Our attention has been diverted from Russia. President Obama mocked Mitt Romney in a debate over the suggestion that Russia is our number one threat.
The U.S. was warned almost a decade ago by a high-level defector that Russia would rise from its devastating post-Cold War crash to once again become the nation’s number-one threat. After years of avoiding confrontational language, U.S. officials are no longer dodging the obvious.
“Russia poses an existential threat to the United States by virtue, simply, of the size of the nuclear arsenal that it’s had. That’s not new,” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said at a Pentagon briefing Thursday.
But in reiterating what top generals recently told Congress, Carter said, “What’s new, that they were pointing to and I agree with them, is that for a quarter-century or so, since the end of the Cold War we have not regarded them as an antagonist.”
Carter said that’s now changed: “Vladimir Putin’s Russia behaves in very important respects as an antagonist. That is new. That is something that we need to adjust to and counter.”