That would be what military people term Nuclear Primacy (Conplan 8022)

August 1, 2007

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Putin and the Geopolitics of the New Cold War: Or what happens when Cowboys don`t shoot straight like they used to …

By F William Engdahl, February 18, 2007

The frank words of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to the assembled participants of the annual Munich Wehrkunde security conference have unleashed a storm of self-righteous protest from Western media and politicians. A visitor from another planet might have the impression that the Russian President had abruptly decided to launch a provocative confrontation policy with the West reminiscent of the 1943-1991 Cold War.

However, the details of the developments in NATO and the United States military policies since 1991 are anything but ‘déjà vu all over again’, to paraphrase the legendary New York Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra.

This time round we are already deep in a New Cold War, which literally threatens the future of life on this planet. The debacle in Iraq, or the prospect of a US tactical nuclear pre-emptive strike against Iran are ghastly enough. In comparison to what is at play in the US global military buildup against its most formidable remaining global rival, Russia, they loom relatively small. The US military policies since the end of the Soviet Union and emergence of the Republic of Russia in 1991 are in need of close examination in this context. Only then do Putin’s frank remarks on February 10 at the Munich Conference on Security make sense.

Because of the misleading accounts of most of Putin’s remarks in most western media, it’s worth reading in full in English (go to http://www.securityconference.de for official English translation).

Putin spoke in general terms of Washington’s vision of a ‘unipolar’ world, with ‘one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making, calling it a ‘world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.’

Then the Russian President got to the heart of the matter: ‘Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.’

Putin continued, ‘We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?’

These direct words begin to touch on what Mr Putin is concerned about in US foreign and military policy since the end of the Cold War some 16 or so years back. But it is further in the text that he gets explicit about what military policies he is reacting to. Here is where the speech is worth clarification. Putin warns of the destabilizing effect of ‘space weapons.’—‘it is impossible to sanction the appearance of new, destabilising high-tech weapons…a new area of confrontation, especially in outer space. Star wars is no longer a fantasy – it is a reality… In Russia’s opinion, the militarization of outer space could have unpredictable consequences for the international community, and provoke nothing less than the beginning of a nuclear (arms race – f.w.e.) era.’

He then declares, ‘Plans to expand certain elements of the anti-missile defence system to Europe cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of what would be, in this case, an inevitable arms race?’

What does he refer to here? Few are aware that while claiming it is doing so to protect itself against the risk of ‘rogue state’ nuclear missile attack from the likes of North Korea or perhaps one day Iran, the US recently announced it is building massive anti-missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Poland? Missile defense? What’s this all about?

 

Missile Defense and a US Nuclear First Strike

On January 29 US Army Brigadier General Patrick J. O`Reilly, Deputy Director of the Pentagon`s Missile Defense Agency, announced US plans to deploy anti-ballistic missile defense elements in Europe by 2011, which the Pentagon claims is aimed at protecting American and NATO installations from enemy threats coming from the Middle East, not Russia. Following Putin’s Munich remarks, the US State Department issued a formal comment noting that the Bush Administration is ‘puzzled by the repeated caustic comments about the envisaged system from Moscow.’

Oops…Better send that press release back to the Pentagon’s Office of Deception Propaganda for rewrite. The Iran missile threat to NATO installations in Poland somehow isn’t quite convincing. Why not ask long-time NATO member Turkey if the US can place its missile shield there, far closer to Iran? Or maybe Kuwait?
Or Israel?

US policy since 1999 has called for building some form of active missile defense despite the end of the Cold War threat from Soviet ICBM or other missile launch. The National Missile Defense Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-38) says so: ‘It is the policy of the United States to deploy as soon as is technologically possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate) with funding subject to the annual authorization of appropriations and the annual appropriation of funds for National Missile Defense.’ Missile defense was one of Donald Rumsfeld’s obsessions as Defense Secretary.

Why now?

What is increasingly clear, at least in Moscow and Beijing, is that Washington has a far larger grand strategy behind its seemingly irrational and arbitrary unilateral military moves.

For the Pentagon and the US policy establishment, regardless of political party, the Cold War with Russia never ended. It merely continued in disguised form. This has been the case with Presidents G.H.W. Bush, William Clinton and with George W. Bush.

Missile defense sounded plausible if the United States were vulnerable to attack by a tiny band of dedicated Islamic terrorists able to commandeer a Boeing aircraft with boxcutters. The only problem is missile defense is not aimed at rogue terrorists like Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, or states like North Korea or Iran.

From them the threat of a devastating nuclear strike on the territory of the United States is non-existent. The US Navy and Air Force bomber fleet today stands in full preparation to bomb, even nuke Iran back to the stone age only over suspicions she is trying to develop independent nuclear weapon technology. States like Iran have no capability to render America defenceless, without risking nuclear annihilation many times over.

Missile defense came out of the 1980’s when Ronald Reagan proposed developing a system of satellites in space and radar bases around the globe, listening stations and interceptor missiles , to monitor and shoot down nuclear missiles before they hit their intended target.

It was dubbed Star Wars by its critics, but the Pentagon officially has spent more than $130 billion on such a system since 1983. George W. Bush increased that significantly beginning 2002, to $11 billion a year, double the level during the Clinton years. And another $53 billion for the following five years has been budgeted.

 

Washington’s obsession with Nuclear Primacy

What Washington did not say, but Putin has now alluded to in Munich, is that the US missile defense is not at all defensive. It is offensive, and how.

The possibility of providing a powerful state, one with the world’s most awesome military machinery, a shield to protect it from limited attack, is aimed directly at Russia, the only other nuclear power with anywhere the capacity to launch a credible nuclear counterpunch.

Were the United States able to effectively shield itself from a potential Russian response to a US nuclear First Strike, the US would be able simply to dictate to the entire world on its terms, not only to Russia. That would be what military people term Nuclear Primacy. That is the real meaning of Putin’s unusual speech. He isn’t paranoid. He’s being starkly realistic.

Since the end of the Cold War in 1989, it’s now clear that the US Government has never for a moment stopped its pursuit of Nuclear Primacy. For Washington and the US elites, the Cold War never ended. They just forgot to tell us all.

The quest for global control of oil and energy pipelines, the quest to establish its military bases across Eurasia, its attempt to modernize and upgrade its nuclear submarine fleet, its Strategic B -52 bomber command, all make sense only when seen through the perspective of the relentless pursuit of US Nuclear Primacy.

The Bush Administration unilaterally abrogated the US-Russian ABM Treaty in December 2001. It’s in a race to complete a global network of missile defense as the key to US nuclear primacy. With even a primitive missile defense shield, the US could attack Russian missile silos and submarine fleets with no fear of effective retaliation, as the few remaining Russian nuclear missiles would be unable to launch a convincing response enough to deter a US First Strike.

The ability of both sides—the Warsaw Pact and NATO—during the Cold War, to mutually annihilate one another, led to a nuclear stalemate dubbed by military strategists, MAD—mutual assured destruction. It was scary but in a bizarre sense, more stable that what we have today with a unilateral US pursuit of nuclear primacy. The prospect of mutual nuclear annihilation with no decisive advantage for either side, led to a world in which nuclear war had been ‘unthinkable.’

Now, the US pursues the possibility of nuclear war as ‘thinkable.’ That’s really mad.

The first nation with a nuclear missile shield would de facto have ‘first strike ability.’ Quite correctly, Lt. Colonel Robert Bowman, Director of the US Air Force missile defense program, recently called missile defense, ‘the missing link to a First Strike.’

More alarming is the fact no one outside a handful of Pentagon planners or senior intelligence officials in Washington discusses the implications of Washington’s pursuit of missile defense in Poland, Czech Republic or its drive for Nuclear Primacy.

It calls to mind ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses,’ the September 2000 report of the hawkish Project for the New American Century, where Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld were members. There they declared, ‘The United States must develop and deploy global missile defenses to defend the American homeland and American allies, and to provide a secure basis for US power projection around the world.’ (author’s emphasis).

Before becoming Bush’s Defense Secretary in January 2001, Rumsfeld headed a Presidential Commission advocating the development of missile defense for the United States.

So eager was the Bush-Cheney Administration to advance its missile defense plans, that the President and Defense Secretary ordered waiving usual operational testing requirements essential to determining whether the highly complex system of systems was effective.

The Rumsfeld missile defense program is strongly opposed within the military command. On March 26, 2004 no less than 49 US generals and admirals signed an Open Letter to the President, appealing for missile defense postponement.

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