Yakov Kedmi: US Army a Paper Tiger Composed of Low Caste Mercenaries, Not a Serious Force!
— The predictable collapse of the INF Treaty caused a stir in the world. The Western press has already buried the global security system. The threat of the Third World War an arms race, a cold war. Russia and the US will be developing new nuclear weapons. Everyone's pretty pessimistic about that. There are two possible scenarios: either Europe becomes the foothold in Russia's clash with the US or Japan ends up in the middle of a conflict between the US and China. In the latter scenario, Russia also comes into the picture. But the Middle East and now Latin America are also problematic.
Please, welcome an Israeli public figure a good friend of our show, and an outstanding expert Yakov Kedmi. The Americans' reaction was rather odd, wasn't it, Mr. Kedmi? The statement by US President Trump was quite surprising for example, the part about how he sees a large, pretty room where everyone will gather and sign a jolly good treaty and the relations between the US and Russia will immediately become jolly good. That quote is almost verbatim. I'm concerned and disturbed because every time he says that the US and Russia are about to become friends a new wave of sanctions and anti-Russian hysteria emerges along with a new arms race, as we see. What's your opinion? How close are we to a catastrophic war? How will military technologies develop? And how can Russia win this race without losing itself in the process?
Yakov Kedmi, Political Expert, Israel: I believe that he's imagining us living in a house with many rooms. There's a room with Trump, the Iranian leader, and the leaders of Europe. They're all smiling. They're discussing a new treaty instead of the one that Trump violated. There's another room in this shared apartment with Trump and the smiling North Korean leader. They're also trying to sign a new agreement. Perhaps he's obsessed with the idea of those rooms and who's inside. All he wants is to stroll from one room to another.
But seriously his actions shouldn't surprise us. They're following the same pattern. He did the same thing with Iran, North Korea and now he's doing it with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. What does Trump basically want? He wants a new agreement, a new treaty. He wants to adjust the new treaty to get, in his view, a better deal, as any businessman would. He's not happy with a single treaty. He wants to replace it with a better deal. He hopes that he'll succeed but so far, all of his attempts have failed. That's why they've suddenly changed their tone in their statements regarding the treaty. They suddenly say that they have six months to make their final decision and perhaps something will change. He hopes that perhaps the parties can manage to come to an arrangement under new terms that better suit him.
That's first. I don't think that it's possible because the Americans might perhaps realize that by terminating the treaty they could create an even worse strategic environment for the United States in general and in Europe in particular. He hopes that his withdrawal from the treaty will create tensions in your relationship with Europe instead of creating tensions in your relationship with the US. At least, that's the way they imagine it. Every European state unanimously supports Trump in this matter trying to blame Russia for the termination of the treaty. But in fact, he's setting Europe up, because today, Europe is more or less safe; nothing is threatening it. By becoming the platform for the missiles threatening Russia Europe becomes vulnerable. Extremely vulnerable. Europe exposes itself to a much greater danger than it thinks. So I believe that those steps only confirm that the US military command and political administration have been making mistakes in their strategic calculations since 1990, preparing plans for the army, its deployment, and the US strategic forces. And now, they're struggling to keep up with Russia due to the unexpected significant increase in Russia's strategic power which is now higher than America's and it continues to grow. Their withdrawal from this treaty will only increase Russia's superiority over the US on all levels.
— Yakov, there's one thing which still confuses me. For 20 years, the US has been annually spending much more money in total on its defense compared to Russia. For 20 years, they've been telling us that Russia's best minds are fleeing to the US. For 20 years, they've been telling us about the great progress by the US against the background of Russia going through tough times. And all of a sudden, we discover that despite the crazy-high budgets, Silicon Valley, the wild growth rates, everything they told us, and despite the brain drain in that direction, to the US, Russia suddenly outpaced the States. How did we manage to do that? How is that possible?
— We can draw several conclusions from that. Perhaps Russia is so rich that the quantity and quality of your talents are inexhaustible. It doesn't matter how many people left. Those who stayed are enough for the steady development of the country. If we blindly believe their statements, that's the most reasonable conclusion we can draw. People keep fleeing, Russia exports all of its intellectual capacities, but yet it keeps developing faster and faster. It doesn't just show the quality of the Russian talents. It shows that the West has underestimated Russia.
The second conclusion is more complicated. I live in a small state. Israel is a small state in the Middle East. Our military spending is much lower than of any serious European country, lower than in the UK, Germany, or France. I believe it's even lower than Italy's. But even with our modest spending, small population, and domestic issues, we've managed to create an army that's stronger than any European one. I'm not talking about the British nuclear fleet. We don't need that. We'd build the same fleet if we needed it. It all means that the United States is using its technological, economic, and military capabilities inefficiently. That's why despite the fact that the US defense budget is almost 11 times larger than Russia's, they lag behind in the principal strategic branches because they failed to correctly estimate their own capabilities as well as Russia's capabilities. They failed to focus their efforts on the principal branches. Their money was completely wasted. They have a huge army and a huge navy, but if it comes to a war with Russia, the majority of those forces are useless. The US won't be able to achieve a decisive result.
On one hand, it means that the US has enormous problems with making decisions and executing them and that America's industry and military science are inefficient; on the other hand, it means that Russia succeeded in using its modest potential in a much more efficient way.
I'll give you an example. At the recent meeting, the president of Russia told the defense minister to begin preparing the new classes of weapons, to be ready to produce and upgrade them, in case the treaty gets terminated, but to not increase the defense budget. The United States allocated money first before dealing with the treaty. They're increasing the budget and will be increasing it even further. That's the difference between the methods and efficiency of the Russian Defense Ministry and state and America's. The first thing America does is waste money without counting.
Well, this issue is not unique to American society. I believe that Germany is now looking for several billion euro that disappeared from the military budget and can't seem to find it. $25 billion similarly disappeared from the US budget and everybody's looking for it. And that's just one of the issues. Fortunately, such things haven't happened in Russia for a long time.
— Mr. Kedmi, if missile launchers, potentially threatening Israel, were deployed to your borders, how would Israel react? And how, in your opinion, will Russia react if the American missiles that are currently prohibited by the treaty appear at our borders? The treaty will remain in power for the next six months.
— I can use our country as an example. We see what's going on in Syria. If Iran builds missile bases there equipped with anything more serious than the usual Grad missiles, I believe they will be destroyed either before they acquire the missiles or right after they acquire them. We'll either wipe that base off the map so that nothing can be launched from there or we'll destroy it the moment it gets the missiles. Everybody knows and realizes that. There's no other option. We're not taking chances and we never will. That's why no country will ever be able to deploy in that region weapons which threaten Israel's wellbeing.
And I've already expressed my own opinion on Russia. There's a base in Romania. Today, it's formal purpose is missile defense, but tomorrow the US may deploy land-based missiles that can reach Omsk. That's a direct threat to Russia. One American general considers Poland to be the most convenient foothold against Russia. He's considering Poland. I'm not even talking about the Baltic states, and the distance between the Baltic borders and Moscow is about 430 miles. That's a direct threat to Russia.
And to speak of Ukraine, Russia seems to be willing to take chances, hoping that the Ukrainian government and the Americans don't dare to build a base. But what if they do? What would Russia do then? Instead of resolving the issue in advance… keeps postponing the decision until the issue becomes dire.
— It seems that we have connection issues. You keep disconnecting. Right now, we have no sound. I hope it's not the Americans trying to do everything possible to stop us from hearing Mr. Kedmi. I realize that if I worked on French or American television I would say: «See? The Russians are at it again!» But we treat technical difficulties in a much calmer manner. Sometimes technical difficulties are just technical difficulties.
While we try to resume the call, I'd like to remind you that recently there was an attempt to audit the Pentagon for the first time. It failed. However, the statement by the American experts was brilliant. They said that the mere attempt is a great accomplishment in of itself. I imagine what our traditional critics would shout if we said something like that regarding the inspections in the Russian Defense Ministry.
I hope we've managed to resume connection with Mr. Kedmi.
Mr. Kedmi, isn't it the new round of war at the level of new weaponry? Previously, the Pershings required 15 minutes to reach a target located on Soviet territory. Now, we can respond with hypersonic missiles that require only two or three minutes. It means that it's not entirely clear who will make the decision to deliver the strike and how that decision will be made. Aren't we approaching the moment when the probability of an accidental outbreak of a nuclear war (and we're planning to equip those missiles with small nuclear charges) when the probability of nuclear war increases massively? How can we build a new security architecture in that context?
— First of all, we're speaking about small charges. Once again, small charges are designed to fight countries which don't possess nuclear weapons, which is what the Americans are doing right now. Secondly, if someone wants to play at the tip of a knife and keep escalating the situation up to the point when a minor accident might result in mutual nuclear strikes, they will hold the responsibility for that. I personally consider it unwise and dangerous. It's close to committing a crime against one's own people. Such a situation must not occur. It must be prevented and avoided. As I see it, from Russia's point of view only the states that accept the Finnish option have a right to exist independently beyond or within the former borders of the USSR. All other countries… Well… Since you can't be like Finland and maintain decent relations you won't have the independence you've been striving for. It's better to do it now than to escalate the situation up to the point when nuclear war is either imminent or depends on a technical error or some idiot's orders.
— Mr. Kedmi, is there a possibility that some global treaty will be signed? Or is the development level of military technology so high that technology outpaces the idea that exists in society regarding negotiating to restrict them? We're entering a free-roam phase where everyone is for themselves.
— Those who hope that the other side will deliver on the commitments it made based on some altruistic ideas haven't studied their history. No commitment, no international commitment, has ever been fulfilled if the balance of power that the commitment was based on is gone. Today, it's pointless to rely on commitments alone. Your best option is to not have their armed forces right at the Russian border. That's much better than any signed paper, any declaration, vote, or celebration of the signing of a treaty. No missiles means no danger. If you have a paper but also see missiles, you're in for a surprise.
— Sounds menacing. America has been spreading the idea that nuclear strikes aren't that scary. Come on now, there won't be any nuclear winter. Those are just spooky stories told by Soviet scientists and those American scientists who were working for the USSR while in the USA. It feels like the new generation of strategists is calculating the acceptable level of damage for a nuclear war. The taboo has been lifted.
— Well, the Americans have never experienced a nuclear strike against their territory. They've never had a nuclear bomb blow up their city. They blissfully sip coke while watching films about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's the way they perceive war. They've never had their city destroyed. What's the point of seriously treating infantile statements by the people who base their assessment of the world situation and global conflicts on Hollywood movies? Their military realizes the threat. That's why the only thing that can sober them up is military power and a real threat that they'll be eliminated. That will make them think differently. You should stop relying on their goodwill and hoping that they'll realize their mistakes. They won't. The only thing that can impress them is when their calculations and their computers show them how many seconds they have left and how fast their cities will be wiped off the map forever. That's the best way to persuade them. It's the only way.
— Mr. Kedmi, the Americans keeps calling themselves a superpower (not without a reason). Their military tops every rating. But how effective are they in combat? Can we sum up the 50 or 40 years of the military activities of the United States? Do they actually win every war? Does their army always emerge victorious?
— Well, they were indeed victorious in Grenada. 25,000 Marines managed to defeat several hundred Cuban soldiers scattered around Grenada. Yes, they emerged victorious in Panama when they invaded the country and imposed the new loyal government. I can't remember any other victories by them. They haven't taken part in any serious war. They haven't fought a single half-decent army. Even in Vietnam When they… everybody knew that. Yes, they defeated Iraq, having an overwhelming advantage. But they've never fought a serious army. Judging by their actions in the regions where their troops were deployed, such as Vietnam or Iraq, or even their actions in Syria, we can't be too optimistic about the strength of the American army. It's very technical, it has all kinds of technical equipment, but it's not strong enough.
It was the same during the Second World War. What battles did the US win of the land battles? We're not talking about the sea but it's also problematic. What battles against the German army did the American army win during the Second World War? I can't recall a single battle. They only emerged victorious when they outnumbered the enemy by ten times, had ten times stronger weapons, and completely controlled the airspace. They know how to fight like this, but they stumble when an elaborate strategy is used against them. Remember the Battle of the Bulge, when the German troops, while being outnumbered, managed to breach the American lines? The Americans were begging for an offensive to be launched on the Eastern Front in order to relieve the Ardennes. The Germans were holding their positions against the Americans while being outnumbered by them by ten times, and despite their superiority, the American troops couldn't defeat them.
So I wouldn't jump to conclusions based on the technical equipment of the American army. Speaking of their soldiers and officers we must bear in mind the fact that it's not the best or the brightest part of American society that joins the army. It's enough to check its ethnic or racial composition or the level of education of the American soldiers or their training. So, unlike other countries, the people serving and running the American army aren't from the best part of society. Everything else is about promotion and self-promotion. Go on, promote. One can't form an opinion on the army based on Hollywood films.
— Thank you very much, Mr. Kedmi. I'm always glad to see you. We're looking forward to your return to Moscow.
After the commercial break, we'll discuss how technological development kills the human in a person.
Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.