Defense Secretary Ash Carter is a funny guy. We’re not out to disparage him personally (although we’ll happily disparage Washington’s foreign policy for which he is partially responsible), but he sure does have an uncanny ability to land himself in situations that end up generating amusing photo ops. Here are just two examples from last week:
"Show me some love"...
"Just listening to Kenny Loggins in my headphones with my water bottle and yeah, since you asked, that's my aircraft carrier down there"...
Of course to be fair to Carter, Washington hasn't exactly put him in a good position. After all, what the US is doing in Syria is deplorable and with the passing of MANPADS and anti-tank missiles to Sunni extremists near Aleppo, the whole "strategy" now borders on the bizarre, especially in light of what happened over the Sinai Peninsula last weekend and also taking into account Washington's relationship with Siite militias battling ISIS in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the situation in the South China Sea is just downright silly, as Washington and Beijing risk starting World War III over 3,000 acres of sand that Beijing piled on top of reefs in the Spratlys.
Still, when you're the face of The Pentagon, you've got to champion the narrative and that narrative now revolves around two things, i) a resurgent Russia, and ii) the rise of China.
Put simply (and colloquially), more than one US military strategist believes the US and NATO would be "annihilated" in a Baltic battle with the Russians and when it comes to China, well, getting into a maritime dispute in the South Pacific (which is the right way to analyze this by the way, because it's not like Beijing is going to sail into San Francisco and invade the US mainland) might be a horrible idea:
So, against that backdrop, and with Russia's dramatic intervention in Syria in mind, Ash gave a keynote speech during the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in southern California, on Saturday.
Below, we present the "highlights" as documented by the DoD and the video clip courtesy of AP. Enjoy your Sunday evening US foreign policy briefing and please do note that Carter suggests Putin wants to nuke America:
“In the face of Russia’s provocations and China’s rise,” Carter said, “we must embrace innovative approaches to protect the United States and strengthen that international order.”
Russia is violating sovereignty in Ukraine and Georgia and is trying to intimidate the Baltic states, and in Syria it is prolonging a civil war, the secretary added.
“At sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace, Russian actors have engaged in challenging activities,” he told the audience, noting that Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises questions about Russian leaders’ commitment to strategic stability.
“We do not seek to make Russia an enemy,”Carter said. “But make no mistake. The United States will defend our interests, and our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all.”
Carter said the United States is modernizing its nuclear arsenal to ensure America’s nuclear deterrent, investing in new unmanned systems, a new long-range bomber, and innovation in technologies like the electromagnetic rail gun, lasers and new systems for electronic warfare, space, cyberspace, and others.
“And we’re accordingly transforming our posture in Europe to be more agile and sustainable,” the secretary said.