American Politicians Play a Dangerous Game

American politicians have a poor understanding of Russian history. The Neocons must be in complete control. Blaming Russia and Putin for everything seems to be the new Washington insiders beltway game. Arrogance and hubris overcome common sense. A new cold war could become hot with the smallest of errors or miscalculations. The following article sums up the dangers.

Playing Chicken with Nuclear War

March 2, 2015

Exclusive: U.S.-Russian tensions keep escalating – now surrounding the murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov – yet almost no one on the American side seems to worry about the possibility that the tough-guy rhetoric and proxy war in Ukraine might risk a nuclear conflagration, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry (Updated with Washington Post editorial on March 3.)

The United States and Russia still maintain up vast nuclear arsenals of mutual assured destruction, putting the future of humanity in jeopardy every instant. But an unnerving nonchalance has settled over the American side which has become so casual about the risk of cataclysmic war that the West’s propaganda and passions now ignore Russian fears and sensitivities.

Nuclear bomb
Nuclear Bomb

A swaggering goofiness has come to dominate how the United States reacts to Russia, with American politicians and journalists dashing off tweets and op-eds, rushing to judgment about the perfidy of Moscow’s leaders, blaming them for almost anything and everything.

These days, playing with nuclear fire is seen as a sign of seriousness and courage. Anyone who urges caution and suggests there might be two sides to the U.S.-Russia story is dismissed as a wimp or a stooge. A what-me-worry “group think” has taken hold across the U.S. ideological spectrum. Fretting about nuclear annihilation is so 1960s.

So, immediately after last Friday night’s murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, the West’s media began insinuating that Russian President Vladimir Putin was somehow responsible even though there was no evidence or logic connecting him to the shooting, just 100 meters from the Kremlin, probably the last place Russian authorities would pick for a hit.

But that didn’t stop the mainstream U.S. news media from casting blame on Putin. For instance, the New York Times published an op-ed by anti-Putin author Martha Gessen saying: “The scariest thing about the murder of Boris Nemtsov is that he himself did not scare anyone,” suggesting that his very irrelevance was part of a sinister political message.

Though no one outside the actual killers seems to know yet why Nemtsov was gunned down, Gessen took the case several steps further explaining how – while Putin probably didn’t finger Nemtsov for death – the Russian president was somehow still responsible. She wrote:

“In all likelihood no one in the Kremlin actually ordered the killing — and this is part of the reason Mr. Nemtsov’s murder marks the beginning of yet another new and frightening period in Russian history. The Kremlin has recently created a loose army of avengers who believe they are acting in the country’s best interests, without receiving any explicit instructions. Despite his lack of political clout, Mr. Nemtsov was a logical first target for this menacing force.”

So, rather than wait for actual evidence to emerge, the Times published Gessen’s conclusions and then let her spin off some even more speculative interpretations. Yet, basing speculation upon speculation is almost always a bad idea, assuming you care about fairness and accuracy.

Read More: Nuclear War

US Foreign Policy Towards Russia Revives Cold War

What could the Obama administration be thinking? The eastward expansion of NATO over the years alarmed Russian leaders, but cooperation between the US and Russia continued to grow. That is until the US and the EU tried to place the Ukraine firmly under western control.

Nuclear missiles
Nuclear missiles

With Obama, the provocation of the Russians reached a new level. One the Russians under Putin will not ignore. Doesn’t anyone in the Obama administration know the history of the Ukraine? That it was part of Russia for 500 years? That it is clearly viewed as a buffer nation, one that the Russians will not tolerate as a member of NATO. Whatever you may think of Putin, he is a clever, tough, and yes, ruthless leader. It is not wise to demonize such a man and to underestimate his ability.

According to the US, Russia is being isolated from the world community and punished by crippling sanctions. Let’s get real here. Sanctions have hurt the Russian economy, but have fueled Russian’s pivot to the east and to nations the world over who see Russia as a more dependable ally than the bullying US. Russia is busy building its own powerful group of trading partner nations including China, Iran, India, Brazil, and Egypt.

US policies of demonizing Russia and President Putin are dangerous. Especially since we had a heavy hand in organizing and financing a coup that overthrew a duly elected Ukrainian President to be replaced by our puppet, Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko. Picking a fight with a nuclear armed Russia over a nation within their sphere of influence is risky business that only Neocons could want.

Nuclear Specter Returns: ‘Threat of War Is Higher than in the Cold War’

By Markus Becker in Munich

The Ukraine crisis has dramatically worsened relations between NATO and Russia. With cooperation on nuclear security now suspended and the lack of a “red telephone,” experts at the Munich Security Conference warn any escalation in tensions could grow deadly.

The scientists had no idea that their experiment could spell the end of civilization. On Jan. 25, 1995, Norwegian and American researchers fired a rocket into the skies of northwestern Norway to study the Northern Lights. But the four-stage rocket flew directly through the same corridor that American Minuteman III missiles, equipped with nuclear warheads, would use to travel from the United States to Moscow.

The rocket’s speed and flight pattern very closely matched what the Russians expected from a Trident missile that would be fired from a US submarine and detonated at high altitude, with the aim of blinding the Russian early-warning system to prepare for a large-scale nuclear attack by the United States. The Russian military was placed on high alert, and then President Boris Yeltsin activated the keys to launch nuclear weapons. He had less than 10 minutes to decide whether to issue the order to fire.
Yeltsin left the Russian missiles in their silos, probably in part because relations between Russian and the United States were relatively trusting in 1995. But if a similar incident occurred today, as US arms expert Theodore Postol warned recently, it could quite possibly lead to nuclear catastrophe.

Deep Mistrust

“Five or six minutes can be enough time, if you have trust, if you have communication and if you can put this machinery immediately to work,” former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on the sidelines of last weekend’s Munich Security Conference. Unfortunately, he argued, this machinery works very poorly today, and there is great mistrust.

When asked what would happen today if the 1995 missile incident happened again, Ivanov responded, “I cannot be sure if the right decision would be taken.”

Deep mistrust has developed between the West and Russia, and it is having a massive effect on cooperation on security matters.

In November 2014, the Russians announced that they would boycott the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in the United States. In December, the US Congress voted, for the first time in 25 years, not to approve funding to safeguard nuclear materials in the Russian Federation. A few days later, the Russians terminated cooperation in almost all aspects of nuclear security. The two sides had cooperated successfully for almost two decades. But that is now a thing of the past.

Instead, Russia and the United States are investing giant sums of money to modernize their nuclear arsenals, and NATO recently announced that it was rethinking its nuclear strategy. At the same time, risky encounters between Eastern and Western troops, especially in the air, are becoming more and more common, a report by the European Leadership Network (ELN) recently concluded.

“Civilian pilots don’t know how to deal with this,” explains ELN Chair Des Browne, a former British defense minister. “One of these incidents could easily escalate. We need to find a mechanism in which we can talk at the highest level.”

US General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is calling for a new “red telephone” with Moscow. Zoom
REUTERS
US General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is calling for a new “red telephone” with Moscow.
Brown, together with Ivanov and former US Senator Sam Nunn, a veteran of international disarmament policy, published an analysis in early February. The trio recommends “that reliable communication channels exist in the event of serious incidents.” In other words, these channels currently do not exist. Recently, Philip Breedlove, the head of NATO Allied Command Operations in Europe, even called for a new “red telephone,” alluding to the direct teletype connection established in 1963 between the United States and the Soviet Union after the Cuban missile crisis. A direct line had been set up between NATO and the Russian military’s general staff in February 2013, but it was cut as a result of the Ukraine crisis.

‘A Very Dangerous Situation’

“Trust has been eroded to the point of almost being destroyed,” said Nunn. “You got a war going on right in the middle of Europe. You got a breakdown of the conventional forces treaty, you got the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaty under great strain, you got tactical nuclear weapons all over Europe. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

In late January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its “Doomsday Clock” to three minutes to midnight. The last time it was set to that time was in 1983, “when US-Soviet relations were at their iciest point,” as the group of scientists explained. The only other time when the situation was even worse was in 1953, when the clock was set to two minutes to midnight. Unchecked climate change and the “nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals” pose “extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” the group’s statement read.

Read more: Nuclear Conflict