The United States has been, and will always be, the one indispensable nation in world affairs.
– US President Obama May 23, 2012
60 percent of the United States Naval forces will be stationed in the Asia Pacific by 2020 —P-8s [spy aircraft], Zumwalt-class destroyers, littoral combat ships, forward-deployed forces, Marines in Darwin — all and many more are headed to the Pacific . . . woe betide the foe who decides to challenge the United States of America or our Navy.
– US Vice President for War, Joseph Biden, May 22, 2015
We will remain the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.
– US Secretary for War, Ashton Carter, May 27, 2015
The US navy operates routinely in the Black Sea, in accordance with international law.
– Pentagon, 31 May 2015
Scores of ships and aircraft from 17 countries are taking part in Baltic Sea naval drills as part of exercise BALTOPS which starts on Friday 5 June 2015 and runs until 20 June.
– NATO media release, 4 June 2015
The United States of America is making it clear that it intends to increase its already massive military presence surrounding China and Russia. Over the past sixty years the capabilities of strike forces stationed in US military bases in Hawaii, Japan, Australia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand and all over Europe and the Gulf region have grown enormously, as has the number of US combat navy vessels roaming Asian and other seas, ready, as Mr Biden threatens so pugnaciously, to go to war. Biden says that Washington is ready to meet any challenge — but if these bases and warships weren’t there, they wouldn’t be challenged. And the only reason they are there is to menace other nations in regions which have nothing whatever to do with the United States.
Mr Biden’s grasp of international affairs is a little shaky, as made clear by his astonishing claim that in Asia “for the past 60 years, the security we provided has enabled the region’s people to turn their talents and hard work into an economic miracle.” He had obviously forgotten a decade of disaster in Vietnam during which savage mayhem over 50,000 US military personnel died in the cause of nothing fighting a country that had done no harm to the United States.
North Vietnam did not present the slightest threat to a single American citizen. But millions of civilians in both North and South Vietnam died as a result of Washington’s paranoia, just as a few years later there was similar slaughter in Iraq following the US invasion, and in Afghanistan during an abortive and mishandled military occupation. The needless toll of American and other nationalities’ soldiers was obscene. But Washington is entirely undeterred by failure and slaughter and continues to stick out its truculent chin in seas, skies and bases all over the globe.
The trouble is that this time the US is confronting and trying to intimidate two nations which are not prepared to accept swaggering arrogance indefinitely. Russia and China are proud countries and will not take much more of the condescending arrogance and coat-trailing aggression that are so much a feature of US international pronouncements and provocative actions.
Recently Biden had a cheap sneer at China that shows his utter lack of comprehension concerning that country and its leaders. In a speech to naval cadets last month he boasted that “President Xi of China, when I was meeting with him, asked me why do I continue to say America is a Pacific power? And I said because we are.” (And here the transcript notes that there was “Laughter” — indicating yet more brainwashing of young US military leaders to believe that all other nations are inferior.)
But if Mr Biden and the rest of the Indispensable America brigade imagine for a moment that President Xi and his country might find his mocking comment even remotely amusing they are totally wrong. Biden’s bombastic blabber epitomizes the sort of juvenile bragging that has made Washington loathed and distrusted in so many places, and Biden is following the example of his amateur president about whom so many Americans (and countless foreigners) had such great hopes concerning his approach to foreign relations. There was a feeling that at last there might be an era of understanding, collaboration and give-and-take.
But now it is obvious that the United States, although stridently proclaiming that it is an “indispensable nation” and one that will be the “principal security power” in Asia, has no intention of extending its influence through international diplomacy or bilateral negotiations with nations it considers are becoming a little uppity. The US intends to achieve authority over the world by military domination.
But it won’t succeed.
US military antics in the Baltic, Black and South China Seas would be laughable were they not so calculatingly confrontational. And they are increasingly likely to lead to direct conflict. While this might satisfy the macho posturing of self-important little politicians and others who have no idea what it’s like to hear bullets flying (and a lot of gung-ho generals as well), there is a rather wider aspect of this bravado, which is that these people are putting the world at extreme risk of nuclear war. Doctor Strangelove lives on in such hideous caricatures as the appropriately named General Breedlove, the deranged commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s military machine.
On March 4, 2015 Breedlove told the world that in Eastern Ukraine there were “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery.” This was (and continues to be) utter nonsense. As Germany’s Der Spiegel recounted “For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove’s numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America’s NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.”
Of course he was. Deliberately — and most successfully. We’re back to the exciting days of Cold War propaganda. As Der Spiegel reported when the Ukraine “crisis” began, “General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment . . . But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion. The experts contradicted Breedlove’s view in almost every respect. There weren’t 40,000 soldiers on the border . . . Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict,” and so on.
Strangelove was fantasizing. And my information is that this was deliberate. As we are all aware, every defense force plans for as many contingencies as can be imagined. US military staffs did appreciations of a possible “Russia-Ukraine Conflict” which concluded that if Russia had wanted to invade and conquer Ukraine it could have done so in about twenty days. There would have been nothing whatever that the US or its subservient NATO “partners” could have done about it. Of course Russia would have been insane to have invaded Ukraine because as it well knows it would have suffered a massive and lasting insurrection by Ukrainian citizens. All that Moscow wants is decent treatment by the Kiev government of Russian-cultured, Russian-speaking people.
Obama and his war-drumming acolytes couldn’t care less about decent treatment of people, especially Russians in Ukraine, and in May Obama declared that Russia is taking an “increasingly aggressive posture.” Yes, it is — because it is surrounded by US-NATO belligerents who are intent on pressuring Russia until — again the magic words, folks! — there is yet another Regime Change. It is believed in Washington and a few other places that All will be Well for the Free World when Putin is toppled by some sort of revolution, just as Ukraine became a paradise after its elected president was overthrown. Like Libya and Iraq.
As with many developments in Washington’s global arrogance, there is a sliver of black humor detectable from time to time. In this instance there was Obama’s presumably straight-faced rhetorical question concerning Mr Putin. “Does he,” thundered Obama, “recognise that Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?” — Just as Washington recognised sovereignty in Iraq and Libya, destroying both countries after violating their territory and thus creating absolute chaos throughout the Middle East.
I repeat that China and Russia are not going to accept Washington’s belligerent pontification for much longer. Obama and his merry team of swaggering video barbarians are standing into danger. They would be well to consider the words of Hunter S Thompson when he advised that in time of difficulty it is as well to “Pray to God, but row away from the rocks,” because from the Baltic to the South China Sea, by way of the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf, there are lots of rocks ready to rip holes in wandering warmongers.
Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.