Thursday, April 28, 2016

What does it really mean when Russian jets buzz US ships?

The US Air Force and Navy continue to get harassed by Russian jets.  The encounters are provocative at the very least and seem to be a throw back to the Cold War Days.  In this especially acrimonious election cycle, it is easy to believe that these encounters between Russian and US forces is the result of the Obama Administration.  Some may even argue that Putin senses that after more than 14 years at war, the US military has been taxed to its breaking point.

There may be some truth to those perceptions but it assumes a Western point of view that is too US centric, meaning there may be other factor contributing to the near skirmishes that the general public isn't following.

First, the Obama Administration has quietly resurrected its "Pivot to Asia" strategy, this time though relying more on military show of force than diplomacy.  US Navy vessels as well as US Air Force B-52 bombers have been making much to do over several artificial islands that Chinese have constructed. The State Dept argues that these islands violate right-of-way for sea traffic and as such the US intends to test the Chinese resolve.

Keep in mind that it wasn't that long ago the Russia and China (along with Brazil, India, and South Africa) formed the economic coalition, BRICS at a time when the EU is falling apart and the US economy is struggling.

Brazil has become vulnerable due to the outbreak of Zika virus right before the Olympic games.  If the games get cancelled or if a lot of countries start to pull out for fear of spreading the disease, the Brazilian economy will go bust (which it may regardless).  As though that wasn't enough, Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff faces impeachment.  She just travelled to New York to ask the UN for help.

Given that Venezuela still blames the CIA for the death of their former President Hugo Chavez, it may not be much of a stretch for Brazil to believe the US for their economic woes as punishment for forming BRICS.

Meanwhile, the US has taken the unusual step of deploying F-22 fighters to Romania, which of course is pretty much right next door to Ukraine.

Perhaps Russia's increased aggressiveness is more about backing China and Brazil against perceived interference by the US.  The F-22s is more about show that actually positioning any forces that could counter further actions by Russia in Ukraine.

All of which makes one wonder what has been set in motion that the winner of the Presidential election will be left to deal with in 2017?

No comments: