Waging hybrid warfare against a country that can’t retaliate is one thing, but trying it with a country like Russia is another, one dangerously close to a new world conflict. Writes Drago Bosnic
It has been over 80 years since the US officially declared war on another country. Thus, strictly legally speaking, the US has been “at peace” since the Second World War. This very notion would be quite comical if it wasn’t tragic, since the US “at peace” has killed and destroyed tens of millions of lives around the globe. And it continues to do so. It gives a whole new perspective to the so-called “Pax Americana”.
If we were to ask the people of Korea in 1950-1953, Laos 1965-1973, Vietnam 1965-1975, Cambodia 1969-1975, Grenada 1983, Lybia 1986, Iraq 1991-2003 (direct invasion, then bombing attacks), Serbia/Yugoslavia 1991-1999, Afghanistan 1998-2021 (direct invasion in 2001), Iraq again in 2003-present day (direct invasion), Libya 2011-present day, Somalia 2011-present day, Syria 2011-present day, Yemen 2015-present day, and many other countries, does US involvement look like “peace” to them, how could they possibly respond?
This list is far from complete, especially if we take into account US involvement in countless covert and not-so-covert operations, regime change, coups, etc. This puts US definitions of both “peace” and “defense” in question. Where does the peace end? Where does the war start? What is the principal difference between defense and offense?
US involvement in Ukraine for the last 8 years, and especially in the last 4 months, is a prime example of this. Starting from never-before-seen economic and other sanctions against Russia, to heavy weapons shipments to the Kiev regime and bragging about how its ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets are helping kill Russian soldiers and destroy Russian warships, the US has been treading a tightrope of being “at peace” with Russia.
US understanding of “peace” with Russia becomes even more ambiguous if we take into account President Biden’s words that Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power” or the words of multiple high-ranking US officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and State Secretary Antony Blinken, who stated they want to “make sure Russia is weakened”. Biden supposedly asked both Austin and Blinken to “tone down” their rhetoric regarding Russia, but given his own previous statements, which the State Department has since tried explaining as an “emotional outburst”, how genuine this “toning down” could possibly be? In any case, the US cannot hope to establish normal relations with any other country on the planet, if they can’t even do it with the only country in the world which can obliterate it in a matter of minutes. How is anyone else supposed to feel safe in dealing with the US?
“We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia,” Biden wrote at the end of May. “As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow. So long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces.” However, knowing the US track record, who is to believe a single word uttered in this statement?
The US history of violating international treaties, arbitrarily (ab)using international law, or simply lying to other countries, is pretty indicative of how much the words of US officials are worth. How can anyone take US promises seriously, if not even the sheer power of countries like Russia and their ability to inflict “unacceptable damage” on the US can guarantee the belligerent power in decline will stay compliant with the international treaties it has signed?
And this state of affairs is hardly new, since US presidents have a long history of insisting they have “no plans of going to war”. Until they do. The First World War-era President Woodrow Wilson used the “He kept us out of war!” slogan during his 1916 re-election campaign. A mere month into his second term, Wilson sent troops to Europe. Some 50 years later, during the 1964 presidential election, President Lyndon B. Johnson promised he was “not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves”. Still, in February next year, again within a month of the inauguration, Johnson did exactly that. After authorizing Operation Rolling Thunder, “American boys” were in Vietnam.
Still, even if there wasn’t a formal declaration of war, such as in the cases of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, there was a clearly distinguishable difference between “non-involvement” and direct involvement. However, in recent years, a new model of hybrid warfare emerged. With no clear definition of goals, ambiguous boundaries of chronology or geography, the line between what is war and what is “peace” has been blurred, and pinpointing the exact moment the US moves from one to the other has become an almost impossible task, especially from a purely legal point of view.
In part, that’s because of technological advances, like drone warfare and cyberattacks, which made it possible to wage an actual war without ever declaring one. Killing adversaries, destroying buildings or targeting nuclear facilities in other countries is now possible without American troops ever stepping into hostile territory. Yet, doing this to a country that can’t retaliate is one thing. Trying it with a country like Russia is another, one dangerously close to a new world conflict.
Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst.
Please follow Blitz on Google News channel