Grand Strategy in the Age of Mass Destruction

  Continuing Talk of War in Europe and Asia
Commentary for 31 May 2015

In May I received a note from Romanian analyst Anca-Maria Cernea who referred to a conference “by an excellent Polish analyst, Prof. Przemyslaw Zurawski vel Grajewski, who was saying that whatever the Russians were about to do, in terms of advancing to war, it was probably going to happen before Obama’s second term is over. So it’s going to be now, or quite soon, or never….” As Cernea also observed, war may occur because Putin is “desperate about the possibility of losing power….”

Yet Russia’s war preparations are grounded on something deeper, and more far-reaching, than the political ambitions of one man. The foundation of the present Russian military buildup was laid many years ago, when Vladimir Putin was still a boy. It may be argued that the foundation of the current situation was laid in 1957 – by Leonid Brezhnev’s special committee for reconfiguring Soviet strategy. With the advent of intercontinental rockets and the hydrogen bomb, Soviet strategy had to find a way around the problem of “mutual assured destruction.”

Today our weakened nuclear deterrent is vulnerable to a first strike. Our nuclear forces are old and run down. We have been fighting wars against Muslim extremists, paying little or no attention to our former Cold War rival. Recently Putin announced the resumption of TU-160 “Blackjack” (nuclear) bomber production. There has been no similar announcement of a buildup from the American side. One would think that the socialists and peaceniks around the world would take Mr. Putin to task (for being a warmonger). But they do not. The World Socialist Website, published by the International Committee of the Fourth International, is busy denouncing the United States deployment of B-1 bombers and Marines to Australia. According to the “World Socialists,” the U.S. is guilty of preparing for war. “[T]he preparations for war by the US and its allies are far more advanced than is known by masses of people,” says the World Socialist Site. According to these "socialists," America has no business deploying forces to Australia at all, and the Marxists in Beijing are in 100 percent agreement on this point. Beijing has warned the U.S. about these deployments. They are “risky,” we are told. They are “provocative.” Yes, we had better leave our Australian allies to their fate. What business does America have, interfering with China’s plan to dominate Australia and New Zealand? Since 1941 the United States has sent Marines and other forces to Australia on several occasions. Such deployments have been as natural and normal as mom and apple pie. But now the Chinese are full of “serious concern,” issuing warnings. The Americans had better be careful.

The Chinese are acting as if Australia is within their sphere of influence.

The World Socialists say the Australian government is embarrassed by the deployment of U.S. troops and bombers and has shifted into “damage control.” But when has a government, threatened by a hostile power, been embarrassed by the forward deployment of friendly forces? Embarrassment in this case doesn’t make sense, except to the noisy Leftist idiots who always fall for Communist propaganda. The World Socialists explain their position in the following way: “With the Obama administration plotting a provocation in the South China Sea in the coming months or even weeks, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the establishment to prevent public discussion on the potentially catastrophic consequences of this reckless imperialist policy.”

The poor blameless Chinese and Russian militarists are Obama's “victims.” Yet if Obama is so wicked, then why did the “excellent Polish analyst” cited by Cernea say the Russians must act before Obama’s second term is up? Perhaps Obama isn’t an imperialist after all. Perhaps, for Russia and China, he represents an opportunity, a strategic opening, that Moscow must soon act upon. And yes, there is danger of war. But this danger is not because of Obama’s imperialism but on account of Obama’s weakness.

Obama's imperialism is not the problem. As Cernea explained, “In Poland and Ukraine, they are almost sure that the Russians will soon start a bigger offensive. The timing may also depend on the weather conditions, as it’s now spring in the region, and it rains a lot, and the soil is wet, which makes it very difficult for heavy military equipment … to use the roads – which are in terrible condition.”

So it is all about the Russians waiting for the ground to dry out. “It is certain that the Russians are continually reinforcing their lines and seem to be preparing for a large-scale attack on Ukraine,” Cernea noted. At least, that is what we see. What actually happens is anybody's guess. And in the Far East we see the same sort of thing. China and North Korea are preparing for a conflict.

And we have Obama in office for another 19 months.