16 February 2017

On the matter of "provocation."

Here's something to keep in mind as you digest the current cable news hysteria about the "provocation" of the supposed Russian surveillance vessel in international waters off of our east coast:
This may be of comfort to those who worry at the prospect of war. Yet the threat inflation that keeps the wheels turning can carry us toward catastrophe. Among the token vessels deployed to reassure Eastern European NATO countries have been one or two Aegis Destroyers, sent to patrol the Baltic and Black Seas. The missiles they carry are for air defense. Yet the launchers can just as easily carry nuclear or conventional cruise missiles, without any observer being able to tell the difference.

Bruce Blair, who spent years deep underground waiting to launch nuclear missiles and now works to abolish them, foresees frightening consequences. As he told me, “Those destroyers could launch quite a few Tomahawk cruise missiles that can reach all the way to Moscow. You could lay down a pretty severe attack on Russian command-and-control from just a couple of destroyers.” This, he explained, is why the Russians have been aggressively shadowing the ships and buzzing them with fighter planes at very close quarters.[1]

Notes
[1] "The New Red Scare. Reviving the art of threat inflation." By Andrew Cockburn, Harper's Magazine, December 2016.

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