Washington’s New Ambitions in Arctic Region
The Coronavirus pandemic threatens each and every one of us in rich and poor countries alike. Many of these nations may experience an economic and political collapse that will erase successful growth and good living standards achieved over not only the past years but perhaps decades. Hence, it is not surprising that, nowadays, all the countries have begun to re-evaluate the effectiveness of their domestic and foreign policies and to try and find not only extra moral but also financial reserves to tackle the current crisis. Many governments are already seriously considering long-needed reallocations of their state budgets by using enormous funds typically spent on military needs (something that military-political elites have always insisted on) towards financing programs important for society: in healthcare and social security.
Undoubtedly, the Coronavirus has had an impact on the former “world power” by turning it into “a champion” of failed healthcare policies with the highest numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths attributed to the Coronavirus in the world. The United States is becoming poorer before our very eyes. And media outlets in the USA and beyond have already started not simply reporting but raising the alarm about a famine possibly threatening this nation. The Washington Post wrote that, at present, companies and US citizens have enormous debts and in the current climate, they simply are not capable of repaying their loans. Some analysts forecast that approximately 500 US-based firms could go bankrupt in the nearest future. In a couple of months’ time, Americans will be unable to pay for their accommodation. And worst of all, the crisis may lead to mass starvation among inhabitants of the United States.
The global world order, established after World War II and upheld by each US President since the conflict starting from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama, lies in ruins. Institutions headed by the West, such as the Group of Seven, are incapable of coordinating their actions due to lack of required strength and resources within the White House. Already enormous amounts of debt accumulated by the US government and the Federal Reserve as a result of “stimulating” economic growth and increasing (with due support) the military budget keep on growing. Continuing to print money without a pause, which has been the case for some time now, can lead to a dollar collapse by the end of the year. This could, in turn, deal a severe blow to the economy of not only the United States but also of the countries that invested in US securities.
Hence, a number of American experts think a war on climate change is a viable solution to the unemployment problem and a means of tackling the current crisis. It would seem that current US propaganda focuses on the idea that the United States needs a well-defined enemy and conviction in the need to destroy this foe. The possibility that the USA will regain its position of influence in the Middle Eastern region is becoming increasingly remote with every passing month despite Washington’s behind the scenes attempts at obfuscation. Even propaganda targeting China and Russia, whose global standing keeps improving, is no longer of use. In the middle of March, US Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist said that funds would be allocated for the “high-end fight” with Russia and China instead of “legacy” systems intended for counterinsurgency in, for instance, Afghanistan.
It is thus not surprising that the Pentagon is planning out “potential responses to Russian aggression”. At the same time, the United States has been gradually shifting the focus of its confrontation with Russia to the Arctic region.
With the aforementioned aim in mind, the US Air Force has deployed its first two fifth generation F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, where they will join the 354th Fighter Wing (assigned to the Eleventh Air Force and part of Pacific Air Forces). By the end of 2021, “a total of 54 conventional takeoff and landing versions of the F-35 are scheduled to arrive” at the base and the number of airmen there is expected to nearly double, from about 1,750 in 2019 to 3,250. Eielson also has “KC-135 Stratotankers and F-16 Fighting Falcons” at present. The Pentagon expects that “by 2022, Alaska will be home to one of the highest concentrations of fifth-generation aircraft operating in the Pacific theater and near the Arctic circle”.
Eielson Air Force Base is being actively used to train pilots for military operations in the Arctic. In November 2019, a cold-weather survival kit designed to keep F-35A pilots “alive at 40 degrees below zero” (in the event of armed conflict in the Arctic region) was tested in Alaska. The kit kept several American test subjects placed in special tests chambers reasonably warm “for six hours in temperatures that dropped below minus 65”.
Over the last year, in preparation for an armed confrontation with Russia, Washington has started increasingly focusing on Greenland, which is becoming more and more interesting for the United States not only from a military and strategic but also an economic perspective. Aside from wishing to build a new military base there, which will make it more difficult for Russia to use its Northern Sea Route (expected to be quite profitable in the future) effectively, the USA can extract energy resources from the Arctic region much more cheaply and easily. After all, at the moment, the United States is losing enormous amounts of money on shale oil and gas extraction. Therefore, in the future, US oil and gas companies could increase their market share in European crude oil markets, thus pushing Russia not only out of them but also out of the Norwegian market, for instance. The USA could sell energy resources to this Scandinavian nation as its own reserves are being depleted. It is thus not surprising that Washington is increasingly focusing on Greenland where it can establish a powerful military and air base.
Donald Trump’s attempt to purchase the island outright failed last year but the desire to convert it into its own large base remains. However, no one would agree to such a proposal without receiving something in return. Hence, the United States plans to “open a consulate in Greenland and give $12 million in development aid to the Arctic island”.
It is worth reminding our readers that Washington had earlier accused Russia of attempting to militarize the Arctic. However, USA’s plans for Eielson Air Force Base and Greenland clearly show who is actually moving towards the militarization of this region.
By Vladimir Odintsov
Source: New Eastern Outlook