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What’s Behind Restoration of the Cold War?

Eric Zuesse

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What’s behind restoration of the Cold War is a fall-off in the global armaments trade after the capitalist-versus-communist Cold War ended with the 9 November 1989 elimination of the Berlin Wall, and after the ideological excuse for buying and using nuclear weapons thus ended when the Soviet Union and its communism and its Warsaw Pact military alliance copy of America’s NATO military alliance all ended soon thereafter, in 1991. Weapons became less needed, because there was no longer an ideological excuse available for invading, and for perpetrating (and/or backing) coups in, foreign countries, such as Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, etc. This reduction in the weapons-market harmed the major investors in arms-manufacturing international corporations. Their business was suffering.

Any nation’s armaments-industry is especially crucial to that given nation’s aristocracy (the controlling owners of their international corporations); and, so, the fall-off in the arms business was deeply problematic for international capitalists — especially for the people whose wealth depends largely upon America’s arms-manufacturers, the international corporations whose only markets are their own and allied governments (which governments America’s and its allied aristocracies control). Therefore, any capitalist nation’s aristocracy is heavily invested in and controls that given nation’s ‘defense’ (or, more typically, invasion) industry. Without allied governments to buy their arms, and ‘enemy’ governments for those weapons to be used against (i.e., countries which are targets instead of markets for those weapons), there is no business, no arms-sales, and no profits, from these companies. Furthermore, the weapons that any given nation has at its disposal and which are paid for by that nation’s entire taxpaying public (thus enabling that aristocracy to extract wealth from their nation’s public in order for the government to buy weapons from their firms), also provide a vital means of enforcing that nation’s aristocracy’s property-rights in all other countries — the guns and military to enforce their will against those countries. Soldiers are more important to international billionaires than police are. Aristocrats tend to be invested in many countries, and so to be very much in need of this international enforcement. Whereas police are more important to the general public, soldiers and spies are more important to billionaires, whose net worths are often extracted more from foreign lands than from their own. This international enforcement also advantages them in any international negotiations. Furthermore, the nation’s diplomatic service, such as America’s State Department, also boosts their international negotiations. Much of the U.S. federal Government serves America’s 607 billionaires more than it serves the remainder of America’s 330 million people — who pay taxes instead of secret their main wealth in places such as Barbados. So, while the public do the paying and the killing and the dying, the country’s owners do the profits. That’s the reality — not the myth, none of the myth — about international relations. It’s global gangland. Everything else is just PR.

For a while after the end of communism and end of the Soviet Union in 1991, the U.S. aristocracy and its allied aristocracies in Europe, Japan and elsewhere, experienced declining sales of armaments, and nothing seemed capable of turning that situation around: their investments became increasingly bad as the ‘post-Cold-War’ period (which “post” on the Russian side was real from 1991 on, but not on the U.S. side, where the Cold War was actually only temporarily suspended and never yet ended) proceeded throughout the 1990s. For America’s aristocracy (and its allied aristocracies abroad), this decline in weapons-income was tolerable so long as the U.S. group were able to siphon some wealth out of Russia, and also out of its allies such as Ukraine. But, by the time when George W. Bush became U.S. President in 2001, America’s aristocracy worked in conjunction with Saudi Arabia’s aristocracy — the Saudi royal family, the largest foreign purchaser of U.S. weapons — to replace the Soviet enemy, by a new jihadist enemy, “radical Islamic terrorism” or jihadists from fundamentalist-Sunni sects such as Saudi Arabia’s own Wahhabist sect, so as to have an ongoing excuse for invasions, to keep their arms-makers busy.

For example: during the latest reporting period, 2017 and 2018, Saudi Arabia imported from U.S. “6599” (millions of dollars worth, or $6.6 billion) of American-made weapons, and the second-largest, Australia, imported only “2007” — meaning that Saudi Arabia dwarfed every other importer, and consumed 29% of all “22993” (or $23 billion) of U.S. arms-exports, during that two-year period. That’s enormous clout over the U.S. Government, which means that the owner of Saudi Arabia, its King, who is by far the world’s wealthiest person and the only certain trillionaire, probably has even more control over U.S. foreign policies than does any single U.S. billionaire — even than does whomever actually controls Lockheed Martin.

After 9/11 (a joint U.S.-Saudi operation), military expenditures promptly quit declining and started rising and thus providing, yet again, good returns to international capitalists. Here, that increase, which was indicated in the above chart, is also shown by a graph in an article which extends decades farther back than merely to 1988, “Military Expenditure Trends for 1960–2014 and What They Reveal”, by Todd Sandler and Justin George, published on 7 March 2016:

As is clear from that, the Cold War was a booming business for investors throughout the U.S. and its allied aristocracies, during at least 1960 till around the time when the Berlin Wall ended on 9 November 1989; and, then, after the 1991 end of the Soviet Union, this thirty-plus years-long uptrend in those investments became instead a clear downtrend, until 11 September 2001, when military spending again soared, but this favorable trend for armaments-investors stopped when Barack Obama became the U.S. President in 2009, and military sales then declined till 2014, and flatlined thereafter. What caused it to stop declining further was especially Obama’s coup in Ukraine during February 2014, turning neutralist Ukraine rabidly against its adjoining nation Russia and seeking NATO membership and so becoming a potential staging-area for U.S. missiles against Russia. This seemed, at the time, to be a brilliant sales-promotion policy for American corporations such as Lockheed.

This flatlined military spending was unacceptable to the U.S. aristocracy, who control the U.S. government. Therefore, starting by no later than 2011, the Obama-Clinton U.S. State Department began preparations to overthrow the Russia-friendly democratically elected (in 2010) government of Ukraine, which is the European country that has the longest border with Russia and therefore the most opportunities for placing U.S. missiles on Russia’s border so as to be able to surprise-attack Russia faster than Russia will be able to launch its missiles in retaliation — in other words, to conquer Russia. That U.S. coup in Ukraine was carried out in February 2014; and, afterward, the international arms-trade boomed again. 

The United States, which until the end of the Soviet Union, and of its communism, and of its Warsaw Pact copy of America’s own NATO, had had an excuse for high military spending, had lost that excuse when, on 9 November 1989, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “tore down that wall” separating East Berlin from West Berlin, and, in 1991 he ended the Cold War itself on the Soviet side and became instead the President of Russia — the leading state in the former Soviet federation. The U.S. secretly continued the Cold War, now against Russia alone, and tried to take Russia over by means of constructing a new Russian aristocracy that would be dependent upon the U.S. aristocracy and would provide America’s aristocrats with lucrative new opportunities for exploitation. But Russia’s new President Vladimir Putin in 2000 immediately turned against Boris Berezovsky and Russia’s other U.S.-allied new aristocrats or “oligarchs,” and drove them out of the country and so established Russian national sovereignty over Russia’s natural and other resources — the very things that America’s aristocrats had wanted to exploit.

Putin replaced the previous, U.S.-allied, oligarchs, by his own friends, who agreed to obey Russia’s leader as the representative of Russia’s national sovereignty, even if and when Putin would tell them to do things that are against their own pecuniary interests — he demanded this loyalty from them, loyalty to what he as the representative of the Russian people determined to be in Russia’s national interest. For forcing out and replacing the previous, U.S.-backed, oligarchs, Putin was called a brutal dictator, by the aristocrats who control the U.S. government and news media and weapons-producing firms.

The post-9/11 restoration of the sales-volumes of the U.S. aristocracy’s weapons-firms turned out to be insufficient, it ended within eight years, because only with a return of sales of nuclear-arms production, and the huge missile systems to deliver them, could the old glory days of America’s aristocracy return again. Or so they thought. And, so, the emphasis again went to making the U.S.-and-allied publics hate Russians instead of hate Muslims, and all of the major media turned to that. But look at the flatline after 2010 which is shown in the top visual here: the U.S. owners are desperate to restore their growth. Consequently, the first thing that the incoming U.S. President Donald Trump did when coming into power in 2017 was to go to Saudi Arabia and sell $350 billion of U.S. weapons to the Sauds over the coming 10-year period — the world’s all-time biggest arms-sale, if the Sauds fulfill on it. This is why Trump refuses to acknowledge that Crown Prince Salman al-Saud ordered the torture-murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Trump’s biggest success has been that sale, and he won’t allow it to fail.

Communism is gone. The Soviet Union is gone. Its Warsaw Pact is gone (and almost entirely absorbed now into America’s NATO military club — they’re aimed now against Russia, instead of against the U.S.). All of the pretext for the Cold War was gone; and therefore to call this new war against the lone and non-communist rump Russian government a ‘new cold war’ (at a time when Russia’s former Soviet partners have been switched to enemies, and the Warsaw Pact of allies has been switched to the NATO pact of enemies) is preposterous; it is nothing of a ‘new cold war’ sort. It is U.S. aggression, flat-out and recognized even by America’s top experts. And a pretext was thus needed in order to be able to call Putin’s Russia the world’s most aggressive country. One pretext was to call the two breaks-away from Ukraine, one by Crimea (which had voted 75% for the government that Obama overthrew) and the other by Donbass (which had voted 90% for that government), ‘aggressions’ on the part of Russia (and to ignore that Obama’s coup in Ukraine had caused both). The Obama regime denied the right of self-determination of peoples, when it pertained to those breakaway regions from Ukraine, even though Obama accepted the right of self-determination of peoples when it pertained to Scots in UK, and to Catalans in Spain.

The other pretext was that Russia backed the allegedly brutal secular leader of Syria, and not the actually brutal sectarian leader of Saudi Arabia who was determined to conquer secular Syria by infiltrating into Syria jihadist allies of Al Qaeda in order to create a Wahhabist dictatorship in Syria, which would be in debt to the Sauds and to the Americans. 

For these reasons, nuclear war is now not only on the table, as it was during the Cold War, but, in the currently spreading now hot war using jihadists and other proxy fighters in order to overthrow and replace Russia’s allies, America is finally going for the nuclear jugular. Even if it’s not a sound thing to do if those weapons are ever used, it’s the only way America’s aristocrats know to boost the value of their investments, at least in the short term (which is the time-perspective that increasingly has come to dominate among America’s aristocrats and their allies).

America’s current President, Trump, will have to decide whether to culminate this, or whether instead to condemn and repudiate it. If he decides to do the latter, then he will be condemning and repudiating the entire U.S. aristocracy, which no U.S. President (except for Jimmy Carter in his retirement) has ever done. American Presidents have been assassinated for less than that. And, in any case, courage is not a trait that’s commonly attributed to Trump, even by his own most ardent admirers. However, unless he turns out to be a person of extraordinary courage, World War III now appears to be virtually inevitable, to occur rather soon, and the only real question would be: Which side will nuclear-blitz-attack the other the first?

Every well-informed person now knows what the full import was of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s elliptical parting words as President, from his Farewell Address, on 17 January 1961:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

What he was so vaguely warning against, has actually occurred, and is proceeding toward its ever-likelier climax: the end. This push is politically bipartisan. It is toward an end so horrific that no scientific estimate of its result to the planet has been allowed to be published. It would release at least the 3,176 already-deployed nuclear warheads (the 100-plus-kiloton bombs that would be used in a U.S.-Russia war: 1,765 on Russia’s side, plus 1,411 on America’s). However, a release of only 100 nuclear warheads (each only 15-kilotons) (thus, roughly 200 times smaller release in total, than a U.S.-Russia war would entail) was allowed to be published; and here that is. (The study itself says that: “Our results show that this period of no food production needs to be extended by many years, making the impacts of nuclear winter even worse than previously thought.” But, clearly, a U.S.-Russia war would simply end a livable planet.)

Trump’s Presidency was bought by the anti-Iran Adelson billionaires and other agents for Israel. Unlike Obama, who was hired by anti-Russia Democratic Party billionaire neoconservatives, the anti-Iran billionaires are the patrons of Trump’s Presidency. And, so, America’s target to destroy is Iran and its allies, instead of Russia and its allies. The only reason why Trump continues Obama’s aggressions (even increases his sanctions) against Russia is in order to be acceptable to the Democratic Party billionaires who control much of the news-media. He gets lots of pressure from them to ‘stop being Putin’s puppet’, and nobody can fight the mainstream news-media, who shape voters’ perceptions.

Author’s note: updated version from originally posted at strategic-culture.org

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Defense

Kashmir: A Nuclear Flash Point

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India has challenged the whole world with nuclear war, the Defense Minister announced to review its policy of no first use of nuclear weapons. It is very serious and threatened the “Peace” of not only of this region but with serious global repercussions. India and Pakistan have a history of 4 wars in the last 7 decades. But these wars were different from today when both countries are nuclear powers and keeping enough piles of weapons to destroy each other completely. Under this scenario, Indian Defense Minister’s remarks are an irresponsible and direct threat to “Peace”.

India staged a drama of “Pulwama” in February 2019 and used this excuse to attack Pakistan. Indian Air Force entered into Pakistan and Dropped Bombs deem inside Pakistan. In spite of the fact, Pakistan possesses the capabilities to retaliate immediately, but observed restrains and patience. Because Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and a responsible state. The visionary leadership of Pakistan understands the consequences of War and smartly averted a full-fledged war. However, two days later, Pakistan demonstrated its strength cautiously and conveyed its strong message that Pakistan loves peace and does not want war, although, having the capacity to respond reciprocity.

Pakistan has been a victim of war for 4 decades in Afghanistan and knows the suffering of war. But has learned a bitter experience and become mature enough to avoid any war.

India has occupied part of Kashmir in 1948 at the time of getting independence from the British. United Nation has passed resolutions on the resolution of Kashmir issue. But India has been delaying and has not implemented any one of UN resolution on Kashmir during the past 7 decades. It is disrespect and humiliation for the UN too.

But the recent Indian move to accede Kashmir unilaterally is a very serious breach of UN and International norms. There is a reaction from almost all over the world. China has condemned Indian move, Russia has opposed, the US has not accepted Indian action, British has criticized, European Parliament has objected, OIC has condemned, various human right Organization and NGOs has rejected the Indian accession. A wide range of protests was witnessed in all major cities of the world, Washington, New York, London, Paris, Brussel, Berlin, Tehran, etc.

Some of the countries care about their economic interests with India, but even the people of these countries are voicing for people of Kashmir. Trust, all nations, and individuals, who care about humanity and value Peace, must stand up to protect the rights of Kashmiri people.

Pakistan extends its full support and stands with any International Organization or platform, any Nation, any Country, any Individual, who stands up for the just cause of Kashmir. It is a principled stand to extend full moral and diplomatic support to Kashmir.

I am scared of Indian desperate behavior, where India is has increased violation of Line-of-Control (LoC), using cluster Bombs, Using Heavy Weapons, Targeting Civilian Population inside Pakistan along the LoC. India has evacuated all foreign tourists and local visitors from Kashmir. Educational Institutions are closed, Media has been stopped from reporting the facts, telephone, mobile and Internet Service has been closed down, Kashmir has been isolated from the rest of the world. One million troops equipped with lethal weapons are controlling 15 million un-armed civilians. Killing, Torturing, Rape, Kidnapping, Arrest and all types of war-crimes are taking place. Draconian Law introduced to shoot at spot any suspect without any legal formalities. Curfew for the last 12 days has made life impossible due to the shortage of food and basic necessities of life. 15 Millions Lives are at stake and at the mercy of the International Community. Indian butchers are ruthless and as a state policy, engaged in genocide.

There are pieces of evidence that India may initiate a war with Pakistan to divert the World-Attention from the deteriorated situation of Kashmir. India may try to hide its war-crimes in Kashmir by engaging Pakistan in a full-scale war. Pakistan Foreign Ministry has issued a statement “The substance and timing of the Indian Defense Minister’s statement are highly unfortunate and reflective of India’s irresponsible and belligerent behavior. It further exposes the pretense of their No First Use policy, to which we have never accorded any credence. No First use pledge is non-verifiable and cannot be taken at face value, especially when the development of offensive capabilities and force postures belie such claims. Pakistan has always proposed measures relating to nuclear restraint in South Asia and has eschewed measures that are offensive in nature. Pakistan will continue to maintain a credible minimum deterrence posture.”

Any misadventure by India may cost a heavy loss to humanity. Its impact may not be limited to Pakistan only but may harm the whole region and the whole world. International Community, must act immediately before it is too late.

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China’s Defense Policy: Questions and answers

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The Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China has published a paper titled the White Paper “National Defense in  New Era”. The document is designed to become a response of the Chinese leadership to other countries’ fears over the growing military power of the PRC. The paper outlines the main points of China’s national defense agenda. They envisage the containment of any external aggression, the safety of the population, social stability, protection of the territorial integrity and the marine and space interests of the PRC. 

The White Paper for the first time outlines the priorities of the Chinese army in the new era on the basis of the “four strategic pillars”. According to the paper, the Chinese army, acting in accordance with the strategic requirements of national security and development, carries out the assignments set by the Party and the people and provides strategic support for strengthening party leadership and the socialist system and  for protecting the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the country. In addition, the army guarantees strategic support to protect the interests of China abroad and contributes to peace and development on the planet.

This document details defense expenditures and their structure. Over the past decades, the PRC has significantly reduced its military spending in proportion to national GDP and the state budget, but has increased its absolute value. In 1979, the country’s defense expenditures accounted for 5.43% of the GDP, while in 2017 – 1.26%. At present, China is the world’s sixth in the ratio of military budget to GDP (after the United States, Russia, India, Britain and France), while it holds  second place in the absolute volume of military expenses.

What triggered most interest is the statement under which the Chinese leadership vows to never be the first to use nuclear weapons whatever the circumstances. Beijing, the document says, has no intentions to participate in the nuclear arms race and will maintain and strengthen its nuclear potential only for ensuring national security. “China calls for a complete ban and destruction of nuclear weapons, is not going to compete with any country in an arms race, and will maintain its nuclear potential at a level appropriate to meet the needs of national security,” – the White Paper says.

This provision has caused the greatest number of questions: for one, why, in this case, China refuses to join the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty? What is often mentioned in this regard is that the US President has announced his intention to conclude a large-scale nuclear agreement with Russia and China on arms control. Perhaps, this is possible in the future.

But the important thing is that national defense policy and operational issues of arms control go separate. We remember Barack Obama’s speech on nuclear-free world, which he delivered in Prague in 2010 and for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize. But this did not mean and does not mean that the United States is ready to immediately dump nuclear weapons.

Incidentally, in the 2011 White Paper on Defense Issues, China (the only of the globally recognized nuclear powers) was the first to declare non-use of nuclear weapons. As for Beijing’s participation in disarmament negotiations, it is determined by the balance of strategic deterrence forces worldwide.

That is why, after D. Trump’s statement about the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, China, whose nuclear potential is considerably smaller than that of the US, refused to join the treaty until the two countries’ potentials became, if not equal, then at least comparable. Meanwhile, Beijing will welcome participation in the negotiations of other members of the Nuclear Five – Britain and France, as well as unofficial nuclear powers, such as India and Pakistan.

In addition, it is important to separate such issues as reduction of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, which comprise ballistic missiles, including medium and short- range. The latter, according to the Chinese doctrine, are classified as strategic weapons.

In general, the White Paper gives you a feeling that China will be ready to join the process of control of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery when the time is right and the relevant conditions are in place. This, in Beijing’s opinion, meets the interests of national security. And the time to do so may well come in the foreseeable future. 

From our partner International Affairs

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NATO’s “space strategy”: What is it all about?

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In a Twitter post released in June 2019, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the North Atlantic Alliance planned to develop its own “space strategy.” According to Deutsche Welle, NATO experts are certain that future military conflicts will inevitably affect near-Earth space, “for example, through an attack on satellites of strategic importance or through the use of a weapon in space.”

NATO explains the need to “declare space a separate territory for military operations” by the emergence of new threats posed by technological progress. The argumentation is of a standard military-bureaucratic nature: as new technologies keep coming along, “exploring” their potential military application becomes imperative. Moreover, NATO’s core members – the United States, France and Britain – clearly go beyond purely theoretical “research” in the field of weaponization of outer space. In December 2019, President Donald Trump issued an order to create the US Space Command with an eye to turning space into a domain of warfare.

Judging by the information available in open sources, it could be safe to assume that in its space warfare plans, the North Atlantic Alliance could move along a path similar to its policy in the field of cyberspace operations. Indeed, in 2016, NATO outlined a common view whereby a cyberattack can, under certain circumstances, be considered a reason for implementing Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, thus activating the principle of collective defense, which is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. Computer networks, infrastructure and software were designated as a separate area for developing the tactics and strategy of combat operations on land, on high seas and in the air. A unified coordination center for cyber operations was set up in Mons, Belgium, in October 2018.

However, NATO has not yet been able to agree a cyber security doctrine that would suit all of its members. According to The Economist, plans are apace to do this within the next “year or two.” So far, there has been no mention of any joint offensive operations in cyberspace, which are within the exclusive competence of the NATO member states. The Allied Command Transformation, responsible for the development of promising concepts of warfare, will work out a doctrine of cyber operations already within the next few years, although this work has just begun. NATO is thus moving on to the next task even before it has solved any one from the list of “new challenges.” According to German media reports, once the planned “space strategy” has been duly implemented, NATO will move on to the allocation of “additional resources,” and view “possible space attacks” as “attacks on the ground, in the air, at sea and in cyberspace.”

Here NATO may hit several serious snags, the first being President Trump’s open distrust of the alliance. Trump has on several occasions expressed his doubts about NATO’s value for the United States. During his election campaign he described NATO as “obsolete,” and already in office he has repeatedly put in question his commitment to the organization’s fundamental collective defense principle. Reports about Trump’s desire to pull the United States out of the North Atlantic Alliance started leaking into the media from the very start of his presidency. He openly hinted about his readiness to dramatically downsize US military support for Europe, and even warned that Washington could go it alone” if its European allies failed to “cooperate.” In April, Washington did not invite the heads of government of NATO member states to celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Alliance in what many Western media outlets described as a sign of the diminished status of NATO.

The past experience of overcoming a similar period of “cooling” in Washington’s relations with Europe under President George W. Bush, is prodding the leaders of some European NATO member states to fall into Washington’s line. In the field of defense, one of the Trump Administration’s priorities was to undermine strategic stability, including by reviving the concept of achieving “decisive superiority” in the militarization of space. Unhappy about the European NATO members’ “inadequate” defense spending, President Trump demanded and obtained in 2014 their promise to increase their defense outlays to 2 percent of GDP.

However, only a handful of them have managed to meet this target to date.

Meanwhile, more and more European experts now fear that Washington’s desire to decrease its commitment to the existing system of Western alliances could stay on even after Donald Trump has left the White House.  Moreover, the political and diplomatic steps taken by the Trump Administration indicate a desire to use NATO to advance US, rather than Western-shared geopolitical interests in Europe. Many Europeans also suspect that Trump’s verbal attacks are meant to disguise Washington’s true desire to undermine EU unity and geopolitical prospects. As if to justify these suspicions, Washington started openly calling the EU a “weak” and “incapable” union and pitching the idea of a US-adjusted North Atlantic Alliance to replace the new “unifier of Europe.” During the 2018 NATO summit, these disagreements boiled over to an extent that in the fall of that same year the French and German leaders called for creating an independent European army.

The Europeans’ intention to expand NATO’s “zone of responsibility” to space might look like an attempt to meet Washington’s demands, though in its own way – to increase spending under the 2% NATO quota not by buying more US-made arms, but by expanding national and continent-wide space programs. After all, many space R&D and technologies have a “dual” potential and can be used for military and civilian purposes alike.

Technology-wise, NATO’s space plans face another hurdle, since when it comes to “military” space, the United States is way ahead of all of its allies combined. The US military space budget for this year exceeds $12 billion, with $14 billion requested by the Pentagon for 2020.  By contrast, the similar budget of France, which is second among NATO countries in terms of “military” space spending, is a mere 3.6 billion euros for the next five years. By the end of Trump’s first year in office, Washington’s missile defense policy was “radically revised” with significant spikes in related spending added to the country’s defense appropriations list. The US Space Command is in the process of being set up.

On January 17, the United States released the National Missile Defense Review, which prioritizes, among other things, the deployment in the near-Earth orbit of combat lasers capable of shooting down ICBMs. It outlines an essentially global task of covering the entire territories of the United States and its allies that comes in place of the previous goal of ensuring protection against a “limited ballistic missile strike.”

The Pentagon is mulling a constellation of small and cheap satellites placed in a low-Earth orbit to track ICBMs at every stage of their flight, as well as “non-kinetic means of influencing space vehicles,” speeding up the development and launchings of dual-purpose satellites, and influencing foreign spacecraft under the pretext of dealing with space junk. According to Western and Russian experts, the United States plans to study the possibility of placing in orbit missile or laser interceptors, along with “cluster groups” and anti-missile weapons.

For comparison, France, which is NATO’s second biggest space power, doesn’t come even close to this. In order to finally keep up with America, Paris recently unveiled a “Space Defense Strategy” with an eye to developing new orbital weapons, creating a “single command” and establishing the armed forces’ “direct control over military satellites.” When unveiling the Strategy in July, President Emmanuel Macron said: “We will better protect our satellites, including in an active way”. Still, the French military’s growing interest in space “exploration” does not necessarily mean that it is ready to follow in America’s wake. A well-known pragmatist, President Macron has recently been emphasizing the objective need for Europe to offset US influence. In June, Macron spoke in favor of mending fences with Russia.

“Europe, that I believe in… must build new rules of trust and security with Russia, and should not only agree with NATO. It needs to build only between Europe and Russia,” Macron stressed.

Finally, NATO has once again been pointing to Moscow’s alleged “aggressiveness” to justify its military preparations of the past few years.  However, it is Russia – one of the world’s leading space powers that has consistently been opposing attempts to militarize outer space. Russia and China have spent many years promoting a draft treaty that would ban the deployment of weapons in space, and the use of force or the threat of force against space objects. The Russian-Chinese initiative is based on a political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space. As for the United States, it is the main opponent of any international legal initiatives aimed at preventing an arms race in space. On April 1, 2019, it became known that Washington had blocked the final report by a team of UN experts on measures to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space. Most recently, during a July 26 meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, once again warned Washington not to bring “weapons into outer space, which would lead to a new qualitative turn in the global arms race” .

With the demise of the Cold War, NATO lost the two key elements that had justified its existence, namely “the enemy” and “the mission.” During the past thirty years, however, the North Atlantic Alliance has been desperately searching for those past priorities for which its members would have to keep sacrificing a considerable portion of their own interests. Will the new “space” plans be able to keep the alliance alive, or will they become a new confirmation of NATO’s chronic problem – the inability to identify the right challenges, priorities and tasks of this day and age?

 From our partner International Affairs

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