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2022-05-14 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Foreign Policy , 1292 references Ignore this thread
Understand This About War...
[Comments enabled]

Folks, understand one thing about the US getting involved in an actual shooting war with anyone.

You immediately will have no semi-conductor anything, zero lithium batteries for anything at all from electric cars to cellphones, 75% or better of the pharmaceuticals in common use will disappear instantly, finding tires will be nearly impossible, automotive and machine parts, specifically wear parts such as bearings will all become unobtanium and more.  Even something as simple as a circuit breaker for your house will not be able to be sourced.  ALL of the large transformers used to distribute electrical power in the United States, never mind nearly all of the switchgear, are made overseas in whole or part and thus if they fail, whether due to natural or man-made cause they cannot be replaced in such an event either.    Within a few months spares for critical parts that are considered wear items and thus must be replaced on a schedule will run out in our energy generation and distribution system and failures will begin to occur with impact from local areas to entire regions.

Your local gas station and supermarket cash register (never mind most modern refrigerators, HVAC systems and similar) all have chips in them that are only made overseas; there is no replacement available made in the United States.  Your much-vaunted heat pump that is so "green" has a defrost control board in it without which it will not function -- if you bypass it (which you can in some cases) once the temperatures get below about 40 degrees outside the unit will fail or be destroyed without it, and there won't be a replacement available at any cost.  Even the contactor (relay) in that outdoor unit has no US supply and without it the unit doesn't work.  Your gas furnace has an ignitor and control board without which you have no heat, they do fail and, again, there is no US supply.  We did this to ourselves with our decades-long stupidity offshoring everything and by doing so made it possible for any nation that can sink even a single container ship to break the United States economy and perhaps even a few million people's survival within minutes.

Commercial shipping will go to zero basically immediately as anything that floats and is big is easy to sink and without insurance, which nobody will write, nobody will ship anything because someone is going to eat the entire cost if the ship ends up on the bottom of the ocean and there is nobody in their right mind who will take that risk.

This is the crazy of international supply chains when there is no substitution here at home available in the size required.  It all depends on everything being "peaceful" -- both economically and militarily.  You can go shoot goat herders without impacting that but the minute hostilities break out with someone that has actual reach into shipping lanes you must expect them to spend one conventional torpedo costing a few tens of thousands of dollars and once they do anything and everything headed your way stops.

Container ships are trivially easy to send down to see Davey Jones; they're huge, they're lightly crewed which means no serious amount of damage control is available and they're certainly not built and fitted out to survive in a wartime environment.

Yeah, I know, you're sure it won't happen.

Better hope you're right if you're dependent on medications, as just one example.

Perhaps we should be re-thinking our ideas about sending tens of billions of dollars worth of "stuff" to another nation -- an amount that exceeds their entire military spending for the last year, never mind "admitting more new nations into NATO."

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The increasing provocations by the West, at some point, may backfire spectacularly and plunge the world into war. Yes, Russia shouldn't have invaded Ukraine. Yet I see no evidence of any diplomacy that attempts to negotiate a solution. Instead, more weapons are sent into the war zone, ensuring more death and destruction and dislocation. Now the latest is a report that Putin may be dying of cancer. No need to end this soon if Putin is almost dead? Putin's replacement will obviously see the light and capitulate to Western demands?

I read that Russia is furious about Finland's application to enter NATO. Finland shares a 1340 km border with Russia. Slowly but surely the West is backing Russia into a corner, yet we expect Russia to keep its attacks centered in eastern Ukraine.

The Russians may decide to show the extent of their resolve by dispatching one hypersonic missile into a US aircraft carrier. And then the world will see how large carrier task force groups are an expensive albatross, suitable only for force projection against a primitive enemy.

All the large container ships from China carrying medicine and electronic components to the West can be easily sunk by the Russians, and will cause significant suffering. Two years ago, during the COVID crisis, it was clear that the US needed to manufacture its own critical medicines at home, yet nothing has changed. And the US population remains as fat as ever too!

It is disheartening to watch the clown show in Washington. Rep Hoyer claims that the US is at war! I didn't realize there was a declaration of war by the US against Russia. Most politicians, both parties, have lost their minds. The Russians may not be as capable militarily as the US, but they have nuclear weapons and they will use them if they perceive that their homeland is threatened. The West is playing a dangerous game, and the Russians have shown remarkable restraint.

Once the politicians achieve their goals of bumbling their way into a war with Russia, to what extent will Americans be willing to sacrifice to win? Americans aren't used to suffering. The Russians are.
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I just wanted to be first.

Coming in second is like kissing your sister. Vince Lombardi


"---the politicians---they think the laws of mathematics are suggestions." K. Denninger

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand exponential function." Al Bartlett
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Sunny UK
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Expected responses:


Buckle up.
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Northern Ohio
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Good Morning Karl -

You are correct here. We get into a flat out shooting war, particularly with China and we certainly are going to feel everything that you have laid out.

The same applies to China but in different ways. China much like Japan has few natural resources beyond rare earth minerals. They don't do a great job of feeding their own people. We cut of their imports and at sometime they will also deal with major issues.

The difference in my mind is the ability of each country's population to deal with these shortages. In China and Russia they don't give one crap about their population and they are used to suffering under their governments. Here we are pampered and we will die if we lose access our favorite brew or soda.

Of course, Joe Biden is working on this. He is committed to making sure Americans are second or third and has no issues making our life harder.
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The demons are hell bent on WWIII. What we have done to many other nations, I believe, will be at our doorstep. End well, this will not.
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I've thought about this, too: the Russians have fewer attack submarines (38) than we do (52), but ours are probably spread all over the place, with carrier groups, etc:



As you noted, if one sub sank a bunch of those container ships sitting off the west coast, commercial lines would have to stop shipping to the US even if they wanted to: we don't have enough navy to protect convoys anymore. In 1941 we had domestic industry, and that's the last time we got in a shooting war with someone who could threaten us strategically. We'd soon be shown to be a paper tiger (or kitten).

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people in power in the US would be happy to see all that happen: in many people's eyes, the US needs to be taken down and shown to be completely unreliable and impotent. Afghanistan was Act I.

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Conveniently, most of those ships aren't under US flags either. What's Panama or Liberia going to do?
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Northern Ohio
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Many, many moons ago I served a two-year stint as a watch officer in the 7th Coast Guard District's Search and Operations Center in Miami, Fl. This office was responsible for all Search and Rescue Coordination from South Carolina to New Orleans, the Caribbean and beyond.

We used to have an unwritten rule that if didn't find a somebody from the US in three days from the time of accident that they would be dead. Almost never failed. However, we would always get reports from ships at sea that they had found folks from Haiti, Cuba wherever hanging on to a raft or some lumber after thirty days and they were still alive.

Just a measure of our softness.
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What are the odds that some of the billions of dollars worth of anti tank weapons and manpads shipped to the mix of Ukrainian regulars, conscripts, and international irregulars wont have some diverted to the black market?
Im sure a crafty ex KGB intel officer would never consider obtaining some and have unknown actors use them? What happens to LNG shipments forever the first time a loaded tanker EXPLODES in a busy European port? Or an oil tanker in the Straits of Hormuz? Or a container ship anywhere?
And the moment a western commercial aircraft anywhere is downed by a manpad then there goes chips and high value critical parts being sent Fedex.
So keep poking the bear FJB and that might come to pass. Though Id prefer Putin to have FJB, cameltoes and Skeletor paid back for their insults by having Polonium slipped in their morning coffee.
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The Russian military has keen appreciation for the value of propaganda.
Several of their attack subs, and possibly aircraft and surface ships, would likely launch anti-ship cruise missiles instead of torpedoes. These would be timed to arrive more or less simultaneously in at least two oceans. Both cargo ships and oil tankers would be targeted.

Drones or satellites would be positioned to record the imagery. A ship on the bottom doesn't really hold much propaganda worth. The broadcast sights of containers and oil burning intensely would have great value.

The Russians could deliver a two-prong verbal message to the US public: 1) wiping out the importation of necessary supplies was the principal US strategy during WWII against Japan, and 2) the other US strategy was to incinerate Japanese cities by firebombing Japanese homes that, unlike other places where stone was used, were made of combustible wood and, today, US homes are cheaply made of even more highly combustible products.

The US public would understand both messages instantly and would presumably pressure the federal government to stop the aggression against Russia. 0.02
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Long time follower of KD; first time 'replier'.

What is being described here is what the long stretch of human history looks like.

Supply chain security prior to when the US Navy- and the American taxpayer- took over the responsibility in the aftermath of WWII was around 20% of all transaction costs. This is why supply chains were overwhelmingly domestic / regional. The security costs and associated risks were too high.

The Post-War period made supply chain security a minor line item. Anyone could ship from anywhere to anywhere with no significant security risk- or cost.

Irrespective of the coming war with Russia, supply chain security costs have been rising in recent years and helping to drive the supply chain inflation KD has been detailing.

The shrinking footprint of the USN is putting dramatic pressure on the global supply chain security framework.

Japan's navy- already 2nd best in the world- is seeking to fill the American gap to ensure it still gets its critical imports from the U.S. and Middle East.

Other navies- India and China in particular- are also expanding quickly to secure routes to increasingly distant and scarce resources such as foodstuffs and energy.

Nations will not allow their populations to starve or freeze to death.

This is only the beginning...

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If the supply chain collapses so does our way of life. On the plus side watching Karens reeeeeeeeee about no more half caff double shot fake coffee flavor soy milk with whipped cream will be entertaining.

It also means no more oil imports. Goodbye, plastics.
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It is nearly impossible @Airrage1 to "secure" commerce these days. While nothing is actually impossible in effect it is. A submerged submarine sitting on the bottom is for all intents and purposes not detectable; yes, you can get lucky, but that's exactly what it is -- luck.

Prior to satellites you had radar within a few tens of miles if you had the height for the mast; the curvature of the earth is not a suggestion, and aircraft which could only carry so much fuel and provide so much coverage. Now we have aerial refueling and satellites, which make the knowledge of where a surface ship (or group of them) happen to be a matter of a few hours from one pass to the next at most.

There is no naval force in the world sufficient to cover the transit requirements of interconnected trade we all exploit today. Nor could you build and pay for one. Therefore, by definition, such is a peacetime luxury that disappears the instant hostilities break out. Never mind relatively long-range cruise (and now hypersonic) missiles; just one of those into an LNG or oil tanker and that's the end of that show -- and the end of any more of them going anywhere.

Commerce relies on stability and insurance, the latter of which typically has an "acts of war" exclusion and won't be priced in a way that can be paid for if it doesn't.

It's wild-eyed crazy to PRESUME there will never be armed conflict. Mankind has never pulled that off for any material length of time, and we're not about to start now.

Civil Society requires 99%+ consent.
Stop consenting and it is forced to stop. Always.
No violence required.

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Damaging large electrical transformers feeding a major city would be easy and low tech. I am always surprised this has not happened. The lead time on replacement transformers is years. All you need to do is cut a hole in the chain link fence, fire a few RPG rounds into the transformer, and run like hell. I am sure the Russians know which transformers to target for best results.

I wonder how the war lovers will handle no power for a year, especially over the winter?
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Never mind the techno stuff and batteries or even wear parts for the car or even medicine. Let's talk about basics like underwear, shoes, personal care items.

People could find themselves living in rags or not having a toothbrush.

During tight years, people could not afford to resole a shoe. Is such even possible with today's shoes? I have kept two modern shoes where such is, just in case.

Long lasting, serviceable clothing could be the new wealth.

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<strong>Nations will not allow their populations to starve or freeze to death.</strong>

Respectfully, China is currently starving millions of its people to death for no valid reason.

As for the state of the US Navy, one only need view the widespread rust and deterioration on majority USN surface ships. Its appalling and old salts like Sal at Commander Salamanders Blog are beyond incredulous and sick about this condition of their Navy.

I hear that the current crop of sailors and NCOs are largely unable to perform physically-demanding work like chipping and painting and so the Navy relies on contractors instead. I hopped a Russian vessel to the Antarctic continent several years ago and, despite the illegality and danger, the Russian sailors routinely hopped into zodiacs and painted our ship from the waterline up whenever the traveling scientists and we pax stopped to hit the beach. The seawater temperature was below 32F and these men were all laboring in the rolling chop and heavy clothes to apply the paint from the zodiacs. What a contrast.

Reason: html tags
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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

The nature of evil is it must seek out and destroy everything that is good. Evil never rests which is why it must be intentionally and deliberately opposed.

Sometime in the past dozen years or so the elite of western society dropped all opposition to evil. They gave up giving even lip service to the Christian values of individual freedom and individual accountability (Romans 14:12) and made support of their institutional power and their personal gain the priority.

A clear manifestation of this philosophy is everything is getting suckier. When institutions act not for the benefit of others (make a better mousetrap) but for their own protection (force people to only have your mousetrap) the mousetrap quality declines, until the day comes the mousetrap doesn't even trap mice!

Notice that everything the Biden administration does is about protecting its friends. No matter the destruction and misery the Biden policies cause, they will not change course. They are thieves of joy. They are evil.

So too is evil everyone that embraces the philosophy of "this is for your own good, just ignore my bulging bank account".

Just bought a new Windows laptop for my MIL. Yea, the price was impressively affordable. The hardware is slick. But the software? Load of crap. What should have been a 5 minute setup took two hours because Microsoft demands you use a "Microsoft account". Problem was the MIL couldn't remember the password of that account and her email associated with that account was not accessible.

Hey Microcrap, do you understand how stupid of a design failure this is? Oh, but your bean counters say you must coerce users to have a Microsoft account on every device because that is money. Screw the user, in other words.

By the way, there is a workaround, and it works well, but Microcrap refuses to make it convenient to access.

Coercion is the way of life in today's society. TPTB are confident they control the ways things are and should be.

Screw them. Do not comply. Make them feel pain. Resist evil and make those pushing evil publicly defend themselves. Light is the best disinfectant.

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Regardless of the rights/wrongs of the Russia/Ukraine conflict it is amazing how tolerant Russia is towards western actions - at least for now. Can you imagine what would have happened if Russia had interfered in one of our conflicts? To me is seems like a dangerous game most likely driven by the military complex wanting to make lots of money. It should be politicians making these decisions but they are all bought and paid for so this nonsense is what we get.
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Tickerguy wrote..
It's wild-eyed crazy to PRESUME there will never be armed conflict.

Norman Angell in his 1909 book The Great Illusion wrote..
"the economic cost of war was so great that no one could possibly hope to gain by starting a war the consequences of which would be so disastrous."

Five years later ...
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Oh yeah, I worry about supply lines. And the electrical grid.

That us why your preps must be at the 1870s tech level. Go read the book "One Second After". Yes, it is fiction, but the author has written extensively on reports about EMP effects on the grid. Without electricity, 90% of the American population will die within 1 year. Our government actually issued a report on what happens in a grid down scenario.

Outside actors messing with electrical transformers would be bad but this idiot prez has imported 2 million illegals in the last 2 years.

1 million are military age men, many violent gang members. Learn to recognize the prison and gang tattoos. Make sure you have a heavily armed and trained neighborhood defense group. In every single societal collapse in modern times, gangs of young men have added to the chaos. Think Somalia tines 1000.

You can worry about cargo ships all day long, which you should, but you are going to have to stand on your property, behind a fortified position, duh, and shoot these marauders. Preferably from 400 feet.

America is ready to fall. It is a lit powder keg on a house of cards. The cascading failures when the spark is lit will be epic. Think a time lapse film of the fall of Rome condensed from 500 years into 1 month. We gave been hallowed out from within and foolishly spent our blood and treasure on boondoggles at home and abroad. We are soft and stupid, led by malignant clowns, our minds focused on Kim Kardashians butt instead of the wolf at the door.

Never has a nation or people survived such stupidity.
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America's businesses have worked assiduously with the compliance of our uniparty government for decades to maximize the profits of businesses by offshoring as much of our economy as possible, thereby increasing our vulnerabilities to any disruption in the tenuous supply chain that stretches around the world. The government has engaged in wars and bullying around the globe that certainly has created a lot of resentment and enmity. Our porous/open border policy has allowed up to 30 million illegal aliens into the country. We have no idea how many are here on behalf of some aggrieved party or country waiting for the moment to strike against us. We learned nothing from 911.

Ships can be vulnerable to torpedoes, missiles, or sabotage. Ship/cargo insurers would flee like rats from a sinking ship if one or two ships were sunk or badly damaged. What amount of damage could a few teams of saboteurs do to our electrical grid and water supplies?

So what is the uniparty doing about these vulnerabilities? Why sending a $46 billion aid package to the Ukraine after a few detours through the sticky fingers of Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, lobbyists, lawyers, and the congress-critters always money hungry campaigns. No problem; there's still plenty of Dom Perignon and Beluga caviar in Washington, AC/DC.
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Our masters never see reason until the "barbarians" show up at the gates. By that point it's too late.

They won't see the light until they receive word that Vladimir Putin has finally let the continental United States have it, and there is nothing they can do about it but spend their last few minutes on earth praying the God they think doesn't exist not to consider what they truly deserve---or if that's truly beyond them, cry for their mommies.

And maybe not even then.
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Not so Maryland
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I have long worried about our off-shoring of basically all manufacturing.
I always thought about it in terms of our military and not being able to support our side for any length of time.
It never dawned on me the repercussions for our entire citizenry. smiley

When TPTB get us into a conflict with a REAL adversary, we're ****ed!
End well, this will not.
I'm heeding the advice that many have given here and I'm going to enjoy what time that is left. smiley

Just doin' the best I can.
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Something else-an underwater cable to Svalbard was cut just before the Ukraine war broke out, and U2 Underground mentioned that the Russians had invested heavily in that capability. They (U2) thought it might have been a warning to NATO...but cutting a lot/most/all of the underwater cables to the US would cause problems, too-in different ways, but the damage would have major impact.
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