Nuclear jeopardy

Blog No. 126.

Trump supplanted? In my last blog I demonstrated how the Trump presidency appeared to have surrendered its foreign policy to the demented zealots of the American deep state. Trump had entered office with sound instincts about the redundancy of the conflict with Russia and the folly of allying the USA with terrorist groups in the Middle East. Though he might still have retained those instincts, hopes that he might have been permitted to pursue them to their logical conclusion appeared to be receding.

In the past few days, there have been considerable changes in Washington. It is still too early to determine what the outcome of all these maneuverings will be. Current attempts by the Putin and Trump administrations to re-establish cooperation in resolving Syria’s agony, will be a good tell-tale of the way the wind is blowing. So too, will the outcome of the present, Democrat inspired, media frenzy over the sacking of James Comey, the former head of the FBI, and so too, any renewed efforts by the Trump administration to reopen the file on Hillary Clinton’s email and other misdemeanours.

The current drama being performed on the Washington stage could well be seen as a Trump attempt to evade the neo-con and Democrat move to gain dominance,  as the ‘minders’ of his foreign policy. Perhaps, in the lead-up to the recent Trump/Lavrov meeting, which took place immediately after Comey’s sacking, Trump came to realise the extent to which the neo-cons had duped him over the Syrian sarin incident. Certainly, irrespective of the Democrat claims that Comey’s sacking was to avoid the Russia-gate investigation, Trump had reason enough to dump Comey.

Faced with the reality of a governmental machine that refused to work for him unless he worked for it, Trump had appeared to have been forced to abandon any eccentric foreign policy ambitions he might have had. After that false-flag Sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun, the shots (and it is all about shots) in foreign policy looked set to be called by the generals, the intelligence chiefs, senior government bureaucrats and the denizens of the Council on Foreign Relations. These are the actors, who, with their ignorance, greed for power and their habitual resort to violence, are responsible for so much of the escalating mayhem around the world – and have every intention of continuing to be so. However, if the sacking of Comey is indeed the indication of a Trump once again in the ascendant, we might well be on the way to seeing the resolution of many of the world threatening problems set out below. This Asia Times article by an exceptionally well informed Indian observer says it all.

The runaway war machine. At first sight, for a nation so geographically remote from hostile neighbours, it is amazing to what extent the USA will go to create and confront distant enemies: that is until one understands the system. The fundamental mechanism, which makes the American empire and its ‘democracy’ tick, is the military industrial complex with its capture of a vastly disproportionate share of the taxes paid by the American civilian population. While Trump is quite prepared to go along with the GDP minting machine that this lob-sided characteristic of the American economy represents, very sensibly, he has no wish to see it involve the US economy in the eye-watering  costs that yet another major military intervention would involve.

This burgeoning $600 billion plus US ‘defense’ budget (NZ’s total GDP is $170 billion!) that he has inherited, and which he now has to contain, depends upon and enables continuous and profitable interventions in foreign countries. The system gains added momentum by ‘encouraging’ allied nations to buy American made armaments and by offering top-paying boardroom and government positions for retiring brass.

The highest ranks of the military establishment are incentivised to do their best to ensure a fast turnover of expendable inventories and to make appropriately costly hardware procurement decisions. In so doing, they have the opportunity to use their military careers to ingratiate themselves with the executives and shareholders of the manufacturing companies that will offer them lucrative employment in their retirement.

The USA’s military budget is notoriously secretive, notoriously wasteful and notoriously ill-accounted for. It offers huge scope not only for graft, but also for retirement career insurance, not simply in standard procurement activities, but particularly in the field of new weapons development and sales.

With such vast funds deployed on R &D and the ready availability of the budgets required to realise the discoveries in terms of deployable hardware, America’s potential victims never know what threat the Empire will come up with next. The case in point this time is the Obama presidency. President Obama came to power promising to work for global nuclear disarmament, but left power having been persuaded by his advisors to instigate a $1 trillion (yes $1 trillion) upgrade of the USA’s nuclear weapons. The upgrade in the USA’s nuclear arsenal has concentrated on increasing the precision with which targets, such as silo protected missiles, can be struck. Parallel with these developments have been other technological strides in surveillance and target identification and most importantly, in the USA’s capacity to destroy incoming missiles before they reach target.

Nuclear powers lose their balance. And herein, particularly in this last instance, lies a growing danger for all mankind. To justify the extortion of such huge sums from the American people, fear and a commensurate threat have to be instilled. The ad hominem vilification of Vladimir Putin has been going on for many years and been standard US government generated, media brain-food for western populations. It has been well augmented by PR-generating, military posturing from NATO forces. Recently, when the Democrats had to find justification for Hillary’s well-earned defeat, an argument was hit upon that Russia had tampered with the election. With deep state players realising that this campaign had the potential to be developed into a bridle with which to control the new president, the subsequent anti-Russian propaganda campaign has been allowed to reach a dangerous crescendo.

Though the Russians seem generally sensible and don’t become irrational when faced by the ugly side-effects generated by the power-struggles within the American political system, that doesn’t mean that they can afford to ignore such developments altogether. Perceptions are important and the Russians are not going to ignore what they perceive as a possible threat to their continued existence.

It is probably simply a coincidence that the sudden surge in US nuclear weapons capability is occurring at the same time as the hate-Russia campaign is achieving, or has already achieved, new depths of misinformation, fear and vilification among western populations. Consequently, we are faced with an imminent breakdown in the MAD balance. It is this balance, which has kept the world free from nuclear warfare ever since Russia acquired a nuclear capability shortly after America’s use of the first nuclear weapons at the end of WWII. In this balance, each of the major nuclear opponents was assured that the one couldn’t destroy the other without in turn receiving a riposte that would destroy the instigator of the exchange. Thanks to the extravagance of the American defence budget, mutually assured destruction is already, or may shortly become, no longer assured.

Rather than write it all down in this blog this hyperlink explains the problem caused by improvements in US nuclear capability. Here are two extracts from the opening paragraphs.

“…Washington has quietly upgraded its nuclear weapons arsenal to create, according to three leading American scientists, “exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”

…”Writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the American Federation of Scientists, Matthew McKinzie of the National Resources Defense Council, and physicist and ballistic missile expert Theodore Postol, conclude that “Under the veil of an otherwise-legitimate warhead life-extension program,” the U.S. military has vastly expanded the “killing power” of its warheads such that it can “now destroy all of Russia’s ICBM silos.”

With international tensions in Eastern Europe, the Korean peninsula, and the Middle East rising to what is possibly their highest since the end of the Cold War, this is not a good time for the USA to be seen as striving for a first strike capability. The Russians, Chinese and those several other governments which remain unconvinced that adhesion to the US position will in some way guarantee their security, will be looking for ways of ducking below the gun being held to their heads.

Avoiding the threat of nuclear hostilities: defusing the potential nuclear flashpoints.

The threat of a US first strike and the Eastern European theatre. Assuming that Trump fails in his bid to retain, or regain, control over American foreign policy, from his position, a Russian defence strategist, would see the most pressing need as being to persuade the USA to cease its attempt to achieve a first strike capability and to remove from positions of nuclear control any of its citizens mad enough to believe that a nuclear was winnable. If US nuclear development has reached a point at which key members of its military already believe they have achieved the sought for first strike capability, it may well be too late for Russia to threaten the USA directly. However, it might be worth an attempt.

A shipping container containing a nuclear device, with ‘Made in Russia’ stamped all over it, could well be chanced upon in some US port. Putin could own up to the attempt and explain the reasons for it. He would refuse to reveal what other nuclear mines were concealed around the USA, until there were satisfactory guarantees that no first strike against Russia could be attempted. The only difference between this ploy and the current US nuclear missiles targeted on the Russian homeland, is a 20 minute journey-time and the degree of certainty of arrival at destination.

As a back-up resort, the Russians could decide to take Western Europe as a nuclear hostage. The USA might choose to disbelieve the threat posed by nuclear mines concealed on its home soil and might already believe that it is sufficiently distant from the fray to be able to intercept any few missiles the Russians could throw back in retaliation to a successful US first strike. However, the guaranteed defence of heavily populated, neighbouring European countries from whatever would remain of the Russian nuclear arsenal after a US first strike, would be far more problematical. The European populations would be told explicitly what was being targeted and the reason behind it and what was expected of them in terms of exerting their influence on the US government: the dismantling of European-based missile defence systems and the replacement by EU citizens of all US citizens holding senior NATO positions in Europe.

The threat of an American first strike against North Korea (with the danger of China being drawn in.) Japanese and South Korean openness to American military influence and bases is based on an historical caution concerning Chinese ambitions and the far more dangerous potential for supposedly ‘irrational’ action by the nuclear armed North Korean leadership. North Korea has arrived at its current nuclear armed, rogue-state position by virtue of the USA’s steadfast refusal to grant it a permanent status, peace treaty at the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Ever since, the regime has felt under a direct military threat from the USA. The regime’s unease might tend to increase whenever relations between its Chinese protector and the USA go through a warmer spell. However, China will never allow a reunification of the two Koreas while the South remains closely allied to the USA and there remains a probability, or even a possibility, that a newly re-unified Korean state would allow a US military presence to be established on the Chinese border.

The hypothetical Russian strategist, in the hope that the USA really did wish to see an end to North Korean control over nuclear warheads, would be looking for an arrangement. This might look like a Chinese offer of a nuclear umbrella and defence agreements to both Korean regimes on condition that the North abandoned its nuclear ambitions and the USA withdrew all its forces from the Korean peninsula. Once the N.Korean regime’s security was guaranteed, work towards ultimate reunification, possibly over several decades, could begin. That might be the logical solution, but as this paper by Tim Beale makes clear, the USA’s foreign policy establishment, as presently constituted, has not the least interest in resolving the problem presented by North Korea’s acquisition of a puny nuclear capability. A further undermining of the American empire’s self-confidence or urge to global dominance will have to occur before the American position on its Korean strategy could undergo such a dramatic reassessment.   The Korean Peninsula within the Framework of US Global Hegemony

The threat of continued (eternal?) warfare in Syria and Northern Iraq. The best hope for Syria is that the USA and its Saudi and Israeli allies, Russia and Turkey can be induced to leave the Syrians to sort out their own destiny. For this to happen, a face-saving formula has to be found. Happily, such a solution presents itself. Bashir Assad has to be brought to see that the retention of a fully integrated, centralised, traditional Syrian state is no longer possible. The formula for federalisation is already being put into practice by the YPG Kurds and some Syrian Arabs who have joined them. Abdullah Ocalan’s theory of Democratic Federalism is working and is designed to function without disruption of the borders of existing states.

This solution should be acceptable to the USA, Russia, the Saudis and Israel. Assad might not like it, but properly approached, could be strong-armed, or bribed into accepting it. Then, only Turkey, under Erdogan, would remain hostile to the concept. Ultimately a different Turkish government might come to accept that Ocalan’s idea was workable within the Turkish state and that it was indeed, the only way to ensure that the economically disruptive, PKK Kurdish hostilities against the Turkish government ceased. In the meantime, with everyone united against him, Erdogan would have to be told that in return for a great power guarantee that Northern Syrian and Iraqi territory would not be used to provide safe base facilities for the PKK, Turkey would no longer be involved in Syrian affairs.

In time, the Ocalan movement, with its success in Syria demonstrated, would be likely to spread into Northern Iraq and possibly even throughout Syria. Given a similar arrangement that no safe bases would be provided for Iranian Kurdish ‘liberation’ movements, it would be  likely to be be accepted by the Iraqi and Iranian governments.

Maintaining the population’s paranoia in nuclear armed and US supported Israel.

The threat of war between Israel and Iran and the Lebanon based Hezbollah. The major barrier to an Israeli/Arab peace is the acute paranoia of the Israeli population, which has been effectively conditioned to see itself as a chosen people surrounded by bitter enemies out to destroy them. There is nothing quite as effective in turning someone into an enemy as treating them as such. Though it might take a generation or more to change the ingrained prejudices of the Israelis, a peace deal has to be embarked on before climate change makes the whole area uninhabitable by factions already at war with each other.

To achieve this, the nations of the world will have to insist that neither continued Apartheid nor ethnic cleansing is acceptable. With Israeli settlements having already (and intentionally) made a the two-state solution impossible, a unitary,secular, democratic Israeli state with its capital in Jerusalem and guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens has to be established. To ease its birth, its current borders, including the Golan Heights, will be recognised by all Middle Eastern states including Iran.

Of course, Netanyahu’s  determined opposition to any suggestion of a two state solution (so beloved of western powers because of the impossibility of it ever being realised)  would imply that he would eagerly grasp at such a solution. However, Netanyahu’s envisaged single state solution envisages somewhat different terms for Palestinian participation, so the above proposal would not be the Israeli right’s dream outcome.

Whether or not such a deal is negotiable without the UN being given teeth and insisting upon it, or a universal sanctions and boycott regime being imposed, is open to question. There must be a party of Israelis who would prefer life under such an agreement rather than remaining in a state of perpetual war.

Conclusion. The threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan has been deliberately left out of this blog. That threat is not of such a pressing nature that it need be of immediate concern to today’s Russian strategist. However, if the above mentioned threats are all averted and we get to live that long, it is conflict between these two nuclear armed nations that might temporally reverse climate warming by instigating a nuclear winter. A most commonly cited forecast of the cause of the first outbreak of war between nuclear-armed states, has it triggered by the anticipated depletion of the Indus. As Himalayan glaciers retreat, Indian farmers will get first pick of its reduced flows prior to the residue becoming available to the multiple Pakistani farms also dependent on its waters. The acrimony between the two states rises to a level when one anticipates a first nuclear strike from the other and opts instead to attempt a pre-emptive strike. However, this scenario is probably for the 2030s, rather than the 2020s.

In the meantime, national leaders and their populations should have both climate change and other nuclear extinction possibilities in the forefront of their minds. The USA has to be persuaded to find a better use for its dollars than militarisation and global domination. This probably will not be achieved until the cash-cows established at Bretton Woods, which allow the US government to print money at will and fund its deficit at the expense of the rest of world, are finally led to their long-overdue slaughter. Irrespective of Trump’s success or otherwise in defusing the nuclear standoff between the great powers, given the internal conflict currently gripping the US and the extreme alarm and revulsion that Trump’s climate denial policies will inspire among other nations, this particular tipping point might not be long-delayed.

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