V. Putin and the Geopolitics
of the New Cold War:
Or, what happens when Cowboys don't shoot straight like they
F. William Engdahl
Feb 19, 2007
The frank words of Russia's
President Vladimir Putin to the assembled participants of the
annual Munich Wehrkunde security conference have unleashed a
storm of self-righteous protest from Western media and politicians.
A visitor from another planet might have the impression that
the Russian President had abruptly decided to launch a provocative
confrontation policy with the West reminiscent of the 1943-1991
However, the details of the
developments in NATO and the United States military policies
since 1991 are anything but 'déjà vu all over again',
to paraphrase the legendary New York Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra.
This time round we are already
deep in a New Cold War whose stakes are literally the future
of life on this planet. The debacle in Iraq, or the prospect
of a US tactical nuclear pre-emptive strike against Iran are
ghastly enough. In comparison to what is at play in the US global
military buildup against its most formidable remaining global
rival, Russia, they loom relatively small. The US military policies
since the end of the Soviet Union and emergence of the Republic
of Russia in 1991 are in need of close examination in this context.
Only then do Putin's frank remarks on February 10 at the Munich
Conference on Security make sense.
Because of the misleading accounts
of most of Putin's remarks in most western media, it's worth
reading in full in English (go to www.securityconference.de
for official English translation).
Putin spoke in general terms
of Washington's vision of a 'unipolar' world, with 'one center
of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making,
calling it a 'world in which there is one master, one sovereign.
And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all
those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because
it destroys itself from within.'
Then the Russian President
got to the heart of the matter: 'Today we are witnessing an almost
uncontained hyper use of force - military force - in international
relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of
permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength
to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts.
Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.'
Putin continued, 'We are seeing
a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international
law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming
increasingly closer to one state's legal system. One state and,
of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped
its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic,
political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other
nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?'
These direct words begin to
touch on what Mr Putin is concerned about in US foreign and military
policy since the end of the Cold War some 16 or so years back.
But it is further in the text that he gets explicit about what
military policies he is reacting to. Here is where the speech
is worth clarification. Putin warns of the destabilizing effect
of 'space weapons.' - 'it is impossible to sanction the appearance
of new, destabilising high-tech weapons...a new area of confrontation,
especially in outer space. Star wars is no longer a fantasy -
it is a reality... In Russia's opinion, the militarization of
outer space could have unpredictable consequences for the international
community, and provoke nothing less than the beginning of a nuclear
(arms race-f.w.e.) era.'
He then declares, 'Plans to
expand certain elements of the anti-missile defence system to
Europe cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of
what would be, in this case, an inevitable arms race?'
What does he refer to here?
Few are aware that while claiming it is doing so to protect itself
against the risk of 'rogue state' nuclear missile attack from
the likes of North Korea or perhaps one day Iran, the US recently
announced it is building massive anti-missile defense installations
in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Poland? Missile defense? What's
this all about?
Missile Defense and a US Nuclear First
On January 29 US Army
Brigadier General Patrick J. O`Reilly, Deputy Director of the
Pentagon`s Missile Defense Agency, announced US plans to deploy
anti-ballistic missile defense elements in Europe by 2011, which
the Pentagon claims is aimed at protecting American and NATO
installations from enemy threats coming from the Middle East,
not Russia. Following Putin's Munich remarks, the US State Department
issued a formal comment noting that the Bush Administration is
'puzzled by the repeated caustic comments about the envisaged
system from Moscow.'
Oops...Better send that press
release back to the Pentagon's Office of Deception Propaganda
for rewrite. The Iran missile threat to NATO installations in
Poland somehow isn't quite convincing. Why not ask long-time
NATO member Turkey if the US can place its missile shield there,
far closer to Iran? Or maybe Kuwait? Or Israel?
US policy since 1999 has called
for building some form of active missile defense despite the
end of the Cold War threat from Soviet ICBM or other missile
launch. The National Missile Defense Act of 1999 (Public Law
106-38) says so: 'It is the policy of the United States to
deploy as soon as is technologically possible an effective National
Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of
the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether
accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate) with funding subject
to the annual authorization of appropriations and the annual
appropriation of funds for National Missile Defense.' Missile
defense was one of Donald Rumsfeld's obsessions as Defense Secretary.
What is increasingly
clear, at least in Moscow and Beijing, is that Washington has
a far larger grand strategy behind its seemingly irrational and
arbitrary unilateral military moves.
For the Pentagon and the US
policy establishment, regardless of political party, the Cold
War with Russia never ended. It merely continued in disguised
form. This has been the case with Presidents G.H.W. Bush, William
Clinton and with George W. Bush.
Missile defense sounded plausible
if the United States were vulnerable to attack by a tiny band
of dedicated Islamic terrorists able to commandeer a Boeing aircraft
with boxcutters. The only problem is missile defense is not aimed
at rogue terrorists like Bin Laden's Al Qaeda, or states like
North Korea or Iran.
From them the threat of a devastating
nuclear strike on the territory of the United States is non-existent.
The US Navy and Air Force bomber fleet today stands in full preparation
to bomb, even nuke Iran back to the stone age only over suspicions
she is trying to develop independent nuclear weapon technology.
States like Iran have no capability to render America defenceless,
without risking nuclear annihilation many times over.
Missile defense came out of
the 1980's when Ronald Reagan proposed developing a system of
satellites in space and radar bases around the globe, listening
stations and interceptor missiles, to monitor and shoot down
nuclear missiles before they hit their intended target.
It was dubbed Star Wars by
its critics, but the Pentagon officially has spent more than
$130 billion on such a system since 1983. George W. Bush increased
that significantly beginning 2002, to $11 billion a year, double
the level during the Clinton years. And another $53 billion for
the following five years has been budgeted.
Washington's obsession with Nuclear
What Washington did
not say, but Putin has now alluded to in Munich, is that the
US missile defense is not at all defensive. It is offensive,
The possibility of providing
a powerful state, one with the world's most awesome military
machinery, a shield to protect it from limited attack, is aimed
directly at Russia, the only other nuclear power with anywhere
the capacity to launch a credible nuclear counterpunch.
Were the United States able
to effectively shield itself 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's being starkly realistic.
Since the end of the Cold War
in 1989, it's now clear that 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 fleet, its Strategic B-52 bomber command, 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 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 convincing
response enough to deter a US First Strike.
The ability of both sides-the
Warsaw Pact and NATO-during the Cold War, to mutually annihilate
one another, led to a nuclear stalemate dubbed by military strategists,
MAD-mutual assured destruction. It was scary but in a bizarre
sense, 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 had been '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, Lt. Colonel Robert Bowman, Director of the US Air
Force missile defense program, recently called missile defense,
'the missing link to a First Strike.'
More alarming is the fact 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, 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, where 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 missile defense for the United
So eager was the Bush-Cheney
Administration to advance its missile defense plans, that the
President and Defense Secretary ordered waiving usual operational
testing requirements essential to determining whether the highly
complex system of systems was effective.
The Rumsfeld missile defense program is strongly opposed within
the military command. On March 26, 2004 no less than 49 US generals
and admirals signed an Open Letter to the President, appealing
for missile defense postponement.
As 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
The 49 generals and admirals,
including Admiral William J. Crowe, former Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, went on to argue to the
President, '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, 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,
for once and all, of Russia as a potential rival for power.
The rush to deploy a missile
defense shield is clearly not aimed at North Korea or terror
attacks. It is aimed at Russia and much less so, the far smaller
nuclear capacities of China. As the 49 generals and admirals
noted in their letter to the President in 2004, the US already
had 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 of the New York Council on Foreign Relations in March
2006, 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 pre-emptive disarming strike against Russia or China.'
Referring to the aggressive
new Pentagon deployment plans for missile defense, Lieber and
Press add, '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
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 Gates try to make
jokes about the recent Russian remarks, as though they were Putin's
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, hearkening 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, a nuclear horror scenario.
Global Strike: Pentagon Conplan 8022
The march towards 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, Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld approved a Top Secret order for the Armed Forces of
the United States to implement something called Conplan 8022,
'which provides the President a prompt, global strike capability.'
The term, Conplan, is Pentagon
shorthand for Contingency Plan. What 'contingencies' are Pentagon
planners preparing for? A pre-emptive conventional strike against
tiny North Korea or even Iran? Or a full-force pre-emptive nuclear
assault on the last formidable nuclear power not under the thumb
of the US' Full Spectrum Dominance-- Russia?
The two words, 'global strike',
are also notable. It's Pentagon-speak to describe a specific
pre-emptive attack which, for the first time since the earliest
Cold War days, includes a nuclear option, counter to the traditional
US military notion of nuclear weapons being only used in defense
to deter attack.
Conplan 8022, as has been noted
by some, is unlike traditional Pentagon war plans which have
been essentially defensive responses to invasion or attack.
In concert with the aggressive
pre-emptive 2002 Bush Doctrine, Bush's new Conplan 8022 is offensive.
It could be triggered by the mere 'perception' of an imminent
threat, and carried out by Presidential order, without Congress.
Given the details about false
or faked 'perceptions' in the Pentagon and the Office of the
Vice President about Iraq's threat of weapons of mass destruction
in 2003, the new Conplan 8022 suggests a US President might order
the missiles against any and every perceived threat or even potential,
In response to Rumsfeld's June
2004 order, General Richard Myers, then Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, signed the order to make Conplan 8022 operational.
Selected nuclear-capable bombers, ICBMs, SSBNs, and 'information
warfare' (sic) units have been deployed against unnamed high-value
targets in 'adversary' countries.
Was Iran an adversary country,
even though it had never attacked the United States? Was North
Korea, even though it had never in five decades launched a direct
attack on South Korea, let alone any one else? Is China an 'adversary'
because it's simply becoming economically too influential?
Is Russia now an adversary
because she refuses to lay back and accept being made what Brzezinski
terms a 'vassal' state of the American Empire?
Because there has been zero
open debate inside the United States about Conplan 8022, there
has been virtually no discussion of any of these potentially
What makes the June 2004 Rumsfeld
order even more unsettling to a world which truly had hoped nuclear
mushroom clouds had become a threat of the past, is that Conplan
8022 contains a significant nuclear attack component.
It's true that the overall
number of nuclear weapons in the US military stockpile has been
declining since the end of the Cold War. But not, it seems, because
the US is moving the world back from the brink of nuclear war
The new missile defense expansion
to Poland and Czech Republic is better understood from the point
of the remarkable expansion of NATO since 1991. As Putin noted,
'NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders... think it
is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with
the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security
in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation
that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right
to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened
to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution
of the Warsaw Pact?'
US bases encircle Russia
As Russian strategist
and military expert, Yevgeny Primakov, a close adviser to Putin,
recently noted, NATO was 'founded during the Cold War era as
a regional organization to ensure the security of US allies in
Europe.' He adds, 'NATO today is acting on the basis of an entirely
different philosophy and doctrine, moving outside the European
continent and conducting military operations far beyond its bounds.
NATO... is rapidly expanding in contravention to earlier accords.
The admission of new members to NATO is leading to the expansion
of bases that host the U.S. military, air defense systems, as
well as ABM components.'
Today, NATO member states include
not only the Cold War core in Western Europe, commanded by an
American. NATO also includes former Warsaw Pact or Soviet Union
states Poland, Latvia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania,
Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, formerly of Yugoslavia.
Candidates to join include the Republic of Georgia, Croatia,
Albania and Macedonia. Ukraine's President, Victor Yushchenko,
has tried aggressively to bring Ukraine into NATO. This is a
clear message to Moscow, not surprisingly, one they don't seem
to welcome with open arms.
New NATO structures have also
been formed while old ones were abolished: The NATO Response
Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague Summit. In 2003,
just after the fall of Baghdad, a major restructuring of the
NATO military commands began. The Headquarters of the Supreme
Allied Commander, Atlantic was abolished. A new command, Allied
Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, Virginia.
ACT is responsible for driving 'transformation' in NATO.
By 2007 Washington had signed
an agreement with Japan to co-operate on missile defense development.
She was deeply engaged in testing a missile defense system with
Israel. She has now extended her European Missile Defense to
Poland, where the Minister of Defense is a close friend and ally
of Pentagon neo-conservative war-hawks, and to the Czech Republic.
NATO has agreed to put the question of the Ukraine and Republic
of Georgia's bids for NATO membership on a fast track. The Middle
East, despite the debacle in Iraq, is being militarized with
a permanent network of US bases from Qatar to Iraq and beyond.
On February 15, the US House
of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee approved a draft,
the Orwellian-named NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007 reaffirming
US backing for the further enlargement of NATO, including support
for Ukraine to join along with Georgia.
From the Russian point of view,
NATO's eastward expansion since the end of the cold war has been
in clear breach of an agreement between then-Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev and US President George H.W. Bush which allowed for
a peaceful unification of Germany. NATO's expansion policy is
seen as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and
New bases to guard 'democracy'?
An almost unnoticed
consequence of Washington's policy since the bombing of Serbia
in 1999, has been establishment of an extraordinary network of
new US military bases, bases in parts of the world where it seems
little justified as a US defensive precaution, given the threat,
huge taxpayer expense, let alone other global military commitments.
In June 1999, following the
bombing of Yugoslavia, US forces began construction of Camp Bondsteel,
at the border between Kosovo and Macedonia. It was the lynchpin
in what was to be a new global network of US bases.
Bondsteel put US air power
within easy striking distance of the oil-rich Middle East and
Caspian Sea, as well as Russia. Camp Bondsteel was at the time
the largest US military base built since the Vietnam War, with
nearly 7,000 troops. The base had been built by the largest US
military construction company, Halliburton's KBR. Halliburton's
CEO at the time was Dick Cheney.
Before the start of the NATO
bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the Washington Post matter-of-factly
noted, 'With the Middle-East increasingly fragile, we will need
bases and fly-over rights in the Balkans to protect Caspian Sea
Camp Bondsteel was but the
first of a vast chain of US bases that have been built during
this decade. The US military went on to build military bases
in Hungary, Bosnia, Albania and Macedonia, in addition to Camp
Bondsteel in Kosovo, then still legally part of Yugoslavia.
One of the most important and
least mentioned new US bases was in Bulgaria, a former Soviet
satellite and now new NATO member. In a conflict---and in Pentagon-speak
there are only 'conflicts,' no longer wars, which involved issues
of asking the US Congress to declare them officially, and provide
just reason---the military would use Bezmer to 'surge' men and
materiel toward the front lines. Where? In Russia?
The US has been building its
bases in Afghanistan. It built three major US bases in the wake
of its occupation of Afghanistan in winter of 2001, at Bagram
Air Field north of Kabul, the US' main military logistics center;
Kandahar Air Field, in southern Afghanistan and Shindand Air
Field in the western province of Herat. Shindand, the largest
US base in Afghanistan, was built some 100 kilometers from the
border with Iran.
Afghanistan had historically
been the heart of the British-Russia Great Game, the struggle
for control of Central Asia during the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
British strategy was to prevent Russia at all costs from controlling
Afghanistan and thereby gaining a warm water port for its navy
and threatening Britain's imperial crown jewel, India.
Afghanistan is also seen by
Pentagon planners as highly strategic. It is a platform from
which US military might could directly threaten Russia and China
as well as Iran and other oil-rich Middle East lands. Little
had changed in that respect over more than a century of wars.
Afghanistan is in an extremely
vital location, straddling South Asia, Central Asia, and the
Middle East. Afghanistan also lies along a proposed oil pipeline
route from the Caspian Sea oil fields to the Indian Ocean, where
the US oil company, Unocal, had been in negotiations, together
with Cheney's Halliburton and with Enron, for exclusive pipeline
rights to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan
and Pakistan to Enron's huge natural gas power plant at Dabhol
At that same time, the Pentagon
came to an agreement with the government of Kyrgystan in Central
Asia, to build a strategically important base there, Manas Air
Base at Bishkek's international airport. Manas is not only near
to Afghanistan; it is also in easy striking distance to Caspian
Sea oil and gas, as well as to the borders of both China and
As part of the price of accepting
him as a US ally in the War on Terror rather than a foe, Washington
extracted an agreement from Pakistan's military dictator, General
Pervez Musharraf, to allow the airport at Jacobabad, about 400km
north of Karachi, to be used by the US Air Force and NATO 'to
support their campaign in Afghanistan.' Two other US bases were
built at Dalbandin and Pasni.
This all is merely a small
part of the vast web of US-controlled military bases Washington
has been building globally since the so-called end of the Cold
It's becoming clear to much
of the rest of the world that Washington might even itself be
instigating or provoking wars or conflicts with nations across
the world, not merely to control oil, though strategic control
of global oil flows had been at the heart of the American Century
since the 1920's. That's the real significance of what Vladimir
Putin said in Munich. He told the world what it did not want
to hear: The American 'Emperor's New Clothes did not exist. The
Emperor was clothed in naked pursuit of global military control.
During the early 1990s, at
the end of the Cold War, the Yeltsin government had asked Washington
for a series of mutual reductions in the size of each superpower's
nuclear missile and weapons arsenal. Russian nuclear stockpiles
were ageing and Moscow saw little further need to remain armed
to its nuclear teeth once the Cold War had ended.
Washington clearly saw in this
a golden opportunity to go for nuclear primacy, for the first
time since the 1950's, when Russia first developed Inter-Continental
Ballistic Missile delivery capability for its growing nuclear
Nuclear primacy is an aggressive
offensive policy. It means that one superpower, USA, would have
the possibility to launch a full nuclear First Strike at Russia's
nuclear sites and destroy enough targets in the first blow, that
Russia would be crippled from making any effective retaliation.
With no credible threat of
retaliation, Russia had no credible nuclear deterrent. It was
at the mercy of the supreme power. Never before in history had
the prospect of such ultimate power in the hands of one single
nation seemed so near at hand.
This stealthy move by the Pentagon
for Nuclear Primacy has, up until now, been carried out in utmost
secrecy, disguised amid rhetoric of a USA-Russia 'Partnership
Rather than take advantage
of the opportunity to climb down from the brink of nuclear annihilation
following the end of the Cold War, Washington has turned instead
to upgrading its nuclear arsenal, at the same time it was reducing
While the rest of the world
was still in shock over the events of September 11, 2001, the
Bush Administration unilaterally moved to rip up its earlier
treaty obligations with Russia to not build an anti-missile defense.
On December 13, 2001, President
Bush announced that the United States Government was unilaterally
abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, and
committing $8 billion for the 2002 Budget to build a National
Missile Defense system. It was pushed through Congress, promoted
as a move to protect US territory from rogue terror attacks,
from states including North Korea or Iraq.
The rogue argument was a fraud,
a plausible cover story designed to sneak the policy reversal
through without debate, in the wake of the September 11 shock.
The repeal of the ABM Treaty
was little understood outside qualified military circles. In
fact, it represented the most dangerous step by the United States
towards nuclear war since the 1950's. Washington is going at
a fast pace to the goal of total nuclear superiority globally,
Washington has dismantled its
highly lethal MX missiles by 2005. But that's misleading. At
the same time, it significantly improved its remaining ICBM's
by installing the MX's high-yield nuclear warheads and advanced
re-entry vehicles on its Minuteman ICBMs. The guidance system
of the Minuteman has been upgraded to match that of the dismantled
The Pentagon began replacing
ageing ballistic missiles on its submarines with far more accurate
Trident II D-5 missiles with new larger-yield nuclear warheads.
The Navy shifted more of its
nuclear ballistic missile-launching SSBN submarines to the Pacific
to patrol the blind spot of Russia's early warning radar net
as well as patrolling near China's coast. The US Air Force completed
refitting its B-52 bombers with nuclear-armed cruise missiles
believed invisible to Russian air defense radar. New enhanced
avionics on its B-2 stealth bombers gave them the ability to
fly at extremely low altitudes avoiding radar detection as well.
A vast number of stockpiled
weapons is not necessary to the new global power projection.
Little-publicized new technology has enabled the US to deploy
a 'leaner and meaner' nuclear strike force. A case in point is
the Navy's successful program to upgrade the fuse on the W-76
nuclear warheads sitting atop most US submarine-launched missiles,
which makes them able to hit very hard targets such as ICBM silos.
No one has ever presented credible
evidence that Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah or any other organization
on the US State Department's Terrorist Organization Black List
possessed nuclear missiles in hardened underground silos. Aside
from the US and perhaps Israel, only Russia and to a far smaller
degree, China, have these in any number.
In 1991 at the presumed end
of the Cold War, in a gesture to lower the danger of strategic
nuclear miscalculation, the US Air Force was ordered to remove
its fleet of nuclear bombers from Ready Alert status. After 2004
that too changed.
Conplan 8022 again put US Air
Force long-range B-52 and other bombers on 'Alert' status. The
Commander of the 8th Air Force stated at the time, that his nuclear
bombers were 'essentially on alert to plan and execute Global
Strikes' on behalf of the US Strategic Command or STRATCOM, based
in Omaha, Nebraska.
Conplan 8022 included not only
long-range nuclear and conventional weapons launched from the
US, but also nuclear and other bombs deployed in Europe, Japan
and other sites. It gave the US what the Pentagon termed Global
Strike, the ability to hit any point on the earth or sky with
devastating force, nuclear as well as conventional. Since the
Rumsfeld June 2004 readiness order, the US Strategic Command
has boasted it was ready to execute an attack anywhere on earth
'in half a day or less,' from the moment the President gave the
In the January 24, 2006 London
Financial Times, the US Ambassador to NATO, Victoria Nuland,
former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and wife of a leading
Washington neo-conservative warhawk, declared that the US wanted
a 'globally deployable military force' that would operate everywhere
- from Africa to the Middle East and beyond.
It would include Japan and
Australia as well as the NATO nations. Nuland added, 'It's a
totally different animal (sic) whose ultimate role will be subject
to US desires and adventures.' Subject to US desires and adventures?
Those were hardly calming words given the record of Nuland's
former boss in faking intelligence to justify wars in Iraq and
Now, with the deployment of
even a crude missile defense, under Conplan 8022, the US would
have what Pentagon planners called 'escalation dominance'-the
ability to win a war at any level of violence, including nuclear
As some more sober minds argued,
were Russia and China to respond to these US moves with even
minimal self-protection measures, the risks of a global nuclear
conflagration by miscalculation would climb to levels far beyond
any seen even during the Cuba Missile Crisis or the danger days
of the Cold War.
In a few brief years
Washington has managed to create the nightmare of Britain's father
of geopolitics, Sir Halford Mackinder, the horror scenario feared
by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger and other Cold War veterans
of US foreign policy who have studied and understood the power
calculus of Mackinder.
The vast resources-rich and
population-rich Eurasian Heartland and landmass is building economic
and military ties with one another for the first time in history,
ties whose driving force is the increasingly aggressive Washington
role in the world.
The driver of the emerging
Eurasian geopolitical cooperation is obvious. China, with the
world's largest population and an economy expanding at double
digits, urgently needs secure alliance partners who could secure
her energy security. Russia, an energy goliath, needs secure
trade outlets independent of Washington control to develop and
rebuild its tattered economy. These complimentary needs form
the seed crystal of what Washington and US strategists define
as a new Cold War, this one over energy, over oil and natural
gas above all. Military might is the currency this time as in
the earlier Cold War.
By 2006 Moscow and Beijing
had clearly decided to upgrade their cooperation with their Eurasian
neighbors. They both agreed to turn to a moribund loose organization
that they had co-founded in 2001, in the wake of the 1998 Asia
crisis, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or SCO. The SCO
had highly significant members, geopolitically seen. SCO included
oil-rich Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as
well as China and Russia. By 2006 Beijing and Moscow began to
view the SCO as a nascent counterweight to increasingly arbitrary
American power politics. The organization was discussing projects
of energy cooperation and even military mutual defense.
The pressures of an increasingly
desperate US foreign policy are forcing an unlikely 'coalition
of the unwilling' across Eurasia. The potentials of such Eurasian
cooperation between China, Kazakhstan, Iran are real enough and
obvious. The missing link, however, is the military security
that could make it invulnerable or nearly, to the sabre-rattling
from Washington and NATO. Only one power on the face of the earth
has the nuclear and military base and know-how able to provide
that-Vladimir Putin's Russia.
The Russian Bear sharpens its nuclear
With NATO troops creeping
up to Russia's borders on all sides, US nuclear B-52s and SSBN
submarines being deployed to strategic sites on Russia's perimeter,
Washington extending its new missile shield from Greenland to
the UK, to Australia, Japan and now even Poland and the Czech
Republic, it should be no surprise that the Russian Government
While Washington planners may
have assumed that because the once-mighty Red Army was a shell
of its former glory, that the state of Russian military preparedness
since the end of the Cold War was laughable.
But Russia never let go of
its one trump card-its strategic nuclear force.
During the entire economic
chaos of the Yeltsin years, Russia never stopped producing state-of-the
art military technology.
In May 2003, some months after
George Bush unilaterally ripped up the bilateral Anti-Missile
Defense Treaty with Moscow, invaded Afghanistan and bombed Baghdad
into subjugation, Russia's President delivered a new message
in his annual State of the Union Address to the Russian nation.
Putin spoke for the first time
publicly of the need to modernize Russia's nuclear deterrent
by creating new types of weapons, 'which will ensure the defense
capability of Russia and its allies in the long term.'
In response to the abrogation
by the Bush Administration of the ABM Treaty, and with it Start
II, Russia predictably stopped withdrawing and destroying its
SS-18 MIRVed missiles. Start II had called for full phase out
of multiple warhead or MIRVed missiles, by both sides by 2007.
At that point Russia began
to reconfigure its SS-18 MIRV missiles to extend their service
life to 2016. Fully loaded SS-18 missiles had a range of 11,000
kilometers. In addition, it redeployed mobile rail-based SS-24
M1 nuclear missiles.
In its 2003 Budget, the Russian
government made funding of its SS-27 or Topol-M single-warhead
missiles a 'priority.' And the Defense Ministry resumed test
launches of both SS-27 and Topol-M.
In December 2006, Putin told
Russian journalists that deployment of the new Russian mobile
Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile system was crucial
for Russia's national security. Without naming the obvious US
threat, he declared, 'Maintaining a strategic balance will mean
that our strategic deterrent forces should be able to guarantee
the neutralization of any potential aggressor, no matter what
modern weapons systems he possesses.'
It was unmistakable whom he
had in mind, and it wasn't the Al Qaeda cave-dwellers of Tora
Russian Defense Minister, Sergei
Ivanov, announced at the same time that the military would deploy
another 69 silo-based and mobile Topol-M missile systems over
the following decade. Just after his Munich speech Putin announced
he had named his old KGB/FSB friend, Ivanov to be his First Deputy
Prime Minister overseeing the entire military industry.
The Russian Defense Ministry
reported that as of January 2006, Russia possessed 927 nuclear
delivery vehicles and 4,279 nuclear warheads against 1,255 and
5,966 respectively for the United States. No two other
powers on the face of the earth even came close to these massive
overkill capacities. This was the ultimate reason all US foreign
policy, military and economic, since the end of the Cold War
had covertly had as endgame the complete deconstruction of Russia
as a functioning state.
In April 2006, the Russian
military tested the K65M-R missile, a new missile designed to
penetrate US missile defense systems. It was part of testing
and deploying a uniform warhead for both land and sea-based ballistic
missiles. The new missile was hypersonic and capable of changing
Four months earlier, Russia
successfully tested its Bulava ICBM, a naval version of the Topol-M.
It was launched from one of its Typhoon-class ballistic missile
submarines in the White Sea, travelling a thousand miles before
hitting a dummy target successfully on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
The Bulava missiles were to be installed on Russian Borey-class
nuclear submarines beginning 2008.
During a personal inspection
of the first regiment of Russian mobile Topol-M intercontinental
ballistic missiles in December 2006, Putin told reporters the
deployment of mobile Topol-M ICBMs were crucial for Russia's
national security, stating, 'This is a significant step forward
in improving our defense capabilities.'
'Maintaining a strategic balance,'
he continued, 'will mean that our strategic deterrent forces
should be able to guarantee the neutralization of any potential
aggressor, no matter what modern weapons systems he possesses.'
Putin clearly did not have
France in mind when he referred to the unnamed 'he.' President
Putin had personally given French President Chirac a tour of
one of Russia's missile facilities that January, where Putin
explained the latest Russian missile advances. 'He knows what
I am talking about,' Putin told reporters afterwards, referring
to Chirac's grasp of the weapon's significance.
Putin also did not have North
Korea, China, Pakistan or India in mind, nor Great Britain with
its ageing nuclear capacity, not even Israel. The only power
surrounding Russia with weapons of mass destruction was its old
Cold War foe--the United States.
The Commander of Russia's Strategic
Rocket Forces, General Nikolai Solovtsov, was more explicit.
Commenting on the successful test of the K65M-R at Russia's Kapustin
Yar missile test site last April, he declared that US plans for
a missile defense system, 'could upset strategic stability. The
planned scale of the United States' deployment of a... missile
defense system is so considerable that the fear that it could
have a negative effect on the parameters of Russia's nuclear
deterrence potential is quite justified.' Put simply, he referred
to the now open US quest for Full Spectrum Dominance-Nuclear
A new Armageddon is in the
making. The unilateral military agenda of Washington has predictably
provoked a major effort by Russia to defend herself. The prospects
of a global nuclear conflagration, by miscalculation, increase
by the day. At what point might an American President, God forbid,
decide to order a pre-emptive full-scale nuclear attack on Russia
to prevent Russia from rebuilding a state of mutual deterrence?
The new Armageddon is not exactly
the Armageddon which George Bush's Christian fanatics pray for
as they dream of their Rapture. It is an Armageddon in which
Russia and the United States would irradiate the planet and,
perhaps, end human civilization in the process.
Ironically, oil, in the context
of Washington's bungled Iraq war and soaring world oil prices
after 2003, has enabled Russia to begin the arduous job of rebuilding
its collapsed economy and its military capacities. Putin's Russia
is no longer a begger-thy-neighbor former Superpower. It's using
its oil weapon and rebuilding its nuclear ones.
Bush's America is a hollowed-out
debt-ridden economy engaged on using its last card, its vast
military power to prop up the dollar and its role as world sole
Putin has obviously realized
that his new-found 'partner-in-prayer', George W., has a large
black spot hiding the secrets of his heart. It reminded of a
popular country and western ballad from the late Tammy Wynette,
'Cowboys don't shoot straight like they used to. They look you
in the eye and lie with their white hats on.' That's certainly
the case with the famous cowboy of Crawford, Texas in his dealings
with Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world.
Feb 18 2007
Engdahl is author of the soon-to-be-released book, Seeds of Destruction:
The Dark Side of Genetically-engineered Food. He also authored
Century of War:
Anglo-American Oil Politics,' Pluto Press Ltd. He may be contacted
at his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.