Ukraine and NATO Bases

Despite assurances given to Gorbachev there would be no NATO bases on Russia’s border, there they are, in the Baltic states, Poland and Romania. Vladimir Putin is determined to stop Ukraine from having them and considers the possibility of NATO bases in Ukraine comprises a casus belli. The argument of this post is such NATO bases are a disaster waiting to happen and all of them should be removed. Emotion, patriotism, fear, etc have nothing to do with it. The conclusion comes from simple mathematics.

The reason lies in the mathematics of Game Theory, and is closely related to The Prisoner’s Dilemma. The concept of that is as follows. The police arrest two criminals and keep them separate, so they cannot communicate with each other. They have insufficient evidence to get a conviction so each is offered the following deal. If you stay silent, you go free, at least of this charge, but if you confess and give evidence against your partner, you get two years in prison and he gets ten. If you keep silent and he provides evidence against you, you get ten years in prison. What should the prisoner do? The answer is, he should immediately confess and rat in his partner because he cannot trust his partner to take the option that benefits both of them.

A similar situation occurred in the Cold War. Each country had the option of spending big on armaments, or investing the money on its own infrastructure. Declining to spend on the military would lead to a better country and stronger economy, but would leave you far weaker and the opposition could overrun you. Neither side could trust the other, but that scenario favoured the US because its economy was so much stronger. At the end of WW II, Russia had to rebuild everything the Germans destroyed in Russia and that which both destroyed in the Warsaw Pact countries. The US had no damage in WW II, and had built a huge armaments business.

All the ignorant commentators are rubbishing the Russian military. It is clearly facing problems, but so does every country going to war. So, let us assume it is clearly weaker than the US, and let us say war breaks out between them. What should Russia do? The mathematical answer in the current situation is simple: let fly with every nuclear weapon you have.

Again, each side faces two choices: launch everything you have immediately and hope you can take out all the opposition or remain conventional and wait and see. If one side does not launch and the other does, the one side loses everything. If neither side launches, the situation is currently unstable, and the first one to launch wins, if anything in this could be considered a win. If both sides launch, everyone loses. So why did  this not happen during the Cold War? Mainly because both sides were so well separated if major launches were made, the other side had an hour to get its retaliation under way. In effect, the sides were in an indirect communication with each other, and knew what the other was doing. More than once, that hour gave the time to verify that the opposition had not started WW III once an alarm sounded. Those alarms came from instrumental errors, radar glitches, and in one case, even an exercise where they had forgotten to tell the key people it was an exercise. It is too easy for something to go wrong. Each side has to have its nuclear weapons a long way from the other, so there is time to correct a mistake.

The current NATO bases destroy that equilibrium; Russia has no time to think if a missile is launched from them. They cannot tell what is on the warhead. So why were such bases set up? The original idea was they would be forward conventional military bases. According to the treaty signed in 1987, intermediate-range missiles were banned, but in 2019 the US withdrew from that treaty, arguing violations, and that China was not included. Now those bases could be nuclear capable. Russia cannot do anything about those, but it does not need more. If the bases were not there, and if the US had all its nukes on its own territory, and conventional war broke out, Russia can restrain itself from launching, because there is negative information: if there are no missiles launched from the continental US, the US is not starting a nuclear war. Again, there is time to think and indirect communication.

We now see why NATO cannot afford to send aircraft into Ukraine to help the Ukrainians; if they shoot at a Russian aircraft, that is the start of WW III. Accordingly, both sides are trapped in the Prisoner’s Dilemma. If war breaks out, Russia has no option but to incinerate those bases, but that must start the nuclear exchange. Accordingly, it has no option but to try to take out as much of the US as it can before the US can really get involved. That almost certainly won’t work, but there is no other option other than for Russia to totally surrender, and that is not a particularly likely outcome.

So why the bases? To answer that, who benefits? The obvious answer is the US military Industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned against, and he could be regarded as being fairly knowledgeable about war. The US spends incredible amounts of money on Defence, and they get the most powerful military by far on the planet, but one that can be difficult to use. By enlarging NATO, the US encourages those countries to increase their defence spending, and since an alliance works best with common parts, the US Military Industrial Complex is the major beneficiary of that increased spending. The second beneficiaries are those who supply goods and services to the bases. In the Ukraine, that would be the oligarchs, who run the country. The underlying origin of this crisis is money, and the ordinary Ukrainians will pay with their lives.

Monarchic Growth of Giant Planets

In the previous post, I outlined the basic mechanism of how I thought the giant planets formed, and how their mechanism of formation put them at certain distances from the sun. Given that, like everyone else, I assign Jupiter to the snow point, in which case the other planets are where they ought to be. But that raises the question, why one planet in a zone? Let’s take a closer look at this mechanism.

In the standard mechanism, dust accretes into objects by some unknown mechanism, and does this essentially based on collision probability, and so the disk progresses with a distribution of roughly equal sized objects that collide under the same rules, and eventually become what is called planetesimals, which are about the size of the classical asteroid. (I say classical because as we get better at this, we are discovering a huge number of much smaller “asteroids”, and we have the problem of what does the word asteroid mean?) This process continues, and eventually we get Mars-sized objects called oligarchs, or embryos, then these collide to get planets. The size of the planet depends on how many oligarchs collide, thus fewer collided to make Venus than Earth, and Mars is just one oligarch. I believe this is wrong for four reasons: the first is, giants cannot grow fast enough; second, the dust is still there in 30 My old disks; the collision energies should break up the bodies at any given size because collisions form craters, not hills; the system should be totally mixed up, but isotope evidence shows that bodies seem to have accreted solely from the material at roughly their own distance from the sun.

There is an alternative called monarchic growth, in which, if one body can get a hundred times bigger than any of the others, it alone grows by devouring the others. For this to work, we need initial accretion to be possible, but not extremely probable from dust collisions. Given that we see disks by their dust that are estimated to be up to 30 My old, that seems a reasonable condition. Then, once it starts, we need a mechanism that makes further accretion inevitable, that is, when dust collides, it sticks. The mechanism I consider to be most likely (caveat – I developed it so I am biased) is as follows.

As dust comes into an appropriate temperature zone, then collisions transfer their kinetic energy into heat that melts an ice at the point of contact, and when it quickly refreezes, the dust particles are fused to the larger body. So accretion occurs a little below the melting temperature, and the probability of sticking falls off as the distance from that appropriate zone increases, but there is no sharp boundary. The biggest body will be in the appropriate zone because most collisions will lead to sticking, and once the body gets to be of an appropriate size, maybe as little as a meter sized, it goes into a Keplerian orbit. The gas and dust is going slower, due to gas drag (which is why the star is accreting) so the body in the optimal zone accretes all the dust and larger objects it collides with. Until the body gets sufficiently large gravitationally, collisions have low relative velocity, so the impact energy is modest.

Once it gets gravitationally bigger, it will accrete the other bodies that are at similar radial distance. The reason is that if everything is in circular orbits, orbits slightly further from the star have longer periodic times, in part because they move slightly slower, and in part because they have slightly further to go, so the larger body catches up with them and its gravity pulls the smaller body in. Unless it has exactly the same radial distance from the star, they will pass very closely and if one has enough gravity to attract the other, they will collide. Suppose there are two bodies at the same radial distance. That too is gravitationally unstable once they get sufficiently large. All interactions do not lead to collisions, and it is possible that one can be thrown inwards while the other goes outwards, and the one going in may circularise somewhere else closer to the star. In this instance, Ceres has a density very similar to the moons of Jupiter, and it is possible that it started life in the Jovian region, came inwards, and then finished accreting material from its new zone.

The net result of this is that a major body grows, while smaller bodies form further away, trailing off with distance, then there is a zone where nothing accretes, until further out there is the next accretion zone. Such zones get further away as you get further from the star because the temperature gradient decreases. That is partly why Neptune has a Kuiper Belt outside it. The inner planets do not because with a giant on each side, the gravity causes them to be cleaned out. This means that after the system becomes settled, a lot of residues start bombing the planet. This requires what could be called a “Great Bombardment”, but it means each system gets a bombardment mainly of its own composition, and there could be no significant bombardment with bodies from another system. This means the bombardment would have the same chemical composition as the planet itself.

Accordingly, we have a prediction. Is it right? It is hard to tell on Earth because while Earth almost certainly had such a bombardment, plate tectonics has altered the surface so much. Nevertheless, the fact the Moon has the same isotopes as Earth, and Earth has been churned but the Moon has not, is at least minor support. There is, of course, a second prediction. There seem to be many who assume the interior of the Jovian satellites will have much nitrogen. I predict very little. There will be some through adsorption of ammonia onto dust, and since ammonia binds more strongly than neon, then perhaps there will be very modest levels, but the absence of such material in the atmosphere convinces me it will be very modest.