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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/30/10

As Obama Talks Of Arms Control, Russians View U.S. As Global Aggressor

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Message Rick Rozoff

U.S. and NATO military expansion along Russia's western and southern flanks diminishes the need for Cold War era nuclear arsenals and long-range delivery systems appreciably. Washington can well afford to reduce the number of its nuclear weapons and still maintain decisive worldwide strategic superiority, especially with the deployment of an international interceptor missile system and the unilateral militarization of space.Â

And the use of super stealth strategic bombers and the Pentagon's Prompt Global Strike project for conventional warhead-equipped first strike systems with the velocity and range of intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy other nations' nuclear forces with non-nuclear weapons.

On March 26th U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev reached an agreement on a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1) of 1991.

The new accord, if it is ratified by the U.S. Senate, will reportedly reduce U.S. and Russian active nuclear weapons by 30 per cent and effect a comparable reduction (to 800 on each side) in the two nations' delivery systems: Intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic long-range bombers and ballistic missile submarines.

After a phone conversation between the two heads of state to "seal the deal," Obama touted it as "the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades." [1]

The START 1 agreement expired almost four months earlier, on December 5 of last year, and its replacement has been held up by, among other matters, Russian concerns over increasingly ambitious American interceptor missile system plans for Eastern Europe, on and near its borders.

Judging by the lengthy ordeal that has been the Obama administration's health care initiative - so far the bill has only been passed in the House (by a 219-212 vote) where his party has a 257-178 majority - and the opposition it confronts in the Senate, a new nuclear arms accord with Russia will be a captive to domestic American political wrangling at least as much as less important and potentially controversial issues traditionally are.

Though even if approved by both houses of Congress there will be nothing to celebrate in Moscow. (Or in Iran, which will be the main target of Washington's next "disarmament" drive after the momentum gained from Friday's announcement.)

The new treaty would reduce both nations' deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550, but the U.S. only acknowledges currently possessing 2,200 in storage while in fact having 3,500.

On the day of the telephone conversation between Obama and Medvedev, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher stated there would be "no constraints" on the expansion of American and allied nations' interceptor missile deployments, a new treaty notwithstanding.

Three days earlier Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Nikolai Makarov was interviewed by one of his country's major newspapers and warned: "If the Americans continue to expand their missile defenses, they will certainly target our nuclear capability and in this case the balance of forces will shift in favor of the United States." [2]

On March 27 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated, "Nothing in this treaty contains clauses which would make it easier for the U.S. to develop a missile shield which would pose a risk to Russia," [3] but neglected to add that nothing would prohibit it either.

Perhaps Lavrov needs to listen more closely to Ellen Tauscher.

It is a matter of speculation why Russia's political leadership consistently defers to the U.S. on issues ranging from the war in Afghanistan to so-called missile shield deployments near its northwest frontier, and from the Pentagon acquiring new military bases in the Black Sea nations of Bulgaria and Romania to NATO establishing a cyber warfare facility (politely named Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence) in neighboring Estonia.

Whatever combination of perceived comparative military weakness, over-willingness to oblige, national inferiority complex, eagerness to be seen as the junior partner of the world's only superpower and fear of the results of confrontation actuates Russia's government, the policy of accommodation has only left its nation more isolated, encroached upon by U.S. and NATO military presence, and regarded as a less than dependable ally by other nations prepared to challenge bids by the U.S. to achieve global dominance. In short, it doesn't work. Not for Russia and not for the world at any rate. It is splendidly effective for the U.S. and NATO, however.

On the very day that an Obama administration beset by a series of foreign policy frustrations, setbacks and debacles scored a public relations victory at Russia's expense, the Pentagon announced that it was allotting funds from a $350 million war chest "set aside for countries that need help developing their counterterrorism activities, conducting stability operations, or assisting U.S. forces" to Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Croatia, and Hungary, ostensibly "to help build those countries' military capabilities for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan." [4]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at:
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