Russia & China are ‘challenging the world order’ – US Defense Sec

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. © Carlos Barria
Although the US military “do not seek” a new Cold War, it is determined to oppose the rising global powers – Russia and China – in order to protect the US-dominated “international order,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said.

Carter delivered this surprisingly direct and candid program statement, riddled with accusations against Russia for what he called “nuclear saber-rattling” and “violating sovereignty” of US allies, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, AP reported on Saturday.

The US official once again put Russia and China in the same league as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) when listing America’s top-ranked bogeymen.

“Terror elements like ISIL, of course, stand entirely opposed to our values. But other challenges are more complicated, and given their size and capabilities, potentially more damaging,” he said.

“Some actors appear intent on eroding these principles and undercutting the international order that helps enforce them… Of course, neither Russia nor China can overturn that order. But both present different challenges for it,” Carter said.

According to AP, Russia and China are challenging “American preeminence” and Washington’s so-called “stewardship of the world order” as they reassert themselves on the international arena as serious military powers.

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According to Carter, their “challenging activities” can be seen at every possible level, be it at sea, in the air, in space – or even in cyberspace. “Most disturbing” for the US official, however, is whathe called “Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling,” which in his view “raises questions about Russian leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and whether they respect the profound caution nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to the brandishing of nuclear weapons.”

It is not quite clear exactly what “brandishing” Carter was referring to, but there was, indeed, a recent Russian reaction to new US plans to deploy advanced nuclear bombs at the Büchel Air Base in Germany. The deployment is the latest move planned as part of a joint NATO nuclear sharing program, which involves non-nuclear NATO states hosting more than 200 US nuclear warheads.

The Kremlin said that new US nukes deployed in Europe would destroy the strategic balance in the region and force Russia to take similar measures.

“This is another step and, unfortunately, it is a very serious step, towards an increase in tensions on the European continent… It may lead to the destruction of the strategic balance in Europe. Therefore it would definitely cause Russia to take corresponding counter-steps and counter-measures in order to restore the strategic balance and parity,” President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in September.

Interestingly, from Carter’s perspective, it is Moscow that is forcing Washington to – unwillingly! – enter a new Cold War-era style arms race.

“We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia. We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake; the United States will defend our interests, our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all,” Carter said.

There is a state that is stirring conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, and guess what, its name is Russia – appears to be the message Carter was determined to impress upon his audience.

“In Europe, Russia has been violating sovereignty in Ukraine and Georgia and actively trying to intimidate the Baltic states. Meanwhile, in Syria, Russia is throwing gasoline on an already dangerous fire, prolonging a civil war that fuels the very extremism Russia claims to oppose,” was the US Defense Secretary’s assessment of the role Russia has played in the two world regions.

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In particular, Russia and China have been accused of not following the principles of the global order: peaceful resolution of disputes, freedom from coercion, respect for state sovereignty, and freedom of navigation.

To confront the threat, the US military industrial complex is heavily investing in cutting-edge warfare technologies “that are most relevant to Russia’s provocations.” Such as? “New unmanned systems, a new long-range bomber… innovation in technologies like the electromagnetic railgun, lasers and new systems for electronic warfare, space and cyberspace, including a few surprising ones I really can’t describe here,” Carter said – which, of course, by no means could be interpreted as saber-rattling or provoking an arms race.

Moreover, in response to Russian “aggression,” the US is now modernizing its entire nuclear arsenal, including its bombers and submarines, long-range missiles – not to mention the nukes themselves.

Could there be any doubt the world order is safe under such stewardship?