Russia's air force is engaged in a new and alarming pattern of provocative military exercises by flying long range bombers with live cruise missiles very close to U.S. territory in Alaska and Guam according to both American and Canadian defense officials. Within the last two weeks, territory close to Alaska was challenged by Russian long range bombers. And another exercise close to Guam took place last week.
Undoubtedly, Russia is seeking to make a political point in opposition to any U.S. plans to build any anti-missile shield system in Eastern Europe. But such provocative actions also incite old Cold War passions and raise dangerous new tensions for two nations that are supposed to be at peace with each other and involved in heavy, mutual trade. For example, a big recent trade deal sold Oregon Steel to a Russian mega-corporation involved in the steel trade for millions of dollars.
In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin challenged his nation to build up its military and intelligence powers in the wake of new security "threats," which of course meant the U.S. This dangerous stoking the fires of old Cold War tensions is simply dangerous and threatens trade and other peaceful cooperation between the states. It also further raises the possibility of some miscalculation in the future that could cause an outbreak of accidental war between the two states.
For the sake of peace and sanity, President Putin needs to seriously consider where he is carrying relations with the U.S., and consider the serious consequences of engaging in a new nonsensical and dangerous arms race that will cost both societies dearly in lost social goods such as lost improved health care or education for Russian and American children. There should be no grounds for such a new arms race, when this modern world's new sense of power is now defined by economic strengths in trade and industry, not in military terms. Putin's world view seems rooted in the old time feudal history of the world, defining Russia in terms of arms and armies, and is not the forward looking vision of most modern leaders of the industrialized world. Trade strength is now the modern definition of world power.
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