An Open Invitation to Aggression
Developments last week conclusively established the dire threat posed by Russian nuclear forces to U.S. national security and the even more terrifying risks posed by the craven policies of the Obama administration in responding to that threat.
In an earthshaking story, Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast reported that the Obama administration is well aware of repeated violations by Russia of the Ronald Reagan's 1987 treaty on intermediate range nuclear forces, and has been for more than a year now. Yet it chooses to look the other way and to conceal these violations from the American people.
Obama is lying to Americans about Russian treaty violations (just as he lied about ObamaCare and Benghazi) for mercenary political reasons. In the case of Russia's nukes, it's because he wants to shove even more treaties with Russia down American throats, treaties that only the U.S. will actually abide by. He knows that if he tells the truth, his proposals don't have a snowball's chance of being accepted.
Russia has openly stated it is seeking to sidestep the 1987 treaty entirely, and Republican senators can't get the information about the violations they need from Obama, and have been reduced to proposing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which would force him to provide it. Obama is treating the U.S. Senate like it was his enemy and Russia, his mortal foe, as if it were his friend. This is American foreign policy through the looking glass.
According to Rogin, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers have told Obama: "Briefings provided by your administration have agreed with your assessment that Russian actions are serious and troubling, but have failed to offer any assurance of any concrete action to address these Russian actions."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry himself has admitted that Russian misconduct calls the Obama administration's policy on seeking further nuclear weapons accords with Russia into serious question: "I can't look you in the eye, I can't look anybody in the eye here and say, 'Hey, vote for this, we haven't followed through and kept the promises with the prior ones, with the foundations that we've built here."
Meanwhile, Russia continues to announce massive new nuclear weapons deployments. First it revealed a plan to add a whopping twenty-two new land-based nuclear weapons to its arsenal next year, and then it announced new class of stealth submarines. And Russia is actively working on an arsenal of long-range "high accuracy" missiles that could strike the USA without nuclear warheads. The Kremlin revealed last month that spending on nuclear weapons and other military programs will soar by an amazing 50% by 2016.
It's critical to understand how significant this kind of military spending is in Russia. The Russian economy is in dire straits, and the Kremlin itself admits it won't see substantial, meaningful growth for the next decade or more. Yet the Kremlin is still engaging on massive, costly programs to expand nuclear war-fighting capacity, at the obvious expense of providing for the basic needs of Russian citizens.
And it's not enough for the Kremlin to vastly expand Russia's ability to attack the U.S. with nukes; on the flip side, the Kremlin is working just as feverishly to limit the American capacity to respond. The ink was not even dry on the alleged deal with Iran to control nuclear development there when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was trying to use U.S. agreement as a wedge to force a total unilateral withdrawal of defensive nuclear support measures in Eastern Europe. Even as it asks the U.S. to withdraw, it is massively increasing its own defensive missile systems.
The nuclear threat Russia poses to U.S. security is not just on paper. Russia could not be more clear in displaying its hatred of the USA and its belligerent intentions: It routinely menaces the country with its nuclear strike force, causing U.S. fighters to scramble and testing U.S. readiness for an assault. Alaska and Guam are ritualistically targeted for such assaults, even though U.S. forces never carry out such measures against Russian targets.
Nor are Russian threats limited to the USA itself. Russia also routinely threatens U.S. allies, obviously in the hope of splitting them off from the U.S. coalition. Japan and Norway are two regular victims of such aggressive Russian conduct.
It's one thing for Obama not to retaliate against aggressive Russian moves like these by buzzing places like Vladivostok and Kaliningrad with American nuclear bombers. It's quite another for him to simply stand mute, not uttering a word of protest as Russia does so. But it's surely one of the low moments in U.S. history for Obama to respond by asking Americans to accept yet more nuclear treaties with Russia, treaties with which only Americans will actually comply.
If Russia's bellicose and duplicitous conduct in regard to nuclear weapons reminds you of the bad old days of the USSR, that's no mere coincidence.
Russia is governed by a proud KGB spy, Vladimir Putin, who has essentially declared himself Russia's president for life via corrupt elections that preclude debate, media scrutiny or even real opposition. He is engaging in personality cult politics, just as his Soviet ancestors did. He is imposing the same type of propaganda regime on Russian history textbooks as was implemented in Soviet times and he disregards international law just as recklessly. He is using any and all means at his disposal, including energy blackmail, to keep the nations formerly subjugated by the USSR in Russia's orbit, denying them the ability to forge an independent existence.
Even though the USA doesn't do so, Russia still practices universal military conscription. Russia has actually used military force for imperialistic reasons, as it did in Georgia in 2008, partitioning two huge chunks of Georgia for Russia to exploit. Doing so sent a clear message to the nations in the former USSR's orbit, and the fact that NATO allowed Putin to get away with this sent an even clearer one. Russia gave itself the right to invade its own province of Chechnya to stop violent attacks by separatists there, but when Georgia attempted to do exactly the same thing in Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia used it as a pretext for imperialism even though Russia had assumed formal responsibility for quieting the rebels in those areas and done no such thing. It was neo-Soviet hypocrisy writ large.
And Russia's foreign policy is consistently anti-American. It seeks to block and counter U.S. policy throughout the Middle East, supplying support to every rogue organization and regime it can find, from Hizb'allah to Iran.
America is now in a foreign policy age similar to the one it faced under Jimmy Carter: Russia perceives clear weakness from the Oval Office, and it pursues aggression. Where Russia moved into Afghanistan under Carter, it moved into Georgia under George W. Bush, who looked into Putin's eyes and saw he was trustworthy. Under Obama, whose "reset" policy towards the Kremlin is viewed by it as an open invitation to undermine U.S. interests all around the globe, Putin is working tirelessly to recreate the USSR, including the same type of military policy pursued in Soviet times.
Already saddled with a new Carter, America needs a new Reagan, a leader who will carry out his foreign policy duties and stand up to Russian aggression rather than facilitating it. Instead it has Obama. Whereas at least Carter had the gumption to boycott the Moscow Olympics in protest of the Soviet Afghanistan invasion, Obama hasn't come up with any policy response whatsoever to Russian aggression against Georgia and throughout former Soviet space, to say nothing of Russia's nuclear menacing of the United States itself. Did we ever think there could come a day when we'd have a president who would make Jimmy Carter look like John Wayne?