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LOOKING AHEAD
17.04.2008

April 17, 2008

Oskar Krejčí

AN OUTDATED RADAR. Part 2

There can be no doubt that the US NMD program is aimed at Russia and China

Part 1: http://www.rpmonitor.ru/en/en/detail.php?ID=9040

The RPMonitor Editorial Board received this text from the association Res Publica (Prague, Czech Republic). The booklet represents the analysis made by a competent Czech expert, who concludes that the deployment of the US AMD in Eastern and Central Europe is unnecessary, inexpedient and vain. With kind permission of the author and the publisher we reproduce the publication which we suggest interesting and useful in view of the recent sharp polemics about highly controversial US intention to deploy AMD radars and other components in some European countries – not far from the borders of Russia.

* * *

The primary task of every politico-military strategy is the identification of the adversary and the selection of means which can be used against it. According to the authors of the Report of an Independent Working Group on Missile Defence, the Space Relationship and the 21st Century, the NMD should have a global range and protect the USA, its armed forces abroad and its coalition allies from all azimuths. The current propaganda considers the parts of the NMD system which are to be located in the Czech Republic and Poland to constitute protection against missiles from Iran Ц and not from Russia. But:

- Iran does not have any missiles which could reach the United States;

- The aim of already deployed missiles and the functions of the radars can be changed.

Experience to date has shown that it is possible to change the political orientation of the system and its technical parts as soon as the first generation of the NMD system is deployed. The same applies to the radar. It is possible to make the network denser, including its range and functions. And as soon as a potential opponent perfects his weapons, it will also be necessary to carry out an upgrade of the NMD system. If the NMD system is to function, the financing thereof will know no bounds. According to the official Missile Defense Agency, the USA has spent 107 billion dollars on anti-missile defence since 1985. In its budget proposal (page 17), this agency expects that the maintenance of the anti-missile system will cost approximately 1 billion each year up to 2013, while any development of the system would cost an additional 6 to 7 billion dollars annually.

The search for the opponent which the NMD system should confront began in January 1995. At that time, the 104th Congress of the USA, which was dominated by Republicans in both houses, was in session. In 1997, this congress established the Committee to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States. Its report from 1998 found the threats to be in Russia and China. At the same time, however, it reached the conclusion that the threat posed by a number of unfriendly developing states was broader, more mature and evolving more rapidly than has been reported in estimates and reports by the Intelligence Community and that the United States "might well have little or no warning before operational deployment" of missiles capable of targeting the territory of the USA. The Committee stated that Iran and Northern Korea will represent a missile threat for the United States over the next five years and Iraq during the next ten. The boss of the Committee was Donald Rumsfeld, later the Minister of Defence of the USA in the administration of George Bush junior.

The argumentation from the Rumsfeld Committee's report became the basis for the justification of NMD. Officially, NMD is to become the United States' defence against the unforeseeable actions of "rogue states". But according to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America, which American President George Bush signed in September 2002 and then again in a modified version in 2006, the problem is viewed more widely. This doctrine presents the orientation towards preventative war "against such emerging threats before they are fully formed". This doctrine has replaced the thesis of the balance of fear with the idea of preemptive strikes Ц and this no longer only pertains to rogue states.

The debated radar in Brdy is supposed to form part of a system which stretches from Alaska, through Japan and Australia to Europe and Greenland Ц it surrounds the core of the Eurasian continent. The cited Report of an Independent Working Group on Missile Defence, the Space Relationship and the 21st Century connects the threat from so-called rogue states with the threat from the "strategic competitors, Russia and China" (page 112). And as Theresa Hitchens points out, one of the authors of this report is Keith Payne, the President of the National Institute for Public Policy, one of the "architect of the current Bush administration's doctrine advocating the preemptive use of nuclear weapons" (page 76).

Nowadays, the now classic expression of the hidden logic of the NMD system is contained in an article by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press called The Rise of US Nuclear Primacy, which was published in the prestigious American Foreign Affairs magazine in 2006. According to the authors, the US arsenal after the end of the Cold War was "significantly enhancing its strategic nuclear capabilities", while the Russian arsenal went into decline. They emphasise that the modernisation of the US nuclear weapons was not targeted against "rogue states" or terrorists. The USA's contemporary and future nuclear strength is capable of a "disarm the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a nuclear first strike". The authors claim that they have calculated that an US surprise attack could destroy the Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals and that any remaining elements would be intercepted by the new anti-missile defence (pages 42-54). The authors also published a more detailed reasoning for their conclusions in article The End of MAD? in the magazine International Security in the same year.

* * *

If we accept the following theses as the starting axiom when justifying the need for the USA's anti-missile defence, i.e.:

- that Iran and the DPRK could have intercontinental ballistic missiles in the future and

- Russian and Chinese missiles could be used against the USA,

then the arguments of the authors of the Report of an Independent Working Group on Missile Defence, the Space Relationship and the 21st Century would appear to be strictly logical: the construction of land stations in Europe is an outdated idea of anti-missile defence. However, in itself this axiom is a highly disputable ideological preconception.

This does not only involve the fact that the expectations of the Rumsfeld Committee have not come to fruition. The basic problem is more general: how to handle potential threats?

The entire NMD project is based on the assumption that only unrivalled military superiority can secure the United States security and hegemony. Superiority has thus been understood as the need to secure US military might which would be bigger than any coalition of states. It is for this reason that the US military budget is so huge.

The belief that political problems have simple military-technological solutions is deeply rooted in American political culture. The idea is that the development of modern weapons will secure superiority and thus also the option of enforcing the required actions of other people and states. This has often been the case. But it did not work on the battlefields of Indochina in the 1970s and it is not working in Iraq. Most political problems have a political solution Ц the disputes between the USA and the DPRK and Iran can be more easily resolved by means of direct talks with Pyongyang and Tehran than by the threat of force.

It is significant that the Brazilian programme for the use of nuclear energy, which is similar to that in Iran, has not given rise to any international disputes. This is clearly because the problem is not the programme itself, but the politics of Iran Ц or the perception thereof in the West. As has been pointed out by the excellent American specialist Wolfgang Panofsky in his article Nuclear Insecurity, "only a broad international approach that does not discriminate between "good states" and "bad states" can secure each state's "inalienable right" to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes without increasing the risk of the proliferation" (page 116).

The security and exceptional status of the USA in the current world can be secured more easily by means of diplomatic, economic and cultural tools than military strength. The situation after the occupation of Iraq shows that not even a historically exceptionally strong power such as the United States can resolve the question of security alone. The huge might of the United States and the other powers may jointly lead to the more successful stabilisation of the exceptional position of the USA than the solution offered by gross military might.

The greatest problem of NMD, and therefore also of the planned US military bases in the Czech Republic and Poland is the rejection of the idea of arms controls and disarming. From the moment when George Bush denounced the ABM Treaty in 2001, it began to be clear that Washington was betting on unilateral politics and a new arms race. The ABM Treaty made the ambitions of the superpowers clear and increased the mutual trust among them. These arms control treaties could have served as the basis for disarmament treaties.

NMD represents an attempt to change the balance of forces. The majority of those in favour of this project do not refute this fact Ц they merely think that the power superiority of the USA already exists and that the project simply endeavours to improve and increase the existing superiority. Of course, the commenced armament programmes of Russia and China show that Nixon's words said in 1972 on the eve of the signing of the ABM Treaty as to the fact that efforts to achieve superiority invoke an instant reaction still apply in the 21st century.

Given that soldiers understand the improved defence of the USA as the precondition for a safe attack by US armed forces, it is natural that other states perceive the continuation of the NMD programme as a threat to them. Moreover, US National Missile Defence is part of a wider political concept, which when realised will lead to the moving of US military bases ever closer to the Russian and Chinese border Ц something which reduces the credibility of the declaration as to the fact that US National Missile Defence is not oriented towards this country.

Russia and China have commenced the modernisation of their armed forces and they are looking for new allies. Moscow has suspended its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and is talking of withdrawing from a "relic of the Cold War", from the Treaty on the Elimination of Medium and Short Range Missiles. The result of Washington's unilateral policy with an emphasis on military force has been the worsening of the USA’s position. It is especially for this reason that the planned radar in Brdy is outdated: the NMD project does not conform to the security requirements at the beginning of the 21st century.

* * *

So far, the only demonstrable result of the US National Missile Defence project has been the weakening of mutual trust between the powers and the subsequent return to the arms race. And so, at a time when mankind should be concentrating on the elimination of hunger in the world and facing up to the climatic changes in the atmosphere, it is arming in space.

The threat of intercontinental ballistic missiles fired from Iran or the North Korea is certainly remote and possibly fictitious. The breach in the balance of power and the relations between some countries is both real and current.

Information about the author:

Professor Dr. Oskar Krejčí, CSc. (b. 1948)

is Deputy Rector of the University College of International and Public Relations in Prague (The Czech Republic); research worker at the Institute of Political Sciences of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava (Slovakia); and teacher at the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations of the Matej Bel University, Banská Bystrica (Slovakia). He has published seventeen scientific books and approximately 1,000 studies and articles of various sorts. He was an advisor of two Prime Ministers of the Czechoslovak Federal Government.

© First published by Res Publica, association for information, in November 2007, for study purposes of its members and other people interested, in cooperation with the University College of International and Public Relations Prague.


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