Danger of war with Russia grows as US sends military equipment to Ukraine
By Johannes Stern and Alex Lantier
13 March 2015 --- World Socialist WebSite
Washington has begun delivering military hardware to Ukraine as part of NATO’s ongoing anti-Russian military build-up in eastern Europe, escalating the risk of all-out war between the NATO alliance and Russia, a nuclear-armed power.
The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it would transfer 30 armored Humvees and 200 unarmored Humvees, as well as $75 million in equipment, including reconnaissance drones, radios and military ambulances. The US Congress has also prepared legislation to arm the Kiev regime with $3 billion in lethal weaponry.
Washington is at the same time deploying 3,000 heavily armed troops to the Baltic republics, near the Russian metropolis of St. Petersburg. Their 750 Abrams main battle tanks, Bradley armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles are slated to remain behind after the US troops leave. This handover is aimed at “showing our determination to stand together” against Russian President Vladimir Putin, US Major General John O’Connor said in the Latvian capital, Riga.
Washington is pressing ahead despite stark warnings from Moscow that it views massive weapons deliveries by NATO to hostile states on its borders as an intolerable threat to Russian national security.
“Without a doubt, if such a decision is reached, it will cause colossal damage to US-Russian relations, especially if residents of the Donbass [east Ukraine] start to be killed by American weapons,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said last month. He called NATO’s plans “very worrying,” adding: “This is about creating additional operational capabilities that would allow the alliance to react near Russia’s borders... Such decisions will naturally be taken into account in our military planning.”
The decision is also sharpening tensions between Washington and Berlin, which backs the current policy of sanctions and financial strangulation of Russia, but opposes moves that threaten all-out war with Russia.
Visiting Washington yesterday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged a continuation of the strategy of “economic and political pressure” on Russia. Arming Ukraine, could “catapult (the conflict) into a new phase,” he warned at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank.
The mood in broad sections of the American ruling elite has turned increasingly hysterical, however, after the Kiev regime’s defeat prior to last month’s ceasefire in Ukraine negotiated by German, French, Russian, and Ukrainian officials in Minsk.
In a comment denounced by the Russian Foreign Ministry, retired Major General and TV pundit Robert Scales declared, “It’s game, set, and match in Ukraine. The only way the United States can have any effect in the region and turn the tide is to start killing Russians.”
This week, Pentagon and Congressional officials called for Washington to arm Kiev, pressing for faster action from the White House. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey are pressing for large-scale weapons deliveries to Kiev, as are leading members of Congress from both big-business parties.
“I applaud President Obama for sending a strong signal both to the people of Ukraine as well as to the Kremlin,” said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin. “But more can and must be done for Ukraine, including defensive weapons as soon as possible.”
“The fact that it appears that the president may have made a commitment to [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel while she was here, or the German ambassador, not to do that certainly has created a lot of concern on both sides of the aisle,” said Republican Senator Bob Corker.
“I don’t buy this argument that, you know, us supplying the Ukrainian army with defensive weapons is going to provoke Putin,” said Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.
With a toxic combination of maniacal aggression and thoughtlessness, the NATO alliance is lurching towards a war with Russia that could destroy the entire planet. Warnings about US policy from Berlin, which itself has led the European imperialist powers in supporting the February 2014 putsch in Kiev and backing the Kiev regime’s bloody war in east Ukraine, have at most a tactical character. The only force that opposes war is the working class, in America and Europe and internationally.
Despite Berlin’s misgivings as to US policy, the NATO alliance is pursuing its escalation against Russia. At a press conference Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO Supreme Commander of European forces General Philip Breedlove laid out the ongoing military build-up across eastern Europe. They spoke at the Supreme command Headquarters of Allied Personnel in Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, which oversees NATO operations in Europe.
Stoltenberg declared that due to the Ukraine crisis, NATO has to “expand its collective defense, as it has never done since the end of the Cold War... We will double the rapid response force from 13,000 soldiers to 30,000. We will equip the rapid response force with a spearhead of 5,000 men, which will be ready to deploy within 48 hours. And we will establish six command centers in the Baltic states and three other eastern European countries.”
Referring to NATO member states’ pledge to massively increase defense spending at the recent Wales summit, Stoltenberg pledged to “keep up the momentum.” Besides the escalation in the Baltics, naval exercises are taking place in the Black Sea, and NATO is preparing for the largest exercises for many years, with 25,000 men, in southeastern Europe.
Breedlove said he had never seen greater “unity, readiness and determination within NATO to tackle the challenges of the future together.” He was sure that this would continue.
In reality, tensions between Washington and its European allies, above all Germany, have increased in recent weeks. In its latest edition, Der Spiegelreports that Berlin is angry that “Washington’s hardliners are inciting the conflict with Moscow, first and foremost the supreme commander of NATO in Europe.”
The German Chancellor’s office criticized Breedlove for “dangerous propaganda” and making “imprecise, contradictory and even untruthful” statements.
“I wish that in political matters, Breedlove would express himself more cleverly and reluctantly,” commented a foreign-policy specialist of the Social-Democratic Party, Niels Annen. Instead, NATO has “repeatedly spoken out against a Russian offensive in the Ukraine conflict precisely at the point when in our view, the time was right for careful optimism.”
According to Der Spiegel, the US-German dispute is “fundamentally because the transatlantic partners [have] different objectives... While the German-French initiative [a reference to the Minsk peace agreement] aimed to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, for the hawks in the American administration it is about Russia. They want to push back Russia’s influence in the region and destabilize Putin’s rule. Their dream goal is regime change in Russia.”
German imperialism backed the coup in Ukraine, using the crisis to create political conditions for it to rearm within the framework of NATO and pursue its economic and geostrategic interests in eastern Europe militarily. It fears an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, however, as it could expand into all-out war between NATO and Russia, for which the German army is not yet ready.
NATO-Russia Collision Ahead?
By Patrick J. Buchanan ----- Global Research,
June 24, 2015
“U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe: A Message to Russia,” ran the headline in The New York Times.
“In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries,” said the Times. The sources cited were “American and allied officials.”
The Pentagon’s message received a reply June 16. Russian Gen. Yuri Yakubov called the U.S. move “the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War.” When Moscow detects U.S. heavy weapons moving into the Baltic, said Yakubov, Russia will “bolster its forces and resources on the western strategic theater of operations.”
Specifically, Moscow will outfit its missile brigade in Kaliningrad, bordering Lithuania and Poland, “with new Iskander tactical missile systems.” The Iskander can fire nuclear warheads.
The Pentagon and Congress apparently think Vladimir Putin is a bluffer and, faced by U.S. toughness, will back down.
For the House has passed and Sen. John McCain is moving a bill to provide Ukraine with anti-armor weapons, mortars, grenade launchers and ammunition. The administration could not spend more than half of the $300 million budgeted, unless 20 percent is earmarked for offensive weapons.
Congress is voting to give Kiev a green light and the weaponry to attempt a recapture of Donetsk and Luhansk from pro-Russian rebels, who have split off from Ukraine, and Crimea, annexed by Moscow.
If the Pentagon is indeed moving U.S. troops and heavy weapons into Poland and the Baltic States, and is about to provide arms to Kiev to attack the rebels in East Ukraine, we are headed for a U.S.-Russian confrontation unlike any seen since the Cold War.
And reconsider the outcome of those confrontations.
Lest we forget, while it was Khrushchev who backed down in the Cuban missile crisis, President Eisenhower did nothing to halt the crushing of the Hungarian rebels, Kennedy accepted the Berlin Wall, and Lyndon Johnson refused to lift a finger to save the Czechs when their “Prague Spring” was snuffed out by Warsaw Pact tank armies.
Even Reagan’s response to the crushing of Solidarity was with words not military action.
None of these presidents was an appeaser, but all respected the geostrategic reality that any military challenge to Moscow on the other side of NATO’s Red Line in Germany carried the risk of a calamitous war for causes not justifying such a risk.
Yet we are today risking a collision with Russia in the Baltic States and Ukraine, where no vital U.S. interest has ever existed and where our adversary enjoys military superiority.
As Les Gelb writes in The National Interest, “the West’s limp hand” in the Baltic and “Russia’s military superiority over NATO on its Western borders,” is “painfully evident to all.”
If NATO ups the military ante, Moscow can readily trump it. Moscow has significant advantages in conventional forces — backed by potent tactical nuclear weapons and a stated willingness to use them to sustain advantages or avoid defeat. The last thing NATO wants is to look weak or lose a confrontation.
And NATO losing any such confrontation is the likely outcome of the collision provoked by the Pentagon and John McCain.
For if Kiev moves with U.S. arms against the rebels in the east, and Moscow sends planes, tanks and artillery to annihilate them, Kiev will be routed. And what we do then?
Send carriers into the Black Sea to attack the Russian fleet at Sevastopol, and battle Russian missiles and air attacks?
Before we schedule a NATO confrontation with Russia, we had best look behind us to see who is following America’s lead.
According to a new survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, fewer than half of the respondents in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain thought NATO should fight if its Baltic allies were attacked by Russia.
Germans, by a 58-38 margin, did not think military force should be used by NATO to defend Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, though that is what Article 5 of the NATO charter requires of Germany.
Americans, by 56-37, favor using force to defend the Baltic States. On military aid to Ukraine, America is divided, 46 percent in favor, 43 percent opposed. However, only 1 in 5 Germans and Italians favor arming Ukraine, and in not a single major NATO nation does the arming of Ukraine enjoy clear majority support.
In Washington, Congressional hawks are primed to show Putin who is truly tough. But in shipping weapons to Ukraine and sending U.S. troops and armor into the Baltic States, they have behind them a divided nation and a NATO alliance that wants no part of this confrontation.
Unlike the Cuban missile crisis, it is Russia that has regional military superiority here, and a leader seemingly prepared to ride the escalator up right alongside us.
Are we sure it will be the Russians who blink this time?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com
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the Europeans have seen the consequences of war on their homelands...
America Might Have The Best Military, But It Keeps Losing Wars
John Haltiwanger ------ elite daily
The longest war in American history just ended.
Do you know anyone who fought in it? No?
Well, that explains why we lost it.
In other words, the ever-increasing disconnect between the public and the military is having a detrimental impact on America’s effectiveness in war.
When the public isn’t as connected with the military, it becomes more willing to send it off to war. Politicians and businesses have profited off this situation by sending American forces to fight in un-winnable, costly and lengthy conflicts.
Americans love the military. It’s the one institution that remains uncriticized by the public. Yet, by blindly supporting this entity, we have placed it in even greater danger.
We are doing our military a disservice by not thinking critically about the conflicts we send it to fight and die in.
The War in Afghanistan is formally over, but not in reality.The United States has the greatest fighting force in the world, but it has failed to achieve America’s larger strategic aims in the War on Terror.
After 13 years in Afghanistan, the Taliban is still alive and well. Technically, this war has now ended, but nearly 10,000 US troops will remain and continue to train Afghan forces.
The War in Afghanistan might be over in a formal capacity, but that doesn’t mean the violence there is over. Correspondingly, the ceremony held to signify the end of the war had to be held in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes in Afghanistan’s capital. This is very telling.
Obviously, the War in Afghanistan isn’t really over when you can’t even publicly celebrate its supposed conclusion without getting attacked. Not to mention, two US soldiers were killed in Taliban attacks during the past month.
Similarly, with Iraq in complete shambles right now and ISIS posing a significant threat, one can hardly argue that the 2003 Iraq War was a success. In many ways, this conflict set the stage for the rise of ISIS. You reap what you sow.
Indeed, the War on Terror has been a $1.5 trillion failure.
Why has this war been such a complete and utter debacle? It’s complicated, but in many ways it’s related to the public’s relationship with the military.
Americans love the military, but aren’t connected to it.When the War in Afghanistan began back in 2001, a majority of the American public (80 percent) supported it. The same was true for the 2003 Iraq War (72 percent).
We didn’t ask any pressing questions about the motives behind these wars. One can hardly blame us for this in some ways. We were still grieving over the tragic events of 9/11. It seemed logical that we would attack governments with alleged connections to the perpetrators of those heinous attacks.
By the beginning of 2014, however, a majority of Americans stated that their country’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan had failed.
By the end of the Iraq conflict, we’d realized that the narrative of that tragic day had been hijacked to garner support for an unjust and needless war. Saddam Hussein had no connections with al-Qaeda, he didn’t even have Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).
In Afghanistan, we spent years chasing Osama bin Laden, only to find and kill him in Pakistan. Not to mention, killing him has made no palpable difference. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban both live on, and we face a whole new series of threats with ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Africa.
Why do we support stupid and costly wars? Because the structure of our society and military makes it easy to.
World War 3: Would Russia Win?
By: VW Staff --- November 21, 2014
If the world really is on the brink of World War 3, which country would come out on top? An expert said not that long ago that the U.S. would lose to Russia, and with all of Russia's shows of military strength, it appears as if Moscow thinks they can win too. Even U.S. officials appear to be concerned that Russia has surpassed Washington in nuclear capabilities, according to Forbes contributor James Conca.
Russia versus U.S. in World War 3? Russia has been aggressively spending money on developing tactical nuclear weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin said they aimed to develop a guaranteed deterrent to protect against NATO and the U.S. Moscow apparently thinks that its own tactical nuclear weapons are better than what the U.S. and NATO has.
Russia has 5,000 nuclear weapons of various tactical classes, while the U.S. has only 300 tactical B-61 bombs. Conca points out that the U.S. will be hard-pressed to catch up to Russia in the renewed nuclear arms race, as many of the nuclear missiles built during the Cold War have been destroyed. Also the U.S. created treaties limiting its ability to develop more nuclear weapons.
Favoring Russia? Conca reports that the START 3 treaty that was put into place recently "was overwhelmingly favorable to Russia." Moscow has built next-generation long-range cruise missiles and will soon deploy them onto Russian submarines in the Black Sea and Caspian Flotilla ships.
Russian officials revealed that they plan to send some of their long-range bombers over to the Gulf of Mexico "just for practice," bringing them ominously close to the U.S. coast. Putin has accused the U.S. of fanning tensions that could lead to a new Cold War or possible World War 3, while the U.S. has accused him of the same. Conca believes that the Russians fear being seen as weak, and Russia has shown signs of being willing to use as much force as it takes to get what it wants.
Holes in U.S. nuclear plans? The author calls for U.S. officials to fix the problems that have erupted with the nation's nuclear weapons program. For example, a B-52 bomber flew six stowaway cruise missiles that had nuclear tips across the country on accident. The crew didn't even know they had the missiles, and no one even realized that they were missing.
Additionally, there have been numerous reports of low morale and gaps in training for U.S. troops charged with handling the nuclear weapons. U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel did make some comments today that suggest things could be about to change. He wants to increase nuclear funding by 10% each year in the next five years.
The Pentagon agreed to make some changes to the way the nuclear program is funded. However, this may be too little, too late, if Russia decides to strike sooner rather than later.
or, if we goad them
The Tragedy of the American Military
The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.
by James Fallows ---- The Atlantic JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015
In other words, the vast majority of Americans do not serve in the military and likely don’t even know someone who has.
As more and more US troops come home from Afghanistan, they will return to a public that has hardly any connection to them or the conflict they just fought in.
Likewise, as the US continues to rely on weaponry like drones, which require fewer troops on the ground, the prospect of war becomes even more attractive. When you can fight a seemingly costless war against an ostensible threat like terrorism, it’s not hard to get the public to support it.
When you can kill your enemies with the push of a button, war becomes more of a game than a violent reality, unless you’re on the receiving end.
Not surprisingly, a majority of Americans (65 percent) also support the use of drones and drone strikes. They do this in spite of the fact that drone strikes are arguably ineffective, illegal and immoral.
Thus, the US public needs to reevaluate the nature of its undying support for the military. This is not to say that we should stop commending those who have fought for the protection of their country. Yet, the US spends more on its military than any other country in the world. Its military is the most well-equipped fighting force in history. All the while, it keeps losing wars.
The reasons behind this are complex, and much of it has to do with behind-the-scenes political maneuvering as well as corporate interests. Long wars mean big profits for weapons manufacturers. It’s in their interests for the United States to go to war.
Accordingly, it’s in their interests for the US public to love and support the military whenever it goes to war, regardless of how senseless or imprudent the conflict may be.
As the United States continues its counterterrorism efforts and utilizes its military in various parts of the world, the public needs to demand greater accountability surrounding the use of force.
We have more of an influence than we might believe.