The German magazine Bild blew the whistle, and the Russians have now confirmed the allegation with a nonchalant shrug.
Yes, about a year ago they deployed 10 short-range Iskander-M missiles near Kaliningrad, né Königsberg. Yes, the missiles can carry nuclear payloads. Yes, they have a range of about 300 miles, enough to reach Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Germany, all NATO members. So what?
Oh, any number of things. First, the missiles would have been transported across Lithuanian territory, something in which that NATO member had to acquiesce.
This brings into question the continuing existence of this organisation, what with the number of former Warsaw Pact members within its ranks and the profusion of Soviet-trained officers in sensitive positions.
NATO emphasised its de facto demise in 2008 when it appointed the Hungarian Sandor Laborc to lead its Committee for Security and Intelligence. Considering that Gen. Laborc is a career KGB man and honours graduate of the KGB Dzerjinsky Academy in Moscow, methinks NATO secrets aren’t so secret any longer.
Second, the Russians have thereby acted on their threat, first enunciated by Putin’s stooge Medvedev in 2008, to counter America’s deployment of anti-missile defences in Poland.
Third, the Americans have already postponed indefinitely the fourth-stage deployment of the anti-missile system, which means they won’t be able to intercept incoming Russian missiles in any foreseeable future.
Fourth, the suppression of enemy radars and AA rocket sites is essential only if Russia plans to deliver a first strike and prevent a subsequent retaliation. All talk about the Iskanders being defensive is meaningless from a military point of view.
Moreover, you know and, more important, the Russians know that NATO will never deliver a pre-emptive first strike against Russia. The West simply doesn’t do pre-emption, whatever the urgency (hence its criminal dithering in 1938-1939 when the ensuing bloodbath could have been prevented with a relatively limited action).
Witness America’s current spineless reaction to this clearly offensive move. In short, there has been no reaction, never mind any talk of countermeasures.
It took Bild a year to cotton on to the Iskander deployment, but surely US intelligence satellites constantly hovering over the area knew about it the moment it happened. Yet no comment has so far been made, and America’s silence on the subject of this aggressive act has been deafening.
There are two possible reasons for such self-restraint, and one suspects that both have come into play.
On the one hand, the Americans still have their hands full in the Middle East. The Russians are currently serving a useful reminder that any ill-considered military adventure exacts a severe cost not only in lives and money, but also in the nation’s resolve. Give such an adventure enough time, and American students are going to start burning American flags, to the accompaniment of ‘Hell no, we won’t go’.
The US government, expertly egged on by the neocons and other irresponsible ideologues, has effectively exhausted both the physical and moral resources to face up to real, as opposed to bogus, threats. Thus America is doing next to nothing to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and she has chosen to keep a dignified silence on Russia’s worrying military build-up, of which the Iskanders are but one manifestation.
Second, and this may be even more worrying, the Americans may no longer regard KGB-run Russia as a potential threat – this in spite of the increasingly belligerent noises resonating through every speech by Putin and his minions.
The Americans have their own binary system of assessing other countries’ potential for danger, whereby they ask one question only: is the country democratic or not? If the answer is yes, then they happily reiterate Jeane Kirkpatrick’s fallacy that democratic countries don’t wage wars on one another.
In fact there have been at least 50 such unfortunate conflicts, albeit typically involving countries whose commitment to democracy is more tactical than heartfelt. So do the Americans, specifically those of the neocon subspecies, believe that Russia is any different?
If that’s the case, it’s time they faced the facts. Russia, wholly controlled by the most murderous organisation in history, is on her way, if she isn’t there already, to becoming a fully fledged fascist state.
As such, Russia is as deeply hostile to the West as she has been for the last 100 years, and arguably for much of her history. As the self-appointed leader of the free world, the United States had better realise this and act accordingly.
Instead her binary approach to geopolitics, carefully nurtured by the neocons, rules the roost. The Russians get to vote Putin or his dummies in every few years, don’t they? Then they are the good guys, just like us.
This shows yet again that most bad policies are rooted in bad philosophies. Anyone adequately grounded in political and moral philosophy knows that the proper question to ask when assessing a country is not ‘Is it democratic?’ but ‘Is it good?’.
It takes a woeful misreading of history, philosophy and – dare one say it? – theology to regard both questions as one and the same. But I can’t think of a single Western leader who isn’t ignorant in those disciplines, and whose ignorance isn’t accompanied by moral turpitude. Can you?
P.S. It’s official: three days have passed since Mandela’s death, and he still hasn’t risen. I feel cheated.