I continue to be stunned by how little attention is paid to the issues raised in this video. The petty geopolitics of the Middle East and even Eastern Europe are nothing compared to the threat of Russia’s rickety nuclear program. We managed to get along with and do deals with the Soviets, who had a system committed to our destruction, why can’t we get on with vaguely authoritarian Russia? Especially when the main thing driving Russian authoritarianism is legitimate resentment of two decades of aggressive moves against Russia by NATO.
When the next nuclear accident or dirty bomb happens, or, god forbid, the first actual piece of nuclear terrorism, it will absolutely be the result of the break down in the relationship between Russia and the US. Russia is a ramshackle place that needs our aid and cooperation to keep nuclear materials from disappearing into the black market, not an arms race. But the anti-Russia drum beat continues. At least twice since I made this video, just over two weeks ago, Trump’s willingness to work with Russia has been used as a club against him. First his suggestion that Putin be invited back to the G-7 was held against him, and now it’s his slow-walking of lethal aid to Ukraine. Whether Trump has been bribed by Russia or not, these are both pro-peace moves!
Importantly, they are also ways that we could bring Russia back to the table, and avert the next nuclear disaster. Which is vastly more important than whatever concerns we may have in Ukraine or Syria. I guess this won’t be obvious until that disaster happens. Sigh.
Video Transcript after the jump…
So what do you think is the most dangerous Trump administration policy? Is it the massive backs and forths on North Korea? Is it the policy of brinksmanship for idiots they are running with Iran and Venezuela? Is it the abuse of all our old allies? Or is it the intensification of Obama’s racist immigration policies that the liberal media cares about all of a sudden? No it’s none of those things, and it’s something that the New York Times Opinion page is apparently just fine with.
Trump, and the three presidents before him, have been working hard to make Russia the scariest country on the planet. I am not talking about Ukraine, or Syria or election meddling here. 99.9 percent of what we focus on with Russia is meaningless bullshit compared to the true danger. Russia and the United States are the only countries in the world with nuclear arsenals big enough to wipe out human civilization. And the Russians can’t afford to maintain their nukes anymore. The two arsenals are about the same size but the US economy is 12 times larger than the Russian one. The fall in oil and gas prices since 2014 has lowered Russian GDP by a quarter, requiring defense budget cuts and austerity on social programs that brought tens of thousands to the streets of Moscow just last week. Russia’s nuclear program, one of the most complex and expensive scientific projects in human history, is currently being held together by spit and bubblegum.
Russia can’t admit this of course. The nukes are the only thing they have left that makes them look like a first tier power. This situation was scary enough when Russia was just a declining power holding on to a program it couldn’t afford. Unfortunately, the United States is now actively pushing Russia into an arms race, and the results are terrifying.
The Russian nuclear program is now experiencing catastrophic failure on a monthly basis. On July 1st a fire broke out on a Russian nuclear submarine killing 14 sailors. It’s unclear, but many suspect the accident happened because they were testing new capabilities. The heroism and sacrifice of these sailors did get the sub back to port, averting incalculable world wide environmental damage.
On August 8th, just last Thursday, the Russians managed to blow up a nuclear reactor, killing at least 5 top scientists, and spiking radiation levels across Northern Russia. Details are still emerging, but most suspect that the scientists were testing a nuclear powered cruise missile that Putin announced with great fanfare last year. It’s important to emphasize that these are just the accidents we hear about.
News of these horrors is quickly papered over in the US, because it doesn’t fit the narrative. Russia can’t be risking environmental catastrophe through its weakness, because US defense budgets require that Russia looks strong and scary. So defense industry promotional brochures like the New York Times focus on Russia’s new weapons, not the fact that they can’t afford to test them without killing dozens of their own people and poisoning their countryside.
The New York Times and the rest have been fantastically successful in this, by the way. In the coming decades we are expected to spend over a trillion dollars maintaining and expanding our nuclear arsenal, and the Trump administration wants to add more capabilities as well. It’s a spending bonanza, and a lot of people are getting very rich.
BTW, there is no reason to think this escalating series of nuclear program mistakes won’t extend to Russian command and control. The chances of destroying human civilization by mistake are probably just as high now as they were during the cold war. The disappearance of ideological conflict doesn’t make mistaken nuclear apocalypse less likely, just dumber.
This year has seen the demise of yet another arms control deal between the US and Russia, which is profoundly sad. Russia is desperate to do deals with us. You have probably heard about Russia’s scary election swinging cyber war capabilities, but have you heard about the way that Russia keeps proposing sweeping deals with the US to limit those capabilities? Probably not.
Russia just wants it’s nonexistent great power status confirmed. The US wants that too, but it doesn’t want any of the stability that a deal limiting nukes or cyber would provide. The Pentagon wants a rival that justifies developing terrifying new capabilities, and more importantly tons of money to spend on those capabilities. The money saving arms limitation Deals that Russia so desperately wants get in the way of that so Washington DC blocks them, and destroys the ones we already have. To maintain the fiction that it still matters, Russia has to try to keep up, sacrificing its international reputation, its soldiers and scientists, its internal stability and its environment. This is only going to get worse.
What we have to fear is Russian disintegration, not Russian power. We spend a lot of time focusing on Iranian and North Korean nuclear proliferation, as we continue to gleefully piss all over the most important nuclear relationship in the world, the one between the US and Russia. 4 and a half years ago I made a video sounding the alarm about this. You should check it out. Nothing has improved since then.
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