Poor, poor Mr. Carter. Poor, poor U.S. secretary of defense. He was so excited, so upset, that one begins to worry for his emotional health. God forbid he jumps out of a 16th story window like his predecessor James Forrestal did 60 years ago, yelling "The Russians are coming!"* What will America do without another Pentagon chief?!
What happened to Ashton Carter was this: Speaking at Oxford University, the U.S. secretary of defense declared that Russia "...play[s] by its own rules..." and "...has clear ambition to erode the principled international order that has served the United States, our allies and partners, the international community, and in fact Russia itself, so well." He didn't specify which "international order" he meant. But it's obvious that it's the same one that for many years bore the name "Pax Americana," Latin for "peace, American style," which is actually the United States dominating other countries. But no one gave Washington that right. Not the U.N., not the Security Council, not even the Lord God himself.
Of course, Carter, Pentagon chief and physicist, could, just like his boss Barack Obama or presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, personally give himself the right to see his country as exceptional, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the world is ready to acquiesce to such assertions and pretensions.
Yes, the United States has done a lot in the last 20 years to establish its "principled international order." It invaded Iraq and bombed its capital, took a turn into Somalia on the way, but then quickly ran away because the ungrateful people in the Horn of Africa didn't appreciate America’s missionary ambitions.
Then the U.S. hammered its ideas of freedom and democracy into Yugoslavia with Tomahawk missiles, and took away the ancestral lands of the Serbs: the Kosovo and Metohija regions. Again, with tanks and rockets, it came back to Iraq to hang its president and cause chaos in the Middle East. It organized the same kind of chaos in Libya and North Africa, fought pointlessly for a decade and a half with al-Qaida, tilting at windmills. In Afghanistan it almost entirely fled with its tail between its legs, and on the way, as if by accident, organized and helped conduct a few government coups, in Ukraine for one. But it stumbled over Syria. Russia got in the way and took the trump card from the hands of the U.S. president: possession of chemical weapons by Damascus.
Obama, a Nobel peace prize laureate, didn't immediately initiate aggression against the Middle East country, as was the way of American presidents in the past. But he did make a tiny geopolitical miscalculation: he gave an ultimatum to the Syrian president, that he get rid of his weapons of mass destruction in the space of a few days. Bashar Assad immediately acquiesced; not without a hint from Moscow. At the request of the Syrian government, the chemical weapons were shipped out of Syria and in their place, Russian bombers, sailors and special forces were deployed to aid the Syrian government in its fight against the Islamic State bandits, with the support of the United States and its close allies.
Gritting their teeth, Carter and his pilots were forced to share Syria's airspace. Who would like that?! They had a hegemony and were judge, jury and executioner all in one, and now they have to deal with another country that doesn't recognize America's mandate. What a bummer.
It's not only Russia that doesn't recognize the American mandate. China took the same position: it didn't want to kiss Washington's ring, regardless of the fact that its army, navy and ballistic missile forces are not yet as strong as America's. China demonstrated that position in Huangzhou at the Group of 20 summit of leading rich and developing nations, giving the vain and self-centered Yankees a slap on the wrist. India, Brazil and Iran, among many other countries, have long since stopped looking to Washington when conducting their sovereign international and domestic policy.
Understandably, this upsets Carter.
The Pax Americana is crumbling even though a few islands and continents still remain in its orbit. For example, NATO, where the U.S. continues to dominate, is paying at least $3.5 billion a year for its superiority. That's not counting the other money that goes toward bribing and maintaining – excuse me, "supporting"—nonprofits, mass media favorable to Washington and other so-called public organizations that dance to America's fiddle.
Even there not everything is going as smoothly now. Some politicians in the European Union and its constituent countries have been talking for a few years about creating their own European army. Would that be without the U.S. and the Pentagon?
Wouldn't it be fun if they actually got together and took that step? Not with slogans or on paper, but for real. And why not? No one believed in Brexit either, and it was decided and is approaching. Yet again, the "principled international order" so dear to Carter will crumble. Somehow Russia doesn't have anything to do with it, no matter how much anyone wants to connect the dots, like the secretary of defense tried to do, blaming Moscow for all the ills and losses of Washington and the Pentagon.
Carter will have to adapt, get used to the fact that the world has ceased to be unipolar. Though American politicians can keep calling their country exceptional and unique, its hegemony, alas, is winding down; although they don't want to believe that in Washington, but that's life. They'll just have to get used to it. Quietly and calmly, without hysterics and agitation. And of course, without anxiety, demonstrations of military might, and moreover, without threats and more attempts at aggression. If that doesn't work, take a sedative, lest something happen. The example of Forrestal, the suicidal defense secretary, and the aircraft carrier, which burned in a white flame more than once, should serve as a serious warning to certain people across the ocean.
*Editor’s note: James Forrestal is reported to have been suffering a severe mental breakdown and was confined for medical care. He was purported to have said this shortly before committing suicide.
The author is a military columnist at TASS.