The War Machine Springs To Life Over Syria

Update: Three hours after the initial posting of this report, the US, the UK and France conducted a missile air strike against Syria 

The events of the past few days involving Syria, the US and Russia are highly concerning.

Currently, the US is busy readying to drop just dropped ~120 missiles on Syria to punish it for an alleged poison gas attack on its civilians. I say "alleged" because no on-the-ground investigation has been conducted.

At this point, we don't really know with confidence what was done by whom. But America's war machine is straining hard against it's chain, eager to strike. And this poison gas atrocity may just be the excuse the West needs to unleash it.


We do know that Syria at one time indeed had stockpiles of chemical weapons. But they handed them over to international inspectors some years back.  Could they have kept some stocks hidden? Sure.

But we also know that the rebel jihadists in Syria have been caught making and using chemical weapons many times in the recent past.  Russia has repeatedly brought forth evidence of chemical manufacturing sites (very crude basement laboratories, really), located in areas recently recaptured from Syrian jihadists and mercenaries. So it easily could have been the jihadists that conducted the gas attack.

Are these so-called “moderate rebels” morally capable of using poison gas on civilians, children especially?  You bet they are.  These are proven head-choppers, supported by the US, who have publicly posted numerous videos of themselves beheading children.  Morals are not part of their framework or this war.

Plus, the gas war crime certainly serves their interest more than it does Assad's at this time.

Between the two suspects, it's far more likely that the increasingly desperate jihadists, who are clearly losing the fight at this point, would use any and every method at their employ to their advantage. 

The West's response right now feels like a bad detective movie. Imagine the lead investigator of a grisly murder choosing to focuses first on the neighbor down the hall, while ignoring the spouse with a past history of domestic abuse and who recently took out a very large life insurance policy on the victim.  The current "Blame Assad!" narrative seems a poorly written script where you have to overlook a lot of gaping plot holes to get through the movie.

So there hasn’t been an independent investigation to clarify with confidence who is the guilty party here. But that hasn't stopped a swift verdict from circulating throughout the western press: "Assad’s government did it, and must be punished."

Keep in mind that US-made cluster bombs are busy killing children in Yemen. And nearly 130 Yemen children die every day from starvation thanks to the combined actions of Saudi and US forces blockading that nation's access to world markets. 

Suddenly, children in Syria matter a lot to the West, while Yemen's child victims are rarely ever mentioned. Suddenly there’s an urgent moral issue being rushed through the court of public opinion.

This has all the hallmarks of the prior propaganda campaigns we’ve seen before.  Scant evidence, immediate assignment of blame, and a quick rush to military action before anybody can really properly question the train of events.

The Rising Risk Of War

Which leads us to where we are now: the US and several NATO countries may attack just attacked Syria very soon with cruise missiles launched from ships (highest likelihood) and possibly airplanes.

Any such attack, it needs repeating, would be illegal under world laws if it happens without prior UN Security Council approval. Receiving such approval will be highly unlikely, because Russia sits on that council and has veto vote power.  So any attack will, by definition be illegal, and not a sanctioned affair.

However, the US and its allies have been operating illegally in Syria for many years. They haven't shown much concern to-date for securing international approval of their actions. It's unlikely to expect that to change anytime soon.

But the US isn't the only one on the schoolyard who can throw a punch. Russia, which has been supporting the Bashir al-Assad regime in Syria, is now taking a much harder line.

After years of being increasingly painted as the West's favorite villain (the latest campaign instantly blaming Putin for the poisoning of ex-spy Skripal was particularly hamfisted), Russia has made it clear: they are done being provoked. They won't backpedal any farther. If/when the US launches missiles at Syria, Russia has promised to shoot them down and fire a counter-strike at the launchers.

This is serious folks:

Russia will shoot down all US missiles and sources of fire, Russian Ambassador says

Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said in an interview with the Lebanese TV channel Al-Manar that Russia would shoot down all missiles in case of US military aggression against Syria, RIA Novosti reports.

Russian air defence systems will be used to destroy both the weapons and the sources of fire.

Earlier, The New York Times reported that US presidential aides recommended the head of the White House to inflict a series of fierce attacks on several targets in Syria in response to the alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma, even though the fact of the chemical attack itself was never proved.

If Russia shoots back at the “sources of fire”, that means the US ships and planes used to launch the cruise missiles

I’d personally be worried sick if someone I loved was on the USS Donald Cook right now.  This is the “source of fire” most likely to be employed. 

Oddly, it’s all alone there in the Mediterranean. Other US ships appear to be days away. Perhaps it's "odd" in the same way as when the best ships in the seventh fleet were conveniently out of harm’s way when Pearl Harbor was attacked, leaving only older less seaworthy ships to be sunk, and giving President Roosevelt the casus belli he needed to get America into WW2.

Will the USS Donald Cook be the neo-cons' sacrifice as they endeavor to get their war with Russia kicked into a higher gear?

The US, for its part, is apparently busy communicating with the Russians, communicating it will seek to avoid killing any Russians if at all possible should it strike Syria.  This will limit the range of targets, but the risks are still very, very high:

A strike against Syria will likely come in the form of missiles, as was the case last year.

The United States would not want to risk putting manned aircraft over Syrian air defenses — a shoot-down would send the conflict spiraling in unforeseeable new directions.

The USS Donald Cook, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, is within easy striking range of Syria, as is a French frigate with its own cruise missiles.

These two ships, possibly aided by a US submarine, are likely to play a role in a strike.

What are the risks?

The reaction from Assad backer Moscow is unpredictable and Russia has threatened retaliatory action against the United States if missiles are fired at Syria.

The Russian army on Wednesday accused the White Helmets civil defense organization of staging a chemical weapons attack in Douma, where observers say more than 40 people died in a gas attack.

NBC News reported Tuesday that Russia has learned how to use GPS jammers to limit the capabilities of US drones operating over Syria.

“The US has to be very careful not to accidentally strike Russian targets or kill Russian advisors,” Ben Connable, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, told AFP.

“That significantly limits the number of options available to the United States, because the Russians are embedded in many cases with the Syrians.”

Connable warned that if the US accidentally or purposefully kills uniformed Russian soldiers, there would potentially be a dangerous escalation between the two nuclear powers.


The plan here is for Trump get to appear tough, garnering the praise of the war party in the US (which is solidly bi-partisan) and the war press (the entire MSM), while not killing any Russians and, frankly, not doing too much actual damage to Syria.

This is pretty much from the same playbook as last year's false-flag gas attack in Syria, when we fired 59 Tomahawk missiles. 

But this time, Russia has made it clear that any repeat of last year's missile attack will have consequences. It has moved its key naval assets out of port and into strike positions:


The Russian Navy has launched live-fire exercises off the Syrian coast as the US is still preparing for a possible military action against the country’s government.

The Russian exercises will be held from April 11 to April 26, the period when, according to some experts, the US strike will be most likely if the administration of US President Donald Trump decides to attack Syria.

On April 10, Russia’s envoy to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin once again confirming that Russian forces are ready to shoot down missiles and target the launchers in case of an escalation in the war-torn country.

Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, vowed to support the Damascus government against any attack of the US and its allies.

So now we have Russian ships in the Mediterranean on live-fire exercises, bumping around a smallish sea with US naval assets, with everybody on pins and needles as NATO-Russia relations break down and tensions rise.

What could possibly go wrong?

Again, sane people ought to be asking why we are even in this position in the first place.  Exactly what US interests are at risk in Syria? Whatever they may be, is defending them worth risking a hot confrontation with a nuclear power over? So far, I've seen zero compelling explanations on this front.

A Dangerous Advertising Campaign?

Looked at from a different angle, here's an interesting article from a Russian newspaper (translated by Google so please read past the choppy writing…) which posits that the attack will be proven a useful test of Russia’s latest anti-missile systems.

If successful, Russia may well get to sell lots of them in the future. Great news comrades! We’re getting the chance to showcase our products!

The S-400 and "Pantsiri" are preparing for a grandiose exam in Syria

"Russian air defense systems in Syria have an opportunity to show everything they are capable of," a source close to the Russian Defense Ministry noted in a comment to the newspaper VZGLYAD. Such a check is worth a lot, the interlocutor notes.

"For the military all over the world, this will be an extremely important lesson - the analysis of this blow and its reflection will long be handled by the headquarters of all the leading military powers of the world," the general believes. The subject of analysis will also be how the electronic warfare complexes (EW) will work when reflecting missile strikes.

The number of downed enemy missiles is not an end in itself, Lieutenant-General Alexander Gorkov, head of the air defense missile forces in 2000-2008, remarked in conversation with the newspaper VZGLYAD. He stressed: "The air defense forces are designed to completely conserve the object. Therefore, if only one of the 100 rockets is shot down, but the one that flew exactly to the target, and because of this the object survived, this is considered a success. "

But there are objective criteria for anti-aircraft gunners.

This indicator means the probability of a target being hit by one missile. The number of intercepted targets is divided by the total number of missiles fired. For example, less than 0.7 means low efficiency; 0.8 and above - good, 0.9 - excellent, explained earlier to the portal " Economy Today " Lieutenant General Aitech Bizhev, former deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force on the CIS Joint Air Defense System.

"If we are talking about cruise missiles going at extremely low altitudes, then the efficiency should be at least 0.85-0.90,

As an example, Bezhev cited the result of the Syrian air defense forces, which recently repulsed the attack of  Israeli aircraft. F-15 planes fired eight missiles, the Syrians intercepted five of them. Thus, the coefficient was 0.6, that is 60% of the shot down missiles. This result is not very pleasing, Bezhev complained.

However, the expert of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (ACT) Vasily Kashin believes that the destruction of 50-60% of US missiles would be a huge success for Russian weapons. In fact, he added, even the destruction of 30% can be considered a great success, if we bear in mind both Russian and Syrian air defense forces.

It should be taken into account that the Syrians used old complexes, notes Bizhev. And the newest S-400 air defense systems are located at Russian facilities - the Khmeimim base and in Tartus. According to the Lieutenant-General, the efficiency of the S-400 for unobtrusive speed targets is 0.9, that is "magnificent", 90%.

In turn, Kashin recalls: in addition to our ground-based air defense in Syria will be two Russian frigates with the complex "Shtil-1", which stand off the coast of Syria. "Each of them has a vertical launch for 24 anti-aircraft missiles," the expert reminded VZGLYAD.

Potential buyers of weapons following the outcome of this conflict will draw conclusions about which weapon systems are more effective - American cruise missiles or Russian air defense systems. For a correct assessment, it is important to consider how many missiles are fired at the covered targets. "If the enemy will use a huge number of missiles, for example, more than 200, then you do not know exactly how many missiles will be on the target. Miracles do not happen, "Kashin said. He adds that it is impossible to completely repulse such a blow.

"For example, there are 100 air targets, for each we spend two anti-missiles. With this amount you need to have a very high ammunition. Is there such a number of missiles in the ammunition of the grouping deployed in Syria? "Asks General Alexander Gorkov.

"The combat component of the S-300 division is 32 missiles (if there are eight launchers) or 48 missiles, if 12 units are available," the interlocutor points out. "If two rockets are used for each shooting, the ammunition will be enough for 16 or 24 launches, respectively." If the coefficient of 0.9 is shown in these shootings, this will be evaluated as a success, including potential buyers of Russian weapons.

Even if that was a little long and technical for you, just know I find it possibly comforting. If Russia is looking for a 'grandiose exam' of its war matériel, and the US is going to attack mainly to satisfy internal politics (and Russia knows this), then that may contain any military exchange to a relatively small skirmish (for now). 

But if not, and Russia is truly backed into a corner, tired of the West's vilification and NATO's encroachment, it will show it claws. History has long shown that the Middle East is a powder keg where conflicts can easily escalate quickly. Where escalation might lead in this case is very worrisome indeed.

Time To Prepare For War

There remains, as yet, no evidence proving Assad’s government was behind the alleged gas attack in Douma.

All that’s been presented to the world are video clips showing what appear to be stricken people. However, we have long learned that such videos prove to be fraudulent. The same White Helmets who released these clips have been caught many times before using crisis actors and staging events that look just like the videos released -- shaking cameras that sweep and lurch in tights shots over closely spaced bodies, poor lighting, etc. 

Moreover, the US and NATO blamed Assad and Russia within hours of these release of these videos, well before any actual evidence could have been collected and confirmed. As of course, they've similarly done time and again over the past years. Clearly, there's an eagerness on the West's side to find a reason to take harder action against Russia.

Will this one be it?

While the prospect of a kinetic (shooting) conflict between the West and Russia is obviously of greatest concern, the war could happen in one or several of many other forms (cyber, financial, trade, etc.) which I’ve written about extensively in the past.

We need to prepare ourselves for the prospect of war, even if this situation merely turns out to be an S-400 marketing blitz.  Because at the current trajectory, even if this event turns out not to be the flashpoint that ignites a larger confrontation, the odds of one that does happening soon is just too damn high.

It’s very clear that the US has embedded neocons that want a unipolar world where the US is top dog and gets to boss around China and Russia.  That makes war “highly likely” in our future. 

China and Russia quite rightly believe that they deserve to be treated on more equal footing and have their own national pride and internal political realities with which to contend, meaning they cannot appear to be pushed around by the US.  Saving face is important.

In Part 2: What To Prepare For we assess the most likely paths the current standoff may take, the probability of each, and what the ramifications of each would be. Knowing tomorrow's likeliest outcomes will help you best prepare today.

An escalating conflict between the US and Russia, even if limited to a proxy war in Syria, will result in tremendous casualites -- of life, of geopolicital relations, and of markets. Protect yourself, those you love, and your wealth from becoming part of the collateral damage.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

While editing this piece, the song '99 Red Balloons' by Nena kept playing in my head. So I thought it appropriate to title the report based on one of the lyrics, which go in part:

Ninety-nine red balloons Floating in the summer sky Panic bells, it's red alert There's something here from somewhere else The war machine springs to life Opens up one eager eye Focusing it on the sky Where ninety-nine red balloons go by Ninety-nine Decision Street Ninety-nine ministers meet To worry, worry, super scurry Call the troops out in a hurry This is what we've waited for This is it, boys, this is war The president is on the line As ninety-nine red balloons go by
Sure seems like the President and the neo-cons may well be whooping "This is it, boys!". Sad.

There’s something about hearing this song in German that really does it for me.

And the lyrics:

Gore Vidal was famous for saying that we live in the United States of Amnesia. After the lies that led up to the Iraq war or the aftermath of trashing Libya for shit reasons, nobody remembers or cares. To think people could go back and look at Secretary McNamara’s comments on the the Gulf of Tonkin incident or Lincoln’s attempts to bust James K Polk for likely lying about Mexicans attacking us on US soil as justification for the Mexican-American war is far too much to ask. What the Lusitania was actually carrying or how the Maine likely came to explode…may as well be speaking Portuguese. I’m just hoping for the best as Russia and China back Assad while the West, Saudi “terrorist supporter” Arabia, along with our welfare queen Isreal push for all out war against a country ruled by a secular leader that harbors one of the last Christian communities in the Middle East. How many people in vagina hats will march for peace and the prevention of the slaughter of countless thousands of innocents? Next to none…the TV didn’t let them know this was a thing.

Russia claims that the reported chemical attack in Syria last Sunday was staged by the “white helmets,” a US-funded NGO lauded by mainstream media for their humanitarian work, while long-suspected of performing less-than humanitarian deeds behind the curtain.
Speaking with EuroNews, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizov, said “Russian military specialists have visited this region, walked on those streets, entered those houses, talked to local doctors and visited the only functioning hospital in Douma, including its basement where reportedly the mountains of corpses pile up. There was not a single corpse and even not a single person who came in for treatment after the attack.”
“But we’ve seen them on the video!” responds EuroNews correspondent Andrei Beketov.
There was no chemical attack in Douma, pure and simple,” responds Chizov. “We’ve seen another staged event. There are personnel, specifically trained - and you can guess by whom - amongst the so-called White Helmets, who were already caught in the act with staged videos.”…

(Meanwhile, the White House said that the US is confident the Syrian regime was behind the chemical weapons attack, based on: media sources, victims’ symptoms, videos, and “reliable information indicating coordination between Syrian military officials before the attack.”)

Russia’s response to tonight’s extra curricular bombing. What are the consequences and when will we learn about them?

Here is the statement from Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anataloy Antonov,

The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard.
A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.
All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.
Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.
The U.S. – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.

I wonder how many more times the majority of the people here in the states will swallow yet another staged gas attack. How about some more “Poppy” Bush’s incubator babies, Collin Powell’s vial of anthrax, or Dubya’s mushroom clouds and WMDs? They haven’t used those in awhile. I personally know people that still believe that bin Laden’s “Cheyenne Mountain”, as described by Rummy, was real:

Here's a detailed analysis of a WW2 false flag operation based upon the Italian Nazi's own documents. Nothing ever changes.

How many missles were fired?
How effective were the Russian defense systems?
Have the Russians followed through with their threats of retaliation against the missle launch sites?
Where are the best sites to get these details?
I did note that all South Front video has been banned from Facebook. Is the timing of this a coincidence?

So, correct me if I missed something, but isn’t all we have the assertions of the US et al saying that Assad was behind this and Syria and Russia saying it was staged? From the comments, it seems like people have concluded that it was a totally made-up attack. Aren’t we lacking proof either way?

US says they fired twice as many missiles as in 2017 attack. That would mean around 120.
Syria claims to have shot down 13.
Doesn’t sound like the Russians shot at the ships and planes - yet.
What comes next as a Russian response? Who knows.

Yes we are lacking proof from either the US or Russian claims but only one side was compelled to shoot before the proof could be collected. Considering that the inspectors are supposed to be there working tomorrow, I’d say it looks like the US, UK, France didn’t feel they could wait for facts.

As far as it goes they can’t really do much more to prove a negative. It would be up to the individual to accept their proof or not. They have offered proof, plenty of it on, it would be fair to say you haven’t accepted their proof as true.
That however doesn’t really matter, it’s the russian reaction to the situation as they understand it, or as they have stated it. If they understand this to be a test of their resolve they must hit back and hard. Then it becomes a series of escalations. Lets pray putin is smarter than trump and we avoid a nuclear exchange.
Hey, i wonder what a geiger counter is selling for on ebay?

Sigh…and here I was, planning on ignoring that next “incoming missile” alert on my device…Aloha, Steve

thatchmo wrote:
Sigh.....and here I was, planning on ignoring that next "incoming missile" alert on my device.....Aloha, Steve
I think we're good, bro. If we're not within 10 miles of Pearl or Barking Sands, probably OK.

I was just having that discussion with the Sweetheart. I think PMRF, as a testing and research facility, would make a pretty tasty spoil of war, so would probably be off the “A” list. Thankfully, a big, wet mountain 'tween it and us…Pearl on the other hand, historically not a great place to be, and, unfortunately, upwind. What a shitty thing to have to discuss, eh? Take good care, Aloha, Steve.

So this means that the Russians didn’t hack the US election after all? That’s a win, right?

I intuitively doubt that the West’s attack on Syria, crass in thinking though it is, will lead us to war. But if it does, it will be a confrontation almost entirely of the West’s own making.
In September 2011, in written evidence to the UK’s House of Common Defence Committee, I predicted that unilateral Western action in Libya would not only prove ineffective, but worse mistakenly inspire others in the Middle East, including Syria, to rise up in the (mistaken) hope that the West would support them, whilst at the same time causing the Russians and Chinese no longer to trust our use of the UN Security Council. It gives me no pleasure whatsoever, to be proved right.
The West has failed to understand Syria, the inverse of Iraq, as a chapter in the struggle between Sunni and Shia that has been going on since the 7th Century.
In Iraq, a Sunni minority regime governed a Shia majority population. Our intervention, and the imposition of democratic processes ensured that Shia rule would ensue; a Shia regime with strong emotional links with Iran, the Shia centre-of-gravity. The Sunni countries, led by Saudi Arabia, were never comfortable with this predictable outcome, notwithstanding that they grudgingly supported the West’s actions.
In Syria, the situation is the reverse. Assad’s Shia minority regime governed a majority Sunni population, and it is no surprise that the key backers of the Sunni uprising are the Saudis and Quataris. But the difference is that, unlike Saddam Hussein, Assad has powerful long-term backers, lRussia and Iran. Furthermore, Assad’s Alwaites know that if the Syrian Sunni majority were to win, then the Alawites would be slaughtered as a people. So they have no reason to give in or compromise, and were always likely to fight to the bitter end. All of this, which was unclear to us, was always clear to Russia, who backed the likely winner from the outset. None of these observations are intended to judgemental, about the rightness or wrongness of the dire situation on the ground, rather all is simply reflections of what got us to where we are. As a result, we, the West, now find ourselves in a ludicrous and dire situation largely of our own making.
First, we have, through our actions in Libya all those years ago, encouraged an Arab Spring, which we’ve assumed is about democracy breaking out, whereas it is much more complex, and largely about economic failure and religious conflict.
Second, we have failed to understand the specific politico-religious dynamics of the Syrian conflict, and how they interweave more generally into the wider Middle East.
Third, we have failed to understand Russia, a country that is naturally European in its cultural makeup, and instead - through our actions in Libya, and subsequently Ukraine and our recent responses to the UK nerve agent question - reduced the chances of diplomatic solutions and increased the chances of military mistake.
And to top it all, at a time when we’ve increased the risks of military mistake, we are now taking military action, unsanctioned by our populations who are rightly more cautious than our bellicose politicians, that offers no prospect whatsoever of improving the situation.
The brilliant American diplomat, George Kennan, said in February 1966, of the US involvement in Vietnam:
If we were not already involved as we are today in Vietnam, I would know of no reason why we would wish to become involved and I can think of several reasons why we would wish not to. Vietnam is not a region of major military, industrial importance. It is difficult to believe that any decisive developments of the world situation would be determined by what happens in that country. If it were not for considerations of prestige that arise precisely from our present involvement, even in a situation in which South Vietnam was controlled exclusively by the Viet Cong, whilst regrettable and no doubt morally unwarranted, would not in my opinion present dangers enough to justify our direct military involvement.
Replace ‘Vietnam’ with ‘Syria’, and the ‘Viet Cong’ with the ‘Assad regime’ and the statement holds good, in my opinion, for the West’s involvement in Syria.
My brother, a brilliant Arabist, has thought for some time that the West would have been better to back Assad, and I think he has a point. I have written elsewhere that a first principle when considering military intervention is the classic medical principle of ‘First do no harm.’ I think I would now add to this, ‘If you have done harm, mistakenly, then don’t do any more.’ And certainly don’t do anymore that increases the chances of conflict with Russia, one of the world’s 2 leading energy suppliers and the primary supplier of natural gas to Europe.

stevejermy wrote:
My brother, a brilliant Arabist, has thought for some time that the West would have been better to back Assad, and I think he has a point. I have written elsewhere that a first principle when considering military intervention is the classic medical principle of 'First do no harm.' I think I would now add to this, 'If you have done harm, mistakenly, then don't do any more.' And certainly don't do anymore that increases the chances of conflict with Russia, one of the world's 2 leading energy suppliers and the primary supplier of natural gas to Europe.
Yes, let's use the Oath! Or something like it. Here's a proposal. The Hippocratic Oath is actually many paragraphs long, and contains several important principles. "First do no harm" does not appear in the original texts (but does appear many centuries later. The closest original line is "noxamvero et maleficium propulsabo" or "I will utterly reject harm and mischief" That works for me! Let's roll with that one as a nation. That would be swell. Works for me. I also like this line from the original text: "Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient" You either help your patient or you do not harm them. In other words, if you cannot improve on the situation you do nothing. Stand back. Said differently, and which is in the podcast with Robert Whitaker on psychoactive drug addictions (coming out soon) the idea is that if you cannot improve upon a patient's natural rate of recovery and healing, don't do anything. So if someone was going to get better in three weeks, you either administer a treatment that helped them get better in less time (or more completely) or you don't do anything at all. So all of the poppycock about how "Iraq is better off without Saddam" and "Libya is better off without Ghaddafi" is a load of bollox. Utter horsecrap. Both places are desperately worse off today than when Dr. USA administered his treatments. With any luck, the USA can someday begin to join the ranks of civilized nations that are able to adhere to principles that are thousands of years young. /sarc./ I'm still digging around for clues as to how Russia will react...