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RUSSIA AND THE NEW COLD WAR
When cowboys don't shoot straight
By F William Engdahl
most awesome military machinery, a shield to protect it from limited attack is aimed directly at Russia, the only other nuclear power with anywhere near the capacity to launch a credible nuclear counterpunch.
Were the United States able to shield itself effectively 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 was being starkly realistic.
It's now clear that since the end of the Cold War in 1991, 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 and B-52 fleets, 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 Anti-Ballistic Missile (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 response convincing enough to deter a US first strike.
The ability of both sides - the Warsaw Pact and NATO - during the Cold War mutually to annihilate one another led to a nuclear stalemate dubbed by military strategists "MAD" - mutual assured destruction. It was scary but, in a bizarre sense, was 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 was "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, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Bowman, director of the US Air Force (USAF) missile-defense program, recently called missile defense "the missing link to a first strike".
More alarming is the fact that 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 and the 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, of which 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."
Before becoming Bush's defense secretary in January 2001, Rumsfeld headed a presidential commission advocating the development of a missile defense for the United States.
The Bush-Cheney administration was so eager to advance its missile-defense plans that the president and defense secretary ordered the waiving of the usual operational testing requirements essential to determining whether the highly complex system of systems was effective. The Rumsfeld missile-defense program was strongly opposed within the US military. On March 26, 2004, no fewer than 49 generals and admirals signed an Open Letter to the President appealing for missile-defense postponement.
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, went on to argue to Bush, "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, Vice President 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, once and for all, of Russia as a potential rival.
The rush to deploy a missile-defense shield is clearly not aimed at North Korea or terror attacks. It is aimed at Russia and, to a lesser extent, the far smaller nuclear capacities of China. As the generals and admirals noted in their letter to Bush in 2004, the US already has 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 magazine last March, 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 preemptive disarming strike against Russia or China."
Referring to the aggressive new Pentagon deployment plans for missile defense, Lieber and Press wrote, "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 Robert 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, harking 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.
Global strike: Pentagon Conplan 8022
The march toward 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, then-defense secretary Rumsfeld approved a top-secret order for the armed forces of the United States to
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