Russian strategic bombers conducted flights within the U.S. defense zone close to northern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands last week in Moscow’s latest incident of nuclear saber rattling against the United States, according to defense and military officials.
I served in the USAF in Virginia during the early 1980s. During that time we were tasked with protecting the coastline against Soviet incursions. I still have pictures in my house of our F-15s escorting a Russian Bear (Tu-95) off of the coast. These ‘games’ were played several times a year as the Soviets used these nuclear capable aircraft to test and spy on their American counterparts. The Cold War was kept alive for those of us who served in this capacity as well as our military leaders and our civilian leadership. The game basically ended when the Soviet Union fell. That is until now.
Thirty years later, Vladimir Putin seems to want to renew the Cold War hostilities between Russia and the United States. In late April, Russian ‘Bears’ flew along the coast of Alaska once again testing US resolve and a rather weak president by his actions. In early February Russia tested the coast of Guam. Earlier in July of 2012 a Russian Tu-95 attempted to invade the west coast airspace during the Fourth of July celebrations.
So this begs the question, what is Putin’s objective? Is it the Cold War all over again? Is he trying to rally his hardline base? Or maybe he is a bit nostalgic for the past as the US and the USSR sought for supremacy. Either way the US should not take Russia lightly. Alone, they are not dangerous, but should they attempt to take over any of their neighbors, particularly Ukraine and Belarus. With either one of those, Russia would be seen as trying to expand their dominance in the region and would then have the resources to do it. This would be a threat to Europe, and by extension—the United States. The saber rattling by Putin comes at a bad time for our country. President Obama has cut the military’s budget, the nuclear arsenal of the US, and he has cut back on Air Defense forces as well. Because of the Great Recession and the policies of Barack Obama, we are too weak economically too. Simply put, we are unable to defend ourselves, deter anybody, or to attack any country that attacks us. And even if we tried, we would not be able to afford a long confrontation. We are weak now.
So far, Barack Obama has not shown himself to be a particularly strong president in international affairs. His apology tours and lack of clarity and action in the hot spots of the world display this very fact. Russia sees a weak president in the White House and is probably using the incursions as a way of thumbing their collective noses at Obama and showing the weakness of the US on the world stage. Neither of these are good for America. I expect Vladimir Putin to continue to tweak Obama until the end of the President’s term. What can we say, Obama is weak and Russia knows it. Then again, I think everyone knows it.