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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Black Swans and ………………DRONES?


A black swan is an extremely rare event with severe consequences. It cannot be predicted beforehand, though many claim it should be predictable after the fact. So what does that have to do with last weekend’s attack on Saudi oil facilities?

Charles Hugh Smith explains - The mainstream media will be under permanent pressure to downplay the consequences of this attack, but the cat is out of the bag: the Black Swan is a drone. What was "possible" yesterday is now a low-cost proven capability, and the consequences are far from predictable.

Vox Day confirms - This is the usual pattern of military history, wherein a long-standing advantage is circumvented by technological and tactical innovations that eliminate the utility of the advantage.

Possible consequences? Here and here

Question – could the Yemeni’s actually have done it? Eric Margolis ain’t sure! As a long-time military observer, I find it very hard to believe that drones could be guided over such long distances and so accurately without aircraft or satellites to guide them.
EM goes further: The pattern of so-called drone attacks against the Saudi oil installations is just too neat and symmetrical.  The Israelis have a strong interest in promoting a US-Saudi War.  The attacks in Saudi came ironically right after the anniversary of 9/11 that plunged the US into war against large parts of the Muslim world.

Remember Who Wants War? And Furthermore! Still Furthermore – Pat Buchanan:
The question President Trump confronts today:
How does he get his country back off the limb he climbed out on while listening to the Republican neocons and hawks he defeated in 2016, but who have had an inordinate influence over his foreign policy?


Why? Listen to the general - Readers should pay close attention to this groundbreaking interview with General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. The interview, in Farsi (with English subtitles), was conducted by US-sanctioned Iranian intellectual Nader Talebzadeh and includes questions forwarded by my US analyst friends Phil Giraldi and Michael Maloof and myself.
Explaining Iranian self-sufficiency in its defense capabilities, Hajizadeh sounds like a very rational actor. The bottom line: “Our view is that neither American politicians nor our officials want a war. If an incident like the one with the drone [the RQ-4N shot down by Iran in June] happens or a misunderstanding happens, and that develops into a larger war, that’s a different matter. Therefore we are always ready for a big war.”
In response to one of my questions, on what message the Revolutionary Guards want to convey, especially to the US, Hajizadeh does not mince his words: “In addition to the US bases in various regions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Emirates and Qatar, we have targeted all naval vessels up to a distance of 2,000 kilometers and we are constantly monitoring them. They think that if they go to a distance of 400 km, they are out of our firing range. Wherever they are, it only takes one spark, we hit their vessels, their airbases, their troops.”

So where are we? Always ask: Who Benefits?

Next time – we will discuss the unmentionable topic – nuclear war between the US and Russia.
You can actually word search that topic right here and right now!
Pleasant dreams!



How a war between Russia and the US would kill 34 MILLION in hours: Horrific simulation shows countries obliterated by carpet of atomic bombs - By IAN RANDALL (Text only)

·         Researchers based the simulation on realistic data on current nuclear war plans
·          
·         The war would start with tactical strikes but end up with attacks on key cities
·          
·         It predicts that 90 million people would be killed or injured before fallout effects
·          
·         The team hopes that the model will highlight the consequences of nuclear war


Researchers have developed a terrifying simulation that shows how an escalating nuclear war between the United States/NATO and Russia would play out.
The model — based on realistic data on nuclear force postures, targets and causality estimates — predicts that 34.1 million people would die within hours.     
The catastrophic conflict would leave another 55.9 million injured — figures which do not include subsequent deaths from nuclear fallout and other effects.
In the first three hours alone, Europe would be devastated and an estimated 2.6 million people would be either killed or injured.
The following 90 minutes would see key cities in both the US and Russia hit with 5–10 nuclear bombs each, leaving another 88.7 million dead or injured.
Many countries in the model appear to escape being the direct target of a nuke — such as those in the southern hemisphere, and Scotland.
However, the effects of the nuclear fallout and longer-term impacts on the Earth's climate, population and food production would have wide-ranging effects. 
The team behind the video hope that the simulation will highlight the apocalyptic  consequences and cost to humanity of nuclear war between the two blocs.
·          
Researchers have developed a terrifying simulation that shows how an escalating nuclear war between the United States/NATO and Russia would play out
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF A NUCLEAR BOMB? 
A nuke's impact would depend on factors like the weather, weapon design and the blast zone's nature.
About 35 per cent of the bomb's energy would be released as heat.
Flash blindness from a 1 megaton nuke could be triggered up to 13 miles away on a clear day and 50 on a clear night.
Those within a 5-mile-radius would receive third degree burns.
The blast of air pressure generated would destroy nearby buildings.
Winds of up to 158 mph would affect people up to 3.7 miles away, causing objects to fly around.
Source: AsapSCIENCE

The four-minute video was created by engineering and international affairs expert Alex Glaser of Princeton University and colleagues.
The simulation, dubbed 'Plan A', was drawn up based on various independent assessments of current US and Russian military postures, nuclear war plans and corresponding weapons targets.
It included extensive data on the number of nuclear weapons currently deployed, bomb yields and the order in which such a war would likely progress.
A nuclear war would likely evolve from an initial phase of tactical targeting through to a strategic period intended to take out each side's offensive nuclear capacity.
Finally, a phase of targeting key cities to impede opposition recovery would begin.
'It is estimated that there would be more than 90 million people dead and injured within the first few hours of the conflict,' the researchers wrote.
HOW WOULD THE WAR PROGRESS? 
The simulation begins with a conventional, non-nuclear conflict.
Russia fires a nuclear warning shot from a base on the Black Sea, with the aim of halting a US–NATO advance.
In response, NATO hits Russia with a single tactical nuclear air strike.
After this, the conflict escalates thus: 
PHASE 1: Tactical Targeting
Russia hits NATO bases/troops with 300 nukes.
NATO responds with 180 nukes.
2.6 million casualties in three hours. 
PHASE 2: Strategic Targeting
Each side strives to take out the other's offensive nuclear capacity.
In 45 minutes, 3.4 million casualties result. 
PHASE 3: Key City Targeting
Both sides fire 5–10 nukes at the opposition's 30 most populated cities or economic centres.
This causes 85.3 million deaths and injuries in 45 minutes.
TOTAL FATALITIES: 34.1 MILLION
The simulation begins within the context of a conventional, non-nuclear conflict.
In the scenario, Russia fires a nuclear warning shot from a base near Kaliningrad, on the Black Sea, with the aim of halting a US–NATO advance.
In response, NATO hits Russia with a single tactical nuclear air strike, from which the conflict escalates to a tactical nuclear war across Europe.
At this point, the simulation anticipates that Russia would deliver around 300 nuclear warheads — carried either by aircraft or short-range missiles — against NATO bases and advancing troops. 
The international military alliance would then respond with around 180 aircraft-borne nukes.
At this stage, casualties would be expected to reach around 2.6 million people within a three-hour period and Europe is left essentially destroyed.
Following this, NATO acts from the continental US and nuclear submarine fleets, launching a strategic nuclear strike of around 600 warheads with the aim of taking out Russia's nuclear capability. 
Before this strike hits, Russia launches nukes from its complement of missile silos, submarines and mobile launch pads.
The model projects 3.4 million casualties from this phase of the war, which would last only 45 minutes.

+6
·          
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The catastrophic conflict would leave another 55.9 million injured — figures which do not include subsequent deaths from nuclear fallout and other effects
In the final phase of the conflict, both sides take aim at each other's 30 most populated cities and economic centres — deploying 5–10 nukes for each one — to attempt to inhibit each side's recovery from the war.
Such a move, the researchers conclude, would see 85.3 million casualties within the space of 45 minutes. 
The total number of immediate fatalities in this scenario would exceed 34.1 million people — and does not include the subsequent deaths that would invariably result as a consequence of nuclear fallout and other related long-term effects.
WHICH WOULD BE THE FIRST FIVE CITIES TARGETED IN THE FINAL PHASE OF THE NUCLEAR WAR?
In the final phase of the conflict, both sides would take aim at each other's 30 most populated cities and economic centres — deploying 5–10 nukes for each one — to attempt to inhibit each side's recovery from the war.
Such a move, the researchers conclude, would see 85.3 million casualties within the space of 45 minutes. 
The first five cities on either side to be targeted would include: 
TARGET CITIES IN THE US
New York
Indianapolis, Indiana
Washington, DC
San Diego, California
Austin, Texas
 TARGET CITIES IN RUSSIA
Saint Petersburg 
Izhevsk 
Krasnodar 
Tolyatti 
Krasnoyarsk 

·          
The team behind the video hope that the simulation will highlight the apocalyptic consequences and cost to humanity of nuclear war between the two blocs 

·          
In the final phase of the conflict, the simulation suggests that both sides would take aim at each other's 30 most populated cities and economic centres — deploying 5–10 nukes for each one — to attempt to inhibit each side's recovery, as depicted in this artist's impression
The researchers said that the project is intended to highlight the potentially devastating consequences of the current nuclear war plans maintained by the US and Russian military forces.
'The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years,' the researchers wrote.
'The United States and Russia have abandoned long-standing nuclear arms control treaties, started to develop new kinds of nuclear weapons and expanded the circumstances in which they might use nuclear weapons.'
HOW TO SURVIVE A NUCLEAR BOMB 
Experts have detailed a number of tips to improve your chances of survival in the event of a nuclear disaster, including: 
Pack an emergency supply kit containing water and non-perishable food items.
When a nuclear bomb goes off, it sends out radiation that can ruin your mobile phone and laptop, so preparing battery-powered radios for communication is wise. 
For the blast, it is important to get as much concrete between you and the blast as possible. 
For the fall-out it's important to have thick walls and a thick roof, he says, and in a house it is a good idea to blockade all the windows. 
6
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Scientists have devised the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (pictured) as a way to protect the world's food supply in the event of a global disaster. It's located in Norway
But if you are outside and know the blast is coming, you might have time to get to a better shelter.
First you should get on the ground with your hands behind your head and brace yourself for the blast.
Never look at the blast, because it can cause you to go blind temporarily.
The, after the blast, you have 30 minutes to get to the best place.  
Once you get inside remove your clothes and clean yourself straight away and blow your nose, to stop the radioactive materials from spreading, and do not use conditioner.
If you cannot have a shower, wipe yourself with a wet cloth. 

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/09/no_author/how-a-war-between-russia-and-the-us-would-kill-34million-in-hours/

The Imperial Debris of War - By Stephanie Savell


Why Ending the Afghan War Won’t End the Killing 

I’ve never been to Afghanistan, but I am the mother of two young children. So when I imagine what life must be like there after 18 years of war, my mind conjures up the children most vividly -- the ones who have been affected by the conflict -- and their parents. I think of the 12-year-old boywho was carrying water to a military checkpoint in a remote part of that country, earning pennies to help sustain his family, whose legs were blown off by a landmine. Or the group of children at a wedding party, playing behind the house where the ceremony was taking place. One of them picked up an unexploded shell, fired from a helicopter, that hadn’t detonated in battle. It blew up, killing two children, Basit and Haroon, and wounding 12 others. What must it be like to care for a five year old -- the age of my oldest child -- who is maimed and who needs to learn how to walk, play, and live again with ill-fitting prosthetics?
A major legacy of the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001 and shows little sign of actually ending anytime soon, will be the “explosive remnants of war” -- a term for all the landmines and unexploded bombs and other weaponry that have been left behind in the earth. This debris of America’s endless war, still piling up, is devastating in many ways. It makes it so much harder for an agricultural population to sustain itself on the land. It wreaks havoc on Afghans’ emotional wellbeing and sense of security. And it poses special hazards for children, who are regularly injured and killed by the left-behind explosives of an already devastating war as they play, herd livestock, or collect water and firewood.
Given the expected drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan -- despite the recent breakdown in peace negotiations with the Taliban, President Trump continues to indicate that he may pursue such a path -- and the possibility of an official end to the U.S. war there, this topic is both pressing and relevant to public debate in America. Offering aid and reparations for the horrific ongoing costs of explosive military waste should be a priority on Washington’s future agenda. 
“The Human and Financial Costs of the Explosive Remnants of War in Afghanistan,” a new report issued today by the Costs of War project, which I co-direct, at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, offers a sense of the scale of the damage in Afghanistan. According to the report’s authors, Suzanne Fiederlein and SaraJane Rzegocki of James Madison University, at least 5,442 people have been killed and 14,693 people have been injured by devices embedded in or left on the ground since the start of the US-led war in 2001.
Of those victims, the great majority are boys and men. A casualty analysis by the Danish Demining Group in 2017 suggested that boys are particularly vulnerable because of their day-to-day activities and chores, but women and girls, too, are increasingly becoming casualties of unexploded ordnance, particularly when traveling. In 2017, the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan expressed concern about a “65% jump in the number of children killed or wounded by explosive remnants as fighting has spread to heavily populated civilian areas.”
The U.S. has provided significant financial support for humanitarian mine-clearing programs in Afghanistan. In recent years, however, that funding has been dropping. According to the United Nations Mine Action Service, Afghanistan has made some genuine progress toward its goal of freeing itself of landmines and other unexploded debris by 2023. Yet international financial support for such activities has dropped to 41% of what it was in 2011. Even if the Afghan War truly ended tomorrow, a sustained commitment of financial aid over many years would be necessary to clear that country of all the ordnance sewn into its soil as a result of the last 18 years of America's war.
A Legacy of War
The new Costs of War report reveals that the leading weapons causing such damage have changed over time. Even before 2001, when the U.S.-led coalition invaded Afghanistan, that country stood near the top of the list of those afflicted by abandoned landmines. The devices remained from the 1980s conflict between the Soviet Union and extremist Islamist rebels, the mujahedeen, backed by Washington and funded and supported by the CIA.
In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, international and Afghan clearance groups worked hard to clean up those minefields. Their efforts were, however, often thwarted by brutal new conflicts, including an Afghan civil war from 1992 to 1996 and the period from 1996 to 2001 in which the Taliban largely controlled the country. Still, over the past few decades, such groups managed to remove two million pieces of unexploded ordnance.
As the latest data indicates, landmines from the Soviet conflict have still been causing 7% of remnant-related casualties since 2010. Most of those hurt by explosive ordnance, however, are victims of the ongoing, complex armed conflict that emerged from the U.S.-led invasion -- that is, a range of weapons used and left behind by American forces, Taliban fighters, and Islamic State-affiliated groups. These include grenades, projectile weapons, mortars, cluster munitions, and large bombs that failed to explode as intended, but are still live and prone to going off if touched or moved at a later date. Taliban and ISIS militants are also increasingly relying on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) set off by someone stepping on them or otherwise unwittingly activating them. If not triggered at the time of battle, they can kill or injure civilians long after, even in areas in which there is no longer active fighting.
Since 2015, casualties from explosive remnants of war and abandoned IEDs have been rising rapidly. One reason is an increase in fighting between the U.S.-backed Afghan National Security Forces and both the Taliban and ISIS, as well as intensifying conflict between these extremist groups themselves. According to report author Suzanne Fiederlein, improvised explosive devices are growing more common in Afghanistan and other conflicts across the Middle East, partly thanks to the Internet, which has spread knowledge of how to build them. Such information, she writes, is “commonly available now, not just on dark-web sites. Such knowledge is also linked to the manufacture of more sophisticated and complex devices, such as anti-handling devices (booby traps).”
In addition, since 2017, the U.S. has dramatically increased its airstrikes against the Taliban and other militant groups in Afghanistan, while the Taliban itself, as it gains ever more territory, has expanded its attacks on government targets as well as on Afghan and international security forces. In the past year, as U.S. and Taliban officials have engaged in peace talks, both sides have only ramped up their aggression further, assumedly in order to strengthen their hands in the negotiatons.
Finally, in recent years, as the American-led coalition has closed down bases in advance of a prospective U.S. military withdrawal, more and more Afghans have died or been injured by military waste exploding in abandoned areas once used by international security forces as firing ranges. From 2009 to 2015, the United Nations recorded 138 casualties from explosions in or around such former training facilities. Seventy-five percent of those victims were children.
Living with Explosive Military Waste
It’s important to grasp just how long explosive remnants of war can remain active in a landscape after a conflict ends. If uncleared, they pose a danger to people living nearby or passing through for generations. In Belgium, for instance, more than a century later, significant numbers of explosive shells are still being removed from former World War I battlefields. Many countries struggle with this problem, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Korea, Laos, and Vietnam, but Afghanistan has been one of the hardest hit.
As of 2018, roughly 1,780 square kilometers of that country are considered contaminated by military waste. As the Costs of War report points out, this is “roughly ten times the area of Washington, D.C., but spread across a country almost as large as Texas.” Danger zones include farms and grazing land, roads that people regularly use to get to markets, schools, and hospitals, and lands surrounding militant strongholds, allied military bases, and those former firing ranges.
From the research I’ve done, it’s clear why people continue to use such contaminated lands. At the most basic level, it’s a story of inequality. Many Afghans undoubtedly know which areas pose a threat. In addition, risk education programs have made progress in getting teachers, midwives, and police officers to spread awareness of how to recognize and avoid such dangers. However, poverty often forces Afghans to make terrible and terrifying decisions about the risk of injury and death.
Dilemmas of this sort are commonly faced in places marked by such legacies of conflict. Anthropologist David Henig, for instance, describes how rural villagers in the Bosnia-Herzegovina highlands still knowingly enter contaminated forest areas to gather firewood. For them, living with the danger of landmines left over from the Bosnian War of the 1990s is a matter of economic survival. Many Afghans face a similar plight. I can only suppose that the boy who stepped on a landmine while carrying water for soldiers would not have been earning money in that fashion if his family had any other way to scrape together an existence.
While people learn to live with the presence of explosive waste in their landscapes, doing so exacts a grim toll. Imagine the fear and emotional distress you might feel at merely passing through places where a misstep could kill you, no less your children. Henig recounts how one Bosnian woman, returning from a mined part of the forest where she had filled her wagon with wood, broke down and cried, yelling feverishly, “Why, why do we have to do this?”
In Afghanistan, the Costs of War report points to the “deep psychological impact” of such long-lasting contamination: “For Afghans, the fear of being harmed by these weapons is magnified by knowing or seeing someone injured or killed.” People are terrorized and traumatized by the threat of explosions, and this continuous sense of foreboding must create an undertone of anxious melancholy that runs through every minute of the day.
Then there are the thousands of Afghans who live not only with the fear of such explosions, but also with the need to rebuild their lives after being maimed by one. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) physical rehabilitation program in Afghanistan manufactures over 19,000artificial legs, arms, and other orthopedic devices each year. Groups like the ICRC and Handicap International post photos of children on their websites as they are being fitted with and trained to use prosthetic legs. In one, a boy of no more than five looks bleakly at the camera, his hands resting on two parallel bars at his sides, the stumps of his legs settled uncomfortably in new plastic devices. In another, Nilofar, a young woman in a wheelchair, prepares to shoot a basketball; hers is a remarkable story of recovery, of moving from complete paralysis, after a back injury due to an explosion, to partial mobility. Today she works for the ICRC’s Kabul Orthopedic Center as a data entry operator, a job that has given her an income, a sense of purpose, and renewed hope.
The United Nations Mine Action Service has called for more long-term support for survivors of such wounds. They need such care to learn to walk on and use prosthetic limbs, as well as to deal with the depression and other psychological effects that accompany such injuries. According to the ICRC, they also require “a role in society and to recover dignity and self-respect.” All of the more than 800 staff at the seven ICRC orthopedic centers across Afghanistan are former patients. But there are thousands of others and no one can doubt that, in a war seemingly without end, there will be thousands more.
Imperial Debris and U.S. Responsibility
Scholars have called landmines and other explosive remnants of war “imperial debris” -- the detritus, in particular, of imperial America and its expansive global military footprint, including its forever wars around this planet. Even if U.S. troops are finally withdrawn, as Afghans encounter such debris from the war on terror and find their lives eternally shaped by it, the association with the American project in their country will remain alive for years into the future, as such weaponry keeps right on killing. In the process, it will undoubtedly seed hatred of the United States for generations to come.
Sadly, American funding for the humanitarian mine-clearing program in Afghanistan has been in decline since 2012. Afghanistan today has some of the best-trained demining technicians on the planet, but the scale of the problem is massive and the money available for it far too modest. The very goal of achieving mine-free status by 2023, a project once expected to cost $647.5 million, is likely unattainable, even if the fighting ends, because funding targets have fallen so far short of being fulfilled.
The U.S. has been the single largest donor to that program, making $452 million in contributions since 2002. Since 2012, however, it’s been another story, as Washington has dispatched much of its funding and resources for such programs to Iraq and Syria instead. In fiscal year 2018, the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan raised just $51 million of its $99 million funding goal and only an estimated $20 million of that came from Washington, less than half what it gave between 2010 and 2012.
Americans have an obligation to clear explosive hazards in that country, a large portion of which are of U.S. origin. Given the taxpayer dollars Washington has already spent on or committed to the war on terror through fiscal year 2019 -- $5.9 trillion, according to the estimate of the Costs of War project -- what it’s donated to deal with imperial debris in Afghanistan is scarcely more than a drop in the bucket. A multiyear funding commitment to clear the explosive remnants of the war on terror there would be one small way to carry out a tiny portion of America’s responsibility to the Afghan people after so many years of destruction.
Someday, Afghanistan stands every chance of becoming America’s forgotten war. The conflict will be anything but forgotten in that country, however, and therein lies one of the saddest stories of all.
Stephanie Savell, a TomDispatch regular, is co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. An anthropologist, she conducts research on security and activism in the U.S. and in Brazil. She co-authored The Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky's novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt's A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.
Copyright 2019 Stephanie Savell

MoA - How Russia And Iran Beat Their Opponents' Strategies (Text only)


Over the last decades Russia and Iran both needed to develop means to protect themselves against an ever growing threat from the United States and its allies. Both found unique ways to build deterrence that fit their situation.
Neither the U.S. nor its allies reacted to those developments by adopting their strategies or military means. It is only recently that the U.S. has woken up to the real situation. The loss of half its oil export capacity may finally wake up Saudi Arabia. Most other U.S. allies are still asleep.
When NATO extended into east Europe and the U.S. left the Anti-Ballistic-Missile Treaty Russia announced that it would develop countermeasures to keep the U.S. deterred from attacking it. Ten years later Russia delivered on its promise.
It had developed a number of new weapons that can defeat the ballistic missile defense the U.S. installed. It also put emphasis on its own air and missile defense as well as on radar and on electronic countermeasures that are so good that a U.S. general described them as "eye-watering".
All this allowed Putin to troll Trump by offering him Russian hypersonic missiles. As we analyzed:
Trump is wrong in claiming that the U.S. makes its own hypersonic weapons. While the U.S. has some in development none will be ready before 2022 and likely only much later. Hypersonic weapons are a Soviet/Russian invention. The ones Russia now puts into service are already the third generation. U.S. development of such missiles is at least two generations behind Russia's.
That Russian radar can 'see' stealth aircraft has been known since 1999 when a Yugoslav army unit shot down a U.S. F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft. Russian air and missile defense proved in Syria that it can defeat mass attacks by drones as well as by cruise missiles. U.S.-made air and missile defense in Saudi Arabia fails to take down even the primitive missiles Houthi forces fire against it.
Yesterday, during a press conference in Ankara with his Turkish and Iranian colleagues, Putin trolled Saudi Arabia(video @38:20) with a similar offer as he had made to Trump:
Q: Does Russia intend to provide Saudi Arabia with any help or support in restoring its infrastructure?
Putin: As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one’s people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities.
President of Iran Hassan Rouhani: So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?
Vladimir Putin: It is up to them to decide.
Erdogan, Rouhani and Putin all laughed over this exchange.
U.S. allies, who have to buy U.S. weapons, have followed a similar defense investment strategy as the U.S. itself. They bought weapon systems that are most useful for wars of aggression but did not invest in defensive weapon systems that are needed when their enemies prove capable of hitting back.
That is the reason why Saudi Arabia has more than 350 modern fighter planes but only relatively few medium and long range air defense systems that date back to the 1970s.
The Saudi air defense is only able to protect certain economic and social centers. Most of its borders and its military bases are not covered.
[T]he point-defense layout of the network leaves large portions of the nation undefended by strategic SAM assets. While aircraft can be called upon to defend these areas if required, the presence of large gaps in the nationwide air defense picture leaves numerous vulnerabilities open to exploitation by a foreign aggressor.
Saudi air defense as documented by Amir at Iran GeoMil

Moreover the protection it has in place is unidirectional. The red circles designate the theoretical reach of the U.S. made PAC-2 air defense systems installed at their center. But the real reach of these systems only cover less than a half-circle. The PAC-2 and PAC-3 systems are sector defenses as their radars do not rotate. They can only see an arc of 120°. In the case of the Saudis those radars only look towards the east to Iran which is the most likely axis of attack. That left the crude oil processing plant in Abqaiq completely unprotected against attacks from any other direction. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the U.S. know where the attack really came from.

The Russian experience against the U.S. directed drone swarm attacks against its airbase Hmeymim in Syria showed that short range air defenses and electronic countermeasures are the best defense against mass drone and cruise missile attacks.
Saudi Arabia does not have short range air defenses against drones and cruise missiles because the U.S. does not have such systems. It also does not have sophisticated electronic countermeasures because the U.S. can not provide any decent ones.
What the Saudis need are the Russian Pantsyr-S1 short range air defense, dozens of them, and the Krasukha-4 electronic warfare system. The Russian may well offer at least the first item. But would the U.S. allow the Saudis to buy them?
Saudi Arabia, like the U.S., never took its opponents seriously. It bombed Yemen to smithereens and never expected to be hit back. It long rallied the U.S. to wage war on Iran but took few measures to protect itself from an Iranian counterreaction.
After the long range attack from Yemen in August it was warned that the Houthi's missile reach had increased. Saudi Arabia ignored the warning and it took zero notable measures to protect Abqaiq processing center which is a choke point for half its income.
Iran, in contrast, developed its weapons along an asymmetric strategy just as Russia did.
Iran does not have a modern airforce. It does not need one because it is not aggressive. It has long developed other means to deter the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other opponents in the Middle East. It has a large number of self developed medium range ballistic missiles and a whole zoo of short to medium range drones and cruise missiles. It can hit any economic or military target within their 2,000 kilometer reach.
It also makes its own air defenses which recently enabled it to take down an expensive U.S. drone. Here is General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of IRGC's Aerospace Force, explaining how that was done (video, engl. subs).
Iran developed relations with friendly population groups in other countries and trained and equipped them with the necessary defensive means. These are Hizbullah in Lebanon, various groups in the Syria, the PMG/Hashd in Iraq, the Houthi in Yemen and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
None of these groups is a full proxy for Iran. They all have their own local politics and will at times disagree with their big partner. But they are also willing to act on Iran's behalf should the need arise.
Iran developed a number of weapons exclusively for its allies that differ from the ones it itself uses. It enables its partners to build those weapons themselves. The cruise missile and drones that the Houti in Yemen use are different from the one Iran uses for its own forces.
New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces 

Iran has thereby plausible deniability when attacks like the recent one on Abquiq happen. That Iran supplied drones with 1,500 kilometer reach to its allies in Yemen means that its allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and elsewhere have access to similar means.
The Saudis have long failed to take Iran's counter strategy into their considerations just as the U.S. has failed to consider the Russian's. Both will have to change their aggressive strategies. Both are now going have to (re-)develop real defensive means.

Can Trump Still Avoid War on Iran? - by Patrick J. Buchanan


A more fundamental question arises: If the United States was not attacked, why is it our duty to respond militarily to an attack on Saudi Arabia?

President Donald Trump does not want war with Iran. America does not want war with Iran. Even the Senate Republicans are advising against military action in response to that attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
“All of us (should) get together and exchange ideas, respectfully, and come to a consensus — and that should be bipartisan,” says Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch of Idaho.
When Lindsey Graham said the White House had shown “weakness” and urged retaliatory strikes for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls Iran’s “act of war,” the president backhanded his golfing buddy:
“It’s very easy to attack, but if you ask Lindsey … ask him how did going into the Middle East … work out. And how did Iraq work out?”
Still, if neither America nor Iran wants war, what has brought us to the brink?
Answer: The policy imposed by Trump, Pompeo and John Bolton after our unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
Our course was fixed by the policy we chose to pursue.
Imposing on Iran the most severe sanctions ever by one modern nation on another, short of war, the U.S., through “maximum pressure,” sought to break the Iranian regime and bend it to America’s will.
Submit to U.S. demands, we told Tehran, or watch your economy crumble and collapse and your people rise up in revolt and overthrow your regime.
Among the 12 demands issued by Pompeo:
End all enrichment of uranium or processing of plutonium. Halt all testing of ballistic missiles. Cut off Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Disarm and demobilize Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq. Terminate support for the Houthi rebels resisting Saudi intervention in Yemen.
The demands Pompeo made were those that victorious nations impose upon the defeated or defenseless. Pompeo’s problem: Iran was neither.
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Hezbollah is dominant in Lebanon. Along with Russia and Hezbollah, Iran and its militias enabled Bashar Assad to emerge victorious in an eight-year Syrian civil war. And the scores of thousands of Iranian-trained and -allied Shiite militia fighters in the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq outnumber the 5,200 U.S. troops there 20 times over.
Hence Tehran’s defiant answer to Pompeo’s 12 demands:
We will not capitulate, and if your sanctions prevent our oil from reaching our traditional buyers, we will prevent the oil of your Sunni allies from getting out of the Persian Gulf.
Hence, this summer, we saw tankers sabotaged and seized in the Gulf, insurance rates for tanker traffic surge, Iran shoot-down a $130 million U.S. Predator drone, and, a week ago, an attack on Saudi oil production facilities that cut Riyadh’s exports in half.
This has been followed by an Iranian warning that a Saudi attack on Iran means war, and a U.S. attack will be met with a counterattack. We don’t want war, the Iranians are saying, but if the alternative is to choke to death under U.S. sanctions, we will use our weapons to fight yours.
America might emerge victorious in such a war, but the cost could be calamitous, imperiling that fifth of the world’s oil that traverses the Strait of Hormuz, and causing a global recession.
Yet even if there is no U.S. or Saudi military response to Saturday’s attack, what is to prevent Iran from ordering a second strike that shuts down more Arab Gulf oil production?
Iran has shown the ability to do that, and, apparently, neither we nor the Saudis have the defenses to prevent such an attack.
A more fundamental question arises: If the United States was not attacked, why is it our duty to respond militarily to an attack on Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is not a member of NATO. It is not a treaty ally. The Middle East Security Alliance or “Arab NATO” chatted up a year ago to contain Iran — of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states — was stillborn. We are under no obligation to fight the Saudis’ war.
Nor is Saudi Arabia a natural American ally.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman runs an Islamic autocracy.
He inserted himself into first position in the line of succession to the throne of his father, who’s in failing health. He locked up his brother princes at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton to shake them down for billions of dollars.
He summoned the prime minister of Lebanon to the kingdom, where the crown prince forced him to resign in humiliation. He has ostracized Qatar from Arab Gulf councils. He has been accused of complicity in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
With his U.S.-built and bought air force, the Crown Prince has made a hell on earth of Yemen to crush the Houthis rebels who hold the capital.
The question President Trump confronts today:
How does he get his country back off the limb he climbed out on while listening to the Republican neocons and hawks he defeated in 2016, but who have had an inordinate influence over his foreign policy?