On Friday Russia celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Strategic
Rocket Forces. These forces can lay waste to any country on Earth. And
yet, smug Western experts say that Russia is no longer a superpower.

The idea that Russia is no longer a superpower comes, of course, from
the Russians themselves. They have promoted this idea since 1991. So
successful was their campaign of self-discovered weakness and
incapacity, that even when Russia emerged at the end of the decade with
sophisticated new weapons, the Western experts nevertheless continued to
repeat the mantra that Russia is
incapable and weak.

Western disbelief in Russian military power is now so exaggerated and
bizarre, the Kremlin is forced to remind the West — week after week —
that Russia is still a nuclear power. And Friday was no exception. On
the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Rocket Forces, the Kremlin
announced it had lowered the threshold for using nuclear weapons.

Col.-Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, commander in chief of Russia’s Strategic
Rocket Forces, said that Russia’s economic problems and threats from
abroad had forced a dramatic turnabout in Russian military policy.
“Russia,” he said, “for objective reasons, is forced to lower the
for using nuclear weapons, extend the nuclear deterrent to smaller-scale
conflicts and openly warn potential opponents about this.”

Yakovlev’s statement, and similar statements from Russia’s leaders,
are being carefully ignored in the West. Nuclear war is being hinted at,
day by day, but these hints are not being presented to the American
people as something serious.

No doubt there is an internal Russian political angle, which must be
admitted. The leading political parties in Russia, including the
Communist Party, are beginning to resemble each other — especially in
terms of anti-Western posturing. As the Russian people are led to hate
the West, the political spectrum in Russia becomes ever narrower, ever
more nationalist and Bolshevik in orientation.

Since the Kremlin has been harping on nuclear war Yeltsin’s
popularity has risen. This suggests a definite sickness in the Russian
public. It has to be admitted, we are not talking about a normal
country. If a politician in America or Western Europe began discussing
nuclear war as a realistic
option his popularity would collapse. If American generals publicly
stated that the nuclear threshold had been lowered, there would be cries
of outrage.

Saturday night Russian bombs continued to fall on Grozny. Jets and
helicopters delivered 50 strikes. The West Europeans are now drawing up
a list of sanctions to be imposed on Russia. The external affairs
commissioner of the European Union, Chris Patten, says that Europe
cannot carry out “business as usual” with Russia while Grozny is under

How will Russia react to this?

The West has poured billions of dollars into Russia. It is possible
that Russia has become addicted to Western money. Imagine if we threaten
to cut the Russians off. Imagine what that would mean for them. We have
given Russia food. We have helped Russia at every turn. In recent months
we have
even paid the interest on Russia’s debt. And now it seems, as we
threaten to withdraw our financial aid, they begin talking about
lowering the nuclear threshold.

You want to talk about nuclear blackmail?

As I’ve said before, we don’t know what will happen in the coming
days and weeks. We do know that the danger of nuclear war is increasing.
On Nov. 17 the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia and America
might soon be on the verge of war. This has since been stated by
Russia’s leaders in a variety of ways.

Despite a multiplicity of danger signs, look at how lax we are. Look
at how we shrug it off. As a nation we have lost all sense of danger. We
are increasingly unable to deal with powerful enemies — to the point of
denying that our enemies have any power whatsoever.

By the time you read these words the outcome of the Russian elections
will be known. Perhaps the Communists will not win a majority. But
wait. Every major political party in Russia is making Soviet-style
noises. Every major political party has merged with the Communist idea.
Socialism did not die in Russia. Socialism split itself into multiple
parties — all controlled by the same old Communist gang.

America needs to wake up.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.