Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Saturday that the United Sates has the duty to uphold international order that has served the country and its allies well for decades. So much so that if Russia and China destroy that order, U.S. is ready to engaged in a cold war or even a hot war against them.
In a keynote speech given during the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in Southern California, Carter sounded off the immense threat that Russia and China’s ambitions bring to the international order. He stressed that Russia’s actions at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace have been very challenging for U.S. to contain. Most disturbing is Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling that raises questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s commitment to strategic stability and his respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons; and whether they respect the profound caution nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to the brandishing of nuclear weapons (Is there such a thing as nuclear space war?).
The Pentagon chief stressed that Russia continues to violate sovereignty in Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic states. In Syria, Russia is “throwing gasoline on an already dangerous fire, prolonging a civil war that fuels the very extremism it claims to oppose,” he said (WW3 seethes in Syria).
The government is adapting its military capability and contingency plans according to Russia’s aggression, Carter said. “We’re modernizing our nuclear arsenal, so America’s nuclear deterrent continues to be effective, safe, and secure, to deter nuclear attacks and reassure our allies,” he said (Is nuclear war imminent?).
As for China, Carter described it as a rising power. “As a rising power, it is to be expected that China will have growing ambitions and a modernizing military,” he said. While this is expectant of any rising nation, China’s behavior will be the truest test of its commitment to peace and security. And so far, its activities over South China Sea are telling otherwise.
“We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with Russia. We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. 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,” the secretary warned (How possible is war against Russia and China?).