I want to touch on three issues. First, the dependence of the U.S. military industrial complex on rare earth minerals supplied by China and what that portends for war in the Pacific. Second, the bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate that is pushing the United States towards a nuclear confrontation with Russia. And finally, the psychotic break of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his suicide attempt.
The Financial Times published earlier this week dire news about the dependence of the U.S. Defense industry on rare earth minerals supplied by China:
Western manufacturers face the complex task of reducing risks associated with their operations in China, but completely severing ties with the country is an insurmountable challenge according to Greg Hayes, the CEO of Raytheon, one of the US’s major aerospace and defense companies.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Hayes emphasized that while de-risking is possible, full decoupling is not feasible for his company and others in the industry.
“We can de-risk but not decouple,” he said. “Think about the $500 billion of trade that goes from China to the US every year. More than 95% of rare earth materials or metals come from, or are processed in, China. There is no alternative.”
He further explained that if Raytheon were to withdraw from China, it would take many years to rebuild the necessary capabilities either domestically or in other friendly nations.
The three key points by Hayes:
- The U.S. defense industry CANNOT decouple from China.
- There is no mid-term alternative to the rare earth materials or metals mined or processed in China.
- It will take Raytheon and other members of the U.S. defense industry MANY YEARS to create alternative capabilities.
This is another card that China can play, if it chooses, to punish the West and handcuff its ability to mount a military operation against China — suspend the export of rare earth metals to U.S. and European military manufacturers. This will hinder, if not prevent, the continued production of combat air craft, cruise missiles and other weapons systems.
Entrepreneur Arnaud Bertrand’s wry observations sums it up:
This is hilarious. The boss of Raytheon, one of the US top weapons manufacturers, says the company has “several thousand suppliers in China and decoupling . . . is impossible”.https://t.co/HngUrIBwAv
We need China to fight China… Actually good news, makes war less likely.
I hope he is right.
Next up is the insane, maniacal proposal by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Lindsey Graham.
US Senators Lindsey Graham (Republican) and Blumenthal (Democrat) introduced a bipartisan resolution declaring Russia’s use of nuclear weapons or the destruction of the occupied Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in Ukraine as an attack on NATO, which requires the application of Article 5 of NATO.
Senator Blumenthal: “This resolution is intended to send a signal to Vladimir Putin, and even more so to his military, that they will be destroyed. They will be destroyed if they use tactical nukes or blow up a nuclear plant.”
“Article 5 exists for a reason. It protects not only from the fact that a particular soldier crosses the border. But when the damage to our NATO allies (Poland) causes our obligations, when it comes from hostile forces, as would happen if there was a spread of radiation.”
To summarize — Graham and Blumenthal are proposing the U.S. Senate pass a resolution that would create a reason to invoke Article 5 and bring NATO full force into the war in Ukraine. This may be just a desperate propaganda ploy. It is not the first time that Graham and Blumenthal have teamed up to turn up the heat on the already boiling pot of U.S./Russian relations.
Last September, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Lindsey Graham submitted to Congress a new draft to include Russia in the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, bypassing the position of the State Department. That resolution was rejected by the Biden Administration.
Graham and Blumenthal, hell bent on going to war in Russia, went to Kiev in January 2023, accompanied by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and called on Biden to supply Western main battle tanks and F-16 fighters to Ukraine. I doubt that the subsequent decision of some NATO members — specifically the U.K., France and Germany — to send “modern tanks” to Ukraine was a consequence of the Graham/Blumenthal plea, but given the results of Ukraine’s counter offensive, those tanks have joined the ranks of cannon fodder and scrap metal.
The antics of Graham and Blumenthal are a reminder that the U.S. policy towards Russia and how to support Ukraine militarily is not a partisan issue. There is bipartisan support for the Biden policy and no powerful, credible voices are being raised in the United States to counter the madness of trying to provoke an expanded war with Russia.
Last, and certainly not least, we have what appears to be a coup attempt by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the figurehead of the Wagner Group. It is essential to understand that Prigozhin has no military experience and is not the “commander” of Wagner. Simplicius the Thinker provides a quick update of what is going on:
Prigozhin appears to have initiated a coup attempt. Information is still developing constantly so nothing is definitive or confirmed. That’s why I wanted to focus more on the potential causes rather than the speculative and constantly-changing informational noise. But just for those who may be completely unaware of the happenings:
Prigozhin published the following video claiming that the Russian MOD has “bombed” a Wagner rear area with many Wagner dead. The video, however, shows no dead and only what looks like some minor staged burning leaves. . . .
One thing that’s important to note is the incident appears, on the surface, to have come out of the blue. But in reality, things have been developing for quite a while. Most notably, if you’ll recall that the Russian MOD a few weeks back issued a new ruling for all volunteers and PMCs to register under the yoke of the Russian MOD. On the surface, the justification was to give equal ‘benefits’ to all volunteers that Russian servicemen get for their service.
Well, Now It Could Be Stated Openly that Prigozhin is not only a criminal, but, highly likely, the asset of Ukie-NATO axis. A lot of things point out to that, including “rumors” (in reality, reliable information) of Prigozhin and some Wagner people providing information on positions of Russian Army to VSU. Per Wagner: I am on record–they are good storm group but as a serious force they are nothing without Russian Armed Forces. The media BS about them, as well as grossly exaggerated stories about Bakhmut have been designed primarily for the consumption of fanboys who masturbate on tactical minutiae. Me and my friends discussed it for months in the media e.g. PolitWera et al. So, this is over for Prigozhin and, eventually, for Wagner.
I do not know if this is a last minute desperate ploy by Prigozhin to try to thwart the Wagner Group from being put completely under the command of the Russian MOD, or if it is an elaborate psychological operation or if the man has suffered a catastrophic psychotic break. We will know by Monday if Prigozhin is a Russian version of Benedict Arnold or an actor on par with Richard Burton or Robert DeNiro. Come to think of it, Prigozhin’s demeanor reminds me a bit of DeNiro’s role as Al Capone:
Given the timing of Prigozhin’s eruption, which coincides with the disastrous lack of progress with the Ukrainian counter offensive, I am inclined, like Andrei, to believe that Prigozhin may have some anti-Putin oligarchs behind him and is trying to disrupt the Russian military successes on the battlefield. I think he will fail and I think he will not survive this scurrilous attack on the Russian Ministry of Defense.
However, Prigozhin’s crazed outburst could be an unprecedented Maskirovka move. If you have Russian troops moving in “response” to his call for a coup it could be a ploy to mask the concentration of Russian forces for an unexpected offensive. We will see.