Reprinted from Asia Times
After eight days traveling in Asia, Ash hit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California sounding like a stray ballistic whining missile. And he hit where it hurts: the Russia-China strategic partnership. How dare they? Don't you step on my blue Pentagon shoes.
So Russia is guilty of undertaking "challenging activities" at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace. Not to mention "nuclear saber-rattling."
Ash once again enumerated all those "pillars of the international order" that Russia-China are allegedly violating; peaceful resolution of disputes, freedom from coercion, respect for state sovereignty and freedom of navigation. Considering Exceptionalistan's recent record in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and myriad assorted latitudes, one can always count on the Pentagon to bolster the annals of hyper-unrealism.
Dr. Strangelove, sorry, NATO supremo Gen. Philip Breedlove, had already blurted out on the record he has no clue what Putin is up to in Syria. Ash, his boss, doubled down; Putin "hasn't thought through very thoroughly" his objectives in Syria, and his approach is "way off track." Certainly because one month of Russian air strikes did way more to debilitate ISIS/ISIL/Daesh than over a year of the "track" followed by the Coalition of the Dodgy Opportunists (CDO) led by the US and featuring Salafi-jihadi/"moderate rebel" enablers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Ash deviated from whining just to concede it's "possible" that "Russia may play a constructive role in resolving the civil war" in Syria. He wouldn't elaborate on "constructive."
Then back to a non-denial denial; "We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia ... We do not seek to make Russia an enemy." And yet Cold War 2.0 is actually in effect since Maidan in Kiev; and the hysterical demonization campaign of both Putin and Russia shows no signs of abating.
Earlier last week Ash was aboard a US aircraft carrier in the South China Sea demonstrating commitment to "freedom of navigation" -- as in "our naval way, or the highway." Beijing not so much reacted but floated, with Chinese subtlety, that any fooling around will come with a price; what about feeling the love of the DF-21D carrier killer ballistic missile with a 2,500 km range?
On China, Ash once again displayed Pentagon half-baked Orientalist condescending; it all depends on "how China behaves" when demonstrating commitments to peace and security.
Expect Ash's whining missiles to proliferate unchecked. They're embedded in the new US military doctrine, which ranks Russia and China -- with Iran a not so distant third -- as major threats. The British loved it so much they went copycat; "rising aggression from Russia" is among top potential threats included in the UK's next national security strategy to be unveiled by David Cameron on Nov. 23.
Deterrence or bust
It all gets curioser and curioser -- or at least muddier -- when we remember that roughly a month ago Ash was warning, at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, that Russia would "soon" start paying the price for its "escalation" in Syria.
The price might have been paid via the Metrojet crash. Nothing of course links Ash and the Pentagon with it; wishful thinking, at best. Still, the possible bombing by the Sinai branch of Daesh was cracked by GCHQ in London profiting from its vast "we spy on everyone" NSA-style network. James Bond in Spectre -- good old ground intel -- would never had had that kind of knowledge.
The same meeting in Brussels also decided to boost NATO's so-called "spearhead force" to "deliver deterrence," in the words of NATO secretary-general, Norwegian figurehead Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg even bragged that the sole existence of this force would scare the hell out of Russia -- as well as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) -- about alleged "incursions into Turkish territory." Still, no NATO force was deployed to Turkey. After all, NATO was too busy invading Spain.
We're excused for allowing a Bubba Clinton "I feel ya" moment as we consider Ash's whining. There are so many "we didn't have a clue" Pentagon instances he cannot possibly acknowledge on the record.