Finian Cunningham – February 07, 2018
Provocatively and recklessly, the American Pentagon has recently accused Russia of threatening European allies with nuclear weapons. On the basis of this deplorable accusation, the US is embarking on a $1 trillion upgrade of its nuclear arsenal.
The American nuclear revamp not only puts it in potential violation of disarmament agreements; the move is also destabilizing nuclear forces and increases the risk of catastrophic global war.
If ever Washington’s reckless power politics were in doubt, this is surely the touchstone issue.
As with so many other allegations leveled by Washington against Russia – from election hacking to Olympic sports doping – the claim that Moscow is engaging in nuclear threats is far from evidenced. Indeed, one could say, it’s in the realm of fantasy.
But the insane claim is then used to justify Washington’s own reprehensible behavior.
In the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) published last week, US Defense Secretary James Mattis states in the document’s preface that “Russia’s seizure of Crimea and nuclear threats against our allies, mark Moscow’s decided return to Great Power competition.”
Mattis goes on to make other claims against Russia, including that it is in breach of arms controls treaties to reduce nuclear stockpiles. He also alleges that Moscow is using “non-strategic nuclear systems to provide a coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict,” and that Moscow is “lowering the threshold for first-use of nuclear weapons.”
At the same time, it was reported this week, even by US media, that Russia has fully complied with meeting its reduction targets for nuclear weapons prescribed by the 2010 New START accord.
In any case, the Pentagon’s anti-Russia accusations continue unabated. In particular, Washington claims that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by developing short-range land-launched cruise missiles. Moscow has denied any violation. Again, Washington does not present evidence to verify its claims.
Presumably, what Washington is referring to is the installation by Russia of Iskander ballistic missiles in its exclave territory of Kaliningrad adjacent to the Baltic states and Poland. This is also what the Pentagon appears to be referring to when it accuses Russia of “threatening our allies”.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite – a notorious Russophobe and ardent NATO cheerleader – recently said that the Russian Iskanders in Kaliningrad (range 500km) were threatening “half of Europe”.
But hold on a moment. Kaliningrad is Russian soil. As Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out, it is Russia’s sovereign right to position any of its forces anywhere on its own territory.
NATO’s warped logic has also been applied in the case of Russian military holding exercises on its Western flank. Last year, when Russia held its Zapad defense drills there were hysterical claims from NATO and the Western media that Moscow was about to invade the Baltic region.
Meanwhile, it goes without a hint of irony, that NATO has increasingly built up its forces and military maneuvers along Russia’s Western borders over the past decade and more. Yet, Washington and its allies get away – thanks to Western media servility – with the double-think that such force build-up on Russia’s borders is “defensive”; while any counter-move by Russia from within its territory is distorted as “outrageous” and “offensive”.
Getting back to the issue of nuclear weapons and allegations of Russia’s threat, the stark conclusion from Washington’s warped logic is that Moscow is not allowed to have any nuclear weapons.
Evidently, the US-led NATO military alliance is permitted to station warplanes, warships, troops and tanks on Russia’s borders, including anti-missile systems – all in violation of past agreements. But if Russia positions defensive systems on its own territory then it is behaving provocatively, illicitly, and threateningly. Which then on the basis of this absurd claim allows Washington to expand its nuclear forces against Russia – as the Pentagon is proposing to do in its latest Nuclear Posture Review.
Specifically, Washington is committing to a “more flexible use” of nuclear weapons, and the development of new submarine-launched cruise missiles, as well as so-called “low-yield” ballistic warheads.
Such a move will potentially bring the US into severe breach of non-proliferation and arms control treaties. That is, the very malign behavior that Washington is provocatively accusing Moscow of.
Truly, Washington’s logic is an amalgam of Orwellian and Dr Strangelove.
Furthermore, an extremely sinister change in the American nuclear doctrine is its call for explicitly using “nuclear deterrence” in a scenario of conventional military conflict or, what it dubiously deems to be “new forms of aggression” by adversaries.
This is a highly dangerous move by the Pentagon to lower the trigger for deploying nuclear weapons – and on the basis of its faulty, politicized perception about what constitutes “aggression.”
For example, the US has repeatedly accused Russia of “hybrid warfare” with regard to the conflict in Ukraine. Russia is accused of instigating that conflict, when in reality, it was Washington and Europe’s meddling in the internal affairs of that country, resulting in a neo-Nazi coup in Kiev in February 2014.
The United States has continually accused Russia of engaging in “asymmetric warfare” from “cyberattacks” and “election interference”. Such claims have never been substantiated, let alone verified – yet they have been raised to the alarmist level of allegedly constituting a “national security threat”.
The anti-Russia political climate being whipped up by Washington – from “Russiagate” to cyberattacks, from sports doping to nuclear aggression – has reached the level of hysterical insanity where Russia by merely having a military defense system is now being traduced as somehow behaving criminally and offensively.
However, parlaying this perverse logic, the US is moving to increase its nuclear threats against Russia – in contravention of international agreements and any objective reasoning.
Even US media outlets like the Washington Post and US-based scientists warned this week that the new nuclear posture was a disturbing drift towards catastrophic war.
American history professor Colin Cavell, commenting for this column, said that the hegemonic mentality of the US ruling class is such that no other powers are tolerated to have weapons, even if for self-defense purposes.
Said Cavell: “The US is a capitalist society. It is the preeminent imperialist power in the world today. As such, those who rule the US perceive that maintaining a class-divided society to be of paramount concern. Internationally, this translates into maintaining at least a two-tiered international system where the US is master and the rest of the world are its servants. This will not change until capitalism is overthrown or destroys itself.”
This attitude of US rulers is ultimately tyrannical in their relations to the rest of the world. Ironically, American vice president Mike Pence this week accused North Korea of being “the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet.”
With regard to Russia, the logic of the US is this: You are not allowed to have nuclear weapons, nor even a viable conventional defense system. We, on the other hand, are allowed to threaten you with increasing menace of nuclear annihilation until you do as we demand.
In short, supreme arrogance. But an arrogance that will bring its own downfall.