In a recent article published in NEO an alarming picture of United States and NATO forces encroaching ever closer to Russia’s borders was set out. The thrust of the article was that this encroachment was done for a specific purpose: to facilitate an attack upon Russia using nuclear weapons. The article raises important issues that are worth further examination.
While it would be exceedingly unwise to bet against the United States engaging in such an attack there are a number of reasons why such an argument is highly improbable. This is not to say that it cannot or will not happen, but the consequences of such an attack would be so devastating for the United States that this omnipresent reality should itself be a sufficient deterrent.
As readers of this website are well aware, the post war history of the United States is one of endless interference in the affairs of foreign countries. This interference has taken many forms from military invasion and occupation at one end of the spectrum to social and economic warfare on the other end.
For the most part, the objects of this unwanted and unwelcome military intervention have been too weak, militarily, to resist. There are some notable exceptions to this general principle. The United States invasion of North Korea in 1950 had multiple effects. Of paramount geopolitical importance it revealed to the newly installed government of the People’s Republic of China that the United States’ real long-term aim was the destruction of its Communist government and the reinstatement of its compliant ally Chiang Kai Shek as ruler of China.
The intervention of the People’s Republic into the Korean War in response to the United States invasion of North Korea rapidly led to the withdrawal of United States and Allied troops south of the artificial boundary drawn up in Washington in the post-World War II period without reference to the Korean people. Thereafter there was an effective stalemate.
That stalemate has persisted to the present day. Despite American bluster and repeated blood curdling threats, the United States has never invaded the northern part of Korea again. Not the least of the deterrents to such United States foolishness has been the underwriting of the North Korean government by both Russia and China. More recently, North Korea has become a nuclear armed nation in its own right.
The United States invasion of Vietnam also illustrated a number of geopolitical points. Despite waging, in effect, a 20 year war against Vietnam, the United States was never able to land a fatal blow to North Vietnamese resistance.
That war cost the Americans 50,000 dead of their own troops, hundreds of thousands wounded, mentally and physically, and millions of dead Vietnamese as well as unparalleled ecological damage caused by the United States form of waging war. It did however, reveal a valuable lesson: the United States could not win against a determined, well motivated and well equipped foe, with important allies. As with North Korea, the Russian and Chinese governments provided valuable support.
One might have thought that the experience of ignominious defeat in Vietnam would have taught the Americans a valuable lesson. It appears that in this, as in many other areas, they are slow learners.
Modern day China is a vastly different military and economic proposition than was true during the Korean war. United States warfare against that country is now fought with propaganda and economic weapons. For all its bluster and bravado, the United States is unwilling to take on China in a direct military confrontation. That is at least one tentative guarantee of military peace in the Asia-Pacific region, although it would be naïve to assume the other forms of warfare are not being continuously pursued.
The United States and its allies such as Australia, loathe and fear the Chinese initiated and hugely successful Belt and Road Initiative, now including more than 160 nations and major organisations. The rather pathetic attempts to foster an Indian-Japanese-Australian-United States alternative and competitive framework is doomed to failure, not least because most of the world is sick of United States self-interested bullying of its “allies” in every important issue that arises.
A similar pattern of international lawlessness can be seen in more recent United States military interventions. Afghanistan and Iraq lacked the military capacity to resist and defeat the invasion of the countries by the United States and its allies in 2001 and 2003 respectively.
Both invasions were based on monumental lies as has been well documented. Although their military presence was initially successful in the sense that the governments of both countries were defeated and replaced, nearly two decades later the situation is very different.
The United States clings on in Afghanistan, despite its utter failure to subdue resistance in the country to their presence. In 2019 the number of bombs dropped on largely civilian targets (although never admitted beyond a promise to investigate that never concludes). The United States clings on in Afghanistan for two major reasons: that country produces more than 90% of the world’s heroin supply; and Afghanistan shares borders with a number of countries less than friendly to the United States, including Iran and China.
That they will not leave voluntarily for those two reasons alone, is a fairly safe bet. Whether they will be forced to leave is a more open question. It is interesting that the Australian government professes its reason for staying as “training Afghan troops.” Objectively, that must be deemed a spectacular failure. It is politically impossible for the Australian government to say the real reason for their presence: an insurance policy paid to the United States in the belief that if Australia is ever attacked the United States would come to its aid. The local media is too timid to point out the dubious logic of that premise.
Similarly in Iraq. Again, an invasion based on a lie (Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction). Again, 17 years later the invading forces are still there, and despite a unanimous vote in the Iraqi parliament demanding that the uninvited and unwelcome foreign troops go, the Americans and Australians are refusing to leave. So much for their professed support for national sovereignty.
The refusal of the occupying powers to obey the legitimate wishes of the sovereign Iraqi government is hugely instructive. One might hope that the western media and their governments would reflect on the absurdity of preaching democracy and sovereign political rights, but blatantly ignore that principle when their own self-interested goals are threatened.
Syria was an even more blatant exercise of illegitimate power by the United States and its allies. Not only are they present in Syria against the wishes of the lawful sovereign government, they are engaged in two other activities that scarcely rate a mention in the mainstream media, if at all.
The first is the blatant occupation by the United States of Syria’s oil producing region and the equally blatant theft of the oil resources therein. The second is that instead of fighting ISIS (and its various permutations) the United States and its allies actively protect and support the terrorist groups. There is now strong evidence that the ISIS leader al Baghdadi is in fact an Israeli citizen. If true, it would help explain why ISIS, for all its professed Islamic ideals, has never in fact attacked or even threatened the State of Israel.
Rather, the profoundly illegal Israeli bombing of Syrian targets (carried on without demur from Western governments) regularly attacks Syrian government targets. The net effect of that can only be to support ISIS.
As was the case with other examples cited here, it was the intervention of other powers that destroy United States ambitions to overthrow the Assad government and install a United States-Israel friendly government in its place. Now, nearly 5 years after overt Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian intervention, the Syrian government is on the verge of defeating the United States and other unlawful occupiers of its sovereign territory.
That brings me back to Russia. Some authors paint a dire picture of a bloodthirsty United States making a series of manoeuvres to encircle Russia as a prelude to an attack. While, as the old saying goes, no one ever went broke underestimating the United States capacity for self-delusion and profound stupidity, in this case it is difficult if not impossible to mount a rational argument for United States military capacity to overcome Russia.
That United States military prowess is grossly overstated on a par with their alleged technical wizardry. The truth is somewhat different.
Impoverished Yemen recently easily fired missiles causing significant damage to Saudi Arabian oil production. That the Saudis predictably blamed Iran avoided the more significant point: that their hugely expensive American supplied missile defence system was effectively useless.
An identical lesson was demonstrated by the Iranians who fired rather old missiles against United States assets in Iraq after the Americans assassinated (again unlawfully) General Soleimani, again without meeting any effective defence.
When Vladimir Putin gave his famous address to the Russian parliament in March 2018 he announced a range of new Russian weapons. The immediate US response was one of denial, quickly followed by the United States military industrial complex demanding umpteen billions more in government funds to “match the Russians.”
That response will certainly lead to the continued enrichment of what former US President Eisenhower called the United States military industrial complex. That it would lead to the United States matching, let alone surpassing the Russian military superiority is delusional. The same is increasingly true of the Chinese who similarly can destroy the US and its allies were the latter ever foolish enough to attack China.
While, as noted above, the argument that United States military manoeuvres suggest hostile motivation against Russia may well be true, in my view it would simply be suicidal for the United States to mount an attack on Russia now or for the foreseeable future.
It is readily conceded that rationality in military conduct is not a dominant United States characteristic. It is however difficult to believe that they would be so profoundly stupid as to believe that they could attack Russia (or China) and avoid devastating retaliation. For the world’s sake, one must hope that rationality will prevail.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.