The Threat of a Nuclear War Between the US and Russia Is Now at Its Greatest Since 1983
The military commander of entire NATO doesn't mind lobbing nukes first
By Scott Ritter - 29. February 2020
When the Commander of NATO says he is a fan of flexible first strike at the same time that NATO is flexing its military muscle on Russia’s border, the risk of inadvertent nuclear war is real.
US Air Force Gen. Tod D Wolters told the Senate this week he “is a fan of flexible first strike” regarding NATO’s nuclear weapons, thereby exposing the fatal fallacy of the alliance’s embrace of American nuclear deterrence policy.
It was one of the most remarkable yet underreported exchanges in recent Senate history. Earlier this week, during the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee of General Tod Wolters, the commander of US European Command and, concurrently, as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR) also the military head of all NATO armed forces, General Wolters engaged in a short yet informative exchange with Senator Deb Fischer, a Republican from the state of Nebraska.
Following some initial questions and answers focused on the alignment of NATO’s military strategy with the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the US, which codified what Wolters called “the malign influence on behalf of Russia” toward European security, Senator Fischer asked about the growing recognition on the part of NATO of the important role of US nuclear deterrence in keeping the peace. “We all understand that our deterrent, the TRIAD, is the bedrock of the security of this country,” Fischer noted. “Can you tell us about what you are hearing…from our NATO partners about this deterrent?”
Wolters responded by linking the deterrence provided to Europe by the US nuclear TRIAD with the peace enjoyed on the European continent over the past seven decades. Fischer asked if the US nuclear umbrella was “vital in the freedom of NATO members”; Wolters agreed. Remarkably, Wolters linked the role of nuclear deterrence with the NATO missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere outside the European continent. NATO’s mission, he said, was to “proliferate deterrence to the max extent practical to achieve greater peace.”
Then came the piece de resistance of the hearing. “What are your views, Sir,” Senator Fischer asked, “of adopting a so-called no-first-use policy. Do you believe that that would strengthen deterrence?”
General Wolters’ response was straight to the point. “Senator, I’m a fan of flexible first use policy.”
Under any circumstance, the public embrace of a “flexible first strike” policy regarding nuclear weapons employment by the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe should generate widespread attention. When seen in the context of the recent deployment by the US of a low-yield nuclear warhead on submarine-launched ballistic missiles carried onboard a Trident submarine, however, Wolters’ statement is downright explosive. Add to the mix the fact the US recently carried out a wargame where the US Secretary of Defense practiced the procedures for launching this very same “low yield” weapon against a Russian target during simulated combat between Russia and NATO in Europe, and the reaction should be off the charts. And yet there has been deafening silence from both the European and US press on this topic.
There is, however, one party that paid attention to what General Wolters had to say–Russia. In a statement to the press on February 25–the same date as General Wolters’ testimony, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister stated that “We note with concern that Washington’s new doctrinal guidelines considerably lower the threshold of nuclear weapons use.” Lavrov added that this doctrine had to be viewed in the light “of the persistent deployment of US nuclear weapons on the territory of some NATO allies and the continued practice of the so-called joint nuclear missions.”
Rather than embracing a policy of “flexible first strike”, Lavrov suggested that the US work with Russia to re-confirm “the Gorbachev-Reagan formula, which says that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed.” This proposal was made 18 months ago, Lavrov noted, and yet the US has failed to respond.
Complicating matters further are the ‘Defender 2020’ NATO military exercises underway in Europe, involving tens of thousands of US troops in one of the largest training operations since the end of the Cold War. The fact that these exercises are taking place at a time when the issue of US nuclear weapons and NATO’s doctrine regarding their employment against Russia is being actively tracked by senior Russian authorities only highlights the danger posed.
On February 6, General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian Chief of Staff, met with General Wolters to discuss ‘Defender 2020’ and concurrent Russian military exercises to be held nearby to deconflict their respective operations and avoid any unforeseen incidents. This meeting, however, was held prior to the reports about a US/NATO nuclear wargame targeting Russian forces going public, and prior to General Wolters’ statement about “flexible first use” of NATO nuclear weapons.
In light of these events, General Gerasimov met with French General Fançois Lecointre, the Chief of the Defense Staff, to express Russia’s concerns over NATO’s military moves near the Russian border, especially the Defender 2020 exercise which was, General Gerasimov noted, “held on the basis of anti-Russian scenarios and envisage training for offensive operations.”
General Gerasimov’s concerns cannot be viewed in isolation, but rather must be considered in the overall historical context of NATO-Russian relations. Back in 1983, the then-Soviet Union was extremely concerned about a series of realistic NATO exercises, known as ‘Able Archer ‘83,’ which in many ways mimicked the modern-day Defender 2020 in both scope and scale. Like Defender 2020, Able Archer ‘83 saw the deployment of tens of thousands of US forces into Europe, where they assumed an offensive posture, before transitioning into a command post exercise involving the employment of NATO nuclear weapons against a Soviet target.
So concerned was Moscow about these exercises, and the possibility that NATO might use them as a cover for an attack against Soviet forces in East Germany, that the Soviet nuclear forces were placed on high alert. Historians have since observed that the threat of nuclear war between the US and the USSR was at that time the highest it had been since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
US and NATO officials would do well to recall the danger to European and world security posed by the “Able Archer ‘83” exercise and the potential for Soviet miscalculations when assessing the concerns expressed by General Gerasimov today. The unprecedented concentration of offensive NATO military power on Russia’s border, coupled with the cavalier public embrace by General Wolters of a “flexible first strike” nuclear posture by NATO, has more than replicated the threat model presented by Able Archer ’83. In this context, it would not be a stretch to conclude that the threat of nuclear war between the US and Russia is the highest it has been since Able Archer ’83.
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Scott Ritter - is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter
by Michel Chossudovsky
Available to order from Global Research!
Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.
“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
–John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University
“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
–Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute
US Space Force carried out first official nuclear-capable missile test
By Mike Wehner - 06. February 2020
The United States military carries out missile tests on a fairly regular basis, and they don’t normally get much attention. After all, they’re just tests, and they’re not often all that interesting. Last night’s test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was a bit different.
The launch, which featured a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile called the Minuteman III, was carried out by the 30th Space Wing, which is now part of the newly-formed United States Space Force. It’s the first such test from the US Space Force and a sign that the Trump administration’s order to form the Space Force is indeed taking shape.
“This launch marks a very special moment in our nation’s history,” Col. Anthony Mastalir of the 30th Space Wing commander said in a statement. “Providing the range support needed to facilitate this launch showcases how the Space Force will continue to support and integrate into the joint fight to ensure national security for our country.”
This photo provided by the U.S. Air Force shows the launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile during a developmental test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. AP
The officials conducting the test noted that the testing doesn’t have anything to do with any specific event or events happening in the world right now, and that it was simply a data-gathering test mission. The unarmed missile traveled some 4,200 miles out to sea, eventually coming down near the Kwajalein Atoll, according to KTBS.
We’re certainly not to a point where any of the world’s superpowers are on the verge of waging a war in space. Spy satellites and spacecraft can give military forces on the ground a significant edge over their enemies today, but a real “Star Wars”-style space battle is still firmly in the realm of science fiction. Nevertheless, the Space Force already has some questionable uniforms ready to roll in case that ever happens.
US Preparing for “Hybrid War” with Russia?
Positioning US-NATO Forces on Russia’s Doorstep
By Stephen Lendman - 26. September 2015
America is a warrior state, waging direct and/or proxy wars at home and abroad throughout its entire history – today on a global scale, with an arsenal of weapons of unimaginable destructive power able to end life on earth, and lunatics in charge perhaps planning to use them.
In September 2010, Stop NATO editor Rick Rozoff said the Pentagon is using the Baltic states as “training grounds for Afghan and future wars.”
After NATO expanded from 16 – 28 members from 1999 – 2009 by adding all former Warsaw Pact countries, including former Soviet republics Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Washington used their territory for military bases, troop and weapons deployments, regional “air patrols and the initial stages of a continent-wide anti-ballistic missile system beyond” NATO plans for an Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence Programme.
Positioning US and other NATO forces near Russia’s border violated the 1991 (ratified) Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), limiting “several categories of conventional military equipment in Europe,” Rozoff explained.
New NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland were “transformed into training grounds for the Pentagon’s and NATO’s wars abroad” – including potential confrontation with Russia, regular large-scale military exercises conducted for this purpose, literally readying for possible WW III.
Large numbers of US-led NATO troop deployments and provocative military exercises close to Russia’s borders should scare everyone. Last spring, US-installed NATO Secretary-General Jens Stolenberg said dealing with Russia requires “a strong collective alliance” – code language for preparing for military confrontation?
He, US officials and other Western ones consistently lie about nonexistent “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, as well as deploying troops and warplanes in Syria.
Moscow threatens no one. It’s the continent’s leading peacemaker. Washington threatens world peace, security and stability. Its permanent war agenda risks the unthinkable – possible nuclear armageddon.
On September 25, Sputnik News and RT International both discussed German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten’s (DWN) report about Washington preparing for possible hybrid war with Russia in the Baltics region – focusing on irregular troop deployments, destabilization, provocative rallies and cyber attacks.
Former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy was quoted, saying “Russia’s (nonexistent) invasion of Eastern Ukraine urged the US to dust off its emergency plans. They were pretty outdated.”
Washington’s coup followed by orchestrated Kiev aggression on Donbass is used as a pretext to blame Moscow for their crimes – the Big Lie repeated ad nauseam by Western officials and media scoundrels, knowingly and willfully turning truth on its head as part of a longstanding plan to marginalize, weaken, contain, isolate, destabilize and weaken Russia, America’s key rival along with China.
DWN said hyping a “Russian threat” is used to justify deploying large numbers of heavily armed US troops in Eastern Europe, hold large-scale provocative war games near its borders and get NATO nations to increase military spending.
German ZDF television reported US plans to position powerful B61 thermonuclear bombs at the Luftwaffe’s Buchel Air Base. It’s Germany’s only military base with US nuclear weapons already – 20 since 2007.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded, calling Washington’s intention a “violation of the strategic balance in Europe…And without a doubt, it would demand that Russia take necessary countermeasures to restore the strategic balance and parity.”
An unnamed Russian “military-diplomatic” source said Moscow may respond by deploying Iskander-M tactical missiles in Kaliningrad, its Eastern European enclave bordering Lithuania and Poland.
“The issue is being studied,” the source said. “A final decision will be made after a detailed analysis of the potential threats.”
In 2010, Bundestag opposition members called for removing US nuclear weapons from German territory entirely. At the time, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said “(t)he time is right for a new beginning on nuclear disarmament.” Polls show strong anti-nuclear public sentiment.[Ed.: So, why was nothing DONE ???]
Former German Defense Ministry Parliamentary State Secretary Willy Wimmer told ZDF television Washington’s plan to deploy B61s to Buchel gives it “new attack options against Russia.” It’s “a conscious (anti-Russian) provocation…”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told ZDF “(t)he comprehensive analysis of the situation points to the threat posed by the increasing military capability of NATO and its endowment with global functions, which it performs in violation of the international law, as well as the encroachment of the military infrastructure of NATO members on the borders of the Russian Federation.”
America positioning nuclear weapons on European territory breaches NPT’s letter and spirit – prohibiting the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states.
Washington’s claim about them being under US control doesn’t wash. Most important is their potential use, the risk of nuclear war, the top priority for world leaders to avoid at all costs.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
The original source of this article is Copyright © Stephen Lendman, 2015