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
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
As they noted, ‘US technology, already deployed, can
pinpoint the source of a ballistic missile launch. It is, therefore,
highly unlikely that any state would dare to attack the US or allow a
terrorist to do so from its territory with a missile armed with a
weapon of mass destruction, thereby risking annihilation from a
devastating US retaliatory strike.’
The 49 generals and admirals, including Admiral
William J. Crowe, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the
Armed Forces, went on to argue to the President, ‘As you have
said, Mr. President, our highest priority is to prevent terrorists from
acquiring and employing weapons of mass destruction. We agree. We
therefore recommend, as the militarily responsible course of action,
that you postpone operational deployment of the expensive and untested
GMD (Ground-based Missile Defense) system and transfer the associated
funding to accelerated programs to secure the multitude of facilities
containing nuclear weapons and materials, and to protect our ports and
borders against terrorists who may attempt to smuggle weapons of mass
destruction into the United States.’
What the seasoned military veterans did not say was
that Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush and company had quite another agenda than
rogue terror threats. They were after Full Spectrum Dominance, the New
World Order, and the elimination, for once and all, of Russia as a
potential rival for power.
The rush to deploy a missile defense shield is
clearly not aimed at North Korea or terror attacks. It is aimed at
Russia and much less so, the far smaller nuclear capacities of China.
As the 49 generals and admirals noted in their letter to the President
in 2004, the US already had more than sufficient nuclear warheads to
hit a thousand bunkers or caves of a potential rogue state.
Kier Lieber and Daryl Press, two US military analysts, writing in the influential Foreign Affairs
of the New York Council on Foreign Relations in March 2006, noted, ‘If
the United States’ nuclear modernization were really aimed at rogue
states or terrorists, the country’s nuclear force would not need the
additional thousand ground-burst warheads it will gain from the W-76
modernization program. The current and future US nuclear force, in
other words, seems designed to carry out a pre-emptive disarming strike
against Russia or China.’
Referring to the aggressive new Pentagon deployment
plans for missile defense, Lieber and Press add, ‘the sort of missile
defenses that the United States might plausibly deploy would be
valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one—as an
adjunct to a US First Strike capability, not as a stand-alone shield.
If the United States launched a nuclear attack against Russia (or
China), the targeted country would be left with a tiny surviving
arsenal—if any at all. At that point, even a relatively modest or
inefficient missile defense system might well be enough to protect
against any retaliatory strikes…’
This is the real agenda in Washington’s Eurasian
Great Game. Naturally, to state so openly would risk tipping
Washington’s hand before the noose had been irreversibly tightened
around Moscow’s metaphorical neck. So the State Department and Defense
Secretary Gates try to make jokes about the recent Russian remarks, as
though they were Putin’s paranoid delusions.
This entire US program of missile defense and
nuclear First Strike modernization is hair-raising enough as an idea.
Under the Bush Administration, it has been made operational and
airborne, hearkening back to the dangerous days of the Cold War with
fleets of nuclear-armed B-52 bombers and Trident nuclear missile
submarines on ready alert around the clock, a nuclear horror scenario.
Global Strike: Pentagon Conplan 8022
The march towards possible nuclear catastrophe by
intent or by miscalculation, as a consequence of the bold new
Washington policy, took on significant new gravity in June 2004, only
weeks after the 49 generals and admirals took the highly unusual step
of writing to their President.
That June, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld approved a Top
Secret order for the Armed Forces of the United States to implement
something called Conplan 8022, ‘which provides the President a prompt,
global strike capability.’
The term, Conplan, is Pentagon shorthand for
Contingency Plan. What ‘contingencies’ are Pentagon planners preparing
for? A pre-emptive conventional strike against tiny North Korea or even
Iran? Or a full-force pre-emptive nuclear assault on the last
formidable nuclear power not under the thumb of the US’ Full Spectrum
The two words, ‘global strike’, are also notable.
It’s Pentagon-speak to describe a specific pre-emptive attack which,
for the first time since the earliest Cold War days, includes a nuclear
option, counter to the traditional US military notion of nuclear
weapons being only used in defense to deter attack.
Conplan 8022, as has been noted by some, is unlike
traditional Pentagon war plans which have been essentially defensive
responses to invasion or attack.
In concert with the aggressive pre-emptive 2002 Bush
Doctrine, Bush’s new Conplan 8022 is offensive. It could be triggered
by the mere ‘perception’ of an imminent threat, and carried out by
Presidential order, without Congress.
Given the details about false or faked ‘perceptions’
in the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President about Iraq’s
threat of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, the new Conplan 8022
suggests a US President might order the missiles against any and every
perceived threat or even potential, unproven threat.
In response to Rumsfeld’s June 2004 order, General
Richard Myers, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, signed the
order to make Conplan 8022 operational. Selected nuclear-capable
bombers, ICBMs, SSBNs, and ‘information warfare’ (sic) units have been
deployed against unnamed high-value targets in ‘adversary’ countries.
Was Iran an adversary country, even though it had
never attacked the United States? Was North Korea, even though it had
never in five decades launched a direct attack on South Korea, let
alone any one else? Is China an ‘adversary’ because it’s simply
becoming economically too influential?
Is Russia now an adversary because she refuses to
lay back and accept being made what Brzezinski terms a ‘vassal’ state
of the American Empire?
Because there has been zero open debate inside the
United States about Conplan 8022, there has been virtually no
discussion of any of these potentially nuclear-loaded questions.
What makes the June 2004 Rumsfeld order even more
unsettling to a world which truly had hoped nuclear mushroom clouds had
become a threat of the past, is that Conplan 8022 contains a
significant nuclear attack component.
It’s true that the overall number of nuclear weapons
in the US military stockpile has been declining since the end of the
Cold War. But not, it seems, because the US is moving the world back
from the brink of nuclear war by miscalculation.
The new missile defense expansion to Poland and
Czech Republic is better understood from the point of the remarkable
expansion of NATO since 1991. As Putin noted, ‘NATO has put its
frontline forces on our borders… think it is obvious that NATO
expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the
Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary,
it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual
trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion
intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made
after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?’
US bases encircle Russia
As Russian strategist and military expert, Yevgeny
Primakov, a close adviser to Putin, recently noted, NATO was ‘founded
during the Cold War era as a regional organization to ensure the
security of US allies in Europe.’ He adds, ‘NATO today is acting on the
basis of an entirely different philosophy and doctrine, moving outside
the European continent and conducting military operations far beyond
its bounds. NATO…is rapidly expanding in contravention to earlier
accords. The admission of new members to NATO is leading to the
expansion of bases that host the U.S. military, air defense systems, as
well as ABM components.’
Today, NATO member states include not only the Cold
War core in Western Europe, commanded by an American. NATO also
includes former Warsaw Pact or Soviet Union states Poland, Latvia,
Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary,
Slovakia and Slovenia, formerly of Yugoslavia. Candidates to join
include the Republic of Georgia, Croatia, Albania and Macedonia.
Ukraine’s President, Victor Yushchenko, has tried aggressively to bring
Ukraine into NATO. This is a clear message to Moscow, not surprisingly,
one they don’t seem to welcome with open arms.
New NATO structures have also been formed while old ones were abolished: The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague Summit. In 2003,
just after the fall of Baghdad, a major restructuring of the NATO
military commands began. The Headquarters of the Supreme Allied
Commander, Atlantic was abolished. A new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, Virginia. ACT is responsible for driving ‘transformation’ in NATO.
By 2007 Washington had signed an agreement with
Japan to co-operate on missile defense development. She was deeply
engaged in testing a missile defense system with Israel. She has now
extended her European Missile Defense to Poland, where the Minister of
Defense is a close friend and ally of Pentagon neo-conservative
war-hawks, and to the Czech Republic. NATO has agreed to put the
question of the Ukraine and Republic of Georgia’s bids for NATO
membership on a fast track. The Middle East, despite the debacle in
Iraq, is being militarized with a permanent network of US bases from
Qatar to Iraq and beyond.
On February 15, the US House of Representatives
Foreign Affairs Committee approved a draft, the Orwellian-named NATO
Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007 reaffirming US backing for the
further enlargement of NATO, including support for Ukraine to join
along with Georgia.
From the Russian point of view, NATO's eastward
expansion since the end of the cold war has been in clear breach of an
agreement between then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George H.W. Bush which allowed for a peaceful unification of Germany. NATO's expansion policy is seen as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia.
Nnew bases to guard ‘democracy’?
An almost unnoticed consequence of Washington’s
policy since the bombing of Serbia in 1999, has been establishment of
an extraordinary network of new US military bases, bases in parts of
the world where it seems little justified as a US defensive precaution,
given the threat, huge taxpayer expense, let alone other global
In June 1999, following the bombing of Yugoslavia,
US forces began construction of Camp Bondsteel, at the border between
Kosovo and Macedonia. It was the lynchpin in what was to be a new
global network of US bases.
Bondsteel put US air power within easy striking
distance of the oil-rich Middle East and Caspian Sea, as well as
Russia. Camp Bondsteel was at the time the largest US military base
built since the Vietnam War, with nearly 7,000 troops. The base had
been built by the largest US military construction company,
Halliburton’s KBR. Halliburton’s CEO at the time was Dick Cheney.
Before the start of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the Washington Post
matter-of-factly noted, ‘With the Middle-East increasingly fragile, we
will need bases and fly-over rights in the Balkans to protect Caspian
Camp Bondsteel was but the first of a vast chain of
US bases that have been built during this decade. The US military went
on to build military bases in Hungary, Bosnia, Albania and Macedonia,
in addition to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, then still legally part of
One of the most important and least mentioned new US
bases was in Bulgaria, a former Soviet satellite and now new NATO
member. In a conflict---and in Pentagon-speak there are only
‘conflicts,’ no longer wars, which involved issues of asking the US
Congress to declare them officially, and provide just reason---the
military would use Bezmer to ‘surge’ men and materiel toward the front
lines. Where? In Russia?
The US has been building its bases in Afghanistan.
It built three major US bases in the wake of its occupation of
Afghanistan in winter of 2001, at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, the
US’ main military logistics center; Kandahar Air Field, in southern
Afghanistan and Shindand Air Field in the western province of Herat.
Shindand, the largest US base in Afghanistan, was built some 100
kilometers from the border with Iran.
Afghanistan had historically been the heart of the
British-Russia Great Game, the struggle for control of Central Asia
during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. British
strategy was to prevent Russia at all costs from controlling
Afghanistan and thereby gaining a warm water port for its navy and
threatening Britain’s imperial crown jewel, India.
Afghanistan is also seen by Pentagon planners as
highly strategic. It is a platform from which US military might could
directly threaten Russia and China as well as Iran and other oil-rich
Middle East lands. Little had changed in that respect over more than a
century of wars.
Afghanistan is in an extremely vital location,
straddling South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Afghanistan
also lies along a proposed oil pipeline route from the Caspian Sea oil
fields to the Indian Ocean, where the US oil company, Unocal, had been
in negotiations, together with Cheney’s Halliburton and with Enron, for
exclusive pipeline rights to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan across
Afghanistan and Pakistan to Enron’s huge natural gas power plant at
Dabhol near Mumbai.
At that same time, the Pentagon came to an agreement
with the government of Kyrgystan in Central Asia, to build a
strategically important base there, Manas Air Base at Bishkek’s
international airport. Manas is not only near to Afghanistan; it is
also in easy striking distance to Caspian Sea oil and gas, as well as
to the borders of both China and Russia.
As part of the price of accepting him as a US ally
in the War on Terror rather than a foe, Washington extracted an
agreement from Pakistan’s military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf,
to allow the airport at Jacobabad, about 400km north of Karachi, to be
used by the US Air Force and NATO ‘to support their campaign in
Afghanistan.’ Two other US bases were built at Dalbandin and Pasni.
This all is merely a small part of the vast web of
US-controlled military bases Washington has been building globally
since the so-called end of the Cold War.
It’s becoming clear to much of the rest of the world
that Washington might even itself be instigating or provoking wars or
conflicts with nations across the world, not merely to control oil,
though strategic control of global oil flows had been at the heart of
the American Century since the 1920’s. That’s the real significance of
what Vladimir Putin said in Munich. He told the world what it did not
want to hear: The American ‘Emperor’s New Clothes did not exist. The
Emperor was clothed in naked pursuit of global military control.
During the early 1990s, at the end of the Cold War,
the Yeltsin government had asked Washington for a series of mutual
reductions in the size of each superpower’s nuclear missile and weapons
arsenal. Russian nuclear stockpiles were ageing and Moscow saw little
further need to remain armed to its nuclear teeth once the Cold War had
Washington clearly saw in this a golden opportunity
to go for nuclear primacy, for the first time since the 1950’s, when
Russia first developed Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile delivery
capability for its growing nuclear weapons arsenal.
Nuclear primacy is an aggressive offensive policy.
It means that one superpower, USA, would have the possibility to launch
a full nuclear First Strike at Russia’s nuclear sites and destroy
enough targets in the first blow, that Russia would be crippled from
making any effective retaliation.
With no credible threat of retaliation, Russia had
no credible nuclear deterrent. It was at the mercy of the supreme
power. Never before in history had the prospect of such ultimate power
in the hands of one single nation seemed so near at hand.
This stealthy move by the Pentagon for Nuclear
Primacy has, up until now, been carried out in utmost secrecy,
disguised amid rhetoric of a USA-Russia ‘Partnership for Peace.’
Rather than take advantage of the opportunity to
climb down from the brink of nuclear annihilation following the end of
the Cold War, Washington has turned instead to upgrading its nuclear
arsenal, at the same time it was reducing its numbers.
While the rest of the world was still in shock over
the events of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration unilaterally
moved to rip up its earlier treaty obligations with Russia to not build
an anti-missile defense.
On December 13, 2001, President Bush announced that
the United States Government was unilaterally abandoning the
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, and committing $8 billion
for the 2002 Budget to build a National Missile Defense system. It was
pushed through Congress, promoted as a move to protect US territory
from rogue terror attacks, from states including North Korea or Iraq.
The rogue argument was a fraud, a plausible cover
story designed to sneak the policy reversal through without debate, in
the wake of the September 11 shock.
The repeal of the ABM Treaty was little understood
outside qualified military circles. In fact, it represented the most
dangerous step by the United States towards nuclear war since the
1950’s. Washington is going at a fast pace to the goal of total nuclear
superiority globally, Nuclear Primacy.
Washington has dismantled its highly lethal MX
missiles by 2005. But that’s misleading. At the same time, it
significantly improved its remaining ICBM’s by installing the MX’s
high-yield nuclear warheads and advanced re-entry vehicles on its
Minuteman ICBMs. The guidance system of the Minuteman has been upgraded
to match that of the dismantled MX.
The Pentagon began replacing ageing ballistic
missiles on its submarines with far more accurate Trident II D-5
missiles with new larger-yield nuclear warheads.
The Navy shifted more of its nuclear ballistic
missile-launching SSBN submarines to the Pacific to patrol the blind
spot of Russia’s early warning radar net as well as patrolling near
China’s coast. The US Air Force completed refitting its B-52 bombers
with nuclear-armed cruise missiles believed invisible to Russian air
defense radar. New enhanced avionics on its B-2 stealth bombers gave
them the ability to fly at extremely low altitudes avoiding radar
detection as well.
A vast number of stockpiled weapons is not necessary
to the new global power projection. Little-publicized new technology
has enabled the US to deploy a ‘leaner and meaner’ nuclear strike
force. A case in point is the Navy’s successful program to upgrade the
fuse on the W-76 nuclear warheads sitting atop most US
submarine-launched missiles, which makes them able to hit very hard
targets such as ICBM silos.
No one has ever presented credible evidence that Al
Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah or any other organization on the US State
Department’s Terrorist Organization Black List possessed nuclear
missiles in hardened underground silos. Aside from the US and perhaps
Israel, only Russia and to a far smaller degree, China, have these in
In 1991 at the presumed end of the Cold War, in a
gesture to lower the danger of strategic nuclear miscalculation, the US
Air Force was ordered to remove its fleet of nuclear bombers from Ready
Alert status. After 2004 that too changed.
Conplan 8022 again put US Air Force long-range B-52
and other bombers on ‘Alert’ status. The Commander of the 8th Air Force
stated at the time, that his nuclear bombers were ‘essentially on alert
to plan and execute Global Strikes’ on behalf of the US Strategic
Command or STRATCOM, based in Omaha, Nebraska.
Conplan 8022 included not only long-range nuclear
and conventional weapons launched from the US, but also nuclear and
other bombs deployed in Europe, Japan and other sites. It gave the US
what the Pentagon termed Global Strike, the ability to hit any point on
the earth or sky with devastating force, nuclear as well as
conventional. Since the Rumsfeld June 2004 readiness order, the US
Strategic Command has boasted it was ready to execute an attack
anywhere on earth ‘in half a day or less,’ from the moment the
President gave the order.
In the January 24, 2006 London Financial Times,
the US Ambassador to NATO, Victoria Nuland, former adviser to Vice
President Dick Cheney and wife of a leading Washington neo-conservative
warhawk, declared that the US wanted a ‘globally deployable military
force’ that would operate everywhere – from Africa to the Middle East
It would include Japan and Australia as well as the
NATO nations. Nuland added, ‘It’s a totally different animal (sic)
whose ultimate role will be subject to US desires and adventures.’
Subject to US desires and adventures? Those were hardly calming words
given the record of Nuland’s former boss in faking intelligence to
justify wars in Iraq and elsewhere.
Now, with the deployment of even a crude missile
defense, under Conplan 8022, the US would have what Pentagon planners
called ‘escalation dominance’—the ability to win a war at any level of
violence, including nuclear war.
As some more sober minds argued, were Russia and
China to respond to these US moves with even minimal self-protection
measures, the risks of a global nuclear conflagration by miscalculation
would climb to levels far beyond any seen even during the Cuba Missile
Crisis or the danger days of the Cold War.
In a few brief years Washington has managed to
create the nightmare of Britain’s father of geopolitics, Sir Halford
Mackinder, the horror scenario feared by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry
Kissinger and other Cold War veterans of US foreign policy who have
studied and understood the power calculus of Mackinder.
The vast resources-rich and population-rich Eurasian
Heartland and landmass is building economic and military ties with one
another for the first time in history, ties whose driving force is the
increasingly aggressive Washington role in the world.
The driver of the emerging Eurasian geopolitical
cooperation is obvious. China, with the world’s largest population and
an economy expanding at double digits, urgently needs secure alliance
partners who could secure her energy security. Russia, an energy
goliath, needs secure trade outlets independent of Washington control
to develop and rebuild its tattered economy. These complimentary needs
form the seed crystal of what Washington and US strategists define as a
new Cold War, this one over energy, over oil and natural gas above all.
Military might is the currency this time as in the earlier Cold War.
By 2006 Moscow and Beijing had clearly decided to
upgrade their cooperation with their Eurasian neighbors. They both
agreed to turn to a moribund loose organization that they had
co-founded in 2001, in the wake of the 1998 Asia crisis, the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization or SCO. The SCO had highly significant
members, geopolitically seen. SCO included oil-rich Kazakhstan,
Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as China and Russia. By
2006 Beijing and Moscow began to view the SCO as a nascent
counterweight to increasingly arbitrary American power politics. The
organization was discussing projects of energy cooperation and even
military mutual defense.
The pressures of an increasingly desperate US
foreign policy are forcing an unlikely ‘coalition of the unwilling’
across Eurasia. The potentials of such Eurasian cooperation between
China, Kazakhstan, Iran are real enough and obvious. The missing link,
however, is the military security that could make it invulnerable or
nearly, to the sabre-rattling from Washington and NATO. Only one power
on the face of the earth has the nuclear and military base and know-how
able to provide that—Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The Russian Bear sharpens its nuclear teeth…
With NATO troops creeping up to Russia’s borders on
all sides, US nuclear B-52s and SSBN submarines being deployed to
strategic sites on Russia’s perimeter, Washington extending its new
missile shield from Greenland to the UK, to Australia, Japan and now
even Poland and the Czech Republic, it should be no surprise that the
Russian Government is responding.
While Washington planners may have assumed that
because the once-mighty Red Army was a shell of its former glory, that
the state of Russian military preparedness since the end of the Cold
War was laughable.
But Russia never let go of its one trump card—its strategic nuclear force.
During the entire economic chaos of the Yeltsin years, Russia never stopped producing state-of-the art military technology.
In May 2003, some months after George Bush
unilaterally ripped up the bilateral Anti-Missile Defense Treaty with
Moscow, invaded Afghanistan and bombed Baghdad into subjugation,
Russia’s President delivered a new message in his annual State of the
Union Address to the Russian nation.
Putin spoke for the first time publicly of the need
to modernize Russia’s nuclear deterrent by creating new types of
weapons, ‘which will ensure the defense capability of Russia and its
allies in the long term.’
In response to the abrogation by the Bush
Administration of the ABM Treaty, and with it Start II, Russia
predictably stopped withdrawing and destroying its SS-18 MIRVed
missiles. Start II had called for full phase out of multiple warhead or
MIRVed missiles, by both sides by 2007.
At that point Russia began to reconfigure its SS-18
MIRV missiles to extend their service life to 2016. Fully loaded SS-18
missiles had a range of 11,000 kilometers. In addition, it redeployed
mobile rail-based SS-24 M1 nuclear missiles.
In its 2003 Budget, the Russian government made
funding of its SS-27 or Topol-M single-warhead missiles a ‘priority.’
And the Defense Ministry resumed test launches of both SS-27 and
In December 2006, Putin told Russian journalists
that deployment of the new Russian mobile Topol-M intercontinental
ballistic missile system was crucial for Russia’s national security.
Without naming the obvious US threat, he declared, ‘Maintaining a
strategic balance will mean that our strategic deterrent forces should
be able to guarantee the neutralization of any potential aggressor, no
matter what modern weapons systems he possesses.’
It was unmistakable whom he had in mind, and it wasn’t the Al Qaeda cave-dwellers of Tora Bora.
Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Ivanov, announced
at the same time that the military would deploy another 69 silo-based
and mobile Topol-M missile systems over the following decade. Just
after his Munich speech Putin announced he had named his old KGB/FSB
friend, Ivanov to be his First Deputy Prime Minister overseeing the
entire military industry.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported that as of
January 2006, Russia possessed 927 nuclear delivery vehicles and 4,279
nuclear warheads against 1,255 and 5,966 respectively for the United
States. Nop two other powers on the face of the earth even came close
to these massive overkill capacities. This was the ultimate reason all
US foreign policy, military and economic, since the end of the Cold War
had covertly had as endgame the complete deconstruction of Russia as a
In April 2006, the Russian military tested the
K65M-R missile, a new missile designed to penetrate US missile defense
systems. It was part of testing and deploying a uniform warhead for
both land and sea-based ballistic missiles. The new missile was
hypersonic and capable of changing flight path.
Four months earlier, Russia successfully tested its
Bulava ICBM, a naval version of the Topol-M. It was launched from one
of its Typhoon-class ballistic missile submarines in the White Sea,
travelling a thousand miles before hitting a dummy target successfully
on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Bulava missiles were to be installed on
Russian Borey-class nuclear submarines beginning 2008.
During a personal inspection of the first regiment
of Russian mobile Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles in
December 2006, Putin told reporters the deployment of mobile Topol-M
ICBMs were crucial for Russia’s national security, stating, ‘This is a
significant step forward in improving our defense capabilities.’
‘Maintaining a strategic balance,’ he continued,
’will mean that our strategic deterrent forces should be able to
guarantee the neutralization of any potential aggressor, no matter what
modern weapons systems he possesses.’
Putin clearly did not have France in mind when he
referred to the unnamed ‘he.’ President Putin had personally given
French President Chirac a tour of one of Russia’s missile facilities
that January, where Putin explained the latest Russian missile
advances. ‘He knows what I am talking about,’ Putin told reporters
afterwards, referring to Chirac’s grasp of the weapon’s
Putin also did not have North Korea, China, Pakistan
or India in mind, nor Great Britain with its ageing nuclear capacity,
not even Israel. The only power surrounding Russia with weapons of mass
destruction was its old Cold War foe--the United States.
The Commander of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces,
General Nikolai Solovtsov, was more explicit. Commenting on the
successful test of the K65M-R at Russia’s Kapustin Yar missile test
site last April, he declared that US plans for a missile defense
system, ‘could upset strategic stability. The planned scale of the
United States’ deployment of a…missile defense system is so
considerable that the fear that it could have a negative effect on the
parameters of Russia’s nuclear deterrence potential is quite
justified.’ Put simply, he referred to the now open US quest for Full
Spectrum Dominance—Nuclear Primacy.
A new Armageddon is in the making. The unilateral
military agenda of Washington has predictably provoked a major effort
by Russia to defend herself. The prospects of a global nuclear
conflagration, by miscalculation, increase by the day. At what point
might an American President, God forbid, decide to order a pre-emptive
full-scale nuclear attack on Russia to prevent Russia from rebuilding a
state of mutual deterrence?
The new Armageddon is not exactly the Armageddon
which George Bush’s Christian fanatics pray for as they dream of their
Rapture. It is an Armageddon in which Russia and the United States
would irradiate the planet and, perhaps, end human civilization in the
Ironically, oil, in the context of Washington’s
bungled Iraq war and soaring world oil prices after 2003, has enabled
Russia to begin the arduous job of rebuilding its collapsed economy and
its military capacities. Putin’s Russia is no longer a
begger-thy-neighbor former Superpower. It’s using its oil weapon and
rebuilding its nuclear ones.
Bush’s America is a hollowed-out debt-ridden economy
engaged on using its last card, its vast military power to prop up the
dollar and its role as world sole Superpower.
Putin has obviously realized that his new-found
‘partner-in-prayer’, George W., has a large black spot hiding the
secrets of his heart. It reminded of a popular country and western
ballad from the late Tammy Wynette, ‘Cowboys don’t shoot straight like
they used to. They look you in the eye and lie with their white hats
on.’ That’s certainly the case with the famous cowboy of Crawford,
Texas in his dealings with Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world.
F. William Engdahl is author of A Century
of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, and the
soon-to-be published Seeds of Destruction: the dark side of gene
manipulation. This article was drawn from his new book, in preparation,
on the history of the American Century. He may be reached through his
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