Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:37 CEST
Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:37 CEST
For anybody who took at face value the Obama administration's past commitment for a "reset" with Russia, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's speech on Wednesday should dispel those grand illusions once and for all.
But first, there's the deadly Ebola virus for the US military to contend with.
In commemorating the US military's "global presence and engagement," Hagel said the US Army "will soon deploy as a key part of America's contribution to the global effort to stop the spread of Ebola before it becomes an even more of a grave threat."
The activation of the US Army into the epicenter of a viral epidemic may strike some as an actual dereliction of military duty, not to mention a reckless risk to soldiers. Moreover, judging by the Obama administration's apparent lack of preparedness to handle a few Ebola cases in Dallas, Texas, how will the US Army fare in the midst of a full-blown epidemic in Africa?
Washington's apparent desire to find a military solution even for a medical problem should give the American people some pause. In the event of a full-blown outbreak of Ebola in the United States, would that be the signal for the US Army to introduce martial law on the streets of America? If the answer is no, why then does Hagel believe the US military should activate its forces in a foreign country that really needs armies of doctors, not soldiers?
But who are we mere mortals to believe that America's worldly ambitions should brake at the borders of the biological world? After all, we are talking about a nuclear-armed superpower, with over 900 franchises worldwide, intoxicated by a recreational drug known as hubris, a state of mind that leads otherwise normal men to believe they are invincible and exceptional no matter how tiny and toxic the enemy.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the US military's mighty footprint can also be found "in Poland and the Baltic States where soldiers from Fort Hood's cavalry division are reinforcing and reassuring our NATO allies in the face of 'Russian aggression.'"
But on this point, could Hagel be accused of exaggerating the threat of "Russian aggression," especially when it is considered that Russia has not, unlike the United States, violated the territorial integrity of a single sovereign state since before the collapse of the Soviet Union? For those who have been consuming too much Western media of late, that will certainly come as news.
The only exception to Russia's honorable track record occurred on the morning of August 8, 2008 when Georgia launched a full-blown military offensive against South Ossetia, killing a dozen or so Russian peacekeepers in the process. After pushing Georgia's military back to the suburbs of Tbilisi, Russia's military respectfully exited the country.
Now, aside from fighting against the Ebola virus and "Russian aggression," Hagel was proud to announce that the super-stretchable US Army would also be deploying, yet again, to the sands of Iraq "to train, advise and assist Kurdish and Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State [IS]."
A bit later in the speech, Hagel said, amidst the tinkling of dinnerware, that "the demands on the Army will only grow more diverse and complicated going forward. Threats from terrorists and insurgents will remain with us for a long time."
Today, any allusion to terrorism or deadly viruses by US officials automatically produces the cue card for "Russian aggression" as well. Hagel did not fail on that count.
According to the Secretary of Defense, the US military "must also deal with a revisionist Russia with its modern and capable army on NATO's doorstep."
Yes, you heard that correct: "On NATO's doorstep."
"As we gather here, an outbreak of Ebola overwhelms public health systems in West Africa, and threatens to move rapidly across borders," Obama said at the beginning of his statement. "Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition..."
In response to the comment, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev questioned the US president's state of mind.
"I don't even want to comment on this, this is some sort of aberration in the brain," Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with CNBC.
Meanwhile, getting back to Hagel's metaphorical allusion to "NATO's doorstep." This is quite amusing, since it is NATO that continually moves that doorstep eastwards toward Russia, thereby hyping fears of "Russian aggression." In reality, it has been America's aggressiveness, intransigence and double-dealing with Russia that is largely responsible for the breakdown in bilateral relations between the two former Cold War adversaries.
Not only has NATO gone back on its pledge not to move "a single inch" toward Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but more recently it has refused to cooperate on a missile-defense shield in Eastern Europe with Russia. More than anything, this failure on the part of Washington betrayed its hand in the dangerous geopolitical game now being played in the region.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hagel and his military cronies are happily passing the hat around at luncheons, filling the coffers of America's military industrial complex, a Frankenstein's monster that former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower (himself a former General) warned of in his farewell address on January 17, 1961.
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military - industrial complex," Eisenhower warned. "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."
The failure to heed such wise counsel has not only been disastrous for the people of the United States, whose ability to control local paramilitary police powers through the crumbling Second Amendment is now virtually nonexistent. It has severely warped America's foreign policy goals, which is fixated with achieving supreme global dominance come hell or high water.
Robert Bridge is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, which examines the dangerous consequences of runaway corporate power in the United States.