bright - war by "selfie". Two can play the asymmetric escalation game. The problem is that while it may start out with something as mundane as the Lindsey Graham videos, it is quite possible it could escalate to a William Francis Buckley redux rather quickly. If you ever want to force a US neo-con to admit torture works- just corner Dick Armitage and call his buddy a cowardly traitor for those lives he sold out.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:24 | 4512654 Bonapartist
Bonapartist's picture

Snowden is the CIA's way of fucking the NSA. I doubt an old KGB hack like Putin fell for it.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:27 | 4512656 PhilofOz
PhilofOz's picture


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:24 | 4512659 My Days Are Get...
My Days Are Getting Fewer's picture

CS is getting paid to make this and last post about the Ukraine.  Hillary could have written this propaganda piece.


CS - you are losing credibilty for neutrality.  A couple of more posts like the last two, and I won't bother reading your stuff anymore - and, I have read most everything you have written in the past three years.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 00:12 | 4515417 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Erm, it is just a opinion on some of the west's non-violent options.  Which item(s) was factually wrong?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:27 | 4512672 Canucklehead
Canucklehead's picture

Look you dumb schmuck. Everyone knows how the game is played once the puck is dumped into the corner...

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:29 | 4512677 rockraider3
rockraider3's picture

I don't dispute that Russia dumping $200 billion of US Treasuries is a mere blimp tha the Fed could monetize without much fanfare.  It's 2-3 months of QE, not a big deal.  And as a sole domino, not enough to cause people to lose faith in the dollar, as some might suggest.

But $200 billion of freed up capital reserves allows the Russians to buy a lot of physical gold, which is better to have in reserve than dollars.  Plus, can you imagine the price of gold, if that becomes public?  And they can hold Yuan or whatever currencies they wish to trade in.  As we all know, the BRICs have been entering their own bi-lateral trade agreements and conducting trade in their own currencies. 

Anyway, I think this woudl be a pretty big deal, for reasons other than just the dumping of US Treasuries.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:29 | 4512681 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

Well, this article destroys any semblance of impartiality by Charles Hugh-Smith. I mean, he has been sounding like a broken record for some time now with his constant "the end is nigh, run, don't walk, to my bull crap website and learn how to save yourself and your family, or you are certainly doomed". But this tripe-fest of western government satisfying propoganda is a new low. I guess his website driven revenue is sucking butt so severely that he needs the NSA subsidies.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:55 | 4512804 angel_of_joy
angel_of_joy's picture

Nope, he's just naive beyond redemption.

And he thinks he knows everything... which he doesn't.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:13 | 4512887 Variance Doc
Variance Doc's picture

Exactly!  A very dangerous combination of stupidity and naivity.  Look no further than his drivel on "models"; what a moron.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:31 | 4512689 Took Red Pill
Took Red Pill's picture

And Russia can strike back with this;

drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to pay off any loans to US banks. 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:47 | 4512773 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

Neither is significant.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:31 | 4512690 Shameful
Shameful's picture

The Treasury issue is a bigger deal than that.  Sure 200 billion isn't dick compared to the awesome might of QE, but what if China backs them on this and it's public?  If major nations are dumping and the Fed or a intermediary for the Fed steps up (Looking at you UK, Brussels, and Caribbean islands!), then confidence will be shaken.  The bigger play is EU getting squeezed by more expensive natural gas and oil, and then the US getting facing higher goods costs from China or having to source another country.  Hell China WANTS this, their economy is in a bad way, what could be better then blaming the evil Americans for their malinvestments?


As to the specific targeting of oligarchs, that swings both ways so won't happen.  How would US oligarchs respond if their dirty laundry was aired in a similar way?  Unless you assume the FSB is a bunch of tards and not even Snowden's info could steer their tarded asses in the right direction...and based on the cold war and KGB this seems unlikely.


It really boils down to a game of chicken and who has the biggest pair of stones, who will blink first?  Putin wheeled out the mobile nuke launchers in the Georgia conflict in 08 and Bush/Cheney backed down (Though really Bush's call).  If nuke launchers get wheeled out again is Barry hard enough to make that call?  And are the American people willing to back him in making that risk, over a country 9 out of 10 Americans could not find on a globe?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:16 | 4513179 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

I view it through who has the most to lose given a certain outcome.

Russia has only one worse outcome, all out nuclear war, and several better outcomes.

The US has only one better outcome, continued expansion and hegemony, and several worse outcomes.

Bear in mind that US/EU will suffer far more than Russia in an all out nuclear war. That, and the distinct possibility China will end up on top afterwards.

So Russia could continue pushing until the US commits suicide.


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:32 | 4512694 Space Animatoltipap
Space Animatoltipap's picture

The US is too weak morally and internationally to deal with the Ukraine problem. Putin knows this. He will just strangle the Ukraine into oblivion when Kiev doesn't adjust. Putin has many options and strategies available. All the US can is bark and unproductively "condemn". Or risk a huge, huge nuclear armed Russia/nuclear armed US crisis.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:26 | 4513222 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

.The problem is that the US is a house of cards that needs constant repairing that has a huge military in the garage.

Ukraine is just a distraction to the US's faltering economy.


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:35 | 4512707 Mi Naem
Mi Naem's picture

I'm pretty sure Mr. Hugh-Smith's correspondent is right about this list, and that this list is far from complete.  However, it is not the Russians that should be afraid of this so much as all those people who have not been savvy to the ridiculous power we've bestowed on our diabolical masters. 

No one will trade without the mark. 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:36 | 4512714 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Good article.   It's our top 1% (the elysium class) vs their top 1% with the dumbasses in the bottom 80% getting killed.

Gotta love a society where the majority of the dumbasses don't even know who the enemy is.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:36 | 4512715 Reference Variable
Reference Variable's picture

Trumped up charges, assassinations, and dissappearances are next up on the table. Israel straight up kills people; US and Russia do freak heart attacks, nail gun suicides, radiation poisoning, etc.


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:36 | 4512716 whisperin
whisperin's picture

Every item you stated can also be accomplished for the most part by Vlad as well. The author seems to believe this is a one way street. Perhaps a rude awakening for both sides is in order?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:39 | 4512730 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

dirty selfies. i'll bet they have. lulz

oh noes, don't put my junk on the internetz mr nsa mayan!

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:38 | 4512732 Addicted
Addicted's picture

thats old thinking Charles, your thoughts are not yours, your thoughts are the past...based on fear...

ever seen an ICBM hit the sky? I call that leverage 100%...Russia will not go under, its like the israeli SamSom option...Russia will take us all with it...

even a conventional threat with tanks rolling into europe is in my view 100% leverage, cold war is old thinking, when europe put into place sanctions, then the ayatollas and muhlas in the midle east get a green card...even china and nord korea will shake hands with Russia...

our final countdown has begon, we are all fucked, even as nothing happends on the russian front...lets call it humans as part of nature fixing the imbalances...


Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:40 | 4512743 EconomicGenocide
EconomicGenocide's picture

So let me get this straight. The Z iionist who control the US governmnet are going to make a play on the 1/10 of 1% of Russia and freeze their accounts and expose dirt on them worlwide.

Whoa!! This is a dogfight I would luv to see. Nothing like a suitcase nuke going off in Tel Aviv to say thank you!!

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:46 | 4512746 mrmister
mrmister's picture

This article assumes that China and Russia wont take the internet down or the banking system down. Who cares what people say on facebook. They've already effected my servers in the past.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:40 | 4512747 wagthetails
wagthetails's picture

our gov't can't think like this.  Putin knows walking into Ukraine was and will continue to be easier than germany on paris.  he knows we really aren't willing to raise a stink over Ukraine.  Election year coming, no one wants trouble.  Send this issue where they all go to die...the UN. 

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:44 | 4512758 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

of course they don't. our gubbermint imbeciles lick the ballz of the .0000001% worldwide.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:43 | 4512756 Fix It Again Timmy
Fix It Again Timmy's picture

And the Russians don't have dumptruck loads of dirt?....

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:57 | 4512778 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

One of Smith's weaker articles.

He has already answered his own concerns, insofar those Goy guys avoid the US:

1. There are LOTS of places in the world that are happy to take them and their money.

2. If they wanted to get really brazen, they could simply acquire a Dual Citizenship from one of America's MFN* (Most Favorite Nations), and thumb their noses at DC.

* Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK.

/ Hell, with the right passport, they could even land a high level job with the US Gov, or the WH. /sarc

p.s. Don't think for a minute that these guys with money and connections can't 'sanitize' their online info, and also get a second/new identity.

Some journalists are blatantly transparent in their shilling or naivete.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:50 | 4512780 Calmyourself
Calmyourself's picture

Snowden took a deadman file with him containing major intelligence secrets = balance in soft power?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:01 | 4512821 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

This was the stupidest comment;

"Massive materialism and corruption is the basis of Putin's elite domestic support. Once he can't deliver the goodies anymore they'll drop him."


and it isn't like this in the good ole' U.S.S.A?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:29 | 4512954 joego1
joego1's picture

This guy puts the odds of a nuclear exchange at 10 to 50% if the U.S. and Russia end up in a major confrontation.

One thing I noticed about the Russians is that they have nukes on wheels and that's looking like a Chernobyl waiting to happen if you ask me. What happens when stuxnet or some other mutant form gets into their command and control and Vlad's relatives call him up the same day with the news that there visa expired and their bank cards don't work. These are humans that are sitting in front of all these shiny button options. The odds of an accident have gone up in these last few days.


Based on the outcomes of these events, Hellman estimated these numbers:

• Rate of initiating events: six percent per year
• Probability that an initiating event leads to a major crisis: 33 percent
• Probability that a major crisis leads to the use of a nuclear weapon: 10 to 50 percent

The third probability is hardest to estimate because we have yet to drop a bomb on Russia (or vice versa). Hellman used the 10 to 50 percent range based on studying what transpired in the Cuban Missile Crisis and on statements by the participants. People can make irrational decisions when under the gun, he explained. Once a major crisis erupts, it becomes a question of who will back down first; like a game of nuclear chicken, he said.

Read more at:

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 15:52 | 4513069 Son of Captain Nemo
Son of Captain Nemo's picture

Hey Tyler on OfTwoMinds...

Who are the Chevron, BP people editing for them?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:14 | 4513174 Son of Captain Nemo
Son of Captain Nemo's picture

For future reference to the folks at "OfTwoMinds Blog".

They need to meet with this guy for more ideas.

That airplane that lost it's wings at 60,000 ft is bound to hit the ground sooner or later. And best part of all "Cdr. Paul" has the joystick!

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 17:15 | 4513519 TuPhat
TuPhat's picture

Charles, Let me see if I get this.  Russia dumps worthless paper and hurts the US so the US prints more worthless paper to retaliate?  You really think that means something?  Then Russia witholds valuable resources from Europe and you think that won't hurt Europe?  I guess you are still in La La land where you think the dollar is king.

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 18:09 | 4513765 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

You need to look at both STOCK and FLOW

Russia export's USD 6M barrels/day, rounded USD 600M/day, rounded USD 220B/year

That's just physical oil, now look at the volume of paper oil contracts tied to the 220 billion, just in in crude oil...

The larger threat is measured in TRILLIONS of FLOW in decreased USD demand.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 13:45 | 4517439 SameAsItEverWas
SameAsItEverWas's picture

watch crude oil breaking down fast to 100

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