Review admits ‘Great Power competition’ has returned
– Alexander Mercouris
The US Nuclear Posture Review is a seminal document, not just because of the nuclear weapons build up it speaks of – worrying though that is – but because it represents a formal admission by the US that the so-called ‘unipolar moment’ – the period after the end of the Cold War when the US enjoyed unchallenged global dominance – is over.
So far from being the world’s unchallenged and unchallengeable ‘hyperpower’ and world hegemon, the US admits that it is now once again just one of three Great Powers – the US, Russia and China – albeit that it still considers itself to be the strongest of the three.
The Review admits this unambiguously. One of its chapters is straightforwardly entitled “The Return of Great Power competition”. …
However that is to miss the point. The point is that for the first time since the end of the Cold War the US sees itself as challenged by other Great Powers – specifically Russia and China – which are militarily and technologically and – in China’s case – economically comparable to itself.
It is in order to respond to this challenge that the US is embarking on the massive upgrade in its nuclear forces which the Review discusses.
This proposed upgrade is indeed massive, though the Review goes out of its way to deny (unconvincingly) its likely huge financial cost.
Briefly, in order to match the upgrades in Russian and Chinese strategic nuclear forces which are currently underway, the US proposes to develop a new generation of nuclear missile submarines to replace the Ohio class submarine, a new ground launched intercontinental ballistic missile to replace the ageing Minuteman III missile, and a new strategic bomber to strengthen its ageing and increasingly ineffective strategic bomber force.
My fundamental objection to this approach is not that the US does not face mounting challenges from Russia and China – it clearly does – but that the US is either blind to the fact that it has provoked those challenges by its own actions, or that it refuses to admit to itself the fact.
This becomes very clear from even a cursory reading of the Review.
Nowhere in the Review is there the slightest acknowledgement that the US has done things which might make the Russians and the Chinese feel threatened by the US, and that this might cause the Russians and the Chinese to upgrade their defences in response to the threats they might perceive from the US. …