Part 1 appeared in THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, November 2015 issue, pages 113-130.
Mr. Joe Buff is a novelist with several submarine- related books to his credit. He is also a frequent tech- nical/political-military contributor to THE SUBMARINE REVIEW.
Executive Summary (Repeated from Part 1)
The persistent claims in some media and political quarters that America’s nuclear submarines are Cold War relics is invalidated in this two-part article by a multi-pronged attack on both 1) the underlying flawed post-Cold War military history involved, and 2) the sheer bad logical syllogism inherent in these claims. The U.S. Submarine Force was instrumental in winning the Cold War against the USSR; the Soviet Union fell but this did not in any way make nuclear subs antiquated or irrelevant.
This is particularly true for America’s survivable strategic nuclear deterrent ballistic missile subs, its SSBN fleet: The Russian Republic retained (or regained) all of the nuclear warhead stocks owned by the USSR in 1991. While steep reductions have been made by the U.S. and Russia alike, this has mainly been to reduce the massive overkill of tens of thousands of Cold War strategic weapons that could have wiped out all humanity several times over. Recently, Russia has been modernizing her nuclear warheads and delivery systems, increasing in both capacity and capability these tools for not just nuclear deterrence but also nuclear blackmail and nuclear destruction. Russia’s deployed tactical nuclear weapons, designed for use on local battlefields, outnumber NATO’s by about ten to one.
The trend since 1991 across eastern EUCOM (U.S. European Command), and in CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) as well, in the Russian Federation’s repeated near-abroad aggressions – and in Moscow’s ongoing interference in U.S. supported Middle East peacekeeping efforts (including in Libya, and now Syria with its mounting cross-Med immigration crisis) indicates that either the Cold War never really ended, or a New Cold War by Russia has begun. Either way, we dare not send the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force into retirement. Other compelling national deterrence and defense needs also guarantee that nuclear subs must remain front-line tools for peace maintenance and peace restoration: 1) Nuclear armed China’s non-transparent military rise and territorial expansionism, and her own nuclear arsenal expansion and modernization including (reportedly) the recent introduction of destabilizing, escalatory land-based MIRVed ICBMs; plus 2) multiple U.S./NATO/UN overseas contingency operations and containment challenges against brutal dictatorships, terrorists (and the state sponsors of terrorism), and other armed groups – such as in North Korea and Iran, and continuing in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
The danger of bloody conflict will always be prevalent so long as the world has a running supply of talented, ambitious clinical sociopaths, some of whom claw their way to absolute power, seize control of armies and arsenals, and commit aggressive wars and ethnic/religious genocides. Perhaps only nuclear weapons are frightening enough as a deterrent to force even sociopathic and other dictatorships (nuclear armed and nuke wannabes alike) away from hot war toward cold war and from rearmament toward disarmament. We have already seen that our nuclear submarines’ superior designs and tactics can force a nuclear-armed adversary in a cold war onto the path toward (at least temporary, but decades-long) arms reduction and incrementally greater democracy. Thus, it is a U.S. national imperative that adequate funding be sustained for sufficiently numerous and promptly-built new SSBN(X) strategic deterrent subs (the OHIO-class replacements), more VIRGINIA-class fast attack SSNs in general, and the extended-hull SSGN-capable VIRGINIAs (with the Virginia Payload Module – VPM) in particular. These vessels and their crews remain vital to current and future national security, homeland defense, and world peace and prosperity.
Russia Makes a Datum, Over and Over Again
This second part of a two-part article begins by taking a matrix overview of post-1989 Late-Soviet-cum-Russian Federation aggression. Though listed one by one for flow and readability, each of these matrix entries has two dimensions: location, and tactics. Russia’s tactics, while they evolve as tactics always do, tend to repeat in different locations.
Transparent economic competition alone does not in this article’s context constitute aggression, since such competition lies at the heart of healthy, capitalist economic growth and progress, and is basic to a good system of open access and unrestrained world commerce. Ruthless economic warfare tactics intended to cause populations to suffer physically, emotionally, and/or financially, in order to enrich a few demagogues and/or deny basic human rights, however, do constitute cold war aggression as meant here. Use of United Nations Security Council veto power to short-circuit well intentioned NATO (or other Western-led) peacekeeping efforts does qualify as interference, which I also take as a form of cold war aggression. (I do not include in this matrix the mounting series of recent, escalating and dangerous underwater and airspace incursions by Russia against both several NATO members, and non-NATO countries Sweden, Finland, and Japan. Some of these are unconfirmed, while others could be dismissed as mere navigation error. The incidents were fleeting, they have been reported and commented on elsewhere, and there have been no casualties not yet.)
Locations of Russian expansionism and/or interference have peppered former Iron Curtain territory. Connecting these dots draws a widespread constellation covering much former Soviet Communist turf areas many commentators suspect Russia’s imperialistic potentate Vladimir Putin and his supporters want and intend to fully control again, soon.
Locations subject to intimidation and bloodshed are of at least three different types: current Russian Federation provinces (oblasts) or ethnic autonomous districts (krais), former republics of the USSR (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) that are now fully independent countries, and countries that were part of the Warsaw Pact (Moscow’s answer to NATO) but not part of the USSR itself. Here is a list with approximate years of the most active (invasion and/or shooting and/or ruthless intimidation) conflicts in each place. These can be thought of as the New Cold War’s brushfire or proxy battles, so far.
1. The North Caucasus, particularly in the Russian Federation areas of Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and Dagestanlying at one edge of the old Ottoman Empire, these contain many Muslim residents. Bloody counter-secessionist wars, which some commentators claim were started or provoked by Russia, in the early to mid-1990s and again in 2000 to 2004 and smoldering to the present. Some journalists claim plausibly that deadly terrorist attacks supposedly committed by Chechen separatists (a crowded theater, occupied apartment buildings, a bustling subway station, a large school full of teachers and children) were actually perpetrated, or at least intentionally badly aggravated, by Russian security operatives for the Kremlin’s political gain. (One could consider Russia’s ongoing quagmire suppressing Chechnya to be Moscow’s second Vietnam, after their invasion of Afghanistan in 1979—1989.)
2. The Republic of Georgia, especially but not only in the Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Bloody, supposedly secessionist-led conflicts, encouraged and supported by Russia, occurred in the early 1990s, when Russia’s occupying peacekeepers forced one-sided frozen conflict agreements, rife with conflicts of interest favoring Moscow hegemony. These happened again in 2008. During the 2008 war, the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, was bombed extensively by Russian jets. That brief war’s total death count was several thousand fighters and innocent civilians, with some 200,000 temporarily or permanently displaced refugees.
3. Former Yugoslavia, also known as the Balkans, in Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo in the 1990s. Russia, in the UN and on the ground, supported Milosevic’s clear cut genocidal massacres while undermining NATO attempts to halt the bloodshed. Many tens of thousands died, and several millions were displaced, many across international borders. Russia then attempted, quite aggressively but ultimately unsuccessfully, to unilaterally seize a Kremlin-controlled military cantonment at the strategic Pristina Airport in Kosovo. (Russia’s current operation to expand and use an air base at Latakia, in support of dictator Bashar al-Assad in civil war-torn Syria, seems like an eerie repeat of such a blatant power grab but this time one that has not been halted, yet.)
4. Moldova’s eastern Transnistria district. Separatists supported by elements of the Soviet/Russian army broke away in a war lasting from 1990 to 1992. This remains another area of frozen conflict on Russia’s border, i.e., part of a de facto renewed Russian sphere of influence.
5. The Republic of Ukraine, in the Crimean Peninsula and in the Donets River Basin (Donbass). Harsh economic warfare over natural gas supplies in 2005-2006 and again in 2010-2011. Full- scale invasions, with about eight thousand soldiers and civilians killed on all sides, in 2013 through 2015 and ongoing despite the purported Minsk ceasefire agreement. (The economic warfare included periods of cynically, cruelly denying Ukrainian men, women, and children their basic human need to adequate heating and cooking fuel, which they needed to survive freezing winter months. Vladimir Putin in October 2014, while receiving Serbia’s highest medal at a military parade in Belgrade, threatened this freezing-out tactic again.)
6. The Baltic States: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Ongoing economic (energy) intimidation, plus destructive cyber-attacks against Estonia in 2007, which escalated in 2014 to small incursions of international borders for abducting innocent Baltic State citizens. Estonia, which likes to call herself E-stonia, has been justifiably proud of that nation’s widespread use of modern computer and communication technologies and the Internet. These cyber-attacks, according to analysts, were conducted by Russian security forces, and/or directed by such forces while manned by Russian citizen hackers—who are not officially part of any Russian government entity but do take orders from that government.
7. Armenia’s Russia-assisted domination of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region. Another late-Soviet Union, then early- Russian, now frozen armed conflict, where heavy fighting lasted from the late 1980s to 1994. There were thousands of casualties on both sides, and hundreds of thousands were displaced. The disputed territory continues to be dominated by Russian interests, with Russian peace-keeping forces holding sway over valuable Azerbaijan agricultural land and pipeline routes near Iran and Turkey.
A common theme in these matrix entries, part of modern post or New Cold War tactics, is how Russia seeks to maintain what I think of as implausible deniability for its aggression. This is done by trying to act invisibly, through third parties such as supposedly independent separatist militias, or Russian soldiers who are supposedly taking vacation, or supposedly volunteer (civilian) citizen hackers. But as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has insisted about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the evidence of Kremlin culpability is clear. Nobody at least, outside Russia’s tightly controlled internal media propaganda audience is being fooled.
Russia also seeks to justify its aggression by claiming to be simply protecting and helping Russians who reside in neighboring countries. But the definition of Russian in this context seems to depend on Moscow’s expansionist goal of the moment. It could mean Russian by place of birth or citizenship (and Russian Federation passports are handed out liberally in her near-abroad), Russian by language spoken at home, or pan-Slavic by ethnicity, or Eastern Orthodox by religion. Using such protectionism as an excuse to invade neighbors is in direct contradiction to all modern standards of civilized behavior between nations. It is much too redolent of Adolf Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland on the excuse that German speakers lived there. Of course, modern democracies do recognize that willing-coalition military invasions might occasionally be needed to intervene against violent ethnic/religious discrimination in failing states. However, there is scant evidence of any systematic, violent oppression of Russians within Russia’s neighbors, nor any evidence at all that the targeted governments in the Baltic States, or Georgia, or Armenia or Moldova or Ukraine were in any way becoming genocidal.
Some in the West argue that Russia’s renewed expansionism is a reluctant but essential response by the Kremlin, to NATO directly threatening Russian security in what used to be Moscow- owned territory. This threat is supposedly embodied in what is simply the willing (in fact, eager) expansion of NATO to include much of the former Iron Curtain. (NATO membership was promised to Georgia and Ukraine, though a date was not set.) Russia has no valid claim to renewing its empire; it lost the Cold War and pulled back its occupying forces, fair and square. It is a very basic human right for any sovereign nation to choose what international organizations to apply to join or not, and what treaties to sign and ratify or not.
The Crimea is on the Black Sea: Security in Russia’s “Watery Near-Abroad” Russia’s aggressive annexation of the Crimean Peninsula gains her much more than just some land territory and Russian- speaking citizenry. As The New York Times very rightly pointed out in “In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves,” on May 17, 2014 by William J. Broad, the Crimea juts into the Black Sea. The surrounding Black Sea waters and seabed contain many valuable resources, including fish stocks and fuel reserves. The Kremlin can try to exploit the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which establishes a 200-nautical-mile-wide Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast of each country. (UNCLOS includes somewhat ambiguous rules and regulations for drawing dividing lines when two countries’ EEZs overlap, as the Crimea’s – if it were a country, which it isn’t certainly does overlap with the rest of Ukraine’s.)
But there’s more. The Black Sea floor is of strategic importance if only because it is festooned with underwater oil and gas pipelines, leading from fossil fuel fields in Central Asia (the Caspian Sea bed, western Siberia, Kazakhstan) toward Europe. Controlling seabed corridors in its own EEZ would allow Russia to construct more such pipelines (some are underway or planned) that skirt what would be unwelcome Western influence if they were routed instead by land and/or through EEZ seabed owned by Turkey or Ukraine. As mentioned earlier, economic warfare via throttling back fuel supplies to other countries is an important tactic in Russia’s New Cold War soft-power arsenal; underwater pipelines in its own-controlled or else in open international waters are much harder for third-party nations to turn off or tap. (This tactic has also been used against the Baltic States, in the Baltic Sea.) If Russia has multiple routes to Western Europe that do not cut across Ukraine (or Turkey either), it can reap energy revenues to the former while freezing out the latter as it has already tried to do.
Additionally, possessing the Crimea gives Russia total control over the long-coveted land territory around the major former Soviet naval base at Sevastopol, which up until their invasion annexation they had been leasing from and sharing with Ukraine – and thus perforce sharing with Ukraine’s Western friends and allies. Furthermore, the Black Sea connects to the Mediterranean Sea, through the narrow Bosporus Straits and Dardanelles which both belong to Turkey. Turkey has long been a member of NATO, and neither Turkey nor the United States have yet ratified UNCLOS, although the Pentagon wants the U.S. Senate to do so.
The Montreaux Convention of 1936, as amended since then, gave Turkey sovereign control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles. This has provided NATO a major strategic advantage in case of cold conflict or hot war. During the Cold War, the USSR repeatedly protested Turkey’s ownership of these vital waterways. At times Moscow played such shenanigans as making sure a Soviet warship was always transiting the straits, so as to diminish NATO control. Russia now is reportedly trying to use selective readings of parts of UNCLOS to give it more wide-open access even in wartime through these straits. This is in direct contradiction to exclusive territorial claims it is trying to make under UNCLOS to key international straits on the Northeast Sea Route, above the coast of Siberia on the Arctic Ocean. These convention controversies seem likely to continue, and are beyond the scope of this article (as are arguments about recent alleged violations of First Cold War-era missile shield – ABM – and land-based cruise missile – INF – Treaties).
What is central to this article is for readers to recognize that land grabs along coastlines also constitute substantial ocean and seabed grabs. The Black Sea, because of its location bordering much of Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia, the western Caucasus (both North and South), and Turkey (gateway to the Middle East and Asia)—besides its ample natural resources, is a very important body of water indeed. Much of the Black Sea is deep enough for nuclear submarine operations. Western subs can enter from the Med covertly with Turkey’s compliance. Forward presence in the Black Sea gives U.S. Navy intelligence and force-projection assets, whether submarines, surface ships, or manned or unmanned aircraft, much closer reach (and longer dwell time) into Russian territory (physically and electromagnetically), than does presence staged from vessels in the Eastern Med. Speaking of cold war, keeping global perspective balance, and making multiple prongs of attack on flawed defense logic, the national security issues involved here are every bit as important as the similar unresolved conflicts about competing territorial claims between nations including the U.S. and Russia in the Arctic Ocean.
Cold Wars as a Never-ending Story: Sociable Sociopaths in Power Personally I have a theory, that the world will not soon see an end to war because the world will not soon run out of sociopaths. What is a sociopath? A collation of definitions found on the Internet shows that a sociopath (sometimes called, synchronously, a psychopath) is a person lacking in any sense of remorse or conscience, who has no regard whatsoever for the physical or psychological well being of other humans. (They often, but not always, come from a very neglectful and abusive childhood though possibly an affluent one—and there is a genetic component as well.) A taste of power corrupts them quite absolutely. Of course, many people with sociopathic tendencies are high functioning, and the majority do not come to the attention of psychiatrists or law enforcement authorities, let alone military historians. But imagine what can happen when social, psychological, political, economic, security, environmental, ethnic bigotry, and religious-strife conditions all conspire to let one become an absolute dictator!
Groups of people, even entire societies, can combine in unfortunate ways to collectively behave as a coven of sociopaths, typically under one domineering leader—this is known as a group psychosis. Sociopaths tend to be extremely, compulsively manipulative, even true geniuses at it. Smoothly charming opportunists, oily and pushy social chameleons, they make astonishingly convincing con men (and women). This is because they are perfect liars, who dissemble successfully since they have no conscience or remorse about lying, and thus give away no tells. They tend to be very egotistical, narcissistic exhibitionistic, and vindictive, reacting against any challenges to their primacy with vicious, sarcastic rhetoric—and violence, often administered for them by those they control.
Again, think about ambitious, talented sociopaths let loose in the foreign relations sphere. They excel at a twisted behavioral two-step: provoking ire in others through their own nasty conduct, then angrily condemning those others for feeling such ire rather than accept any responsibility themselves for the provocation. This last trait gives an unfair advantage to sociopathic potentates: They play on America’s so-called liberal condition, which is for some of our influential citizenry to blame ourselves for all the world’s ills.
Some psychologists estimate that 1% of the American population are sociopaths. A clinical study of 200 corporate managers by Canadian psychology professor Robert D. Hare (e.g., Psychology Today, vol. 27, no. 1, 1994, pp. 54-61) suggested that 4% of top business executives fit the diagnosis. You don’t need to be a lurid serial killer to be a sociopath/psychopath this apparent statistical distillation from 1% to 4%, from the general population down to the subset of corporate managers, suggests to me that some sociopaths are especially attracted to positions that yield great managerial power and wealth, and then their aberrant personalities provide them a competitive edge to claw their way to the top.
Ruthlessly amassing political power to eagerly command mass death and destruction certainly qualifies someone as a sociopath. The biggest wars and worst ethnic/religious cleansings of modern history were instigated by sociopaths; in total, many tens of millions of innocent people have died in the 20th century alone. Examples include Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Slobodan Milosevic. One of their best (worst) weapons as is sometimes also said about the Devil himself is how sociopaths shrewdly exploit the fact that many people don’t even suspect their terrible pathology’s very existence. They have a special knack for passing themselves off as perfectly well adjusted, happy and responsible, charismatic leaders.
Why does this matter to national defense? A sociopath is very selfish and grandiosely over-confident, but they also, over time, become increasingly reckless in pursuit of further gains, and can even appear to normal people to be suicidal. (Think Hitler invading Russia.) Negotiating effectively across a diplomatic conference table with a sociopath and their sycophantic, even psychotic retinue is exceedingly difficult.
A sociopath is diagnosed by their behavioral symptoms. Some commentators have wondered whether Vladimir Putin might be a sociopath. This is meant as a serious question, not an insult. The question is a very important one because, I would argue, it is empirically true that sociopaths with enough power do cast a spell over hordes of followers, and then start wars and/or genocides.
Humanity alas does include an unfortunate share of sociopaths. The members of this demonic talent pool are always vying among themselves and the general population for supremacy. In a perverse form of social Darwinism, only the strongest, most dangerous of the sociopaths attain the pinnacle of power, to cast their lasting stain upon human history.
We need not be 100% certain that Mr. Putin does or does not fit the diagnosis; a probability somewhat greater than zero that he might be which is what I perceive is sufficient to cause great alarm. We also need some healthy concern that his eventual successor, whoever that is, might fit the behavioral profile. This is because our duty to global security risk mitigation demands extreme caution on our part in interpreting modern Russia’s chronically disingenuous, provocatively belligerent behavioral trends; that same duty requires extreme care in making our decisions about things like friendship or engagement or containment or confrontation between the U.S. and the Russian Federation. This should particularly be borne in mind near term, during further deliberations about diplomacy, economic sanctions, and other measures aimed at resolving 1) the ongoing Ukraine/Crimea crisis, and 2) Russia’s recent air power and seapower deployments into civil-war torn Syria.
As the USSR saw the hard way, cold wars can be lost. But the resulting regime change can only be counted on as an enabler of incremental progress toward greater transparency and accountability, democracy and freedom, and peace and prosperity, if the good guys win. Certainly Russia is a much better place for most of its people to live in today, compared to under hard-line repressionists Leonid Brezhnev or Josef Stalin or the Romanov czar-emperors. This is thanks to laudable reforms first tried by Nikita Khrushchev and by Alexei Kosygin, then fomented by Gorbachev, with the further modernization instigated or at least allowed under Yeltsin and Putin with generous help and encouragement from the West. America and our allies must be certain to win any future cold wars.
Conclusion: Crucial Investments for Peace and Prosperity Hot, shooting wars are terrible and tend to spread uncontrollably for years before they can be ended. Sociopathic dictators are extremely manipulative, perfect liars who have no conscience or remorse, no regard for human life, and seek every opportunity to amass total power and start wars of aggression and genocide. If the supply of sociopaths in the human race is truly never- ending, civilized society might benefit by learning to view an ongoing cold war as an important form of peacekeeping success: It is a way to divert an entrenched sociopathic/psychopathic aggressor leader or whole society away from a path to hot war and ethnic/religious cleansing. In this sense, nuclear weapons evolved rapidly from an American hot-war-ending weapon in 1945 to a NATO hot-war-preventing weapon against the Soviet Union-led Warsaw Pact. This, again, should be viewed as an important peacekeeping success. Perhaps nuclear weapons will always be needed as a strategic deterrent, because only they are terrifying enough to frighten even a sociopath onto the path to cold war and then peace.
Peace maintenance is very, very expensive, but it is much less costly than war. Peace-enforcement and peace enablement must be invested in continually, and heavily, to prevent widespread war. Cold wars can be lost, just as they can be won. The winner can help foment loser regime change, which can allow incremental progress toward higher living standards and greater democracy but only if the good guys win. Several areas of investment come to mind:
Maintain a strong, agile, well-balanced military. A robust U.S. Navy Submarine Force is an important part of this mix. Rapid and full funding, without lapses or backsliding, is absolutely essential for the Sub Force’s badly needed dozen SSBN(X) subs (the OHIO-class replacements), and the forty-eight VIRGINIA class SSNS including SSGN-capable VIRGINIAs with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) and diverse payload vehicles. Despite great progress in fabrication and in training methods, it takes most of a decade to buy and build a nuclear sub, and to then give her crew the necessary at-sea operational seasoning. America and our allies and friends also need to invest further for balanced and effective conventional and nuclear deterrence forces and for effective all-domain defense and resiliency. This must cover everything from the missiles and dual capable aircraft (DCA) legs of a modernized, safe, secure, reliable Nuclear Triad Force; to sufficient sea-surface, air, and ground conventional capacity and capabilities; to enhanced security and recoverability for cyber- space (including seabed fiber optic cable links) and out-space assets, platforms, and personnel (including cheap, disposable cube-sat satellites).
Better sustain, and further focus, systematically informing the American general public, along with governmental policy makers and decision makers, to enhance collective memory about recent and current military realities, and also strengthen cognizance of present, near-term, and long-term future defense challenges and opportunities. Better balance and flesh out society’s and politicians’ very necessary military events consciousness. This is essential in order to chart the wisest course for our nation, that errs neither toward excessively celebrating past victories in a manner that can lead to complacency, nor excessively condemning past failures in a manner that can compromise current and future defense preparedness.
Achieve better U.S. and world energy security. One area of investment for peace and prosperity, where good laboratory progress has been made recently but long-term investment was, I think, shortchanged over the past several decades is learning to harness commercial-scale “hot” fusion reactor power for abundant electricity. Fusion reactors would be inherently much safer and much more environmentally friendly than fission reactors; they can never suffer a nuclear blast and cannot be used to make nuclear bombs. They would produce energy as efficiently as our Sun does, using as fuel source the vast world ocean’s most plentiful element, hydrogen. Generating electricity 24/7/365, independent of cycles and vagaries of sunshine, wind, and tide, they would be constructed in a capital-intensive way at centralized locations which ought to make them of significant interest at this point to the forward-looking fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries. (Hedge funds and high-tech start-ups are beginning to invest in this area as well.) Compact, mobile hot fusion reactors could also some day power surface ships and submarines, sidestepping the quandary over HEU versus LEU in our subs and aircraft carriers. Likewise, greater investment in liquid natural gas transport ships, plus more active construction of the special port facilities and local distribution pipe systems needed to deliver the gas to homes and factories, would reduce dependence on trans- national pipelines whether on land or along the seabed which can be held hostage during cold war.
Strive for better economic growth, and economic stability, in the U.S. and worldwide. Wisely balance laissez-faire capitalism and regulatory oversight, and provide such best practices structural-procedural assistance abroad especially to prevent more financial industry sociopaths (such as Bernie Madoff, or his Ponzi scheme imitators in Albania) from destabilizing whole economies. Economic disruptions heighten risk of a sociopath demagogue’s rise, while making it more difficult for democracies to sustain a good international focus and afford adequate defense preparedness. Balance taxation, revenue, and monetary policies with the need to clearly and publicly recognize something very fundamental: Money needs to be spent to preserve peace and enhance prosperity, so as to protect and grow the value of all sorts of American assets, rather than risk mass destruction of those assets in terrorism and war. We as a nation and a society simply must invest in defense, to defend corporate investments and personal savings alike.
Seek out better clinical practices and laws, and diplomatic, intelligence, and special operations mechanisms, for limiting the scope of sociopathic behavior at a national and international level. Early intervention, overtly or covertly, is key. Hitler could only be stopped by brute force. He could have been most easily stopped early, when he reoccupied the Rhineland, or annexed Austria, or occupied the Sudetenland. Sociopath dictators simply cannot be appeased. Their grandiose, rabble-rousing warmongering talk is all too often not mere campaign blather or for domestic use only. Threatening unprovoked, aggressive war should be no more acceptable free speech than shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Dictators must be held responsible, early on, for making such provocative threats, with international courts and peacekeeping bodies watching for and sanctioning this felonious conduct. The instantaneous information connectivity of today’s world, and the immense lethality of today’s weapons systems, demand early corrective intervention, with wise advance planning but without hesitation and without obfuscation. It is bogus to fear provoking the demonic urges to mass death and destruction that sociopaths already feel deep inside. It is essential to avoid enabling and empowering them. Who will be the first Hitler or Hitler-wannabe of the 21st century?
The bloody intentions of sociopathic dictators, and their mesmerizing power to delude whole populations into criminal and even group-psychotic war-making and ethnic/religious cleansing behavior, must never be underestimated. Continual investing for peace is essential. Mounting tensions with unrepentant autocrat Vladimir Putin and his Russia currently present a serious potential/emerging threat to European security, world peace, and the American way of life.
China’s own territorial and nuclear expansionism, plus the Middle East’s ongoing atrocities during Islamic extremists’ drive for some sort of New Caliphate (horrors from which China and Russia are by no means completely safe), add further urgency and complexity to calls to repeal U.S. budget sequestration and protect the funding for U.S. defense capabilities and capacity. Cold war is indeed very expensive when it occurs, but it is much better than hot war. America’s nuclear submarine fleet and her courageous, self-sacrificing Submariners successfully divert dictatorships away from starting big hot wars, they help keep cold wars cold, and they have proven their ability to undermine evil empires and allow the incremental spread of global democracy.
The research for this article used a number of entries in several Internet or e-mail resources, including COMSUBLANT’s “Undersea Warfare News,” the Popular Psychology on-line archives, Google.com, Wikipedia.org, and WebMD.com. I also read various relevant articles in the periodicals The New York Times and Foreign Affairs. I studied the following books (print editions unless noted as e-book):
Ronald D. Asmus, A Little War That Shook the World—Georgia, Russia, and the Future of the West (New York: St. Martins, 2010).
Ronald D. Asmus, Opening NATO’s Door—How the Alliance Remade Itself For A New Era (New York: Columbia University Press,
Arkady Babchenko, One Soldier’s War [Chechnya] (New York: Grove, 2007).
Stephen J. Blank, ed., Central Asia After 2014 (Lexington, KY: U.S. Army War College Press, 2013).
Stephen J. Blank, Energy, Economics, and Security in Central Asia: Russia and Its Rivals (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 1995).
Rodric Braithwaite, Afgantsy—The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 (London: Profile, 2011).
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Strategic Vision—America and the Crisis of Global Power (New York: Basic Books, 2012).
Janusz Bugajski, Cold Peace—Russia’s New Imperialism (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2004).
Oliver Bullough, Let Our Fame Be Great—Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus (New York: Basic Books, 2010).
Thomas De Waal, The Caucasus—An Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.) Mikhail Gorbachev, Memoirs (London: Doubleday, 1995).
Agnia Grigas, The Politics of Energy and Memory Between the Baltic States and Russia (Surrey, VT: Ashgate, 2013). Richard Holbrooke, To End a War [Bosnia] (New York: Random House, 1998).
Fred Charles Ikle, How Nations Negotiate (London: Praeger, 1964). Tim Judah, Kosovo—War and Revenge (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000). Robert D. Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts—A Journey Through History (New York: Random House, 1993).
Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994).
Michael Korda, Journey to a Revolution—A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (New York: HarperCollins, 2006).
Roman Khromushkin, The Struggle Over Ukraine’s Future—The Question of Integration Between Russian Federation and the European Union (Self- published e-book.)
Bobo Lo, Axis of Convenience—Moscow, Beijing, and the New Geopolitics (Washington, DC: Brookings Institute Press, 2008).
Allen C. Lynch, Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft (Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2011).
John Morrison, Boris Yeltsin—From Bolshevik to Democrat (New York: Dutton, 1991).
Anna Politovskaya, A Russian Diary—A Journalist’s Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin’s Russia (New York: Random House, 2007).
David Rieff, Slaughterhouse—Bosnia and the Failure of the West (New York: Touchstone, 1996).
Maximillian Spinner, Civil War and Ethnic Conflict in Post-Soviet Moldova (Budapest: Central European University, accessed as Kindle e-book, date not given).
Strobe Talbott, The Russia Hand—A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy (New York: Random House, 2002).
Jiri Valenta, Soviet Intervention in Czechoslovakia 1968—Anatomy of a Decision (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991).