The most recent evidence of this comes with India’s decision to enter into a $5 billion defense deal with Russia. This was reported by CNN, strangely enough playing “hawk” network here, because, well, Russia:
India could soon be faced with the threat of US sanctions following a controversial $5 billion weapons deal with Russia, a move analysts say poses more of a headache for Washington than it does Delhi.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi finalized the deal, which will see India take possession of a high-tech S-400 missile defense system, during a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Indian capital New Delhi on Friday.
The deal could potentially open India up to US sanctions under legislation known as Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
The law, signed by President Donald Trump last August, is designed to punish Moscow for its “malign activities.” Last month, the US imposed sanctions against China for its purchases of Russian military equipment, including the S-400, under CAATSA legislation.
But whereas China is an emerging rival power, India is seen as an important US strategic ally.
US defense chiefs have worked hard to increase cooperation with Delhi in a range of areas in recent years, amid shared concerns over Chinese military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.
India’s purchasing of the Russian weapons system effectively forces the Trump administration to choose between punishing Delhi — and destroy the fledgling defense relationship — or granting the country an exemption, weakening the effect of the sanctions and opening up the US to accusations of favoritism.
On the eve of Putin’s arrival in Delhi, the US State Department on Wednesday urged all allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that would trigger sanctions. A law has been passed that would allow for exemptions, a rule most analysts believe would be applied to India. However, Trump has yet to specify whether the India-Russia deal would qualify.
Speaking to CNN, Peter Layton, from Australia’s Griffith Asia Institute, said the problem for the US is that if it allows India to purchase the S-400 there is no reason why it should not also allow other countries, such as Turkey to do so too.
“The CAATSA will appear a rather subjective sanction program if it only applies to some nations and not all,” said Layton.
The Russian S-400 Triumf is the state-of-the-art air defense and antimissile system in its class. It easily surpasses the capabilities of the older US-made Patriot system. It can engage multiple targets such as manned and unmanned aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at a range of 400 kilometers (250 miles), it can track them at 600 km (370 mi) distant, and it is invulnerable to present-day radar-jamming technologies. The Duran reported on this system extensively in December of last year, and a lot of information is available here.
Perhaps the biggest deal about the S-400 is that it is, indeed, a great deal. The system costs $400 million per fire unit (eight launchers, 112 missiles, command and support vehicles), compared with the MIM-104 Patriot system at some $2.5 billion per system as offered to Poland. (To be sure, the pricing structure is different between the two systems, as the US offers a per-missile price where the Russian system appears to be for a complete defense battery.)
“The S-400 being so capable and at a relatively affordable price is hard for US arms manufacturers to compete against,” said Layton, who described the missile system as offering superior value-for-money to comparable US options.
Turkey also recently concluded a deal with Russia for this system, and this was a news maker, since Turkey is a NATO member and ally. This sale underlined the disintegration of NATO’s own stated purpose, because the alliance originally came into existence to counter the perceived threat of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Now, with Russia as an emerging market economy and great power, but at the same time a great power unwilling to accede either military or societal authority to the West, the US has now found itself in a newly invigorated competition with Russia.
In any case, India’s move, as Turkey’s, is a clear indication that the days of the United States as the “empire” directing all nations’ affairs, at least in the West, is crumbling. While the alignment of power in the world in present times is far less about military conquest than it is about economic competition, the three great powers in the world still boast – and build – formidable weapons systems. Where the US-built systems were often regarded as the envy of the world, now that title goes to Russia more and more often, with China not far behind. All three nations have highly expert engineers and scientists. All three nations have plenty of money to invest in research and development. And two of the three – Russia and China – have very efficient governmental structures in place to allow tremendously successful development to happen on a budget far less than the Americans require.
This has generated quite a lot of angst in the United States. The US government is a volatile mix of aging Cold Warriors who have yet to accept that Russia is no longer the Great Bear of Communism, and Sorosian-style globalists who are opposed to Russia’s intent to develop itself as distinctly Russian, and Christian, in identity. Although the hawks and Sorosians might find themselves at odds with one another without Russia, the present reality gives them a common enemy.
This is part of the reason why Presidents Trump and Putin’s Helsinki summit was so widely vilified. While the US President is on record, literally, as signing various sanctions bills against Russia, quietly, he and Russian president Vladimir Putin appear to be remaining in contact, carrying on talks behind the scenes, and both leaders plan a second and even a third meeting in the foreseeable future. President Putin has shown noticeable silence regarding recent US moves, and speculation exists that both leaders may be waiting until after the US Congressional midterm election in November to see if a break opens in which they can move towards a better state of relations between the two countries.
The present result of this is the slowly withering authority – and respect – of the world towards the United States. In a dying empire, these two are the first things to disappear. The historical move of some failing empires has been to tighten control through fear and intimidation, but that historically fails as well.
It appears that history is repeating itself, here and now.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.