Monday 25 April 2016

Washington - over-stretched militarily and wildly irrational - and risking nuclear war

Broke and Paranoid...How the US Risks Nuclear War

Many observers fear that not only are we seeing a new Cold War, but that we are also in the throes a new global arms race. This stems from the United States being both wildly over-stretched militarily and wildly irrational.

Finian Cunningham

24 April, 2016
In short: broke and paranoid.

Twenty-five years after the official end of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, political and military leaders in Washington continue to portray Russia and China as “existential threats”. This level of threat-designation is not reciprocated by Moscow or Beijing.
While the Russian and Chinese leadership are no doubt wary about maverick American power, still there is nowhere a comparable rhetorical riposte of aggression. Even though it could be reasonably argued for, given the routine, shrill claims made by Washington against Russia and China.
This is the first point. Washington’s assessment of security risks in the world is so far off reality. It is often prejudiced, subjective, heavily propagandized, and inaccurate.

Take the recent close encounter in the Baltic between the USS Donald Cook guided-missile destroyer and Russian fighter jets. The incident was some 70 nautical miles off Russia’s territory, yet US officials decried it as “evidence of Russian aggression”.
The same illogical inversion of reality is asserted against China which is routinely accused of impinging on territories in the South China Sea – by American forces patrolling thousands of miles from their home bases.
At least in the heyday of the old Cold War, US planners had a semblance of ideological basis for their hostility towards Moscow and Beijing. Anti-Communism may have been overblown, but that perceived threat had an ideological premise invoking the need for military power.
Today, what is the basis for American hostility towards Russia or China? There is negligible justification for American belligerence other than specious claims about Russian and Chinese aggression. The reality is that the aggression is one-sided American conduct.

Arguably, it is about trying to preserve US hegemony and maintaining a unipolar world of American dominance in the face of an emerging multipolar world. A world in which a resurgent Russia and China are deemed to be “threats” – not in terms of being actual existential enemies, but simply because they are legitimate rival powers. The trouble with monopoly power is that any diminution is seen by those who wield such dominance as an unacceptable threat.
But, unlike the former Cold War, America’s new Cold War against Russia and China is untenable, with no objective security rationale. It is simply on the basis of a paranoid projection of threat owing to an abnormal need to preserve an unsustainable hegemony of declining US capitalism.
A second point is that this American paranoia is driving a new nuclear race.
In a recent New York Times article headlined ‘Race for Latest Class of Nuclear Arms Threatens to Revive Cold War’, the top American news publication appeared to lay equal blame on Russia, China and the US for fueling militarism.

Here is an extended quote from the article: “American officials largely blame the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, saying his intransigence has stymied efforts to build on a 2010 arms control treaty and further shrink the arsenals of the two largest nuclear powers. Some blame the Chinese, who are looking for a technological edge to keep the United States at bay. And some blame the United States itself for speeding ahead with a nuclear ‘modernization’ that, in the name of improving safety and reliability, risks throwing fuel on the fire.”
The apparent “balanced” perspective of the NY Times is a crafty concealment of the reality that, by far, the US is the party fueling a renewed arms race.
US military spending on conventional and nuclear weapons continues its decades-long pattern of far exceeding that of either Russia or China.
According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the annual spend on such weapons by the US in 2011 (latest available figures) was $61 billion.

That compares with Russia’s $15 billion and China’s $7 billion on nuclear weapons. In other words, the US spends four times what Russia does and nearly three times as much as Russia and China combined.

Only last year it was reported that the Obama administration has committed Washington to spend an additional $1 trillion over the next three decades in refurbishing and upgrading the US nuclear arsenal.

Thus, if a new global arms race is underway – as seems to be the case – then the one country that stands accountable for inciting this escalation is the US, not Russia or China.
It should be noted that this de facto nuclear-weapons expansion by Washington is in flagrant violation of its legally binding commitments under the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty. The trend also contradicts President Obama’s much ballyhooed speech in 2009 when he called for nuclear disarmament, for which he subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nonetheless, this rampant militarism by Washington – based on nothing but a new Cold War paranoia – is leading to a dangerous condition of US imperial over-reach.
American political analyst Randy Martin reckons that the US military industry is more “bloated and inefficient” than it has ever been at any time in history. He says that not only is this imposing a fatally crippling financial burden on the US economy, it also creates an American military force that is racked by chronic inefficiency.
Russia spends a fraction of what the US does on its military, yet Russian weaponry is proving to be much more effective,” says Martin.
The danger is that the US appears to be trying to offset its inadequate and wasteful military industry by pursuing new alternative nuclear weapons, such as so-called “mini-nukes”.
Other options being explored by the US include the development of hypersonic missiles to give itself a “first-strike” offensive advantage.
As analyst Randy Martin sees it: “Russia has demonstrated it has superior agility in modernizing its military. But this is perceived as a threat to the US because its military-industrial complex has become bedeviled by bloat, corruption, perpetual contracts that protect jobs that in turn keep Congressional members in office.”
The analyst adds: “Consequently, the US self-perception of military superiority is being thwarted by its inability to match the mythical challenges it has thrown up to preserve its unipolar ambitions.”
In other words, Washington is moving headlong into military overstretch, leading to financial ruin, leading to insecurity.
But, as Randy Martin points out, this “existential inadequacy from a bloated US military capacity may prompt US rulers to choose a nuclear pre-emptive strike as a means to gain parity or defeat its perceived adversaries.”
Such logic in Washington would, of course, be seen by most people around the world as deeply deranged.
In any objective sense, there can be no reasonable basis for such unremitting US hostility towards Russia or China.
The thing is though, the US ruling class is far from objective or rational. It is drowning in its own hubris, self-entitlement, privilege, superiority and ultimately paranoia. Broke, paranoid and nuclear armed – not a good combo.
And, irony of ironies, this is the same nation that constantly claims to uphold world peace.

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