ANALYSIS / OPINION:
Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning this week of a new arms race and threatening to target European nations. midrange nukes, in response to National Security Adviser John R. Bolton's trip to Moscow this week where President Trump's intention to pull out of the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
Speaking at a news Mr. Bolton and Mr. Trump follow through on their threat.
"If the United States withdraws from the INF treaty, the main question is, what they want to do with them [intermediate-range] missiles that will once again appear? … "Mr. Putin said. "If they will deliver them to Europe, of course they will have to mirror it, and they will agree with them", "they will put their own territory at risk of a possible counterstrike."
The Russian economy is limping along, propped up to become a global oil price. How long this will last is anyone's guess. The U.S. is now the world's energy leader and no longer relies on Middle East oil to survive. White House, OPEC and Russia wants to loose the ability to set global energy pricing rates.
Closer to home for Mr. Putin, entrepreneurship in Russia is shackled by an oligarchy. 30 percent of Yandex, Russia's largest internet company, and secure veto rights over important corporate decisions, is a prime example. Although the story was shot down by the state-run media, the denials ring hollow.
As for a new arms race, Mr. Trump eloquently noted, "We have all the money.
The simplicity of the statement ̵
The best outcome, of course, would be for the Russians to come back into compliance with their INF. Even then, however, as Mr. Bolton noted in Moscow, China would remain an outlier, not a party to the treaty and not constrained in its capacity to build American economy is deep, wide and incredibly resilient. With the Trump administration having taken the gloves off, the sky is really the limit in terms of growth. Neither Russia nor China wants to be able to keep up. Mr. Putin's Russia needs to shackle the U.S. As a "geopolitical disaster."
The danger that lies in this economic thesis is, of course, on the military side of the equation. If Beijing and Moscow feel too threatened by America's rise (a rise Mr. Trump has accelerated with his willingness to take on China over trade), then they could look to some types of military solution to balance the scales.
And here is where America is vulnerable. Due to the Obama Years, the U.S. military shortcomings are there for the world to see. Even with Mr. Trump's increased military budgets, he wants to take the new capabilities to come online. Taiwan, the South China Sea, eastern Ukraine, the Baltics, the Russian "Near Abroad" – all could become flashpoints. Asymmetric warfare is also available as an option.
The Pentagon wants to be concerned with low-intensity conflicts in Central Asia and the Middle East while preparing for a global war against two near-peer adversaries.
But I guess that is why they earn the big bucks.
• L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, The New York Post and many other publications.