Lately, the rhetoric voiced by the majority of high-profile American politicians has become so extreme that one can start suspecting them of getting exposed to some dangerous chemical substance that causes severe neurological damage, as there’s no logical explanation why would they make repeated calls to launch a war against Russia, a major nuclear power.
For instance, at an industry event in Pittsburgh, US interior secretary Ryan Zinke announced that the American Navy can blockade Russia to keep it from controlling energy supplies in the Middle East as it does in Europe. All thins considered, it’s a rather queer way to approach future negotiations with Russia over the future of Syria and the Middle East in general.
Further still, the sitting permanent representative of the US to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison has recently voiced threats to launch war on Moscow over its alleged violation of the INF Treaty. She was referring, specifically, to Russia’s alleged deployment of nuclear-capable 9M729 cruise missiles to an undisclosed base, presumably along Russia’s western borders. However, Hutchison was refering to “medium-range ballistic missiles,” but the 9M729 missiles are in fact low-flying cruise missiles, not high-flying ballistic models.
It’s hard to say whether Hutchison got too nostalgic over the “duck and cover” nuclear drills in American public schools or just wanted to remain in history as a woman that ended history by launching a nuclear conflict.
A nuclear expert of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Jeffrey Lewis spared no words in an attempt how much “Kay fucked up” by telling the Daily Beast that she was trying to say that the US would develop countervailing capabilities – something that started under the Obama administration and that almost no one disagrees with. But she’s more used to riling up redneck votes in Republican primaries in Texas than international diplomacy, so her attempt at tough talk didn’t impress anyone.
Later on, Hutchison made an attempt to save face by pointing out on her personal Twitter page that Washington is going to concentrate its efforts on possible countermeasures, and not on a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia. A number of Western media sources have also made an attempt to smooth out the threats voiced by the permanent US representatives to NATO, by translating her words into diplomatic language, paying particular attention to the fact that she might have meant development of countermeasures against Russian missiles that are allegedly being deployed along Russia’s western borders in an alleged violation of the INF Treaty.
It seems that people who make similar statements cannot grasp the weight of responsibility that resides on their shoulders, as both the US and Russia have enough nukes to guarantee mutual assured destruction. And what’s even more interesting is the question who authorized this lady to make such threats, was it American people?
It’s been pointed out that when it comes to negotiations over nuclear weapons, sloppy wording can make a big difference. “Rhetoric like this is a dangerous step backwards,” Geoffrey Wilson, a nuclear expert with the California-based peace advocacy group Ploughshares Fund. “It weakens our deterrent posture and makes it more likely that in a crisis miscalculations or misunderstanding could lead to a military engagement with the Russians.”
One might have the impression that such statements as the one voiced by Kay Bailey Hutchison are designed to provide a cover to Washington’s own violations of the INF Treaty. After all, in the military budget for next year the Congress has allocated funds for the development of a cruise missile that can travel the distance of 3.5 thousand miles.
As for threats of war declared voiced by individual American politicians, it must be recalled that Russia is nothing like a third-country country, it will not be ignored. As for attempts to launch a blockade of Russian ports in the presence of a capable Russian Navy, or declare nuclear war on a nuclear superpower, such threats are only capable of producing major international scandal, which will neither benefit the United States, nor Russia. After all, they do not just amount to a declaration of war but constitute a crime against humanity by the standards applied by the International Criminal Court. As for individual American figures that try to use Russophobia in their own small PR stunts, they would be better off reading history books, that tell us that all the previous acts of aggression against Russia resulted in disastrous consequences for the ones committing them.
Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”