Sunday, May 27, 2012

Russian Angst Increases Over U.S. "Missile Defense" Plan

The recent words of a Russian Defense Minister (Denver Post, May 25), to the effect that the Russians will have to double or treble their existing nuclear missile warhead capacity to neutralize the planned U.S.-NATO missile shield for eastern Europe is certainly grounds for serious worry. To be sure, it has the makings of a new nuclear arms race just as we were making progress in removing warheads and disassembling missiles in the former USSR. And for what? Well, for no good reason!

As I noted in earlier blogs, e.g.

This proposed shield, which is planned by NATO (Why does this anachronism even exist any more? The only plausible reason is to act as a buffer or cover for U.S. militarist actions.) would be completed in four phases by 2021  and the cover story or PR is that "it's meant to counter a potential threat from Iran". Trouble is, the system - which uses Aegis radar systems and interceptors on ships- is set up right on Russia' border in nearby Poland. Since the Russkies kept their side of the deal and expedited the dissolution of The Warsaw Pact (the putative counter to NATO in the Cold War Years), the U.S. - despite warning from expert Russianologists, has made ever more pacts with former Russian satellites and expanded NATO to Russia's doorstep. This is stupid, ill-conceived.

Indeed, one can't blame the Russians for their mounting paranoia that the system allegedly to be used to stop Iranian missiles is really designed to undermine Moscow's nuclear deterrent.. As one Russian minister observed, obviously it would be of use since (irrespective of the claimed purpose) it "would give the West the ability to shoot down Russian missiles in situ" (WSJ, 'Moscow Raises Alarm Over Missile-Defense Plan for Europe', May 4, p. A14). Thus, the Russians rightly worry that the proximity of this system to their border gives the U.S. an excellent opportunity to down Russian missiles in the boost phase.  If this idea catches on, and there's good reason it can, one can pardon the Russians for believing the U.S. is setting up for a first-strike capability.

In his book 'Particles and Policy', physicist Wolfgang Panofksy pointed out the only true system of security for Russia and the U.S. was MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. Thus, it became an axiom that neither nation would do anything to jeapordize the stability ensured by MAD using reckless moves which might be interpreted to seeking to gain leverage in the MAD world.

The objective truth is that this proposed missile system is merely a destabilizer with absolutely no known benefit. Even the Poles, who are destined to house one or more systems have gone on record to state that any such system isn't needed. Stefan Niesiolowski, chairman of the defense committee in the Polish Lower House of Parliament pointedly observed such a missile system is not needed in Poland. As he pointed out ('Missile Gaffe Leaves Europen Unfazed', WSJ, April 22,  p. A8):

"There's no military threat and we haven't had a situation as secure as this in 300 years. The level of U.S. military engagement in Poland therefore is not of top importance."

Then WHY do it?

The answer is simple: the military -industrial complex ensconced in the U.S. wants to invent ever more specious reasons to piss away ever more billions of our taxpayer dollars. (Which is also why they want to have 30,000 unmanned drones airborne by 2015, since Afghanistan use is winding down). THEN...the deficit hawks can pick up the yelp to cut social programs because of all the deficits created by "entitlements". Except they aren't caused by "entitlements" but by: a) unpaid for Bush tax cuts and b) wasteful military spending!

While a Report by the Defense Science Board issued last year speculates that "there are no fundamental roadblocks to the system", it then monkey-wrenched the claim by elaborating profound problems with the system including cost overruns (which, of course, the defense contractors love).  Meanwhile, former Pentagon nuclear weapons' tester Philip Coyle  warned that the issues raised in the Report "would require substantial and costly changes, if they can be surmounted at all:"

As for Panofsky, he makes it clear in his chapter 'MAD vs. NUTS', that no such missile shield systems are in any way practical or feasible. And even if by some serendipity they temporarily were,  a determined adversary could easily find the means to neutralize the system- as Russia proposed to do with Reagan's 'Star Wars' by having missiles deploy thousands of metallic fragments as decoys.

Russia, for its part, rightfully demands a legally binding guarantee that the system won't be used against it. But the U.S. asserts (ibid.) "it can't agree to formal limits on missile defense".

Oh really? Then why should the Russians believe the system isn't really designed to be used against them? Again, the U.S. miltarists - driven by Paul Nitzke's feral document NSC -68  (mandating empire building)  end up putting their feet into their mouths, and at the same time possibly detracting from global nuclear security for all of us, if the Russians increase the megatonnage of their warheads in response.

The ironic aspect of it all, as Morris Berman notes (Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire, W.W. Norton, page 118) is:

"Nitze emphasized the importance of perception, arguing that how we were seen was as crucial as how militarily secure we actually were. This rapidly expanded the number of interests deemed relevant to national security”.

Of course, the US of A has no patent on such perceptions, and if the Russians also believe they're entitled to theirs, they can be forgiven for taking steps to thwart the deployment of a missile shield embodied in U.S. "perceptions" of self-interest. Especially given the shield is to be set up right under their noses!

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