What the anti-Russia rhetoric means

It’s a safe bet that 99.99 percent of Americans never give a thought to the possibility of thermonuclear world war with Russia. But outgoing NATO Supreme Commander and US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove does: His attitude is: “Bring it on!”

Speaking at a Pentagon press conference March 1, Breedlove revealed that Obama administration civilian and military leaders have agreed that Russia is an existential threat to the US.

The US Europe Command is prepared “to fight and win if necessary” a full-scale war against Russia, he said.

“Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the US and to our European allies and partners,” Breedlove told reporters. “Russia sees the United States and NATO as threats to its goals and constraints to its aspirations.”

Breedlove has used the term “existential threat” often before, including in his testimony February 25 to the House Armed Services Committee. And he pointed out that other top Obama administration officials had used the term too. On January 27, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James called Russia the top threat to the US during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

However, Breedlove made no mention of the US’s breach of the Gorbachev/Reagan agreement that ended the Cold War, whereby the US vowed not to expand NATO. Nor did he mention President Obama’s $1 trillon commitment to expand the country’s nuclear arms capability, despite campaign promises of non-proliferation.

Breedlove was asked to define “existential threat.” And as a straight-shooting military man, he explained that he meant what he said.

“I see it as a real threat,” he said. “This is a nation that holds thousands of nuclear weapons and they talk all the time about using those nuclear weapons.”

Again, he made no reference to the systematic expansion of NATO through Central and Eastern Europe over the past quarter-century to incorporate all former Soviet allies and three former Soviet republics, as well as supporting a coup in Ukraine in 2014.

However, he did admit there has been an increase in military activities within Ukraine along the line of contact in Donbass between Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko’s government in Kiev and secessionist rebels backed by Russia.

He noted that in the previous week alone, there had been more than 450 incidents along the line of contact. That line represents one of the many potential flashpoints between Russia and NATO, led by the US.

Those forward positions in Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic States are hundreds of miles further east than the Oder-Neisse border between Germany and Poland, where US President George Herbert Walker Bush solemnly promised Soviet and Russian leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin that NATO would halt its expansion more than a quarter-century ago. The trend, clearly, is pushing toward mounting Russia/NATO tensions.

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