The New-Old US Strategy Against Russia

Towards “pre-emptive war”

The new strategy of containing/exhausting Russia via the methodical overstraining of its economic and social forces is described in three reports of the RAND Corporation that appeared recently: “Russia Is a Rogue, Not a Peer; China Is a Peer, Not a Rogue. Different Challenges, Different Responses”; “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia. Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options”; “Extending Russia. Competing from Advantageous Ground”.

These developments are the updated versions of those that were used to disintegrate the Soviet Union at the time. This concerns the strategy of reflexive management and the swarming use of tools of “hybrid war” and “controlled chaos” by striking the “points of vulnerability” of the Russian Federation. The general property of this strategy supposes the fact that they allow to achieve the result (to destroy the macroeconomic and internal political stability of the Russian state) without the direct use of military force, but through the approach of NATO forces and means towards Moscow at the distance of a “pistol shot” with a cocked trigger.

The simultaneous emergence of three reports that indicate a set of actions to “contain” Russia is the reaction of the military-political and financial elite of the US to the independent actions of Russia over the years of President V.V. Putin being in power, when our country significantly raised its geopolitical status. At the same time, such synchronous releases of analytics is a way of reflexively managing the situation for the purpose of inducing Russia to make “reactive” actions in those directions that are considered in the specified reports.

As far as it is possible to judge from the report “Extending Russia. Competing from Advantageous Ground”, now the US Administration considers the possibilities of switching from an active “demonstration” phase in the US–Russia standoff to an actual military phase of a new type (“hybrid war”). At the same time, the survival of the resisting participant of the conflict (Russia) is no longer a limiting condition when determining the scale and type of technologies for striking it.

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A widespread method of conducting “hybrid wars” is the destabilisation of society by means of a wide range of technologies (from engaging in an arms race and economic exhaustion to “controlled chaos” and “colour revolutions”). The RAND report “Extending Russia” (2019) demonstrates that the US switched to systematic work on shaking the economy and political system of Russia for the purpose of leading it to a crisis state with the subsequent self-disintegration (as was the case with the USSR) at the minimum cost for the US.

In the sphere of externally influencing individual, group, and mass consciousness in Russia there is a transition to the complex multichannel use as information-psychological influence technologies (through the “points of vulnerability” of Russia), and other “not military” ways, the main of which are considered to be the replacement of the Russian Federation in the market of energy carriers and its engagement in a new arms race. Variants of the diplomatic and economic isolation of the Russian Federation are also being considered.

The RAND reports do not single out a “universal” method of influence. There is the impression that the future actions of the US Administration will be defined by the response of the Russian Federation. At the same time, some of the actions of the American side can create the visibility of any situation for the purpose of soliciting a reaction to it from the Russian side.

We can, of course, proceed from the fact that the block of RAND reports is only the private opinion of a group of American analysts. However, in support of the seriousness of the threats posed by these reports, the following should be noted.

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Firstly, on June 27th 2019 on the website of USAID the report “Countering malign kremlin influence development framework” was published. The measures for “containing” the Russian Federation proposed in the report substantially correlate with the considered RAND reports. In particular, the following is proposed: the identification and suppression of the Russian Federation’s attempts to influence elections in other countries; the identification and suppression of attempts of Russia’s attempts to disseminate “disinformation” in foreign media; the replacement of Russia from the market of energy carriers; the economic isolation of Russia in general. Secondly, the material in the RAND reports directly correspond to the latest strategic documents of the US Army and justifies them.

Thus, in October 2014 in the US the new operational concept of the United States Army “Winning in a complex world – 2020-2040” was published. Here for the first time at the level of the official document an essentially new vision of war is formulated by the United States. This document is the last among those that formalised the strategy of “pre-emptive war”, or the use of war as a means of destroying a potential competitor before it acquired force capable of blocking the global domination of the US.

“Pre-emptive war” assumes the destruction of a potential threat in situations when an enemy attack is not inevitable or isn’t even planned at all.

This strategic concept has the following features:

  1. It is postulated that there is no clear line between war and peace. The new pre-emptive strategy will work not only during the traditional military conflicts, but also in the framework of rigid confrontations. A state of “peace-war” or “war-peace” appears, which is sufficient for the implementation of pre-emptive actions;
  2. Based on the fact that the environment and the participants of future conflicts are unknown, the US Army is going to use the strategy of “pre-emptive war” against any state, making it impossible at the same time for the enemy to respond effectively;
  3. It is supposed that “pre-emptive” actions rely on the use of the entire political-economic potential of the United States;
  4. The spheres of confrontation are expanding significantly, in which the application of a “pre-emptive strategy” is possible. For the first time officially recognised as spheres of war:
  • diplomatic confrontation;
  • internal political civil conflicts;
  • information wars;
  • financial-economic wars;
  • rigid technological confrontation.
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A new factor in the military strategy of the US is the extremely cynical goal-setting based on a plan of achieving victory in the war by “erasing the civilisation of the enemy”.

All of the above demands that these reports are taken with all seriousness. The enemy already wages against Russia an information war of a new type with elements of hybrid influence.


Viktor Burbaki

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