The world order was under the biggest attack since World War II and Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to break the Nato, said the incoming US secretary of defence, General James Mattis during his Senate confirmation hearing, insisting that the US needed to take steps to defend itself, the CNN reported on Friday.
In stark contrast to President-elect Donald Trump’s repeated statements in favour of Russia during his election campaign, General Mattis said, “I think right now the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with (in) Mr. Putin. We recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance, and that we take the steps, the integrated steps, diplomatic, economic, military and the alliance steps, working with our allies to defend ourselves where we must.”
He identified Russian aggression, terrorism and Chinese actions in the South China Sea as the biggest security issues since WWII.
“I’m all for engagement, but we also have to recognize reality and what Russia is up to,” Mattis said. “There’s a decreasing number of areas where we can engage cooperatively and an increasing number of areas where we’re going to have to confront Russia.”
The retired general also differed with Trump on how the US would deal with Nato in future. Mattis, a former supreme allied commander of Nato, voiced unequivocal support for the alliance and said he had said as much to Trump.
“NATO, from my perspective … is the most successful military alliance certainly in modern world history, probably ever,” Mattis said. “I have had discussions with him (Trump) on this issue. He has shown himself open, even to the point of asking more questions and going deeper into the issue about why I feel so strongly.”
China, meanwhile said, the US risked a “large-scale war” if it attempted to blockade islands in the South China Sea, in response to the incoming US secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s recent statement that China’s access to the artificial islands it had built “is not going to be allowed.”
Chinese state-run Global Times said, if Tillerson’s statement became policy after Trump took over as president, “the two sides had better prepare for a military clash”.
China has built fortifications and artificial islands across the South China Sea and has claimed the area to be theirs, against rival claims by five south-east Asian neighbours and Taiwan.
“Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories,” an editorial in the Global Times said.
“China has enough determination and strength to make sure that his rabble rousing will not succeed … Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish,” the editorial said.
Also Read: https://observe24x7.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/war-clouds-across-the-world-darken-further-russia-deploys-missile-system-to-protect-moscow-washington-sets-stage-for-showdown-with-beijing/