As the United States continues to be enthralled in hugely domestic issues like Immigration Reform, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and Net Neutrality, there is an ever increasing threat growing behind the former Iron Curtain that many Americans may not be aware of. Russia, that age old foe of capitalism and democracy, is growing in strength and International power. Not since the days when President John F. Kennedy sat behind the desk in the Oval Office, has Russian military advancement been so proliferate, and all while America seemingly sleeps.
With ever increasing tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced earlier this year that the Russian military was negotiating with eight governments from around the world; Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Algeria, Cyprus, the Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore, for access to military facilities, to enable it to extend its long-range naval and strategic bomber capabilities.
Already, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Cuba in July of this year, Putin and Cuban officials reportedly reached a provisional agreement to reopen the signals intelligence facility in Lourdes, Cuba, south of Havana. “A framework agreement has been agreed,” an unnamed Russian source told Reuters. The Lourdes base was first opened in 1964 and was used to intercept communications in the U.S. and throughout the Western Hemisphere. Some estimate that as much as 50 percent of the radio-intercepted intelligence that the Soviet Union collected on the U.S. during the Cold War came from Lourdes. According to The Guardian, “the Lourdes facility was the Soviet Union’s largest foreign base, a mere 155 miles from the U.S. coast. It employed up to 3,000 military and intelligence personnel to intercept a wide array of American telephone and radio communications.”
Russian President, Vladimir Putin seems to have an agenda that involves rebuilding the former Soviet-era influence throughout much of Europe and assuring the success of that venture by strategically “boxing-in” the United States with Russia’s military might, while at the same time U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration’s continuously failing foreign policy is sending America’s international influence on a downward spiral. Where American strength abroad at one time instilled a healthy fear in her would-be adversaries, weak policy and lack of “carry through” on the part of the U.S. President in regard to threats made to Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2012 for his use of chemical weapons, as well as cut-backs made to weaken U.S. military strength have in fact emboldened our enemies.
Russia has been testing the resolve of the United States for many years now, but in recent months has significantly increased its level disregard for both the U.S. and NATO. Russia has repeatedly flown military aircraft very near or into restricted U.S. airspace multiple times in the past few years, with the most recent taking place in September of 2014 when two U.S. F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian IL-78 refueling tankers, two Russian Mig-31 fighter jets and two Russian Bear long-range bombers (Russian Bear aircraft are capable of carrying AS-15 “Kent” long-range cruise missiles designed to be fitted with nuclear warheads). According to an official at NORAD, as many as 50 Russian aircraft have been intercepted near restricted airspace by U.S. jets over the past five years. What is more concerning is the fact that analysis of the long-range bombers flight patterns indicated the aircraft were conducting practice runs to a pre-determined “launch box” — or an optimum point for firing nuclear-armed cruise missiles at U.S. targets.
Considering everything that Russia seems to be doing around the globe to gain power and influence, the question as to why now may come to mind. Why, after so many years of global stability have we seen a shift in the way Russia is acting? I believe that it can be summed up in just a few words: “Lack of credibility.”
We have a very serious weakness in this nation right now; a weakness of leadership. Barrack Obama showed weakness in Syria when he threatened action if Assad used chemical weapons but never followed through. He showed that same level of weakness toward Russia as they provided weapons to Assad’s forces in Syria this year. There is also the lackluster effect that U.S. sanctions have had against Russia over their support of separatists in Ukraine. Russia has dismissed Barack Obama’s attempts to bring economic sanctions directed toward energy and finance sectors and against those close to Putin, through executive order, as paltry at best. Russia is now capitalizing on the weakness that our current leadership has displayed countless times. It is also emboldened by the fact that the abilities and current combat readiness of our Armed Forces has been undermined and weakened by the current administration’s failed policies.
“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for war.” – George Washington
As the Obama administration has basically dismantled the U.S. missile defense posture through a series of budget and policy changes carried out over a four year period between 2009 and 2013 that has largely gone unnoticed by the American public, a defense that had been in place to help the U.S. negotiate for arms control and global stability, just last week a Russian Senior Defense Ministry official, Gen. Yuri Yakubov, was quoted as saying that Russia’s 2010 military doctrine should be revised to identify the United States and the NATO alliance as enemies, and clearly outline the conditions for a preemptive nuclear strike against them.
In the event that Russian forces actually teamed up with the Chinese in an attempt to gain more control throughout the world, where would that leave the United States? Certainly not in a good place. It would be unlike anything seen since World War II. The age old adage about those not learning from the past being condemned to repeat it comes to mind. The U.S. is still trying to regain economic traction after suffering a major recession, coming out of two separate wars, and possibly being on the verge of entering into another conflict with ISIL. One thing is certain, we cannot attain or retain peace within our borders by showing the world weakness. Our military strength is what assures us our safety, and to deny that would be a very foolish mistake.