US pursues 'strategy of chaos' in Europe and Asia
President Putin announced on Tuesday that Russia will increase its nuclear arsenal. The Russian leader said the country is concerned about NATO placing military hardware in Europe on a permanent basis. The Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg accused Russia of nuclear “saber rattling” and “destabilizing”. Meanwhile, US Air force Secretary Deborah Lee James is pushing NATO countries to boost their defense spending to the agreed level of 2 percent of GDP.
RT:NATO was very quick to brand Putin's announcement as “nuclear saber rattling” and “destabilizing.” Is this Russia's response to NATO's plans for Europe, or is there something wider to this?
Gerald Horne: It’s both. This is a very dangerous turn of events. First of all we must condemn in unvarnished terms the adventurism of US authorities in sending more armament to Russia’s western borders. I think in order to understand this we have to first recognize that during the Cold War there was a fair amount of anti-Moscow sentiment generated in the USA. That is to say, the Soviet Union was castigated as the evil empire. Therefore, it’s very easy and simple for certain US politicians to play upon that anti-Moscow sentiment today.
Second, we now recognize, respectively, that the Cold War was more than about communism as we were told. US geo-strategists now acknowledge that Russia is the most valuable territory on this small planet, because it is the land bridge between the richest continent, that is, Europe, and the continent of the future, Asia. Therefore, the US wants to dominate if not control Moscow.
RT:Do you see us locked in an arms race now? Is it just the beginning, as far as you’re concerned? How do you see this playing out?
GH: I’m afraid that it’s difficult to be optimistic at this precise moment. We can only hope that US geo-strategists will recognize that their hands are full. They are trying to confront the so-called Islamic State on the Syria-Iraqi border; they are trying to confront China in the South China Sea. And one would think that it was enough, and that sober heads would prevail in Washington and… they would pull back from the brink and the precipice and say that armament going to Russia’s western borders will not be sent.
Sara Flounders, Head of the International Action Center: “Military tensions, as frightening as they are to anyone thinking about it rationally, are enormously profitable to the largest industries in the US: the military industries, the oil industries, and banking that is so connected in with these major industries. They profit off of war, off of the threat of war, off of the sale of military equipment. They look for reasons to escalate and to make very, very dangerous provocations...”
RT:What do you think has prompted this tough rhetoric we have been hearing from NATO over the last few months in regard to President Putin?
GH: Keep in mind that the US pursues what can be called a ‘strategy of chaos.’ Before the Ukraine crisis of February 2014, there was concern in Washington that Germany was joined too close to both Moscow and Beijing. Germany, as you know, has been a major investor in Russia over the last decade or more. With the Ukraine crisis that has erupted, the US has pressured Germany to put sanctions on Russia and now it’s upping the ante by sending these armaments to Russia’s western borders. This is in part a strategy to keep Berlin in line.
RT:Is there any hopes for the de-escalation of the conflict? Do you see any time soon both sides of the conflict say enough is enough and get down to the negotiating table?
GH: A few weeks ago you may recall that after a very frigid interlude between Moscow and Washington, Secretary of the State John Kerry met with President Putin in Sochi. I would now urge and encourage Secretary of the State John Kerry to pack his bags and head off to Moscow to meet with President Putin sooner rather than later to put a cap on this dangerous turn of events.
Back to arms race- US & Russia beefing up their military forces
Martin McCauley, author and Russia analyst said that the lack of trust between Russia and NATO leads back to the Cold War.
RT:Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia will beef up its nuclear arsenal this year by adding 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles. NATO was quick to brand Putin's announcement as quote ‘nuclear saber rattling.’ Is that justified, do you think?
Martin McCauley: I think that from Russia’s point of view they have every right to increase their nuclear arsenal with a number of ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles], 40 new ones. They are going to increase the radar and they are going to increase the number of Armata tanks and so on. Russia is a sovereign country, and they have the absolute right to beef up the security if they regard it as necessary. Obviously, Vladimir Putin thinks that this moment and time it is necessary for Russia to increase its arsenal.
That said NATO will look at that and say: “Right that in fact makes it more important from our point of view.” NATO has to find a mission and it has been trying to convince its members to increase their defense budgets which have been a very hard task, because every country has been dropping its defense budget. So now NATO will point to that, the Secretary General will point to that and say: "Look, Vladimir Putin is putting more missiles, more tanks, more radar, and all the rest… It’s time for you to start spending more on defense, because it is very important for our security, for everyone’s security.”
All that said, one side is just responding to the other. It’s like going back to the Cold War when somebody had a new weapon then the other said, “we must have the same weapon, or even a better weapon.” In other words, you have an arms race. And the Russian Deputy Minister of Defense said: “We’re now in an arms race.”
Sara Flounders, Head of the International Action Center on concern of people in the EU about the military built-up on their countries: “They should certainly be concerned, because it is happening on their doorstep. And it is a policy imposed by NATO which is the US-dominated, the US-commanded military alliance based in Europe. Certainly, they are being used and they also pay the bills for this.”
RT:On Monday, the US Air Force Secretary announced plans to station F-22 fighter jets in Europe, and more troops and military hardware could follow. Where do you see this ending?
MM: It means the lack of trust between the two sides- we go back to the Cold War. The thing that was of extreme value was trust, but that was only created in the late Gorbachev era, and it was there during the 1990s and in part of the 2000s. But unfortunately trust has diminished at present. When you have a lack of trust, it means each side then suspects that the other side is trying to surpass it in the nuclear arsenals, conventional arsenals, and so on. And then they beef up their forces. In other words, it becomes an arms race, and there is no end to it.
The only end to it is when the two sides come together and say: “Look, we can destroy each other and the planet if we go ahead with a war, or if a war is accidently set off. It’s in our both interest to come together and find a solution to this.” Because NATO, the Baltic States and Poland feel insecure, so therefore NATO is bringing in F-22 jets, heavy artillery, and so on. The Russian response will be to counter that because they will see that as an increasing threat.
RT:So how far do you think it is going to go before somebody will say that it has gone too far, we need to talk?
MM: They will only do when that when it becomes too expensive. Vladimir Putin has already said the enormous military expenditure up to 2020 has to slow down. I think it’s the air force and the navy would not get the ships and aircraft they were thought to get as soon as possible. Therefore, the expense will tell. In the US it will be the same thing because nuclear arsenals and conventional forces are enormously expensive at the time when the economy is not doing very well in either country. It is better to spend money on civilian and on civil projects than on military projects because military projects in the end you can’t use them, you can’t make any use of them except in a war. Both sides realize that the war would be generally destructive, they would lose that war. You can’t win a nuclear war, you can’t win a conventional war nowadays, and you have to come together, find some language, some halfway house or even a quarter ways towards the house and start talking.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.