by James Corbett
August 3, 2019
Are you keeping your eye on the news? Have you noticed any worrying patterns lately? Do you get the sense that we’re drifting towards war? And not just another Libya-style “destroy the country and leave” war, but an all-out war war?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. There have been any number of developments in the last few weeks alone that feed into this narrative.
There was the tit-for-tat tanker seizures between Britain and Iran last month (with the MSM memory holing Britain’s tit in the reporting on Iran’s tat, of course), which has enabled the always-insightful Russian Foreign Ministry to conclude that the US “is simply looking for a pretext to whip up the situation” in the Persian Gulf (shocking, I know).
There is the still-escalating situation in Hong Kong, where US-backed regime change NGOs and authentically angry Hong Kongers are struggling against Beijing’s encroachment on their regional autonomy (with China now warning the US to mind its own beeswax in the matter).
There was the incident over South Korea late last month where, depending on whose side of the story you trust, South Korean forces fired warning shots on Russian military aircraft that violated their airspace or innocent Russian peace planes were totally not violating anybody’s airspace and no shots were even fired.
Oh, and there’s the breaking news story as I write this article about the US formally withdrawing from the INF nuclear treaty, a Cold War-era arms control deal that had hitherto limited development of mid-range ground based nuclear missiles.
Yes, it’s safe to say that the world is beginning to feel like a powder keg and each one of these incidents is a lit match.
But as bad as all of these stories sound, the reality is even worse! Let’s take a look at a few recent developments that demonstrate how the world’s biggest powers are prepping for something huge.
Ever heard of the “International Army Games”? Well guess what? Yes, the “International Army Games” (IAG) is a thing that exists. Specifically, the games are a series of military sporting contests that Russia has been hosting every year since 2015. Like the fever dream of some whacked-out Dr. Strangelove, the games feature events like “Aviadarts” (competition for flight crews), a “Tank biathlon,” and a “Masters of artillery fire” competition where artillery crews get to put their calculation abilities to the test. No word on whether spectators are considered collateral damage in these sports, but you may not want to bring the kids to this one.
And the “international” here is not a misnomer. Each year more nations are participating in the games, with the 2018 edition seeing military competitors not only from core Shanghai Cooperation Organization members like Russia, China and Kazakhstan, but also from non-aligned nations like Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines and even the Sudan.
Of course, the main fireworks take place between Russian and Chinese competitors and this year is no different. Chinese state media (is there any other kind?) is bragging about the PLA Naval Aviation brigade’s preparations for the “Aviadarts” competition and noting with pride that “The increasing presence of Chinese naval units in the IAG is an indication that the Navy is becoming more confident in foreign communication and exchange.”
So just in case you were under the impression that the wholesale glorification of war and the use of propaganda to get military men excited about throwing themselves into the meat grinder was a strictly American thing, you can rest assured that it is a global phenomenon and actively encouraged by the likes of Putin and Xi. None of which should be reassuring to those who are concerned that we are marching headlong into another Cold War-style military standoff where the public is traumatized about the possibility of nuclear annihilation and the military contractors laugh all the way to the bank.
Just two weeks ago, the US Air Force engaged in “Operation Rapid Forge,” which the military describes as “a test of the service’s ability to quickly deploy air power overseas.” Specifically, the operation involved deploying F-35A Lightning IIs, F-15E Strike Eagles and C130s to Powidz air base in Poland in order to test the forces’ “ability to operate at forward locations.” Squadrons were also deployed to Lithuania and Estonia as part of the exercise.
This comes on the heels of the BALTOPS naval drill, an annual NATO exercise run by the U.S. Navy’s 2nd Fleet command in Norfolk, Virginia. The 2nd Fleet command is a World War II-era fleet that was deactivated in 2011 due to easing tensions with Russia. It was reactivated last year due to (you guessed it) renewed fears about “Russia’s growing naval activity in the Atlantic.” What’s more, according to NATO this year’s BALTOPS exercise “marks the command’s first major engagement in Europe.” 8,600 U.S. and European troops from 18 nations took part in the drill which involved about 50 ships and submarines and 40 aircraft and “amphibious assaults in several locations within the Baltic Sea region.”
Britain responded to last month’s oil tanker seizure with a bold proposal: a European-led “maritime protection mission” that would work “to safeguard shipping in the vital Strait of Hormuz.” Interestingly, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, when announcing the plan, “sought to put distance between Britain and its closest international ally, the United States.” After all, let us remember that it was Uncle Sam who famously caused the current round of Iranian tensions by unilaterally pulling out of the Iran deal and then threatening to sanction anyone who dared continue buying or selling with the dastardly Persians.
It’s not clear exactly what this maritime force would consist of, what nations would participate, who would command it, how long it would operate or what its rules of engagement would be, but other than that it sounds like a solid plan. Oh, except for the fact that Germany has already said they wouldn’t participate in any US or UK-led force, but they may be open to cooperating in a specifically European operation.
The fact that there is a deep schism between these major NATO “allies” (the US, the UK and Europe), with all sides keen to distance themselves from the positions of the others, speaks to the chaos-within-chaos that defines the current geopolitical situation. Such animosity among so many different countries, both erstwhile allies and erstwhile enemies, would be worrying enough in times of relative stability . . . but I think we can all agree that this is not a time of relative stability.
So what’s going on here?
All these drills, exercises, patrols, maritime missions and “military games” are a sign of our new geopolitical reality: For the first time since the end of the Cold War, there is the real possibility of a major power war in the near future.
Now, as my readers will know, I believe that these current tensions, like the Cold War itself, are being engineered and stage-managed to benefit the military contractors, to justify a domestic police state, and, ultimately, to usher in the New World Order. But that doesn’t mean that a real war involving the real deaths of real people is not a possibility in this situation. Anyone who has studied history knows that wars happen despite the fact that the conflicts between nations (or, in the case of Europe during the days of royalty, the conflicts between cousins) has all the reality of a professional wrestling match. When, if, and as the would-be self-appointed (mis)leaders of this round of Cold War 2.0 decide, in the memorable words of Zbigniew Brzezinski, that it would be “infinitely easier to kill a million people than control a million people,” you can bet that they will have no compunction about killing a million people. Or a billion.
And beyond that, the sheer number of drills, exercises, patrols and other military scenarios that are playing out right now make it that much more likely that the wrong junior officer on the wrong day will give the wrong order and unintentionally set off a shooting war that will escalate on its own. Case in point: the recent incident over South Korean skies. You know, the one where (according to South Korea) a couple of Russian reconnaissance jets violated their air space, necessitating the firing of 360 warning shots? Well, that wasn’t just a Russian-South Korean incident. It involved China, too, who had two H-6K jet bombers up there with the Russian planes conducting a rendezvous over the Sea of Japan in the first-ever Russian/Chinese joint air patrol. The National Interest headline captures the gravity of a little “oopsie” like this: World War III? How Russia, China, Japan and South Korea Nearly Started a War
Long story short: It’s not just you. There are a lot of worrying signs that the powers that shouldn’t be are prepping the public for something big.