Alarm bells about a new arms race between the USA and Russia went off this week around the world. President-elect Donald Trump reportedly told the American media « let’s bring it on » after Russian leader V V Putin earlier called for a « strengthening » of his country’s nuclear capability. Later, Moscow clarified that it didn’t intend to incite an arms race. Nevertheless, Trump’s side remained ambiguous about what the new president meant by “greatly expanding” the American nuclear arsenal. There is a seductive strategic incentive for Washington to incite a nuclear arms race with Russia. The main objective isn’t to launch an eventual catastrophic war in which neither side would survive. Rather, the objective is to break Russia financially. It’s still a kind of warfare, albeit in a different form.
In turn, the outcome of breaking Moscow financially would lead eventually to Russia’s subjugation by the USA. Russia and its rich natural resources would henceforth be just another domain ruled over by American capital. Moreover, geopolitically, Washington would have a free hand to kick the rest of the world around in the absence of any counterweight from a strong Russia, as recent events in Syria all too well illustrate. We can best see the precedent for this war-by-finance scenario during Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s. Arguably, all through the Cold War decades, since World War II, the USA and its NATO military alliance always acted aggressively towards the then-USSR. The latter was continually obliged to divert inordinate economic resources to maintain some kind of defensive parity. During the Reagan presidency, the USA embarked on a surge in military spending which inevitably induced the USSR to respond likewise. Both countries incurred massive financial problems owing to the accelerated arms race. In the case of the USSR, the unsustainable arms expenditures led to the collapse of its economy, and consequently its political system dissolved in 1991.
However, in the case of the USA, it could postpone financial and political disaster because the US Dollar as the top international reserve currency simply allowed Washington to keep printing dollars and pile up a mountain of debt. A quarter of a century after the official end of the Cold War, the USA stands out as the biggest debtor nation on the planet with a total of 20 trillion USD (1.232 quadrillion Roubles. 138.896 trillion Renminbi. 1.36 quadrillion INR. 26.887 trillion CAD. 27.763 trillion AUD. 19 trillion Euros. 16.195 trillion UK Pounds) in arrears. A day of reckoning is long overdue. In other words, the USA appeared to win the Cold War, not because of the superiority of its political, economic, or military systems over the USSR. On the contrary, it was only because the USA could print money and pile up debt with seeming abandon that gave it a decisive edge; whereas the Soviet system had no such privilege to offload its financial problems on to the rest of the world. Therefore, President Putin is prudent when he said this week that he wouldn’t allow his country to become embroiled once again in any arms race with the USA. One suspects that Putin and his advisors have studied history well and understand that such an arms race… if precipitated… would lead to much more grievous economic and political problems for Moscow than it would for Washington; simply because of the peculiarity of the US Dollar being unfairly privileged by the global financial system. Nevertheless, one also suspects that an arms race with Russia is exactly what powerful elements within the American Establishment want.
There are several reasons for this. Firstly, American capitalism wouldn’t function without the lifeline of government subsidies in the form of its elephantine military-industrial complex. Every year, Washington spends some 600 billion USD (36.96 trillion Roubles. 4.167 trillion Renminbi. 40.773 trillion INR. 807 billion CAD. 833 billion AUD. 570 billion Euros. 486 billion UK Pounds) on its military… about half of the total discretionary government expenditure. Taken together, the USA and its NATO allies spend about ten-fold on military sectors what Russia does. American capitalism as a supposedly “Free Market private enterprise” system is a myth. It is, in reality, by contrast, a centrally planned subsidised support system for élite profit-making. Massive US military spending year-on-year is crucial to the support system for this kind of economic parasitism. Logically, then, an arms race induced against Russia would be a welcome boon for the military-industrial complex of corporate manufacturers, Wall Street bankers, and mega-rich shareholders. Trump seems to be aware of this, given his recent admonitions to Lockheed Martin over its exorbitant publicly subsidised program to build the F-35 fighter jet. Whether Trump is willing to overcome the parasitical nature of the US military-industrial system is another question. It’s doubtful. What’s required is systematic change brought about by a mass political movement. Trump, a capitalist billionaire magnate, certainly doesn’t represent that. Another compelling reason for why the USA desires an arms race with Russia is that statecraft planners and ideologues in Washington know well that such an escalation would lead to a repetition of the old Cold War strategy of breaking Moscow through a futile financial hole-digging competition. Russia, as virtually every other nation is, is limited by how much of its economy can sustain military spending, but that’s not so for the Americans. Washington can pile up debt with impunity for as long as the global financial system relies on the US Dollar as the primary reserve currency.
This scenario of aiming to break Russia through financial warfare as triggered by an arms race would also explain why the US-led NATO alliance intensified its goading of Moscow in recent years. The pretext of “defending Europe” from “Russian aggression” is transparently ludicrous. They orchestrate contrived grievances of Russia “annexing Crimea” in order to give Washington and its NATO lackeys an excuse to ramp up militarism on Russia’s borders. Any sane person can see that the objective situation is one of NATO aggression and intimidation towards Russia, in complete reversal of what the Western governments and their servile mass media allege. This would also explain why the US unilaterally walked away from the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty in 2002. Washington needs to foster instability and insecurity because only such instability and war proneness prop up its otherwise bankrupt economy. The real purpose isn’t to instigate World War III with Russia, but instead to coerce Moscow into another disastrous arms race. It’s essential for Russia to keep on strengthening its defence capability. That means upgrading existing systems. The key word here is “strengthening”. Putin wasn’t referring to “expansion”. He was specifically talking about optimising military capability by being economically and technically efficient.
The reckless warmongering by Washington is a decades-old tendency since World War II. Unfortunately, its European allies are too subservient or ideologically malleable to stand up to this American belligerence. In that case, Russia must always be vigilant to have the best defence systems to deter any American ultimate aggression. Putin proudly referred to Russia being capable of defending itself against “any aggressor”. However, at all costs, Russia must avoid an arms race that would shatter its economy and eventually its national sovereignty. That’s exactly what their American adversaries want.
25 December 2016