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Is Russia a threat for the United States? Evidence says no.

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   35 comments
Message Jean-Luc Basle

Its population is less than half that of the United States (142 million against 321 million). It is decreasing while the American population is increasing. Its infant mortality rate is higher than the American rate and its fertility rate lower. Its growth domestic product is one fifth of the United States'. If as Cicero said long ago, "Endless money forms the sinews of war", Russia is in no position to compete militarily with the United States. In fact, it is falling behind.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russian military expenditures totalled $92 billion against $578 billion for the United States, a 6.3:1 ratio in favor of the United States. According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia and the United States achieve parity in nuclear weapons: 4,490 against 4,500. But, this nuclear balance of power is not expected to last. The United States is about to embark on $1 trillion program to modernize its nuclear force. Russia does not have the wherewithal to follow suit. On the high sea, the Russian navy is no match for its American competitor. It has one aircraft carrier against ten for the US Navy, sixty-two submarines against seventy-one, six cruisers against twenty-two, and eighteen destroyers against sixty-two. As everyone knows, it does not have a warm water port. On the ground, Russia only has one military base outside Russia while the United States has over eight hundred of them spread around the world.

But neoconservatives disregard these inconvenient facts to focus on Vladimir Putin. He would be a new Hitler, according to Hillary Clinton. Henry Kissinger who is no dove, thought the comparison was ridiculous. Even Zbigniew Brzezinski objected to this characterization. Unlike the Washington elite who shoot first and ask questions later, Putin behaves as a chess player, calculating each of his moves carefully in order to be ready for the next one and the one after that. He knows the balance of power between the United States and Russia is slipping through his hands and he can do nothing about it. This is his main concern -- a concern he made clear in an exchange with Western journalists at the Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum last June.

None of the above would matter much if a glitch on a computer screen or a human error could spark world war III. Chatham House listed thirteen such instances in its April 2014 report. The Federation of American Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to three minutes to midnight in January. The scientists consider three minutes too close. "Far too close". They demand a drastic reduction in the proposed spending on nuclear weapons modernization program and a re-energization of the disarmament process. Putin addressed the same message to the journalists in Saint-Petersburg, telling them "How can you not understand that the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction? "I don't know how to get through to you anymore?"

So, is Russia a threat for the United States? The answer is no but it might become one if neoconservatives were to corner Putin one day.

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Former Vice President Citigroup New York (retired) Columbia University -- Business School Princeton University -- Woodrow Wilson School

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